By Karen Singer
Chapter 61(Wednesday – week 9 Part 3 of 8)
She pulled into Feinbaum’s parking lot and took one of the guest spaces… and she sat staring out the front windshield of her car. She wasn’t dressed for this! What would Harry… and all the rest of them think of her when they saw the sexy way she had dressed today? That wasn’t good! And what about Sissy? She supposed he was going to have to wait for her in the car. No telling how long this might take though. She looked over at him to tell him to wait in the car. He was sitting there looking at her, baby bottle still in his mouth, looking totally confused. He had no idea what was going on right now. “I have to go inside for a little while,” she told him. “I’m afraid I wasn’t planning on this. You can…”
The sudden look of surprise on Sissy face happened just as she herself realized someone was standing on the sidewalk in front of the car looking at them. She turned and saw Dick Feinbaum starting to raise his hand to wave to her… and then he stopped and seemed to stare into the car with a puzzled expression on his face. Damn! And worse, he was now heading directly for her. Feeling very embarrassed, she rolled down her window.
“I know dad was wanting to speak to you today,” Dick said somewhat uncertainly.
He spoke, but Mel noticed that his eyes never left Sissy. “Yeah. Um… I wasn’t expecting to have to do any… business today.” she replied.
Dick nodded. “I see,” he said, still looking at Sissy. He finally turned his eyes back to Mel. “Are you coming inside?” he asked.
Hating life, Mel nodded. “Yeah. I’m here now.” She turned back to Sissy. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” She saw Sissy barely nod. At least he had lowered his bottle to his lap so it wasn’t so visible. The look on his face showed that he was somewhat terrified. This time, she knew how he felt.
“You may as well have… um… him… come inside too.” Dick said. “No use waiting out here.”
This was not good and Mel knew it. But she nodded toward Sissy and opened her own car door to get out. Sissy was slower to react. “Just bring your purse,” she told Sissy quietly. “Leave your bottle here too,” she added. Then she climbed out of the car and tugged her skirt down into place again. Dick closed the door for her as Sissy was slowly opening his own door.
“I can’t wait to hear about this,” Dick said softly as he headed back to the sidewalk ahead.
Mel wasn’t at all sure what she was going to tell him… or anybody. How exactly was she going to explain it? She was actually growing a bit angry that she was going to have to deal with explaining it… somehow.
Chad wasn’t at all sure what was going on. Mel had gotten a phone call and he knew from the one-sided conversation he had heard that it had something to do with work. Then Mel had turned around at the mall and headed here. He could see by the signs that it was another law firm… one that he had heard Mel talk about before. And he knew without a doubt that Mel wasn’t happy about being here right now. And so neither was he. This was not something she had planned. And by the way Mel was acting, he had a feeling that this was something that could be very bad for Mel. So whatever this was, it wasn’t going to be fun! His nervousness and fear growing, he got out of the car.
Dick Feinbaum looked Sissy over very carefully as they waited for him to walk from the car up to the sidewalk, but he said nothing about him. Instead he turned and started walking toward the door. Mel fell in beside him and Sissy continued to follow nervously behind. “I noticed you’re looking especially… sexy today,” Dick told Mel. “Big day planned?”
“Something like that,” Mel admitted as they headed toward the building. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“I better let Dad handle that!” Dick replied.
There was something in his voice that made Mel think he wasn’t sounding too sure about something. She had a pretty good idea of exactly why that was. And oddly, she found that it perturbed her more than anything else. For heaven’s sake! She didn’t want to come here today! She was supposed to have this day off! She had other things planned!
They entered the building and she followed him through the lobby toward the elevator, where they had to wait. Why today of all days? Why today? Why today when she had planned to finally spend some time with Sissy and have some fun? Why today when she had dressed so… provocatively? And why today when she had Sissy in tow… dressed as outrageously as possible. Why today? The more she thought about it, the angrier she seemed to feel. These men never seemed to hesitate to call on her whenever they liked – no matter what she was doing. None of them seemed to care in the least about her personal concerns!
This bet between Sissy and herself was the biggest thing in her life right now. And lately, everything in the world seemed to be stacking up against her. Why? She was getting awfully tired of it! And all the distractions seemed to be coming from men! Feinbaum, Derek, and Ray! She had business to attend to with Sissy, and she had let them all distract her from it… and from her goals! No, from her dreams!
The elevator finally reached the bottom floor and the door opened… and something inside of Mel snapped – into place! She stood up extra straight and turned towards Sissy. “Where’s your pacifier? Put it in your mouth where it belongs!”
Dick Feinbaum had stepped into the elevator. He turned quickly and watched, unbelievingly, as Mel ordered… her friend… to pull a pacifier out and stick it in his mouth. And unbelievingly, her… friend… did it! “Um… This may not be the proper…”
He got no further as Mel turned on him with a rather angry look in her eyes. “I didn’t ask to come here today,” she said sternly. “I had other things planned! Things that are more important to me than some damn contract! If you don’t like it, then I’ll be more than happy to leave right now!”
Totally taken aback by her sudden change in behavior, Dick stepped back a bit and held the elevator door. “Maybe we better continue this upstairs.”
