By Karen Singer
Chapter 59 (Monday – week 9 Part 5 of 5)
Ray stared foggily at the empty glasses in front of him. Fortunately, the bartender hadn’t shut him down. He vaguely remembered Derek promising to talk to him. Derek! The sap! The damn guy had gotten to Mel ahead of him. And then he had done the stupid, stupid thing yesterday about letting on that he was after her money! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! As he had been doing all afternoon, he grabbed his glass and emptied it one more time over that thought.
But that wasn’t the only thought he was drinking over, in the back of his mind was also Gloria – the tiger! His beginning relationship with her had him more confused than ever. Damn the woman was good in bed! And she came up with things he had never even heard of before. Talk about fun! But she didn’t have Mel’s money! He grabbed his glass again… but it was empty. He held it up and finally saw the bartender nod. It took all his effort not to throw the empty glass against the wall.
Maybe he had had enough? Never! Not while trying to purposely get stinking, sloshing, incredibly drunk! Never enough! He wanted to tell the bartender to bring him two drinks while he was at it, but that would have taken more effort than his muscles seemed to possess just then.
Gloria – the tiger! Mel – the rich bitch! And what was that, that Derek had said about Chad… Sissy… whatever! The damn pervert! He had been wearing a damn maid’s dress yesterday in Mel’s apartment. What was it that Derek had said about him?
The memories were foggy, barely there anymore. But slowly the words did fall back somewhat into place. Sissy! And a bet! And…
He looked up to see two of Derek’s crew hovering over his table. “Go away!” he slurred.
“We’ve come to take you home,” the second one said.
“Don’t want to!” He replied. Did that come out right? He was so drunk he wasn’t sure. Close enough anyway.
He felt a strong hand hooking itself under one of his arms, pulling him up out of his seat. “No! Have another!”
“You’ve had enough,” one of them said to him.
He was too wasted to really fight much with them. He wanted another drink. Many more drinks. He had to forget about Mel… and the tiger… and… Sissy?
It was a while later when Mel heard Andrea buzzing her phone line. “What is it?” she asked.
“Derek is calling for you.”
Mel shook her head. Not now! “Please tell him I’m busy and I’m going to be wrapped up all night.”
Hopefully, that would put Derek on hold for another day. She didn’t need his kind of distraction at all right now. She heard the line going dead again… and Sissy grunting again at the same time. “What now?” she asked. “Are you messing your diaper again?” She saw his head pop up high enough that she could see it from behind her desk.
“No,” he said holding up his legal pad. “I found another part that I think belongs with those other two.”
Mel was surprised. “Those two things you showed me earlier?”
“Yes. Except… I think there’s something missing that goes between those and this.”
Mel got up from her seat to see. “Maybe that doesn’t go with the other parts at all.”
Mel got up from her seat to see. “Maybe that doesn’t go with the other parts at all.”
“No,” Chad’s silly voice replied. “I’m sure it does… somehow.”
Mel took his pad, which had only a few pages left in it, and looked carefully. The subject did look like it really belonged with the other things instead. She surprised herself when she handed the pad back to him and said, “Keep digging. Maybe you’re onto something.”
Chad was actually glad that she seemed to approve. “Um… Do you have any more of these pads? I’m going to use this one up pretty soon.”
“Are you kidding? This is a legal office. We’ve got boxes of those things. We never run out!” She sat back at her desk and buzzed Andrea. “Andrea, we’re going to need more legal pads in here. Bring a bunch!” But even as the words came out of her mouth, her thoughts were circling around the pieces that Sissy had sorted out as being odd and out of place. Why hadn’t she noticed them before? It was then that she realized why each of those pieces had seemed more familiar to her than most of it. When she had gotten the original version of the contract – with everything out of place, they were some of the sections that had been purposely put where they shouldn’t have been. Had the previous attorney been trying to send a little message?
The company parking lot was mostly empty by the time Derek climbed up into his big SUV to go home. Except, he didn’t want to go home, he wanted to talk with Mel. Especially after the “lunch” he had shared with Ray. As he had promised, he had sent someone… two guys really… to gather Ray up from the bar and drive him home. But during their lunch, Derek realized that he might have passed on some information that maybe he shouldn’t have. Information about Sissy.
Not that he really cared all that much. The stupid sap deserved everything he got – everything! He was sure he still had no feelings about Sissy’s desire to keep it all a secret. But still, he couldn’t help but wonder if he had done something that maybe he shouldn’t have. Maybe it was just that it was information that Mel had said she didn’t want known. Had she said that to him? In truth, he wasn’t really sure.
