Marek Pokorny via Creative Commons

I don’t mean to suggest that Dominic Delveccio was a remarkable person. His job required security clearance and he took pains to reveal this information to those he met, but the secrets he possessed were of little value. The near-hero he saw in the mirror scarcely resembled the sagging flop of nervous sweat and ill-timed anecdotes I knew.

The air conditioner was out the day he finally triumphed. It was a morning of damp armpits and crinkle-fans made from printer-paper. Everyone made the same joke about Indian summer. Dominic pried a yard of fabric from his generous backside and twirled a pen around his finger. The boss blamed Dom’s team as usual. Dominic’s jaw pulsed beneath a bread dough cheek. Boss got worked up, started in with the cussing and the personal insults.

That reliable gleam of hateful insolence tempered by resignation never left Dominic’s deep-set eyes as he fished in his pocket and pulled out his phone. The boss’ tirade trailed off as he stared at the number with a hint of recognition.

“What’s that?” he demanded.

Dom cracked his neck and said, “I called your mother. She’s been listening. She wants to talk.”