The Receptionist


         A stack of envelopes slammed onto Gillian’s desk hard enough to rattle her coffee and send a tidal wave of boiling hot liquid racing across the surface. Luckily, the ceramic walls of the cup curbed the blistering coffee tsunami; only a few drops spattered the papers already in front of her.
         “Yeah, Veronica, if you could get these in the mail today—they’re important perks for our top clients,” Martin didn’t look her in the eye as he tossed his demands over his shoulder.
         Gillian refrained from telling him that her name was not Veronica, that the last mail pick-up was in fifteen minutes, and that he could take his perks and shove them up his bony—-
         The phone rang.
         “Good morning, Baker Baker & Bartlett, how may I assist you?” she said brightly.
         “Yes, Veronica? It’s Cynthia, can you just put me on through to Mr. Baker Sr.?” The woman’s voice on the other end was wheedling.
         “I’m sorry, Veronica is no longer with Baker Baker & Bartlett. My name is Gillian. I’m afraid Mr. Baker is in a meeting, may I—”
         “Oh, he won’t mind. Just buzz me on through. Veronica always did. Where is Veronica? She was such a sweet girl, so cute, too!”
         “I’m sorry, Mr. Baker’s meeting is off site, I can direct you to his voice mail.”
         “I could try his cell phone then? I know I have the number somewhere…”
         Gillian lifted her eyes to the ceiling, cradling the phone against her shoulder as she tried, for the umpteenth time, to untangle a knot in the cord.
         “He’s in a meeting, ma’am. The best way to ensure he gets your message would be his voice mail or I can take a message personally.”
         “I’ll just call back later, then. Tell Veronica I said ‘hello,'” Cynthia hung up, her shrill voice the harbinger of a headache.
         Gillian stared at the phone with loathing. A ding from the computer alerted her to an email.


         I’m still waiting on those briefs from the O’Conner case. Please email them to me as soon as you can.

         Bethany Jones
         Johnson & Partners

         Flexing her fingers and breathing deeply through her nose, Gillian replied.

         Dear Ms. Jones,

         Veronica no longer works with Baker Baker & Bartlett. I would be happy to send you the briefs you require. Please let me know which documents you need and I will send them to you.

         Thank you,
         Gillian Stewart
         Office Administrator
         Baker Baker & Bartlett

         Gillian glanced at the clock. 4:30. She wedged the stack of Martin’s papers under the intercom-equipped phone with its myriad blinking buttons. They would just have to wait. She tidied up the rest of her desk, stirred her coffee, and answered a few more emails—some of which were actually addressed to her. Gillian’s cell phone lit up and she glance at the text. The number was blocked and the message just said “Y.” She fished the small incendiary device out of her coffee and stuck it under the telephone’s handset. Martin’s perks would cushion the device until it went off.
         At exactly 4:59 Gillian logged out of her computer—typing in Veronica’s name and password as she did everyday. She picked up her purse and waved goodbye to the other administrative assistants.
         At 5:03 a blast rocked the entire 23rd floor of the towering office building, sending broken glass and billowing smoke spewing out the windows.
         At 5:04 the law firm responsible for orchestrating the mass acquittal of the most heinous mob boss and his associates and the subsequent framing and execution of her uncle was obliterated.


17 thoughts on “The Receptionist

      • I think that I am going to have to follow in your footsteps once my urge to kill subsides. I have had a hell of a morning — the kind where you’ve been done wrong, and everybody agrees that you’ve been done wrong, but nobody is willing to do anything about it because the person who did you wrong has more clout than you. I’m frustrated to the point of wanting to blow up the building like Veronica (and yes, I did that on purpose, darling!)

      • I haven’t had one of those (yet) but I know how frustrating it can be when someone above you wrongs you and gets away with it. Resist the urge to kill and channel it into something brilliant. Or Veronica might just come to Canada…

  1. This was the most well written and poignant piece of short story non-fiction I have ever read. Even better than “Mr. Snuggles & the Beautiful Cat Lady”. I laughed! I cried! I wet myself! I had feelings that I haven’t had in years! I felt for poor Veronica, I mean Gillian. Her pain was my own, & it cut me deep in my beating heart. I felt her sorrows like I felt the sorrow of losing my best friend in the world dying. Mr. Snuggles will always be remembered in my heart and be remembered by the 20 foot statue I erected in my yard. I am recommending this story for the Pulitzer prize. It deserves all the awards & all the prizes & all the recognition!! However, I will have to contact the Domestic Terrorism Task Force just real quick, but that is beside the point! I’ve heard their interrogation tactics aren’t too bad, so there is nothing to worry about my dear. Mr. Snuggles (rest in peace) & I wish you all the best my dear little writing fiend. I hope you are not in jail so you can finish writing “Solace of the Solstice” soon! Word in the hood is that it is the next 50 Shades of Gray!

    • Dear Martha,
      I’m so thrilled that my story touched your heart. I’m sorry about the…other reactions. Please clean yourself up. I regret the loss of dear Mr. Snuggles and can only hope that the statue erected in his honor does him justice.Your use of the ampersand in your comment is impressive. I think Solace of the Solstice will ONLY be written if I am in prison. I hope they have plenty of toilet paper and I have a nice burned stick or a shiv to write with. Best wishes on your efforts with the Task Force. I’ll be in Canada.

  2. Why is everyone fleeing to Canada? Not that you’re not welcome — of course you are! But please, keep your acts of domestic terrorism to yourselves!
    That being said, have you a line on these tiny untraceable incendiary devices by any chance? My boss is driving me batty.

  3. This is like an extra twisted and female-centered “Office Space”. I love it! I just imagine Martin as Lumbergh. “Yeah….I’m gonna need you to come in on Saturday….”

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