The Sweat of the Brow (54)

I tell the story. She smiles here and there. She draws the words out of me. Then I’m done.

“Christ,” she says, and lowers herself down to the walkway boards.

I join her. My back complains. I ignore it – though that means it’ll complain louder tomorrow.

I wait on her. She sits in the sun. She runs her hand through the sawgrass. It makes me want to cringe.

“What do you think?” she asks.

I think for a time. What should I say? And beyond that – what do I really think?

I shrug.

“That’s all?” she asks.

“Pretty much.”

She doesn’t seem much surprised.

“So ask,” she says.

“What?”

“Ask me.” Ask if I’d done well. Ask who messed up, them or her or me or everyone or nobody at all. Ask how much she’d known, and when, and why. Ask what the job had really been.

I look into the grass.

“Martin-”

“I don’t think I want to,” I say.

“I’m telling you, you can-”

“It doesn’t feel right,” I say. Then, as the idea firms in my mind, “No.”

I can feel her waiting.

I turn to her. “You’re the boss,” I say. “Alpha and omega. There’s no union, no chamber of commerce. There isn’t even the cops. If it’s in your best interest to fuck me, I’m going to get fucked. I don’t know what’s going on. I’ve signed away everything. I’m not going to trust you to act in my best interest. That’s stupid. I’m going to trust you to act in your interest and I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that your interests coincide with mine.

“I”m not going to question you. I’m not going to presume.”

She raises her hand to put it on my shoulder. It doesn’t get there, and she lets it fall. There is sadness at the edge of her eyes and respect in their steady center. Our relationship has become professional, and it’s hard to lose the easiness of simple friends. Now we’re more than that. We’re colleagues. We work together. Boss and bossed – but it is our work.

“Martin,” she says, “I could see us doing very good work together.”

“I hope so,” I say. “Got anything that needs to be done?”

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~ by davekov on 6 October 2012.

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