"Hello! who is it?... Ronny?... yeah.. I am awake.. nah... tell me"
"Hey man... I am in deep shit... you need to help me Tom! I was with this chick ... things happened... Tara ... the kids... wont answer...
"OK! Ronny... slow down... you are breaking up... tell me what happened.... "
"Jeez man!!!... why don't you answer your calls! anyway listen up... I was at that bar we went to last summer... remember... 'Rystlers'... the one with the neon light bar stools..."
"...was sitting there drinking the Fireball...and this really hot chick comes up to me... and well one thing lead to another... so if Tara calls I was with you... and we were at Rystlers... drank too much and I am still in bed...and one more thing.. open up... am outside in 2 minutes."
"It's open... come on in... will be out in a minute"
"you look like shit... what happened?"
"Don't ask buddy... wouldn't wanna make you all jealous!" said Ronny winking and running his hands through his unruly hair.
"I am not lying for you anymore Ron... Tara is a wonderful person and I hate to...!" said Tom... "want some coffee?"
"Yep!"... sure could use some... Did I mention I was up all night?" said Ronny going into the bathroom.
'Oh Gawd!' muttered Tom
"What... what did ya say?? You know how your constant muttering bugs me!? " yelled Ron from the bathroom.
"Well.. good!... look Ron I am not lying for you, I just ain't... simple," said Tom plugging in the kettle.
"It won't happen again.. come on Tom I messed up... I was drunk... she was hot.. you know! what do you expect me to do? Go tell my wife?...who will leave me for sure... and take my three year old girl with her and they'll both hate me... and what for?... a stupid .. stupid ... stupid mistake..." said Ronny looking down at the blue gray carpet, shaking his head.
"Come on man... last time.. I promise"
"Here talk to her," he said dialing a number on the white cordless phone... "tell her I came down to meet ya coz.. well you needed to talk and that we went to Rystlers and had a drink too many... come on.. you know.. just make her believe...you know you are the only one she trusts of all my friends"
"I know," said Tom... "I know."
"Just this once!" said Ron crossing his heart like he used to back in school when they traded secrets about their crushes.
'He still looks like that guy in shorts and glasses and a tie selling tickets at the school fair,' thought Tom, looking at Ronny, who was now giving him the thumbs up.
"Hello!" said a soft, accented female voice on the other side.
"Good morning Tara... this is ...
"Hey Tom... how are you?"
"I am doing good Tara... sorry to wake you up at this hour... just wanted to tell ya that Ron is here with me... we got very late last night and I insisted that he shouldn't drive back"
"Oh! ... ok...uhmm... Thank you Tom...haven't seen you in a while... you should come over for dinner one of these days... I'll make apple pie for dessert!... I know that will get you over fast!
"You got that right, Tara, " said Tom laughing heartily.
"Good... Can I talk to him?" said Tara in her subdued voice.
"Sure," said Tom handing over the phone to Ron.
"I better head home buddy... I'll catch up with ya soon" said Ron hanging up.
"Coffee?" said Tom holding up a cup
"Nah... another day... thanks man... you are such a buddy!" said Ron running out the door.
Tom followed him to the porch and picked up his newspaper from between the rose bushes where it had landed and waved to Ron as he zoomed past him.
Tom took his coffee to the table... pulled up a chair... it was still early and it was one of those rare days when he got up early and could sit down with his coffee and read a newspaper on a weekday.
'Earthquake ... Fire... Plane Crash... Elections... Robbery... Murder... Nadal loses to Federer'. "Thank God for the sports page..." he muttered as he settled down.
* * *
"Green again... Wow! it's amazing how when you are running late you get all red lights and today when I am actually on time... rather early... I haven't gotten a single Red light!... Guess that's God's way of rewarding you!" said Tom to himself as he zipped past the row of offices.
'Who'd believe that in just a few minutes... it'll be tough to find a parking spot here' he thought as he looked up at the huge 'Real Deals at Zeal' banner...
"Good morning!" Mr. Flanagan, said John
"Good morning John... how are you today? Could you ask Margaret to send up some coffee please?" said Tom taking his letters from John.
"Mr Flanagan Sir... Miss Margret hasn't come in yet... and the pantry staff hasn't come in either.. I'll seee....'
