The Painter

Marsha steadily typed her way through the morning. She kept glancing over at the clock wondering when Mr. Danvers would arrive. She hoped he wouldn’t. All it took was him entering the office to make time feel as of it slowed to a crawl. For thirteen years she worked as executive assistant to the vice president. In that time she had worked for six VPs. Some had been extremely business like. Others had been more personable and friendly. Until Mr. Danvers all had been at least civil.

The clock struck eleven. Marsha was starting to hope that she would go the morning, perhaps even the whole day, without his harassment. The door crashed open and Marsha’s hopes were ground beneath the plodding gait of Ben Danvers. He was a tall man, about six foot three. He wore a black suit with a yellow power tie. A bright red tie pen anchored the tie in place. Marsha tried to distract herself from the notion that her monthly paycheck wouldn’t cover the cost of his outfit by imaging the spot of red was in fact a smear of ketchup.

“Martha do you have the numbers O’donnell sent over?”

“Not yet, sir” Marsha double checked the time stamp on the email. ” It just came in in the last ten minutes.”

“He told me over our round of golf he sent them first thing this morning. I’ve told you about blaming your shortcomings on others.” He poured a cup of coffee from the communal urn, took a sip. Grimacing he spat the coffee back into his mug and them emptied the mug back into the urn. Why am I not surprised that even a simple cup of coffee is beyond you.”

As he entered his office Marsha again weighed the option of continuing to work under Mr. Danvers. To not would bring about some financial hardship, but she had weathered such storms before. Still, she did not want to be hasty. Making such a final decision should not be done lightly.

The intercom on her desk buzzed. “Yes Mr. Danvers?”

“Oh and Martha, I’m going to need you to come into work this Saturday.”

“But Mr. Danvers, that is my grandson’s birthday. I put in a notice months ago. If you need someone I van request a temp.”

“I’ve almost adjusted to your inconsistencies. If you want to keep your position I wouldn’t give me the chance to work with someone who has the chance of being competent. I might like the change. Understand?”

“Yes sir. I’ll be in on Saturday.”. The intercom light flashed off. Marsha made her decision. She could no longer tolerate working for Danvers. She picked up the phone and started the process.”

One month later, Marsha was humming to herself as Danvers entered the office promptly at eight thirty.

“Good god Martha, it is far too early in the morning to be reminded how tone deaf you are.”

“Apologies Mr. Danvers,” she said with a smile. It was going to be her last day working with him and she was determined not to let his foul manners spoil her good mood. “Just a reminder, your office is being painted today.”

“Thank you, Martha, but I am capable of retaining this information by myself,” was Danvers’ caustic reply as he opened the door to his office. It was far different from how he had left it the night before. The carpet and all the other familiar trappings of his office were coated in a layer of plastic. Taping down one last sheet of plastic over a lamp was a brown haired man wearing a dark jumpsuit.

“Hey there chief,” the painter greeted Danvers with a hand extended, which Danvers ignored as he made his way to his desk.

“You covered my desk as well? How am I supposed to get any work done?” Danvers pulled out his plastic coved chair and looked over his plastic covered desk with undisguised disgust.

“Sorry about that, but we wouldn’t want any splatters on that mighty fine piece of oak.”

“Just get on with it.”

The painter moved behind the desk motioning at the back wall. “I figured I’ll start over with a coat of primer and then…”

“Since I don’t have a name on my shirt,” Danvers interrupted, “Or an outfit that matches one worn by a trained monkey let’s assume primer isn’t my most pressing concern of the morning.”

“Sure thing, chief. Just one more thing.”

“What?” Danvers demanded scowling into his briefcase.

“If you weren’t such an asshole this probably wouldn’t be happening.”

“Excuse me?” he said as he turned towards the painter. His eyes barely had time to focus on the pistol before the muzzle flashed.

At her desk Marsha tensed at the bang if the gunshot. She had been warned that even silenced the report would be louder than in the movies. Still, she was confident that the sound hadn’t travelled much further than the outer office and if it did she’ll just claim to have dropped a thesaurus.

About an hour later the painter exited Danvers’ office with all his supplies bundled neatly onto a hand cart. Marsha felt secure that no one would figure out what was wrapped in those layers of plastic drapes.

“Finished already?” she asked.

“He didn’t like the color. Said he’d give me a call when he found something he liked but I have a feeling I won’t be hearing from him.”

“It’s probably for the best. He can be quite unpleasant,” Marsha told him before returning to her typing.


3 thoughts on “The Painter

    1. Maybe?

      I was trying to show a last straw type thing, where the opening is the day she decides to take action. The time jump is also meant to support the idea that she is just planning on resigning.

      I know it isn’t Agatha Christie, but it is supposed to be a bit of a twist.

      1. Sure, but I felt a sense of disconnect — you did a good job making me hate the boss character in the first “scene”, might make it more immediate if the story is set on the day of the murder.


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