45: “Bless you and your charming face”

Priscilla’s office Christmas party took place at the end of November. She brought Oscar as her date to prevent her boss, Brenda McStevens, from trying yet again to set her up with her son Devon. It was much like the gala she’d gone to in January with Oscar, only now they really were together. The party was a company-wide event, which meant that Bernie was going as well. She was now in a different department than Priscilla, but they had both begun under Brenda in the communications department before Bernie had gotten her new job in PR. Priscilla was looking forward to being able to spend the evening with a few of her closest friends, safe from Devon and his near constant talk of lizards. She’d have to endure it on the ride to the party, however, as Brenda had suggested that they share a cab to save on money.

“So you have to take a cab with your boss, Oscar, and your boss’ son, who talks about reptiles ninety per cent of the time?” Iggy checked when Priscilla explained her situation a couple days before the party.”Do you and your boss even live close to one another? I assume not because she’s a fully grown adult with an impressive job. She probably owns a home and you’re sharing this overpriced apartment with your younger sister and her friend.”

“Oh, Brenda’s husband is an engineer,” Priscilla said.

“So not even in joining neighbourhoods then,” Iggy summed up.

“Yeah, not even close,” Priscilla nodded. “Also, I’ve recently found out that Trevor Minsman from high school drives a cab in the city now so I have to find out what company he drives for because I’m supposed to organize the ride and I can’t risk him being our driver.”

“Christ, could you imagine?” Iggy returned. “You’d have to explain to your boss how you know him. There is no good explanation for that. You shouldn’t know him. No one should know him. He has a throat tattoo.”

Trevor Minsman was, unbelievably, David’s cousin. They’d all been in the same grade at school and so they’d had to endure Trevor’s presence at several parties over the years. David still occasionally invited him to parties he and Melly threw, even though Melly hated this. Priscilla didn’t blame her. As Iggy had said, Trevor had a throat tattoo of the words “respect and honour”. He also used to throw condoms at grade nines when they were walking through the tech hall of their high school. Latterly, the last few times Priscilla had seen him, he talked about his destination wedding and the cruise that would follow for their honeymoon.

“I can’t even imagine being in a cab with him, making small talk about his divorce or whatever, looking at his throat tattoo,” Priscilla returned. “I definitely do not want to explain to my boss how I know so much about the cruise he took for his honeymoon.”

“God, I knew so much about that,” Iggy replied. “He talked about it so much. Like, there is only so much that can be said about a cruise. And he hadn’t even gone yet!”

“Well, in any case, it appears not to have turned out terribly well,” Priscilla said. “Perhaps there actually was a lot that could be said about it because his wife definitely cheated on him with the cruise ship captain.”

“Was it really the captain?” Iggy asked and Priscilla nodded. “Wow, I thought she had cheated on him with one of the wait staff, but the ship captain, that’s almost impressive. Honestly, that might be a step up from Trevor Minsman. I’m slightly impressed.”

“She probably could’ve found a better time,” Priscilla offered.

“Oh, well, yeah,” Iggy agreed. “The honeymoon was a bit more of a kick to the nuts than it needed to be.”

“I met her three times and she literally never looked happy,” Priscilla mused.

“She was marrying Trevor Minsman,” Iggy pointed out flatly.

“I’ll bet she’s happy now,” Priscilla said.

“Unless the cruise ship captain also has a throat tattoo, she probably is much happier,” Iggy nodded wisely.

The Christmas party was held at a convention centre on the west side of the city. The cab ride was long and likely very expensive, but Brenda was expensing it to the company. Priscilla otherwise would’ve been taking the subway. She had arranged a ride from a cab company that she was certain didn’t employ Trevor Minsman. She’d stalked his Facebook page for hours to find out where he worked. She’d learned some truly worrying things that she wished she could forget forever, but it was worth it not to have him as her cab driver. There was arranged seating for dinner, which put Priscilla and Oscar at a table with Brenda and Devon. By this point, Oscar and Priscilla had already made conversation with Devon about iguanas for what felt like an impossibly long period of time. Priscilla was running out of questions to ask. She’d already asked about their eating habits in gross detail.

