Her Little White LieBy: Cj Howard
I closed the door behind me and breathed a long, deep sigh of relief. I had a fiancé. All I had to do was get Mikey ready and presentable in two days. Another loud cheer went up in his apartment and I wondered what the hell I thought I was thinking. Mikey would never be ready.
“Mikey! Mikey. Can you hear me?”
I called Mikey on my way to work. I figured he'd already be on the site by now and heeded my warning about not taking too many days off.
“Grace. You're gonna get me fired. What is it? You know I can't take personal calls.”
“I know, Mikey, I'm sorry. I was up all night thinking about this party.”
“Don't worry, I'm all over this thing. I'll be the perfect gentleman.”
“That's the problem, Mikey. You don't know the people I work with. They can be highly critical. They'll ask questions about us. How we met, all that kind of thing. I don't think we can pull this off, not by tomorrow night.”
“What do you mean? It isn't Shakespeare in the round. I pick you up Thursday and we go over a few things. You just fill me in and I'll say what you tell me.”
“That's just it. We only have tonight to get our stories straight. You'll have to meet me here on Thursday straight after you get off the site. You'll have to freshen up, take your suit into work and be here by about 6.30.”
“Suit? No one said anything about a suit, Grace.”
“Jesus, Mikey. Don't you have suit or a formal shirt or anything like that?”
“You know I don't do formal, Gracie. Can't I just wear a clean t-shirt and some jeans?”
“Well, I guess so. But just make sure they're clean and don't forget to iron your t-shirt.”
“Iron my t-shirt?” Mikey sounded as though he was about to laugh or, worse, back out altogether
“Look do your best okay? I finish at three today so come over this evening and we can rehearse our story.”
“Rehearse our story? Ah, come on, Grace. Can't you just make up a profile for me and text it over?”
“No. We need to work on this Mikey. You're not gonna let me down now are you?”
“No, Grace. I won't let you down. I'll come over to you tonight. I'll bring us some beers.”
“Not too many, Mikey.”
I hung up and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Mr. Iglesias behind me with a big smile on his face.
“La Princesa Negrita. ¿Como estas?”
“Bien, Snr Iglesias. Muy bien, y usted?”
“Ah, bien, bien.” He replied. “You making plans with your fiancé?”
I looked at him out of the side of my eye and smiled.
“Mr. Iglesias, you know that-”
“That one day you will be married to the ideal partner and live happily ever after?”
“That's not what I was going to say. It's just that-”
“Don't worry, Grace. The Christmas party will be fine. You have nothing to worry about.”
We were at the staff entrance and Mr. Iglesias tipped his hat and carried on his walk to the main door. He had a small package in his hand, more last minute Christmas shopping, I assumed. Mr. Iglesias normally bought all his presents back home in Argentina and handed them out to his daughter and his son-in-law after having dinner with them.
This lovely old gentleman was, it would seem, my co-conspirator.
Later that evening the buzzer to my one-room apartment sounded.
“That you, Mikey?
“Sure is, and I come bearing booze.”
“Come on up.”
Mikey joked around all night. I was worried that he wouldn't retain any of the fake story I had given him, especially as he kept asking me to go over it 'one more time' for him.
“Look, it's easy. You work in marketing. You are a junior member of the team who is just learning the ropes. Mainly you have to sit in on meetings and do the coffee run.”
“Why can't my secretary make me coffee?”
“You don't have a secretary.”
“Because you're new to the firm and you work in an open plan office.”
“Is there a coffee machine?”
“Well, why can't everyone get their own coffee? Why do I have to make it?”
“Because you're the junior member of staff.”
“Well won't my time best be served learning how to do marketing rather than making drinks all day? I've got a better idea. Why can't I just work in a bar? I know about drinks. Real drinks. I'd be much better as a barman. I've actually really been a barman, you know?”
“Mikey, please. This is serious. Are you taking this seriously? Why are you looking at me like that?”