A THOUSAND BREAK-UPS
By Margaret Price
"No, no, no!"
The Alphabet cringed at the sound of their commanding officer's thunderous yell coming from behind his office door. Furtive glances were exchanged as a stream of curses was followed by a sound that could only be a fist slamming onto a desk. "Out! Get out of my sight!"
The voice of the Earl of Gloria replied in equally high volume, "Gladly!"
The Alphabet suddenly found plenty of other things to do besides look at the Major's office door when it was abruptly yanked open and the Earl stormed out, his face in high color. "There are plenty of other fish in the sea, you know!" he said as he strode across the room.
"Good luck finding them with the old bait you're using," Klaus shot back.
Dorian spun on his heel, his eyes blazing. "Bastard!"
The reply was the door to the Major's office slamming shut.
Dorian's bright blue eyes grew wide, his color deepening, a low growl rising in his throat. He turned on his heel, slamming the door behind himself so hard the windows rattled.
What followed was a long, deafening silence. The Alphabet drew a collective breath and waited. True to form, the Major came storming out of his office, crossed to the door, and vanished through it, thundering down the corridor beyond.
"We've got five minutes," G announced.
There was immediately a flurry of activity as the agents crowded around G's desk. He pulled a large calendar from beneath the blotter. "How long this time?" he asked as he made a note of the date and time.
"That was a bad one," A observed. "They started yesterday. Haven't fought like that in ages."
Z was flipping through a notebook. "It's been more than...ten months," he confirmed.
"How long did it take for them to get back together then?" G asked.
A gave a snort. "Are you sure? They haven't lasted a week in over a year."
Z rechecked his notebook. "Okay, six days."
"Who's first?" G asked, tossing away the pen that had inconveniently gone dry and grabbing another.
"I say six days," Z said firmly.
Agent R held out some cash. "I give ‘em three. The Earl always cracks."
"Exactly three days?" A wanted to know.
R gave him a puzzled look. "Are we doing days and hours now?"
G gave a small giggle as he took the notebook from Z's hand. He quickly flipped through the pages and then nodded. "I think we'd better break it down more. Say...six hour lots?" There were murmurs of assent after which he took wagers from all present. They could always break things into exact hours later.
The agents had only just returned to their duties when the Major returned with a cup of coffee in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other. The latter was not a good sign. Since taking up with the Earl, the Major had cut back on his smoking, only seeming to light up when under considerable stress. He appeared otherwise himself again, more or less, as he strode wordlessly to his office, closing the door quietly behind himself.
The rest of the day was decidedly uneventful.
# # #
When G arrived for work the following morning, he was surprised to find a manila envelope in the center of his desk. His surprise turned to bewilderment when he opened it to find a sum of cash and a note designating a wager in the current office pool.
"Who put this here?" G asked, holding up the envelope.
"What is it?" A wanted to know.
G shot a furtive glance in the direction of the Major's office.
"He's with the Director," A replied to the unspoken question.
G heaved a relieved sigh before telling of the contents of the envelope. "It says I'm to put the money on ‘no less than four weeks from yesterday' before any kind of reconciliation."
This caused everyone to stop what they were doing and look up.
"What?" L gasped. "That's gotta be a joke."
"That's what I would've said. But there's money with it." G cleared his throat before adding, "And it's signed ‘G.'"
Agent R snickered. "You leaving yourself notes now, G?"
G gave him a dark look.
"You sure it's not just bad hand..." A's voice trailed off as G held out the paper for him to see. There was no mistaking the letter at the bottom. The note had been typed not handwritten. "Ah. That's a G alright."
"Who else is left?" L wanted to know.
"Only D. And he's still in hospital," G replied.
A quickly checked his roster and nodded. "With rehab, he'll be out another month or more." He sat back in his chair. "Maybe he had someone else bring it and they got the letters wrong." He grabbed the phone and quickly dialed the hospital, having a brief conversation with the ailing Agent D. As soon as he hung up, he looked at his equally bewildered fellow Alphabets. "He didn't know anything about it. In fact...erm, he asked me to put money on two and a half days."
This was met with several amused snickers.
"So...what do I do with this?" G wanted to know, holding up the envelope containing the cash. "It says I'm to put a receipt in the envelope and leave it in my outbox when I go home tonight."
"I say it's the Director," R speculated. When he received several annoyed scowls, he said defensively, "Has to be. Doesn't want anyone knowing he wants in on the action."
"G for Director?" Q said sarcastically.
"Maybe he's trying to be clever," R replied. "Knows that D's out, but didn't want to be that obvious."
A and G exchanged glances and then rolled their eyes. Somehow they could not imagine the Director being that clever.
"Or maybe he doesn't want the Major knowing he's sniffing around G again," Q rejoined. "Remember what happened the last time?"
The response to this was a chorus of chuckles. How could any of them forget the sight of the enraged Major standing over his superior and threatening to shove numerous foreign objects into his body should he ever learn he was acting unprofessionally toward one of his Alphabet again.
Before the conversation could go any further, the sound of the Major's pistol-shot footsteps could be heard from out in the hall, ending any additional speculation on the matter.
# # #