A heavily synthesized version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me) drifted out of the elevator as the doors opened. Dean stepped inside. This song was from that movie, The Breakfast Club, one of Meryl’s favorites and now one of his favorites too. That is a good sign. Dean pressed the button for the top floor the executive level. He had been nervous all day. The CFO, Tom Sugarbaker, had left a voicemail on his extension late last night inviting him to lunch today. His stomach roiled all morning. And Dean wished he hadn’t spilled black coffee on his polo. He goes to the same dinky coffeehouse near his bus stop every work morning and they either spell his name wrong or get his order wrong and today they did both. How hard is it to fucking spell Dean its four fucking letters you would think after seven years they could remember blonde roast two sugars and soy milk. Dean had backhanded his half drunk coffee cup bearing the name Dan into the wastebasket. He had slammed his fist on his desk.
“Dude, you good?” Trevor, one of the accountants, asked as he walked past Dean’s cubicle.
Dean blushed. “I had to kill a fly.”
With a concerned look, Trevor had nodded and walked away.
Dean examined his polo shirt in the mirrored elevator doors. The stain was gone but his shirt was cool and damp. His hands were damp too. He wondered if he should give Meryl a quick call for a moral support. He knew she didn’t like to be bothered and wouldn’t talk to him for weeks if she got really annoyed. The elevator opened with a cherry ding.
The air was different on the executive floor. The lights seemed brighter too and nice artwork lined the walls. Dean entered the CFO’s office vestibule. No Sheila, No Tom just a, terrific view from the wraparound floor to ceiling windows.
Dean sat in the little chair by the secretary’s desk. He wished he had a glass office, with the fantastic adjust to your body chair, and a picture of his wife in a silver frame. He wanted her to be happy, no more fighting over who was overspending more. He convinced himself that Mr. Sugarbaker noticed Dean’s late hours and never asking for overtime and how Dean filled in for Cassie when she went on maternity leave. Dean figured Mr. Sugarbaker noticed how much Dean loved Sugarbaker’s Confectionary. Dean figured a raise and a promotion were in line. Everyone knew Hollis was retiring and Dean had seniority.
Dean waited and waited.
“And I told you might think you’re grown but as long—“ Sheila yelped at the sight of Dean’s intense face in her work area.
“Boy you scared the crap out of me. May I help you?”
“I’m here for my 12 o’clock with Mr. Sugarbaker.” Dean’s voice was as tight as an archer’s bow.
“Not today sweetie Tom had a lunch meeting with the new marketing director Don Something or Other. Give me your name and the reason for your visit and I talk to—“
Sheila looked up from her calendar deskpad and Dean was gone. Dean marched purposefully back to the elevator. As the doors closed “Hungry Like the Wolf,” filled his ears.
Dean’s stomach gurgled. He realized he had completely forgotten to eat. His stomach gurgled louder.
Trevor wheeled his desk chair to the opening of Dean’s cubicle. “You good? Bad sushi again.”
“I’m great.” Dean was smiling, relaxed. “I have diarrhea. I’m going to leave a little early today. If Hollis asks tell him I will make up my hours before week’s end.”
Trevor made a skank face and wheeled away quickly. Using Hollis’s username and password Dean had printed a generous corporate check for himself complete with a signature from Mr. Sugarbaker and created a fake invoice to disguise the missing amount. Dean slipped the check into his wallet and pictured the smile on Meryl’s face during a romantic dinner at the best restaurant in town.