by Teresa Gaudet

     I truly hate the woman, thought Jan.  She pretends to be so innocent, so sweet whenever she talks to Aaron, but I know it’s just an act.  I can see right through her.  If she just wasn’t so damn smart.  That really pisses me off.  Look at her waltz into the office.  Frig her.  A new outfit again today I see, in her sickening size 5.  I’d like to cram a few cheeseburgers down her little throat and watch that tiny waistline grow.  Bitch.  Great, here she comes with her, “Good morning Jan.”  It kills me every time I have to speak to her.  But I know those times are limited, I’m going to see to that.  That’s the only thing that keeps me sane.

     “Good morning, Jan.” 

     “Hello, Christine.”

     “You’re going to be a busy little bee today.” Christine hands me a pile of neatly organized papers. “ Aaron and I have the Board of Director’s meeting today at 1:00.  You will be able to have these re-typed and collated by noon, won’t you?”

     “Yeah, I can.”

     “Good.  You know I’m really lucky Walsh Construction has an Administrative Secretary.  That way all I have to think about is the really important work and not this mundane paperwork crap.  Remember, by noon. Understand?  Oh, and I need 12 sets.” Christine breezes off towards her desk with an air of superiority.

     “No problem,” I call out to her.   It’s so easy to say that today.  Any other day I would have knots in my stomach and acid in my throat.  But not today, today is a different day all together.

     I hear the click of the doorknob and look up expectantly, butterflies fill my stomach and my heart.

     “Good morning Jan, and how are you today?”  Aaron asks as he jaunts into the office with the broad smile I am so accustomed to.

     “I’m good, how about you?”

     “Just fine.”

     I watch him unlock his office door, turn on the lights and sit at his desk.  I know he will only be sitting momentarily.  Just long enough to switch on his computer and printer, check how many messages are waiting for him and pick up his coffee mug.  It has been the same routine for the last five years, day in and day out.  He is certainly a creature of habit.  Any reservations or doubts about my plan melted away as soon as Aaron walked through the door.  Just his mere presence fills me with happiness and makes everything right in the world.

     “Hey, don’t take all the coffee, save a cup for me.” Christine is practically running towards the coffee machine.  “I want to do a comparison to last night’s coffee,” she says as she laughs and playfully pushes him out of the way.

     Last night, what the hell went on last night?  I feel anger filling my chest and my heart palpitating at an abnormal rate.  Oh God, not another date.  I can’t believe he could be interested in her.  She’s such a bitch.  Shit, I can’t hear them now.  They’re talking too quietly, almost whispering.  Damn her.   

     “All this talk about coffee has me ready for a second cup,” I say as I approach the coffee machine.  Christine glares at me for interrupting their personal moment. 

     “I’ve never seen you have more than one cup a day since you started working here,” says Aaron with that smile that melts my heart.  I notice Christine’s glare becoming more intense when she learns that I never have two cups of coffee.

     “I know, it just tastes extra good today.”

     “Jan, shouldn’t you get to work on the stuff I gave you earlier.  I need it as soon as possible to prepare for the meeting this afternoon,” says Christine.

     “Yeah, I better get working on my presentation too,” adds Aaron.  “Catch you two later.”

      My eyes meet the stare of Christine straight on.  The air between us is heavy, the silence filled with words that I do not allow myself to verbalize.

     “Listen Jan,” says Christine, “I realize you have some kind of matronly protective thing going on with Aaron, but it really isn’t necessary.  Believe me, he’s a big boy who can take care of himself quite well.  Yes, he’s a big boy indeed…

      The smile that spreads across her face sickens me. It takes all of the self-control I have not to punch her in the face.  I feel my entire body break out into a sweat as my blood threatens to boil over.  “Remember the plan,” I say to myself, “keep cool.”  The last thing I want Aaron to see is my losing control.  I must not do anything that may seem suspicious later on.  And beating her to a pulp may be letting my feelings about her out just a tad too much.  I can wait. Justice will be mine soon enough. 

     I ignore her statement and return to my desk.  Christine doesn’t speak or move when I turn my back on our conversation.  I watch her stare dreamily into the blackness of the coffeepot.  She can have her moment to dream about Aaron.  It’s okay, I can think of it as her last request.

     “How are you coming along with Christine’s report, Jan?” Aaron asks, interrupting my thoughts.

