‘Spitfire,’ a novel by Annette Sandoval (Chapters 1-2)

I return at exactly four-fifteen to the sound of the ringing phone. The buttons are lit up like a row of white corn and Doris is standing by the elevator, grinning. I take it back. She is a bitch. In sequential order, I put a half dozen people on hold. As I go back to the first call Doris disappears behind the closing elevator doors.

When the crisis is over, I reach for my Pepsi. I realize that I’d wrapped T-shirt guy’s card around the bottle, like a coffee sleeve, and have to peel it off. I look at it. It’s the cheap-ass type of business card that the police use, with the company’s name and logo.

“Coolly Mender” and his phone number are written in the fill-in lines.

Flipping the card over, I see the same scratchy writing on the back. It’s the username and password to Coolly’s e-mail account. Grinning devilishly, I say, “Hot damn!”

“¡Hola Tomi!” Momentarily startled, I look up at my future new boss, Scott Martin’s, open face. “¿Qué hora es?”

Scott loves to practice his high school Spanish on me. I don’t really speak Spanish, but neither does he. I put on an exaggerated Mexican accent. “Es time to buy a watch…I theenk.”

We both laugh. Scott’s okay in my book. Anyone who laughs at my jokes is okay in my book.

“I’ll be in Royce’s office. Can you do me a favor? If Andy, my four thirty, arrives early, buzz me there. And if you decide to be my assistant feel free to interrupt.”

Giving him an eye roll, I say, “Sure.” I answer the ringing phone and watch Scott’s confident walk as he heads to the back stairs. He’s tall and thin and reminds me of Jack from the Jack in the Box commercials, only with a human head and chestnut brown hair.

Before I do anything else, I check the pull-down menu and click on “Web History” to see what Doris was up to. I like to snoop too. Fortunately for me, Doris is not aware of this feature. Scrolling down, I marvel at how much ground she covered in fifteen minutes.

As usual, she’d made the rounds on the online dating sites. I scan the subject headings from the personal ads:

  • Looking for a Sugar Baby
  • Let’s get married in Vegas by Elvis
  • Looking for a “New” Barbie Doll the old one broke 🙁
  • Are You Breathing?
  • I’m Dangerous Baby. Proceed With Caution!
  • Must Love Porn and God

“Huh?” I say, backing up. I have got to click on this link. The window opens and I read:

I am looking for the perfect woman. You MUST have a banging body with really big tits. You MUST be really good at giving head and love doing it. You MUST love using your pussy. You MUST be bisexual and love threesomes with other women (men negotiable). You MUST love porn.

Also, you MUST be intelligent and funny, sweet and wholesome, and Catholic! You MUST be a VERY religious person and attend mass weekly. You MUST NOT be a slut!

Hey, that sounds just like me, I think. Well, except for the liking to give head part. I get more out of sucking on a baked turkey neck than that! And the stuff about being bisexual, liking threesomes, or going to mass. I stare off into the middle distance, trying to imagine the woman of this psycho’s dreams. The best I can come up with is a woman with a split personality. Both identities MUST be suffering from a lack of self-esteem.

I’m switching to my personal e-mail account when the elevator dings, then Samantha appears. She’s holding a mug that says “A morning without coffee is like sleep.”

“Sooo?” she drags out the one syllable. “Are you going to go for the promotion?”