The next day at work I definitely regretted the long drive. My head was fuzzy and my eyes were dry, still blurred with miles and miles of staring straight ahead. Watching the yellow dashed line disappear into the horizon is hypnotic. At times it felt as if I had driven for hours without actually realizing I had done so. Like a brainless zombie, open mouthed and drooling. Sure my hands were at ten and two, but god help me if I could remember anything that happened. I could have hit a cow, ran over a child, and impregnated a farmer’s daughter and never realized it. That’s just how the road is, blink and you miss it. Zone out and you forget it.
Work was like a boring melodrama that had been put on pause while I was away. The moment I walked through the front doors some malevolent force hit ‘play’ and it resumed in due course. I nodded to the security guard and he smiled widely and gave me a salute. Why? I never knew. I had yet to see him salute anyone else. But he was a cheery gent so I always smiled back regardless of how I really felt each morning. The elevator ride was its usual awkward silence. Two office workers that were from a different floor whispering their conversation as the elevator dinged at each floor. The whispering was quite unnecessary. They were the only ones talking and by the time they slipped out the door at the eleventh floor the remaining occupants were all wondering what happened next in their tale of weekend woe.
My firm was comfortably nestled in the top three floors of the building. Such are the perks of owning the building you work out of. We had constructed it 10 years prior when the market was exploding, but now there were actually several floors that were completely unoccupied. Everyone was certain that we would be around to see the market bounce back, but as the last few months passed the number of people that made it up to our floor had become less and less.
The truth was I almost wanted to be one of the people let go. This life I was leading seemed constructed on the basis of a fiction. Great career plus great wife equals amazing life. While that may be true in concept I had sabotaged myself and had only pretended to have both. I had been under this childish notion that if I tried hard enough and worked hard enough the mediocrity of my marriage and the stagnancy of my work could be overcome.
Having arrived at my floor and walked into my office all I could think about was leaving again. But where would I go? Back home? I had been made acutely aware of how alone I was now. I spent the morning recounting my harrowing journey to a few interested parties leaving out the paltry details and tumultuous final night together.
“Oh she sounds lovely.” One of the secretaries commented in a motherly tone beyond her years. “So are you going to visit her again sometime?”
I didn’t want to say I had already tried and failed. I didn’t want to tell her how I left without exchanging contact info for fear of appearing too needy so quickly. “I’m not sure.” I responded as convincingly as I could.
“Oh Zale don’t be an idiot.”
“Jesus Sam. No really tell me how you actually feel.” I chuckled but she didn’t seem amused.
“Look Zale you’re a great guy and you deserve a great gal…”
“Shut up. Woman then? So you deserve a great woman. But this self doubt and wallowing around like some morose Hamlet wannabe is just depressing.”
“Hamlet? What a bizarre reference.” I laughed again but the scornful look she gave me silenced my gleeful demeanor.
“Greg and I saw Shakespeare in the park on the weekend.” Sam said with an air of pompous delight at the look of surprise on my face. “The entire first part of the movie..”
“…play” I corrected receiving a scowl for good measure.
“..yes the entire first part of the play Hamlet is wandering around like you. All mopey and depressing. Mad at the world for moving in when he hasn’t. I said to Greg at the time that it reminded me of you.”
I stopped my shenanigans for a moment and my silence encouraged her to explain further
“When Hamlet’s father, the King, dies he acts just like you have been.”
“My father has been dead for a lot longer.”
“Oh I know that. But the death you’re dealing with is the death of your marriage and what it represented to you.” Sam pointed at me emphatically. “But you need to be like Hamlet. You need to move on and take action in your life.”
“Hamlet kills his girlfriend’s father and dies at the end…”
“I know that!” She sighed exasperated with my apparent lack of understanding. “It’s a fucking metaphor. ” she hissed. I smiled in response to let her know I was kidding but she was not amused. “The point is you need to take action..”
“I did though.” I retort.
“No you didn’t.” Sam replied. I opened my mouth to contradict her but before I could she continued, “You took accidental action,” shaking her head as she said so. “You were in an accident, you ended up in a farmer’s house and that farmer just happened to be a young attractive woman who you connected with.”
I opened my mouth to retort with some pithy comeback but said nothing. My mouth closed as I remained mute. She was right as much as I didn’t want to admit it.
“Look Zale, you need to take some risk. Put yourself out there. You can’t pretend to be this emotionless rock. Dare to be hurt. Dare to be in pain. Maybe this girl is the one for you or maybe she’s not, but if you never try you’ll never know.”
“I liked it better when you talked less and just got me coffee and stationary.”
