EXCESS BAGGAGE (A Novel) - Chapter 1 - Papa's Little Girl's Got a Brand New Bag

"Paper or plastic?"

"Excuse me?"

"The bag, lady. Paper or plastic?" the checkout clerk asks.

"What difference does it make?" I snap.

"Lady, please, just make a decision here."

"Paper. No wait. Plastic. Give me the plastic," I tell him like it really matters.

He places the contents of my pity party into the bags and hands them to me. I drag myself and my groceries across the parking lot and into my piece of crap compact car.

The drive is quicker to my apartment without the stop and go of rush-hour traffic and I barely have time to ponder my predicament before I turn onto the street where I currently live.

When I pull into my parking slot at the apartment, Jack, my neighbor, is ready to greet me, like he has the last three times I've come home at eleven-thirty in the morning, on a weekday, not including holidays.

"Lost your job again, huh Carmichael?" he says, matter of fact.

"You sit out on the front stoop everyday waiting for me to quit something, don't you?"

"It gives me a reason to live,” He tells me as I pull my bags out of the car and slowly negotiate the steep front steps with the heavy groceries.

"Geez, Kelly, you look like a freakin' bag lady," he says.

"Funny, Jack. What are you? My mother?"

"You wish." He takes a last drag on his cigarette, then flicks it into the yard. "Cable man was here again."

The bags burst under the strain of the weight. Cans of Underwood Deviled Ham roll down the steps, a jar of picante sauce smashes, and a bag of Oreos goes crunch as I scramble to retrieve my provisions.

"Should have gone with the paper. Haven't you learned by now?"

"Was he really here?" I ask.

"You owe me eighty-two fifty."

"Oh, Jack, thank you. What would I do without you?" I ask him as I climb the steps with my arms full of junk food.

"Miss watching the 'Beastmaster' again, I suppose." Jack places a box of Cracker Jacks into my overloaded arms.

"Can I write you a check or something?"

"You're kidding, right?"

"No, but I'll pay you tomorrow or the next day. Is that all right?" I smile real big. "And I'll pay you in cash."

"Sure, what do I care? To all of my friends I'm First National Bank of Jack."

Jack helps me with my groceries and brings them into my apartment next door to his.
"Thanks again. I really appreciate this," I say.

"Ah, don't mention it." He puts the Oreos and a half-gallon container of skim milk onto my counter.

"Stay with me today and participate in my shameless wallow of self-pity," I say as I dump the junk food out onto the dining table. "I have Ho-Hos and Yoo-hoo."

"Both? You really are on a shame spiral, aren't you?"

"I quit school today, too. My GPA's barely above a two. I can't get into law school on that, so what's the use in applying or for that matter continuing?" I shrug, then sigh.

"Well, I wish I could stay but Bennigan's calls, although the Yoo-hoo alone might be worth getting fired over. I'll bring you a Death by Chocolate when I get off work. Sounds like you're going to need it."

I give Jack a hug. "You're so good to me. Don't you want to be my boyfriend?" I plead.
"Sure I do, honey. But you ain't got no dick."

"Life sucks, doesn't it?" I whine.

"You could say that." Jack throws me a kiss and closes the door behind him.

I go to the cabinet and pull out my large jar of Tums and bottle of Mylanta and set them down on the counter by the phone and dial Daddy's cell phone number. I must be out of my mind.
I mean, here I am, twenty eight years old, a college and career drop-out who has been in and out of more offices and universities than Elizabeth Taylor's had husbands. I’m single and still relying on Daddy to make my car payment and send a little extra cash, all right a lot of extra cash, my way each month when things get slim and I can't even afford bologna to eat.

Today has been no exception to my life. I got mad at my boss, a hotheaded lawyer, and quit a decent job as a paralegal, a profession that I am starting to get pretty good at but lack the passion to be great at. Besides, it was a shitty firm anyway. I can do better than that. It wasn't even a firm, to tell the truth. It was a one-lawyer office with lousy wages and long unappreciated hours of thankless drudgery. He got all the glory. I got all the crap.

I had skipped three days of classes at the college and worked until three in the morning to write what I considered to be the best written and best researched "Motion to Deny Summary Judgment and Brief In Support Thereof" of all time, and it had resulted in a quick and very profitable settlement of Three Hundred and Fifty four thousand dollars to our client, thirty-three percent of which was ours, straight off the top. I felt I deserved a bonus. Tightwad thought otherwise. I could see the job was going nowhere. Much like the last couple of years of my life as a struggling paralegal, I had held this job a whopping three months, sixteen days and two hours. A new world record for me.

