A little flash fiction, for a change…

Mackie Donahue, a sixtyish man whose expensive suit failed to camouflage a multitude of sins, called Sylvie into his office forty-five minutes past their scheduled appointment time, when nearly everyone else had already gone home. He gave her the once-over then an oily smile that revealed dental work that cost more than most people earned in a month. “Since you’re new”—he motioning her to one of two chairs opposite his spotless mahogany desk—“I’ll give you a little advice before we get started.”

She sat, and made her face look oh-so-eager to hear what this yutz had to say. But she had to be careful. The yutz wielded power and influence that if she wasn’t careful could be used against her and her cause, so she had to be all ears and no eyerolls. At least until she’d gotten what she’d come for.

“Please.” She smiled with her eyes. “Go ahead.”

Instead of taking the leather executive chair behind his desk, he lowered his bulk onto the smaller chair beside her. He leaned closer, until she could smell the mint overlay on his tuna-salad breath. “In business, it never hurts a woman like you to, you know, play it up a little more.”

Sylvie stiffened. “A woman like me, Mr. Donahue?”

“Come off it, you know what I’m talking about.” He thrust out cupped hands, about a foot wider than the span of her hips. As if he were taking measurements, or inviting her to dance. “Show what you got. Like, maybe you got some nice legs under those pants. Or could open a button or three from that blouse. Whatever. And please. Call me Mackie.”

“All right. Mackie.” She was on the verge of physical illness, sitting so close to him. At least the assignment wouldn’t take long; she could count her blessings for that, and the agency that sent her there. “Is this the dress code for women who work here, showing off what you got?”

“Well. Not formal, as such. Just that it tends to help. Some of these guys”—he tipped his head toward his office door, as if blaming it on his colleagues—you know how they are. Won’t listen to a woman who’s all buttoned-up. Especially if she’s not a real looker.”

Sylvie raised her eyebrows. “You’re saying I’m not attractive, Mr. Don—Mackie.”

“Aw, no, honey. I’m not thinking that at all.” As if to prove it, he set his hairy hand on her thigh, and she stared at it until he removed it. He straightened up and adjusted his tie. “You just need wardrobe. A new hairstyle. A little time in the tanning bed. You’re awful pale. Maybe a nose job, not much at all…”

“A nose job—?”

He waved a hand. “Oh, we pay for those.”

“I didn’t see that in the onboarding paperwork.”

“Must have been an oversight. I’ll get one of my other secretaries to send you the forms.”

“May we talk about my responsibilities, Mr. Don—Mackie? Or should I work that out with the other assistants?”

“Yeah. Sure. Basically I need a girl who can work nights. Oh. Not like you’re thinking.” He gave her a lopsided grin. “I already got a girl for that. Mostly. Just that sometimes, you know, inspiration strikes. I need someone to write stuff down after hours.”

She grinned, just enough to keep from showing her fangs. “That part shouldn’t be a problem. Mackie.”