DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash, July 6th, 2007
“You miserable prick.”
Caught, Diana thought.
“Melissa, …” said the client next to her in the bed.
“Shut up, prick.”
Diana looked at the client. He had pulled the sheet up to his neck, as if the woman in the doorway wouldn’t guess he was naked.
“Harold,” said Diana. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s your wife. The one who was supposed to be working late.”
“You shut up, bitch. I am working late. I pay the fucking bills around here.”
Diana sat up, swung her feet over the floor and stood. Her clothes were draped over the wooden chair in the corner, and she couldn’t go anyplace without them.
Melissa pointed a finger at her in a gesture that had probably shriveled the balls of many a witness.
“You’re not walking out of here like nothing happened.”
“Watch me,“ Diana said. She took the three steps to the corner. “I’m just the hired help. This isn’t my business.”
“You’re a pro?” The woman turned to her husband. “You are in such deep shit.”
Harold said nothing, but he seemed to agree. As his wife stared him down, Diana stepped into her panties and pulled them up. Getting her business casual slacks on would be the tricky part. If the woman planned to get physical, that would be the time to do it.
Diana put her slacks on without interference. She kept her eyes on the wife as she started to fasten her bra and button her blouse. She could carry her shoes and bag if she needed to move fast.
“Wait a minute,” said the woman. “Did he pay you already? With my money?”
“Of course he paid me. That’s the deal. Where the money came from isn’t my problem.”
“I’ll take it. Now.”
“No, you won’t.”
“I’m not kidding.”
“Neither am I. I did my job.”
“You want me to take it?”
“You can try.”
Melissa paused and lost her momentum. Diana finished with her blouse and stepped into her shoes. The wife turned and called over her shoulder, “A little help here?”
Three more women in business suits and stiletto heels appeared in the doorway behind Melissa. A three-hundred-pound, HIV-positive man had once stood between Diana and the door of a motel room and looked less intimidating than these women.
She decided to grab the initiative.
“You’re lawyers, right?”
“How did you know?”
That came from one of the other women. Melissa gave her a glare.
“I’ve seen a few lawyers. In my line of work mostly men, I have to admit.”
“So you know what a contract is. I made one with him. I held up my end.”
Melissa gave her a nasty smile.
“A contract to perform an illegal act is unenforceable. Contracts one-oh-one.”
“Okay, I’ll give you that. How about this one? Possession is nine tenths of the law.”
“In this case, fuck the law,” said Melissa. “We’re going to take that money from you.”
“Four of you can probably do it. But then you’ll have to take some time off from work.”
“Because you’ll look like you’ve been in a fight, and I don’t think you want to explain that around the office.” “Well, you will too.”
“I have clients who would like it. And some who wouldn’t care.”
Diana had run out of trash to talk. This situation had to end now. She tightened her grip on her bag and started toward the doorway, staring at the wife as she went. She wanted to keep the other women out of it.
If the woman didn’t yield, Diana knew she would have to hit her or stop. Stopping wasn’t an option. Hitting would be worse in the long run. She kept walking, neither slower nor faster.
The woman took an involuntary half step back. Diana walked through the gap. She could see the self-contempt in Melissa’s eyes, but she didn’t stop to commiserate.
She kept her pace steady. When their leader let her through, the other women also made way. Halfway down the stairs Diana risked a look behind her. Someone had closed the door to the bedroom she had just left. The other three women stood with their backs to the door. In their corporate uniforms they reminded Diana of military guards.
Melissa must be inside with her husband. He would be praying for someone to rescue him.
Sorry, Diana thought. That’s not part of the job.