“Door’s open.” A voice from inside calls out. So I go right in. She seems a bit taken aback, I guess she was expecting someone else too. She’s a sweet old lady though, smiles and invites me right in. I’d say she’s about the same age as Pallas, not quite his weight, still pretty heavy. She’s got a motherly thing about her, ending every other sentence with “hun” or “sweety” like a late night waitress bucking for a tip. If she had curlers in her hair you’d expect her to offer you a cup of coffee, but she’s dressed well, just what you’d expect an older professional woman to wear. Some kind of blazer and matching skirt. Not the newest fashion, but still looking good.

So she invites me in, I sit down at her desk and she asks me what I need. I tell her I’m doing some legal work for Mr. Pallas and need to ask a few questions. She looks me up and down and wrinkles her nose. I’m obviously no lawyer, I look more like am old-time hobo I guess. But she doesn’t ask any questions, just folds her hands on her desktop and nods. I figure, screw it, I’m laying it all out, so I ask her if she wants Pallas to retire. She nods quietly and tells me Pallas isn’t really a healthy man and thinks that retirement would be good for him “maybe he could get a little exercise and some fresh air for a change.” I can’t tell if she is laying it on thick or if she really is concerned for the man. She goes on about how the company wouldn’t run the same without him, maybe he could just take a couple days off a week and work part-time yada yada... I have to interrupt her. I tell he I’m not concerned for his health, I’m worried that someone is trying to put him out of business. Of course she knows the whole Rick Black story and doesn’t really have anything new to add to it, just that she begged Pallas not to send that bottle of champagne.

I ask her if there isn’t anything else she can think of. Here she gets quiet and confidential. It seems that there are people within the company who might want to take over. People who want Pallas’s job. This is it I think, come on Ruthie let’s have it. “I’m not one to talk out of school.” She says. Shit.

I’m pleading on the inside, “Please Miss Bunis, give me some names.” On the outside I’m just acting like I could care less. She’s coming across like a gossip with a guilty conscience, and I’m sure she won’t be able to keep it in for long. But I was wrong, she wanted me to be breathless with anticipation, hanging on her every word. I played this hand poorly. “I’m sure you won’t have to look far to find him.” She says dismissing me, rising to shake my hand. I guess this is goodbye so I get up and step to the door.

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To Be Continued >>