Matt heard the shoes first, the clack, clack, clack of high heels on the polished institutional tile floor. The phone call had been terse and cold. When you don’t care you don’t fight. Marielle was evidently far beyond caring. When she’d disconnected he wasn’t sure what she planned to do; keep his belongings until he retrieved them, give them all to the Sally Ann, or leave them in the lane beside the dumpster? He never imagined she’d take a couple of hours from her impossibly busy schedule to drive up the valley and deliver them. He wasn’t up for this.
Matt grabbed his stuff and headed for the corridor. He didn’t want to be trapped in the room, like a kill zone with no escape.
There she was, blond hair, black suit, Marielle the commander, among the army of pastel privates. Behind her an orderly pushed a wheelchair piled high with his stuff.
“Marielle. Thanks for coming all this way.”
No hug, no air kisses. Marielle planted her feet, crossed her arms and appraised him.
“This is my friend, Parminder Singh Batal,” Matt said. “This is Marielle Langlois, my boss.”
Marielle shook Parm’s hand. “Bonjour.” She flashed her professional smile then turned back to Matt. “Do you want to do this here, in the hall, Matthew?”
“Criss.” Marielle rolled her eyes.
“Pardon?” said Parm.
“She said fuck, in Quebecois,” Matt said. “Marielle’s fluently bilingual.”
“The key, Matthew.” Marielle held out her hand.
Matt searched the plastic bag and pulled out the key to Marielle’s condo.
“Merci.” She snatched the key, handed him an envelope, turned and began striding down the hall.
“Does this mean we can’t be friends?” Bitch, Matt thought, but he couldn’t blame her. She’d signed on for a famous war correspondent and ended up with an invalid.
“Manges d'la marde,” she said, over her shoulder.
“She’d make a good cop,” Parm said. “What’s in the envelope?”
Matt opened the envelope and unfolded the letter. “I’ve been fired.”
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