Chapter 5 by Matt Wall
Billy wanted a strong drink before going to into Ed Gold’s office. He grabbed his coat and headed to the door, but as his hand touched the doorknob, he couldn’t help but think of what a mess drinking had made out of his brother Bobby’s life. Instead making a quick trip to the bar, he swallowed hard and walked down the hallway to Ed’s office.
Even though, he was walking with purpose, something caught his eye and brought him to a halt. Through one of the open doors in the hallway, he saw Eden May, sitting in a chair, rubbing her neck. Her eyes were closed and her other hand was holding a hot cup of tea. Billy couldn’t help but smile as he looked at her. He thought about how every time he tried to ask her out on a date, she somehow managed to shoot him down, before he could even get the courage to really ask her. It was an avoidance skill that he did not have the power to combat. He hoped that one day, he could beat her to the punch.
He kept walking before she opened her eyes. He needed to focus on Ed now. He knew that Ed was unhappy with him and that the evaluation was something that Ed was looking forward to with a ridiculous amount of glee. He looked at his watch and saw that he was five minutes early, but he wasn’t going to wait another second. He bypassed Ed’s secretary, who protested, and walked right through the door.
“Let’s get this over with,” Billy said, as he walked without breaking, right to the front of Ed’s large mahogany desk.
Ed’s leathery face wrinkled as he smiled, exposing his yellowish-brown teeth, stained with cigar smoke. His large, two tone, glasses, that looked as though he had kept them from 1979, reflected Billy’s cold demeanor right back at him.
“Have a seat, son.”
“Don’t call me that.”
“Whatever makes you feel more comfortable.” Ed’s smile wasn’t going anywhere. It made Billy feel more and more worried about what was to come. “But please, sit. Make yourself comfortable.”
Billy finally sat down, but he did not look comfortable.
“Your mother was here earlier. She is slightly worried about you and I.”
“I’ll let her know that that is unnecessary.”
“Good. Good.” He rubbed his dry hands together and they sounded like sandpaper being rubbed on rough wood.
“Can we please get on with it.” Billy was becoming anxious.
“Why the rush? Can’t we talk as family before we talk as colleagues?”
“We aren’t family.”
“Your mother and I have been married now, over a year. I think your a little too old to be having separation anxiety, aren’t you?” The grin on Ed’s face told Billy that he had better start playing ball.
“My apologies. I just have a very tight schedule with patients today.”
Ed nodded his head. “That’s all you had to say.” He opened up a file on his desk, adjusted his glasses and began scanning the information. “You are the best surgeon we have. You record is impeccable. You are a feather in the cap of Winston General.”
Billy was taken aback. He had prepared for the worst and instead, was slapped in the face with compliments. He nervously cracked a smile. “Thank you, sir.”
Ed continued. “And because of that record and what you mean to the hospital, I cannot fire you. So instead, you are going to quit. Right here, right now.”
Billy was confused. “I don’t understand.”
“Then let me make it clear!” Ed slammed his fist down on his desk. “I am a well respected person around this hospital and around this town.” As he shouted, spittle flew out of his mouth at Billy. “The last thing I need is some snot nosed adult, who’s pissed that mommy married his boss, to go around and try to undermine me! Just like surgery, Doc. I need to cut out the rotten tissue. But, it would be very difficult to justify your firing, and your mother wouldn’t be pleased. So you are going to do all of us a favor, and just walk away.”
Billy clenched his jaw tightly. “I will do no such thing.”
“You would do that to your mother?”
“Don’t bring her into this. It has nothing to do with her.”
Ed chuckled under his breath. “You don’t want to go toe-to-toe with me, Billy-boy. Ed Gold always gets what Ed Gold wants.”
“Not this time, DAD!”
“You want to go to war with me, boy? You have no idea what hell you are unleashing on yourself.”
“I’ll take my chances.”