The trigger first sentence came form J.J. Parris's Sacrilege. My writing mate did a brilliant piece of writing where she kept repeating, "I couldn't tell them about..." and used wonderful details of smell and dark and light.
“I remember him,” I said.
And I did. What I didn’t say was I also had hated him. We’d worked together for five years in back to back to cubicles. Those cubicles I’d hated too. When I found mine each morning, I felt like an experimental mouse running through a maze for a piece of cheese, only in my case, the cheese was a paycheck, if you could call it that. I’d needed a second job, which was a sales person at Charette Art.
I envied the painters who came in with their clothes often spattered with miscellaneous colors. Finally, I used my employee discount to buy a set of acrylics and a canvas to try and paint myself. I wish I could say, there was a hidden talent.
There wasn’t, but that had led me to meeting Jim, and that led me to work at his gallery, which I inherited when Jim died and I never had to live in little cubicles again.
Which brings me back to the woman standing before me asking me if I remember Neil. “He said he used to work with you.
I nodded not noncommittally. Since she might be a buyer and I didn’t know what Neil was too her I didn’t want to tell her about his voice booming on telephone calls. So much for sound deadening panels. And the smells of the food he brought in, especially the garlic, made me wish for windows to open, but the building was sealed. Even if I could have opened a window, they were a sea of cubicles away and air would ever have reached my space.
“How did you stand him?” she asked. “He’s such a pig, a bully. But I thought he was lying when he said he knew the owner of the gallery.”
“How did it come up?” I asked.
“I’m in the cubicle next to him. He saw the invitation to the exhibition on my desk and after that it was brag, brag.”
“Sounds like Neil,” I said.
She pointed to a couple that just walked in. “Better go to your next client,” she said.