The partner looked weary.  He had not read the responses or looked at the charts.  He was a sharp-mouthed and ill-humored partner but I felt a kinship with him, most likely owing to the fact that neither of us could fake being happy very well.  He was also a good writer.  His editing had never marred anything I wrote.

The partner on the intercom enjoyed her discord better than anyone I had met.  There were a lot of things on that chart they were supposed to discuss.  The associate on the other end was not doing any talking.

“Can’t we just be civil?” asked the partner whose office I was occupying.  “Can we at least be civil?” and then he said his adversary’s name.

“No,” she said as though he had asked her to be one of his three prom dates.  “No we cannot be civil.”

“Why can’t we at least be civil?” he asked.  I wondered what he’d been getting up to at night.  It must have been awful fun but tinged on the edges with a terrible sadness as only the rich can do.

The question gave us all some quiet.