“Are you writing everything down?”
My eyes flickered open, and my heart froze.Oh crap.
I sat up trying to pay attention but it wasn’t my fault that my body didn’t want to pay attention to a meeting late in the afternoon. Who even holds meetings after seven p.m. This was generally my dedicated one hour of nap time on the train going home. Instead I was attending this late teleconference trying to stay focused and take notes, but it wasso had.
I looked to the window in the meeting room, it was pitch black and I wondered how long we had been in this meeting. Surely it had been two hours and it was nine p.m., definitley my bed time. All I could think about was my comfortable mattress as home waiting for me, it’s blankets were beckoning to me.
The throat next to me cleared and I looked at the impatient man with narrowed eyes, a man who definitley didn’t like repeating anything so I quickly remembered his question.
“Yes.” I said looking at my empty page, there wasn’t a single word, but there were four doodles so I guess that was something. My boss, Gabriel, focused on the man talking on the screen and I turned to a new page pretending to take notes. There was nothing of great importance that Gabriel could take away from this presentation.
Gabriel knew everything already about this business, after all he made it successful in twelve months and now he had a global expansion on his mind.
He was a man with numerous doctorate in business, accounting and financing so what more does he need to know? I could feel his grey eyes on me so I kept writing, surely he can’t see my gibberish words?
The old man on the screen continued talking about the successful way to run a business, again Gabriel had that down packed and his staff were generally very well qualified, I mean, I wasn’t but the others were.
The coffee machine across the room was staring at me, would it be worth drinking my seventh cup or would my heart explode? I was already jittery from the cup I had before this meeting started, but it wasn’t keeping me awake. Perhaps I was immune to this intoxicating brown liquid.
Getting up to get coffee also meant that I had to get up andgo there, no doubt everyone looking at me as any movement was more exciting than this boring lecture. Why can’t they give breaks in meetings, surely they understand that people need breaks...why can’t they be like university lectures with a break half way in between. Or perhaps...we weren’t even half way into this lecture.
I silently groaned, and Gabriel of course heard it.
I sat up nodding, fine, I’ll write.
The fundamental key of keeping stakeholders interested in your business-light light you’re my flashlight, yeah, yeah.
Oh shit. I scribbled out the lyrics, god damn it Rory, focus. I need coffee. I looked up to see Gabriel was definitely staring at me from the corner of his eye making sure I was writing so I continued. Just listen to the man, write it on the page, it’s not that hard. You don’t need a degree, I told myself, but for someone that was up from four in the morning, my brain refused to cooperate with me.
How can my own body deceive me like this.
I slouched in my chair trying to get to a more comfortable position, sitting still for two hours made my upper back hurt, I really needed to go visit my chiro.
I looked to my left where Gabriel’s other assistant Fernando sat looking at the speaker intently. He was focused, barely blinding and I slowly leaned towards him, “Are you actually paying attention?” I asked.
Fern looked down at me with that amused smile that always made you smile back, “I’m listening to music through my ear piece,” He turned his head slightly and I saw the bluetooth in his ear.
“Lucky bastard.” I muttered.
Gabriel cleared his throat making me jump in my seat and return to my job. Damn it, he has a giant’s ear. Gabriel the Giant is what I am going to call him. Horrified that I wrote that on the page, I quickly scribbled it out.
I looked at the other members in the room, their pens seemed to just never stop moving. What on earth were they writing that I wasn’t able to? I squinted leaning closer, maybe I can take notes on their notes. God damn why do they write so small?
I reached for the water jug and I felt Gabriel’s hand on my upper arm stopping me, “What are you doing?” he whispered.
“Water.” I said, he narrowed his grey orbs at me slightly before nodded. Surely he wasn’t going to deprive me of water. I wasn’t even blocking his view of the teleconference screen.
I took a sip of the cold water, nearly choking when I felt someone’s leg brush against mine. It wasn’t the people sitting next to me, I looked up at the man sitting across from me. It must be an accident, he was focused on taking notes. I pushed my chair back, moving away from the table. Maybe he had long legs and needed the space.
I took another sip when felt the leg again.
I narrowed my eyes as the foot, or shoe, felt higher than before.
Surely he didn’t need more space.
When it inched higher I nearly choked, stopping it from being noisy made my eyes water. I couldn’t stop the cough as I pushed my chair further away.
“Hey, you okay?” Fern asked, leaning over to pat my back. Now I definitely had everyone’s attention, including the speaker. Oh crap, I am so fired.
“Fine, sorry just a cough.” I told them as I tried coughing quieter.
I narrowed my eyes looking up at my employer, “I can’t stop coughing.” I told Gabriel, it wasn’t like I was doing it on purpose. It was just coming out!
“Yes you can, you can stop anything if you try harder enough.” Gabriel advised. Great, solid advise thank you boss.
Fern patted my back a few more times till I was able to cover it up and the speaker continued. I crossed my legs as close as to my body as I could and leaned towards Fern, ensuring that there was no contact under the table.
I could feel Gabriel’s glare on the back of my head, the man that loved deducting dollars from my paycheque every time I did something he didn’t like, was no doubt going to have something to deduct from tonight. He knew I couldn’t just quit, and besides he was doing me a favour even giving me this job since my great uncle asked his father.
