Unprofessional Behavior: Chapter Two

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Subject: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:37:24 -0500 (EST)
From: EverettFalse@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

I put together a PDF collection of all the Torchy Brown comics that Mary has posted (with permission). I’ve made minor adjustments for readability, but didn’t alter any of the layouts or text.

Here’s a link for those interested.


Subject: Re: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:45:18 -0500 (EST)
From: MaryWorthless@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

EVE

This book is GORGEOUS I am SCREAMING right now, oh my GOODNESS!!! There’s a cover and everything! It looks so nice on my ipad, WOW

You are an angel

~~~~~

Meddling in forces beyond my ken.


Subject: Re: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 11:52:49 -0500 (EST)
From: dave6702@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

theres a typo on page 14

David Martin

“If you want security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care, and so on. The only thing lacking is freedom.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower


Subject: Re: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 12:03:26 -0500 (EST)
From: EverettFalse@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

I’m not responsible for any of the text, but I’m unable to find anything on page 14 that wasn’t spelled exactly the way the author intended regardless.


+23 messages [Expand]


Re: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 20:52:06 -0500 (EST)
From: DeathByForklift@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

I was able to debunk every single point you made with five minutes of Google searching. Seriously, put a little more effort into it if you’re going to try to defend literal war crimes, you repugnant bootlicking fuckstick.

._._._.

It stinks.


Subject: Re: [SeriousPages] Torchy Brown Collection
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2014 21:16:23 -0500 (EST)
From: EverettFalse@airmail.net [SeriousPages] seriouspages@airgroups.net

Thank you, Forks, but I’ve reported Dave to the admin for flagrant dipshittery and I’ve blocked his email. I’m sorry for another public reply, I just wanted to be sure everyone knew that we were done with this. If anyone else wants to chat off-topic we can do it one-on-one, we don’t need to be cluttering up anyone’s inboxes.


●●●

“Are you going to be running?”

Williams had managed to catch Victoria in the break room. She really needed to put a coffee machine in her office. But drinking coffee in the break room while reading the paper was a nice way to refresh her brain. Move her location, let her see things with new eyes, all that good shit. Problem-solving.

And it helped her appreciate it better when she got to be alone. Even if it was in a shitty office.

“From what?” she asked before she could stop herself, eyes still on a comic about pandas. Williams laughed, all throaty and rich and gleeful, and the sound startled her so much she looked up at him.

She wished he wouldn’t stand there looming like that. It was creating a lot of problems for her, psychologically.

“Cute,” he said, and she kept her face neutral instead of giving him the death glare she so desperately wanted. He leaned against the table she was sitting at, not quite sitting on it because it could never support his weight. “The local children’s hospital hosts a 5K every year, runners collect donations for finishing the race. Sort of a race. It’s not really about the competition, some people just walk. Most of the office usually goes, it’s almost an unofficial work event.”

That was code. It meant Victoria should go. She dreaded it already.

“I’ll probably just donate,” she said, and she did her best to sound apologetic. Running was awful. Walking in the back of a marathon was worse. People who said they enjoyed running were either lying to make themselves feel better about their horrible cardio decisions, or monsters.

So of course Williams ran charity marathons every fucking year. Of fucking course he did.

“What a coincidence,” he said. “I’m collecting donations.” He held up a clipboard she hadn’t previously noticed, looking smug as all hell. “Fair warning—it’s tradition that the top donor gets a hug at the end of the race. Current number to beat is Stephanie over in Sales.”

Awful. Just fucking awful. He was pretty much history’s greatest monster. Her eyes scanned the list. Stephanie had crossed out her prior donations in order to raise it every time someone beat her. Stephanie. Redhead. Didn’t like being called Mrs. Schmitt. Married with a kid, but apparently possessed of an unquenchable thirst. Currently Mrs. Schmitt was donating $100. The average seemed to be closer to fifty. Victoria picked up the clipboard and slid the pen from the top, then paused.

“They don’t get the money if you don’t finish, right?” she asked, feigning concern. On behalf of charity. And children.

