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Chapter 7 - Of Gorillas and Glorious Tidings

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Chapter 7

BY THE TIME I got back to the lab on the Lower East Side, I was ready to flip a table. I stormed into Dr. Alexeev's office with my empty Tupperware container and threw it on her desk.

At least that was how it happened in my mind.

In reality, I meekly sat down across from her, and I knocked before I "stormed' in. Dr. Alexeev looked up at me in shock that I would march into her office without walking past her door fifteen times, rattling papers, waiting for her to finish whatever she was doing, and to invite me in.

"He ate my lunch!" I blurted out. "Then he made me scratch his foot! His smelly foot! I don't want to do this anymore!"

"Is that all?" Dr. Alexeev asked. "There are leftover sandwiches in the lab from the talk Andrew gave this morning to the medical students. Why don't you eat one of those? I tried the chicken cutlet one that it is pretty good."

"It's not about the sandwich," I said. "I don't want to share my lunch with him. He is just so obnoxious. I hate his goddamn guts."

"That's the way he is," Dr. Alexeev said with a sigh and leaned back in her chair. She turned around to warm up her coffee maker. Oh no, when she did that, it meant she was getting ready to tell a story. "Do you want coffee or tea? I have those tea bags I brought back from my meeting in Cairo last month."

"Coffee," I said.

"This bag of coffee is from Starbucks," Dr. Alexeev showed me the bag. "Isn't that nice? Andrew gave it to me as an early Christmas present."

I nodded and muttered something polite in agreement. I wondered if she was hinting I hadn't picked up her Christmas gift yet. I thought the powers-that-be already gave her the ultimate Christmas gift by striking down that Weston private plane. Then I remembered how lonely she was during the holidays. Last year, Joey had to check on her during a snowstorm because she wasn't answering her phone. He was worried if she had died in that empty house, no one would have noticed.

Dr. Alexeev handed me a cup decorated with what looked to be fingerprints from orphaned children from one of the many charities she supported.

"Now about this matter of the boy," Dr. Alexeev said. I noticed she never mentioned his name. He was always "the bozo" or "the annoying thing" but never Maxwell. "Did you find out anything about Bobby Pinkerton?"

I shook my head. "Wouldn't it be suspicious if I started questioning him about his deal with Pinkerton when he almost died last night? He's already seeing the holes in my story about being his wife. To be fair, there are probably fewer holes in Swiss cheese."

"That's why you have to be quick about it," Dr. Alexeev said. "Before he has time to come to his senses."

"What if he develops feelings for me?" I asked. "It would be pretty shitty for him to lose his pretend-wife on Christmas too. He gave me this sob story last night about how depressed he felt around the holidays."

"Why do you care?" Dr. Alexeev asked. "Don't tell me you feel sorry for him. Let me tell you something, Scar. I'll tell you this as your mentor for life instead of just for your doctorate — men like him; they see women like us as disposable. The only thing of value the bozo has is that company. His father completely cut my daughter and me from his will out of spite. When Samuel spent those ten years working on his start-up, who do you think worked two jobs to support him? The second that bastard is in the green, he drops me for some eighteen-year-old girl. Liliane was barely three years old when Samuel left me for his teenage girlfriend. He found some legal loophole to leave me with nothing. His army of lawyers hid his assets and said because I made so much from my work teaching, I didn't deserve any spousal support. Mark my words, men like Samuel and his little bozo boy, they are not worthy of your empathy."

"What's the end-game?" I asked. "Even if I find out what Bobby has on him, what are you going to do about it? Hire a hitman to take out Pinkerton?"

"No, I'm going to use it against him. Get the bozo to sign over Weston Industries over to Liliane," Dr. Alexeev said. "She has a degree from Wharton. She was meant to be Samuel's successor. She is smarter than that bozo thing will ever be. Men — they look at their sons and see an image of themselves. As you saw the other night, that boy has no impulse control at all."

"Even if Maxwell agrees to this, the courts will say he doesn't have the mental capacity to make business decisions right now."

"That's why you need to find out what Pinkerton has on him; that way, he won't challenge our takeover in court."

I stared at her; I couldn't believe we were discussing this. This wasn't what I signed on for when I came into this program.

"Do you remember when you were first accepted into this program?" Dr. Alexeev asked. "You and your liberal arts degree. What was it in? The study of basket weaving underwater?"

"It was in Women's Studies and Social Psychology!"

"Yeah, now I remember," Dr. Alexeev said with a small laugh. "Everyone thought you couldn't cut it in this program. You need a certain scientific mindset to be an anthropologist. They said you were too soft, too girly, that I should send you back to your job babysitting for the UES or whatever it was you were doing at the time."

I rolled my eyes. "And I've done wildly well here. I'm going to Lesting next month."

"Yes, and you did all that because of me. Don't forget whose name is on all your papers, all your conferences. You don't stand alone when you stand up there." Dr. Alexeev smiled at me and refilled my coffee cup. "Now, go back to the hospital tonight and share another sandwich with that thing. A hundred years from now, when kids go to the zoo and see a gorilla, just know it's because you had the kindness in your heart to play wife to a stupid boy."

"And take his company."

"A company that's killing him," she said without missing a beat. "He'll be happier without that responsibility. I'll be happy to cut him a check for twenty million."

"Okay," I finally said, biting my lip. "I'll do it, but you'll give me something in return."

"What do you want? A cut?" Dr. Alexeev asked with a tired look.

"I don't want any money. I want to go on the Nigeria trip next summer with Jennifer. I want to collect the Gorilla hair follicles personally." I smiled, and she nodded back in understanding. "As a scientist, that's what I want more than anything else in the world."


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