But the bottom line was that Ray now knew all about Sissy… if Ray could remember anything he had been told. Ray had been so wasted already that Derek wasn’t at all sure that he would be capable of remembering everything. The only part that he had purposely held back was about Robin. He never once mentioned Robin’s involvement. But from what he had told Ray, he had no doubt that if Ray were capable of putting things together properly, which he really wasn’t all that sure about, then Ray would be able to deduce that Robin was doing something with Sissy as well. Maybe more than something.
And because of all that, he really wanted to discuss what he had told Ray with Mel. But Mel was busy tonight. The contract business. But still… maybe she wasn’t too busy. He drove out of the parking lot and headed – not for home, but for Mel’s office where he figured she would still be.
When he got there, he was gratified to see two cars still in the parking lot, one of them Mel’s. The door was locked when he tried to open it, but the lights inside were on. He knocked loudly. Someone came out of an office further down the hall. He didn’t know who she was, but she wasn’t Mel. The woman finally unlocked the door and opened it enough to talk.
“Sorry, we’re closed,” Andrea said.
“Um… Is Mel here?” Derek asked.
Andrea shook her head. “She’s here, but we’re closed. I’m sorry. You’ll have to call tomorrow for an appointment.”
“I’m Derek,” he told her. “Can you at least ask if she’ll see me?”
Andrea immediately recognized Derek’s name. Not sure if she should, she opened the door wide enough to let him in. “I really shouldn’t,” she replied. “But I know you’re on her list of calls to answer. So…” She locked the door behind them and led the way up to Mel’s office.
“You have a guest,” Andrea announced softly as she led the way back into Mel’s office.
Mel looked up. “Derek!” she exclaimed. She didn’t really know if she was happy or angry that he was there. She had passed on the message that she was busy tonight and he had still shown up.
Derek walked into the office and put a big smile on his face as she mentioned his name, but at the same time, he was taking in everything in the beautifully appointed, but slightly feminine, office. Mel was obviously working hard at her desk, but the one biggest thing that he couldn’t help but notice was Sissy… sitting on the floor wearing… one of the most ridiculous dresses he could ever imagine. And Sissy appeared to be working too. He was completely surrounded by yellow legal pad papers. He grunted at the sight of the twerp. Obviously, Mel hadn’t been kidding when she had passed on the message that she was busy. He suddenly felt bad about his own selfish needs. “I heard you were busy,” he said. “I was just hoping that you weren’t too busy to at least say hi for a few minutes.”
Mel shook her head. “Sorry Derek. I really am. But we’re totally swamped here and we’re really stuck for time.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” he replied as he looked around a bit more. “Sorry I bothered you.” He was about to walk out when another thought struck him. “What are you doing for dinner tonight?”
“Dinner?” Mel was a bit surprised at the question. “I hadn’t even thought about it! I don’t have a clue what we’re going to do.” She glanced at the clock, it was already later than she thought.
“Want me to get you something?” Derek asked.
Mel jumped at the offer. “Would you? You’d be a lifesaver!”
“Glad to,” Derek replied with a smile.
“Can I come?” Andrea asked from where she was sitting on the couch. “I haven’t been able to do much to help them yet, so maybe I can at least help you.”
“Sure. Why not?” Derek agreed.
Derek and Andrea had been gone about twenty minutes when Sissy found the next odd spot. “Mistress!” he called from his seat on the floor. “I found another one that matches up with the last one I found. But it still looks like there should be something else in front of that last one.”
Mel got up to see what Sissy had found now. One look was all she needed to notice a pattern developing. Those odd out of place sections again! “Good work Sissy. Keep at it.”
Once she got back to her desk, she put aside the section she had been reading and tried to remember all the different sections that had been out of place in the first copy of the contract she had gotten. It wasn’t easy.
Derek and Andrea came back before she got very far… and they each carried a large pizza box in their hands. Pizza or not, once she got a whiff of the smell, her mouth watered. She was hungry. The pizzas were placed on the coffee table in front of the couch. Mel got up from her desk and immediately joined Andrea and Derek in selecting a piece. “Mm!” she exclaimed. “I didn’t realize how hungry I was!”
Only then did she notice Sissy, still sitting where he had been, simply staring at them… and the pizza. But he wasn’t saying anything… as he probably shouldn’t. But Mel felt bad about that. “Did you finish all that baby food we put in your bag this morning?” she asked him.
