Chris – Erick’s Boyfriend
Denise – Chris’s Boss
“Don’t you answer that phone,” Erick dictates as he walks into Chris’s bedroom with a tray of chicken soup, crackers and room-temperature ginger ale. “You’re sick.”
“It’ll be quick, I promise,” Chris protests as he sits up in his bed.
“Don’t argue with me,” Erick says as he places the tray in front of Chris and grabs the phone.
“Please? Just this last time. I won’t take any more work calls.”
Erick answers the call. “Good afternoon, this is the answering service of Christopher Russell. He is not available right now, but please attempt to solve the problem yourself and he’ll clean up the mess when he returns. Beep,” he says flatly before hanging up the phone.
“Are you trying to get me fired?”
“I’m trying to get you better.”
“But I can’t get better if I’m worried about work.”
Chris realizes the double meaning of what he said. “That could have been my boss.”
“It could also have been some underling afraid to make a move without your knowledge, consent and approval confirmed via email and then notarized as a means of covering their ass.”
Chris smiles. “I love corporate America.”
“Well today, consider this ChrisCorp. You have meetings with the ladies of The View, Wendy Williams, Anderson Cooper, Judge Judy and an evening with the Special Victims Unit of Law & Order.”
“I’m pretty busy for a sick guy.”
“Well, it’s not set in stone. You have a remote control, feel free to reschedule. If you need anything, let me know.”
“Aren’t you going to stay in here with me?”
“The key to you resting and getting better is for me not to be in here. I’ll be in the living room.”
“But I’ll be lonely in here without you.”
“No you won’t. You’ll have Whoopi, Joy, Sherri, Elizabeth, Barbara, Wendy, Andy, Judy, Benson and Stabler.”
“But I can’t lay my head in any of their laps when I get sleepy,” Chris reasons as he reaches over, grabs Erick’s arm and pulls him down onto his bed.
“Fine, but only until you fall asleep.”
“Awww, you do love me,” Chris coos with an endearingly goofy smile.
“So I’m told,” Erick replies as he slides into bed next to Chris. Chris tosses a few crackers into his chicken soup and starts to eat. “Thank you for coming over this morning to take care of me.”
“Child, please. It’s my pleasure.”
“You aren’t worried about being sick?”
“Nope. But if that happens, I’ll just use your office at work as triage.”
Chris smiles. “Deal.”
A few hours later, Chris is asleep with his head in Erick’s lap and his arms wrapped around Erick’s waist. Erick lowers the volume on the television set and carefully unlocks Chris’s arms. He slowly slides off the bed, lays Chris’s right arm on the bed and places Chris’s left arm at his side. He picks the tray up off the floor and grabs Chris’s cell phone before leaving the room.
He takes the tray into the kitchen and then goes into the living room to watch television.
A short time later, Erick’s phone buzzes. He looks at the caller ID and recognizes the number as the main line to Chris’s office.
“Hey, Erick. It’s Evan.”
“Yeah, the receptionist from Chris’s office.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. Hello.”
“How are you?”
“I’m good. And yourself?”
“Good. Why are you calling?”
“Chris listed you as his emergency contact. I have Denise on the line. May I patch you through?”
“Sure. Who is Denise?”
“Ha! That’s funny, Erick.”
“Ok, patch me through.”
“Alright, later Erick.”
“Erick? This is Denise. I’m Chris’s boss. We’ve been trying to reach him for an hour but his phone seems to off or disconnected. May I speak with him?”
“I’m sorry, but Chris is asleep. He’s sick.”
“I know. I’m sorry to hear that. I need to speak to him.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t wake him.”
“Because he’s sick.”
“I know he’s sick.”
“Do you also know that I can’t wake him?”
“Who are you?”
“I’m his boyfriend. And today, also his nurse.”
“Wonderful. I’m his BOSS -- the one who signs his check. Wake him up and put him on, please.”
“I’m sorry, Denise –.”
Erick puts the phone down and takes a deep breath before bringing it back up to his ear. “Denise, dear,” he begins in a very calm, even tone. “You are not MY boss. I am not YOUR employee or anyone else’s for that matter right now, so you have no jurisdiction with me. I am quite sure you have assembled a wonderful team over there who can handle anything that arises while Chris is out sick and I am sure that team can come up with an effective solution to whatever problem has arisen that Chris will be more than happy to abide by -- upon…his…return.”
There’s silence on the other line.
“Hello?” Erick says. He hangs up the phone. “Uh-oh. She’s either fainted, blown her top or is putting a hit out on me.”
An hour later, there’s a knock at the door. Erick walks to the door, looks through the peephole, rolls his eyes and opens it.
“You must be Denise,” Erick says. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
“I’m not,” the short powerhouse of a presence retorts as she barges through the door. “I told you I need to speak to Chris and I’m going to speak to Chris. Now bring him out here or I’m going to go in there myself.”
Erick closes the door. “You will do no such thing.”
Chris’s bedroom door opens and the disheveled invalid slowly emerges. “What’s going on out here, Erick?”
Denise storms Chris like he was the beach of Normandy. “Chris, I know you’re sick. Your phone was off and your boyfriend over here wouldn’t let me speak to you when I called him. So here I am.”
“I’m sorry about that, Denise,” Chris responds as he takes a step backward. “What do you need?”
“We can’t find the file or any of your work on the RAIN campaign.”
Chris walks slowly back into his bedroom. Denise looks at Erick with a combination of disdain, scorn and gloating.
“That was the big emergency? A file?” Erick hisses.
“We have a client meeting today. So yes, it’s a big emergency,” Denise hisses back.
Chris comes back out from his bedroom. “I rescheduled that meeting before I went home sick yesterday. I left word with your assistant, whom you hired but clearly don’t speak with or pay any attention to when she speaks to you. Here’s the file. I’ve been working on it from my laptop and saving it on this thumb drive. Here’s the thumb drive. Now go talk to your assistant. I’ll see you the day after tomorrow. Erick, I appreciate you taking such good care of me, but it’s okay to make an exception for a needlessly persistent boss.”
Chris walks slowly back into his bedroom and shuts the door. Erick and Denise stare silently at each other for a moment.
And another moment.
And then another moment.
Denise marches toward the door and opens it. “You’re an ass, but when I was at Chris’s level, I wish my girlfriend had done to my boss what you did to his today,” she says stone-faced as she walks out.
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