The next morning, I arrived in the parking lot seconds before the other employees. We simultaneously swarmed the entrance of Saving Time, like bees to their hive.
Blue Tie snagged my sleeve as I walked though the door. “Not so fast, Missy,” and led me back to the bank side where Darlene was lighting a new cigarette. “You have to finish your work from yesterday.”
“But I did–,” my eyes stared blankly at several new mountains of paperwork. Was she here all night making this mess for me to sort?
Darlene glanced at me with devious eyes before she waved Blue Tie to her computer screen. She pointed a greasy fingertip to the glass, “Can you believe her?”
Blue Tie’s shoulders sagged. “Would you please not start drama today, Darlene?” He nodded to the screen, “Not with Mr. Acetone coming in.” I noticed Darlene roll her eyes as Blue Tie began trotting away.
“Everyone, get this place cleaned up ASAP! Mr. Acetone is on his way!” Blue Tie called out, his voice fading into the back of the building.
“Who’s Mr. Acetone?” I asked Darlene, her attention focused solely on what looked like someone’s personal Facebook profile. As if in response, a low rumbling, like thunder, came from the street and rattled the piles of empty food containers littering Darlene’s work space.
“Mr. Acetone is here!” she spoke in a sing-song voice, running her fingers through her stringy hair, leaving behind slick streaks.
I looked up from the endless tower of papers to see monstrous wheels creep passed the glass door. It was the largest pickup truck I had ever seen, outside of the monster truck rallies on television. It had an extended cab, extended bed, several sets of lights, and four exhaust pipes.
The driver parked directly in front of the buildings’ entrances, half on the curb, dangerously close to the doors. The door to the bank flew open and in strode —
“Mr. Acetone,” Darlene squeaked.
The man’s flawless blonde comb over grazed the door frame as he stepped in and he removed his aviator sunglasses. His physique was that of a man who had played several seasons of football 30 years ago, but now his age was catching up, whether he liked it or not. He flashed an overly white smile at Darlene and sauntered up to the desk and placed a thick elbow on the counter. “Morning, darlin’. How are we today?”
Darlene beamed. I could taste stomach acid rising up into my mouth.
“We’re great, Mr. Acetone,” Darlene spoke in a professional voice I wasn’t convinced belonged to her. “Here are the numbers from last week, your emails, lunch menus for today, your balanced checkbook,” she leaned over to reach under her desk. For a moment, I thought I heard her chair leg crack. She pulled out a tan garment bag and more papers, “And your dry cleaning, yesterday’s mail, that recipe you asked for, the information on the four wheeler in the paper, and…” She started looking around her desk, lifting up old candy bar wrappers, then pulled an envelope out from between her stomach rolls. “Here it is! The names of the new ladies,” she placed the envelope on the counter beside the pile of other junk.
When the hell did she do all this sh–
“It is a miracle this place ever functioned without you, sweetheart,” Mr. Acetone peeled his arms out of his black leather jacket and handed it to Darlene. “Hold on to that for me, love. I need to introduce myself to the new hires.” He started to open the envelope, “Where’s Boss Lady and that puny fella that always wears the same blue tie?”
Darlene never took her eyes from the man. “I haven’t seen them.”
Lie. I chuckled under my breath, returning to my so called work.
“I remember when you first started here,” Mr. Acetone cooed at Darlene, but was looking over the paper in his hand. “And how long have you been here, love?”
“Oh, um…” Darlene seemed confused by the question.
“Not you,” he snapped at Darlene, still lost in thought.
I looked up to find him starring directly at me, sitting in the floor amongst the heaps of paperwork. “Well, hello there,” his ice blue eyes seemed to burn behind his too bright smile. “And who are you?”
“Bobby,” I answered immediately. The thought of this guy knowing my real name made me uncomfortable. For the first time, I was glad to have a pseudonym.
“Nice to meet you, Bobby.” He winked and flexed what little muscle he still had under the accumulative flab. He extended a meaty hand and waited for me to shake it.
I slowly rose from the floor, mentally listing the things I would rather do.
With one jolting shake, he said, “Jack Acetone. This,” he indicated the entirety of the bank, his gaze lingered way too long on Darlene, “is mine.” He looked at the crumbling hole in the wall and the clock factory beyond. “I suppose that, too, now.” He returned his piercing eyes to me, “Hopefully soon, you’ll become a valuable employee like our dear Darlene.”
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