|*** Random Poetry Anyone? ***|
“Law offices of Childress and Clark, how can I help you?” Toni said sweetly into the receiver, forcing her lips to turn up into a smile. Her mother’s advice resonated in her mind. They can always hear you smiling on the other end. She figured it had helped her land the job here. That and her short skirt.
She listened to the rambling with half her mind on the word puzzle that was partly hidden beneath the papers covering her desk. Without these puzzles to keep her busy, her IQ would probably drop significantly in her employment here. She feared it already had. And this was the benefit of a college education?
“I’ll put you down for ten O’clock next Thursday, ma’am. Mr. Clark is booked until then. Yes I understand how important this is. Mmmhmm. Yes ma’am. Certainly, I will make sure he knows. Buh bye.”
Toni sighed inaudibly as she hung up the receiver. Then she pressed the intercom button. “Mr. Clark?” The speaker crackled as his deep voice reverberated through.
“I’ve put Mrs. Levanstrom down for ten O’clock next Thursday sir. I couldn’t push her back any farther than that or she would have stormed the office.”
His snort was audible even through the cackling speaker. “That’ll do. I’m going to need some more of that coffee Tori. And I’ve got another stack of papers in here for you.”
“Right away Mr. Clark,” said Toni, rolling her eyes at Marissa, who had a desk facing Toni’s. Marissa smothered a chuckle with her thin hand. Her long, curly blonde hair stood in a huge contrast to Toni’s dark brown bob.
Toni reached up to smooth her hair unconsciously and pushed herself up out of her padded desk chair. The ancient monolith creaked as she rolled it back, releasing the old smell of the countless secretaries who had graced the chair in the past. Marissa sniffed the air. “Mmmm, I do miss Dorothy. She had great taste. I love Chanel.”
Toni ignored the comment as she made her way to the coffee pot. As much as Marissa smiled and performed, she didn’t fool Toni. She’d most likely gotten her job as Ethan Childress’ secretary by sleeping her way there. Toni hadn’t asked and didn’t care. She didn’t plan on sticking around here that long anyway. Let Marissa aspire to become a career secretary. That was more than most people with a GED could hope for, and Toni doubted Marissa had even that.
There was still a pot of good French vanilla simmering, sending out aromas that reminded Toni more of the café next to her college than the Law Offices of Childress and Clark. She mixed in cream and sugar, then navigated her way around her desk to tap lightly on Thomas Clark’s door.
“Come in Tori,” his voice sounded muffled through the door.
As she pushed it open, it caught on the thick rug that Clark favored, maroon like the rest of his furnishings. He didn’t look up from his desk, which was neatly arranged and had an alarming stack of papers on one side. His head of dark hair, thick with streaks of grey, motioned to the stack.
“Go ahead and grab those. I’ll need them back tomorrow.”
Toni swallowed another sigh as she approached his desk, unsuccessfully trying to keep her heels from sinking into the carpet. She set the austere black mug on his maroon saucer, grabbed the stack, and staggered out of his office.
Marissa was watching with a smirk on her face, as she filed her nails down and blew on them, sending tiny fragments of fingernail spiraling about the room, caught in the currents from the vents up above. Her desk was as organized as Clark’s, but that had more to do with a lack of work than obsessive neatness.
“More cases for you to file? People to call? Have fun with that. I think I’ll take an early lunch.” With a final blow on her fingertips, she stood up and stretched backward like a cat, causing her generous chest to rise and separate the buttons that barely held her bright pink shirt together. Like many other things about her, her supermodel figure stood in contrast to Toni’s, which was hardly thin by today’s standards. She gave Toni a smile that didn’t reach her eyes, grabbed her coat, and sauntered out the office door, heels clacking on the polished wood floor.
Toni let her sigh out this time, and dropped the stack on her desk. She winced a bit as the sound bounced around the now empty office, but when a few moments passed and neither lawyer investigated, she settled into her creaky old chair. The smell of Chanel and Glow mingled with the French vanilla, and she smiled a bit. At least she had a comfy chair, and the office smelled good. It could be worse.
She closed up her puzzle book and stuffed it into a random desk drawer, pushed a pile of papers to one side, and grabbed the stack of folders. She opened the first one and read through it carefully. Just because this was a temporary job for her didn’t mean she couldn’t do it well. She pulled out her keyboard, turned on the screen, and her fingers started to fly over the keys as her eyes darted back and forth from the file to the screen.
It only took her the better part of an hour to finish the stack, something, she reflected, that would have taken Marissa a week or two. Then she winced. She was probably being unfair to Marissa, who did do work most of the time, but at the moment Childress had a huge case that he didn’t trust her with. He’d been cooped up in his office from dawn till dusk for almost two weeks now, and Toni actually pitied Marissa a bit because she was basically being ignored.
Instead of bringing the files back into Clark’s office, she pulled out her puzzle book and switched her mind out of “sleep mode.” The scratching of her red fountain pen supplied the only noise in the empty office. There wasn’t much to absorb sound, with a few wooden waiting chairs, two lone pictures gracing the eggshell walls, and one small plant next to the door. Compared to the lushness of Clark’s office, this place was less welcoming than a mental institution. Or at least that’s how Toni saw it.
While her right brain solved puzzles, her left brain calculated her next pay check, deducted student loans, and tried to factor in groceries and gas and the electric bill. She put the pen down for a second and closed her eyes. She should be OK for the next month. And soon the acceptance letters should start rolling in. Then she could kiss this austere office, Clark’s opulent taste, and Marissa’s ‘cute’ ass goodbye. If this job didn’t pay so well--. But it did, and it would probably look good on future job applications. Her real title here was “intern” after all. So what if that was a façade to lure cute law students. She’d seen through the ruse right away, and hadn’t cared. It was a steady paycheck.
She was startled out of her reverie by the sudden appearance of Clark at her side. He wasn’t even looking at her, or her desk thankfully, but instead was pulling more files out of his briefcase to drop on her desk.
“Get to these after you finish the ones from this morning. I’ve got a court appearance in half an hour. You can leave when you want, I won’t be back in today.”
He whisked his coat over his shoulders and was gone as the door closed behind him with a thud. Toni waited a moment, then grabbed her own coat with one hand as the other attempted to organize her desk. She wasn’t going to let this opportunity go. She powered down the computer and grabbed her purse, this time exhaling with relief as she headed for the door.
( 2/07/2004 12:40:00 PM ) Lisa#