Compromising Positions

By: Tawny Taylor

A grimace firmly in place, she followed his movements with narrowed eyes as he set the photograph down and returned to his junky aluminum desk. Missing a metal foot, it rocked noisily when he rested his arms on the top. No matter. He didn’t need a fancy one.

He slumped into his chair and kicked his feet up on the desktop, intentionally rocking it. Even with his back turned, he could see her grimace in his mind’s eye with each hollow bang. He smiled and stared at the Rembrandt print on the wall, a portrait of a man painted in dark colors. The solemn tone of the painting might have matched the former mood of Fate’s office, but that was about to change.

He stood, took down the painting, and in its place hung his babe and motorcycle calendar. There. That ought get her goat. Damn, this was fun!

Before getting to work, he took a few minutes more to rummage through his boxes, delivered by a stream of movers over the past half hour or so, and found his more charming decorations—gag gifts never meant to be on display anywhere sunlight might reach. The Whip and Chain Chiropractor coffee cup his friends had given him after he’d graduated from college, the Rodney Dangerfield talking bust his brother had thoughtfully bought him for his last birthday, and a Voodoo computer his last boss had given him after he killed three computers were the perfect compliment to his ugly desk.

Forcing his mind back to the task at hand, he slipped down deeper into his chair. Time to brainstorm, his favorite past time. “What do you think about television?”

“Huh?” was her unenthusiastic response.

He kicked his feet against the desk front, spinning his chair around. As he turned to face her, his feet slammed on the ground, stopping the momentum. “Television?”

“What about it?” She glared at him.

“I’m not trying to trap you or anything. We’re on the same team now, remember?”

Pulling several files from a low cabinet next to her desk, she shook her head. In a soft tone, like a mother would use when scolding a toddler, she said, “No, we’re not. There isn’t room in this office for two of us. Someone will be leaving, and I’m guessing it’ll be within the next week or two.”

“Hmm. Hope you’re wrong. Wouldn’t give us much time to get reacquainted.”

Clearly ignoring his comment, she continued, “The way I see it, we’ll both be better off if you do your thing and I do mine. No partnerships.”

“Damn! You’re gonna take all the fun out of this.”

“No, this is a job, and I’m taking it seriously.”

“Of course you are, Fate. By the way, I’ve never told you, but I love your name. Your parents hippies? I never did get to meet them.”

Something on her desk captured her attention, exaggerated to the point of ridiculousness. “Well, maybe if you hadn’t been such an immature goon in college you might have had the chance. My parents have a warped sense of humor. I imagine you would get along with them just peachy.”

He chuckled at the insult, having heard it so often it had lost its former sting. “Well, I have some great ideas about the new company. You might want to listen.”

She lifted her eyes. “Okay, fire away.” Her cynical expression and emotion-void voice suggested she had no interest in his ideas, but her lack of enthusiasm didn’t deter him.

“I say we produce a dating program. You know, like a blind date show. We can screen the applicants and set up the dates…”

“A television program would require an enormous capital investment. Video and sound crews, producers, directors, staff to screen applicants. Where would the money come from? Last I checked it wasn’t in the marketing budget.” She flopped open the Date Doctor marketing binder, shuffling pages until she found the budget page. “Nope. Not there. Sooorry!”

Shot down. No matter. He would find a way. He rummaged around in his brain for an idea. “I know. We’ll sponsor a show or provide the contestants, do the applicant screening for a show that already exists. That way, we’d get hundreds—thousands—of young singles in the door. Then we could sell them our service.”

“I don’t know. Your plan sounds sneaky. I don’t like it.”

“You have a point?”

Cutting him off again, she dropped her head and started reading.

The fun was over.

Determined to find a solution, Gabe spun his chair to face his desk and doodled on a notepad. He wasn’t an advocate of team meetings or brainstorming sessions, but he was beginning to see their benefit. Fate was the perfect person to bounce ideas off, intelligent, honest, critical. If she permitted, together they could be a force to be reckoned with.

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