Chapter 25: Commissions and Fees
The distant clang of a telephone woke Peggy Olson. It rang once, piercing her in her sleep, and then by the third ring, she had risen her head. Her face pained her first; she had fallen asleep on the typewriter. The resume was crumpled from her constant movement during the night, but was still readable. The phone continued to ring. She leaned back in the office chair and rubbed her face gently. Slowly, she massaged her eyes until they became heavy; the phone rang once more…
"Mr. Draper, this is your new secretary, Peggy Olson." Joan said with a bubbling smile.
"Pleased to meet you." He stuck out his right hand smiling. Peggy smiled back and met it.
"I look forward to working for you, Mr. Draper." She quipped. Don simply smiled once again as Joan lead the way into his office.
"The first day of work was long for me…" Peggy wrote. "I haven't much time for anything. I thought they would put me under some new guy; instead I get stuck with the boss. I don't really like the head secretary. She's awfully mean. Or awfully honest. Either way, she's not nice to me. In fact, I can't tell if people just like her because they like her, or if they're afraid of her."
"I finally made some headway at the office today! It took a fluke effort, but I helped land Belle Jolie Lipstick! Here I am, sounding like a true ad man. Joan was a bitter critter today, ha-ha! It was nice to feel like I have something more than just fleeting looks to offer. Mr. Draper seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say for the first time in a long while. He's a nice guy actually, once you get to know him. Hard on his workers, but you can see they appreciate him. Especially Mr. Campbell. (He's brown nosing, no doubt.)
The telephone clanged loudly throughout the office and Peggy jolted awake in her seat. The sun was just cresting over the horizon and lucidity began returning to her brain. The small desk clock showed 6:07 a.m. Peggy cursed and stood from her chair walking outside into the empty company and picked up the phone in annoyance.
"Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce." She burst angrily.
"Hello?" the feminine voice on the other end cooed.
"Yes this is Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We're not open at the moment, but if you'll just call back in…." Peggy was cut off by the voice.
"Margaret Olson, is that you?" the voice startled her.
"… yes, who is this?"
"It's your mother!" she squawked.
"Mom! Why are you calling me so early? It's six in the morning."
"I'm well aware of the time, dear," her mother opened. "I called you five times at home; knowing your habits, the next place of rest for you would be your obsession. Now listen here, I wouldn't be calling unless it was of importance. I know perhaps you don't want to hear this… but you need to know."
Peggy sat down at the secretary's desk in slight worry. "What is it?"
"It's about your little boy… he's very sick dear." A cannonball sized knot wound itself on the inside of Peggy's stomach, searing her gently.
"Very sick?" She hesitated. "How sick?"
"The doctors say he has leukemia. Lung cancer…"
Suddenly Peggy went cold. The knot in her stomach dissipated to nothing.
"I'll call you back soon mother."
"but dear you need to do something…."
"I know!" she shouted. "I will. Just give me time." She slammed the receiver down. A sweat overcame her and Peggy felt numb in her extremities. Suddenly, she fainted.
On the other side of Manhattan, Joan was counting the spackle on the wall as she lay in bed. Michael was wrapped around her naked body and was keeping her invaluably warm. They had been up all night, celebrating the proposal. Now it was early morn after a short few hours of sleep
Second thoughts floated through her mind, but she whisked them away, like chaff in a bitter wind. She didn't want over thinking to ruin her relationship with a true gentleman. She felt at ease in his embrace. He was going to treat her right. These thoughts went through her mind as she played with the large diamond ring on her promised finger.
"This is Joan Harris, our head secretary" Joan finally had a moment to glance up. She nodded politely and smiled in his direction.
"Nice to meet you Mr. Falco" She tilted the chair and examined the man before her. His cloudy blue green eyes caught hers and held them. His blond hair; perfectly side-parted, jaw was angular, but prominent, his old suit was well fashioned on him: not too short, not too long. Her heart twinged a bit.
"Please, it's Mike." He smiled unwaveringly and reached for her hand.
Joan smiled at the memory and turned from his grasp, kissing him lightly on the lips as she turned, and then fell back into a spoon. He stirred and placed his arm around her chest, kissing her on the neck.
"Good morning." He mumbled.
"How was that?" he sniffed laughter.
"I don't remember much. Too tired." She retorted playfully. Michael scoffed and pulled away from her, lying on his back.
"Is that so?"
Joan simply turned and lay upon his chest, looking into his wandering eyes. She grinned and then asked, "Were you planning on asking last night? Or did I force your hand?"
"I was planning last night. The extravagant dinner was just the beginning of a fantastic evening, no?"
"Agreed." She kissed his chest.
"I can feel the bump." Mike smiled. Joan felt off-put and contorted her face,
"Is that a good thing?"
"Of course it is." He brushed her face with his hand. "Soon you'll be staying home."
"I'll rue the day." She sat up in bed, scratching her head. "Who will keep tabs on all the ladies when I'm gone? The agency can barely run itself as it is."
