Saturday, December 27, 2014

Excerpt 3: The Body Caches

The building’s large wooden doors open up to a small lobby with a large saltwater fish tank and a wooden security desk with an older, bearded security guard asleep in a chair two sizes too small stationed behind it. I noticed a notebook on the edge of the desk so I signed my name and the time and date and made my way to the elevator as quietly as I could. He looked like he was really enjoying his nap. The elevator doors pulled apart so slow that I wondered if they were stuck. Once inside the elevator, I pushed the worn out button that I suspected was for the 4th floor. Most of the numbers on the panel were gone, worn away from years of hurried fingers pushing on them.

And then I waited. It felt like the elevator was trying to pull itself out of molasses. The slow crawl up to the 4th floor gave me plenty of time to enjoy the stained red velvet carpet and wood paneling on the walls. And the pee smell. I would never understand why people pee in elevators.

The elevator finally came to a stop and the doors opened up to a hall of glass-paneled doors with gold lettering on them. Each door had the name of a different business or lawyer on it. The same wood paneling in the elevator was on the walls and the floors were a dusty blue. I suspected they were once light blue but that time and dirty shoes had not been very kind to them. Gunner’s office was to the right and around the corner. HCCR was the very last door at the end of the hall. The lights were on so I took that as a good sign that at least someone was in the office. I was half-way hoping that it wasn’t Gunner. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see him but I couldn’t recall the last time I had actually seen him and I definitely didn’t want to go see someone from high school and have a conversation about whether they may or may not be a stalker and a homicidal maniac. That just didn’t sound like a fun time.

A bell rang above my head as I pushed through the wood and glass door. A nymph-like woman who was sitting behind a large cherry oak desk looked up at me with wide blue eyes. Her eyelids were drowning in bright purple eyeshadow and her lipstick was such a bright pink that I was sure it was once employed by Day-Glo. Her hair was cropped short around her face and was fire engine red. She was wearing a beige blouse and pearl necklace. I couldn’t see her from the waist down. From the neck up she looked like she’d fallen in a crayon box. She smiled so wide her eyes bugged out like a chiuahua.

“Can I help you?” She drawled out like she should be sitting on a front porch sipping tea with a shotgun between her legs and hound dog laying at her feet.

“Uh, yes. I’m looking for Gunner Hayes. Is he here by any chance?”

“Uh huh. ‘Cept he’s in a meeting right now. I can either take a message or you can sit right here with me and wait.”

“How long do you think it will take?”

“’Bout fifteen minutes. He should be ‘bout done, sugar. You can wait, if you like. He doesn’t have any more appointments this afternoon.”

“Okay. I’ll wait then.”

I sat down in a rickety wooden chair in the corner of the room. She struck me as the Chatty Cathy type and I wanted to be as far away from her as possible. There is no way I was going to listen to Redneck Suzy for the next fifteen minutes. I pulled my phone out and started checking e-mails. I sent some texts to Walker and Keaton. I wanted to look as busy as possible so that she’s wouldn’t be able to find a polite time to speak to me. It didn’t work.

“So what’s your problem?”

“Excuse me?”

“You know, your computer problem. Or is it your smart phone? We fix them there phones now.”

“Actually, I need to speak to Mr. Hayes about a personal matter.”

“Oh.” Her mouth made the shape of a letter ‘o’ and then she made a face that looked as if she was annoyed and confused at the same time. She started tilting her head like a puppy dog.

“Are y’all related? You don’t look familiar. I didn’t think Gunner had that much family around here.”

“No, not related. We were friends in high school.”

“Oh. Oh, is there a reunion coming up? I just can’t wait for my ten year reunion. It’s going to be so exciting to see all my old friends from school again and see what everyone has done with their lives. I bet it’s nice.”

“Uh, no. No reunion. Just need to speak with him, that’s all.”

“Huh.” She gave me a dismissive look and then went back to whatever she was doing before I had walked in. She looked a lot older than someone who could possibly be looking forward to a ten year reunion but I guess it was just the make up. I didn’t even know if Gunner would be happy to see me. He might be like me and absolutely dread running into people that he knew from high school. It wasn’t that I hated anyone from high school. It was just such an exhausting conversation. I didn’t really keep in touch with anyone from high school other than Walker so anytime I did run into someone and they wanted to ask how I was doing and tell me all about what was going on in their lives I just kind of nodded and smiled because I honestly just didn’t care. Half the time I wasn’t even really listening. Walker always called me a bitch for it but it’s just how I was. I couldn’t find it in myself to care about people who meant nothing to me. Out of sight out of mind. Thinking about Walker made me realize I still hadn’t talked to him since lunch earlier today. I’m sure he was pissed at me but at the moment it was one of the things I was least worried about. Walker didn’t stay mad at me for long.

Secretary Barbie didn’t speak to me again until after a tall man wearing a tan business suit walked to the desk and told her goodbye. As soon as he was out the door, she jumped up from her chair, ran around the desk, and into the office facing me. She was only gone for a minute before she jerked one of the wooden doors open.

“Mr. Hayes will see you now.” She looked me up and down as I walked past her and into Gunner’s office. There was a table on the left side of the room littered with bits and pieces of dissected computers and cell phones. Gunner was sitting at an old metal desk in the middle of the room when he looked up at me. 

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