“Lord, give me strength,” Oscar whispered to Priscilla at one point during dinner. “Or kill me. That might actually be preferable at this point.”

Priscilla couldn’t really argue. The only saving grace so far was that the food was really good and that they would be able to sit wherever they wanted for the entertainment. She’d already messaged Bernie to tell her that she was, in no uncertain terms, to save them seats at hers and Lawrence’s table. Oscar had explicitly told Priscilla that the only reason he’d agreed to come was the promise of hanging out with Lawrence. As Oscar put it, he was literally the coolest person he’d ever met. Priscilla would be offended by that if she didn’t feel the same way.

The moment the dessert plates had been cleared, Priscilla and Oscar bolted for Bernie and Lawrence’s table with nothing more than a quick wave and polite good-bye to Brenda and Devon. Brenda didn’t seem terribly upset about it, but Devon had been mid-explanation about the mating rituals of Komodo dragons.

“Christ am I not sorry to miss the end of that,” Oscar hissed to Priscilla as they hurried off, speed-walking in an attempt to make it look less obviously like they were fleeing for freedom.

“This is much better,” Priscilla said, sitting down next to Bernie. Oscar took the seat on the other side of Lawrence, which was what he’d wanted all along.

“The chicken was pretty good, though,” Lawrence offered optimistically.

“Bless you and your charming face,” Priscilla told him.

“Thanks!” Lawrence smiled at him. Bernie rolled her eyes, but Priscilla ignored her. Nothing could ruin her good mood. Nothing, it seemed, apart from the musical entertainment for the evening, which turned out to be two old dudes with even older instruments, playing meandering lute music and intermittently giving dramatic readings of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in terribly executed cockney accents.

“I regret literally every decision,” Oscar said darkly halfway through. “This is worse than the last gala we went to with the scarves and the interpretive dance and that woman who looked like she needed a shit.”

“I wish I was watching that instead,” Lawrence cut in. “Sounds fascinating.”

When the performance came to an end, Priscilla was too stunned to think properly. She couldn’t stop thinking about how weird it had been. That was why, she assured Iggy later, she didn’t think before calling for a cab. Brenda and Devon were sharing a cab with her and Oscar on the way home as well so the company would pay for it. Brenda told Priscilla to call for one and they would gather their coats and head outside to wait. Priscilla called the first company she found online. The cab that turned up was being driven by Trevor Minsman.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she whispered, slightly distressed.

“What?” Oscar asked, turning to her in confusion. And then he saw Trevor for himself. “Oh Christ.”

On the cab ride back to Priscilla’s, they had to listen to Trevor talk at great length about his divorce and how his wife had been cheating on him with their cruise ship captain. Then Priscilla had to explain to Brenda how she knew him. Brenda looked at her and Oscar in deep confusion for the entirety of the explanation, not that Priscilla at all blamed her. Trevor was wearing a v-neck t-shirt so his throat tattoo was on full display. Priscilla prayed for the ground to open up and swallow the whole cab. Then they would be incinerated by the earth’s core and all would be right again.

Priscilla told Iggy what had happened the next morning over coffee at the cafe where Iggy worked. Technically she was on break, but she had taken far longer than her allotted fifteen minutes. Her boss, Blake, kept giving them pointed looks, sighing loudly to signify his exasperation, but Iggy paid him no attention.

“So Trevor Minsman was our cab driver on the way home from the Christmas party,” Priscilla said.

“All that planning for nothing,” Iggy replied. “What did you say to your boss? How did you explain how you knew him and his dumb ass throat tattoo?”

“I said we went to high school together,” Priscilla said. “She probably thinks I’ve been to prison.”

Iggy gave her a long, appraising look.

“Unlikely.”

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