Short Fiction for Guests of the Wordfeeder
Sunday, August 14, 2011
*According to the Urban Dictionary: Used by Jewish mothers to identify that you’ve got some kind of crap on your face. Random, icky stuff that ends up on you or something else. “Dirt” in German.
Tuesday, 1:05 PM.
An attractive 30 something brunette in one of those fits perfectly business suits only high priced women attorneys wear, makes her way through the noisy lunch hour crowd of professionals at this particular downtown grill to where the other half of her meeting is waiting for her in one of the booths.
“Hey,” the attorney, still standing, says to the women she has come there to meet who is busy reading something on her phone, her crab cake and fries platter half eaten. “I got held up on a conference call.”
“No problem. Have a seat. You want something to eat?”
“No,” the suit responded, reaching over, without asking permission, to take one of her fries. “I won’t be here that long. Are you sure it’s okay to talk here?”
“Yeah. It’s too noisy for anyone to hear us, and everyone here,” she paused to look around the room, “is too self-absorbed to give a shit.”
The suit, Margaret Sunner, sat there, wondering if she was doing the right thing, mostly staring at the other woman’s hair and the cheap blouse she was wearing. She was, the other woman, in her late twenties, much better looking in a common sexy way, wearing no makeup, with hair that cried out for a more expensive cut.
The other woman had seen that look before on her clients’ faces and chose to ignore it, almost. “In my line of work, it’s best not to dress to attract attention or, in your case, make a point.”
“Hm. ..You come highly recommend.” It was a statement Sunner made to reassure herself.
“For good reason,” the other woman said as a matter of fact, without the least expression or inflection in her voice.
“Here,” Sunner reached into her purse and removed a half page brown envelope which she slid across the table.
The other woman picked it up, pinched the metal clasp and opened the flap. Inside there were two sheets of paper which she unfolded and began to read, one page which included a website picture of a man, an attorney at a rival law firm, and then the other. Satisfied, she put both pages back in the envelope and set it next to her on the table.
“Is this business or personal?” the other woman wanted to know.
“What difference does it make?”
“It affects what I look for.”
After a brief pause, Sunner smiled ever so slightly. “Both.”
“Fine. We’ll get started as soon as..”
Not waiting for the other woman to finish, Sunner reached back into her pocket book and this time pulled out an unmarked business envelope which, as it turned out, contained $5,000 in cash. “Here.”
“Thank you” the other woman responded without seeing or counting the money. “I’ll have a report for you next week.”
With nothing more to talk about, Sunner slid over, stood up and turned to leave without saying goodbye.
Thursday, 2:13 PM.
The phone rang in the suburban offices of a regional house and apartment cleaning service. “Good afternoon. ‘Schmutz Patrol.’ My name is Paulette.” Her voice was that of an older woman, pleasant and reassuring. “How can we help you?”
“Hi. I’m Mark Gutierrez. I got a flier in the mail offering…”
“..a free apartment cleaning?”
“Yes, exactly. I think I’d like to take you up on that offer. I just want to make sure I’m making no commitment to continuing services?”
“None at all, Mr. Gutierrez. No credit card on file, nothing. We’re expanding into your neighborhood and have made the offer to encourage you to give us a try. Obviously, we hope you’ll appreciate the quality of our work and will hire us on a regular basis, but that’s entirely up to you and for us to prove.”
“Good. And I see that your people are bonded.”
“We are and, in fact, if you go to our website..”
“Actually, I’m there now.”
“…you’ll see the details of that policy. You’ll also notice that we bring our own equipment and supplies, that all our cleaning materials are environmentally safe, and that we have excellent customer reviews. You can also Google us. We’re on everyone’s top 10 list of residential maid or cleaning services in the area.”
Mark appreciated the pitch, but didn’t have time to listen to it. “Great,” he said impatiently. “How many people will be coming?”
“How large is your apartment?”
“Two bedrooms, two baths and a kitchen/living room area.”
“Two, possibly three.”
“Okay, let’s do this. When would you be coming by?”
“How about tomorrow or Monday?” They were both days Mark would be tied up with depositions.
“Tomorrow’s fine. I don’t have to be there, do I?”
“No, but you will have to make arrangements for us to get in.”
“No problem. The attendant just inside the front doors will be expecting you.”
“Any special requests?”
“Any particular cleaning problems you’re worried about? Anything you don’t want us to touch or use a given piece of furniture?”
“Not really. Just ask your team to do their best to put everything they move back where they found it.”
