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Janina, Bob and Billy


"Bob, get over there and help Billy," Janina said. She always left the impression that she was angry.

"You just told me to do this," Bob said, "Do you want me to finish it first?"

"No back talk. Just go help him." She said, intentionally turning her head away.

"Janina, it was just a question."

"Look," Janina said, "I don't pay you to question everything I say. I pay you to do what I say. Now get over there and help Billy, that job always requires help and you should know it. I shouldn't have to explain myself to you or anyone else, just go over there and do your job."

Bob was annoyed but, he didn't say anything. He walked over and helped Billy. Billy wasn't saying much, which was his habit. Bob liked to talk, which he called "keeping it friendly", meaning that he expected you to agree with everything that he said. "Man," he said, "she's hot today. When's she going to start sticking to what she says in the first place?"

Billy sort of half nodded, smiled and said, "Let's not even get started man, let's just get this done. Maybe things'll level out along the way."

Bob misinterpereted this to mean, "shutup and leave me alone," so he quietly continued to help.

They finished the job, each knowing that they could have done it themselves with no help. Bob went to what he had originally been doing and Billy did the next thing on his list. So went the rest of the day.

Billy was headed for the exit at quitting time. He saw Bob leaving Janina's office with an ugly look on his face. "She's really on it now," he said, "there was no leveling out, bud. Run while you still can." Then he let loose a visciously sarcastic laugh.

Billy would have liked nothing better than to run out, but Janina appeared in her office doorway and waved him over. He pointed at the clock and said, "How about tomorrow morning?"

Janina glared at him and said, "NOW!" She said it very slowly, very loudly and very sharply.

Billy reluctantly did as he was told. She was already sitting in the big leather "boss chair" when he got into the office. She usually said to sit down, no matter what the situation, but she didn't this time. She looked through him and then looked away before she started talking. "You're a good worker," she said, "but I always thought you were too quiet." She looked straight at him but, it was temporary. She started talking in the direction of the wall, again. "I don't have to put up with anybody talking like that. I call it insubordination and you're not going to do it again."

Billy had no idea what she was talking about, so he said,"Whaddayoumean?"

"Don't interrupt me," she said, "and don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. Bob told me everything that you said and I'm not going to put up with that crap from you or anyone else. I sent him over to help you out and what do I get from you but backbiting. Don't come back here any more, you're fired."

Billy was stunned, blindsided. He didn't know what to say. His reaction in absurd, surreal situations was to laugh, so he laughed.

"So, you think it's funny?!?" she was shouting. "Just try to get a job in this town, now."

He shook his head. Another laugh escaped, but it was more of the "wow, can you believe this" variety. "Look," he said, "I don't know what Bob told you, but I didn't say anything. We didn't say more than two things each before we were finished and I didn't say anything about you that I remember. What am I supposed to have said?"

"Don't play games with me," she said, " just get out of here and don't come back."

Billy already knew her well enough to know that the wall was up and fortified. He wanted to say something, but knew that it would fall on deaf ears. Besides, he was starting to feel a strange sense of relief, he wouldn't have to wonder what accusations would be pulled from the air any more. He was thinking that maybe Janina and Bob deserved each other. His father in law had recently offered him a job and he had refused on the grounds that family and business were better kept separated. He still thought that was right, but at least the problems would be different. Hopefully they would make sense. He looked Janina in the side of her eye, because she was still refusing to look at him. "You won't have to worry about me bothering you anymore," he said.

And he left.

by Al Ive


It has been said that life is a series of misinterperetations. It has also been said that gossip kills. Rick