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Chicacabra (Chapter 28) Pirates

November 28, 2010

Chicacabra

By

Yoly Solis

 

Chapter 28: Pirates

 

Comprendes? (comb/pren/dess)

Do you understand?

Nope.

Warning: Person will nod head. However, under no circumstances should you believe he/she understood you.

**

 

Ass-Kisser-number-three stood by her desk and smirked. “Line one is Mr. Gonzalez. Mrs. Anderson wants you to handle it.”

“That’s not my account. What’s the problem?”

“She says we need to wean Gisela out and delegate more to you.” She chuckled and walked away. Grrr.

“This is Joyce, may I help you?”

“I hope you can. This is my fourth call. My billing is wrong even after I notified the insurance company that I closed down a division 45 days in advance. They want me to pay the full amount then wait for a credit. That’s $8,000 and I don’t have the cash flow this month to pay it. I need that credit now.”

Joyce was about to spout procedures then shut her mouth. The client had followed procedures. “Mr. Gonzalez, I’m going to speak to Gisela and ask her if she has a contact in the billing department. She might be able to help us.”

“Good. Call me back as soon as possible, please.”

Five minutes later, Gisela was on the phone with Bertha, the billing queen.

“Ay, Bertha, my dearest friend in the whole, wide world, what would I do without you? Can you believe that poor Mr. Gonzalez notified billing in time yet the bill is wrong again? Oh, I know, I know, but can’t you help this poor man? You know, his wife left him for puta. Yes, a puta, not a puto, can you believe it? We shouldn’t add to his misery, Bertha. It’s bad Karma. Okay, okay, can you email the revised bill? God bless you, Bertha.”

Joyce frowned. “How do you know his wife–”

“The Biltmore Hotel. Tía has pictures.”

“Uh, of course, how could I doubt you? Thanks Gisela.”   

“Ay, no, don’t thank me; thank Bertha.”  

Bertha, the piss-y, accounting Nazi, wouldn’t make an exception for Joyce or anyone else. Only Gisela could get through her number-crunching-procedural apathy.  

Joyce searched the hallways for sight of the enemy. Once satisfied, she leaned against Gisela’s desk and whispered. “Gisela, I’ve been thinking. These clients, not to mention the insurance companies, love you.”

“And I love them, very much. Not how Pedro loves me, no, I mean real love.”

“Ahem. Okay, so if let’s say, just for argument’s sake, you went to work somewhere else, they’d follow you in a heartbeat.”

“That would be stealing, wouldn’t it? Like what Mrs. Anderson accused me of?”

“You can’t steal people. People go where they want to go. Besides, your employment contract doesn’t address the issue of piracy.”

“That’s right, that’s why the puta stole Pedro. Because he wanted to go even though I had a marriage contract. Uh, what do pirates have to do with Pedro?”

Joyce rubbed her forehead. “Okay then, it’s no different for clients. They have the right to go to whatever agency they wish. If they were to follow you, it’s because they wanted to.”

“So it’s not stealing? I can’t steal clients?”

“It’s not possible to steal people. This is a free country.”

“In the Old Country the clients go where the government tells them to go; everyone goes where the government tells them to go.”

“This isn’t the Old Country. So if you opened your own agency then–”

Gisela laughed. “Ay, Joyce, you’re so funny!”

“I think we could get the funding, and as far as the licensing, well–”

“We couldn’t open an agency. You have to be tough and mean and smart like Mrs. Anderson–”

“Yeah, she’s tough and mean, but she ain’t smart. If she were, you’d have been promoted to management.”

“Silly, silly, Joyce. I could never leave here; this is my home away from home.” Her eyes watered. “Not that I have a home, anymore, now that Pedro has betrayed me.”

“Why don’t you get back with Pedro and tell Mrs. Anderson to kiss off instead of the other way around?”

“Silly, silly, Joyce.”

“I just want you to give it some thought, okay? I think we’d make a good team.” She couldn’t believe she had said that.

“You mean like Cagney and Lacey?”

“Uh, okay.” 

**

 

An hour later, Joyce punched the intercom button. “Gisela, how long it takes to replace a radiator?”

“I don’t know what a radiator is.”

“Oh.”

“Joyce, will you go with me to an appointment at lunchtime?”

Perhaps she wanted to discuss the business. Perhaps she wanted to get back with Pedro. Perhaps…

“This lawyer is highly recommended.” 

“Whoa, whoa, what are you talking about? What kind of lawyer?”

“Divorce.”            

“Are you serious?”

“Yes, I must sow my oats, up until now, I’ve only sown wheat.”

“Huh?”

“It’s time for me to move on, Joyce. I’ve outgrown Pedro.”

“He’s not a pair of jeans, Gisela, he’s your husband.”