I've been pursuing pre-law at Mississippi College, my seventh such institution of higher learning. I haven't been attending college ten years straight, mind you. Just every time I believe that a job or a major is not giving me the satisfaction and fulfillment I think it should, I quit and run back home to Arkansas and to my father, who I know will give me the guidance and wisdom to pursue my next phase of failure.

I don't want to do that anymore. For once I would like to make a career choice on my own. Right now I know the most about being a paralegal. I will resign myself to being one. Besides, I don't want to go home and hear the old pharmacist speech again:

"Kelly, honey, I tried to tell you. Pharmacy school would have been the best thing you could have done if you had listened to your old Dad. But no, you didn't want to take my advice. Well, look where it's gotten you. Nowhere." Dad always lectures me when I come home. Then he proposes my next pursuit of career, such as, "Maybe you should think about neurology. I hear women are doing well as brain surgeons these days."

My father means well. He's a pharmaceutical salesman with a devoted wife and a lovely home in an affluent neighborhood. He's done better than his parents. He only wants the same for me, his only child. For some reason, though, a husband never even enters into the conversation when it comes to my life and future. It's simply Kelly and her career. My high school friends have already fallen into matrimony and left me behind. I have more bridesmaids dresses decorating my closet than a bridal shop. Everyone back home refers to me as the eternal career girl. If only I could find a career.

Growing up, I can't remember ever wanting to be a doctor, nurse or lawyer. Mom was a housewife. I just assumed I'd be one as well. When I was little I played house, fed my dolls tea and cookies from my Fisher Price kitchen, and vacuumed the house with my pretend Hoover upright. Then I would bathe myself in Mr. Bubble and complain to Barbie and Ken what a tough day I had, that the sink was leaking again, the kid had a fever and the car needed a new transmission. Just like Mom would do with Dad.

"My daughter's not going to be some old boy's concubine. No sir. You're better than that," he always reminded me. I don't know how many boyfriends my father has run off just because he thought he saw a glimmer of a gold band and a Volvo in their eye. “A career woman is what you will be Kelly girl. I want to see you happy.”

So after years of trying to please my father and failing miserably at the task, I have managed to flunk out of pre-pharmacy, pre-nursing, accounting, secondary education, occupational therapy, physical education, and now pre-law. I can't get a handle on anything, despite my IQ being over a hundred and thirty. Nothing my father chooses for me satisfies, stimulates, or interests me.
Between school and work, I've approached burnout and I'm becoming physically ill in the process. But that's what stress does to me. It makes me sick. Tums and Mylanta are my best friends. It’s the price I've paid for trying to live up to Betty Friedan's ideals and Benjamin Carmichael's expectations.

I know I should go to the doctor and get this thing checked out. I mean, it's not normal for food to pass completely through you without digesting, is it? But it'll clear up eventually when I get some of this pressure off me. Besides, I can't go see a doctor right now. What if there's something big wrong? I don't exactly have medical insurance. I let that slip almost a year ago. Dad doesn't know and I don't want to worry him any more than I have to. As soon as I settle down, I'll get some coverage and take care of this problem.

Before I left work, I re-did my resume. It looks great. Hell, I'd hire me. I only wish I didn't have so many employers. It was hard to condense my work history down to one page. I heard from a legal secretary I know that Westward, Inc., a huge hotel franchiser, is always needing temporaries, which they sometimes hire permanently. She knew a girl who got on there. Said it was the best place she ever worked. It's worth a try. Memphis sounds better than running home to Daddy and there's definitely nothing left for me here in Jackson.

"Dad? Hey, how are you?" I say over the phone as I shove a Ho-Ho into my mouth and chase it with a swig of Mylanta.

"Hi, sweetheart, I'm great. And you?"

"I'm good. I'm good," I stutter.

"What's wrong?" he asks.

"Nothing really."

"Kel, it's the middle of the week. You never call during the middle of the week unless you need more money or worse. How much you need?"

"I don't need any money, Dad. I just..." I unconsciously take another drink of Mylanta as if it were a Martini.


"I'm moving to Memphis to take a job with Westward. You know, the hotel chain," I begin. He doesn't need to know that I haven't even applied for the job yet or that I've flunked out of school.

