I’m standing outside of Scarlett’s office contemplating a reason to knock on the door. It’s fifteen minutes past two, most of the new hires have made their way through the show floor, finished their last cigarette and driven off the lot. April is still here and just passed me on the way to the restroom. She exudes this cotton candy scent every time I see her, and when I sat next to her this morning, I felt like I had dunked head-first in some carnival sugary mashup that bored divorcees try to bake at their kid’s birthday party. Or maybe that was just my mom. For my 4th birthday party, my mom had baked me a cake that had lime green frosting and Hostess filling. I never got a piece because after my sister lit up, she waddled out of my bedroom and fell face first into the cake before my friends could finish singing Happy Birthday. I never liked the song anyway.
I think April is still here because she wants me to talk to her or invite her out for dinner or drinks. I’ve never really known if a woman is into me and if she is, I never give her a good enough reason to stay. April seems like the type of woman who knows what she wants in a man – she probably has a typed out book of standards on her bureau that she updates annually over a bottle of Maker’s Mark with her friends – so I’m confused why she keeps walking past me and swaying her hips a little bit more each time.
“You don’t have to knock, Eric.” Joe is standing beside me and all I can smell is cigarettes. He has one in his mouth and the one still tucked behind his ear. I wonder if he knows. Or maybe he tucks one away to advertise his addiction.
Suddenly Scarlett’s door swings open and she’s standing there perplexed with a box full of donuts. “Jelly?” she asks tipping the box towards me. We laugh together and Joe joins in like some third-wheel who pollutes all hang out sessions with nicotine and empty Red Bull cans. “Were you looking to talk to me, Eric?” I just nod and walk into her office. There’s a bottle of Glenlivet with two shot glasses on her desk.
“Am I interrupting something?”
She glances at her desk and giggles to herself. I feel like I just walked in on her doing something bad. She grabs one of the jelly donuts and takes a bite; the filling dribbles down her chin and sticks to her lips like gloss. She covers her mouth to let out another laugh before putting the box down. “I am always left alone with the donuts.” She licks her lips and wipes away the mess on her chin before sucking it off her thumb. I feel like the luckiest man in the world. “This is for celebratory purposes,” she says returning the bottle and shot glasses to a cabinet. “We really feel like we’ve picked out a great crew this time.” She sits on her desk and all I want her to do is to pull me on top of her; I can smell the liquor on her breath and I want to be her chase: her lime after a shot, her slice of pizza after a couple beers, her good fuck after a bad day at work.
“Glenlivit? That’s some good stuff.” I’ve never had Glenlivit but if it’s something Scarlett drinks, it’s bound to be the best there is.
“We all celebrate differently. Joe has his cigars and I have my Scotch.” She finishes her donut and a couple crumbs fall onto her lap. It’s taking everything in me not to brush the remnants off her just as an excuse to search for a bit of excitement between her legs. “Did you have any questions for me, Eric?”
There’s so many questions I have for her. I want to ask her out to dinner, to a movie, to a nightly cruise through the town, to the park, to the beach so we can watch the sunset, to the arcade because I bet she’ll beat me at every game and if she doesn’t I’ll make sure she does, to the museum, to an upscale bar in some hotel lobby that isn’t crowded with hookers or guys who are looking for hookers. I am overflowing with questions, but I always stop myself once I see the diamond ring on her finger that seems to grow in size every time I see it. It reminds me that she will soon belong to someone else. The ring on her finger reminds me that even if I had all the money in the world, I’d never have the confidence to propose to a woman like her. The ring on her finger complements the car keys in her purse, which complements the red sedan parked out front, but those luxuries will never do her justice. “Yeah,” I say, “I thought I was going to work with you, not Joe.”
“You are working with me; you just report to Joe.”
“Well,” she stands and walks over to the window, “we do things differently here at Benz & Beamers. Our business structure is sexist to most, but it sells.” She keeps her attention on the window and heavily sighs. “I recruit the men and Joe recruits the women. This strategy has a 99% success rate.”
“What about that 1%?” I walk over to the window and stare out with her. April’s on the show floor reapplying her lipstick in one of the BMW’s side mirrors. She’s bent over and I can see all of her cleavage and I just want to submerge my body into something cold.
Scarlett shakes her head in disapproval. “Joe always throws an April in the bunch.”
“What do you mean?” April looks up at Scarlett’s window, makes eye contact with me and winks. Her top is disheveled and I can see her bra peeking through.
“Girls like April come a dime a dozen. She’ll definitely contribute, but April’s always end in trouble. Eric,” she grabs my arm, “I’m only going to tell you this once. Don’t get involved with her.” This is like preparing a dog’s dinner and telling him not to eat. “You’ll thank me later.” She returns to her desk and starts to pack up.
