Beautiful Distraction

By: J.C. Reed


“Ava, where are you?”

I grimace, not in the least surprised by the high pitch of my coworker ‘s voice. Carol Evans is at her wit’s end, and I can’t blame her. Being the assistant to the editor-in-chief is one shit-ass job. Tanya Bollok, TB, or The Bitch, as we like to call her at work, is the devil incarnated. Because of her endless demands, impossible requests for perfection, and mile-high expectations that would kill anyone’s private life, everyone fears her.

I scowl. “Obviously not at the office.”

“No shit.” I can sense the obligatory roll of her eyes. “I already know that because I looked for you everywhere.”

“You have? Is this about my article?” I wince at the phone and hasten my steps. “Look, I’ll have it done by Monday. TB won’t even notice.”

“Trust me, she will. I need it by midnight.”

I let out a laugh. “You can’t be serious.”

The dead silence on the other end confirms the worst.

We have a tight deadline. I get it. But the print run is Monday two a.m. No article needs to hit the editor-in-chief’s desk before Sunday night.

Try to explain that to TB.

God forbid you actually try to have a life or friends outside of the office.

And God forbid you leave said office as early as six p.m. on a Friday night, which is what I’ve done for the first time in my career, and now it comes back to bite me.

I don’t know why I let my best friend Mandy talk me into driving her to Club 69 on a Friday evening, but as usual, after a five-minute tirade about how she was too late to call for a taxi and she had to be at work that instant, I caved in and took the one-hour drive upon me to help her out.

I shouldn’t have. Because now I’m going to be in a shitload of trouble with my boss.

I groan again. “TB won’t even be back until Sunday.”

“So we all thought,” Carol says. “She took an early flight. I expect her back within the hour.”

“What?” I didn’t mean to shout. Several people turn their heads to regard me. Waving my hand, I mouth, “I’m fine. Haven’t been mugged or anything,” and tune back to the conversation.

“You’re lucky I was here to intercept her call or else you would’ve been the fifth she fired this month.”

“She can’t fire me.” Not in the least because I’m great at what I do, but TB has never been the reasonable type and I’m not one to take my chances. “Okay. I’m coming.” Cradling the phone between my shoulder blade and my chin, I scurry to my car, fishing for the keys in my bag while guessing how long it’ll take me to get back to the office. A glance at my watch tells me it won’t be before ten p.m. Great. I’ll be spending another unpaid Friday night staring at a computer screen with TB breathing down my neck.

I open the car door and throw in my bag, suppressing the urge to remind Carol that everyone’s entitled to an evening off every once in a while. But what would be the point in arguing with her when it’s not her fault?

“What if she arrives before you?” Carol asks.

“Tell her I’m sick.”

“I thought you said your grandmother died. That’s what Jay said you told him when you left early.”

I cringe. “Yeah, that too.”

“Ava, you can’t die twice.”

“Meaning what?”

“Meaning you already told the same lie last year, so keep your lies straight.”

Actually, that was only a half-lie because Grandma was sick and TB wouldn’t let me fly home until I came up with the dying part. Thank God, Grandma lived. But TB even had me show her the hospital bill.

“Yeah. Remind me to make a list.” I let out a nervous laugh as I’m rounding the car to get into the driver’s seat.

“I’ll try to steer her off of you, but no guarantees. Can you be back in half?” Carol asks.

“What? Half an hour?” Yeah, if I learn how to fly. “Sure,” I say chirpily.

My gaze brushes over the busy street and the long line of people trying to get into Club 69 as I push the key into the ignition and start the engine. I throw the car into reverse and try to wriggle my way out of the congested parking lot. I scoot my car forward a scant three feet in line, my eyes focused on the busy street. As I’m about to exit the parking lot, a car approaches mine.

I don’t know my way around cars, but I’m pretty sure it’s a red Lamborghini.

Shiny, and brand new, and expensive as shit.

And it honks impatiently.

Probably some rich guy who’ll wave his wallet into the bouncer’s face to get into the club.