Maggie slid into a chair in the break room, holding a cold soda can to the back of her neck. She was debating whether to drink the soda or just leave it there on her neck when the intercom buzzed. “Maggie, you in there?”
“Yeah, Lisa,” Maggie called into the air, her voice reaching the microphone hidden in the wall speaker.
“Your Monday morning client has been calling. Can I put the call through?”
Maggie slumped in her chair. “I just saw him this morning, did he forget his fucking wallet or something? ‘Cause I haven’t seen it.”
“I don’t know.” Lisa answered. “He said he had to talk to you directly.” Lisa was in the reception area, so she had to be vague and polite, but Maggie knew from her tone that if she didn’t take the call now Lisa would make her pay for it later.
“Yeah, go ahead, buzz him through.” Maggie stood and walked to the phone on the wall which rang just as she reached it. “Hello?”
“Miracle Maggie! It’s Tom. I need you to come down to the Meridian right now. I have a friend who needs your services.”
“Screw you, Tom. I’ve been on my feet all morning and I have 30 minutes for lunch and then I have clients all afternoon. I do not have time to take a bus across town. Tell your friend to come here. I think Melissa has an opening this afternoon.”
“Maggie, why do you treat me so bad when I love you so much? My friend cannot come down to your little parlor to see Melissa. He needs to see you and your magic hands and he needs to do it in private. Take a cab. It’ll be worth your while.”
“I’m a massage therapist, not a call-girl and I cannot afford to take a cab across town.” Maggie snapped. “I’ll miss half my afternoon schedule and get fired and then you’ll have to see Melissa on Monday mornings.”
“Maggie, so help me God if you take the taxi over here right now I swear to you it will be worth the cab fare and the afternoon schedule and whatever the hell else you’re going to complain about. Trust me on this.”
Maggie rolled her eyes. “Fuck. Fine. I’ll see if I can farm out my afternoon. But I will cancel your ass if you’re messing with me.”
“I would never mess with you, Maggie, scout’s honor.”
“Hmph.” Maggie hung up the phone without saying good-bye, then walked to reception and leaned over Lisa’s shoulder to check the schedule.
Finally Lisa said “Can I help you, Maggie?”
“Yeah, give Melissa and Laurie my afternoon. I have to leave early.”
“Won’t your clients be pissed?” Lisa whispered.
Maggie shook her head. “Nah, none of these folks are regulars. They’re probably gift cards. They won’t know the difference. I’m gonna get my stuff. Could you call me a cab around back?”
Lisa’s mouth opened and closed like a fish a few times, and Maggie knew she wanted to ask questions but couldn’t while there were clients in the waiting area. “Sure thing. Call me tonight?”
When the cab dropped Maggie off in front the Meridian Hotel’s main entrance Tom leapt at her. “Maggie! Thank God. I thought you’d never get here. Come on, we need to go to the Concierge desk.”
Tom grabbed her arm. “Just come on.” Maggie followed him. The concierge stood at a podium across from the front desk. “Good afternoon,” Tom started. “I’m Tom Fernandez, and this is Maggie Martin. We’re here for Ron Dean. He’s expecting us.”
Maggie gaped at the name Ron Dean. The concierge looked her up and down with a completely neutral expression on his face. “Yes, of course.”
“Would you excuse us for just a moment.” Maggie said, the she grabbed Tom’s arm and pulled him several feet away from the podium. “Ron Dean, the third baseman for the New York Yankees, Ron Dean?” she hissed.
“Yeah, we went to high school together. He’s in town and he needs someone to work on his hamstring.”
“Tom, did you see the way that concierge looked at me? He thinks I’m a hooker. And Ron Dean isn’t just in town, he’s in town with the Yankees to play the Orioles. I am an Orioles fan. I am not going to have some snooty concierge think I’m a hooker so I can go upstairs and give a rub down to a member of the mother-fucking Yankees. I’m sure the team has people for that.”
“Maggie” Tom said. “Look at yourself. No one thinks you’re a hooker dressed like that.” Maggie looked down at her nurse’s clogs, track pants and polo shirt and frowned. “What’s more,” Ron continued. “Whoever the team has is not as good as you are and you know it. They guy’s in pain and didn’t you take the Hypocritic oath or whatever? Don’t you have to help him?”
Maggie rolled her eyes. “Tom, the Hippocratic Oath is for doctors, not massage therapists, and it says ‘do no harm’, not ‘help an overrated, overpaid baseball player who works for the mother-fucking Yankees!”
“Maggie, are you able to talk about the Yankees without swearing?”
“No, Ron, I’m not. I grew up here. Every morning in school we said the Pledge of Allegiance and when we were done we kept our hands on our hearts and said ‘Yankees Suck’.”
“Fine, Maggie, but if you do half as good a job on him as you do on me every week then you’re going to have that overpaid jerk for a client every day he’s in town this season and you can charge him whatever you want. Come on. I told him you had magic hands. Don’t make me look like a schmuck.”
“Ron, I am not magic. I cannot heal his hamstring.”
“Maggie, he’s my friend, has been since I was a dorky 9th grader. He actually stuck up for me in high school when he was a cool jock. Do it for me if you won’t do it for him.”
Maggie sighed. “Fine. I will give the man a massage, for your sake. Just promise me you won’t tell anybody.”