Boldly, Mel stepped into the elevator. Not so boldly, Sissy followed and the elevator doors closed behind them.
Mel wasn’t finished though. She turned to Sissy. “Sissy, this is Dick Feinbaum. Please introduce yourself to him properly.”
Chad could actually feel the pee leaking out of him as he nervously curtseyed right there in the small elevator and plucked his pacifier out of his mouth. “Hewwo Mithew Feinbaum. My name ith Thithy.” Then he stuck his pacifier back in his mouth and curtseyed again.
Dick Feinbaum didn’t know if he should laugh or be totally angry… of if he should feel offended by what Mel was suddenly doing – right here in their offices. What he really felt now… was uncertainty. He was saved from answering by the elevator doors opening.
Mel didn’t even wait. The moment the doors were open, she strode boldly out toward the pool of desks where many of the paralegals and secretaries worked. Harry Feinbaum’s office was at the far end of the long hall. Mel turned directly toward Sissy again. “Sissy, please say hello to each of these nice people here… one at a time.”
Dick Feinbaum was aghast. “Um… maybe you shouldn’t…”
“I’d much rather leave right now!” Mel cut him off sternly. She turned to Sissy again to get him moving. “Sissy…”
“Um… Dad’s office is up this way,” Dick told her, trying to prevent what was about to happen.
“I know where it is. I’ve been there before,” Mel replied casually. “We’ll get there… eventually. “Sissy! Everybody’s waiting.”
As Chad nervously started to curtsey, Dick mumbled. “Um… I better go warn my father!”
Mel merely waved her arm, dismissing him as she watched Sissy saying hello to an astonished woman at the first desk he came to.
Chad curtseyed, plucked the pacifier from his mouth, and lisped his sissy hello to everyone there… separately of course. He felt so totally foolish. Some of them laughed… especially the women. But most of them stared at him in total wide-eyed disbelief. What was up with Mel today? Right downstairs at the elevator she had suddenly become totally dominant again… in a way he had never seen her before.
Dick Feinbaum hurried to his father’s office. He didn’t care if anyone was in there with him or not. He simply barged in. Two minutes later, both Feinbaums left the office to see what was going on. His private secretary wasn’t at her desk, she was further down the hall watching the incredibly odd-ball show that was happening among the paralegal desks. Every doorway had people standing and looking down the hall as well.
Mel almost laughed… it would have been a rather wicked laugh if she had, but she held herself just short of letting it out. This little outburst of hers might end her career as an attorney, but right now, she didn’t really care. She had had enough, and right now she was enjoying being drunk with power! Besides, if she wanted, she never really had to work a day in her life.
She watched as Sissy said hello to the last person in the common area. But before he could get much further, she said. “Sissy, do you remember how to do ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb?’ Please show everyone how precious you can do it.”
Chad was nearly beside himself. What was going on with Mel? This was not the place for this kind of activity! He looked at her for a moment for confirmation… but his confirmation came from the look of total power and domination she seemed to be sending out in all directions… not just at him! He turned back to everyone in the room, curtseyed again and plucked the pacifier from his mouth. “Mawy had a widdew wamb…”
Mel felt nothing but proud satisfaction at watching Sissy behave so absurdly as he entertained everyone. Let them think what they might. Right now, she didn’t care! If anyone didn’t like it, then tough!
Harry Feinbaum watched the proceedings carefully, the expression on his face was rather pinched with concern. Nothing escaped his practiced eyes. As the flake in the oddball dress finished reciting Mary Had a Little Lamb, he turned and headed slowly back to his office, leaving his son Dick and everyone else to continue watching the show. He heard several phones ringing as he walked. Ringing that didn’t get answered.
He stopped next to his astonished personal secretary who was also in the hall watching the show. “Send her straight in to me… if she ever gets that far,” he said to her. His secretary, her mouth wide open, barely nodded. Harry went back to his office.
There were many doorways along the hallway, and Mel had Sissy stop in each one and greet everyone they met. By the time they finally got up to the desk of Feinbaum’s personal secretary, Mel had lost count of the many times Sissy had been forced to amuse everyone… and one last time, she made Sissy greet the secretary… who was standing next to her desk looking totally astonished.
“Mr. Feinbaum said for you to go straight in,” she said to Mel as soon as Sissy had finished and the baby’s pacifier was back in his mouth.
Mel smiled. “Thank you,” she said. Then she turned to Sissy again. “Sissy, please wait here and keep everyone amused. I shouldn’t be too long.” With that, she headed straight for the closed door ahead of her.
Chad was only surprised that she wasn’t going to bring him inside with her. The woman standing by her desk, couldn’t seem to take her eyes off of him. With her eyes still locked on him, he watched as she made her way around to the back of her desk where she started to sit… before standing again.
“Um… can I get you anything while you wait?” she asked. It was the proper thing she asked any of the people who came to wait to see Harry Feinbaum.
Curtsey. Remove the pacifier. “No thank you,” Sissy lisped again. Pacifier… curtsey.
