Mr. Stuart Byrd (owner of Byrd Services/father of the misguided and enchanting Jessie/my boss) told me he wanted a progress report emailed to him weekly.
Here is what I sent him:
I have located Jessie. She is currently living with her boyfriend, Theo M. Turner.
Mr. Turner appears to be a trust-a-farian. He’s living off money made by his grandfather and spents most of his time smoking marijuana and playing video games. Other than his reluctance to shower or change his clothes on a regular basis, he seems fairly harmless. The only criminal behaviour I’ve observed is his marijuana use. While I’m sure you would never want him to become a part of the Byrd family, he is generally supportive of Jessie going back to school.
Jessie definitely is a handful. However, she’s agreed to go back school. Her transcript is as bad as you said. It’s going to be tricky, but I’m confident she will graduate.
Thanks for setting us up with the cell phones. I’m going to need some additional funds for school related expenses.
— Lazlo Gusto
His reply came back almost instantly.
My office. Tuesday. 10 am.
— Stuart Byrd
Parking in downtown Houston remained a complete nightmare. Unlike my first meeting with Mr. Byrd, I dressed up for the occasion in charcoal gray slacks, a houndstooth blazer, a button down oxford and powder blue silk tie. To maintain my independence from his hive of workers I did not shave.
The receptionist remained a complete bitch when I walked in. She tried to make me wait in the lobby.
“Can’t wait,” I said.
“Everyone must wait,” she said.
“I’m not like everyone,” I said and wandered back into the cubicle maze toward’s Mr. Byrd’s office.
Mr. Byrd’s secretary, Cyndi, smiled when she saw me.
She had dyed her hair platinum and was wearing a v-neck cashmere sweater. The pink wool was accented with a small golden humming bird pendant nestled above her breasts. The cleavage was just enough to be distracting, but not enough to be erotic.
“Welcome back Mr. Gusto,” she said. “You clean up well.”
“I can afford dry cleaning now,” I said.
Again, she chuckled at my lame joke. So polished and polite. She asked about Jessie and I sugar coated the situation.
Then she caught me staring at her breasts.
“Mr. Gusto…” she said.
Shit. Busted. But really, she was pretty good looking. If she didn’t “want” people to look, she shouldn’t have worn the sweater.
“You like humming birds?”
She gave me an out. Pure class.
“Love them, where did you get it?” I asked, making sure I maintained eye contact.
“It was my granny’s pendant.”
Her phone rang, she answered and promptly ushered me into Mr. Byrd’s office.
Mr. Byrd was positively manic when I walked in. He patted me on the back with his big, meaty paw, causing me to stumble.
“Care for a scotch?” he said.
“Oh, no thanks,” I said. “I’m not much of a drinker.
“Good, good. A sober mind will keep you sharp.”
He made me run through the entire week, pausing occasionally to ask questions.
“You’ve done good, Lazlo,” he said. “Are you sure she’s not on drugs?”
“Not that I can tell,” I said, secretly wondering about the white powder on Jessie’s nose that first night I saw her.
“Not be crass. But is she still… acting… sort of whorish?”
Jesus, he really knew his daughter better than I thought.
“She’s a little flirty but seems fairly centered,” I said.
“Excellent. Keep a close eye on her. Try not to let her go out by herself. Is there anything you need?”
“Well, actually, yes. Jessie is going to need a computer or a laptop or something for her course work. There’s going to be other expenses too. Like books and stuff.”
“No problem,” Mr. Byrd said.
He picked up the phone and asked Cyndi to get a laptop from the IT department.
“And Mr. Lazlo is going to need a corporate card,” he said. “I think a $5,000 monthly limit should be enough.”
I was shocked. I went in hoping to get a computer and his agreement to pay for Jessie’s books. Instead, Mr. Byrd handed me a golden ticket.
“Thanks, that’s great,” I said.
“No problem,” Mr. Byrd said while walking me to the door. “Try and see if you can get some of that responsibility to rub off on Jessie. Stay on top of her. Get her to the mall and make sure she’s got some real clothes to wear. Nothing trampy, okay?”
I left, got in the car, smiled and took a long pull from the flask under my seat.
I think this job is going to work out after all.