"I'll tell you, Mike--I am *not* going to miss this place," grunted Gabriella as she slid into a booth at the all-night cafe she and her companion had chosen to stop in for a cup of coffee. It was empty except for a waitress or two and a few grizzled truckers trying not to fall asleep at the counter.
"So you're not going to change your mind, then?" asked Mike quietly as he prodded his fork into the slice of pecan pie on his not-too-clean plate. "You're going to submit the report as-is...?"
Gabriella tore open a packet of sugar and said crossly, "I have not seen *one* thing to make me change my opinion. This place is the biggest waste of
resources in the known universe! The only thing to do is shut it down and start over again." She took a tentative sip of her coffee and made a face.
Mike took a pensive bite of his pie and chewed slowly. "The Boss isn't going to like this...he's invested an awful lot in this project..."
"Yes, yes, I know! Boo-hoo" Gabriella sneered, adding more sugar to her coffee. "It's not like he hasn't given these people plenty of second chances already to clean up their act and live up to his expectations--!"
"Gabby, you're just mad 'cuz that guy in the sports car cut us off," said Mike softly. "Why don't you wait til morning...when you've cooled off a bit...rethink it a bit...have some pie. It's good pie."
Gabriella stared in astonishment at her companion. "Mike, are you listening to yourself? Haven't you been paying attention to everything we've seen on
this trip? The Boss's own *son* couldn't get them to shape up--!"
"Yeah, I know." Mike couldn't look at her eyes, not when they were burning in anger like that.
"A lot of good people are gonna get hurt by this," he murmured.
Her reply was hard and brittle. "I know. But that's the breaks. Rain falls on the just and the unjust, and all that."
She seemed to think of something, took a small notebook from an interior pocket of her coat, and jotted something down, while Mike continued to poke
and prod at his dessert.
"But surely...surely, there's *some* good ...somewhere...." he started to say, then pressed
his lips together and sighed. Gabriella glanced up at him through her fringe of bangs. When she spoke, her voice was much quieter.
"Mike--you and I have been doing this job for a long time," she reminded him. "These people are lazy, inefficient, and impossible to motivate. Time and
time again they have squandered every opportunity we've given them for improvement. Nothing we've ever said or done has made the least impression on them." Her face hardened. "No, their time is up. I'm going to submit our report to the Boss and let him do what needs to be done."
Gabriella tucked the notebook back into her pocket and rose, leaving her coffee untouched. "C'mon, it's getting late. We'd better get going."
Mike gazed at the final bite of pie on his fork. "Such a shame," he mused. "I am really going to *miss* pecan pie."
Gabriella sighed, a short, disgusted snort, shook her head, then reached a hand straight through the solid glass of the dessert display and lifted out a complete pecan pie, which she handed to her companion.
"Make it last," she advised him.
Copyright 2012, Kathryn Garrison Kellogg