“Oh shut up you turd.” She laughed and punched me on the shoulder “you need a strong opinionated woman to set you straight sometimes. That’s all.”
“Right well, could you still get me some coffee anyways?” I winked and she smiled back turning on her heel, hopefully to return later with a cup of jet back Colombian gold.
Sam was the unofficial big sister that I never had and didn’t really want. When I had been dragging my heels and fretting about the divorce she was the only one that noticed anything was wrong. Up until that time she was merely a secretary to me. Now, she was a trusted confidant.
The rest of my coworkers didn’t fare so well with interactions with me. My normal charming and understanding personality had been surreptitiously replaced with sarcastic asinine one. I caught myself making biting angry comments at anyone that I felt needed it. By the end of the day I had alienated nearly everyone. Sam had been doing her best behind the scenes to let people know about the funeral and how hard it had hit me though I wasn’t sure if that was truly the reason for my childish outbursts.
“You’re a doll.” I said to Sam at the end of the day. “What would I do without you?”
“Likely get your dumbass fired. Now get your head together Zale. I’m not going to be mopping up your messes all week.” She smiled as she said it but meant every word.
By the end of the week I had pissed off, irritated, and alienated nearly everyone in the office. Sam, true to her word had stopped smoothing over the feathers I was continuously ruffling. When Friday had arrived I was called into an impromptu meeting with my supervisor who in his normal manner told me that I needed to go on an unscheduled vacation. “Umm…..yaaaah.” he said drawing out the words annoyingly, “we’re going to have to talk about your time off…..we’ve been thinking….you’re due….and with the current constraints on budgets…..yaaahhhhhh….how about we see you again in a couple of weeks….m’kay?”
I looked at him through murderous eyes and answered as politely as possible, “Sure, maybe that’s for the best.” he nodded and then motioned his hand to the door indicating he was done with me. I stood, turned on my heel and walked out the door unsure if I was supposed to be happy or angry. When I saw Sam she looked at me and the concern was dripping from her face.
“What did he say?”
“Two weeks’ vacation.” I replied.
She rolled her head and sighed, “Oh thank god.” She chuckled, “The rumor was it was going to be something worse.” I looked at her inquisitively and she shrugged, “Secretaries know things Zale….lots of secret things.”
I smirked and shook my head, “I guess I’ll see you in a couple of weeks then Sam.” grabbing for my coat as turned off my computer.
“Oh no, you’re not getting away that easy.” she said, the older sister routine returning. “You’re coming over on Saturday.”
“Cause it’s my fucking birthday jackass….Jesus Zale.”
“Right….that….I’m not sure if I’m up for….”
Sam put up her hand and I stopped my protest mid sentence. “You’re coming, if I have to come over to that cold palace of a condo you call home, and drag you out by your pinky toes.”
“Fine……fine.” I sighed. Sam always won arguments like this so there wasn’t really any point of protesting. “When and where?”
“Our place, 8pm, Saturday. Don’t bring a date, there will be plenty of tail there for you.” she winked and I shook my head laughing. There wasn’t a single event that Greg and Sam had hosted since my divorce where Sam hadn’t tried to get me hooked up with someone she knew. How many big sisters would do that I wonder?
When Saturday night arrived I found myself dreading the occasion. I wasn’t antisocial by any stretch of the imagination but there were times where I felt as if people did far too much talking. Still I had promised Sam I would attend so despite my reservations I made my way down to the parking garage and drove off to Sam and Greg’s place.
There house was immense. Greg was a bit of a financial whiz and so money was never a problem. If she wanted to Sam really didn’t have to work at all. But as she put it, she couldn’t see herself as the type of girl that bags a rich guy just to spend all of his money. She was proud if her job and happy with her independence. It was always apparent that Greg appreciated it as well. He was very attentive and always taking the time to ensure his wife was happy. This night was no exception. It was a themed birthday party. While I had attended a few themed parties in the past, this one was sensational. The theme was Sam’s favorite movie of all time, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.
The sound system that was networked throughout the entire house was playing the soundtrack and most of the crowd was decked out in their favorite 80’s teen outfits. But beyond all of this was the entrance that Greg and Sam made. After almost all of the guests had arrived and had mingled, unsure of where the hosts were located there was a rumor that fluttered around that Greg and Sam were only arriving now. This perfectly timed “rumor” was started by Sam’s uncle who was dressed up as the principal, Ed Rooney. As the crowd of well wishers made their way to the front entrance and out the door to the front steps the loud sexy rumble of an over powered Ferrari convertible washed over the giddy crowd. It seems Greg had gone out and got in touch with a friend of a friend and borrowed a replica 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder just like the one in the movie. With Greg at the wheel Sam waved to the onlookers dressed up as Sloane Peterson with her iconic big shouldered grey and white tasseled leather jacket. After parking the car Greg hustled around the vehicle to present his hand to “Sloane” and walk her up the front steps to a cheering crowd. Just as they got to the door Greg turned to me and smiled, “This is for you.” tossing me a Detroit Red Wings jersey with the number 9 and in large block letters “HOWE”.
