The Agency


Back at their office Sara began to have doubts about accomplishing what they had promised. Her nerves began to get the better of her until Anthony embraced her and whispered in her ear, "We can do this. Together we can do this."

Sara sighed and held Anthony tightly for a few moments before saying, "Right, lets get to work."

She went to the computer to write the script and Anthony went to the draft table to draw the storyboard.

Neither noticed a barrier had completely collapsed. Their embrace had been a welcomed necessity. It had not been questioned.

Arguments and points of views clashed as usual. During one telling argument they had gotten into each other's face so closely that their lips touched. Neither backed down and they were soon arguing while in a virtual long kiss. They had never acknowledged the kiss but neither regretted it except for the fact they had forgotten what the disagreement was about.

They had often worked through lunch but now they worked through dinner, except on Tuesdays. Sara had a standing date on Tuesdays. Sara never told Anthony with whom but curiosity, (jealousy?), had driven him to follow her one Tuesday and saw Sara and an older woman hug as they met at the door of a restaurant. Anthony knew Sara's parents had died when she was a teenager so he surmised the woman was Olivia.

During their dinners Sara and Anthony kept their arguments to a minimum and mostly watched the interactions between servers and those dining alone.

Two weeks later they had a rough draft to present to Cole and Miss Roberts. The two started to give suggestions about this and that but each time their words trailed away. Miss Roberts seemed to be somewhat emotional over the presentation. Sara saw her clasp Cole's hand, sliding her fingers between his. It was the first overt sign of affection anyone at the agency had seen between the two.

Finally Cole said, "Have it ready for production by Friday. You two are amazing." He kissed Sara on the cheek and slapped Anthony on the back while shaking his hand. Miss Roberts left them without a word, on the verge of tears.

Sara's show of concern prompted Cole to say, I'll take care of her."

As soon as they were alone Sara jumped into Anthony's arms and kissed him deeply. It was the kiss of their final understanding. The kiss lasted several minutes, renewed each time their lips had separated. It would have continued except a voice on their intercom said, "Give me a quick list of what I will need." It was Larry from production.

Anthony and Sara resumed working and managed to get everything done by Friday morning. By Friday afternoon Larry had spread the word that what they had turned in was awesome.

The last three games of the baseball season began that night. Sara had a single season ticket and so did Anthony. They had agreed to go together, their first real date, so they needed to come up with tickets, not easy on a sold out game. Anthony asked Cole if the agency's suite tickets had been taken.

He said the team had been so bad no one had asked for them in a while. Anthony told Cole that he and Sara would appreciate two tickets for that night. Cole walked Anthony to Miss Roberts' office and reached into her desk drawer for the tickets. Anthony was surprised to see him take such liberties with her desk but said nothing.

He related the incident to Sara when he returned to their office but she was not surprised at all. As she continued to work at her computer she said, "Sweetheart, I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that they were married. If you stop paying attention to what they are saying and watch their bodies and their smiles you will see that they are actually a single unit. Her desk is his desk and vice versa."

Sara had not noticed but Anthony certainly had. She had called him "sweetheart."

That night at the agency suite at the ballpark they were surprised to find Cole and Miss Roberts already there. Cole explained that after Anthony left him he had asked himself "why not?" and there they were.

Sara was wearing the first team jersey she ever had, a gift from her grandfather. It was of a now defunct minor league team her grandfather had played for. His name, which was also Sara's name, was on the back. Anthony was wearing slacks and a nice polo shirt with their team's logo over a breast. Nattily dressed as always.

Cole was wearing the teams black replica jersey with his own last name on the back. Miss Roberts was wearing the brick red jersey with Cole's last name on the back too. It took Anthony a few seconds to come to the conclusion that what Sara had postulated that afternoon was indeed true.

Sara had noticed the matching wedding bands immediately. Independently Anthony and Sara decided not to make a big deal out of their revelation. They were honored to have been let in on a secret.

They in turn allowed the other two into their own secret, one they did not realize they were holding until five days ago. The other two, however, had seen it coming for months.

