The Fairytale

Maureen sat in her car dumbfounded. Did she really just get fired? And how could it have happened that way? She was puzzled that agency president Dave had given her an employee evaluation form that morning and she was to meet with her new boss Jean later that day. Weren’t evaluations usually scheduled a few days in advance?

The meeting started off fine. Jean was a soft-spoken person. They began discussing some current projects, when Dave burst in. He had a copy of that employee evaluation form in his hand. She could see it had writing in red ink all over it. Dave sat down and started reading from the form. Her head began to swim as he was saying awful things that were not true. That she had walked out of a client meeting. That she wasn’t getting enough work done. That she was causing trouble with co-workers. That her attitude was terrible. Suddenly he stopped, looked at the space in front of her and said “where is the evaluation form I gave you?”

She pulled it out of her notebook.

“Why isn’t it filled out?” Dave said.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to fill it out,” she replied.

“I told you to come to this meeting with your self-evaluation,” he said nastily.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I don’t recall you saying that I was to fill it out.”

Dave’s face turned bright red as he stood up. He had rolled up the pages of the evaluation like a newspaper, and slammed it on the desk.

“All of this bullshit you’ve done is bad enough, but I WILL NOT be called a liar!” He shouted.

“I must have misunderstood,” she said, I’m not saying you’re lying, I just must not have heard you,” she was grasping at straws in the hopes the angry man would settle down.

“No – you just called me a liar, and you didn’t care enough about this meeting to prepare.” And with that he stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind him.

Jean look sympathetically at Maureen and said “Shall we go through the rest of this form?”

“Sure,” she said, clenching her jaw so she would not cry. She was not going to cry, dammit.

Then Jean said “We don’t have to continue. You are being let go today. Let me escort you to your office to get your things.”

Maureen walked like a zombie into her office. It wasn’t even close to 5:00 but the two employees she supervised were already gone.

“We asked them to leave early, so you wouldn’t be embarrassed,” said Jean.

Maureen gathered up a few things from her desk. Her Rolodex, her favorite pen, the sweater she kept on the back of her chair. Jean walked her to the door and said “Take care of yourself Maureen.”

On the ride home, she began to worry about her employees, Megan and Renee. Did they know she was fired? Were their jobs safe? When she got home, she called them both, but got their answering machines. Several days passed and she still hadn’t heard back even though she had called both of them several times. She wondered if they were angry she got fired. Surely, Megan would call her back. They were friends as well as co-workers. They left HFA together to open the public relations division at the new agency. They worked together to get their clients to migrate to the new firm. They went to parties together and shared secrets. Just a few weeks ago, Megan had invited Maureen to come hear a band at the place she waitressed at night. Megan had introduced her to co-workers and the band members. Maureen had been hearing about a guy in the band named Gerry. Megan described him as “lovesick” about her, and had confided in Maureen that she worried she was stringing him along and giving him hope, even though she was in love with Bill, her boyfriend since high school.

“I can’t date a musician,” Megan said. “And I need to be careful. I don’t want to hurt Gerry’s feelings. He’s such a good guy,” she said. I really can’t sleep with him. Then I’d never be able to get rid of him,” she said, rolling her eyes.

Maureen was confused when Gerry all but turned his back on her when Megan introduced them. Oh well, she thought, and sat down next to one of the other band members and struck up a conversation during their break.

Fast forward five years. The firing crisis at SRA turned out to be a good thing after all. Maureen landed a job with a large corporation as a public relations specialist. Within a few months after being hired, she was promoted to head of the department. And now, she was about to get married to the love of her life that she met at work.

After 20 years of marriage, they were divorced. He definitely was not the love of her life.

Fast forward 10 more years…

Maureen sat across from the man she had met on Match. He seemed to have everything she had been looking for over the past 20 years and so many disastrous relationships. He was well-spoken, creative (a musician), funny, and seemed genuinely kind. And they liked the same music! He had worked with Todd Rundgren – one of her favorites. She remembered her co-workers at SRA liked Todd too. One of them had gotten to see him and go backstage a long time ago. Maureen was smitten. When he kissed her in the parking lot, it took her breath away. So much so, that she made a wrong turn at the light and went 2 miles out of her way before realizing she wasn’t heading in the right direction. When she got home, he called and told her that he had to stop at the gas station next to the restaurant. His heart was beating so fast, he thought he was going to have a heart attack. Yes, it was love at first site for both of them.