“Of course. And if you do think of anything, just leave a note on your kitchen counter. All I need is your apartment and email address to which we’ll send you a report on Monday, letting you know precisely what we did – and making you an offer to encourage you to hire us on a regular basis.”
“What’s your address, Mr. Gutierrez?”
“I live at …”
Friday morning, 9:52 AM.
Having parked their van in one of the services spaces on the side of the condo building, three young, attractive women, each of them wearing bright yellow t-shirts with “Schmutz Patrol” stenciled across their breasts, two of them towing cleaning equipment and supplies in small hand trucks, walked up to the security panel by the front doors.
“Hi,” one of them spoke into the panel speaker.
“We’re the Schmutz Patrol here to clean Mr. Gutierrez’ apartment.”
“Of course.” A moment passed while the attendant checked that day’s schedule. “Please come in.”
“Bzzzzz.” And they were in, picked up a key at the front desk, and took the elevator up to apartment 1012.
Once inside, the three of them split up, each of them pursuing their particular area of expertise. “Okay,” the one with short blonde hair was the first to talk, “I’ll start with the kitchen.”
“I’ve got the bathrooms,” one of the other two volunteered.”
“And I’ll,” the other woman confirmed, “work on his computer and the file cabinets.” They’d leave the dusting, floors and windows for last. “I’ll help out as soon as I can.”
Without further conversation, they got to work. The other woman sitting down in the one of the two bedrooms Gutierrez used for his office, pushed up the lid to his laptop, the one he kept at home, and proceeded with extraordinary expertise to bypass passwords and copy pertinent recent email and files, not only from his home computer, but from his law firm’s server into which she was able to login from his apartment. A small, portable scanner they brought with them took care of copying items on his desk and in his file cabinet. Before they left, she’d photographed the entire apartment, with special attention to family and other pictures – all except the one on his notebook’s desktop she didn’t think was anybody’s business.
When they were done, everything was put back exactly they way they had found it, only cleaner.
Monday afternoon, at the downtown grill where they had met for the first time, again in one of the booths.
“Here’s your report,” the other woman, without fanfare or ceremony, handed Sunner a sealed white, 9 x 12 envelope with only a few pages inside, but also a high capacity thumb drive. “You’ll want to pay special attention to the case files related to your client.”
“Perfect.” Sunner put the envelope in the briefcase she had brought with her this time, and got up to leave. “Oh, one other thing. Is he seeing anyone?”
“You make it habit of dating opposing counsel?”
“No, but then this trial isn’t going to last forever.”
“No. No one in particular, as far as I could tell.”
“Good.” Sunner smiled for real this time, turned and left without so much as a ‘Thank you.’”
The other woman watched her leave, and then sat there for a few minutes, thinking, turning the glass between swallows of her frozen banana daiquiri, a drink for which she’d acquired a taste during a recent vacation in Bahamas.
10:38 PM Thursday evening.
The other woman sat naked, except for her bright yellow “Schutz Patrol” t-shirt, her back up against two pillows, her knees up backstopping her lover’s iPad2 on which she was Googling something. It didn’t matter what. Next to her, in his king size bed, Mark Gutierrez, also naked, but without a t-shirt, was making notes on the small yellow legal pad he kept on the headboard selves behind them.
“By the way,” Mark spoke up while rolling up a page and continuing to write, “Sunner’s partner called this morning to set up a settlement conference. Those files I asked you to give her really got the job done. Thanks,” he told her, making a kissing noise with his lips without looking up. “You know,” he raised his eyebrows, turning his head slightly, “I understand professional ethics. If you’d never told me she’d come to you, and just did your job, I would have understood?”
“You would have?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. I would have figured it out and sued your perfectly hard ass off. ..It’s what I do.”
“Well, it was my pleasure, honey. ..Oh,” the other woman said,, also without looking up, “when you have a chance, can I have a copy of that picture of the two us on the beach in Nassau, the one on your computer? I’ll probably never look that good again in bikini.”
“What bikini? I don’t remember there being any bikini.”
“Later,” she looked over at him, “when we finally made it to the beach?”
“Oh, yeah.” Mark nodded, pretending as if he’d remembered something. Tossing his pad and pen onto the floor, he turned and dove, both hands overlapping in front of him as if diving into a pool, under the sheets, surfacing only long enough to tell her, the other woman, “Just think of me as a particularly frisky dolphin,” as he pulled her (still holding his iPad2) down with him.
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