Today I’m giving you a bonus scene from chapter 6. This is a scene that I absolutely adore! Rhae has returned to work and she’s tormented by the Dragon Lady, but Bill makes it all better. I dare you not to laugh! Click here for more information on A Place to Stand.

Tune in later for the first page of Chapter 7.

Just when things start to feel normal and routine in the office, I hear her. The Dragon Lady. A small ping of panic fills my chest and I start to look for a way out. What do I ‘need’ to do that will take me away from my desk? Scrambling for anything, I see Bill walking away, shaking his head. He must be headed out to smoke. Convenient. He can’t stand her either. “I swear when I retire…” he always rants. Unfortunately, I don’t smoke, so I’m stuck. She doesn’t sit on our side of the building. Why in the world would she be over here? She’s been lying in wait for me to return. Scary thoughts. That’s when it happens:

“HEEEEYYYYY GIRRRLLLLLL! So glad you’re back. Are you ok?”

Jesus help me. The syrup dripping off her words is nauseating. I start to have a post-traumatic stress flashback. She was at the visitation. She was the one that finally put me over the edge and sent me bailing out the back door. Bernice Daigle, office gossip and fake bitch extraordinaire.

I reinforce my chest with a deep breath, “Hello, Bernice. How are you? Did you need something?”

“Me?” insert mock surprise, “I’m good. How are you? I remember when my third husband died. Girl, I couldn’t come back to work for forever. I was just so depressed. I didn’t know how I could go on every day, but somehow I did. So why are you here?”

I didn’t think I’d have to answer. She was off on a tangent all by herself, per her usual conversational skills. Her statements are rhetorical. She doesn’t care how you are or what your answer would have been.

I notice she’s stopped talking; I think she’s waiting on my response. “Oh, well, I’m good. I had to get back to work at some point. Today is as good a day as any.”

“Lord you are so strong.” She leans in, it’s like one of those movie slow-motion events. I see it happening and I’m powerless to stop it.

Catastrophe right here in my cubicle. OH GOD, she’s going to… she hugs me. I don’t really do a lot of personal contact outside of family and seriously close friends, so this is disconcerting. My body locks up and I don’t move. Perhaps if I hold still she’ll let go and leave me alone. Her perfume is so strong I can taste that shit in my mouth. Why hasn’t she let go yet? Oh, she might be waiting for me to hug back. I bring up my right arm and gently pat her back near her shoulder. Finally, she lets go. That was nasty.

I motion to my computer, “Still have lots of catching up to do. Did you need something?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll let you get back to it. Let me know if I can do something to help you. I mean it. This is going to be so tough on you.” There’s that fake bitch sympathy smile I hate so bad. Fucking hell.

She has no idea what I’m going through. I call in my fake bitch from her bullpen, and muster a smile for ol’ Dragon Lady, “I will. I think most of my sites and clients were well cared for in my absence.” Too well.

She walks away, and wiggles her fingers in a half-wave as she goes. Thank God.

“SqeEAAKkkkKKK” I jump. What in the world was that? “SQUEAAAAKKkkkkk squeak squawwwwwkkkkkk”

What the hell is that sound? I stand up and look over the cube wall.

Bill’s head pops. He is red-faced from laughing. “You like that?”

“What in the world are you doing? Have you lost your mind?” Laughing even harder now, Bill squats out of sight and holds up a large rubber chicken.

I start laughing too. I can’t help myself, “Where did you get a rubber chicken?”

“You like her don’t you?”

He starts rubbing her belly and walks around to the inside of my cubicle. He perches on the edge of my desk and lays the chicken down, ever so gently. Then Bill pushes that poor chicken’s belly down until it is flat against the desk. He slowly starts letting up the pressure and it seems to me he is playing that rubber chicken with a reverence that would rival a good fiddle player.

That poor chicken squawks the most God-awful sounds. I laugh until I almost pee my pants. I love this man like I love my own daddy. Our antics have drawn a crowd. Everyone is having a good ole belly laugh off that rubber chicken.

Then just as he had laid her down, he gingerly picks her up and says, to the chicken, “Let’s go baby.” With that, he’s gone.

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