"I know who they are. I just stayed at one of their hotels."

"It’s a great company with benefits, high salaries, expansion, and even educational reimbursement. Dad, it's a chance at a real career. I think this would be good for me."

"Honey, that sounds nice and all. Really." His voice is flat. "But maybe you should come home and discuss this first. What about becoming a lawyer?"


"I thought law school was what you wanted?"

"Dad, I'm sick of this crap. I just want to settle down for once."

"Do you remember Kimberly Simmons?" Dad asks out of the blue.

"Uh, vaguely. I think she graduated high school with me. Why?"

"Oh, nothing really. She's just bought a house down the street from us and Bob Elliott's hired her as a pharmacist. Drives a Lexus, too."

"That's nice for her." My mouth is suddenly chalky. Kimberly Simmons was the acne-riddled nerd of my class who we all thought would most likely end up as a librarian or fast food worker. Who knew?

"It's champagne colored. You know, the two-door model. Really top of the line luxury. Bob got her a deal on it from someone he knows up in Little Rock," Dad keeps on. "Speaking of cars, how's yours running?"

"The usual. What can I say? It's top of the line cheap." I hear Dad sigh into the receiver. "How's Mom?"

"Pretty good. She's taking a class in real estate at the college. She's thinking about getting a job, can you believe that? Like I don't provide."

"Perhaps Mom is bored. Maybe she’s ready to get out and experience the real world like us," I say.

"I don't know why she'd want to do a fool thing like that. She doesn't know what it's like out there. It'll eat her up."

I lick the Mylanta taste from my lips. "Just tell her I love her and I'll see you both soon. Gotta run, Dad. I'll call you in a couple of days and let you know my new number. I love you."

"I love you, too, sweetheart. I just really wish you'd think about this, though. Law school would be good for you. Women are making good marks as attorneys these days. Look at that woman on CNN."

"I'm sure they are Dad. But I'm still going to Memphis."

"You're going to do this whether I want you to or not, aren't you?"

"Yes, Daddy. Like I said, I'm ready to settle down. This has gotten old. I'm tired."

"Well, I know people in Memphis. If I can help, you know I will."

"Thanks Dad." You've done enough helping, I say to myself as I hang up the phone and barely make it to the bathroom before I throw up.

* * *

The next morning I get up with a new determination for my life and drive to Memphis. I've been there before but I never really paid that much attention to it until now. I always thought of it as the place where Elvis lived and ate donuts, not a place where I'd ultimately end up living. Then again, I never dreamed I'd be pushing thirty and still trying to make it on my own.

It suddenly occurs to me that my life is just like Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. I even recall from the reruns that she faked her resume, so to speak, too. I begin to hum the theme music. Oh, God, how the hell did I get here? If I only had a hat to throw up into the air.
I drive past the Peabody and around the corner to where the Memphis Bar Association is located. I was told by my friend that this is where the Memphis legal profession does all its hiring through. I ride the elevator to the fifth floor and enter the small, unpretentious office.
A young woman about my age peers around the corner and smiles. "Hi, can I help you?" she asks in a deep southern drawl.

"I'm Kelly Carmichael and I'm a paralegal seeking employment," I answer with as much Mary Richards confidence and enthusiasm as I can possibly muster.

"Well, Kelly, you've come to the right place." She extends her hand. "I'm Debbie Sinclair. Nice to meet you, Kelly." She says my name again. I never know about people who always speak my name in every sentence. I'm not sure if they're being sincere or downright phony. "Are you looking for something temporary or permanent?"

"I'd like to be permanent, but I'll gladly temp until something good comes up," I say as I take a seat where she is pointing to.

"I was hoping you'd say that, Kelly, because most firms and corporations like to try out temps before they hire. We've found the system works to their advantage as well as to the employee. If you don't like it at one place, then you can work somewhere else tomorrow."

"Sounds reasonable."

"Okay, Kelly, first of all, let’s get you to fill out all the necessary paper work and then we'll see about placing you." She opens a desk drawer and sifts through the papers.

"Great, Debbie." She looks up and shoots me a smile, then hands me several forms to complete.
Of course, the place where you put your work history is only three spaces long which will only cover this year. "Would it be all right if I attach my resume'?" I inquire.

"Oh, sure, Kelly. That'll be just fine."