“I’ve never had trouble finishing,” he said, and it had to have been deliberate.

“Lucky you,” she murmured. “What if I want to base my donation on your time?” That was harder to justify. Sick children didn’t care how fast he could run.

Williams frowned. “You can,” he said, “but it seems a little uncharitable.”

“But it would encourage you, wouldn’t it?” She struggled to recall the stupid fucking motto they’d been putting on their motivational shit. “Dare to achieve?”

He fought a grin and lost. “Can’t argue with that.”

“So how about…” She put her name on the form, Victoria S.C. Garcia in round looping cursive, neat as could be. “Ninety-nine dollars just for finishing, so Stephanie can still have her… prize. And another two-hundred if you make it under thirty minutes, and another for… fifteen?”

She did not actually know what constituted a normal amount of time in which to run a marathon. Anything under an hour sounded hideous. Fifteen minutes sounded completely absurd. But he didn’t immediately protest, so she had to assume it was at the very least something that someone could do. Somewhere. Without hurting themselves.

“How’s that?” she asked, sweet as could be as she handed the clipboard back to him.

His eyebrows were arched in either surprise or incredulity; she couldn’t tell which. “Four-hundred and ninety-nine dollars,” he said, and it was almost a question, definitely disbelief.

If you make it under fifteen minutes.” She smiled, barely resisted the temptation to flutter her eyelashes. There still may have been some minor fluttering. “Which I’m sure you will.” She was almost certain he wouldn’t. Maybe he’d beat the half-hour mark, she was willing to accept that loss, she wouldn’t gamble money she couldn’t afford to. But she imagined the look on his face when she said she’d still donate the extra two-hundred, even though he’d totally super-failed like a failure, and it almost made going to a marathon worth it. Worth every penny.

“I’m honored you have so much faith in me, Miss Garcia,” he said, still looking at the clipboard. “Can I ask about the initials?”

“I’m sure it’s in the employee records, if you’re curious,” she said, still all sweetness, not quite telling him that it was none of his fucking business.

“That would be an unethical breach of privacy.”

“We wouldn’t want that,” she conceded, glancing at the clock. “Aw—and there goes my lunch break.” She stood, smoothing out her skirt as she did so. “Lovely talking to you, Mr. Williams.”

“Always a pleasure, Miss Garcia.”

●●●

The office printer, in the tradition of office printers everywhere, was a useless piece of fucking garbage.

Victoria needed that goddamn printer. She needed it to work. And she definitely could not wait two fucking weeks for an official fucking technician to come onsite to fix a fucking paper jam.

Fortunately, everyone else seemed to agree with her on the matter of it being bullshit, and so no one was trying to stop her from fixing it. Even though they were absolutely not supposed to fix it themselves.

It was not the kind of thing she should have been doing in a knit dress, but desperate times called for desperate measures. She’d closed the door to the copy room. Bad enough to be crawling underneath the printer without having a damn audience to boot. This also allowed everyone else to pretend they hadn’t noticed her voiding the warranty.

Except, of course—

“Want some help with that?”

Victoria froze.

She was on her knees, stretched out to reach into the guts of the printer, and Williams was being treated to a fantastic view of her ass.

Fuck.

“Doing fine, thanks,” she said, staying exactly where she was. Because to try and move so he couldn’t look at her ass would be to admit that she thought he was looking at her ass.

“You sure?” he said. “Wouldn’t want you messing up that pretty dress.” She tried to ignore him. “Or getting your hair caught in anything.”

“My hair is fine,” she assured him. She tugged the last few scraps of paper free, and felt a fleeting moment of victory.

Fleeting, because her hair had managed to get caught in something. How had it managed to get caught in anything when it was in a bun? It made no fucking sense.

“You sure?” he asked, right on time.

For fuck’s sake. She was going to kill him. She was going to fucking kill him. She was going to strangle him with his tie so he could never try to help her with anything ever again, and she would finally know some peace in this life.

