Janelle's heart beat triple-time--once for life, once for rage and once for humiliation. She knew people who had been terminated BOOM at the end of a seemingly ordinary workday, knew some who had been escorted out of the building by their terminator, but she never thought it would ever happen to her.
Naturally, not everyone had left the office. Her co-workers--EX-co-workers--shot nervous glances at her and at Mr. Jerruk. When she began collecting her personal possessions, the muted exhalations told her that this surprised and shocked them almost as much as it did her. That was some comfort: at least she hadn't been the last to know.
"What's that?" Jerruck snatched a baggie filled with dessicated brown nubs off her desk.
"Wild mushrooms," she said stiffly, reaching for the bag.
He jerked them out of her reach.
"Oh, really? Sweet little Janelle? You have hidden depths."
"For eating," she said. She didn't try to retrieve them. "I don't want them. Throw them away when you finish looking at them."
"Where did you get them?"
"A friend of a friend of a friend. Nobody wants them because who knows if whoever picked them knows what he's doing?"
Jerruck inspected them more closely. "They're morels! I love these things! Do you know what they sell for in the grocery?"
"I don't care. Throw them away." She turned on him, her purse and pockets stuffed with everything that given her office space the illusion of being hers. "Why do you always think you know everything? Throw them away! They could be poison!"
"Thanks for your concern," Jerruck said, pocketing the mushrooms.
* * *
As she slid into the driver's seat of her car, she reflected that she and Mr. Jerruck had both been right. Most of the mushrooms were morels. With one poisonous one broken up with them. She had gotten awfully tired of that bag over the past six months but, after Patty had been fired and chivvied out, she had sworn she would not go gentle into that goodnight.
Neither would Mr. Jerruck.
Kids, don't try this at home.