This week, I wrote about creating bad guys and gals (see Villain 101–Part 1). I wanted to share the BEFORE chapter where Paulette gets offered a full-time job. Later in the week, I’ll share the AFTER chapter where I tried to make Simone more sympathetic.
Here’s the set-up. Paulette is a temp in a brokerage firm. She’s 25 and overweight with a bad attitude. Simone is the owner of her temp agency. Barney is Paulette’s boss at the brokerage firm and the head broker.
“Come on in, Paulette,” Barney said. “Have yourself a seat.”
I did just as he told me and then turned around to stare at Simone in the chair beside me. She was wearing her trademark red, and she was smoking a cigar.
“You know Ms. DuPre, of course,” Barney said. He, too, was puffing a cigar.
Simone didn’t even pretend to smile at me around her cheroot.
“Now, Paulette, you’ve been here what, five months or so?” Barney said.
“Six months next week,” I said, leaning back in my chair. I offered Barney a perky little smile that I hoped was cute. With the Cobra Queen this close, I needed to make an ally of anybody else in the room.
“Top drawer,” Barney replied. “Now, I haven’t told Ms. DuPre what I had in mind, Paulette, because I didn’t rightly know myself. You like it here, don’t you?” He tapped the ash off his cigar into his big glass ashtray, which sat about halfway between him and Simone.
I tried a shy smile this time and pointedly ignored the other woman in the room.
“Yes, sir,” I said. I was counting on major sucking up points.
“Well, that’s just fine,” he said. He beamed at me around his cigar, which made me nervous. What the hell was he up to?
“Ms. DuPre,” he said, “I like this girl’s spirit, and I’d like to buy out her contract from you.”
I saw Simone’s jaw drop and heard her rapid intake of breath. With all the smoke she’d swallowed in her surprise, I figured I could enjoy about five minutes of coughing spasms before I would have to gamely thump her on the back once or twice–as if I cared whether or not she breathed.
“But Barney,” she said before she remembered that I was in the room. “Mr. Dumbarton, I have so many better-look–more qualified candidates for you to interview,” she said.
Unfortunately, she’d been a more experienced smoker than I realized and hadn’t coughed at all.
“Paulette was merely filling in until I could find you the perfect replacement,” she said.
Barney seemed to consider her words. He sat puffing on his cigar in silence while I sweated. A full-time job meant full-time benefits and more sick days and a vacation. Not to mention better pay and maybe a better cell phone. And I’d get to see Jimmy every day for the foreseeable future.
Barney’s loud sigh broke the silence.
“While I respect your opinion, Ms. DuPre, I have to disagree,” he said. “Paulette here is the perfect replacement. She gets along with my staff, and she’s smart enough to figure out what I need before I’m even aware that I need it. And she’s a quick hand with all that database and computer business, as well. No, Ma’am, Paulette here is the girl I want.”
With that, Barney winked at me. Despite Barney’s double-entendre ending, I was delighted with the news and thrilled that Simone was thwarted. For once, things were looking up.
So, what did you think of Simone? This is just one chapter, of course, but she’s just that friendly throughout.
Tune in later in the week for my AFTER chapter where Simone gets a sympathy make over.