"Derinda! Answer the damn phone," Billy Devaney yelled as he opened his office door. Seeing his executive assistant had left her desk, he sighed, and then looked at the bank of blinking lights on her phone. Cringing at the incessant trilling sound the device made over and over, he sat down at her desk and was about to answer the phone when his assistant reappeared. The look on her face made him rise from her chair, and half stumble backward. "I was just going to answer…" Billy began to back toward his office, reaching a hand behind him as he felt for the office doorway and possible escape.
"Don’t give me your "Just" anything Bill Devaney." Derinda wasn’t smiling as she pointed a finger at her boss. "JUST… Stay away from me and my desk you cold hearted, evil excuse for a man. I’ll answer the dang phone when I get around to it." She continued to glare at Billy, who had cleared his office doorway and hid behind a half-closed door.
"This happens every year Derinda. We can’t keep every player who tries out for…" He slammed the door shut and avoided being hit the stapler Derinda threw at him. "Calm down! You almost hit me with…" Bang! Something else bounced off his door as he tried to talk to Derinda through the door. His assistant took this time of year personally. It was the annual roster cut week. Players who hadn’t made the team had to come in to sign separation documents, pick up final paychecks and occasionally say good-bye. For whatever reason, Derinda got emotional when it came to handling of this part of her job.
"Fine, Fine, Fine! You keep tellin’ yourself that you dream wrecker! How do sleep at night? Sending these nice young men out into the cold cruel world…"
The sudden silence following Derinda’s unfinished rant disturbed him. Billy put his ear to the door. He heard two people mumbling. The mumbling began to increase in volume enough for him to recognize his head coach, Steve Spagnuolo, arguing with his executive assistant.
"You can’t sue me for that! You’re a wacked out lunatic. It’s my job to… Put that down… You wouldn’t?" Steve sprinted for Billy’s office door, turned the knob as he shoved the door open and heard a "Ooof!" just as a miniature replica of the Lombardi Trophy whizzed by his head. Breathing hard, he slide sideways into the office, slamming the door shut. "Holy Hanna! That woman is… What are you doing on the floor Billy?"
Devaney lay dazed on the floor. He hadn’t moved his head far enough away from the door before Steve slammed it into his head. "Purple surf boards can make you fly…" Billy slurred as he tried to clear his head. He heard Steve laughing
"I’d put you on a concussion injury list," Steve said as he pulled his friend and employer up from the floor, "But you have to do something about Derinda before you pass out again. Look what she sent me." Steve held some papers in front of Billy’s face as his vision cleared. "She’s suing me! You too, in fact the entire Rams organization. I think she even listed the team doctors…"
"What!" Billy grabbed the papers from Steve and scanned through the list of defendants. "She has Stan Kroenke’s dog listed here and one defendant she listed as "the hotdog guy by my seats in Edward Jones stadium." He shook his head and began to read what had to be the worst legal document ever written. "Who wrote this?" He scanned the pages for the name of the attorney: Jack McCoy and Abbie Carmicheal. "Where have I heard these names before," he pointed to the names on the page as he showed it to Steve.
"She has two attorneys?" Steve rubbed his chin, then walked to the window. "Did you see what she’s suing us for? Billy , the woman is freaking crazy!"
Billy continued to read, then exploded as he read aloud in a 120-decibel voice, "…failure to provide a suitable family environment… child abandonment… What the hell is she…" He stopped mid-sentence as the door to his office flew open, bouncing off the doorstop and back into the face of a man that had just tried to storm into his office. The door closed shut, but not before allowing the sound of the man crashing into something, followed by a yowl of pain. Steve and Billy exchanged shocked looks, then shrugged simultaneously. The door opened again, this time slowly, as Derinda help the man into the office as he held a handkerchief to his nose.
"There, there," Derinda said in a soothing voice, "They attack everyone. I’m surprised they didn’t just shoot you… Put you out of your misery like...like..." Her look of kindness changed to an angry glare as she shifted her gaze from the man to Billy and Steve. "You should see what they do to the players around here. They have to wear helmets whenever they talk to these two bullies on the football field. You two should be ashamed of yourselves! Attacking my attorney ain’t going to sound good when we get into court." She shook her finger at them both, then led her attorney to a chair in front of Billy’s desk.
"Your attorney?" Billy half choked out, then he pointed at Steve, "He did it!"
"What? I didn’t do anything! I was over by the window…" Steve’s face turned red as the attorney, Derinda and now Billy looked at him. "Really, I, I… I need to go…" He didn’t move, though he looked at the door and wondered if he could make a run for it.
"You ain’t going anywhere you home wreckin’, dream stealer. My attorney is here to settle this lawsuit thing and get our kids back!"
"I’ll have to advise my client to refrain from further…" He didn’t get to finish his thought. Instead, he screamed in pain. Derinda had grabbed his nose and began twisting it.
"Don’t you try and tell me what to say you idiot," Derinda said as she pointed at Billy, while holding onto the attorney’s nose.
Billy and Steve began grappling with Derinda,finally prying her away from her attorney. His chair fell over backwards and began crawling for the office door. She struggled free of their grasp and leaped at the fleeing attorney. Billy looked at Steve, "Make the call!" Steve’s chin dropped as he stared at his boss and friend.
