“Maggie McCoy, I’m on the list.” She stared the doorman straight in the eyes and tucked a stray lock of her long blonde hair behind an ear. “Would you mind either checking the list or stepping aside, please?” She raised an eyebrow at him, because he still hadn’t moved.
“This is just perfect,” she muttered to herself, as she took a deep breath and prepared to duck around him, but he finally lifted the clipboard into his field of vision. She let out the breath and smiled, much more pleasantly this time. The smile faded abruptly as he dropped the clipboard back down the the desk before him.
Maggie fumed. “This is ludicrous,” she began. “You know as well as I do that I’m here at least twice a week to pick Kat up, and I come to every one of these parties that she throws, whether they’re once a month or every day for a week straight. You’ve worked here about four years now, and it’s always the same–“She broke off in shock.
The doorman turned to open the door for the person who had walked up while Maggie was ranting.
Maggie was too stunned to move, and as soon as the doorman stepped back in front of the entrance, she kicked herself for not ducking around his sorry ass when she had the chance. I won’t waste the next one, she promised herself. Someone else will be along any minute.
“As I was saying,” she continued, “It’s always the same thing. You won’t let me in even thought you have to recognize me by now, and so you check your stupid little list, and I’m on it, so you let me in. Every freaking time. So tell me, why is this time any different?”
The doorman looked through her. Jeez, talking to this guy was like talking to a hologram or something. Maggie tried taking a half step in the direction that he seemed to be making eye contact, but she guessed wrong.
“God, what is with you, man?” Maggie stomped her foot like a child. “There isn’t even one of those stupid parties tonight. There’s nothing going on! Maggie McCoy, here to see Kat Sanders, 312, how hard is that? Let’s get a move on, dude!”
She was so mad that she didn’t even notice at first when the doorman slid aside to let another resident enter. It was only as he was moving back into her path that she realized that she’d missed yet another opportunity to dodge this jerk.
What was the deal? None of this was like her. The impatience, the throwing an actual fit, berating this poor man on the street like a savage! Maggie took another deep breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I’ve forgotten my manners. I’d like for you to let me up so I can visit my friend Kat. Thank you.” She waited, hopefully.
The doorman continued to ignore her.
Maggie was at her wits’ end. She started to take yet another deep breath, then realized that she was hyperventilating over this whole situation, and struggled to breathe slowly and normally. Eventually, it worked.
The doorman didn’t bat an eye.
Maggie burst into tears, and at that exact moment, a cab pulled up to the curb and Kat stepped out, dressed in black from head to toe, with red eyes and a tissue in her hand. The doorman slid aside, inclining his head respectfully towards her.”I’m terribly sorry for your loss, ma’am,” he said.
Maggie’s jaw dropped. No one recognized her. She was here to see Kat for their weekly toast and tea, and Kat wasn’t even home?
Something weird was going on.
A thought struck Maggie. No one was paying any attention to her. Kat wasn’t home. Kat didn’t even see her. Kat was sad. Kat had a loss.
“I’m a ghost,” Maggie said. “I’m a freaking ghost. Isn’t that just perfect.”
Francis Bowers was a dangerous man. He held ultimate control over the holiday scheduling at each and every Featherweight Mattress store in the tri-county area.
In prior years, this had not been a real issue, but this year was something else. Francis knew he had a disaster brewing on his hands when Joel Summers, the manager of the second largest store, called him on a Friday morning, bright and early.
“Frank, none of my crew has shown up today. I don’t know what’s going on. The only one who had any reason to act out is Stacy, because her family is holding that reunion this weekend and I told her she still had to work, but I don’t know the first thing about the others. None of them are answering their phones. When I called Steve in Midvale he said that none of his guys would be able to make the trip all the way over here, but you know as well as I do that he only has one kid that drives his mom’s car, and the rest are middle aged champion salesmen. Help me out here.” Joel was practically in a panic, which Francis found mildly unnerving since Joel was the coolest cucumber anyone could ever hope to meet.
“I’ll work it out, Joel, just hang tight for me.” Francis thumbed the phone off and rolled over in bed to have a look at the clock radio that he kept on his Ikea nightstand. 8:30. He relaxed back into his pillows, then started bolt upright. 8:30?? Francis hadn’t slept that late in years. His stores opened at eight on the dot, and he made it a point to be at a different one every single morning the moment the doors unlocked.
Just to make sure his managers were staying on top of things, you know. Got to keep them on their toes.
With a longing glance at the Stairmaster that towered in the corner of his bedroom, Francis resigned himself to having the offest of off days. No protein shake, no Stairmaster, but most painful of all, no leisurely soak in the hot tub downstairs after the workout and before officially starting his day.
Francis rummaged through his walk-in closet for what felt like hours, looking for that one pair of ebony black Louboutins that never failed to bring him out of a funk. He couldn’t even find one. Every other pair of overpriced dress shoes in the closet was neatly shelved in its individual space, but not the fucking Louboutins. He was going to have to fire Shirley and find a new maid. Again.
Francis kicked the closet door and cracked the frame. “Dammit!” he screamed. If Shirley had been in the house, she might have wondered who had broken in, because Francis never cursed. Aloud, anyway. He yanked a pair of Kenneth Coles from the nearest shelf and threw the left one across his bedroom, striking the Frank Auerbach painting he had acquired at great personal expense and knocking it to the floor, where it landed facedown.
He gasped and held a hand to his mouth, horrified at what he had done. “No, no, no,” he muttered to himself as he dropped the right shoe on his way to check on the painting. His hand trembled as he reached out to turn the painting over, but that fell to his side as he saw the irreparable damage that he’d done. The hole went straight through the canvas.
Francis looked up sharply and saw the dark scuff mark that the shoe had made on the wall when it passed through the painting. He stood up and snatched his phone from the Ikea table and furiously dialed Shirley’s number. When the busy signal blared its dah-dah-dah in his ear, he slung the phone even harder than he’d thrown the shoe; the phone fared less well, shattering as it hit the wall across the room.
Fortunately, Francis had missed the second Auerbach that hung opposite the first.