Monday, October 11, 2010

Harter Union: Part Seven, Chapter 8

“Yes, sir. I’ll be landing at La Guardia in twenty minutes. It’ll be about an hour before I can get back to the office,” I said talking to my boss on my phone. “My car is waiting at the airport so give me an hour and a half to get there and then we can discuss this problem,” I hung up, sighed and began looking out the window.

When I got to work, I quickly parked my car and ran upstairs. I entered my boss’ office where he was sitting behind his desk. I uneasily sat down in a chair as he cleared his throat. “Jeff, you are quite possibly the best editor we have here at Manhattan-Rooks,” he began.

“Thank you, sir,” I replied not really liking where this conversation was heading.

“And that is what makes what happened even more astonishing,” he said gruffly.

“What do you mean?” I asked nervously.

He tossed a copy of the new Hemenway novel that I edited on his desk. “Page 453, the highlighted portion.”

I took the book and opened it to 453 and read the entire page, stopping after I finished the selected portion. “Oh my God,” I said quietly.

“1.5 million copies went out and 200,000 will be returned to us for destruction, we are asking for a recall of the remaining 1.3 million but in any case, we are losing money. Mr. Hemenway has started legal proceedings for lost wages and has terminated his contract. We have also had seven church groups attack us for your one little mistake.”

“That’s…pretty bad,” I said with my hand covering my mouth, still looking at the mistake.

“Bad doesn’t cut it. We have consulted with our lawyers and decided we need to take action to ensure that this never happens again.”

“What? It’s one mistake. It can be fixed. We’ve made mistakes before and always pulled through.”

“Those mistakes didn’t cost us a multi-billion dollar contract deal!” he slammed his fist down on the desk but quickly regained his composure. “I’m sorry, Jeff but I’m gonna have to let you go.”

“You’re firing me? Over a comma?”

“A multi-billion dollar comma,” he said gruffly.

I arrived home and sat my box of personal items from work in a chair. “Annie?” It was completely quiet except for a rustling in the bedroom. I smiled and quietly went to the bedroom door and quickly threw it open and saw Dustin on top of Annie naked in my bed. The door hit the wall which startled them and caused them both to look in my direction.

“Jeff!” Annie shrieked, kicking and pushing Dustin off of her and onto the floor. “What are you doing home?”

“My book tour ended. I thought you would remember that but I see you’re busy doing something else. Or someone else,” I said.

Annie got out of bed with a blanket wrapped around her and came toward me. “Jeff, I can explain everything…” she began.

I glanced over at Dustin who was pulling on his jeans. “You know, I don’t want to hear about this. I don’t care. I am getting sick and tired of… No, I’m not going to stay in this apartment another minute until the both of you are gone! If anyone needs me, I’ll be out contemplating suicide,” I headed toward the front door with little Shadow bounding after me. He didn’t catch up and I slammed the door.

It was almost midnight and I had been sitting on the same bench in Battery Park for most of the evening. Kate walked up and sat down next to me. “She’s beautiful ain’t she?” she asked referring to the Statue of Liberty. I grunted in compliance. “Annie has taken some of her stuff and has moved in with Amber,” Kate said.

“Does this mean it’s over?” I asked.

“That’s between you and Annie, Kansas.”

“I’m going to move back to Kansas,” I said, seemingly out of the blue.

“What are you talking about? You have a life here. You can’t just pack it all up and leave,” Kate said. She noticed my seriousness and softly put her hand on my leg. “What brought on this decision?” she asked.

“In one day, I got fired from a job I loved and caught my fiancĂ©e in bed with my best friend. It’s been a bad day,” I said.

“I didn’t know you got fired,” Kate admitted. “Look, I’m sorry but maybe this was a sign that things need to change. One of my students drew this picture and it reminded me of us,” Kate pulled out a folded sheet of notebook paper from her pocket and showed it to me.

I took it from her and looked at it in the moonlight and the dim streetlights. “This is supposed to be us?” I asked. Kate nodded. “Well, this is extremely cute but I thought we came to the conclusion that we would make better friends?”

“I know but I’ve been thinking that maybe we were wrong,” Kate said looking at me with her light green eyes. I could smell the fruit-scented shampoo she used and sighed.

“No,” I shook my head. “I’m going back to Kansas."

Kate moved in close and hugged me. She rested her head on my arm and we looked out over the bay. “I’m gonna miss you,” she said softly.

Jeff and Annie say good-bye.