“You don’t have to lock me out, Foxy.”
The words rang in her mind as he spoke in a sweet, but firm tone. I could tell that this wouldn’t end well for either of them, though watching from afar, I could do nothing but drink my lukewarm and distilled coffee, and skim through the paper, unbeknownst to them, listening with dark intent to their conversation.
He continued. “I know you’re going through some shit right now and I need you to unders-…”
“Understand what exactly?” she asked the man in a more harsh tone than he anticipated. “That you’re just leaving? That’s it? No word of reason and no stupid explanation?”
This was too good for a journalist, even of my stature, too much of a situation for tabloid bullshit, I knew that this would be the story of the year. And I was the one to write it. Recorder ready, I pressed the red button, forgetting just before remembering to muffle the beeping sound that would emanate from the device with a well-timed cough. They stopped talking, and were now looking around each other’s shoulders for the source of the sound. I had fucked up.
“We need to go.” She said suddenly, slipping her shades from her blazer pocket, though I could tell she was only half focusing on whatever the male was looking at or thinking, let alone her or his body language.
“Yes. It would be best to discuss this elsewhere.” He replied in turn, and as they both at once, like a machine at work, rose from their seats, the screeching sound from the chairs blocked out the mouthed words she spoke to him which could only be heard in a close vicinity.
I lost my chance to go after them, I lost my story, and no matter what I did, I could not go after them from here. One reason would be that I would raise suspicion and the other would be that I would look like a plain old stalker. Typical journalism, I bloody hate the winds of luck sometimes, they never blow my way completely- only to taunt. This, this was it.
“Enough, John. I cannot do it. I just cannot go on lying to myself and telling myself that this is what I am destined to amount to as a person. Maybe I’m just in need of some convincing, I don’t know. What I do know is right now I need to leave, even if it is for a while only. Jessica and Damon were the last story I vowed to complete and like every single god damn bullshit story I’ve stalked before, I have failed. I don’t care about “the biggest ever story” written by me a year or so, which was a stroke of luck I might add. Foiling the plot of a stupid bigot ruining an innocent woman’s life was nothing to do with journalism, my fifteen minutes of fame are over. I need to move on, I need to tell you straight. I quit. This is my final decision, no phoning a friend or fifty/fifty bullshit, I’m out. You’ve been a great boss over the years and I know I could do more with my life than this, the experience you’ve given me as a reporter has been immeasurable and I just know that the skills will stay with me, but I have to say goodbye to this now. Good luck. I hope the next junkie you pull off the streets is a lot easier to handle than I am, god knows why you spent so much time trying to tell me that I’m ‘worth it’. Thank you, and goodbye.”
The reactions that followed from John were none of my concern. I needed to go, before I stupidly changed my mind. Maybe I really should phone a friend, but this wasn’t going to happen. I sat up, no screeching like the chairs outside the café, just brushing lightly against the carpet as the wheels drifted. I leant over, taking my eyes off of my ex-boss for a split second before looking back into his eyes. His face was plain, calm, and almost sheepish actually. I looked at him for the last time in person, and turned. It was only after I turned I heard the faint bubbling behind me, the sickly smell of vomit and deteriorating saliva. I turned back, and to my surprise more than anything, I found him there as he had been, five minutes ago a reaction had triggered. He fucking died. During my goodbye speech, the last thing he would hear is my voice telling him I’m leaving his prize company.
“John...?” I beckoned stupidly, but he didn’t move, not even a flinch over him aside from the drooling stomach acid and saliva dripping from the right corner of his mouth. “John…” I called, though this time I felt myself say it with more regret and anxiety than before. “Shit… Someone call an ambulance!” I yelled, calling over my shoulder out the door, finding the receptionist ignoring my order and rushing to his aid. “What the hell are you doing!?” I demanded, “Call a bloody ambulance!” and at this, she listened, she actually listened. The girl was young, innocent, of course she’d want to know what was wrong before following my order, with her ginger flowing hair covered her teary-eyed face before I heard the click of the phone and numbers dialled. “Hello…” I heard her question the phone, before blacking out and falling back. The sense of vulnerability completely overwhelming me. The last thing he heard was my pathetic voice, assertively telling him I give up with this bullshit job. And then this. The fact that I was so assured of myself that the sheer sight of his lifeless body bubbling in front of me, shock? I couldn’t go into shock now, damn it!
And yet I fell to the floor, cold and decaying where the acidic substance from his cup had melted the carpet beneath his chair. Fainting? At my age and with my authority I so gracefully assured him? Pathetic.