Marissa decided that it was her day to run a bit of an inspection. This was always John's way of dealing with the place, especially as it got bigger and bigger. He would walk random inspections, after work hours and the place was at rest, to see how it looked, and how it felt. He always insisted that it gave him a good sense of the place. And as with other practices, Marissa continued John's habits long after he was gone. She was completely aware that it was because he had let her grow into the business, with his patient and kind help, that she could run it so successfully now.
It caused her to sigh. She knew that time had certainly gone on, it was maybe five years, but in ways she still missed her older, cuddly John, and she was all the more determined to do well with their company, his company.
It's what Marissa Meers did at age 33; she ran the company. She was, had become, a company woman, so to speak. She knew they all respected her, and that some of them were inordinately fond of her. She also knew that some held closely loved, closely cherished prejudices and called her, they thought behind her back, 'the black bitch' and worse.
Her secretary, Sally, had heard one such remark and told Marissa about it. Sally had been really upset by it but it caused Marissa to just laugh:
"Oh, Sally, Sally, you can always tell the shape of someone's soul by the evil names that they call others. I know that they call me 'the black bitch' but who cares? They work for me, and they know that."
Marissa was half way into her reverie, when she heard voices. She'd entered the warehouse, storage, shipping area of the works now and stopped to listen. She knew that no one was supposed to be here at this time.
"You do it now, or you lose your happy home here, boy!" a rough voice said.
Marissa recognized the voice as Herb Smith's. He ran this part of the operation. He was older and certainly one of the 'black bitch' crowd, as she called him.
She was holding a recorder that she habitually used to give herself messages and simply turned it on, as she got to the storage room door.
Herb was there with one of the new guys, a Christian Arenson, she believed. They were having an argument of sorts. Marissa was just about to intervene when Herb went on:
"Look at it this way, pretty boy; you're living here and the black bitch won't have that. So what, you lost your digs. This is my area and you'll pay the tariff or you'll lose this happy home. So that, if you're not on your knees in one minute with my cock in your mouth, you're out of here totally: no home, no job, no place to play your fuckin' fiddle!"
Christian, who couldn't see Marissa either, had a look of murder on his face. It was obvious from her reading of the situation that Herb had gotten himself in over his head and didn't even know it yet. It was then that she spoke up:
"Hey, Herb!" she said quietly.
Herb's face was ashen, as he saw Marissa in the doorway:
"Marissa, uh, Ms. Meers," he stammered, "I didn't see you there."
"No, I guess not, Herb," she said, "But shouldn't it be 'black bitch?'"
"Sorry about that," Herb continued to stammer, "Didn't see you there."
"Obviously," she said, and smiled. "But you know, Herb, I'm going to show you that there are no hard feelings. I'm going to offer you an early retirement package that will allow you to begin to collect on your 401K instead of firing your ass, instead of turning you into the police for attempted sodomy."
Here she held up the recorder for him to see; he blanched.
"But..." he began, trembling a bit now.
"No, no, Herb," she went on, "You've had your say, and I've had mine. We'll leave it go at that. I'll get the paper work started. You don't need to come in anymore."
In an instant it was clear that he was defeated. Herb was that kind of bully that deflated once his bluff was called.
"Yes, ma'am," he said.
"And, Herb," she continued, "Don't even think of revenge; you don't want to screw with me or my family, right?"
"Yes, Melisssa, uh, Ms Meer!" he said.
"Go ahead," she went on, "Say it to my face one time, Herb; it'll make you feel better."
He looked at her with a strange look and then growled at her:
"You black bitch!"
The next few minutes were extremely confusing, so much happened so quickly.
Marissa simply laughed at what Herb had called her and the total ineffectiveness of his undisguised racial and gender hate.
At the very same time, Herb, self satisfied, turned to grin at Christian, and Christian, having waited for Herb to be looking, hit the pot bellied man in the stomach. Herb blanched terribly and went to his knees. Christian stood back and just watched at that point and Marissa let out a surprised "Ohhh".
"Now, Herb," Christian said evenly, "I hit you in the stomach for a few reasons, and I want you to hear them and understand them. If you're with me, shake your head, pal."