"I'm sure we'll manage." They kissed. Mike stepped from bed and pulled his briefs on.
"You're sure about this?" Joan hesitated midway through her sentence.
"About us," Michael Falco said unwaveringly, "There is nothing I've been surer of."
"Good." She grinned. "Now get dressed, we have to be at work in an hour."
"Ms. Olson… Ms. Olson." The voice murmured through the recesses of unconsciousness. "Ms. Olson… Are you alright?... Hello?"
Peggy could feel her body been shaken and she burst into consciousness. A few girls were gathered around her. She was lying on the floor.
"Ms. Olson are you alright?" Her secretary asked, helping her up. "I found you like this; my telephone was off the hook and you were white as a ghost!"
"Yes I'm fine… I just felt very faint. I stayed up all night working."
"You should have some rest in your office. It's only 7:30, Mr. Draper isn't in until 9:00."
"Perhaps I will Gisele, thank you." Peggy stood from the group and made her way into her office and lay down on the sprawling couch. The moment her head touched the arm, she drifted off to sleep.
BANG. The knock at the door resounded through the room. BANG, BANG. Gisele pushed the door open and walked over to Peggy who was still asleep at 10:00.
"Ms. Olson, I'm sorry to wake you, but Mr. Draper wants to see you in his office."
Rubbing her eyes awake and fixing her hair, Peggy made her way to Don's office.
"Good morning." He said as she entered. "Close the door behind you." Within a moment she was sitting in the adjacent chair to his desk, her hand on her forehead.
"You look like hell." Don commented.
"I feel like it too. I was here all night."
"Well then your hard work is about to pay off." He stood from his chair. "I want you to be on the Viacynth account. This is big for us, and I think the team could really use your perspective."
Peggy sat quietly not saying anything.
"This is normally the part where you thank me." He muttered.
"Isn't this what you wanted?" A twinge of annoyance fluttered through Draper's normally calm voice.
"Yes… I've just got a lot on my mind," Peggy hesitated. "I'm going to be with my mother for the next while. I don't know when I'll be back."
"Well Kingsley is coming back here in three weeks to discuss our mock-ups."
"Then I guess the account will trudge on without me."
"I need you on this account Peggy. This is why I brought you in here; I'm not just handing an opportunity like this to anyone, I'm giving it to you." His hands were spaced evenly apart as he leaned over the large desk.
"I appreciate the gesture but my mother is ill, and she needs someone to take care of her. I'm going to be with her."
"Can't you just wait for this?" He splurged angrily.
"No Don, I can't!" Peggy stood up and fought back. "I don't know how much time she has left, she may make it, she may not. I've already missed a hundred important events these past years, all because of you making me stay late! I won't sit around while someone I care about dies just because Donald Draper raised his finger."
"Tough!" He shouted loudly. "You can just forget the account! I'll just ask Michael, or Pete, to haul unnecessary weight."
"It'll be good for him!" Peggy cried, "It'll be the first real day of work he has at this place without everyone kissing his ass because he can come up with ideas on the fly! What with you pulling him in on every spare account you have, Joan being so in love with him, and Lane being all tootle-pip about him. The guy got the golden carpet treatment from day one. So go ahead!" She stormed furiously at the door.
"Peggy!" Don stormed after her, but before he could follow her out the door she slammed it in his face.
"Oh Joan it's beautiful!" One of the ladies said as Joan showed off the ring. "I haven't seen a ring that size in all my life!" Another squawked. "Where did he get the money for that?" a third asked.
Joan and the secretaries had gathered in the lunchroom for the daily dose of gossip when one of the older secretaries noticed her ring.
"I'm lucky, I think." She said as the girls laughed. Far down the hall a loud slam riveted through the building, followed by another slam. Joan walked out casually to check and saw Don leaning from his doorway with a sour frown on his face. He looked at her a moment, and then closed the door once again. With her eyebrows pursed in confusion, Joan marched towards Draper's office.
"Ms. Holloway…" A voice came from her office. She stopped and turned to see Peter Campbell's face.
"What is it Mr. Campbell?" She turned from her path and moved into the quaint office space.
"Well… I just wanted to clarify some things that have been on my mind…"
Joan sat down at her desk. "And what are those things?"
"About the closet the other day…" he began.
"I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about." She said.
"… I'm glad we understand each other…" Pete smiled and sat down. "I'm sure you know that Viacynth is coming back for mock-ups."
"I'm aware, Michael informed me yesterday."
"Yes of course," he stuttered, "Well… I got wind that Mr. Herbert Kingsley has taken a considerable liking to you; he is the owner of Viacynth."
"Oh really?" Joan raised a brow.
"Yes… and I hear Roger is encouraging him to make, well, moves on you." She shifted uncomfortably in her seat.
"What are you saying?"
"Roger is going to try and set you up on a date with him."