“Yup,” she said, as she tried to extricate the knot of hair that had managed to get itself tied around some piece of plastic. “I’m almost done here.” She started to unravel her hair entirely, because she was beginning to panic and that seemed like the only way to get it out safely.

“If you’re—”

Her hair came loose all at once, and she fell backward, her previously perfect coiffure in shambles around her face. The printer whirred.

“See?” she said breathlessly, pulling herself up to stand with remarkable speed. “All under control.” She spun around and swept past him out the door, refusing to look at him.

As long as she didn’t make eye contact, he’d never know how full of shit she was.

… she was going to need to go back to get the forms she’d printed.

●●●

Victoria was doing her best to be a good sport about… sports. She’d dressed as if she had occasionally given thought to structured exercise, a tennis dress and shoes to match, the first time she’d worn flats around her coworkers. Height-wise, it left her feeling at a distinct disadvantage, and she did not care for it.

She’d planned to wear her hair in a ponytail. Sporty, and all. Instead she’d twisted it into a bun, held in place by a little silver hair stick that trailed pearls.

It was a dick move. It was a super dick move. She was almost impressed with herself.

Williams waved cheerfully from the starting line, surrounded by accountants and techs he’d managed to convince to join him. There was also one salesman. A few of her attending coworkers waved back from their spot in the crowd. She gave her fingers a small wiggle she didn’t think he could see.

He was wearing a long-sleeved shirt in an eye-searing shade of orange, made out of some thin material that was supposed to make him more aerodynamic or stop him from sweating like a normal human being. It had thumbholes. Thumbholes. And he was using them. His shoes were an equally fluorescent nightmare, and his shorts were the only thing even close to being acceptable. Which was saying something. Because those shorts were completely unacceptable. She could never have gotten away with showing that much leg.

He had shaved his legs.

Or else… he’d waxed. Maybe at the same place where he got his nails so goddamn shiny. Which meant he had a salon that he went to. He regularly paid a woman to do his nails and rip all the hair out of his legs.

What the fuck.

She had only barely finished contemplating this bizarre hypothetical reality when a cheer went up.

Because he’d crossed the fucking finish line.

In fourteen minutes and twenty-eight seconds.

Which was completely fucking impossible, and Victoria was frozen in place, staring as her whole clever plan went to shit. He didn’t even have the decency to look awful, the fucker, the absolute bastard. He dumped his entire water bottle over his head, shook his hair out like the world’s most infuriating dog, and turned to look straight at her. His delighted grin was terrifying.

“I did it!” he called, triumphant, and coworkers whistled and clapped. He spread his arms and gave a dramatic bow, water and sweat all dripping off his hair and his chest still heaving. Stephanie gasped, hit Victoria in the arm with the back of her hand.

“That makes you the biggest donor!” she said, sounding very excited on Victoria’s behalf, loud enough that the whole fucking park could probably hear her.

“Oh,” Victoria said, distracted. She was still staring at Williams and trying to figure out how he’d cheated. Her eyes widened when they met his, that cocky fucking grin. “Oh!” He moved towards her with his arms still wide, and she took a step back as everyone around her gave her a wide berth. “No, that’s okay, youreallydon’thaveto—”

He pounced, literally fucking pounced, ran up and wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the fucking ground to spin her in a circle. She shrieked before it even occurred to her that it was something she was capable of doing, and just as quickly as he’d started he set her back down, laughing all the while. She almost stumbled, but managed to hold her ground as Williams moved on to high-fiving and shaking hands and doing other far more acceptable things.

Her arms were still pinned to her sides, exactly as he’d set her down, frozen in place.

“Totally worth it, right?” Stephanie said.

“Anything for charity,” she said weakly.

“I can’t even be mad,” Stephanie sighed. “Appealing to his competitive side like that never even would have occurred to me. We’ve been doing this for five years and I’ve never seen him run that fast.”

“Wow,” she said. Her dress was wet. She was covered in sweat. His sweat. “I never would have guessed.”

