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Wait, what did you say?” Dave was in his wife’s office. She was the head honcho of the division, the big cheese. Dave, he was a lowly accounts representative, quite a bit down the food chain. he was a little nervous at first when she came on board, but there were several levels of management between them, so it was all good, he thought. Maybe not.

“You’re numbers are way down, Mr. Waxman. You were the worst performer of the year in your division. I’m afraid we had no choice. X is waiting outside to escort you to your office to collect your things.” X stood for Xavier, one of their two security guards.

The had always called each other Mr. and Ms. in work settings, to keep it more professional. She kept her last name for professional reasons, so she said, but everybody in the office knew they were married. He even had a picture of her on his desk, of her shaking the hand of the Chairman of the Board as she received her promotion.

“That’s it? Nine years of loyal service to this company and I’m terminated because my numbers are off? If you had bothered to listen to me, you would know…”

“Please, stop. The decision has been made. Let’s not make it any harder than it has to be.”

For some reason, that struck him as funny. “Listen, Pink, I mean Ms Patterson, I really…”

She must have hit some button, because all of a sudden three hundred pounds of black muscle was in the room with them. “Xavier, would you please escort Mr. Waxman to his desk to collect his things? Best of luck to you Mr. Waxman, perhaps this will encourage you to try harder at your next position.”

X definitely looked embarrassed, but he had his own job to do. Dave looked at him and grinned. “C’mon X. Like the lady said, let’s not make it any harder than it has to be.”

She was still talking when Dave went out the door. Everyone avoided looking at him, which told him most of them knew beforehand. That definitely didn’t improve his mood. He walked slowly, looking those who would glance at him in the eye. They looked away every time, and the women actually blushed. He kept very little in the way of personal items in his office, so it didn’t take fifteen minutes to pack one small box. He was walking out when X spoke.

“You forgot this, Mr. Waxman,” he said, handing Dave the expensive pen and pencil set she had given him when he made Salesman Of The Year the first time. Dave looked at it for a second and dropped it in the wastebasket with her picture.

“No, I didn’t”

X drove Dave home, so he could take the company car back. After several attempts at conversation he got the message and shut up. As Dave got out, X reached over to shake my hand. Dave took it, because it was just his job and he really liked the guy. “Sorry, man. Sorry it happened like that.”

Dave grinned, even though he didn’t feel like it. “Me, too.”

He walked in, looking at the house as if it was the very first time he ever saw it. He realized suddenly there was very little of his presence in the house. It seemed she was minimalizing him at home as well as work. It made him wonder if he had a performance issue at home, and if he’d be canned for not keeping his numbers up.

She came in about seven, late even for her. Dave was watching a baseball game and didn’t even look up. “Hi, honey, sorry I’m late. Meetings ran over, you know how the Board loves the sound of their own voices.”

He didn’t respond, just kept watching the game. She looked at him for a minute before deciding to try a different track. “What’s for dinner?”

It had been their practice over the years that whoever got home first made dinner. It had occurred to him as he examined their relationship that she probably hadn’t fixed dinner more than a dozen times in the last year, and most of those times were because he was traveling.

“Whatever you decide to fix yourself. I’ve already eaten.”

She just stared for a minute before she opened her mouth and started the worst fight of their marriage. “Surely you’re not mad about today. It was a business decision, honey. It had nothing to do with you personally. I still love you just as much.”

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