Monday, March 14, 2011
The Silence of the Lambs
Nick was in a bad mood. Truth to tell, he’d been in bad moods for so long he’d begun to suspect good moods were mythical, like unicorns or the Loch Ness Monster. Between his idiot brother Mooney’s violation of his cherished teacher’s desk and that farce at the Pleasure Club, “good” and “mood” wouldn’t be saying howdy in his presence any time soon.
All he needed was some poor schmuck to take it all out on.
And there she sat at her desk, industriously typing away and as usual oblivious to the world around her. Mary Ewing, the paper’s typist/proofreader and occasional secretary/file clerk. Nick had to admit their paid ads had gotten a lot more accurate since she came on board, and complaints from the advertisers had dropped significantly. (Like that badger who’d been selling his furniture. “One Night Stand -- $10.” Hard to believe one little blank space in the wrong spot could lead to threats of a lawsuit.)
But cute little Mary Ewing, with her curly blonde hair and her adorable wool sweater, had one insurmountable drawback: she was a sheep. An herbivore. Prey. He could smell the grain on her breath clear across the newsroom. It stirred primeval instincts in his crouching wolf hindbrain that sent him pounding across the room in search of an easy kill.
As usual, Mary failed to turn around at his approach. She preferred people to meet her head on. Too bad. “You gonna take all day with that?” he snapped. “We’ve got deadlines, y’know.”
Mary didn’t even jump. Her fingers flew over the keyboard. Holy dog damn, she was fast. Her typing speed had got her this job. And a not-so-subtle recommendation from Brandon Wayne, Nick reminded himself. Figured the bat would be soft on herbies. Ate frigging bugs for a living.
“Hey,” he shouted at the back of her curly head. “Hey!”
Damn, she had a nice ass. Right now he wouldn’t mind taking a ruler to it. Ignore her boss, would she? Nick’s fury soared to spectacular heights. He clamped his paw on her shoulder. “Look at me when I’m talking to you.”
Mary bleated in surprise. She bounded up and in one smooth motion whirled, lowered her head, and slammed Nick in the gut.
She had a skull like a sledgehammer.
When the room stopped spinning and Nick stopped retching he blinked his eyes back into focus. Mary loomed over him with a stricken look on her face. Her hands and fingers flew through the air as if she were still typing. She croaked another bleat that sounded something like “sorry.”
The newsroom door flew open. Somebody blurted in Spanish. Mary disappeared from Nick’s line of sight, to be replaced by Lamar Balboa. “Jesu Cristo, jefe. What’s your ass doing on the floor?”
Nick waved him off and sat up. Jamie Olsen stood there too. Great. Just frigging great. Jamie had Mary in hand and was trying to calm her down. He spoke loudly, with exaggerated movements of his lips. Finally Mary smiled, put her finger on his lips and nodded. She looked at Nick. Her hands started flying again.
Nick scuttled backward. “Keep that crazy bitch away from me.”
“I don’t think ‘bitch’ applies here.” Lamar surveyed the scene. “What’d you do, jefe? Come up behind her?”
“Me? She rammed me in the stomach, the frigging – "
“You know she’s a deaf mute, right?”
“She’s a what?”
He stared at Mary’s flying hands. Lamar nodded at her gestures. “She says she’s sorry, but you startled her. She didn’t mean any disrespect. It’s just you’re a wolf and, well, it was reflex.”
“Reflex?” Nick massaged his aching stomach. “She’s a sheep.”
“Bighorn sheep. Her dad and two of her brothers played for the Rams. Doesn’t anybody tell you anything?”
Usually not. Wayne sure as hell hadn’t, other than, “Give her a job.” Nick levered himself gingerly to his feet, keeping well back from Mary. “You understand sign language?” he said to Lamar.
“Hey. Snake. We know many tongues.”
He flicked his own to demonstrate. Nick grimaced in revulsion. “Just tell her I’m sorry, would you?”
“Tell her yourself. She reads lips.”
Of course she did. That wrapped everything up in a bow. She smiled at him and held out her hand to show there were no hard feelings.
“Just … just finish up.” Nick staggered back to his office. There’d better be some heavy-duty aspirin in his drawer. He refused to look out in the newsroom again. Dammit, he thought, I hate Mondays.
Posted by Pat C.