That was in December, a week before Christmas. By that time next month, there was talk of a terrible epidemic starting, and by March, the world shut down. Everyone had to wear masks to protect themselves from the deadly virus. Businesses closed. One of them was Maureen’s employer. She was unemployed for the first time since that awful business 20 years ago.

With time on their hands, and nowhere to go, Maureen and Gerry spent every moment together. They cooked, played with Maureen’s dog Rosie, and binged Netflix. And had sex. Lots of sex. Lots of really really, good sex. They both were sure they had found their true love. Maureen felt like the luckiest girl alive (if you can still call yourself a girl at age 60.) She imagined she and Gerry spending the rest of their lives together. She even daydreamed about how adorable he would be as a little old Jewish-Greek man.

They had always been very frank about their past lives, and loves. They both sure had their share. And like everything else they had in common, lost loves and heartbreak had been a common theme for both of them. He had told Maureen about his first love, and how she had lied to him and treated him terribly, but he just couldn’t stop pursuing her. He had gotten her backstage at a concert where he opened for Todd Rundgren, and introduced her to the rock legend. A couple days later, Gerry found out she had slept with a co-worker she had introduced him to. That was final straw, and he let go of any hope of making her his girlfriend.

One day, as Gerry and Maureen were sitting down to eat a meal they had just made, the conversation turned to cancer, and how it was such an awful disease. Gerry said he had lost a girlfriend to ovarian cancer. In fact, it was his first love, Megan. When he mentioned her last name, Maureen felt a lightening bolt go through her heart. Megan Murrey? She asked. “Your first love was Megan Murrey? And now she’s dead?” They looked at each other across the table.

“Oh my God, you’re Gerry,” Maureen said.

First love named Megan…opened for Todd Rundgren… was in a band that played at local bars… took Megan backstage to meet Todd.

“OH MY GOD,” repeated Maureen as she started to sob.

“What is the matter?” Gerry asked

“You’re Gerry! And Megan is dead!” Maureen choked out.

When she was able to get herself together, she explained to Gerry that she had been Megan’s boss, and had been hearing all about him the entire time she and Megan worked together.

“I even came out to hear you play one night,” she said. “But you were kind of rude to me.”

“I only had eyes for Megan,” he said.

There had to be something more, she thought.

“Do you remember me? Did she ever say anything about me?” Maureen inquired.

“Yes, she talked about her boss,” said Gerry.  “I can’t remember anything specific, but I know there was some tension everytime your name came up. I think I recall her wanting to get you fired, and putting together a scheme with someone named Renee.”

Maureen felt like she had just been hit between the eyes with a rock.

“She talked badly about me? I thought we were friends. She never returned my calls and I never saw her again after the day I was fired. She didn’t accept my Facebook friend request after I reached out and asked her to please get in contact.”

“Because she was dead,” Gerry said.

They both just stared at each other, and couldn’t believe it had taken nearly 5 months to realize the connection.

Maureen was still a little confused. Gerry had referred to Megan as the love of his life and talked about them dating. But she remembered the discussion with Megan, and how she was in love with Bill. When she recounted that to Gerry, he was dumbfounded.

“Well, that explains a lot,” he said.

“And now I know how I got fired,” said Maureen. “I just don’t know why. What did Megan do to make Dave want to fire me?” With Megan dead, she would never know.

It took about 24 hours for it to sink in. Then they couldn’t stop talking about how strange the whole situation was. Was it coincidence? Fate? As they talked, they realized they had crossed paths several times in the past. Maureen had gone to bars where Gerry was playing. They had some mutual friends. It was odd they had never met before. Until they did and didn’t recall it.

Brought together by a woman that had betrayed both of them. Brought together so they would finally know the truth.

Maureen was now Gerry’s true love of her life, and he was hers.

Fast forward 2 more years. Maureen was alone. Gerry had broken her heart, lied, and stole from her. And now, her new friends told her he is and always has been a cocaine addict. The friends were many of Gerry’s ex-girlfriends.

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