The office door breezes open. Mr. Deity is snug in his chair with his back to the door and doesn’t swivel around to face the intruder. “Go away, Ms. Jones-Berger, I’m busy.”
“Sir, it’s not Ms. Jones-Berger,” a deep voice rumbles.
Mr. Deity spins halfway around to look. One hand shields something in the other hand, but the napkin poking out gives him away.
“Sir, you don’t have to pretend you’re not eating pound cake.”
“Ms. Jones-Berger is always getting after me about the sweets,” Mr. Deity explains, breaking off another piece. “Keeps telling me I don’t want to end up like Santa Claus, or confuse the image.”
“You get that enough already,” the young man concedes.
Mr. Deity glares.
“Because of the beard, sir,” the young man clarifies, stiffening his back.
Mr. Deity strokes said beard, considering whether to accept this response as genuine or covering for a mistake.
Ms. Jones-Berger’s voice buzzes from the intercom. “Sir, your 1 o’clock appointment wants to reschedule.”
Mr. Deity glances at the timepiece on the wall. “All right, that’s fine, let them reschedule. I’m busy now anyway.” He fixes his gaze on the young man on the other side of the desk. “You didn’t come here to talk about my beard, did you? Didn’t you have a report to make?”
“Yes, a report on Reverend Curry’s congregation, sir.”
“Was there a fistfight in the parking lot?” Mr. Deity asked just before he stuffed the last bite of cake into his mouth.
“No, sir, nothing that exciting. With all due respect to the reverend, I think he hyped up the conflict a bit. The congregation was challenged, for sure, but nobody was going to get rowdy about it.”
Mr. Deity sank back into his chair. “Oh.”
“However,” the young man enunciated dramatically, “you should hear his topic for next week’s sermon.”
Mr. Deity sat forward. “Do tell.”