They held hands, they shared a hotdog, and they kissed.

They argued about a pitching change.

Anyone looking in would have seen two couples in love. The four of them attended all three games of the last homestand, joined by Patty, the office manager, and her long time boyfriend for the last one.

Just before Thanksgiving the ads were ready for the clients to see. Cole had set it up on close circuit so everyone at the agency could watch them.

The first ad began with a close up of a man in his late seventies or early eighties fussing with his snow-white hair. An off-screen female voice said "Hurry up Dad, you'll be late for your date."

The man grumbled, "I don't have a date. I'm just going for coffee."

Cut to a busy diner. A young Asian waitress hurries through her routine as she glances outside, as if waiting for someone. A car pulls up to the door and the gentleman exits. The waitress and the driver, a woman in her late fifties, smile at each other through the glass window and nod. The waitress assists the old man to his booth and goes to the coffee urn. A large can of the client's coffee sits next to the carafe. The girl takes him a cup of the client's coffee. Slow zoom to the coffee cup as you hear the girl say, "Glad you could come see me."

"I just come for the coffee," he says.

Their two hands meet gently next to the coffee cup.

Fade out.

The second ad begins with the waitress pouring two cups of the client's coffee; the client's coffee can clearly displayed next to the carafe. A silent conversation between the daughter and the waitress ensues as they share the same booth the old gentleman prefers. Their conversation cannot be heard, just the background noise of a busy coffee shop. Laughter and sadness can be seen in both women. Slow zoom out. No dialogue.

Third spot. Slow zoom in past the coffee station, client's product briefly visible. A Christmas carol plays softly in the background. The girl has a knee on the seat of the booth, her arm is draped around the old mans shoulder. She has her cheek lying gently on his head. The camera lifts over their heads and shows a cup of coffee on the table along with two opened Christmas gifts, a man's scarf amid bright green paper, a small box with a golden heart sitting amid bright red wrapping. The old hand and the young hand are together next to the coffee cup. At the bottom of the screen scroll the words. Merry Christmas. Fade out. No dialogue.

Sara and Anthony did not know what kind of reaction their work would get but they did not expect tears. All the women had tears cascading down their faces and the men were trying to find a place to focus their eyes. Kate was the head honcho for the clients advertising arm and was soon on her cell phone. Sara heard her tell someone, "I don't give a fuck how much they cost I want those slots."

An emergency business meeting was suddenly in full flight. Anthony and Sara snuck out of the room. That was not their end of the business.

Once out of the conference room giddiness overwhelmed them and they just kept on going out of the building. They went grocery shopping then went home.

By mid October Anthony had gotten tired of living in two places at once. Sara had pointed out to him on their first night together that there was plenty of room at her town-home for him. He admitted to himself that it did not matter whether there was or not, he wanted to be where she was. The fact that her town home was three times bigger than his was just a bonus.

They still argued about nearly everything but ninety percent of those arguments were started for the express purpose of eliciting the passion that followed the "kiss and make up" part of the ritual. The other ten percent were work connected and each knew that was a good thing.

They married during their Thanksgiving Holiday week. At the suggestion of Cole they went to the Riviera Maya for their wedding. That was where he and Bobbi were married.

Anthony had asked Cole to be his best man, which he immediately agreed to do. Sara asked Bobbi to be the maid of honor, which made her very happy. The only other person Sara asked to be there was Olivia.

Anthony and Sara did not request anyone else's attendance because they did not want people to go through the expense of the trip. The bride and groom were surprised and very pleased when nine other people made the trip to Mexico for their wedding.

After the rings were exchanged Anthony had one more token of his love for Sara. Olivia stepped behind Sara and unclasped her gold chain. Anthony added a third gold heart to the necklace and Olivia closed the clasp. Sara and Olivia had to fight back tears.

Their first ad started running on Thanksgiving Day. The agency principals were all on beach honeymoons so they did not see it. It ran on expensive time slots. The client told them that sales went up nearly three percent by the end of the weekend.

