Goldfish Need Not Apply 
by Candace Waters

I'm not sure what inspired the name for this short story but... I liked it, so I kept it. :-)  Maybe that commercial for those silly little goldfish crackers was on at the time I wrote this, I don't know, but it's just a silly title for a silly little story.  Enjoy! :-)

Many thanks to Tracy for all her encouragement to write, write, write! Putting forth a challenge to write a small piece on how Gary and Marisa first met.
And thanks also to Rose for inspiring me to take on the challenge with the excellent little story that she wrote first. <G> <G>

Disclaimer: Early Edition its characters and some situations are the property of  CBS Productions and Sony/Tristar.

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Goldfish Need Not Apply 
by Candace Waters

Rrrriing! Rrrriing!!!

"Good morning. Strauss and Associates,  Marissa Clark speaking, may I help you? Yes. No. Yes. Hm-m-m  ...I see. Well, actually, Mr.Pritchard isn't taking any calls this morning. May I take a message?"

Bracing receiver between her neck and shoulder, the receptionist felt around the top of her desk for the small PDA she kept there and quickly typed in the

"Yes. You're welcome," she smiled, "Have a nice day."

Gentle fingers searching for the phone base, she carefully replaced the receiver then raised her head. Only a second ago, she had heard the door to the office open, aware now that she had company. A slight breeze blew against her cheek as the visitor cautiously approached the counter. The receptionist had a nose for gabardine and could detect its subtle scent in the air.

"May I help you?" she asked.

Standing at the counter clutching a breifcase, was a gentleman--tall and handsomely dressed--wearing a dark suit and tie. His hair was immaculately combed, his face freshly shaven. He looked nervously about as he shifted the brief case he carried awkwardly from one hand to the other to remove a piece of paper from his inside coat pocket.

"Yeah, ah... hi. I'm looking for a..."  he paused to refer to the crumpled slip of paper, "... Mr. Pritchard." He glanced up from the paper. "C-Can you tell me where his office is?"

"Down the hall and to your right," the receptionist smiled.

Turning back to her computer the receptionist had begun typing again when she noticed that the scent of gabardine lingered still fresh in the air. She paused and turned back around.

"Is there anything else I can help you with?" she asked politely, sensing an uneasiness in the visitor's demeanor.

"Well, yeah. I kind of ..." the man began, then chuckled nervously lowering his voice to a husky whisper. "I'm here for an interview and I'm kind of uneasy about--- well, I really need this job you see and well... is my tie straight? I mean I hear the boss has got this thing about ... ties."

The receptionist smiled, realizing the gentleman hadn't noticed her impairment. Amused, she leaned forward in her chair. "Well, is it yellow?" she asked softly.

Preoccupied, removing his resume from his briefcase, the man paused to glance back down at the receptionist. "Huh?"

"It doesn't have an Hawaiian thing going on with it, does it?" she asked, "You know...all flowery and all?"

The man blinked, and for the first time noticed the eyes of the receptionist. He glanced slowly around her desk -- computer keys in Braille -- books and documents, all in Braille, sat neatly on top. Folded and laying on top of it all, was her cane. Feeling slightly foolish, a flush rose to color his cheeks.

"," he answered hesitantly, running a hand across the back of his neck. "It's ah, n-not all flowery."

"Then it's perfect I'm sure, " the receptionist smiled turning back to her work.

Embarrassed for his oversight the man drew in a breath to apologize, "Look..I'm...sorry. I-I guess I'm more nervous than I thought. I didn't realize---" he paused abruptly to introduce himself. "Gary Hobson," he said and held out a hand to shake then withdrew it immediately just as the receptionist held out hers in return.

"Marissa Clark," the receptionist said with her hand extended. " And, it's okay. Just because one has sight, doesn''t always mean that he sees. Besides, I
hate sorry."

An uneasy silence followed as the man stood staring blankly at the receptionist.

After a moment, the receptionist slowly lowered her unshaken hand to drummed her fingers idly on the top of her desk instead. "Well," she sighed, "I suppose I should get back to work."

She was turning back to her computer when a loud crash exploded from down the hall. Startled, the receptionist and the man turned quickly towards the sound.

Rounding the corner from the right, came a gentleman clutching a partially opened briefcase, papers spilling out from it. He looked as though he just been through the ringer his tie, shirt and coat--all disheveled. As he scrambled passed, he shot a wary glance at the man standing at the counter, opened his mouth to utter something but decided against it and hurriedly exited the office leaving a trail of papers cluttering the floor behind him.

"I need sharks here!" A loud voice bellowed, coming from in the same direction the man had come. " What's with these goldfishes coming through here lately!!!? Sharks are what this company need!!  Sharks!!  Sharks make profit! Sharks to do a man's job!  Goldfish need not apply!!!"

The office door slammed shut with a loud bang, rattling the doors and windows in the building. Suddenly there was silence.

The man at the counter glanced back down at the receptionist who sat clutching a vase of flowers that teetered on the edge of her desk. Swallowing hard he stammered, "Ah, d-did you say down th-the hall---?"

"And to your right," the receptionist added softly, her eyes wide with concern.

"Oh boy," he mumbled.  Stuffing his resume into his pocket, the man picked up his briefcase then turned back to the receptionist. "Well, ah...thanks huh?"

Sliding a hand through his hair, he started slowly down the long corridor pausing briefly to peer left before making a hesitant-right, at the corner.

The receptionist drew in a nervous breath then let it out slowly. "Good luck," she whispered.

The end 

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