Chapter Twenty-Three

Three days left until the two-weeks notice is finalized. Nobody at work knows. I thought about this, telling the others or not. The day I don’t show up for work they’ll instantly know something is up because I’m always here.

They don’t deserve to be shut out in this manner, not when they’ve given me nothing but respect since the first day I walked up to the receptionist’s desk.

Seems like it had only been yesterday I took command, so to speak, of this company. I’m the second youngest person here yet they were told to take orders from me. I saw it on their faces when I introduced myself: I must have kissed a lot of ass to get here. I payed this notion no mind. At least despite not liking how young I was they never attempted to sabotage my job. But is that showing respect or merely displaying morals?

I’ve been on the prowl for a new job yet nothing seems to be open. In such a booming industry you’d think jobs would be created seemingly out of thin air. If only it were that easy.

“Hey boss,” Patrice said from the open doorway of my office. “You okay?” I turned my gaze to her. With a smile I said “why wouldn’t I be?”

She came into the office but remained near the door, leaning on the knob. “You had a far away look in your eye. I just thought something was on your mind.”

Patrice was the oldest person in the company but if you consider twenty-six “old” then that’s what she is. She’s worked for the company ever since its start up days. She’s displayed more intelligence than I have that would suit her for my job, but here she is addressing me as ‘boss.’ A single mother with a three year old son, she’s done alright for herself but she’s worth more than the work allotted her.

“There is a pressing matter I must deal with but nothing to fret over. While you’re here, though, how is the Torrence project coming?”

The Torrance project is a commercial and ad campaign assembled for a man who directed a documentary about the gangs of New York but didn’t have the means to edit, refine, or even upload, a finished piece. Patrice volunteered to head this project because she grew up in a neighborhood dominated by the Crips. She’s long since moved out of that neighborhood but the documentary struck home for her. I was happy to oblige the decision because, quite frankly, I knew nobody would want to oversee this one. Had that happened I’d have to recant my two weeks notice. There’s a policy in this company: should nobody want a project the boss must handle it his/her self. What an idiotic policy, if you ask me.

“I have a meeting with Mark this afternoon to show him the finished product. Last time I showed him my progress he caught a fit.” “Why’s that?” “He thought I was attempting to compromise his work.” “And what made him think you’d do such a thing?” “In one sample I left out a funeral scene. To him, that was crucial to the story. It didn’t fit with the allotted ending time he would accept so I came up with two versions, one with and without it. He approved of the one without it but begged me to try to work the funeral scene in.” “Did you?” She shook her head. I smiled. “Was it a difficult feat?” “Nothing is too difficult for me. I just hated his incessant nagging. I was going to personally call him because, yes, from the footage it felt very powerful. But I couldn’t get a word in.” “Well, at least you don’t have to worry about anyone filing a complaint about your alleged ability to do your job. I’m sure a sparkling review, which he will give, may help your career.” She laughed. “I doubt that.” “Don’t count yourself out, Patty.” She cringed. “I hate being called that. Its not even short for Patrice. Nevertheless, you’re the only person I allow to call me ‘Patty.’ Why, I don’t know.” “I promise not to take such a privilege lightly.” “See to it that you don’t.”

We exchanged smiles and then Patrice left my office.

The quarterly reports were due tomorrow. Every employee, save the receptionist, was expected to turn in a spreadsheet of how much money they’ve spent on each of their projects. It’s my job as their boss to oversee these reports before turning them over to The Board. Attached to the reports I’m supposed to provide a summary of my own assessment to each of their performances. Before Patrice walked into my office I had already made up my mind to recommend her to replace me.

It was well past ten before I left the office. A combination of the movie and actual work kept my office light bright. I was the only one there, too. It’s a Friday night and I’m young but here I am at work.

This normally wouldn’t bother me but the notion that I should be enjoying my youth has come to mind more often of late than it has during my teens. As I mustered over this I came to the realization that the idea of my lacking sexual stimulation does seem evident; at times I do act like a stiff. I have been so focused on a career that I’ve lost sight of having fun as frequently as possible. Guys’ night out aside I don’t go on dates enough. I get together with Sofia and we have drinks over a meal, but, we pay for our portion of the check. Wendy, on the other hand, expects me to pay. Should such an old fashioned “obligation” be considered a date, though?

I reached into my pocket for my cell phone, scrolled to Sofia’s name, and then hit send. She answered on the fifth ring. There were multiple screaming voices in the background that resembled children. “I would love to go out tonight, but I’m afraid I can’t. Two of the mothers haven’t showed up to pick up their kids and I have no ride to drop them off.” “What time are you expecting them to return?” “It’s up in the air.” “Give me five minutes ill call you back.”

I ended the call and then scrolled to Ralph’s name. “Are you using the van tonight?” “I just got back from the library, what’s up?” “The library is open at this time?” “The branch on 5th avenue just closed an hour ago. Now are you gonna tell me what favor you need or are you going to continue interrogating me?” “Right, sorry. I’d like to see Sofia tonight but she’s stuck at the day care center with two kids. Would you be willing to pick them up and then drop them off wherever necessary?” “This is a serious inquiry?” “Why wouldn’t it be?” “Since when did I become your valet?” “You’re not. I just-”

Ralph hung up. He never does that. He must be angry at me…but for what?

