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Some Places We Went Before We Died

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“I’m a clerk at the Times,” said Therese pleasantly, vacantly. She normally liked meeting the people that Carol knew or Carol met. Carol acquired people quickly, easily, with a throaty laugh and a knowing smile. But this man stood too close, brushing the gray, woolen edge of his sleeve against her arm. He wore too much heavy, musky cologne that bled obnoxiously over the smell of all of the martinis he’d had tonight, or possibly this afternoon. She assumed that Carol had met the man through Harge and been stuck with him in the divorce. “What do you do?”

“I’m a banker. It’s a great profession, banking. Regular hours and a guaranteed income: people are always giving you their money.” He laughed much too hard at his own joke, the onion in his glass jiggling precariously.

“I see,” said Therese, although she didn’t really. Just because something was more or less true didn’t make it humorous. “Oh,” she said, carefully looking over the obnoxious man’s shoulder. “I see her just about to powder her nose, I’ve got to catch her. See you later!” She made her escape to the bar, since the bathroom had actually been behind her. “Manhattan, please,” she asked, and the bartender nodded and hopped to. She was digging in her purse for a tip when she felt a hand at her waist.

“I’m sorry I left you alone with Noel, darling,” Carol whispered in her ear. “Sean Spencer was telling one of his endless anecdotes and I couldn’t get away.”

Therese shrugged. Placating the boss was a part of any job, especially at an industry party. “Dry martini?”

“Yes, thank you.”