"Yeah," he called.
The office door opened partway, and Murphy, coat already on, poked his head inside. "You got a minute? I've got something I need to talk to you about."
Uh oh, this didn't sound good. But what else could be expected from a day like today—good news? Hah, not likely.
"Sure, Sean, come on in. I'm just finishing up here anyway," McManus said, shoving his chair back away from his desk and looking up to give Murphy his full attention, wondering which cretin had done what heinous thing this time.
Murphy cleared his throat. "You'll get the official letter and everything, but I wanted to tell you in person that I'm...putting in my resignation."
"You're what!" The fog of fatigue lifted as McManus sprang to his feet. Not Murphy! Of all the people he couldn't afford to lose. "Sean, what—why— Did something happen?"
Murphy shrugged lightly, looking slightly embarrassed as a smile played at the corners of his mouth. "Yeah, and it's good news, so please be happy for me, not pissed or disappointed."
The panicky feeling of dread in McManus' gut subsided a little at that, replaced by genuine curiosity. He was Murphy's best friend in this place; what could have happened that he didn't know about? McManus sank back down into his chair. "So, what's the good news?"
"Well, I gotta admit that in spite of the stuff I said about Dave Brass—you know, that he'd signed up for this job of his own free will and all... What happened with him getting cut, what happened to you, getting shanked—it kind of scared the shit out of me."
"All of us, Sean. Believe me. So this is a security thing?" McManus asked, puzzled.
"Well, it just got me to thinking, is all. About other things I could've maybe done with my life; about all of us here, really. And... when I'm on night shift this place is usually pretty quiet." Murphy nodded his head towards the large window that looked out over Emerald City, shielded from view now by the closed venetian blinds.
"Usually," McManus grumbled, his mind flashing on a series of exceptions.
"Yeah, so, when it's been quiet, I've uh... I've been doing a little writing."
"Writing?" McManus blinked and refocused his eyes, just to be sure this actually was the Sean Murphy he knew.
"I kept it quiet, ‘cause you know, I don't exactly have a reputation for being a sensitive-type guy, but, yeah. I been writing steady for almost a year. And, well... I sold it, Tim. I sold my manuscript to a publisher for a pretty nice advance. They said my prose was tough, but credible. Can you believe it?"
"Not really," McManus rubbed distractedly at his brow and snuck a glance at the desk drawer where he kept the scotch—he could swear he hadn't been drinking yet today. "That's great, Sean, that's fantastic. Uh, what's the book about?"
"It's, well, it's about an idealistic young woman facing incredible obstacles in her quest to...ah, here..." Murphy reached into the battered canvas gym bag he carried and pulled out a thick sheaf of white paper, secured at one corner with a large binder clip. McManus accepted the manuscript and held it out at arm's length to read the title page.
"Only The Heart Knows by..." he hesitated when he came to the author's name. "Shanna Murphy?" McManus looked up, saw Murphy's color deepen slightly.
"My editor thought a pen name would be, you know, more appropriate to the market."
"It's a romance, Tim."
"I can tell you're surprised."
"That... would be putting it mildly," McManus said, shaking his head as he flipped through the neatly typed pages. Then one word caught his eye and he looked up again. "Timorene? Your heroine's name is Timorene?"
"She's... she's sort of loosely based on you," Murphy said, adding before McManus could respond, "Well, except not all the fucking your co-workers stuff; the publishers frown on that type of behavior."
"I..." McManus' mouth worked soundlessly before he managed, "Sean, I hardly know what to say."
"Say ‘congratulations.' This is really a dream come true."
"Uh, yeah. Congratulations," McManus said, throwing up his hands. "Okay! Well! Should we... go get a drink or something? Celebrate?"
"Oh, I'd love to, but I have to go meet my agent in an hour."
"Well, they're already sniffing for a sequel; she thinks she can push it into a three book deal."
"A three book deal," McManus muttered. "Who knew?"
"Only the heart, Timmy," Murphy said, patting his chest sincerely, "Only the heart." As he turned to go, Murphy nodded. "You can keep that copy; I'd love to know what you think."
"Sure! Okay then, I guess I'll...see you tomorrow." McManus waved as a smiling Murphy left his office, the door clicking shut behind him.
He waited a few seconds to make sure Murphy was really gone before flipping through the manuscript again. He caught a reference to Timorene's ‘heaving breast' before putting his head down on his desk and banging it softly against the smoothly finished wood.
"I have got to get a life."
Heh, Rebecca was a fellow accomplice -- she came up with Murphy's pen name. :-)