     “Oh, I’m getting there,” I say.  In reality I haven’t even started the first page.  It’s so pointless.  I hadn’t planned to actually do her work today.  But, that will look suspicious.  Damn.  I better get busy. 

     “I’m going to need you to proof a few spreadsheets for me before the meeting, and make 12 sets, if you can get to all of that before 12:30, what do ya think?”

     “Sure Aaron, anything for you.”

     “You’re always there when I need you, Jan.  Thanks.”

     And I will always be there for you Aaron.  Soon, we will be able to be there for each other.  As soon as little missy is out of the way you will rediscover your feelings for me.  I know they are still inside of you, buried under her brainwashing. Your feelings were growing stronger, until the bitch came on board.  But I won’t let her stand in the way of what is meant to be any longer.

     “Jan….Jan, will you get with it please?  There’s a lot of work to be done before the board meeting,” remarks Christine.  “I am trying to ask you a question, will you stop ignoring me?”

     “What is it?”

     “Did you understand the correction on page three?  I penciled in the re-write in the page margin.  I wanted to make sure you could follow where to add that sentence.”

     “Yeah, I’m all set on that, but there’s a lot of corrections.  This is going to take me awhile.  Plus, I have spreadsheets to work on for Aaron.  Do you think you could help me out with this deposit?”  I reach across the desk to pick up a night deposit bag with the previous day’s receipts enclosed, and hand it to Christine.  “ It doesn’t foot out against the sales report.”

    “ Jesus, Jan.  What the hell is your problem?  I had to fix three deposits last week.  You never had this problem before.  You’re simply not concentrating.  Any trained monkey can make up a deposit slip and count some cash.”

      “Fine, I’ll find the problem and fix it myself, but don’t yell at me when you don’t have your reports for the meeting.”

     “Oh, I’ll do it,” protests Christine.  “But you better start paying more attention, or I’m going to have to write you up.”

     I struggle to keep the smile off my face.  This is so easy.  It took some time to come up with the master plan, but patience is a virtue.  I knew right away that a weapon was out of the question.  There is way too much open space in this damned place.  Everyone is in plain view of each other.  We are all thrown together in this long, narrow room with our desks lined up in rows like school children. There is absolutely no privacy.  No place where one could safely fire a gun, or plunge a knife into the enemy without being identified.  It became clear early on that poison was the only answer.  Arsenic was my first thought and could have worked, but death can take as long as twenty-four hours, running the risk of missing the best part.  Cyanide was my second choice, until I found out that it has a bitter odor, making it much too noticeable to be successful.  So, I had to do some research.  But I didn’t mind.  It wasn’t like a chore, it was quite exciting.  Whenever I thought I was on to a possibility the butterflies would start in my stomach and I could feel each individual nerve as it set on fire within my body. It was like revving up to a fabulous orgasm.  I was almost glad to find a flaw in a particular choice.  That allowed me the opportunity for more exhilarating research.  But, finally the decision was evident.  Sodium fluoroacetate. The perfect substance.  A fine white powder with no smell or taste.  When the dust is inhaled the chemical blocks cellular metabolism, affecting all body cells, especially those of the central nervous system.  I’m not quite sure what that means exactly, but I love how dreadful it sounds.   The most important fact, however, is that it kills quickly.  I will be happily watching Miss Chrissy puking her head off within six minutes!

     “Jan, give me the first two pages for me to proof read.  I want to make sure everything is perfect with my report before you make all the copies,” says Christine bringing me out of my glorious trance.

     “Oh, I don’t have them ready yet,” I stammer, suddenly realizing I haven’t gotten a thing done on the reports.

     “What do you mean you haven’t got page one and two done yet?  What the hell have you been doing?  It’s 11:00 o’clock.  These have to be finished soon,” shouts Christine.

     “Okay, don’t worry.  I’ll whip them up in a flash.”

     “Don’t whip them up and make errors.  Do them right.”

     “So, you’re going to look at that deposit for me soon, right?” I ask with excitement.

     “Like I’m really worried about that.  I’ll get to it when I get to it.  Fixing your mess isn’t my first priority.  Let me know as soon as you have the first two pages completed.”

