In Brevard the lights of the Midnight Club were burning past closing time. The sign on the door said closed but inside three people sat at a corner table. They’d kept the orders coming, paid cash and tipped big. The bartender didn‘t mind staying over.
Trevor, Susan and Jim sat staring at their cell phones, waiting. Their boss was a resourceful guy —with plenty of resources— and he’d know where Parker was going. They, on the other hand, didn’t have a clue.
Brevard had only been an hour and a half away from Charlotte. Susan had driven and hadn’t gotten a ticket even though they’d been pulled over twice. Once Susan drove straight to the Parker house and circled the block. John wasn’t there. They’d left, drove around town, then come back later. Still no Parker.
They let Oscar know what was going on, then headed for a bar. For an hour they had sat there playing Tetris and Angry Birds. Finally Trevor looked up from his empty glass at the others.
“You know why I hate John Parker?” The others just stared. “He isn’t human. He doesn’t understand what its like to be a guy. So what if I get lucky with a girl now and then?”
The other two looked at each other and smirked. Susan sipped her iced tea— she would be driving. “I wouldn’t say once in a while, Trevor. Not if we take your word for it.”
Jim grinned. “Yeah, that’s what she said.” He took a draw of his beer. “I don’t like him because he has to be this goody-goody. And that’s fine.” He made a gesture with empty palms. “But don’t make me live by your rules.” The others nodded. “Let him write about what he wants to and I’ll write about what I want to. If I say a source is a source, then it’s a source.”
Trevor nodded. “My point exactly. The guy is a prude. He wants everybody else to do exactly what he does. He can’t stand to see anybody else have fun.”
Susan just sipped her drink and nodded. She didn’t join the conversation, just agreed and let them rant. The woman hoped this wasn’t just because she was the only one not drinking. Susan liked to think that even if she were enjoying a cocktail her lips would remain sealed. She had a pretty good idea they would.
Susan hated John Parker because she liked him so much. He wasn’t just another conquest to make and move on. He sure wasn’t just another rung in the corporate ladder for her to move on up. And he wasn’t somebody just to have fun with every so often. No, he was different.
She’d arrived at Media Content about five years ago. Within a few months she had begun to ingratiate herself with the power structure. Her time with Oscar— and other men — moved her up and made it clear Parker was on the bottom of the totem pole. He was so you had to use a shovel to find him.
But she liked the guy. Her father had been a jerk. As the middle child Susan could barely remember him and her mother still being together. Most of her memories were of being shuffled back and forth between two homes. She wasn’t complaining, She’d had a good life with lots of good things. But the one thing she hadn’t had were men like John Parker.
John was a solid, family man who didn’t treat women the way Oscar did. Susan’s reasons for being nice to him were different. She really wanted to be his friend. But looking back she knew she’d pushed too far too fast. She should’ve been content to have him just as a friend.
But that had been four years ago. Too much time had passed since then. Things had been said and now she was part of the anti-Parker clique. There was no turning back. Still, it would have been nice. As her Blackberry buzzed she finished her iced tea and signaled for another. It was Oscar.
Susan stepped away and dropped her voice as she answered the phone. “Hello darling.”
“Hi gorgeous. I’m missing you already.”
She took a hurt tone. “You know I had rented that special DVD just for tonight. Do you know what I was going to be wearing? It was a …”
Oscar interrupted. “Yeah, yeah, don’t remind me. Look, Parker just booked a flight out of Knoxville to Mexico. You three get to the Asheville Airport. I’ve got a fast charter jet warming its engines right now. I want you in Cancun and waiting when he gets off the plane.” He paused. “And be there since there’s no reason I’d want to drive to Columbia and see John Parker.”