The phone rang just as Will was finishing up the editing on one of his short stories. He answered it before the second ring and pushed back from the desk so he could pick up Blade and put him on his lap.
"Hello?" he said, reaching down for Wendell and putting the smaller dog on his desk. They'd both been clamoring for his attention all morning.
"Will Porter, please," said a pleasant female voice on the other end of the line.
"Speaking," Will said, scratching Wendell behind his ears.
"Hi, Will, this is Gayle Brighton."
"Ms. Brighton," Will smiled. It was the assistant editor for the magazine that had hired him. "How are you?"
"To be honest, I'd be doing better if we had an article from you."
That made him pause, and he put the dogs back on the ground. "I'm sorry?"
"You were hired in November," she said, "with the understanding that you would submit an article once a month for publication. So far, we've received nothing. Now, we understand that--"
"Wait a minute," Will said, cutting her off. "I was told I would be working as a freelance writer and I would be paid by the article. I didn't sign a contract with you stating anything about a deadline."
"So, you thought that we would hire you and you could just write something whenever you felt like it?"
"Will, making you freelance meant we wouldn't have to pay you the salary of a staff writer. But... Who talked to you about it?"
"I got a letter from Steve Waterman and he's the one I called."
"Great," Gayle sighed. "Steve was fired last week, but he assured us that he'd explained the terms to you. I'm afraid I'll have no choice but to terminate our association with you, Will. Sorry."
Will blinked and sat back in his chair. "Wait a minute. He didn't tell me, Ms. Brighton. I don't care what he said he told you."
"Did you read the letter of intent we sent you? Or any of the inquiries? What exactly were you waiting for? An engraved invitation to submit your work?"
"I..." Will started rifling through the papers on the desk. He was sure that he'd put away the letters they'd sent him. The letters he hadn't opened because he'd been told by Steve Waterman that they would be sending him paperwork to fill out when he was ready to submit his first article. Will should have known better than to assume he wouldn't have to open them and see for himself what they contained. "Ms. Brighton," he said softly, knowing he had no one to blame for this but himself, "I've been a little distracted. I've recently moved, proposed to my boyfriend, found out that I have a long lost sister and helped impregnate one of my lesbian friends so she and her girlfriend can have a baby."
There was a lengthy pause, then a sigh. "Usually, writers only pull out one excuse from their bag of tricks to explain why they fucked up. But you've got a handful there, don't you, Will?"
"Okay, Gayle, there's no need to be rude," Will said, doing his best to hold his tongue but failing. "They're not excuses. It's my life."
"Is that right? Sounds like maybe you've got too much of a life to work for this magazine."
"Oh, really? Well, maybe I'm better off not working for some no name magazine that will probably go belly up this year."
"Mr. Porter, you are not making a good--"
"And, you know what? If you were running any kind of real publication, someone there would have picked up a fucking phone and called me or sent me an email. Or, even better, not hired some moron who can't do his fucking job right."
"Well, I'm making sure not to make that mistake twice, Mr. Porter," Gayle spat. "Consider yourself fired."
Will slammed the phone down before she could hang up on him. He stared at the unopened envelopes on the desk, then grabbed them and ripped them up before throwing them on the floor. Blade whimpered and hit Will's leg with his paw, his eyes wide as he stared up at his master. Wendell had run to hide under the small sofa in the room when the yelling had started.
Sighing, Will leaned down to pick up the papillon. "I need a job," he said softly, taking a deep breath to calm himself down. He kissed Blade's head. "Got any leads?"