The Sex Kitten And The Scientist
The Sex Kitten And The Scientist
Roger Poole said, "He made a speech about how they're all counting on me. That's foolish. The thing exists or it doesn't. If it exists, I'll find it. If it doesn't exist, Larry Palmer won't get it out of me with a pep talk."
Roger's secretary was afraid to look at him-the stupid adoration would show in her face. All thought her wholesome life, Winnie Gilroy had believed in certain long-respected qualities: courage, intelligence, cleanliness, punctuality. She was the product of a conscientiously chosen nursery school, a PTA-dominated high school, a small denominational college. She had come to the city at nineteen, free and adult, with the approval of loving parents who trusted her, to offer her liberal arts degree and her six-month secretarial-school training to industry at large.
Industry had found in her a nerveless and competent executive secretary, totally dedicated to the career and welfare of her boss. Inevitably, she had married the first eligible bachelor executive who had entrusted his entire business life to her capable hands. She had gone to her husband a virgin. As Peter Gilroy's wife, she had continued as before, to be conscientious, understanding, devoted. A jewel of a secretary, she had become a jewel of a mate. The change had seemed a promotion rather than a transition.
They had moved from a city apartment to the suburbs at the proper time, Dee being four and Christopher two. Pete Gilroy had been gentlemanly and considerate toward Winnie when she was his secretary, and he was more so every year, now that he was her husband. He had even been enthusiastic about her going back to work when their neighbor, Larry Palmer, had said it was a shame for her talents to be going to waste.
Peter was proud of her dual role as mother and career woman. He had been a gracious host when she had brought Roger, her present boss, home for a decent meal. And if Pete was proud of her, she was even prouder of him in turn.
Just one thing wrong with the set-up.
Winnie had lost none of her secretarial skills, she had found with relief-not even the skill of making her boss purr like a contented cat. With Peter Gilroy, the gift had led to the marriage bed.
With Roger, four years Winnie's junior, the upshot had been all too similar-though, of course, not quite the same. Marriage to Roger would have made her a bigamist. Winnie could hardly believe in her own shame. How could she? What streak of undetected rottenness in her had let her betray both herself and Pete? She had no more expected adultery of herself than she had expected underarm odor. Cheating was something you expected of the cheap help-that tough little blonde, for instance, whom George Campbell had palmed off on Roger to help with the records and filing.
"You didn't hear what I said," Roger accused. "You're thinking your own thoughts. On company time, you're supposed to be all mine."
Winnie admitted, "You're right. Please repeat."
"I said that the thing exists or it doesn't. This window into the master file that Larry's so excited about... there's a chance it can't be devised. In which case, instead of finding his window, all I'll find is the fact that he can't have one. His inspirational talks won't change anything."
Being used as a sounding board by her employer of the moment was familiar to Winnie. Pete had often used her so both before and after marriage. In the office she shared with Roger, an ostensibly messy but, basically orderly place, she had many times been the recipient of his radar probes. When he expected an echo, he studied her face. Right now he was barely glancing at her because he was stating what to him were incontrovertible facts.
He was no magician in electronics, was what he meant to convey. He did not create truths. He discovered them. If they were there to be discovered.
"You tell Larry Palmer what I said," Roge