“Oh, yeah,” Stephanie continued, either missing Victoria’s shellshocked manner or assuming that she was swooning. “Last year it took him forty minutes. That was my fault, though, my son decided he wanted to run for some kind of scout badge.” She rolled her eyes. “No idea why, kid’s got legs like toothpicks, you’d think he’d try for, I don’t know, a math badge. Poor Jay had to hang back the whole time to make sure Kyle didn’t kill himself.”

“Jay,” Victoria repeated. She’d shrieked. Like a ten year-old on a rollercoaster. In front of half the office.

“He says we can call him Jay when we’re not at work,” Stephanie clarified, her voice low, like she was confiding a scandalous secret. “He prefers it, I’m surprised he hasn’t mentioned it. You two should talk more, he’s a real blast.” Then Stephanie tilted her head, waved a hand toward Williams. “Jay, honey, are you coming to the cookout next weekend? You know Kyle would love to see you.”

Oh, god. He was coming back. All she could smell was sweat. And maybe cologne? It was something and it was absolutely his awful horrible smell and she was just fucking bathing in it.

“Of course!” he said, and his voice wasn’t even strained at all, not even hoarse from exertion, it hadn’t even been that long and already he was fine. “You know I’d never miss it.”

“He’s so good with kids,” Stephanie said, nudging Victoria in the side. She didn’t understand how Stephanie could bear to touch her when she was clearly drenched in disgusting man-sweat.

“Have you been talking about me?” he accused, putting his hands on his hips. Victoria was staring into the middle distance somewhere above his shoulder.

“Only the bad stuff,” Stephanie promised with a wave of her hand.

“Good. We need to keep standards low around here if I’m going to keep meeting them.”

This was the worst. This was the absolute worst. The longer he stood there the more time she spent remembering what it felt like being pinned against his hideous orange shirt and lifted off the ground. And he was just standing there, small-talking and playful-bantering and being so fucking suburban he was practically an apple pie.

“But Miss Garcia already poked a big hole in that plan, didn’t she?” he said, looking straight at her. She refused to let anything show on her face. Blank. Pleasantly blank. Definitely not itching to scrub her skin raw because she had just spent five-hundred dollars for a man to sweat all over her and leave her feeling unsatisfied, which she could have damn well gotten for free. “I have to know, did someone tell you that I used to run track?”

God. Fucking. Dammit.

“I didn’t know that about you!” Stephanie gasped.

“It’s not like it really comes up,” he said with a shrug. “Pretty good at it, though, got a trophy or two.”

“I could just tell,” Victoria said, and she thought by the crook of his mouth that he recognized how distant her voice sounded. Like she was having an out-of-body experience. Which she wished she could. Because her body smelled like some kind of weird musky man-spray that had tree bark in it, and sweat. She felt the way ads for cheap cologne looked.

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, because of course he would. “This might be hard to top next year, though.”

“I’m sure you’ll manage,” she said, and she wished he would stop looking at her hair, letting his eyes linger for so long that she could not possibly miss that he was looking at her hair. Why had the hair stick seemed like a good idea? “Maybe we can lower the bar to fourteen.”

He was grinning, rolling his shoulders and stretching his elbows backward. “I do love a challenge.”

●●●

In the not-quite-a-year that Victoria had been working, she had developed a distant sense of the cliques that existed around the office. She identified them by where they went after work on Fridays. Johnson lead a group of older men and a few younger to the bar across the street from their building. They were the only thing keeping it in business. Morgan brought a flock of hens to a little brunch spot that served cheap wine. Stephanie and some of the others went to some bar full of scantily-clad men. The rest did not have designated spots, wandered freely through downtown based on who was having the best deals.

Victoria did not join them. They had, universally, stopped trying to invite her. She told them she didn’t drink. This was a lie.

When Victoria went to bars, she went to bars where no one would recognize her, and where no one would ever see her again. She kept her drinking to a minimum, because bars were not for getting drunk. Bars were for hunting. If pickings were slim, it was only because Victoria was picky.

And there was always the fear, in an unfamiliar bar, that someone would recognize her from another one. God help her if that happened with coworkers about.