Still totally unnerved, the secretary sat down at her desk, where she continued to stare unbelievingly at Sissy… and ignore the ringing phone next to her.
Mel entered Harry Feinbaum’s office and closed the door behind her. As soon as she did, most of the bravado she had felt earlier seemed to fall right out of her. What had she done? Ruined her career, that’s what! Harry Feinbaum was watching her closely from his chair behind his desk. She tried to summon up some of the courage she had just been drunk with a moment ago, but this time it felt more like playacting. She approached toward the chairs that faced his desk, more aware than ever of the somewhat provocative way she was dressed in front of this important man.
“That was… unusual,” Harry said, breaking the silence.
Mel searched for all the courage she could muster. “Sorry about that,” she said with more bravado than she really felt. And suddenly she found herself saying the same thing she had said to Dick Feinbaum earlier… only with a lot more respect! “I didn’t ask to come here today. As you can see, I had other plans.”
“Yes, I have no doubt you did,” Harry replied… sarcastically. He looked up as his son slipped into the office and took a seat in the sitting area further away. He was only there to watch.
“My other plans… were important to me too,” Mel continued. “I know the importance of these contracts… and everything else you do here. And I don’t mean that much disrespect… but what I am doing with Sissy out there, is very important too… to me!” Suddenly she was feeling a bit more sure of herself again. If she was going to end her career, she might as well go out with a bang. “Believe it or not, what I’m doing with him is directly related to me achieving goals I’ve only dreamed of. And those goals are now firmly in sight and almost within my grasp. And I’m not going to let them slip away!” She backed her voice down a bit. “So if you still want my help with something… and I’m fairly sure you don’t anymore… then I’m going to need until sometime next week before I can give you the time whatever it is deserves.”
Dick Feinbaum waited for it. Surprisingly, he found himself waiting a long time as both his father and Mel seemed to enter a staring contest at each other… a contest that neither of them was backing down from. And then, to his astonishment, his father laughed!
Harry Feinbaum turned toward his son Dick. “She’s gonna’ be perfect!”
Dick was totally surprised. Perfect? What was his father talking about?
Harry turned to Mel again. “The reason I asked you here today was not because of another contract. The reason you’re here is because we have a major spot on our staff to fill and every one of us thought you’d be the perfect candidate for it!”
Mel was suddenly shaken. Harry Feinbaum was offering her a job?
“Not only did you prove your worth by finding those impossible clauses in the Sunshine deal, but I watched you, you weren’t one bit afraid of Slatter when he came over to talk to you. You stood right up to him and didn’t back down one bit. And that’s the kind of person we need here… someone with guts!” He waved momentarily toward the door. “And that little show out there… well… somehow I have a feeling that you just showed the rest of the lunkheads that work here that you’re not going to be someone they can push around. And that’s another thing we’re going to need, someone strong enough to handle this job and some of the damn obstacles that get thrown at us every day!”
He chuckled. “Although I can just imagine the kind of things they’re going to say about you… some of which you’re probably not going to like, but all of it most likely will only help you in the long run.”
He leaned forward across his desk with a big smile on his face. “So what do you say? Deal? You fill our vacancy – right now… or next week when you’re read. Whatever you like.”
Across the room, Dick Feinbaum’s face bore nothing but disbelief. He was sure his father would have thrown her out after what she had just done.
Mel’s face bore the same disbelief. And now Harry Feinbaum wanted an answer. She took a deep breath to compose herself before speaking… after the shock she had just gotten, she needed it! “Mr. Feinbaum… One of the first things my father taught me when I became an attorney was to never say no to Harry Feinbaum…”
Harry grunted. “I think I’ve always heard that a bit differently. Don’t they usually say, never say no to ‘old man’ Feinbaum?”
Mel smiled. “Something like that.”
“Good then!” Harry declared suddenly. He looked back over toward his son who was still watching with disbelief. “She’s gonna be perfect! Just what we need around here. Someone who can breathe some new life in this place!”
“Mr. Feinbaum!” Mel interrupted. She waited till she had his attention. “You never say no to ‘old man’ Feinbaum… as you put it. But I’m saying no.”
Harry’s expression turned to disbelief. “You’re saying no?”
Mel nodded. “The answer is no. I’m a very dominant person, as you’ve probably noticed from the way I came in here. I’m not the kind of person who likes to take orders from anyone. I don’t particularly like anyone constantly telling me what to do. I’m the type who likes to give the orders! I like telling everyone else what to do. And in the last few months, I’ve come to realize that fact more than ever… believe me!
“Don’t get me wrong, I would be very honored to work here, but I could never be truly happy. I want to be the boss! And where I am now, I am the boss, and I intend to stay the boss. So for that reason, I’m saying no. I’m sorry.”
Harry stared at her for a long time… almost as long as the bit of a staring match the two had engaged in earlier. Then he grunted a laugh and smiled as he shook his head. “And that’s… exactly what your father told me a long time ago.” His smile broadened. “And as such, I think this firm can once again resume subcontracting to your firm like we used to with your father. Can we make a deal on that?”
Mel smiled. “Nothing would make me happier.”