“There’s a whole wide world waiting for me out there and Pedro is holding me back. I’m going to do like Marlo Thomas in That Girl, or Mary Tyler Moore in–” 

“Those are sitcoms; they’re not real life. Trust me, it sucks out there.”

Silence.

“Okay, okay, I’ll go with you to the attorney, but you and I are going to talk a little about real, single-life, not sitcom, single-life, okay?” 

**

 

Joyce popped a couple of aspirin and peeked over the cubicle wall. Gisela was in the conference room with a client. She gulped the last of the diet Coke and stared at the phone. Why hadn’t The Gladiator called?

She sighed. So what if Gisela wanted a divorce? It was none of her business. But the Old Chicacabra planted a seed in her brain to make sure it became her business. Clever old bat.

The phone rang. “This is Joyce, may–”  

“Ask Gisela if she wants bacalao or bistec en cazuela for dinner.”

“Hi, Tía Margarita. I thought bacalao was a bad thing.”

“It is if you smell like it.”

“So Tía Margarita, have you spoken to Gisela today?”

“Why, what’s going on?”

The old lady could smell bacalao a mile away.

“Nah, it’s nothing, I just wondered–”

“What did she do?”

“I didn’t say she did anything. I just thought she might have spoken to you today.”

“Dios mío! She can’t get a divorce. We’re Catholic!”

“Tía Margarita, please calm down, I didn’t say anything about a divorce, I–”

“I’m calling Padre Domingo. He must speak with Gisela right away.”

“But, Tía–”

The dial tone responded.

**

 

Joyce searched for Gisela. She was still inside the conference room. She dialed the phone.

“Maria Elena; it’s Joyce. I think I screwed up.”

“I can’t believe Gisela is getting a divorce.”

“How did you–?”

“We have to stop her. She doesn’t know how tough single life can be. And Pedro is a real good guy–when he’s not chasing after putas. I tried to call her but she’s in a meeting.”

“Doesn’t look like she wants our opinion, Maria Elena. She’s made her decision.”

 “That’s ridiculous. Gisela is delusional. What we need is an intervention. Elenita’s teacher is the sister-in-law of the contractor who built the famous psychiatrist, Doctor Leon’s mansion; he’s like Miami’s Doctor Phil. I’ll call him and ask for help. I’ll set it up for tonight.”    

“But–”

Dial tone.

The phone rang. Joyce cringed.

“This is Joyce, may I help you?”

“Hi, Joyce, it’s Manny.”

Ah, the moon and the stars had converged. Everything was right again.

“Hi, Manny.”

“Your car’s ready. Would you like me to drop it off tonight?”

Crap! “Uh, I’m sorry; I have to be somewhere tonight.” More sorry than he’d ever know.

“I’m going to the intervention, too so I might as well bring your car.”

“Oh.” It wasn’t a special trip just to see her. It was a convenient favor. Well, the least he could do was wear his gladiator skirt.

“I hope Pedro and Gisela stay together. They’ve always been happy, until now.”

It was a test; he wanted her to say something. Hmmm. What to say; what to say?

“Gisela and Pedro had a marriage I admired. They were so in love and I always hoped that one day I could be that happy.”

He wasn’t sounding much like a Gladiator. What was going on?

Joyce shrugged. “Yeah, me too.”

“We’re happier when we find our better half, don’t you think?”

At this point I’ll take a fifth, I don’t need a half.

“Absolutely.”

“You’re really easy to talk to, Joyce.”

Yup. Just don’t read my mind or you’ll run for the hills.

“You, too.”

“I’ll see you later then.”

Hmm. Do I want him to be a macho, Pancho Villa grab me by the hair and throw me on your horse against my will, Zorro? Or do I prefer the more sensitive side of The Gladiator? Nah. I’ll stick with Zorro.

Gisela appeared, lips pursed and hands on hips. Uh-oh.

“Joyce, did you tell Tía Margarita?”

 “I’m sorry, Gisela, I didn’t say anything, she just figured—”

“Never mind, it’s not your fault. Tía has a sense about these things. She just doesn’t understand, she thinks marriage is for life.”

“It’s supposed to be.” 

“How can it be with all those putas out there just waiting to steal our husbands?”

“You don’t know Pedro was stolen. You don’t even know what really happened.”

“Are you on their side, Joyce? I counted on you to understand me. You’re the one that–”

Joyce waved frantically. “Gisela, I never said anything to promote a divorce. I don’t believe in divorce either.”

“But you’re divorced. You know–”

“I know nothing, trust me, absolutely nothing. All we want is that you at least try to save your marriage. Talk to him, get counseling; then make your decision.”

 She bit her lip then shifted from one stiletto mule to the other.

 “What are you wearing to the intervention tonight? Some freshly divorced men will be there. Ay, and a widower, too, although I’m not sure how I feel about that. Anyways, we might get lucky.”

Argh.

To be continued… 

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