My phone buzzed with a text. It was Eddie asking, “Going to the Perk? Help a cave boy out?!”
I send back to him, “Sure, I’m going anyway….”
Eddie responds, “The usual with extra pickles! Please!!! Thx!”
The usual is an egg salad sandwich on toasted wheat with pickles. Extra pickles? He’s desperate.
Suki glared visibly in my direction. She raised her eyebrows at me, her signature gesture to me that her queen bee wings had been disturbed. I usually had my phone turned down to silent, except that I have been waiting for my sister Shelly to call. No matter. Suki generally disapproved of modern conveniences. I’m not even sure if Suki owned a cell phone, much less has ever sent her own text message.
I had a year of peaceful solitude before Suki made her grand entrance. Tunello failed to mention that my space would be invaded by a made to order, Executive Admin, origin unknown, refined, tailored, with thick black hair, a beauty to behold. People seemed to talk more slowly and softly around her, as if under her spell, her eyes dark glassy pools that stalled time.
I found it hardly coincidental that she and Tunello both spoke fluent Japanese, sometimes in hushed tones. It was something I never discussed with either of them, as though it might be a waste of their time.
It was Suki, after all, who asked all the questions. She is the designated Gatekeeper. Every piece of paper or communique gets Suki’s consent and stamp of approval before seen by Tunello. It’s rare that we ever work in tandem, although it’s possible we have the same set of facts in front of us.
She rarely asks questions of me. If she saw my file she would know my painful past as a clinical psychologist and learned that my patient committed suicide shortly after I missed his phone call. The guilt was immense and I eventually left the profession all together.
Perhaps Suki never needed to ask questions of anyone. I’ve wondered if she were operating on more than instincts and have chided to Eddie that she’s a mind reader. Here we go again, he would say to me, and that obviously I was jealous.
Whenever I felt any mounting tension, she softens the edge with a plate of homemade dumplings, prepared early in advance with the knowledge that I needed rescuing that day.
“Greta, here dear,” she would place the plate on my desk. “This will make you feel better.”
The question is, was she there to watch me or Tunello? Are we both under her command?