“But what if something does happen?” I wink back at April and she makes this come hither motion. “What if she’s chill?”
“As long as you sell cars, I couldn’t careless. Please try to keep your work and personal activities separate.” Scarlett sounds irritated. She sighs again. The kind of sigh you make when you’re imaging a worse case scenario. I bet she’s thinking about me fucking April in her Benz’s backseat and maybe she’s wishing it was her. “Do you want to take these donuts home?”
I turn back to Scarlett with a smirk on my face. “What’s the real reason you don’t want me talking to April?”
“I do want you to succeed here Eric. Whatever it is she promises you, it’s never worth it.” She closes the donut box and pushes it towards me. I take ahold of her hand and I feel this surge of energy rush through me, through her and then back to me. It’s a tension tug-a-war and I didn’t come into her office to forfeit.
“Why won’t you say you care about me? I know you do.”
“Well Eric,” she shrugs her shoulders, “if you know it, why should I have to say it?”
The energy between us dies and I feel this emptiness in my stomach. I let go of her hand and refuse the donuts on my way out. She yells a “See you Monday” before the door clicks closed. I ignore April’s come hither greeting and call Kelly as soon as I pull out of the lot. She wants to know all about orientation – the good, the bad, the ugly – but it’s the last thing I want to talk about. She says she picked out a couple movies for us to watch and will order a pizza when I get home – her treat. In my rear view mirror I catch a glimpse of a Mercedes speeding up to my tail. The Mercedes swerves into the next lane before the light turns red. April and I are idling at the stoplight and she’s motioning for me to roll down my passenger side window, so I put Kelly on hold.
“Thought we were going to hang out Eric. You kind of left me hanging.” I shrug my shoulders and look up at the traffic lights. “Hey,” April shouts to get my attention, “it’s still early, you want to come over? I’ll let you drive my Mercedes.” This is the longest red light in history and I don’t mind it one bit.
“I don’t know April, I’ll see you Monday.”
“Oh come on, Eric!” There’s a whine in her voice, almost like a moan. I look over and her bra is still showing and all I can think about is her riding me in the driver’s seat and screaming my name. “You don’t want to ride with me?”
“Trust me I do, just not today.” I keep my eyes on the light. I am so pent up I am thinking about dry humping this steering wheel to feel some kind of release. The light turns green and I speed off, letting out a scream at the same time. It’s not helping. I squeeze the steering wheel until my knuckles turn white. I bite my tongue. I bite my lip. I think about my sister’s awkward dance at her talent show. Nothing.
“Eric, are you okay?” Kelly’s voice comes in hesitantly over the engine’s hum.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m almost home by the way.”
“Who is April?”
I never put Kelly on hold. I want to vomit. I want to hit myself in the balls. I want to hit myself in the face. I want to hit myself in the face with my fucking balls. The pent-up excitement is long gone. Why do I even try to talk to women?
I really hope Kelly never has a reason to stop by Benz & Beamers because once she sees April, with her hard synthetic nipples and a body that’s suited for every outfit, she’ll never believe she is my boss. April is the kind of woman that is impossible to introduce as just a friend. Other women assume she’s a cheap ride like a grocery store carousel; other men would laugh off the “just friend” title and fantasize about taking her for a spin.
Kelly was in the shower when I came home; she had her Santana playing on low and kept her personal rendition to a quiet hum. I’ve been gone all day at work and she’s the one cleaning up for dinner. I knock on the door right when the horns come in and I join her solo; she giggles and the faucet shuts off.
Everything is gone: my backpack that I used to bring to college, with the busted zipper and Stewie Griffin key chain, my shoes with the past broken-in soles and stringy laces that could break if held too tight, my cheap ass cologne and deodorant that never lasts all day, my rolled up Britney Spears poster that I stole from my dad and never got around to pinning back up. The living room is spotless. The couch looks like a couch with its cushions returned to their designated slots. There’s a coffee table I’ve never seen before, with Cosmopolitan magazines and a half melted yellow candle.
“I had time to clean today.” Kelly stands next to me. She’s wrapped up in a towel; the towel that’s been through too many cycles in the washer, it’s been used way too many times and we should really get rid of it, but then we’d have to buy more. It’s in need of TLC, kind of like that ugly ass candle in the living room that looks like a block of cheddar cheese that was melted, refrigerated, melted again and left to warp back into shape on the counter.