Herb, still clutching his stomach, shook his head 'yes', and Christian continued:
"First, you don't address a lady that way! Second, if you have tiny minded racial hatreds, then you keep them to yourself. Remember what Thumper's mom said: 'If you can't say something nice about someone, then don't say anything at all!' You hearing me, Herb?"
Herb shook his head 'yes' again and Christian went on:
"Third, she's the boss and deserves respect from you, and finally, Herb, I did it as a favor, so that there won't be a mark and you don't have to explain a black eye, or damaged face to anyone."
He hesitated for a moment, and Marissa simply looked on with a smile. Then Christian spoke again.
"I seriously don't know what was going on in your mind that made you think that you could extort a blow job out of me, Herb! And I'm going to let that one pass. I imagine that you'd better go now."
Marissa spoke up at that point:
"Herb, you don't need to come back in until I contact you to sign your papers. I'll make sure that your early retirement settlement is a nice one. Now, you just do what Christian told you to do and leave now."
Herb simply nodded his head and, rubbing his stomach still, stalked out.
"Trouble?" Christian asked of Marissa.
"Our Herb is a biggot, bully and a coward. We're pretty much quits with him now."
"Ma'am," Christian began, embarrassed, "I'm sorry about..."
She never let him get far into his statement:
"We'll just leave it go, Christian, as it is. And I think that tomorrow morning you should come to my office and we'll talk about you having Herb's position."
"Thank you, ma'am," Christian said softly.
"It's Marissa," she answered him. "Well, I need to get on my way, Christian. You have a pleasant evening."
He smiled, nodded and turned away. She made no further inquiry about his living situation and was determined to talk to Sally about it, so that no fuss would be raised. She went back to her office and sat to think about the whole incident. After a while, she decided to go and ask Christian if he'd like a drink. He did intrigue her and gave her a sense of wanting to know him better. When she got to the warehouse, shipping area things suddenly changed, unexpectedly changed.
As soon as she was in the building it happened. The whole building was filled with a soft and glorious sound. She recognized immediately one of Bach's unaccompanied cello suites. It reverberated around the building and filled the whole space.
"Of course," Marissa said to herself, "Herb had mentioned his 'fiddle'; he plays the cello."
Just then he made a mistake and she could hear him curse. She just barely covered her mouth and suppressed her giggle. He started again and this time, it was flawless. She sat and listened until he was finished with it and began to play scales. She slipped out quietly at that point, murmuring to herself:
"So, Christian's 'fiddle'!" She was slowly shaking her head as she said it. The loveliness of the music was almost a spiritual experience for Marissa, moving her greatly. It caused her to think a great deal. By the next morning, she had already, characteristically for her, formulated a number of plans.
She was early in the office, which caused her secretary/assistant, Sally, to shake her head and say:
"Oh, no, something is up if the wicked witch of the west is here early!"
"Watch your tongue, girl!" Marissa quipped at Sally, as she collected a hug from the totally devoted secretary. "And, if it's any of your business, I do have a number of items that need tending this morning."
"Yes, like sorting Herb Smith out!" Sally answered.
"You have a nose as long as an elephant's," Marissa said with a smile. "So, you know about that little incident."
"Yes, but I'm keeping it quiet," Sally said, "And I say 'good riddance' to him. I'll get his paper work ready for you to look over. I assume you want the usual early retirement arrangement put into writing?"
"Yes, let's just get rid of him," Marissa answered, nodding.
"And?" Sally prompted.
"And I have a meeting coming with Mike Robson but that's personal stuff," Marissa said pointedly, and was ignored by Sally.
"Mike?" she said.
Marissa sighed and said: "Yes, I'm going to ask Mike to rehab the apartment above the carriage house, garage at home."
"What a lovely idea," Sally said and stopped herself cold. She shook her finger at Marissa and said: "Calculating! Scheming! You're going to offer that apartment to Christian Arenson!"
Marissa grinned at her: "I'm surprised that it took you so long to work it out." Then she sat down and said:
.... There is more of this story ...