‘It’s a joke; and you can’t live with that. Can you?’ The words flew from my mouth before I could stop them.
‘Watch who you’re talking to girly. Remember who it is that your talking to.’ He said.
‘And who’s that then?’
‘Your boss for one, and…’ He trailed off.
He stands up, looks at me and sighs. ‘And someone who actually gives a damn about you.’
‘Funny way of showing it Henry. Real funny.’ I can feel myself pacing. I don’t really have any right to be angry; not when we both have things to be sorry for.
‘Can’t you just give me a break? For once? Honestly, if my cholesterol wasn’t high when I met you then it sure is now.’ He chuckles, but when he wipes the sweat dripping off of his brow I can see that his hands are shaking.
I feel a rush of air leave my nose. ‘You can fucking talk.’
‘Seriously? You think I’m the only one to blame here? You can’t actually be serious?’ Henry glances up at me as he pleads. ‘You do realise that I am not the only one involved right?’
I regard him now, my face must be cool and collected because when I say this I feel him shrink before me.
‘You’re in charge, you’ll take the blame. I don’t need to be dragged into this.’ He doesn’t know that I already am involved. So deeply involved in fact, that I can feel the wire taped against the curvature of my breast.
‘Honey, nobody is ever going to know.’ He says. I think he is reassuring himself more than trying to deflect my words.
‘How many girls did you get involved then? Or was it just the three I know about?’
‘It was only the three Melissa. You know that. Why you bloody ask that?’ His face is red and blotchy and I shrug.
‘Maybe because you’re an arrogant arse who bit off more than he could chew’
I’ve got him. I’m so sure that I’ve got him by this point that I say: ‘One day you’re going to get caught, and I can’t wait to see you rotting away in a jail cell’.
He looks up at me and I can see his brain ticking. He looks me up and down and says: ‘Nice blouse you’ve gotten on today. Sorry I didn’t notice how nicely you were dressed; I’m sure it’s not for my benefit.’
His question throws me and I stumble over my words as say: ‘well, no. I mean… It’s not for you. It’s just a cute top and…’ by the time I have finished my sentence he has made his way towards me.
I’m nowhere near the door to his office, and his approach is ensuring that I back up against the filing cabinet. I don’t want him anywhere near me.
‘Did you really think that I wouldn’t find out?’
‘Find out what?’ I try to keep my head straight and voice level. I don’t want him to know how fast my heart is beating.
It’s at this moment that I wonder if the microphone can pick up the sound of my heartbeat through my chest. I hope it can. I hope they come help me.
‘Ok, so I’m going to ask you a question now and I want you to be honest. Understand?’
‘Do you, or do you not have a wire strapped to your chest right now?’
I shake my head. ‘Of course I don’t. Don’t be so fucking stupid!’
His meaty hand inches closer and closer to me.
“Watch where you put that.”
“Why, what am I going to find?”
I laugh, my confidence is starting to lag now. “Asides from my vest top… nothing”
He lunges towards me, hands grabbing the front of my top.
I stumble backwards, hitting the wall behind me. If he wasn’t holding me up, I would of fallen down.
I cannot help but glance down; and I can see in his eyes that he knows. Shit.
There’s a knock at the door and it breaks the tension. Henry shakes his head, and I see him transform in front of my very eyes. No longer is the rage visible, he is calm. I am terrified.
He steps away from, and I feel myself breathe, as he turns his back and opens the door, I fumble, detaching the wire from my chest, stuffing it downwards.
At the door is a young woman, dressed smartly in a dark navy skirt suit. She says: ‘Sir, your one o’clock appointment is here. Would you like me to send them in?’
He shakes his head. ‘No thanks Maria, I need to finish something up first. I’ll buzz for you when I’m ready.’
‘Ok Sir, I’ll sit them down in reception’
The door closes.
By this point, I have managed to stuff the wire deep into my trousers. He won’t look there. I am almost certain.
‘So… where were we?’
‘We were discussing the fact that you are a paranoid old man.’
‘Less of the old.’
‘Fine. I think you need to realise that being so worried about something so trivial is useless Henry; I’m not hiding anything. I’m just fucked off that this “operation” you so willingly dragged me into happens to exploit and hurt you and vulnerable women.’
‘Forced you? Nah.’
‘Yes Henry. Forced’
‘I think that you’ve forgotten how skint you were. How my charity helped you stay clothed and fed…’
‘Yeah at the expense of other people’ I interrupt.
He ignores me and continues: ‘…It’s actually rather insulting that you come in here, shouting at me like you’re someone who actually matters.’
‘I do matter.’
‘Sure you do sweetheart.’
I ease my way towards the doorway.
‘Since this conversation is leading us nowhere… I think I’ll excuse myself.’
‘Not so fast.’
‘What, Henry?’ My curt tone stops him for a moment, and it’s just long enough for me to get the door open. ‘Thank you ever so much for taking the time to speak with me Mr S. I’ll take up no more of your time.’
And then, as if nothing had happened, I walked away. After all, he had a spotless reputation to protect.