The Direct Report

Lately, all Tom had been able to think about was Quentin fucking his wife. He’d be listening to Quentin explain technical constraints to the product team and then suddenly imagine him bending Liza over the table and giving it to her from behind. Or he’d spot Quentin eating lunch in the communal kitchen, fastidiously eating takeout with a real knife and fork, and picture his hands working Liza to another screaming climax. He was jealous at first, but then started wondering whether this could be his subconscious’ way of trying to help.

Quentin wasn’t handsome, but he had an aristocrat’s nose and a way of looking at people that caused all but the most hardened engineers to falter. In contrast, Tom had a communication style that could best be described as hemorrhagic. When they first started dating, in the golden, half-remembered days of his early twenties, he would surface from a treatise on ack-nack signal handling to find her face brimming with amused fondness. She used to tell him that she loved his passion. Lately, between the demands of their jobs and the endless rounds of adoption interviews, it seemed like they never had time to talk anymore.