“Yes Mistress,” Chad replied.
“Then get over here and help yourself. Just don’t get any on those contract pages!”
Andrea ran off to get some paper towels to use as napkins as Sissy gratefully grabbed a piece of the delicious smelling pizza for himself. The first “real” food he had eaten in days!
Derek wandered around Mel’s office with a piece of pizza in his hand. Mel was working at her desk and Sissy was working on the floor. Andrea had disappeared to the ladies room for a few minutes. He stood over top of where Sissy was working and looked down at all the papers on the floor. He recognized the flowchart Sissy was creating. But flowcharting a contract? It didn’t make a lot of sense. But he had no doubt that it made sense to Chad… Sissy. He had always been smart like that. So why couldn’t he be smart about the rest of his stupid life? The idiot!
Derek nearly jumped when Sissy suddenly jerked up and proclaimed. “Found it!”
“What?” Mel asked quickly coming out from behind her desk to see.
“That missing section.” With Derek looking on, he showed Mel how the new section fit neatly in the missing link between the other sections he had found.
“Good work, Sissy,” Mel told him. She just didn’t have a clue yet what it all meant but something was starting to tug at the back of her mind.
“Yeah,” Chad agreed. “But where does it lead? Why stick these sections in the middle of all this other stuff? And obviously it looks like there’s going to be more.”
“I’m starting to get a nasty little suspicion about where this is going, but we’ll have to wait and see. Find those other sections!”
Chad immediately got back to work.
Not knowing why, Derek grabbed another piece of the pizza out of the box and brought it over to Sissy. “Still hungry?” he asked.
Chad was totally surprised at the offer, but he gratefully took the slice of pizza. “Thanks!” he replied, meaning it very sincerely. He munched on it as he continued working.
Derek only stayed around for a little while after that and the office became deathly quiet as Mel and Chad worked. Andrea finally stretched out on Mel’s couch since she didn’t have much else to do except to refill Mel’s coffee cup. She had even started filling Chad’s bottles for him – with the same coffee. She figured the poor guy probably needed it. And every once in a while Chad had to excuse himself to go change his leaking diaper again – which she duly recorded on her list of times that so far, Mel hadn’t been interested in.
Mel searched now for the sections that she thought might have been out of place before. It was nearly eleven o’clock when she found one she was fairly sure of. She read it though. It seemed to be perfectly fine, but like the sections that Sissy has already found this one again had one of those “In the event of” clauses – with several possible outcomes depending on other events. She pawed through the pages of that section again and pulled them out.
Getting up from her desk, she went around to where Sissy was sitting on her floor. “Set what you’re working on aside for now,” Mel told him, “and see what you make of this.” She handed him the pages she had just separated out.
Chad got down to work – flowcharting the section while Mel watched him closely. Each possible outcome got mapped, or at least accounted for. But he hadn’t even finished yet when he suddenly proclaimed, “It looks like this is another piece. But I can’t really tell since I think there must be a section or possibly several sections that would go before it.”
But Mel now had no doubt that the section belonged with the others, just as she had no doubt that eventually they would find all those missing links – as well as possibly more. She picked up all the pieces that Chad had managed to put together so far and took them to her desk and studied them. Yes, there was no doubt they all went together, and that they were all going somewhere. And she was more afraid than ever of where she suspected they were going to lead.
“Andrea,” she called, rousing her assistant from where she looked to be comfortably stretched out on the couch. She held out the yellow papers. “Can you see if you can do something with these to make them more understandable?”
Andrea was glad to get up from the couch where she had almost fallen asleep and do something useful. She took the pages and studied them. “Give me a few minutes,” she replied before heading off to her own desk. Thirty minutes later, she was back again. “How’s this?” she asked.
Mel studied the pages Andrea had created. Each page matched what Chad had done, but each page was now much more readable and understandable. Especially since Andrea had left out the silly geometric shapes that Chad surrounded everything with. But Andrea did include some perfectly drawn arrows linking all the important sections together. “Perfect!” Mel proclaimed. “Thanks.”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Andrea replied happily.
As Andrea went back to the couch to get a little more sleep. Mel dug further into the contract. And this time she went straight to the one passage she was most worried about. The one passage she just knew was going to pop up inside of one of Sissy’s little geometric shapes.
And unnoticed by anyone… the decorative clock on the wall of Mel’s office… struck midnight.