Thursday, 7:30 pm
ever notice it seems easier to hear the rhythm of your footsteps on the sidewalk at night? the cold air feels good. and for the first time in a long time, my brain’s almost quiet. wish i could just keep walking. after all, i’m nearly half-an-hour early.
as i open the door the noise and the warmth greet me at once. i make my way to the bar. there’re a few spots open. thursday. glenlivet, just a couple of cubes. ice water back. perfect.
i wasn’t going to eat but the sights and smells of fine food change my mind. and i haven’t had a good steak in ages. I decide to take a booth.
don’t need a menu. strip steak med rare. vegetable. another glenlivet. and a water.
they say if you want someone to really listen, speak quietly. how ironic. through all the noise of the bar, the restaurant and even a hint of street sounds leaking in, my ear is drawn to the frequency of the hushed tones behind me. there’s a familiar patter to it.
a man and a woman. not arguing but disagreeing. she’s doing most of the talking. lots of speak about changes and restructuring. now they’re arguing. wow, i think someone’s getting fired. she just fired him. long silence.
shit. i think i need another drink.
the commotion behind me announces their departure. i can hear the footsteps of the man as he exits in silence. the sounds of street life pour in as the door opens. then shuts. next the crisp, click-click of her heels moving in another direction.
my food arrives. the event seems to have put my appetite in check. but damn it looks so good. i do order one more drink to honor a fallen comrade.
the sound of her heels still echo in my head. distantly. then oddly enough not so far away.
I cut into the steak. medium rare as promised. thick and juicy. the broccoli and carrot medley looks deliciously undercooked and coated with some kind of herbed sauce. the moment is... just right.
there’s that sound. click-click. click-click. right on top of me now. i’ll be damned. she’s sitting down.
i hate these off site meetings. fuck. who you kidding. this ain’t no meeting. it’s a firing. an ambush. two of them.
the restaurant seems nice enough. the lights are dim. i like that. the hostess approaches me instantly to take my wrap. she asks if i’m meeting someone. i am. i can wait at the bar. god knows i can use a drink for this. kettle one. rocks with a twist.
the place is busy but not crowded. there are booths in the bar area. perfect. privacy will be welcomed. i can see why HR chose this place. one last ounce of pleasure as we slip the needle into our two victims.
my first meeting arrives. late. he spots me.
“hello, anthony.” i wave him over.
“rebecca.” almost curtly.
(he doesn’t want to be here.)
i get him a drink and we move to a booth. i can’t believe how my heels echo off the hardwood floor. I’m starting to feel sick. let’s get this over with.
we sit and sip silently for almost a minute. amazing how long a minute really is. we look through our menus. there’ll be no order. I think he knows what’s coming. i start it off. the usual crap about corporate, new directions and rethinking our structure. he puts up a little resistance. he’s not entirely wrong either. but i’m instructed not to really listen.
he’s smart and realizes he has no chance here. he deserves better than this. but that’s not how it works. reality sinks in. now, pissed off, he offers up his last rebuttal and throws me a silent “fuck you”. it’s over. he takes one last long sip of his drink, gets up and leaves. out the door into the night. i wonder what it must feel like.
I finish my drink quickly and try and settle my nerves. one more to go. this one will be tougher. i really like jeremy. and unlike anthony, he has no idea it’s coming.
I find him in his own booth having dinner.
i stumble as i try to find my way into the routine. he actually seems to feel sorry for me. he does his best to make it easy. in some strange way he seems more intent on enjoying his dinner than succumbing to the shock from the news.
as i make my way to the door, i’m still shaken but relieved it’s over. actually i could use another drink. then our eyes meet. what the fuck...it’s mr. sunderland. my boss.
“hello, rebecca. will you join me for a bit please”?