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Lisa Grigoletti, a striking, petite, female account executive walked by the boss’ office and glanced in the open door. An old friend of the look-alikes, as she called her “superior” and his brother, she stopped dead in her tracks. Lisa looked like a beautiful, chiseled Italian Marble statue.

Tall and thin with long, straight, black hair that framed a gorgeous face. She had perfect white teeth and brown eyes as big as olives. Normally she was glib and animated, but at that moment she was frozen in her tracks, staring at Phil Brittenbeck in disbelief.

“I don’t believe what I’m seeing,” Lisa said. Her big brown eyes were staring intently above Phil’s head. “Phil, there is a black cloud hanging above your head.” She stepped closer. Sheepishly she walked uninvited into his office and said, “Do you feel all right, Phil?”

Phil assured her that he was fine and politely asked her to leave. Lisa continued with the questions. He secretly had a sudden urge to get up and run away from her ambush as he had done so many times in the past.

This feeling was all new to him. It was a sensation he didn’t understand. Normally he was the man with all of the answers. Shielding his clients from the endless questions from the local over-zealous reporters concerning a few of his more-controversial “Stars” at his Public Relations firm. Why was he was feeling this way? How was he now expected to explain his feelings to his old friend and now an employee when he didn’t understand why he was feeling what he was feeling? Phil finally raised his voice and told Lisa to please leave and shut the door behind her.

Lisa refused. She persisted, asking specifically about the black cloud she was seeing — or at least thought she was seeing above Phil’s head. She invited Phil outside for some fresh air and to smoke a cigarette. Phil didn’t smoke, but reluctantly agreed. He welcomed the chance at getting some fresh air. Perhaps stepping outside would shake the funk that had suddenly enveloped him.

As Lisa took a long drag on her menthol cigarette. She again asked, “Is anything bothering you Phil? Because dude, that black cloud … is the freakiest thing I have ever seen when I look at you.”

Phil assured Lisa he was fine and reiterated to her that he didn’t know why, but he had a sudden overwhelming feeling of despair. Although she was a “questionable hire” because of her relationship with the twins, Phil brought her on because he could trust an old buddy.

After all, the three of them hung-out since elementary school. The guy in charge, to her though, was not his normal upbeat self. He certainly wasn’t the same man that walked into the office that morning with a dozen fresh hot bagels and cream cheese spread. Bagels were something Phil treated his employees to every Monday morning.

After five minutes of silence, Lisa gave up. She knew Phil wasn’t going to share any more with her. As a friend, she wasn’t going get squat from him about the mysterious, illuminating black cloud. Lisa finished her cigarette and left Phil standing outside in the brisk, November Portland breeze.

The sudden mood swing. The sudden chill. Lisa seeing a black cloud above his head.

These three events were stuck in Phil’s mind as he drove home later that day. He always tried to keep things professional between himself and his employees. Still, Lisa was a life-long confidant.

However, on that Monday he decided to break his own rule concerning worker’s under his supervision. Why not? Lisa had been there through thick-and-thin before. He wanted to let her know he was feeling better and that he appreciated her kindness earlier in the afternoon. Phil rang her up.

“Thanks for being, you know, there, Lisa. Didn’t mean to be such a …” stopping short of calling himself a douche. He assured her that he was back to his normal charming self. He asked if he could take her to lunch tomorrow to make up for being so, “douchey.” Lisa agreed.

That Tuesday lunch date would never happen.