Harold stood waiting for an answer. I tried to play it off casual. “Oh, this?” I said, gesturing with my head towards the dog where she sat at the edge of my desk. “I found her on the way in today. Cute, isn’t she?” All of which was true enough. Barbara, meanwhile, twisted around and began rooting in her nether regions in an almost self-consciously doglike fashion.
Harold stared at Barbara for a few seconds, then pulled his eyes back to me. “Yeah, cute,” he said absently. He shook his head as if to clear it, then asked, “Hey, are we still on for lunch?”
“Probably not,” I said ruefully. “Carver’s got me on fish detail.” I pointed my finger skywards.
Harold nodded and gave me a half smile. “Well, you sure called that one. Alright. Well, I guess I’ll see you later.” He wandered off. I watched him retreat down the rows of cubes until he was out of sight.
I glanced at Barbara, who had stopped her rooting. I could see her hackles ever so slightly raised. I felt a shiver go down my spine as if in sympathy. “What’s the matter?” I asked.
Barbara turned to me. “That one troubles me,” she replied quietly. “Although I cannot tell you why.”
“Can’t, or won’t?”
“Can’t. I advise caution in your dealings with him. But that is of small import at the moment. We have further matters to discuss, and I would prefer we choose a more discreet setting for our talk. Suggestions?”
I thought a moment. “Well, there’re the isolation booths on floor 16,” I said.
Barbara nodded in satisfaction. “That will be quite sufficient. Go now. I will meet you there.”
I got up and put my desk in some semblance of order. Floor 16 was two floors up, and I planned on leaving the office from there in order to get started on my assignment. I left my cube, leaving Barbara sitting calmly on my desk.