The phone is quiet for once and I’m able to sleep until almost 10am. The shrill ringtone that I’ve chosen for the Angel Escorts phone wakes me out of a dream and it takes me a moment to snap back into reality. When my eyes finally open I see that Mike is holding the phone out to me, his own eyes closed. I press the talk button before checking the caller ID, afraid that I might lose the call if I wait any longer to answer it.
by Sarah Brooke
“Good morning, Angel Escorts, Roxi speaking.” I don’t think that my voice sounds like I’ve just woken up, at least I sincerely hope that it doesn’t.
“You gotta come in, Rox.”
“Huh?” I hold the phone away from my face for a moment to check the caller ID. It’s Syndy. I put the phone back on my ear. “Hey, what’s up?”
“You should be here right now.” She says, her voice almost a whisper.
“No way, Tim didn’t tell me to come in.” I sit up in bed, trying to remember if maybe he’d told me to come in today and I’d forgotten.
“Just get your butt in here. I can’t really talk. Ebony and Dixie showed up.”
“And? You can’t just leave me hanging like that, what’s going on?” I ask.
“Tim is on his way over, you should get your butt here. NOW!” She’s whispering but her voice is full of excitement.
“Honestly I don’t know if I should. Tim might not want more witnesses there if something messy is about to happen.”
“Trust me, he’ll appreciate you being here. I have a client coming in at eleven, we need this whole situation wrapped up by then.”
“Fuck. Do you think I should try to push back your eleven o’clock?” I ask.
Syndy pauses for a moment, obviously thinking. “Actually yeah, try to push him back to noon. It’s best if no one is around while Ebony and Dixie are here. I think there’s going to be a scene.”
“Fuck. Okay, I’m throwing clothes on and I’ll be there soon. Try to get Ebony and Dixie downstairs to wait for Tim but don’t leave them alone with the computers for a second.” I say, worried that they might try to sabotage something or steal sensitive information.
“Got it. See you soon, babe.” With this she hangs up the call.
“What’s that all about?” Mike says, his voice groggy but clearly interested.
“Dixie and Ebony are at Angel Escorts.”
“And?” He opens one eye to look at me.
“I think shit is about to go down.” I say, throwing my legs over the bed. “I have to go in.”
“Do you want me to go in with you?” He rolls onto his back and stretches, letting out a monster yawn.
“No, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Tim is a pretty big guy, if anything gets physical I’m sure he’ll be able to handle it.”
“Physical? Do you really think that it could come down to that?” His eyes are wide now, concern written all over his face.
“No, not at all. I’m just saying, we have it under control.”
“I’d rather you not go in. I don’t want you involved in this.” He leans on his elbow, staring at me with a frown on his face.
“It’s kind of my job. I have to make sure none of the clients walk in on this.” Thankfully this makes me remember that I have to push Syndy’s eleven o’clock back. I grab the phone off the bed and find the clients name and number. I make up an excuse and ask if noon would be convenient for him. I’ll have to talk to Tim about giving the guy a small discount for the inconvenience. I toss the phone back on the bed and head to my closet where I throw on the first clean pair of pants and shirt that I find. I have no time to do my hair or makeup, let alone shower so I clip my hair back and hope that I look presentable.
“Do I look okay?” I ask, even though there’s no way Mike would ever tell me that I looked like crap.
“You look great. Are you going to be back before dinner?”
“I’m going to be back way before then, I promise. I’m just going to make sure hell doesn’t break loose then I’m coming right home.” Mike and I have not seen a whole lot of each other since I started this job and I had promised him that we’d spend the day together.
“Alright, well drive safe and call me if you need anything.” He looks concerned but not upset, which I take as a good sign. I give him a kiss and rush out the door, almost forgetting my purse in my urgency. A short while later I pull up to the townhouse. The door to Angel Escorts is wide open and a fleeting moment of panic overcomes me. I can’t help but imagine that something dramatic has happened. I close the door shut behind me and stand in the entrance for a moment. I hear angry voices coming from downstairs and decide to head down there first.
“You don’t even fucking know the shit I’ve gone through for this fucking agency.” I come down the stairs and see that Ebony is screeching at Syndy, who is sitting cross legged in Tim’s usual chair, staring wide eyed at Ebony. Ebony doesn’t see me enter the room but Dixie, who is sitting next to Syndy, does.
“Hello, Roxi. What brings you here?” She smiles at me, an empty smile that does nothing but creep me out.
“Hey ladies, what’s up? I thought I’d come in today to do some cleaning, what’s going on?” I decide that playing dumb is my best bet.
“As if you don’t fucking know.” Ebony turns on her heel and starts yelling at me. “Where is Tim? He too busy fucking that crackhead to come deal with his business?”
“Whoa, what?” I say, taking a step backwards.
“Ebony, be cool.” Dixie shoots her a stern look and Ebony shuts up, for the moment at least. “What do you know about this, Roxi?”
“What do you mean?”
“Chantal came in here the other day, high as fuck. You were here, weren’t you?” Dixie asks.
I lick my lips nervously, not sure what to say. “Yes, I was.”
“She was just acting strange. Nothing really happened.” I say, shrugging my shoulders.
“Did Tim say she was fired?” Dixie asks.
“I can’t remember. Maybe?” I look at Syndy, who is staring at me with an amused look on her face.
