It occurred to me three years after I worked with him that I didn’t know anything about Edward’s family.
“Any siblings?” I asked.
His hazel eyes looked deformed behind the frosted beer mug. It was 3:14 a.m., and we’d just wrapped up a meeting in Montreal. The bar visit was not so much a celebration of a successful client project as it was celebrating the fact that we still had jobs in this economy.
“Two,” Edward said. “One younger, one older. I haven’t spoken to them since my parents divorced.”
“A middle child,” I said. “That’s dull, isn’t it?”
Over his shoulder, Rhonda from Strategy was laughing at something Boris said. Boris was the new guy transferred from the firm in Boston. He was our manager but only Rhonda liked him. Or pretended to. She had a plastic smile not even Joan Rivers could touch.
Edward was watching too. “It is dull. It’s almost as dull as Boris over there. Did you see him during the presentation? His hands behind his head, both of them, and smiling like he’s the freaking king of the castle. How did he become manager, anyway?”
“Bribery,” I said. I didn’t believe it, but the recent scandals in the news moved it to the top of my list of explanations.
Edward snorted. “Who knows? That’s the nature of the business. You don’t know much about me, and I don’t know that much about you. Anything goes behind closed doors.”
Boris looked up then. His eyes, like black pebbles, scanned our faces for a split second before settling back on Rhonda’s babbling head. His hand was on her shoulder, and it was sliding down.
Edward’s fingers curled into a fist.
“Nepotism,” I said, and Edward leaned forward, suddenly alert.
“You know what, that’s a more likely explanation. I always said that Boris and the VP were both spray-tanned like an East Coast Oompa Loompa. Got the body of one, too. Inferiority complex, I tell you.”
“Beware of Joe Pesci,” I said, and we both laughed.
So when Edward’s body turned up in a block of cement a year later, none of us should’ve been surprised. Rhonda, who’d ended up his fiancée a few months after our conversation in the bar, pleaded with head office to be transferred to Boston, but we’d lost so much staff recently that it wasn’t an option.
A week later, we had a new manager. No one talked much about the old one. Edward’s desk was cleared, and his replacement, a man who also had hazel eyes and fists for hands, was assigned to my team the next day.
As for me, I didn’t give it much thought. I was just glad to have a job in this economy.
Millie’s Note: Joe Pesci is awesome.