Story:Ending the Contract
Ending the Contract
Written by Shataivian
Seated comfortably and patiently in a waiting room that would easily make the cover of a home design magazine, David sat quietly as one by one, each patient was called back. The room would fill just before the hour, then stayed empty for the remainder of the time. He was in Vegas to host the grand opening of a brand-new lounge: Lucy’s Lounge, a sister location of Devil’s Lounge in Seattle. This was a perfect time to visit Damario at work. When the waiting room door opened, it was anyone’s guess which provider would pop their head in and when. But every hour all the providers would come through the door, including Damario.
Damario would glance over at David as he called people back to start their private sessions. David would smile sometimes, wave with one finger others, small gestures of politeness as he waited. But no words were ever exchanged. No “hello,” no “I’ll be with you in a second,” nothing. Just silent glances. And no matter how many times Damario came to call a patient back, David was still there, despite what Damario hoped.
The day was winding down, and the wait grew shorter. The wombat at the receptionist’s desk watched in confusion as David smiled with both his arms and his legs crossed the whole time he was there. He never said a word. He didn’t pick up a magazine to read. He didn’t even watch what was on the television that hung in the corner of the room. Finally, as the day ended the receptionist left for home, practically sidestepping passed David as though he was retreating from an impending shootout. Lights were being turned off, and patients stopped showing up, and Damario opened the door to the waiting room just as he did for every patient and called David back.
David smiled and nodded. To anyone watching from the outside David would seem like just another patient being called back. They went down the narrow hall and entered a large room. Damario gestured at one of the cushy seats in the room and then took his own seat behind the desk. David had his pick between a whole couch or one of three armchairs. He decided to take one of the armchairs and obnoxiously slide it across the room in front of Damario’s desk. The wooden legs screeched as it scratched and skipped about the floor. When it finally reached the front of the desk David sat down and clasped his hands together as though he were the one holding the meeting. Damario sat patiently and waited for David to speak.
“Nice room,” David politely said. “I like the colors and the view. Nice and relaxing.” Damario thanked him, not saying anything more after that. “Work treating you well?” Again, Damario simply answered his question and said nothing more. “Okay. I know you’re a psychologist, psychiatrist, whatever you want to call it. You know how to read people. So, you know why I’m here.” Damario closed his eyes and took a slow breath.
“No, actually. I don’t.” When Damario opened his eyes, David gave him a condescending smirk. “What do you want?”
“I want to know what happened,” David plainly asked.
“With what?” They glared at one another. David wasn’t going to answer, and Damario didn’t need him to. “What did you expect,” Damario started.
“I expected you to do your job I’ve been paying you for.”
“Let’s get this straight once and for all. I didn’t agree to take on any job from you.”
“I sent you money,” David said as he slammed his hands on the desk.
“And I’ve sent it back.”
“Until you didn’t.” David adjusted himself and regained his composure to match Damario’s calm demeanor. “You stopped sending it back. You kept that money.”
“Well, frankly, I was tired of you sending it over and over. And the things you wanted me to do? Yeah, I figured, if you were going to keep sending it even after I repeatedly said no, I might as well keep it.”
“Legally signifying that you have taken the job.” Damario sat back when David said this. He didn’t intend for that to be the message he conveyed. Was this an actual agreement? “You took my money knowing what it was for. I contracted you.”
“David, in case you didn’t know, your daughter is actually a wonderful person that I really care about. I am not going to keep Lisa under my thumb for you.”
“Then why did you agree to meet her?” Before Damario could answer him, David spoke on, continuing his barrage. “You agreed to be introduced knowing what I wanted from you. You agreed to get to know her knowing what I wanted. You agreed to work with her knowing what I wanted. You agreed to be in a relationship with her knowing what I wanted. And then you took my money. You did everything I asked and took my money. And, you know, you were doing just fine. In fact, Lisa seemed to calm down a bit, she pointed her attention elsewhere, she was more manageable. But then you slacked off and failed to do the one thing that mattered, the one thing I explicitly told you not to fail at. And now you want to claim you didn’t take on the job?”
“Then fire me. What do you want me to say,” Damario said with a calm voice, which seemed to amuse David. He laughed and shook his head.
“Oh-no-no-no, Damario. You don’t understand. You’ve crossed a line. And people don’t get away with crossing me.” From his pocket David pulled out his phone and tapped at it for a moment before setting it down in his lap.
“You can’t hurt me. Or her. Maybe I shouldn’t have kept the money, but I promise you everything I did regarding Lisa had nothing to do with you. I’ll pay you back, if you really want, with interest. But after that we’re done with this.” David laughed at Damario again. It was clear that paying him back wouldn’t matter. Damario didn’t think there was anything he could say to get David to back off. Reasoning with him would be pointless. “Were you really that desperate to keep Lisa under your control? Were you that afraid of what she might do on her own? What she’d figure out? Who she’d trust? Did you really need her to be surveillanced 24/7?” David watched Damario in amusement and didn’t answer. “Why me?”
“Oh, don’t you go flattering yourself. You were just the first person to agree. It didn’t need to be you. Any breathing idiot could have done the job. You were just a cat which ticked one of her boxes. I didn’t need YOU. Hell, it would have been that Jason kid if he wasn’t so damn stubborn and nosy. Kid was too smart for his own good. Shame, too. I like him more than you. But he had to go.”
“What? What do you mean ‘he had to go?’”
“I told you. There’s a price to pay for crossing me.”
“What did you do,” Damario said with a growing rage in his voice.
“Oh, pulled a string here, altered some results there, hired a fake lawyer or two. You know, did what I needed to. And I’ll let you in on a little secret. None of it would be as easy if not for one thing. You may know Lisa, but you don’t know her as well as I do. I know that no matter what,” David felt his phone vibrate and paused to looked at it. He tapped it only once then put it away, giving Damario his signature smirk as he continued. “Lisa’s got one trait I can always rely on.”
“And that is?”
David remained quiet. He took the time to adjust his hair and clothes all while smiling the whole time. He cleared his throat, opened his eyes and slammed the desk. “You couldn’t handle this simple little job,” David suddenly shouted. “I don’t care about all the other things you did for me; this was the one thing that mattered! Did you think you could just slack off and I wouldn’t notice?! If you can’t keep control over her and do something as simple as keeping her from her mother, then I have no use for you! You hear me?! You’re fired! I’m not paying you another cent!” Damario gave a breathy chuckle at David’s sudden behavioral change.
“Find by me.”
“That’s it,” Damario asked, continuing to laugh. Without answering David then stormed off to the door and placed his hand on the doorknob. Before leaving he turned his body back towards Damario to address him one last time as he opened the door.
“Oh, and when you go break up with her, mind your manners and do it gently. She is my daughter after all, and she’s been through enough as it is.” Damario froze. David, on the other hand, gave Damario a piercing grin that shook him straight down to his core. His heart sank and his limbs went numb, rooting him to his spot. And as the feeling started to come back, Damario was visibly shaking with rage. Finished with their conversation, David turned to walk out the door, but was stopped by Lisa standing directly on the other side. “Lisa,” David said in “shock.” He looked over his shoulder back at Damario for one last jab and said, “well. I’ll leave you to it.” Lisa glared at David as he moved passed her towards the exit. He wanted desperately to talk to her after the last time they spoke, but this wasn’t the time. He silently made his way down the hall and out of site. This left Lisa to place her full angered attention on Damario across the room.
“I underestimated him,” Damario laughed under his breath. Knowing this wasn’t going to be easy, Damario just gestured for Lisa to take the seat her father just left from.