“All right, fellow Isis employees!” Lana winced backward from the megaphone as Pam bellowed into its mouthpieces. “On your left, you’ll see your patches! I hand-embroidered these babies to resemble the rainbow flag insignia. Please wear them at all times during the next twenty-four hours.”
“Rainbow triangles?” Archer’s eyebrow rose as he plucked one of the teeshirt. “This is like…”
“Please don’t say it,” demanded Lana, casually sipping her coffee as she watched Pam eagerly pass out plastic bags filled with pink triangle-shaped cookies and purple ribbons.”
“But they’re really…”
“ARCHER,” Lana hissed.
“I mean super. Mega-enormous. LIBERACHE-sized…”
“Archer.” Now the megaphone was right in his face, close enough that Pam’s reverb cut through the din of their argument. Archer cringed back as Pam’s amplified voice crashed through the haze of his four-martini-and-a-pack-of-Raisnettes-lunch . “Put on your triangle and cork your cry-hole.”
“This totally clashes with my jacket,” he grumbled, but donned it anyway.
“We’ll be doing some bonding exercises,” Pam shouted. “Everybody pick a partner of the same sex!”
“It’s Armani. Seriously, Lana, ARMANI, not paper-crap-from Michaels!”
“Archer,” Lana growled. As disinterested as she was in Pam’s little speech, she figured she should pay the girl some attention before she went off on one of her rants. But as Pam’s words registered, Lana realized that Archer and Ray’s glares connected and then focused on Cyril – who sat at the end of the conference table, innocently eating the canapés and cookies Pam had worked so very hard on. Lana had arrowed toward Mallory; already four martinis deep into her lunch, Lana correctly calculated that the older woman would be no extra trouble. They both groaned at what happened next; the sound of wood crackling as Archer launched himself over the table and toward Cyril, which sent the unfortunate former accountant scrambling toward the floor with a scream.
“Damn it!” Mallory bellowed, sloshing gin across the floor in her haste. “Archer, sit down and let Miss Piggy teach you her little life lessons.”
Archer surfaced with a grunt, his hair streaked with jelly and pastry cream. “But mother, he was going to beat me to Cyril! If I don’t end up with Cyril I’m going to have to…”
“…Team up with Krieger, which is exactly what you’re going to do. Now go into his godawful scary lab and find him!” Pam ignored his grumbling as he left the room. “Cheryl, you’re with me.” She grabbed the redhead by her wrist and ducked a wild judo chop.
“Heh you know what happens when you get all grabby with me!” Cheryl grinned, a drunken blush covering her cheekbones.
“How much vodka have all of you had?! I put out that bottle fifteen minutes…” She trailed off on a groan as she realized the entire supply had disappeared down Malory and Cheryl’s gullets in two seconds.
“Damn it! Cheryl, can you stop being a slut for five seconds and listen to me?”
“No,” Cheryl said, hanging an arm around Pam’s neck. “You’re so cuute when you’re mad, though.”
“Go wring out your panties and think team-building! And pride based support…okay, just pretend to like each other for five minutes and other crap,” sighed Pam. Her fellow employees stared at her in abject confusion. “You assholes really know how to suck the joy out of a room,” she growled.
“And you certainly know how to breathe fatly. Really. You’re fat.” Pam’s punch actually knocked the wind out of Archer.
“Pam, there certainly isn’t any reason to resort to violence,” sighed Malory. “Not unless violence can get me another bottle of vodka.”
“That’s the only thing violence can’t get you,” whined Cyril. “Archer, get off of my ribs!”
“That’s not me! It’s totally Ray’s fat elbows!”
“Uh…” moaned Cyril, sitting up. He pointed his index finger over his shoulder, to the chair where Ray perched smartly, his finger hooked in Cyril’s collar.
But Cyril wasn’t in a conciliatory mood. “Let go, Archer – the boy’s all mine.”
Archer raised an eyebrow. “How many times have you said that today?”
Ray’s elbow collided with the back of Archer’s neck and Cyril was tugged, wholesale, into Ray’s lap. “The cheese stands alone,” he said.
“Yeah, the most radical, talented cheese in this room.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “Mom…” He extended a mock-accepting hand toward Mallory.
“Sterling?” Mallory’s eyes cleared and she coughed. “I’m going to try to find Krieger. He should be taking part in Pam’s little party..” She started edging her way toward the open door.
“Mother!” Sterling squawked, climbing to his feet.
“Oh God,” Ray grumbled, watching Archer get into a five-point stance. The odds that he could take his mother in a footrace for the door were fairly high, but he didn’t want to be in the way, and jerked his chair out of the line of fire, dumping Cyril butt-first onto the floor.
“Pam! Stop him!” Cyril said, backing his way into a plum hiding spot under the buffet table.
Pam had found a reserve of alcohol hidden in the copier of all things; going to town on it, she ripped it from her lips and belched out, “for Christsakes, it’s not a party!”
“Puh-lease,” groaned Ray. “Can’t we just get the show on the road? I have a six o’clock with my massage therapist to work out all of the teeny kinks I have from my VIOLENT injury I received WHILE ON THE JOB.”
“Ray, please show some consideration for your fellow gays and wait for Krieger.”
“Gee, I’d love to…but I’m the only gay man in this company!”
“Yes, Ray, we’re all aware that you think you’re Isis’ sole creampuff.” Mallory edged her way toward the office’s mini-bar, ice cubes jingling in her glass as she leaned into Lana. Wrapping an arm around Lana’s shoulder, she said. “If you must catch me would you please try not to stain my new Prada jacket with your enormous claws?”
“I’d rather finger a dead skunk,” Lana said coldly.
“Don’t speak that way about Pam!”
Then Archer let out a Tarzan yell as he threw himself onto the buffet table, splattering the remains and crushing Cyril underneath Pam’s antique, cowboy boot-shaped glass beer jug.
“What were you planning on doing?” Cheryl asked Pam, slinging an arm around her neck as a melee unfolded in front of them.
“A few trust falls,” she shrugged. At that point, Mallory clocked Cyril in the nose as he struggled to help up Lana, who was in a hair-pulling brawl with Archer.
“I think Missus Archer is losing,” Cheryl whispered.
“I know,” grinned Pam. “Pass me the popcorn.”
Cheryl retrieved the now booze-soaked corn from the ruined table, and she and Pam huddled together, shoveling down their popcorn, leaning subtly into one another.
As she watched them try to destroy each other, Pam thought to herself that it was turning into one hell of a pride week after all.