Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(63)

By: Ingrid Reinke

He was behind me. My mind struggled with the fact that I had been shocked somehow, passed out and was now bound—and that Martin knew about it. It didn’t seem right. I tried to respond but only got out a mumble; my mouth was also covered with tape. I took a few shallow breaths out of my nose and tried to stop myself from hyperventilating. I heard him sigh as he hefted his large body out of Elaine’s chair and walked around the desk to face me. He patted my hair as he sat down in one of the chairs facing me.

“Lulu, why did you not listen to me when I told you to get another job? I told you and I told you. I even found you a job to apply for and tried to get you time off with that counselor dude. You have made this really hard for me, you know.”

With this statement my focus went from confusion to terror. I started to tremble uncontrollably. Although I was shocked to be victimized by Martin, my supposed friend, it didn’t surprise me that although I was the one tied up and gagged, he was still making this whole situation about himself. Playing the victim was one of Martin’s specialties. I cursed myself for brushing aside the many occasions when I realized that Martin was, in fact, at best a narcissist and at worst a complete and utter sociopath. I had chosen instead to look beyond his daily whiny self-victimization and martyrdom tendencies and see him as a fun, perky friend who made me laugh and sent me links to the best gossip sites and shirtless pictures of hot male celebs. I made a mental note to re-watch that Oprah episode about “listening to your inner voice” if I survived this.

I looked up at him with wide eyes. His face was puffy and red and his eyes were glassy, his words slow and slightly slurred. He smelled strongly of white wine as he leaned in to speak to me.

“Sorry I tased you. I know that totes hurts like hell,” he said in a sympathetic voice, like he was talking to a small child or a puppy. I nodded furiously. My wrists burned and my neck was aching so badly that tears formed in my eyes. “I just wish you hadn’t started dating that damn cop. I was going to ask you to come with me and work over at Guy Farner’s. They offered me a great job. It’s sooooo much better there than at this shithole joke of an office. Fuck this place! You know, fuck it!” He waved his arms wildly at our surroundings and looked towards the sky, like he was talking to God. “I can’t go over there until next year, because it would be too obvious, this whole stealing information thing, but when I do move they’re going to pay me like sixty-five thousand a year with benefits,” he slurred a bit and swayed in the desk chair. After he righted himself, he continued, “Mr. Curtis just doesn’t appreciate me.” He looked at me, waiting for some kind of response. I didn’t know what he wanted me to do. “That’s what they said! They totally told me that.” He grabbed my shoulder and leaned down to emphasize his point. “He was going to fire my ass anyways. I read it in a goddamn email in Mr. Curtis’ inbox! They were going to bring on some old hag from NorCom to take my job after the merger went through. Canyoubelibethatshit?” Tears were forming in Martin’s bloodshot eyes. “After all the years I have put into this goddamn shithole of a company!”

The level of drama had increased dramatically with this last statement, and now Martin was wailing in a high pitched, mucus-y whine as he leaned far back into the chair. This performance was a bit confusing for me, because I knew that Martin had only been at Merit for two and a half years. However, as my mouth was duct-taped shut, I couldn’t exactly point this out to him.

The sudden rise in volume of Martin’s voice had startled him, and he stood up and peeked out of Elaine’s door to see if he’d been heard. He scanned the office for a second and seemed satisfied that nothing had changed. The room was still dark, the only light coming from the kitchen at the far end of the hall. The office was as silent as a graveyard.

“OK,” he said, seemingly satisfied that we were alone. “I need you to put in Elaine’s passwords to print those last files on the merger. I know that she gives them to you and shit.”

He reached down and tried to pick me up by yanking upward on each of my arms. In his drunken stupor he’d apparently forgotten about the thorough job he’d done securing my hands to the desk. His effort caused a new, more intense burning sensation in my wrists as they were rubbed up roughly against the duct tape that refused to give way.

“Arrrghhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! OWWWWWWWWWWWW!” was the noise that came out of me through my taped mouth.

Martin paused momentarily from his efforts to lift me up and looked at me, confused. “Right. Sorry, Bitch,” he said, then started laughing hysterically to himself. “Owie owie boo boo! Lulu’s got a boo boo!” He laughed at his cleverness and pranced around the desk to pick up Elaine’s scissors. A second later he sat down with a thud, then flopped his big body down on the floor between me and the door and farted audibly. “Ooopsiedoodles!” he giggled. As he leaned around behind me to begin hacking away at my bindings with the scissors, the overwhelming stench from his gas hit me and made me gag against the tape.