The room was cold; wet snow was starting to clump on the windowsill. She went over to the ancient radiator and fiddled with the knob. A thin wisp of steam tried to escape with an exhausted hiss. This was ridiculous, she thought,having to work under these conditions. No heat, a leaky ceiling right over her desk, mice and roaches running across her feet and desk. She was terrified of opening her purse when she got home at night and finding a critter in there. Her cats might appreciate the gift, but she hated the idea of something so defenseless being ripped apart by razor sharp teeth and claws.
She started to straighten up her desk, putting the files in order, putting the phone on forward for the night. She looked over to his office; the light was still on. He was slumped over some papers. Probably the Richman account; she had worked for three weeks trying to reconcile those numbers, staying late, coming in early. He had promised her a raise if she could pull it off, and when she did, he took all the credit for her work, telling his supervisor how hard he'd worked to get the account balanced. When she called him on it, demanded the reward he'd promised her, he'd laughed, and ridiculed her gullibility. Told her to become more business savvy. It's kill or be killed, he'd told her.
So she waited, bided her time. Waited to absolve herself of any guilty feelings she might still have. He liked to have a cup of coffee in the afternoon, black, no sugar. He especially liked to have her get it for him, taking great delight in summoning her into his office and commanding her to bring it to him. Usually she had to fight back the bile of resentment that enveloped her, but not today. Today she went down to the kitchen, brewed a fresh pot of coffee, and gently sprinkled a powder of ground up peanuts into the bottom of the mug. She poured the hot cup of Joe and placed the lid on the travel mug nice and tight. She returned it to him, then sat down at her desk. She was starting to delete her personal files when she began to hear him cough. She heard him struggling to open desk drawers as the coughing became more violent; heard him rummaging frantically for the epinephrine which had, unbeknownst to him, mysteriously disappeared from his desk the night before. His head fell onto the desk as anaphylaxis set in; moments later a coronary artery spasm erupted. She could hear his breathing become laboured, then finally cease.
She waited a few more minutes, then went into his office to retrieve the travel mug. She closed the door to his office, went down to the kitchen, and dumped the contents into the sink. She rinsed out the mug, then filled it half way with the coffee that was still in the pot. Returning to the office, she placed the mug back on his desk. She scrunched her nose at the smell in the office; he'd lost muscle control, emptying his bladder and bowels. She went back to her desk, pulling on a pair of boots as her computer shut down. She put on her coat and left, closing the door behind her. She was halfway down the hall when she ran into his supervisor. She smiled politely at him.
"Not working late tonight?"
"No, it's starting to snow. I think I've earned an early night."
"You did an excellent job on the Richman account."
She dropped her gaze, and bit her lip.
"I thought Jonathan took all the credit for that."
"He did, but there's no way that was his work. I notice when people come in and when people leave. Keep up the good work; you never know when there'll be a chance to move up."
She gave him her brightest smile as she headed towards the exit. No, one never knew when there would be a chance to be promoted.