She hadn’t gone out to any bars in a while, nor clubs, nor anywhere else. She’d hit a wall of sorts, a point where it stopped feeling like it was worth the trouble. It was a lot of trouble, after all. The rewards were all so disappointing. The ones that weren’t came with baggage. Eventually she would get desperate or delusional enough to try again, but she was still not at that point. Not since—

Nonetheless: sometimes she missed bar food. Which was weird, she knew, because most bars were not renowned for their food. It was a Pavlovian response, associated in her mind with the anticipation of pleasure if not pleasure itself.

It was hard to beat a good beer and a good burger. A great big served-rare monstrosity with blue cheese and horseradish, a side of fries still shaped like potatoes. She skimmed online reviews, searched for something distant enough to be safe, nice enough to avoid temptation.

Temptation only happened in shitty fucking dives and after unfortunate fucking incidents.

Crown’s Head Pub. Old Town Louvenia. She could work with that. She touched up her makeup into something more dramatic, switched shoes to a pair less professional and significantly taller.

On arrival she ordered at the bar, didn’t bother sitting down because that would invite conversation she didn’t want. She picked up her beer as she waited for her food, tapping her nails against the glass.

Someone touched her shoulder, and she jumped half out of her skin at the same time as he said, “Miss Garcia?” She very nearly poured beer all over herself.

“Jesus fucking Christ, you scared the shit out of me.” She set down her drink and put a hand over her heart, turning to scowl at the offending interloper.

Of course it was Williams. Of fucking course it was. Of course he was grinning, looking self-satisfied as all hell with his perfect teeth and his perfect hair and his fucking freckles. What an insufferable asshole.

“Sorry,” he said, but she didn’t believe him, even as he held up his hands to show he wasn’t a threat. “Apparently I’m sneakier than I thought.”

“Apparently.” She attempted to return her attention to her beer and ignore him.

“I’m going to guess you’re here because you were hoping to avoid running into coworkers,” he said, standing beside her at the bar instead of taking the hint.

“And yet here you are,” she observed.

“It’s why I’m here,” he said, “and yet here you are.”

“I call dibs,” she said flatly, and he snorted.

“I’ve been coming here every Friday for years,” he said. “I’ve definitely got dibs.”

She’d picked his favorite bar. That was where she had decided to go, the one time she thought she’d try going out just to drink.

When the bartender brought her plate she snatched it like a lifeline. “Sorry, gotta go.”

“Or you can come sit with me.”

She frowned, hesitated. “What?”

He pointed to a booth in a darkened corner, a half-full glass and a pitcher of beer already sitting on it. “I can guarantee the seats aren’t sticky and drunks won’t try to say hi.”

This felt like a trap. She looked him over, standing straighter as she did so. He still hadn’t changed after work, but he’d loosened his tie and unbuttoned the neck of his shirt. He looked very… rumpled.

How fucking dare he.

“Fine,” she said. She let him lead the way, and tried not to stare at his ass.

She failed.

She slid into the booth as best she could, sitting opposite to him. For someone who’d come here to get away from coworkers, he didn’t look unhappy to see her. “So you do eat,” he observed.

“Hm?” She was distracted trying to get the appropriate amount of horseradish on her bun. Which was all of the horseradish. Which still wasn’t enough horseradish.

“As far as I can tell, no one has ever actually seen you eat. My theory was that you were vegan. Guess I was wrong.”

“Will wonders never cease,” she said, before biting into her meal.

Jesus fucking Christ she hadn’t had a good burger in a long time. She was going to need to start coming here more often. Not on Fridays, though. Maybe Sundays.

“You really don’t like me, do you?” he asked.

“Hm?” She was only half feigning ignorance. The other half was more interested in her beer than the conversation.

“I’m pretty sure you fucking hate me.”

She arched an eyebrow. “Such language.”

“Should I put a quarter in the swear jar? I’m pretty sure you owe at least a dollar.”

“Tip jar,” Victoria corrected. She reached into the purse still hanging off her shoulder, and dug out a dollar to leave it on the table. “And your math is shit, I only owed fifty fucking cents.”

