The Insurance Office

The crash, not the curse, from Mr. Sanderson’s office woke Tabitha—not that she usually fell asleep on the job, it was just that Mr. Sanderson had her work late tonight. And it wasn’t as if Mr. Sanderson was known for cursing. He kept that for after office hours, when he could be sure clients wouldn’t hear him talk about how unintelligent he thought they were. No, it wouldn’t be good for the South Brook Insurance Agency for their top, most senior agent to be heard cursing like a drunken sailor.

Mr. Sanderson had asked Tabitha to stay late to file the frankly shocking amount of life insurance policies that had been filed in the wake of the escalation of tension between the Soviet Union and the U.S. (“Doesn’t matter a good God damn,” said Mr. Sanderson. “If the Ruskies drop their bombs, we’ll drop ours, and there won’t be a damn person on the Earth whose life insurance policy will be worth a whiff of shit.” That hadn’t kept him from selling them off to everyone who was concerned, though. And everyone who was concerned seemed like it was everyone in South Brook.) Tabitha didn’t mind. She was glad it gave her that much longer in his office. Something about him did something for her. Perhaps it was his rough way of speaking, or the slightly salacious grin he wore whenever the last client of the day left. Whatever it was, it contributed to Tabitha dressing in tighter-than-modesty-asked office wear and her put-on music-tinted voice.

“Damn it all,” shouted Mr. Sanderson again, precipitating another metallic clang from the interior office.

“Do you need help, Mr. Sanderson?” Tabitha asked.

“Yes,” his bass voice responded, slipping through the crack in the door separating the lobby—a small room that barely held Tabitha’s desk, phone, and notebook and crammed-in coffee table and settee.  “Please do come in here, Miss Reed. I need an extra pair of eyes.”

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Drogon’s Chapter, as Written by Philip Roth

So. In my upcoming review, I make a side-mention about how odd it would be to see Philip Roth writing in the fantasy genre. “No one wants to read about dragons with mother issues” is the exact phrasing.

Well, somehow, in between sending it to my editor and now, it got to the desk of George R. R. Martin. Turns out that Roth was actually tapped for writing a guest chapter in A Dance with Dragons a few years ago. Though it was cut, Martin kept the first draft of Roth’s submitted chapter and was kind enough to forward it my way on the condition that I not share it with anyone.

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The Health Coach

From: Ted Hayward

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 8:58 AM


Subject: Your Health Coach

Happy Monday, everyone.

As you may be aware, the state employees’ insurance program requires you to hold to their standards. (Don’t worry. As long as you don’t eat fried chicken and Jell-O for every meal, you will be fine.) One of the ways they enforce the standards are the annual physicals you already came across for your Partnership Promise.

You’ll also be in contact with your “health coach.” They’ll be helping you along the way to better health and a better lifestyle. Your health coach should be in contact with you soon. It is imperative that you work with them, as they are responsible for turning in reports that may result in increases to your premiums.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I’m back in my office.


Ted Hayward

Human Resources Director

From: Aaron Simon

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 9:00 AM

To: Ted Hayward

Subject: RE: Your Health Coach

What are you doing back, you whelp?

Aaron Simon


From: Ted Hayward

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 9:15 AM

To: Aaron Simon

Subject: RE: RE: Your Health Coach

Hi Aaron,

Yeah, it’s great to be back. Especially after seeing some of the things that happen in federal prisons. That isn’t anything I would wish on anyone.

Not even you.

In the interests of a working environment, I suggest putting an end to whatever hostilities you might want to strike up against me. It’s pointless and juvenile.


Ted Hayward

Human Resources Director

From: Aaron Simon

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 10:01 AM

To: Ted Hayward

Subject: RE: RE: RE: Your Health Coach

Your face is pointless and juvenile.

-Aaron Simon

Just Owned You

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