I called Sofia back and suggested a cab at my expense. “I couldn’t ask you to do that.” “You’re not asking- I offered.” “Still, I- hold on a sec.” She put me on hold for thirty seconds. “Unbelievable.” “Something the matter?” “I just a text from both parents. They’re not going to be able to pick up the kids until after midnight. They owe me extra for this.” “That’s unfortunate. Well since you’ve got your hands full may I drop by in the morning to cook you breakfast?” “I’m sorry but could you repeat that?” “I’d like to prepare a meal for you. May I come over in the morning to do such a thing?” “I don’t recall a man ever offering to cook for me, not even the morning after intimacy.” “How unfortunate. So does mean I’m invited?” “You’re always invited.” The decibel in her tone lowered to that of a flirtatious one as she spoke of my unlimited invitation to her residence. “Wonderful. I’ll see you in the morning, say, ten thirty?” “Perfect. See you tomorrow.”

Her tone remained flirtatious until I heard the click of the line going dead.

I looked at my phone a moment, then scrolled to Wendy’s name. “No, I’m not busy tonight. What did you have in mind?”

I told her to be ready in an hour. I left the office and took a cab home for a shower and change of clothes, got on the train and made it to Wendy’s apartment in just over an hour. As expected, she still wasn’t ready.

“Where are we going? I don’t want to over or under dress.” I stormed over to her closet and grabbed a pair of low rise black jeans, a pair of pumps, and a tee shirt. “This will suffice.” She mulled over it and then looked at me with wide eyes.

“How’d you do that?” “Do what?” “Walk into my closet and pick an outfit that works seemingly out of thin air?” I shrugged. “I read a lot of women’s magazines growing up.” “Beg your pardon?” “Can we just go? The last show starts in an hour.”

In front of the building I hailed a cab and gave the driver an address in midtown Manhattan. There’s a comedy club I haven’t had the chance to check out that I’ve heard good things about.

We got there fifteen minutes before the show started, and I plan to make a trip back here in the future.

After the show Wendy and I grabbed a few drinks at a local bar. Three glasses of wine in her system meant her hand was on my lap. Six meant we were heading back to her place.

On the way to her apartment Wendy could not control her hormones; she performed fellatio in the backseat of the cab and then proceeded to digest my spent DNA.

Before round two commenced she drank two beers from her fridge. Alcohol was never very good to her. From a males’ perspective since she became more sexually inhibited, it suited her just fine.

Tonight was the first time I had been able to anally penetrate her. What was in that wine? I wondered as I got dressed. Wendy attempted to woo me into spending the night but as much fun as I had had, I couldn’t be around her for no longer than a few hours anymore. So I left without a care towards her feelings.

There was a voicemail on my cell phone. The time stamp matched that of the moment I had been in bed with Wendy. The voicemail was from Sofia: “Hey babe. Listen, as much as I’d enjoy seeing you cooking in my kitchen I’d like to go to brunch tomorrow. There’s someone I’d like for you to meet. Call me when you get this. Bye.”

I called her back whilst she had been in the shower. “You’ll find out who this person is tomorrow. Meet me between Tilden and Utica avenue at twelve-thirty. There’s a diner in the middle of the block. Okay?”

I showed up ten minutes early. Not many occupants in any of the booths for a Sunday morning. Then again, the breakfast rush ended over an hour ago.

Sofia arrived ten minutes late with a man at her side. “This is my friend William Sherwood. He heads an Internet website that specializes in flash animation. William I’d like you to meet my boyfriend, Johnathan.”

This was not the appropriate time to address the “boyfriend” usage so I shook this mans hand, sat down, and ordered food without batting an eye towards it.

At the end of the brunch I was being offered a job. The website this William Sherwood ran specialized in crude humor-based cartoon shorts using flash animation, on top of photos of varying nature and topics outside of the crude humor genre but not ranging far from it.

The context of the job wasn’t what appealed to me but rather knowing I’d be able to learn more about flash animation as I put the certification for it I had received after my Adobe re-certification to use.

I told him I would call him in a couple of days. We shook hands on it and exchanged numbers. I didn’t need a couple of days to decide. I was ready to enter a new chapter in my life and this was the page turner.

The irony in this is Sofia being the hand that turned the page. She selflessly got in contact with someone she knew could help me move in a direction opposite to my present course. Perhaps that’s the reason she used the word ‘boyfriend’ when describing me…?

I can’t be her boyfriend, I’m Wendy’s boyfriend. Does that make her ‘the other woman’ then, or is it the other way around?

Am I even Wendy’s boyfriend? I said I’d like to try ‘us’ again, but, is the stipulation of my being her boyfriend part of that deal?

I mulled over the thought as I spent the entire afternoon in Sofia’s bed.

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