This reminds me of when my dad’s snowblower, Dina moved in and decided to redecorate the whole living room. I came home from school one afternoon and the couch was facing the opposite wall and there was a green blanket with watermelon designs on it.
“Domino’s should be here soon.” Kelly walks down the hall towards her room; her hair is soaking wet and leaving puddles in her trail. There’s something about those puddles that remind me I have no other place to go. They remind me of the puddles on the playground on those rainy school days, where I’d wait for my mom to come pick me up. I’d end up sitting beneath the slide because my sweater didn’t have a hood. Those days I’d end up walking home through the woods, following the path of trees with the thickest and longest branches. My mom would be sitting at the TV, finishing up her fifth cigarette, putting it out in my unfinished bowl of cereal. She’d have Golden Girls or General Hospital on. “I was there Eric,” she’d always say, “you were late, not me.”
“Did I do something Kelly?”
She continues walking to her room and sighs my name, before turning back to me and making a come hither motion. “I thought I’d do some redecorating,” she says opening her door, “I think we deserve a living room, don’t you?”
I caught a glimpse of my broken-in shoes by the entrance, they were lined up parallel to Kelly’s various heels, boots and stained sneakers. She closes the door behind me and retrieves her bathrobe from the hook, and slips it on before letting the towel drop. “I had a free drawer for you,” she says knocking on her bureau. “It’s kind of cramped in here. We can get you more storage space, but,” she shrugs her shoulders and looks right at me. Her eyes brighten with her smile and flushed cheeks. “Talk to me,” she says, “tell me if this is nuts.” She lets out a laugh I’ve never heard before. Her laugh is squeaky and she keeps moving her hands like she’s shuffling a pack of invisible cards. I want to grab her and dip her into some dance move I’ll make up on the spot. I shake my head and smile. Her hair is still wet and it’s making me miss the summer so bad. I could go for a beach day with this beautiful brunette. She’ll look gorgeous in a sun dress with a bikini underneath; sitting cross-legged at the beach bar sipping her frozen margarita extra fast, so fast she’ll get a brain freeze. I’ll kiss her on the forehead and invite her to a round of air hockey at the arcade. She’ll beat me at every game, I won’t even have a chance. She’ll backstroke along the sunset’s glimmer that colors the ocean’s surface like a tipped paint can. She’ll return to the shallow end; simultaneously stepping back onto shore and parting her hair away from her face. The final moments of daylight will illuminate her figure but won’t be able to compete with her smile. With two breathtaking views, it’ll be impossible to multi-task. “Tell me what you think Eric,” she picks up the towel and wraps her hair up. She spreads the small puddles across the floor with her feet.
I look around the room again and notice my Britney Spears’ poster pinned above her bed. I point up at it and Kelly joins me in a chuckle.
“The Holy Spearit,” she raises her hands up and hums the melody to “Toxic.”
I grab Kelly’s cellphone off her bed and put it up to my ear, “Baby can’t you see? I’m calling –”
Kelly collapses onto the bed laughing and pulls me on top of her. She’s still laughing in my ear and I feel her fingertips circle my upper back; her hands make their way down to my waist and her light touch turns to a tickle. I grab and push away one of her hands and pin it down before tickling her with my free hand. We start to rock side to side struggling to tickle each other. Kelly pushes me to one side and nudges her chest onto mine until I topple over onto my back; she shouts a sweet victory before pinning both of my hands above my head and straddling me. She leans forward to put more pressure on my hands and whispers another victorious “yes,” but she’s so out of breath, it looks like her bathrobe is one tickle away from popping open. Damn. I wish it would. She’s naked under the bathrobe and I cannot stop thinking about it. She’s winded, so winded like I just fucked her brains out. I want that so bad. I want her body on my body. It’d be so awesome to fuck her from behind and be able to make eye contact with the Britney Spears poster. How do I get her out of that robe? “You are –”
There’s the doorbell.
“Pizza time!” Kelly releases me and goes over to her bureau. “There’s money on the table, tip is included.” She retrieves a pink thong and sports bra, with one of those crisscross designs over the cleavage – to match. “I’ll be out in sec, k?”
I nod and head for the kitchen. Now I’m out of breath. The pizza guy has a chin strap and braces on his bottom row of teeth. I exchange Kelly’s cash for the pizzas and brace face smiles at the added tip; little does he know, he interrupted something that probably won’t resume the moment he leaves. I don’t know everything about women, but I do know I’ll have to try a little extra harder just for Kelly to get on top of me again. This will involve another well thought out strategy, but the strategy can’t be recycled. The Britney Spears reference worked this time, but it won’t work every time. Every time. “Everytime,” that’s a good Britney song. No. Not now.