It was about a quarter to five and Bob Brickhead was sitting at his desk, in the sea of desks, trying to concentrate on the reams and reams of printout perched on his blotter. It was all that big, wide paper with the green and white stripes, designed to keep your eyes moving in straight lines as they went back and forth across the pages. The tractor-feed ‘burst off strips’ were still attached to the sides. The stack was at least four inches high and he was tasked with finding the $6.00 error that was hidden somewhere therein.
That was when Nancy Carmody stopped at his desk.
“Hey, Bob,” she sang, “some of us, from Admin, are going to the Flamenco Cantina for happy hour after work.” She leaned over his desk and he looked down her blouse at the lacy bra she was wearing, “I hope you can join us.” She picked up a paper clip and stayed where she was; tempting him, teasing him. He caught the scent of her floral cologne.
“Oh God, Nancy. Oh… I’m uh, God, I’d love to if I can get this data analysis finished for Mr. Dithers early enough.” He swallowed and felt his ears turn red as he stared.
“Happy hour lasts till 7:00,” she said as she straightened up and broke his heart, “hope to see you there. You know where the Cantina is right?”
When she turned to walk away he watched her walk to the door and turn into the hall.
Bob reluctantly turned his attention back to the stack of printouts on his desk looking for the error. The first problem with this job was that there might be a single error of $6.00 or there might be multiple errors that when taken as a whole totaled up to $6.00. The second problem was that Nancy Carmody smiled at him from each page, inviting him for drinks. The freesia scent that she had worn got stronger and stronger as he got deeper and deeper into the numerical quagmire. It was really difficult to maintain his focus.
At 5:30 Dithers swung past his desk on his way home.
“Brickhead, I need you to stay tonight and find that $6.00. Make notes and leave everything on my desk before you go tonight.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Dithers. I’m on it.” Bob said.
Dithers gave him a thumbs-up and marched the same track to the door that Nancy had taken earlier. His walk was nowhere near as captivating as Nancy Carmody’s had been and Bob quickly turned his attention back to the spreadsheet. At six o’clock he was only about a quarter of the way through the print outs and hadn’t uncovered any errors. By a quarter to seven he knew he wasn’t going to make it to the Cantina and as his resentment began to build his motivation began to flag. He grew tired.
He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked up, realizing that he had been dozing. Nancy Carmody was standing next to him wearing pink silk pajamas trimmed with black piping.
“We missed you at happy hour, Bob.” She whispered in his ear. “Still looking for that error? Can I help?”
He gulped for air as she pushed his chair back and perched delicately and ‘lady-like’ on his knee. She rifled the pages on his desk, stopped and then turned back a few. “I’ll bet this is the problem,” she said and she held up six crisp one dollar bills. “These were tucked in behind page 475 so this money was inserted into the report but never entered into the report.”
“God, Nancy,” Bob gushed, “brilliant and beautiful!” He clipped the money to the report and scribbled a note for Mr. Dithers. “Can I see you home?”
“That would be wonderful.” She said. “I have beer at home. You like beer, don’t you Bob?”
“Bob, Bob, hey Bob – wake up man.”
Bob jerked his head up and wiped the drool from the corner of his mouth. He was looking at Mr. Perkins. Mr. Perkins cleaned up at night.
“Mr. Perkins?” Bob asked.
“Yeah, it’s me,” Perkins replied. “Who else? You workin’ late tonight, Bob? You musta fallen asleep. It took me a while to wake you.”
“You’re not Nancy Carmody,” Bob said, “where did she go?”
“I never saw nobody else.” Perkins shrugged. “You oughta go home and get some rest.” He picked up the trash bin and emptied it into the large bag he pushed around with him. He moved away emptying bins at all the other desks as well.
“I must have been dreaming,” Bob said, more to himself than to Mr. Perkins. He looked down at the stack of printed papers and clipped to the front page were six brand new one dollar bills. He looked for the note but didn’t find it so, he grabbed a yellow ‘Post-it’ and wrote a note. He used Nancy’s words:
Nancy Carmody found these bills tucked in
behind, page 475. So apparently, this money
was inserted into the report
but never entered into the report.
Bob made his way downstairs to the bus stop. He waited and as his bus approached he reached into his pocket for the fare and found nothing. That’s funny, he thought to himself, I would have sworn I had five or six bucks! It was 23 blocks home. He shrugged his shoulders and began walking.
He thought about Nancy and how nice she smelled. He thought about the way her hips switched when she walked and above all, he thought about her lace underwear.