“Well he’s not firing her now. He’s going to keep her around. What do you think of that? Do you think it’s a good idea to keep a known druggie working for the agency?”
“Um, I don’t know. I don’t like to get involved.”
“Roxi, you’re the manager here. You have to get involved. Why haven’t you told Tim to fire her?” Dixie says. I wonder how I went from “phone answering girl” to manager without anyone having actually discussed it with me first.
“Oh, geez, Tim wouldn’t listen to me…”
Dixie cuts me off. “It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
“Um, I guess?” I shrug my shoulders again. “I’m just not sure that it’s even my business. He can hire and fire who he wants, he’s the owner.”
“If he doesn’t fire her ass, Ebony and I are leaving.” She says.
“You bet your fucking ass I’m leaving. Do you know how many agencies have contacted me, wanting to steal me away? Fuck this shit, I’m not working with no fucking crackhead.” Ebony is animated as usual, her hands planted firmly on her hips, spewing her words like venom. “Nobody is gonna want to come to an agency that hires girls that are strung the fuck out.”
“If you lose us, you will lose a lot of business.” Dixie says, glaring at me as if somehow I’m responsible for all of this.
“I don’t doubt that, you guys are great and we’re lucky to have you.” I decide that sweet talking is the only way I might gain any ground here. “Why would you want to leave? We can arrange it so that you guys and Chantal are never working the same shifts. Would that help anything?”
“No!” Dixie and Ebony cry out at the same time. “What’s going on is not okay. I won’t work for a company that condones drug use.” Ebony continues.
“Ebony, we don’t condone drug use, you know that.” I say.
“She had her chance and she blew it. She doesn’t deserve to work here.” Dixie says, stone cold as ever.
“Oh, like you guys have never made mistakes?” Syndy pipes up, narrowing her eyes at the both of them. “What gives you the right to judge her?”
“My sobriety.” Ebony spits out, staring down Syndy. “You don’t bring that shit to work. Do whatever you want in your free time but there is never an excuse to bring that shit to work.”
I wish I could disagree with her but she’s right. Chantal fucked up and should be fired. I can’t agree with them though or I risk pissing Tim off.
“No one is saying that she didn’t fuck up. She did. But maybe she deserves another chance.”
“She doesn’t.” Ebony turns to face the wall and punches it. The action catches me off guard and I let out a startled cry. Dixie bursts out laughing at my reaction and I get an irresistible urge to punch her in the throat. Somehow I manage to resist.
“I don’t know what you guys want me to do. You need to talk to Tim.” Where is he? Why hasn’t he showed up yet? If Syndy texted him when they first arrived he should have had more then enough time to get here.
“We’re trying to but he hasn’t showed up yet. Is he too afraid of us? Sends you to do his dirty work?” Ebony says, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
“I don’t know, is Tim on his way?” I ask Syndy. She nods her head and looks down to check her phone.
“He’s on his way.” She says, looking up at me and placing her phone on the desk in front of her. As if by some magic, at this very moment the upstairs door creaks open. It must be Tim. Heavy footsteps fall on the floor above our heads and we’re all silent, staring up at the ceiling. He pauses at the stop of the stairs, probably taking a deep breath to try to steel himself against the shit storm that is inevitably coming his way.
Slowly and deliberately he walks down the stairs. When he is finally in view, he first looks at me, then at Ebony, then at Dixie. Syndy stands up and vacates his chair, then walks over to me and takes her position by my side. Tim passes by Ebony and Dixie and sits in his chair. He leans back and crosses his arms in front of his chest.
“What is the meaning of this?” His voice is calm but loud.
“You damn well know what the meaning of this is. What the fuck are you thinking, Tim?”
“Ebony, you had better watch your tone of voice with me.” He narrows his eyes at her.
“Oh, had I? Had I better? Tim what the fuck is going on here. Chantal shows up, high as a kite again, and you aren’t gonna fire her? What the FUCK?” Ebony says, her hands back on her hips again.
“I’m sorry, but do you have some stake in this business that I’m not aware of? Are you part owner? Manager?” He says, his eyes fixed on Ebony.
“I’ve been here for a long time Tim, I’ve put up with a lot of bullshit and stayed. I am not going to work with drug addicts, do you hear me? I refuse!” Her voice is getting louder and louder with each word that tumbles out of her mouth. Dixie looks much more meek since Tim showed up, she is staring at her shoes.
“I’m sorry that you feel that you need to resign. There is no need for that.”
“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say? You’d rather keep a crackhead slut working for you than me and Dixie?”
Tim turns and looks at Dixie. “Dixie, is this true? Are you planning on leaving too?”
For a moment Dixie says nothing, perhaps she is reconsidering her stance on the matter. When she finally speaks her voice is quiet and sounds almost shy. “I’m not willing to work with an addict.”
“We are better than this, Tim. We deserve a workplace that respects its girls.” Ebony shouts.
“Ebony, are you really accusing me of disrespecting my girls?”
“This is straight up disrespectful. We have put in countless hours for you, made you so much money and this is how you treat us. You are disrespectful.” Ebony is still talking loudly but she’s not shouting at Tim the way she was shouting at us.
The room is silent for a moment and then the shrill ringtone of the phone distracts us all from the fight at hand. I stare down at the phone for a moment and then sprint up the stairs to answer it.
I clear my throat, determined to sound confident and cheerful. “Angel Escorts, this is Roxi, how can I help you?”