The second ad joined the first two weeks later. The second ad had the airwaves to itself until three days before Christmas. All three ads ran on the 23rd of December. The third one had Christmas Eve and Day to itself.

The first and second ads still ran past New Years. The bits had been staged twice, once without the Christmas decorations and once with. The company expected to run the first two ads indefinitely.

Sara and Anthony saw the third one for the first time at the boss's house on Christmas Eve. Cole and his wife had put together a small party attended by the few people that already knew they were married.

Among them was Bobbi's sister Fiona, a former model herself. She had a classic beauty that takes your breath away even though she was likely the oldest person in the room. She had been very reserved at the start of the evening but the bubble of love that surrounded her sister and her husband soon enveloped her and she quickly became one of the gang.

Kate was also there and she of course knew exactly at which time and on which station the ads would run. She had attended the party with Vivian, her main contact with the agency. At that time only Sara and Bobbi saw the germ of something other than a friendly working relationship between the two.

They themselves had no clue.

The party had been sedate until Cole and Patty threw their drink glasses into the fireplace and flung themselves into a wild, passionate kiss. After the kiss ended they immediately resumed their usual persona and simply replaced their drinks with new ones. About half of those present had seen the bit before and their laughter allowed those that had not to join in the merriment.

The place became a riot of laughter when thirty minutes later Anthony, of all people, replaced Cole in a re-enactment of the kiss and grope with Patty

After the laughter subsided Cole tapped on his glass to get everyone's attention.

"First, thank everyone for coming and Merry Christmas. I have some announcements about some changes at work that will take place when we return after New Years. There have been two resignations of note. My wife Bobbi has decided to get off the hot seat and put me in it. She will of course make frequent visits to the agency if for no other reason to remind me that there was once someone named Roberta the Witch."

Very few in attendance understood the reference to Roberta The Witch. Those that did affectionately raised their glasses to Bobbi.

The real reason Bobbi was resigning was that she was tired of pretending their relationship was strictly business. She wanted the world to know she was his wife. Cole was immensely proud of his wife. He was now free to brag about her.

Cole continued, "The other major resignation was from Sara."

Murmurs of surprise coursed through the crowd.

"Sara, would you like to tell everyone why you resigned?"

A beaming Sara stood and said, "Because we are pregnant."

Happy congratulations flew around the room for a while. Anthony beamed at Sara as he held her hand.

Cole tapped on the glass to continue.

"Now that Anthony wont have Sara available for those two hours trips to the storeroom in search of staples he will take over my job of Operations Manager. As you saw Patty has already given her seal of approval on that."

Laughter and congratulations followed.

Sara was blushing. Cole either made an inspired joke or knew that such an incident had indeed occurred. She was afraid it was the latter.

Cole went on to thank all for making the agency the fastest growing such concern in the country and more so for the prestige the agency had gathered.

"Everyone will see a raise with their January one paycheck. Merry Christmas."

Pay raises were always nice but since everyone there had received an outrageously large Christmas bonus the chatter after announcements centered on Bobbi and Sara.

The client wanted an ad to run before the Super Bowl using the same characters. Anticipating the request thanks to Kate's "non-hints" Sara and Anthony had a set ready. Cole had anticipated that the ads would become a continuing series and had kept the production company and the actors on call. The coffee company was pleasantly surprised to have another three ads that mirrored the playoffs in time for the games.

The filming had taken a heavy toll on Gavin White, the actor who portrayed the old man. Gavin was as old and frail as the character he portrayed, he was eighty-one. Take after take that included changing sweatshirts for each potential playoff game match-ups, the hot lights, the long hours had exhausted him. Five days before the game he died.

The ads stopped running the next day. The client had not intended them to run through the Super Bowl and had in fact decided not to run the ads the day of the game. The last ad had shown the characters wearing the jerseys of the actual game contestants. The sponsor, (actually Kate), pulled the ads without comment.