I can’t complain, the pay was great, especially since I never really finished my university course, I can’t complain at all. Gabriel has been my boss for over two years and I knew exactly how he worked now. I came to work, did my task and left, generally it was ok. I casted a glance at the man across me, surely he knew what he was doing.
He was focused on writing notes, maybe it was just an accident.
“I don’t see a lot of writing Miss Rodriguez.” I could feel his breathe against my ear and I jumped in my seat.
“Sorry sir, I’m thinking.” I told him.
“Less thinking more scribing, I pay you to write not think.” Well yes, he did have a point. I write, he thinks.
* * *
I zipped up my jacket looking up and rushed as fast as I could in my heels after Gabriel and Fern who had left in a hurry. They didn’t even wait for me to get my coat form the coat room, of course they didn’t nee to carry a coat.
“Hurry up Miss Rodriguez, you’re wasting gas.” Gabriel called as he tapped his foot waiting for me impatiently, his eyes were on his mobile and Fern was on a call outside.
“Yes Mr Parish.” I called as I ran towards them, already feeling out of breathe from the short ten metres.
I rushed in the car behind them, god damn it Rory, you need to cut down on the microwave dinners, I told myself, They were doing my body no favours.
I brushed my hair behind my ears as it fell out of it’s bun as the car lurched to a start and I stated racking my brains trying to think of a summary I could tell Gabriel, he always wanted to be informed about the summary of the meeting after it.
Looking at the time on my watch it told me it was nearly eleven, which meant I wasn’t even going to get home till after midnight, there was always a thirty minute debriefing after these things.
I was told there would be late nights every now and then when I first got the job. Every now and then turned out to be three times a week, which was far too much for my sleep cycle. I needed consistency and there was none.
I sighed leaning against the car window, feeling the cold glass on my skin made me relax just a bit, nearly made me fall asleep if it wasn’t for the very loud and bring ringtone cut through the nice silence.
Could he talk a bit softer, I was trying to sleep.
I sat up hearing the sudden tone of his voice. I knew these tones very well, he had three main tones. Angry, Angrier and Furious. Luckily I was only only at the other side of stage one of these tones having to deal with Angry, but this was definitley a stage three, red code, furious tone. Did his stocks fall? Did someone quit? Did someone pull a fake sickie and he could out? I looked at Fern who was staring intently at Gabriel, a poker face as always.
“Alright, come to my office now.” Gabriel said before ending the call.
Now? Now I felt my curiosity turn into disappointment, great, he was going to be meeting more people which meant my night was going to go longer since he probably wants me to scribe that meeting too.
Perhaps in my next monthly catch up with him I should offer him to show how to put his phone not the ‘do not disturb’ setting?
“Is everything okay?” Fern asked after a moment, a question I was intently thinking but would never ask Partially because Gabriel would never answer me. It was almost like he never wanted to waste his breathe, had to preserve it like it was some rare gemstone.
Gabriel chose this time to conserve his breathe, the rest of the ride was filled with silence. Silence wasn’t awkward as it was the norm around here.
Even before the car came to a stop, Gabriel had his seat belt undone, one hand on the handle, getting out before the driver could even put the park on. Fern rushed behind him, and I, of course, struggled to keep up. I had to collect all the bags and documents that they left.
“Wait, hold the elevator for me,” I yelled as I rushed after them, but of course they were both in deep discussion and the elevators doors closed before I could even get near it.
I grumbled, should I take the stairs, or wait for the next one?
I shivered agains the cold breeze that always hovered in the basement as I waiting for the elevator, I kept jabbing the up button, hoping that it would make it come faster, but of course, the elevator didn’t understand the urgency of this situation. Gabriel hated tardiness.
After what seemed like forever the doors opened and I rushed inside pressing the top button for the highest floor and impatiently pressing the close door button.
It seemed that they were closing even slower on purpose and I stared at my refection in the reflective doors and nearly screamed but I realised that the ghost zombie person was me. I could relax, it was me, not some other creature. I could deal with me.
“He’s going to kill me,” I grabbed my bag off the ground rushing towards his office, surprised to see Fern waiting outside.
“Is he angry, of course he’s angry.” I muttered as I rushed through the door.
“Wait no don’t go i-” Fern put a hand out to stop me but it was too late as I only heard what he said once I was already inside.
I pushed the door open, “Sorry sir the elevator took forever to come.”
“Where the hell am I meant to find-,” Gabriel stopped speaking as his grey eyes met mine.
I froze, he was not happy and I could hear Fern whisper for me to leave the room.
I took a small step back as I looked at his private lawyer in the room, turning around in his chair to see what caught Gabriel’s attention.
“Hi Richard.” I said my voice cracking, “I’ll uh...go now.” I put their bags down looking between their veryunhappy faces.
Gabriel opened his mouth, probably to yell at me, but then he closed it his eyes going from head to toe. Did he see the zombie I saw in the elevator too? He rubbed his hand against his chin, did he also think he needed to shave because he definitely needed.
“Scratch that Richie, I have an idea.” Gabriel turned to look at Richard and I swear I saw a smile there.