"Roger has tried to make me do many things to which barely any have I agreed to." She raised her left hand; the ring gleamed in the light. "I can't really do that anymore, anyway."
"Congratulations." He said surprised. "None the less… It wouldn't be the worst thing for the company if this account succeeded..."
"Are you asking me to go on a date with a man I have never once met; looking over the fact that I am married?"
"I'm just saying to give it some thought." He smiled.
"Leave, Mr. Campbell." Joan huffed.
"I beg your pardon?" he seemed confused.
"Leave my office, and go tend to someone else's personal business. Perhaps Janice? Perhaps you could coerce her into going on a date with him."
Pete stood from his chair angrily and stormed out of the office. "Some men." She said quietly. Joan sat in thought for a while, and then remembered her first direction of travel, and began making her way for Draper's office.
"Come in." he said quickly. Joan quickstepped through the entry way and walked inside.
"To what do I owe the pleasure?" He opened. She smiled and said,
"Well I heard doors slamming and you looked fairly miffed so I thought would come quell the flames." Draper's smiled disappeared.
"Just creative differences." He mumbled. "Nothing that can't be sorted out."
"Alright, just making sure."
"Don, so I thought I would come see you, Pete was saying…" Roger barged into the office unannounced and ran into the brief HR meeting. He turned his attention from Don to Joan.
"Joannie, sorry to interrupt,"
"You weren't, don't worry." Roger walked over to the opposite chair and took a seat, having a swig of brandy as he did so.
"Listen Joannie, this Herbert Kingsley guy has taken a real hankering for a redhead in the vicinity of this office." He spun his glass between his fingers. "And I was telling him that perhaps you would go on a date with him. If he asked you of course."
Joan raised her hand once again into the light to display the ring.
"Woah, somebody gave you a nice rock." Roger laughed. "I didn't know Paul Lynde stopped by."
"It's beautiful Joan." Don said. "Congratulations."
"Wait, you're serious?" Roger burst.
"Michael asked me to marry him. I said yes."
"He's a bum."
"He's a gentleman. I like a gentleman. I'm settling down with a gentleman."
"What about all those mink coats I bought you Joannie, doesn't that make me a true gentleman." Roger reeled. Joan smiled and replied,
"No, it just makes you rich."
"Whatever." Roger finished off the brandy. "So are you gonna do it?"
"No!" Joan replied disgusted.
"Well… fine. I can't fire you for not doing it anyway. But it's just a date! You don't have to sleep with him, just go on a simple date. He's just a lonely old fart."
Joan put her hand on her forehead. "I'm not even considering it. Unless there were other people there, not you, and certainly not Pete Campbell." She pointed to Roger at first.
"That's a Joannie!" Roger grinned. The phone rang and Don reached slowly for it as Joan and Roger batted at each other.
"Donald, its Bert Cooper. I'm outside your office. We need to have a talk, privately. It's important."
Michael Falco and Ken Cosgrove were walking briskly from the chilled October air into the main floor of their building. Lunch had treated them well, and the continuous work day was about to settle in firmly. While in the elevator, Ken burst out excitedly,
"Don't hate me for it, but I'm fairly sure you're going to be published soon."
"I'm getting your poem published!" Ken continued.
"You didn't!" Mike said horrified.
"I did! The publisher loved that one you wrote called, "The Compromise."? Their putting it in their up-and-coming poet's magazine."
"Ken! What about my job! If Roger saw that, he'd have my head!"
"Don't worry! They published it under the pseudonym of "Robert Langley." I gave them a far shot so no one could possibly guess."
"I guess I should be thanking you… I hope I don't get bit in the ass for this."
"You won't." Ken winked assuredly.
The large steel doors opened and both men made their way back into the company. Before they could enter their shared office, Don Draper was standing patiently at the door.
"Michael, could I see you in my office?" He turned immediately and walked away. Ken shrugged and entered his own office.
The slow trip to Don's office had Mike worried. Just the tone Don had used and uncomfortable mood he set made an odd air cling about.
"Yes?" Mike said as he shut the door.
"What is this?" Don passed Michael a blue check written in his name.
"It's a check, written in my name?"
"Yes, but what is it doing in the withdrawals drawer of our bank account?"
"I don't know." Michael sat down in the chair reading it over. It was signed by Don, and signed also by himself. "I never signed this check."
"Bert Cooper came to my office today, accusing me of embezzling company funds. Do you know how that makes me look to him?"
"Certainly not well… Listen I didn't write this check."
"How can I be sure of that? Your signature is on the check."
"And so is yours, did you sign it?"
"No I did not."
"Then you are as likely to have signed it as me."
Don stood from his chair slowly; he buttoned up his suit and walked over to the drinks table grabbing two glasses and filling them with sherry. Once they were filled, he handed one to Michael, let him take a sip, and sat facing him on the edge of his desk.
"I'm giving you one week to resign from your post."