I sit quietly at the edge of the desk and fill out each question: which business machines I can operate, previous addresses, mother's maiden name. Honestly, you'd think I was applying for sainthood as thorough as this questionnaire is. When I finish, I feel like I've completed my entire memoir. I hand her the paperwork.

"Kelly, you have some exceptional experience and background. You shouldn't have any trouble staying busy or finding something steady for that matter," she says as she flips open a notebook and peruses the pages. "Let's see now. Abercrombie, Tucker, and Williamson needs someone with tax experience."

"Forget that. I'm one of those people who waits to the last minute just to file an extension on a ten forty E-Z even when I'm getting money back."

She laughs and scribbles on my application, "'No tax.’ Okay, how about personal injury and disability with Harold Lemmings?"

"Lemmings? Didn't I see his billboard on the way in?" I ask.

"Yeah, he's all over the highways. TV, too. Claims he makes house calls." She whispers, "I understand he can be a real son-of-a-bitch. I'm not supposed to tell you this, Kelly, but he's even got a couple of sexual harassment suits pending against him. You didn't hear that from me. Okay, Kel? You're not from here and I'd hate to see you get a bad taste in your mouth on your first job, if you know what I mean?"

"Oh, sure. No problem. Thanks for the tip."

"Okay, let me see. No, no, no," she flips through the book quickly. "That may be it today," She continues to turn the pages. "We get calls all the time. You never know."

No Westward. Well, if I have to wait for it, I have to wait for it. I can handle Lemmings for a couple of days. I have no breasts or ass. He'll have nothing to say to me. But I want Westward.
"Oh, wait. Here it is," She stops at the last page. "I thought this was still open. I haven't placed anyone over at Westward. They're the hotel chain, you know. They've got a spot in franchise and contracts. You have any experience in franchise?"

My heartbeat increases, and I can feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. This is better than luck. This is destiny. "I just finished taking a class on contracts at Mississippi College if that helps."

"Why sure it does, Kelly. Great, then, that's where you'll go first, starting Monday. Everyone who goes there loves it. They're asking for six weeks only this order is almost two weeks old. But I've seen them ask for someone for three days and keep them over six months, so you never know. Oh, and they're trying to hire for that position as well. They tried internally but no one bit so they're opening it up to outside applications starting in a couple of weeks." She winks at me. "Hey, you'll already have your foot in the door. I've seen them hire lots of temps that way."

"Maybe so." I nod my head affirmatively as I try to contain my excitement. I don't want to jinx this. I haven't even been in Memphis an hour, and I've possibly landed the job of a lifetime. I take this as a serious sign from above that I have finally made it. When I get downstairs and out into the mall area, I throw my purse up into the air. It lands with a thud and I hear my compact mirror break into pieces. I should have waited for a hat.

* * *

I scarf down a Happy Meal at McDonald's and drive out to East Memphis, where Debbie told me is the best place to live for someone new.

The drive around the loop is pleasant and I easily find my way to Poplar Boulevard and begin my search for apartment complexes with the Newcomers Guide Debbie gave me.

The first four apartments I tour have no vacancies until next month and are way out of my ballpark price-wise. I'm beginning to get desperate. It's late in the afternoon and I need an apartment this weekend. I turn down a quiet little avenue and spot a high brick fence surrounding a beautiful Williamsburg-style complex of town homes. Expensive looking town homes. What the hell. I've got nothing but time.

The leasing agent shows me the cutest little apartment I have ever seen. Two bedrooms, one and a half baths with a washer and dryer and a covered patio and front porch.

"This is the perfect little place for an up and coming career gal such as yourself," the big-haired agent tells me. "Maybe I can get you into it this weekend." She flashes a grin toward me.

"It's perfect. I want it," I blurt out, not even asking how much the rent is. I look down on the brochure and notice that it's twice the rent I'm paying in Jackson. So what. This is my life. This is my career. I'm going for it.

"You're very lucky, sugar. This is our last unit. If you'd have waited until later to come by, I'd have had to turn you away. That's how fast these units go."

"And I can have it this weekend, huh?"

"For you, sugar, sure," She says as she pats me on the shoulder.
"I'll take it."

