This graffiti was spray-painted on a main commuter route in Brighton, England.
THE WOMAN LEFT Nelson LaVey’s office with tears streaming down her face and a cardboard box in her arms.
Nelson sat back in his leather executive chair and watched her being escorted through the door by a whey-faced security whelp who treated the departing secretarial clerk like she had just held up a federal bank with her staple remover, or stabbed somebody in the eye with her ballpoint pen.
Sandra Taylor, the head of the company’s human resources department, stood to one side of her boss’ desk, also watching the crying woman leave.
“I bet you’re glad that’s over with,” she said.
Nelson looked up at her, his features blank.
There was an uncomfortable split-second pause.
Then the expression came back into his face.
“Yes,” he said.
Sandra sighed. “She was a good employee, Nelse. Devoted. You can’t say she wasn’t devoted. It’s too bad we had to let her go.”
Nelson’s eyes narrowed.
Sandra didn’t notice.
“I know, the economy’s bad. I know. I just feel bad sometimes. Don’t you? I do. I hate this part of my job. You know what they call me behind my back? The Angel of Death. Can you believe it?”
“The Angel of Death,” Nelson mused. “You must like firing people.”
He offered Sandra a slow smile and she felt her rising bristles lie flat again.
“Good one.” she said awkwardly. “Seriously, though, everyone always feels sorry for the person being fired but I think it must be hardest on you, the decision-maker, the man who delivers the bad news.”
Nelson did his best to put on a suitably sad face.
“You are so right. No one understands how difficult it is.”
He stood up abruptly.
“Ready for lunch? I feel like steak, bloody and blue. Get your coat, I’m buying.”
Sandra watched his face change from sad to celebratory in the blink of an eye. But it was in that blink, that tiny grain of time, that she saw something else. A flicker of movement. A reflection. A ghastly insectile shimmer in his milk chocolate eyes.
Startled, Sandra let herself be steered toward the door.