"You’re kidding? We can handle," he and Billy both turned toward a thudding sound. Derinda had tackled her attorney and began bouncing his head off the heavily padded carpet as she yelled, "You damn coward!" Steve fumbled for his cell phone and made the call he and Billy had discussed making if Derinda ever went over the edge. They wrestled Derinda off the back of her attorney and shoved her into Billy’s private bathroom, slamming to door closed. They took turns holding the door closed as Derinda continued to scream at them from behind the door. The sound of heavy, running footsteps could be heard in the outer office. After a quick knock, two enormous men entered the room. They glanced around the room looking for the trouble maker their coach had asked them drop what they are doing and get over to the Rams general Manager’s office to throw out. Seeing the bloody faced man Steve had deposited on the couch, they flew at him. The attorney fainted just as Steve screamed for them to stop. The two men, Harvey Dahl and Jacob Bell, were perfect for the job at hand. Offensive guards charged with protecting their quarterback against huge, unhinged defensive linemen made both Steve and Billy blow out their breath with relief that they were here.
Dahl flexed his muscles, "What’s the problem coach?"
"Just point out who you want us to kick the hell out of here and consider it done." Bell exchanged a look with Dahl. The look they exchanged said, "I pity whoever has to deal with us." They were both smiling. Then the smiles disappeared and were replaced by looks bordering on fear when their coach explained.
"Thanks for coming boys. We need you to take Derinda to her house and keep her there. She’s having one of her nutty spells and…" Before he could finish, the two huge men bolted for the office door and began wrestling to see who could clear the doorway first. The doorjamb creaked from their immense effort before it gave the millimeter needed for them to squeeze through. The sound of heavy, running feet fading away in less than a second.
"Who told Dahl about Derinda?" Billy grunted as he continued to hold the bathroom door shut.
Steve shook his head in disappointment, "I thought Dahl was tough… Mean streak my ass! And we just re-negotiated Bell’s contract…"
"Come here and hold the door. I know who to call." They exchanged positions and Billy ran to his desk,grabbed his cell phone and placed a call.
"If you’re calling someone who’s scarier than two NFL guards, let’s sign him fast!" Steve said as he continued to hold the doorknob. Steve tried to listen as Billy spoke softly to whoever he had called, but he couldn't hear anything other than, "She’s doing it again…".
Billy walked to the bathroom door, holding the phone at arm’s length. He had a look on his face like the phone was a bomb that could go off at any moment. Leaning close to the door, he called out to Derinda. "Just stop for a second Derinda. You have a phone call." The pounding on the other side of the door ceased.
"You didn’t! What have you done Billy! Oh God, Oh God! Tell her I’m busy. Tell her I’m sick! Hell, tell I’m dead! Why did you have to… I hate you, " Derinda said as she slumped and slid down the door to the floor.
Billy mouthed "one, two, three" to Steve. On three, they shoved the door (now being held shut by Derinda) open and Billy dropped his phone through the two-inch opening. "Talk to her Derinda. It will only get worse if you don’t…" Billy smiled, then whispered to Steve "Her mother". Who nodded at first, then gave Billy a look of disgust.
"That’s low Billy. You ever call my…" He stopped talking as Billy pointed toward the slowly opening bathroom door. There in front of them stood a tall woman whose long blonde hair covered her face. Shoulders slumped, she held out Billy’s phone for him to take, then slowly walked across the room to where her attorney lay crossways on the couch. She lightly kicked the man’s shoe and he opened his eye. "I’m sorry for making you cry like a baby. Now go!" She pointed to the door. The man slowly rose from the couch, looked alternately at Derinda, Billy and Steve, and muttered, "You’re all crazy, and fled the room.
Derinda flopped onto the couch, exhausted. Billy and Steve looked at each other, then did a quick Ro-Cham-Beau that Billy lost and Steve celebrated with a clenched fist while whispering, "Yes!" Then, with Steve hiding behind him, Billy walked slowly across the room and stood before Derinda’s splayed-leg and slouching form.
"Are you ok?" Billy asked in a soothing voice. His answer was a nodding mass of blonde hair. "Was that really your attorney? The one mentioned in the lawsuit papers?" The mass of blonde hair shook a "No". Then a muffled voice came from under the hair, "He's just some guy who thinks he's an actor. I got the attorney names from a repeat of Law and Order… I made up the whole thing hoping you’d stop sending these kids away…" There was the sound of sniffling from under the hair now.
"If I promise to try and find some of these guys new teams, will you stop acting like a nut?" Billy shrugged when Steve gave him a "Are you kidding me" look. "Steve says he’d love to help me too."
Derinda slowly stood up from the couch, "I knew you guys liked me." She gave them each a quick hug and peck on the cheek. "I’m going home if you don’t mind. It seems my mother is coming for a long visit," she parted the hair that had covered her face. "In fact, unless you guys are busy finding jobs for all our nice kids," she opened the office door, "I told her you two were having lunch and dinner with her every day until she leaves." She walked through the door, slowly closing it behind her.
Billy and Steve stood in the middle of the room, stunned by the quiet and end of the drama. Then they both suddenly realized what Derinda had said as she left the room. "Oh my God!" They said in unison, then ran to Billy’s desk and frantically dialed numbers to call in favors from NFL GMs to find homes for Derinda’s kids.