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.”