Barb Goffman has won the Agatha, Macavity, and Silver Falchion awards for her short stories, and she’s been a finalist for national crime-writing awards nineteen times, including for the Anthony and Derringer awards. Her book, Don’t Get Mad, Get Even, won the Silver Falchion for the best short-story collection of 2013. When not writing, Barb runs a freelance editing and proofreading service. Learn more about Barb and her stories at her website and the Sleuth Sayers blog. Today we’re turning the blog over to one of her protagonists.
Heading for Retirement—or the Slammer?
By Myra Wilkinson
It can be hard to say good-bye, even when you’ve been looking forward to leaving. I knew that was true for family (love to visit; love coming home more). But I’ve found it also applies to my job.
When this week ends, I’ll be retiring from the large Washington, DC, law firm that I’ve called home for the past forty-five years. For most of them, I’ve worked as the secretary to Douglas McPherson, who now runs the litigation department. Douglas was fresh out of law school when I was assigned to him during the Carter administration. We’ve been quite the team all these years. Leaving him will be hard.
Some of you might think I’m a little loony. Who’d miss typing up timesheets and arranging couriers? But it’s not the minutiae of my job that’s leaving me melancholy. Rather, it’s the bigger picture. Taking care of these tasks makes me feel important. I play a key part of a team doing vital work. I doubt I’ll get the same feeling of satisfaction playing shuffleboard as I cruise the Caribbean.
And I’ll miss Douglas. Sure, he’s my boss, but after forty years he’s also my friend. No, scratch that. He’s more like family. Like my little brother. Sure he tries to order me around sometimes, but he also cares about me. And I him.
Of course family can sometimes annoy you, and Douglas is no different. I’m focusing on that as this week wears on. Looking at Douglas with a jaundiced eye will hopefully make it easier for me to leave on Friday for the final time. And to my surprise, Douglas is making it especially easy this week.
He’s hired this twenty-something bimbo named Jessica to take over for me after I leave. I’m supposed to train her this week, but it’s painfully obvious Jessica isn’t interested in learning the ins and outs of the job. All she cares about is landing a rich husband. I’ve tried to tell Douglas he’s made a mistake with this hire, but he won’t listen to me on this point.
It’s aggravating beyond belief that Douglas thinks a job so important, a job I’ve devoted my life to, can be done by this self-centered airhead.
But Jessica isn’t my only grievance. On Thursday night I’m going to learn something—I’m not saying what; I don’t want to spoil your surprise—that’s going to make it painfully clear that Douglas has been taking me for granted. At a time when I’ve been mourning the loss of seeing him most every day and being part of his team, it appears he hasn’t been giving me a second thought. That hurts. It makes me angry. And it leaves me wanting to teach Douglas a lesson before I retire—about the importance of caring for other people as much as you do yourself, about the pitfalls of vanity, and about the dangers of getting so wrapped up in work that you forget what’s really important in life.
When I planned my retirement, I hoped I’d leave with my stamp on the firm. But I hadn’t expected what’s coming. Anger and melancholy can be a dangerous mix. The question now is, have I gone too far? Will Douglas survive? And will my retirement be spent seeing the world or the inside of a prison?
To find out what happens to Myra and Douglas, read “Whose Wine Is It Anyway?” in Fifty Shades of Cabernet.
Fifty Shades of Caberet: A Mysterious Anthology
In vino mysterium is the theme for this anthology of short stories, each blending a baffling mystery and a glass (or more) of cabernet.
When eighteen mystery writers combine their talents, the result is the perfect “flight” of stories that range from light-bodied puzzles to sparkling cozies to darker, heavier tales of deceit and murder. While cabernet is the featured wine, this anthology will appeal to connoisseurs of all varietals—in both wine preference and mystery style.