By Barbara Sibbald
For the tenth time in the last fifteen minutes, Fiona looks up at the starburst kitchen clock. Where the heck is Luc, she wonders. She considers dialling his cell, but doesn’t want to be a pest. He’s with his buds for their Friday after-work whine-fest; he’ll be home soon enough. Besides, she knows if she phones him, she’ll just blurt out her news. This has to be told in person, she thinks. She palms the tomatoes* on the counter; they’re perfectly ripe, ready for dinner. Everything’s going my way, she thinks. Sweet justice.
She recalls all the angst Lena has brought her, beginning with the undeserved salary hike, the snide digs, the lack of respect. Fiona knows the senior editor’s job inside out, and Lena just isn’t up to it: she’s lost photos, missed deadlines and meetings, pissed off advertisers and freelancers. For months, Fiona’s been regaling Luc with stories about Lena’s incompetence. She’s also told the publisher but, as Luc guessed, he’s been thinking with his little head where Lena was concerned.
Fiona smiles to herself, what the heck she thinks, I don’t have to wait for him. She unscrews the cork on the bottle of Amarone della Valpolicella.
Fiona pours a glass and takes a tentative sip — there’s something not quite right about drinking alone in her mind — when the screen door swings open.
— Hi ya beautiful, Luc says with a grin.
She smiles at him.
— Had a few, have you? she asks.
— One of the joys of taking the bus. In addition to the diesel fumes, he says. Hey how about a kiss?
She puts her hands on his chest and gives him a big smooch.
— Where’s Gavin? he asks.
— Gone to the movies with Andrew, then for a sleepover. Hey, I’ve got news, she says. Glass of Amarone?
— We were saving that — this must be some news.
— Oh, yeah, she says, pouring the wine. Guess who stormed out in a huff today?
— That is good news, he says. Here’s to clearer sailing.
They clink glasses and kiss.
— So what was the final straw?
— Remember I told you how she forgot to send that feature for fact checking? The one that blasted a new condo developer for shoddy work? Well, it turns out there were a couple of errors. Nothing really earth-shaking, but the developer got his lawyer to send a letter, rattling Richard’s chains. So he calls Lena into his office — raised eyebrows all around — and we hear voices, but we can’t make out what they’re saying. Then Lena comes storming out, big red face and grabs her purse and heads out. I ask her what’s up and she just glares at me. Not a word. Then Richard calls me into his office, tells me he’s dismissed her for incompetence. But I know there’s more to it than that.
— How do you know?
— Lena called me later in the afternoon, asking if I’d pack up her cubicle and meet her at Bridgehead. So I get there and she’s in a complete rage. How dare he, blah, blah, blah. What shocked me most was her lack of self-awareness. She actually thinks we’re friends. Finally she tells me that she and Richard were an item, but she broke up with him last week.
— I knew it! says Luc.
— Yeah, you sure called that one. Now she’s got this thing going with some foreign affairs guy. High up. But she won’t say who it is. He’s probably married too. And she thinks Richard fired her as a revenge thing, which may be partly true.
— Knowing Richard.
— Yeah, it’s not out of character. But I think mostly he did it to placate the developer — and his lawyer. That and a big apology, usually does the trick when people start rattling chains.
— Peyton Place, I’m telling you!
— End result though, she’s gone and I’m a happy camper. Now I can hire my own senior editor. I already told Richard that I want to be in charge of the hiring, and he can be part of the process. He’s cool with that.
— Which is the way it should be anyway. For editorial.
— Well, here’s to a happier workplace, he says raising his champagne flute.
½ pound mozzarella
4 large, very ripe tomatoes
3 ounces black olives, cured in oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
pinch of sugar
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1 ½ pounds fusilli
- Cut mozzarella into one-quarter-inch cubes
- Immerse tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Peel and cut into small pieces.
- Pit the olives and coarsely chop.
- In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, except pasta.
- Cook the pasta al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well toss with tomato mixture.
- Cover with a towel to let the mozzarella soften/melt.
- Serve with a green salad and a Pinot Noir.