He was grinning, which was pretty fucking unsettling when she was trying to eat. “You never said I was wrong.”

“About what?”

“About whether or not you hate me.”

She mulled over the question. “I’ve never been anything but nice to you,” she pointed out, because she’d been very careful about that.

“You’ve been civil. Which has nothing to do with liking me.”

“Do I have to like you?”

“I’d like it if you did,” he said with a shrug. “I like you.”

This gave her pause. “Why?”

“Why do I like you?”

“Yeah.” She licked grease from the burger off her fingertips and the middle of her palm, making absolutely no effort to act civilized.

“You seem like kind of a bitch,” he said.

“You’re up to fifty cents now,” she warned him.

“You’re a secret bitch, but you’re still a bitch.”

“That’s a dollar. And a really shitty fucking reason.”

He pulled out his wallet, found a dollar and put it on top of hers. He left his wallet out. It looked like real leather. Because of course it did. “I don’t know,” he said. “I like it. You’re smart. You know you’re smart. You’ve got no fucking patience but you spend all day acting like an idiot hoping no one notices you’re full of shit.” He added another dollar to the pile.

“I don’t know if I can take all this flattery,” she said. She used a napkin to wipe her hands clean, wet it on the condensation of her glass to scrub more thoroughly. She checked under her nails with a small frown.

“I’ll try to hold back in the future,” he said. “Wouldn’t want to break you.”

“You couldn’t if you tried.” She wasn’t drunk at all, so even her empty glass did not justify that level of flirtation. Assuming he’d noticed that she was flirting. He probably wouldn’t, or else he’d politely ignore it, because that was just the kind of asshole he was.

Williams reached into his jacket pocket to find a pad of paper and a pen, scribbling something down before tearing it off. “If you ever get sick of pretending to be nice,” he said as he slid the scrap across the table, “that’s my personal cell. Or you can just swing by here on Fridays.”

She picked up his number, rolled it between her fingers. “I’ll think about it.”

●●●

Victoria: Hey.
◦◦◦
Jerkface: Hey?
Victoria: It’s Garcia.
Jerkface: I should have known
Jerkface: Who else would use periods in a text message
◦◦◦
Jerkface: Aren’t you in a meeting?
Victoria: My grammar is fucking immaculate.
Victoria: And I’m bored.
Victoria: I thought you might want to have my number.
Jerkface: I should be telling you to pay attention during your meeting
Victoria: Collins is trying to explain the concept of beta to HR for some fucking reason.
Victoria: He made his own presentation.
Victoria: There’s Papyrus.
Victoria: He used clipart from Garfield.
Victoria: I’m in hell.
◦◦◦
Jerkface: Your version of hell is very mild
Jerkface: And font-specific
Victoria: How dare you.
Victoria: I’m fucking suffering.
◦◦◦
Jerkface: I’m sorry
Jerkface: I didn’t mean to minimize your pain
◦◦◦
Jerkface: Would a donut help?
Victoria: There are already donuts.
Victoria: They are the worst donuts.
Victoria: They are hell donuts.
Jerkface: There are cream cheese danishes in accounting
Victoria: What the fuck.
Victoria: Why do the accountants get the good shit.
Jerkface: Because I’m the head of accounting
Jerkface: Remember?
◦◦◦
Victoria: How dare you taunt me this way.
Jerkface: You could always come get a danish
Jerkface: You’re allowed
Victoria: But then I would have to go to accounting.
Victoria: And be around accountants.
◦◦◦
Jerkface: How awful for you
Victoria: I’m glad you understand.
Jerkface: What if a danish just
Jerkface: Appeared
Jerkface: Somehow
Jerkface: In your office?
Victoria: That sounds like a fucking miracle.
Victoria: I think that qualifies you for sainthood.
Saint Jerkface: You say it like I’m not already
Victoria: What I like most about you is your humility.
Saint Jerkface: That sounds suspiciously like you like me
◦◦◦
Victoria: Let’s see about that danish first.
Victoria: Choppity chop motherfucker.

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