     “All right.”  I realize that the sooner she’s ready for this meeting the sooner she will check the deposit.   I scan the pages of work in front of me.  Pages one and two are simple.  I can get that done fast.  Three, four and five will take a little longer.  Six, seven and eight, not bad.  Nine and ten, oh great, those are the worst pages.  I glance at the

clock, eleven fifteen.  I’ll have one and two done by eleven thirty.  I begin typing as fast as I can, anxious to get this last task for Christine completed.

     “Christine, here you go, pages one and two,” I say as I toss them on her desk.

     “Well, that’s a start.  Get the others over here ASAP, got it?”

     “Yeah, I know.”   I return to my desk and start typing again.  Pages three, four, and five are a bit of work. I find it difficult to concentrate.  Everytime I hear little Miss Christine move at her desk I glance up hoping to see her opening the deposit bag.  I feel my mouth widen into a smile as I recall the fun I had the night before.  Wearing a fine particle facemask and heavy gauge rubber gloves I lined the inside of the deposit bag with the magic dust.  As an extra precaution I also dusted each and every bill before I put the money back in the bag.  With ecstasy I am confident that there will be no way for her to avoid the dusty inhalation. 

     “What do you have finished now?”

     I look up to see the pompous bitch at my desk.  “Wait one second.” I finish two keystrokes and hit the print button on my computer. “There you go, three through five.”

     “You do realize it’s 11:45.  I don’t know why you are so slow.  You understand that I need the whole thing by noon, right?  I’ve only been telling you that all day.  I’ll be back in fifteen minutes for the rest, it better be ready.”

     “ I certainly hope we get some kind of tax credit for employing the mentally challenged,” I hear her say in a deliberately loud voice as she walks towards her desk.

     I just laugh and smile.  Now that the end is near her nasty remarks don’t bother me in the least.  Looking at the paperwork in front of me, I quickly type pages six, seven and eight.  I feel myself becoming more and more excited the closer I am to having this damn report completed.  Once she is ready for the meeting I know she will deal with the deposit. Glancing up at the clock I realize it’s noon.  I can’t believe the witch isn’t at my desk this very second.  She will be soon.  Nine and ten, I must have them done.  Shit, so many damned corrections.  Well, I can type fast as lightening when I need to.  I whip up the last two pages by five past twelve.  Wow, I smile, now that was quick.

     I hear the fast paced clicks of the bitch’s high-heeled shoes approaching my desk.

     “All done, Christine,” I say happily as I hand her the rest of the report.  “Any luck with finding my error?” I ask, knowing she hasn’t looked at it yet, but being unable to stop myself from bringing it up again.

     “No, I haven’t had time,” she sighs.  “I’ve been busy waiting for you to get this simple job done.  I’ll try to get to it before one so you can bring it to the bank once the board meeting has started.”

     “Okay, that sounds great.  Thanks for your help with that.” 

     Christine looks at me with her eyebrows raised in disbelief at my comment.  I smile sweetly at her and stifle a laugh as she shakes her head and returns to her desk to proof read the last few pages. It’s so fun to mess with her head.  What a great day this is.  I take out Aaron’s spreadsheets and double-check all of the entries for him.  I love doing work for Aaron.  It isn’t even work, it’s a pleasure to do anything for him.  Even to kill for him.

     “How’s those spreadsheets coming Jan?” asks Aaron as he walks into the room.

       “I’ve checked them all.  They were fine, as always.  Now I’m just going to make your copies, and you’ll be all set.”

     “Good, it’s getting late.  Twelve thirty already.”

     “Your copies will only take a couple of minutes,” I reassure him.  “Then I’ll make the copies for Christine and the two of you will be all set for the meeting.”  I put the set of papers in the top feeder of the copy machine, select the sorting option, request twelve sets, and hit start.  The machine makes its familiar churning sound and begins making the copies, filling twelve slots with page one.  Then it jams.

     “Damn,” I mutter.  I open up the machine and pull out the crumpled paper that has lodged itself halfway in and halfway out of the slot with the number two.  I reset the machine, and hit start again.  The machine runs one copy before stopping for another paper jam in the exact same place.

     “Shit, this is all I need.” 

     “What’s the problem?” asks Aaron.

     “The sorting option on the stupid copier is on the blink.  I’ll have to make all of the copies and then collate them manually.  No big deal, Aaron, its only twelve sets.”

