Foot in Mouth Disease

Rory’s Story Cubes Mini-Story #25

RSC 25

Photo by Jennie Coughlin

The runner dropped an “eyes-only” envelope on Elizabeth Drake’s desk, breaking her train of thought. The envelope was sealed with red tape, someone’s inside joke, perhaps, meaning “drop what you’re doing and read this.” Drake picked it up and read the signature on the reverse: M. K. Fisher. Oh great, Drake thought, a missive from the rising star operative; be still my heart.

Drake broke the seal and slipped the draft mission plan from the envelope. At first, she thought she was home free. There was no attached list of questions and comments. When she flipped through the pages, she spotted Fisher’s unique mark: her questions and comments were scrawled in the margins. In red ink.

“Gah!” Drake exclaimed, causing the analyst whose desk butted against hers to look up.

“What?” he asked.

“I got a draft mission plan back from Fisher.”

“Oh, lucky you, though I usually find she does spot what I’ve missed.”

“That would be fine if she didn’t lord it over you,” Drake said.

“I’ve never felt she did that.”

“Derrick, she makes comments in red ink, using a fountain pen. You can’t just walk down to the office supply store and buy red ink cartridges for a fountain pen. You have to special order them, probably import them from dear old England, but what do you expect from somebody who’s probably never had to wash her own clothes, much less hang them on a line?”

In the middle of her tirade, Derrick had ducked his head and focused on whatever it was he worked on.

Oh, great, Drake thought, she’s right behind me. But when someone leaned down to her level, she caught a whiff of Old Spice aftershave.

“Actually,” Alexei Bukharin murmured, “she washes her underwear out by hand every night and hangs them up in the shower to dry, which is why I have my own bathroom.”

“I, uh, didn’t—”

“You did, but fix that mission report, and I won’t mention this. To anyone. Understood.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have a nice day.”

He was gone as quietly as he’d arrived. Drake stared daggers at Derrick, who ignored her. With a sigh, she picked up her Bic and a legal pad and opened the packet to the first page of the draft.

I live for your constructive comments.

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