"Oh not a problem John... guess that teaches me not to come so early to office! Don't you worry... just send up some coffee as soon as it is possible... ask Margret to do it.' said Tom smiling good naturedly at John.
'The new slogan really is something,' thought Tom looking at the floor meter in the elevator... 5.
"oh great ... at least housekeeping has finished their work,' thought Tom plugging in his laptop.
From his office he could see the elevator and everyone coming in. Mary in her white pullover carrying her favorite huge handbag... he often wondered what she had in it. Joe with his leg in a cast was getting out of the elevator with a group of six or seven who were nodding along as Joe talked.
'He's definitely telling them about how he slipped on a silly doll in the doorway and broke his leg... and how he was a force to reckon with because she got her head squished!' thought Tom shaking his head.
Maria, Simon, Ricky, and Gina were almost pushed out of the elevator.... as it stopped on the floor... it was very crowded by now... and everyone was in a hurry to get to their floor.'
Everyone wished Gina as she passed through the office to her cabin. She went past his office without looking his way... as Tom went into a reverie...'Good morning! Tom.
'Good morning baby... you look beautiful... I can't imagine waking up without you here,' said Tom rolling over on his side so he could see her.
'Oh you are sooo sweet...' and devilishly handsome.' said Gina, her eyes twinkling but her smile still sleepy...
"Mr Flanagan... Good morning! Sir... where do you want it?" asked Simon, the pantry boy balancing a tray much bigger than him as the aroma of coffee filling up the office and Tom shook himself back to the present.
'Good morning! Simon... just put it there on the table. Thank you.'
'Anything else I can get you sir?"
'That will be all Simon.. thank you."
"Oh you idiot stop thinking about her!" said Tom to himself as Simon went out.
'But it was good while it lasted... ' he thought and let out a sigh...'it wasn't real... you know that... said another voice in his head.
"...maybe it was," he said under his breath.
'yeah.... so real that ever since she got that promotion she hasn't even asked you how you are!' said the other voice.
'she never forced me ... and she so needed an idea to keep her job... it was only fair of her!'
'It was unfair of her to even expect it you sissy romantic!' said the other voice
'See that banner outside... see that office... that should have been yours'
'can't believe I let her use my ideas...'
'let it go...'
'Uhmm... the coffee is really good today.. I must remember to tell Simon, thought Tom sipping his coffee and getting ready for another day of work.
* * *
Tom looked at his watch. It was almost 5. 'Wow! I think I'll rent Babel today... finally!... This is great!' thought Tom smiling to himself.
'What are ya smiling about ?'
'Oh! Hey Mary... sorry didn't see ya there... was daydreaming!' said Tom smiling at the young blue- eyed, dark haired intern.
'How are you Mary?'
' I have been better Tom... I need your help... please please don't say no,' said Mary her eyes wide with worry.
'Sure Mary... what is it?'
'Tom....I am doing my masters along with this job and I have this really important test tomorrow... and Gina.. Gina has given me this huge heap of papers to sort and file and If I don't go home and study ... I'll fail for sure .. I told her this.. but she doesn't care about anyone but herself... forgive me.. I know you two were a thing... but....I don't see how... you, being you could date that Devil of a woman! ...It's a very important test.... I don't know who else to ask... you are the only one who is good to me here...and I know this is not your job... please please... I promise...I'll..." said Mary her voice getting squeaky and incomprehensible.
"Hey... Mary... slow down... relax... I'll do it... just get me the papers and go home and study," said Tom smiling reassuringly.
"Oh thank you, Tom... thank you soo very much... you are just wonderful," said Mary, heaving a sigh of relief and running to get the papers from her desk.
'Babel has to wait again,' thought Tom.. replugging his laptop and looking out the window... his desk overflowing with papers.
It was still light outside and down on the pavement he saw... ' the beautiful dark haired Mary wearing a short skirt and a halter neck top..... precariously balancing herself on her pencil heels crossing the road... all ready to party!'
He sighed and frowned and then a smile broke over his face and shaking his head he muttered
' she sure did a quick job... well...girls will be girls and.... guys will be guys'.
'If I can finish this in an hour I'll get back home and make myself a great cup of coffee and catch the rerun of the football match... that will be great,' he thought.