Gavin had been a character actor for over fifty years but most people did not know his name. The company could have continued to run the ads with no backlash.

Cole and Anthony bankrolled one more spot. When it was ready they called Kate and ran it for her as she sat alone in the screening room.

They could hear her crying.

They could hear her talking on the cell phone.

When she came out she asked "how much."

Cole said, "It's on us."

"It will be the third one and out Super Bowl ad," she said.

Neither Anthony nor Cole said anything to anyone about the spot. Sales did not know about the spot. The production crew did not want to say anything because the whole thing had been done without going through channels and yet they had been paid. They never expected the ad to run.

It was the last of a long stream of commercials run just before the second half of a very tight game was set to resume. Cole had a full house for a super bowl party. His mother and her second/fourth husband were there along with his sister and his daughter and her partner. Patty and her longtime boyfriend, Sara and Anthony, Ryan and his partner were also there. Conspicuous by her absence was Kate.

The ad.

Pan a mostly empty diner. A storm rages outside. The young waitress is idly watching the storm through the glass. A familiar car pulls up. The young waitresses' smile freezes when she sees the old mans daughter step out of the car and just stand there in the rain, sobbing. The young woman rushes out to her. She becomes anguished and begins to cry. The diner manager sees them and rushes to them, escorting them inside. He seats them at the familiar booth, brings them towels and two cups of coffee. The camera moves to them. The women are holding back tears. The older one is staring at her coffee cup. The younger one is looking at the storm. Between the coffee cups and old hand and a young hand have tight grips on each other. At the bottom the legend appears, "Thanks Gavin. Good Bye."

There was no dialogue, only the sound of the storm. The advertisers product label never appears on screen.

Only Cole and Anthony managed to hold back the tears.

Both were berated by everyone for not warning them about what was coming. They were given the third degree about how such tribute came to be, how it had end up on the Super Bowl.

They were loved for being who they were.

Within ten minutes the ad was posted on hundreds of sites on the Internet. So many messages were sent to the coffee companies website and their phone that both shut down. The ad agency was flooded with congratulatory messages. The ad was the topic of talk shows and web sites.

The following Monday the director, the producer, and the actors that worked on the ad returned their paychecks for it.

That Tuesday Kate was fired by the parent company of the coffee firm. A pencil neck had become incensed that she had authorized the expense of a Super Bowl commercial for an ad that never showed the product. She had bumped an ad for another of the conglomerates products to get it on the Super Bowl lineup. The fact that the spot itself was free was ignored.

She was out of work for all of ten minutes. Kate had called Bobbi with the news, Bobbi called Cole, Cole called Kate and told her desk was ready and to get to work in thirty minutes or he would dock her pay. She was there in twenty minutes and working her butt off within an hour.

One of the national evening news ended a broadcast with the story of her firing with an added jab at the company that asked, "What were they thinking, if they were thinking at all."

In one week every bit of the gains made by the coffee firm were lost. Millions were lost. Shareholders demanded that everyone in anyway connected with the decision be fired. In a doomed effort to save themselves even the people that fired her begged Kate to come back.

The ongoing saga made great fillers on slow news days. Every late night talk show host had a very pointed barb to sink into the conglomerates executives' side.

It also greatly increased the prestige of the agency.

One beautiful spring morning Cole called a meeting and found that the agency had grown so large that they had no place to hold it. The hotel next to their office building had banquet rooms and Patty somehow managed to book one and even arranged for lunch to be served.

Cole had a state of the agency speech to give.

He said that the firm had grown so large that Anthony, Ryan, Patty and Larry needed help and announced new positions and the names of people being promoted to hold the positions.

Cole was pleased that each name had produced loud cheers, especially Raul's.

A new position was created for Kate. She was to be the liaison between sales and operations, a position below only Cole and Anthony. She had no problem ignoring her former bosses pleas to return.

She would be picking a small team from each sector. She had already chosen Alfred, the oldest member of the staff from operations. And at no surprise to Cole she had picked Vivian from sales.

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