* * *

I pack up all of my belongings in my apartment in Jackson and push them against the walls. I put only what I think I'll need for a week's stay in Memphis into the car. Next weekend, I will rent a trailer and move the rest. I'm not even going to tell my friends goodbye. I've been to so many places over the years that goodbye scenes are just too emotional for me. There's the promises to write and visit but no one ever does. If you just leave town the way you came, you avoid the spectacle of those scenes and the adventure of a new place isn't clouded by any remorse. The only person I've told is my landlord, who hates to see me leave but understands my predicament. He promises to round up his sons to help me move next weekend when Jack is at work.

I put eighty-two dollars and fifty cents in an envelope and place it in Jack's mailbox. I can hear Madame Butterfly on his stereo. He always plays it when his significant other breaks up with him. Then he has to get me to come over and listen to him lip-synch "Une Belle Di" and feel his pain.

I rush to my car without his noticing me. "Bye, Jack," I whisper toward his apartment. I can see him through the window sheers dancing and prancing about his living room by himself. I'm sorry but thankful that my getaway is clean.

* * *

Armed with the basic necessities in my new overpriced Memphis deluxe palace: a microwave and Lean Cuisines, a television, toiletries, a sleeping bag and clothing, I feel I am set to spend the remainder of my working years here in my new dream apartment and at my new job, whatever the hell that is.

Unfortunately, it's hard to make a good first impression in a knock out Ann Taylor suit with grungy tennis shoes. Dammit. For some reason in the fury of packing, I did not pack my shoes, and at ten o'clock on a Sunday night there are few places to find choice footwear.

I find a discount store a couple of miles from the apartment and choose the only pair of shoes I can find in my size: an obnoxious pair of navy blue low heel pumps made of durable vinyl with ugly plastic anchors hot glued on top. These will have to do. A minor setback on my way to becoming Kelly Carmichael, paralegal extraordinaire for Westward, Inc.

At two o'clock in the morning my beautiful dream apartment turns into a nightmare. I wake up to find that the air conditioner has gone out and it's hotter than hell in here. I open the window and the unusually hot June heat just makes it worse. I call the emergency maintenance number but they can't fix the unit until tomorrow, in spite of my pleading and desperate sobbing. Sometimes it works and sometimes you just have to suffer.

I prop open the refrigerator and move my sleeping bag closer to the kitchen. There's only one bottle of ketchup and a can of Coca-Cola in there, so nothing of significance will spoil. I unscrew the light bulb so that the light doesn't keep me up, but I still can't fall asleep. I'm wide awake now.

I lie here, listening to my intestines churn from getting so worked up and I wonder if I've done the right thing. It's always been so routine to run home. This is the most impulsive thing I've ever done. Usually I let the failure sink in for a couple of months before trying the next venture.
Mom thinks that I'm a spoiled little brat and that Dad has overindulged what she perceives to be a reluctance on my part to settle down. Hell, both my Mom and grandmother wonder about me. They were long married by my age. I've brought less than a handful of boyfriends home to meet my parents. Mom hates it when I go sifting through Dad's closet looking for oversized shirts to wear with my jeans. She just knows deep down in her heart that her only daughter and chance for grandchildren is butch.

I'm not a lesbian. Romance doesn't come along that often for me, that's all. Mainly it’s because I hop around from job to job, town to town, school to school. I don't stay put long enough for a second or third date, let alone a commitment. That and no one who's really struck my fancy has come along yet.

But I'd really love to plant roots somewhere. I look around my apartment which is bathed in the glow from the streetlights outside. I feel all warm and cozy in here and not because the air conditioner is broken. It's that same feeling I used to get at Christmas time. It’s that sense of home and contentment. It would be nice if Memphis has the right soil.

* * *

I report to my new career at exactly eight fifteen as I was instructed. I'm feeling a little tired, but I'm determined to make it through the day. I don a smile and pretend I’m wonderful. I can't call in sick or look like there's something wrong. I have enough under-eye concealer on to hide Texas. Despite everything and the ugly shoes, I look pretty good.

A personnel representative escorts me to the law department. He doesn't make any small talk or chitchat. He just points my way toward franchise.

"Go to the end of the hall, take a right, then another right and ask for Glenda," he says. He acts like I've put him out.


"Yeah, right."

I slowly make my way down the corridor of cubicles. People with their ears to the phones and their hands on their computer keyboards stay busy and don't even notice me. I round the corner and find a rather robust woman eating a donut and drinking a cup of coffee.
"Caught me red-handed," she says as she licks the sugar from her fingers.

"Excuse me?" I ask.

"Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were my conscience, Amanda, from Risk Management. She's trying to get me into Jenny Craig, but sometimes a girl's gotta live if you know what I mean?"
"I suppose. I'm Kelly. Kelly Carmichael. I'm the temp from the Bar Association."

"Oh, Kelly. Yes, yes. And I’m Glenda." She takes a quick nibble from the donut. "Oh, we're so happy they sent someone. Morris was getting worried. He'll be thrilled."


"Morris Jacobson. You'll be working for him." She rises from her desk. "Come on. I'll introduce you to him." She stops at on office door across the hall from her desk. She pauses and looks down at my shoes. "Your shoes. They're so cute."

"You think?"

"Oh, yeah. I love 'em."

I look down at Glenda's shoes. She's got the same pair on only in red.

"You're gonna fit right in here," she says and winks at me as she opens the door.

I follow her into a large ornate office. Morris’ ego wall is covered with diplomas and accomplishments: Bachelor's Degree from Yale, JD and L.L.M from Harvard, a Master's Degree from Princeton. The man must be incredibly smart. He sits behind a massive oak desk and speaks Spanish to someone on the phone.

"Si, Si, Hector. But the fact remains, you've got yourself a problem here. I don't know what else to tell you." Morris smiles and waves us in and points for me to sit down. "All right, Hector. I'll talk to you soon. Si. Si. Adios." He hangs up the phone and looks toward Glenda. "This is the temp?"

"Yes. Her name's Kelly Carmichael."

"So tell me about yourself, Kelly."

"I'm from Arkansas. I'm a paralegal. I've taken several pre-law and paralegal classes at Mississippi College. I'm anxious to settle down and work."

"Well, so you are, huh? All right. I've just gotten off the phone with Hector. He owns several Westward Star hotels in Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. I need you to examine the management agreement to his hotels. There’s a group in there he wants out. Contract's virtually unbreakable. He's been getting complaints about them, and now he's turned to us to bail him out. Some of his hotels under this agreement have had some serious franchise violations of late. Review the contract. Tell me if you see a way out for him."

"Sure, Mr. Jacobson."

"Morris. Call me Morris, for cryin' out loud. Take some good notes. I like notes." Morris picks up a thick contract and hands it to me. "Glenda will show you where you’ll be working. When you're done reviewing it, buzz me and we'll go over it."

I follow Glenda out of the office. "Trial by fire," she says. "He's testing you. He tests everyone. His bark is far worse than his bite. He's really quite the teddy bear. He just wants to see what you can do."

"I'll try not to let him down."

Glenda gives me the tour of the offices and introduces me to almost everyone in the department. Their names swarm inside of my head then fade away fast.

"And this is the supply closet where we also keep the coffee and what not. On Mondays and Fridays Morris provides the donuts," Glenda indicates as she takes a Danish. "What the hell. I'll diet tomorrow."

At this point in the tour, I'm completely lost. I'll never find my way around. This whole department is laid out like a maze.

There are several facets to the Westward Law Department: franchise, contracts, risk management, labor, corporate, trademark, and litigation. Glenda introduces me to Mitzi Tucker, a paralegal in trademarks who occupies the cubical next to mine. Susan Ellis is a young attorney in the office next to Morris', with drop dead gorgeous looks, a model's physique, and apparently a brain to go with it all. Why can't I be that lucky?

"We meet everyday at two thirty next to the file cabinet between my office and Morris' for a Tums break," Susan tells me.

"And we don't schedule any meetings or conferences at that time either," Mitzi adds. "Two thirty is sacred to us. So far, it's been just us two, but you're welcome to join us if you like."
I think I'm going to like this place.

The ultimate highlight of the tour, however, is my office. It just happens to be the largest cubicle. It has a desk which takes up two walls, a round conference table for four, a wall of file cabinets and a computer station. Glenda supplies me with my own e-mail address, voice mail, password, and temporary ID badge. She also supplies me with a file on Del Sole', the management company Hector needs to terminate.

"Well, I'll leave you to it. You have any questions, just buzz me. That's what I'm here for."
"Thanks, Glenda."

I sit at my new desk and look around the cubicle. I open drawers and thumb through the files. I glance over at the computer and spy my reflection in the screen. “You're on your own, kid, and this is it. This is as good as it’s ever going to get,” I whisper. “Don't screw this one up.”

Copyright © 2007 Tracy L. Carnes


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