     “Okay, I’ll be in my office if you need any help.”

      I try my best to look casual, but my insides are in knots, and my head is pounding with stress.  This means I will have to print and manually collate Christine’s report too, and that will take some time.  Jesus, this isn’t good.  I know she won’t look at the deposit before this friging report is ready.

     “Damn you Jan,” Christine yells across the entire office.  “You stupid, incompetent moron. You made the biggest, dumbest mistake you could have on page nine.  Do you realize the time, it’s almost time for the meeting.”

    “What’s the problem?  I’m sure I can fix it and reprint the page in an instant. Then I’ll make the copies and collated them in two seconds,” I say in an attempt to calm her down.  “It won’t take long at all.”

     “I just don’t know how you could have been so inept, it’s beyond me,” she yells with her voice becoming louder with every word.  “What do you mean, you will collate the copies.  Did you not even know there is such a thing as a copy machine that can do it all by itself?”

     “Yes, I do know that, but at the present time the sorting function is not working.  Don’t worry, I told you I’d take care of it.  How about that deposit, have you looked at it yet?”

     “You have got to be out of your mind,” yells Christine at the top of her lungs. 

     We both look up as the door is quickly flung open and Aaron runs into the room.

     “What the hell is going on out here?” he asks the two of us.

     “This moron made a ridiculous error on my report, has to retype it, make the copies, and then manually collate them in about five minutes, and she has the nerve to ask me about her fucking bank deposit that she is too stupid to do on her own.  It’s simply ludicrous.”

     “Christine, where is this deposit?” asks Aaron.  I watch motionless as she lifts the bag off her desk and holds it in her hands.  “Jan does a lot for us before every meeting, I know we’re in a time crunch, but it will only take a second to figure it out, and we have to wait for Jan to finish up anyway.”

     I love Aaron, look at him sticking up for me.  He’s the best.  It’s like he chose me over Christine.  Little does he realize how strongly he has chosen me.

     “Aaron, you really don’t expect me to do this favor for her after the morning I have had because of this bitch.”

     “Easy, Christine.  We’re a team here.  We work together for the good of Walsh Construction.  But, I can see how upset you are, so give me the bag.  I’ll do it.”

     I stop abruptly in my tracks as I hear Christine laugh.

     “Who ever heard of a Chief Financial Officer fixing a simple deposit?  That’s been way behind you for years now.”

     “I don’t mind, Christine.  The way to succeed in life is for people to work together.  I think maybe you should learn a little something by my example.”

     “NO,” I shout as I run to Aaron.  “That’s really not necessary.  I can fix it later, while you are at the meeting.”  I gently try to pull the bag away from Aaron, but he holds on to it tighter when I attempt to pull it away.

     “It’s not a big deal Jan.  I really don’t mind one bit.”

      I grab the bag with a firm tug but Aaron holds on even tighter, pulling the deadly weapon into his chest. 

     “I can count it later, really, it doesn’t have to be looked at right away, please give it back to me,” I beg.

     “Hello, people, we have a board meeting to get to,” interrupts Christine.  “Will you PLEASE fix this horrendous error and reprint the page and get on with this before I lose control?”

     “Jan, finish the report,” demands Aaron.

     “Okay, but please just leave the bag on my desk, will you?” I ask.

     “It makes me feel good to help you out for a change, Jan, you’re always the one supporting me.  I insist.”

     I feel helpless as Aaron takes the deposit bag to a vacated desk nearby.  In horror I watch as he pulls the money out of the bag and begins to count it, inhaling the poison with every breath.  I begin to feel dizzy. The room starts spinning as if I was on a sickening amusement park ride.  I cannot speak; my heart is in my throat.  The violent death that will ensue Aaron screams loudly in my head: vomiting, hallucinations, numbness of the face, irregular breathing and heartbeat, facial twitching, convulsions, and coma.  The finality will be from respiratory failure.  I am unable to move.

     “JAN,” yells Christine, “finish the fucking report, why are you just standing there like a statue?”

     Calmness suddenly washes over me.  All I wanted was for Christine to be out of the picture and for Aaron and I to be together.  It doesn’t really matter where we are together.  Slowly I walk over to Aaron, pick up the deposit bag, hold it to my face and inhale deeply.


Teresa Gaudet Copyright 2001