“Fuck.” I thought to myself, “I’m Cameron.” then chuckled and slipped the jersey over my head. Following the couple in the designated third wheel position of honor.
The party was a riot. Raucous, loud, at times obnoxious, and often lude. By the end of the night I was thoroughly inebriated as was nearly every other individual left at the house. Sam was chasing every glass of wine with a red bull and as such was both drunk and incredibly caffeinated. “This….this is why I don’t drink fucking coffee!!” she shouted over the din of conversation and Duran Duran blasting over the sound system.
“Huh?” I responded blinking and squinting as if that was somehow going to make my ability to comprehend her better.
“This is why I don’t drink coffee!” she shouted again, raising her Redbull and shaking it side to side.
“Why?” I shouted back, now understanding the words but completely baffled as to what she meant.
“Because…caffeine makes me randy as fuck!” she laughed sticking her tongue out and wagging it at me. For a woman in her late forties, Sam was quite a looker. The alcohol in my system was doing the same thing as the caffeine in hers. She smiled at me and winked nodding her head in the direction of my crotch. “Keep that shit under control mister.” she chuckled laughing at the sudden teenaged erection pushing on my pants and causing the Red Wings Jersey to hang strangely. I laughed and shook my head at myself.
“This is why I don’t drink alcohol!” I shouted and Sam laughed at me.
“Come on, let’s find you one of my friends.” she hooked her arm around mine and we paraded around the party for a while as she pointed out different women at the party and explained why they needed to get laid tonight. “That’s Hannah.” she yelled into my ear, “She looks like an uptight bitch but that’s just because she hasn’t been properly screwed since Greg laid into her last year.” I looked at Sam with an expression of bewilderment but she ignored me and pointed out another woman. “Oh that’s Reign.” she pointed to a dark haired quiet woman in the corner who was sipping gently on what looked to be a cup of tea. “She recently divorced her husband who after 10 years together came out as a big time gaylord.” Sam looked at me and laughed, “Big time….like…boa’s….eyeliner….flailing hands and limp wrists….the whole cliché…” she shook her head, “How Reign couldn’t see that coming I don’t know…but she’s turned into a proper slut since then….probably a self esteem thing…we’re not too close….but she’s got nice legs and I know how you love that…”
I nodded and couldn’t help but stare lecherously at Reign’s smooth well shaped legs. My eyes trailed up her body finally reaching her beautifully crafted face and stunningly piercing green eyes. She raised her cup of tea a slight bit and winked at me. I felt my stomach turn over in giddy delight and nearly fell over myself as I continued to follow Sam around the room.
“That’s Francine. Don’t let her age fool you. She’s buried two husbands already and apparently has an addiction to rough sex, as long as she’s the one that’s being rough.” Sam raised her eyebrow and then continued down the hall. “This is Cathy, she used to work with us but got let go a few weeks ago.” Sam pointed to a short blonde woman with a mousey face and surprisingly large bust for her height. “I’ve heard she gives amazing head.” Sam whispered into my ear, “Literally….I heard her… Tyler couldn’t keep his mouth shut while she went to town on him a few months back. I thought his office door was going to shake right off its hinges.” Cathy just smiled looking dimwitted, completely unaware of what was being said about her.
We continued down the hall, passing through conversations and interrupting flirtations as we went. She led me up the stairs and onto the second floor. There were fewer people in the hallway, but the decreased volume of the music allowed me to hear the distinct noises of loud fucking coming from one of the many bedrooms. Sam looked at me and winked, “My my someone is having fun…shall we go see?” she giggled and skipped down the hallway and I followed her dutifully. We reached the master bedroom and there on Sam and Greg’s bed was one of the secretaries from work getting tantalized by two men I didn’t recognize. Off in the corner Greg was seated in a large black chair. He had a camera on his lap and looked like he had just finished sprinting a mile. He looked up at Sam and bolted upright. “My dear!” he bellowed, and then bowed ridiculously; the towel that was resting on his lap fell unceremoniously to the floor and as he stood up straight the surprising truth was revealed.
“Is…..is that a chastity belt?” I asked pointing at Greg and squinting through drunken eyes.
Sam turned to me and giggled, “Yep!” then pulling on a chain around her neck, “and here’s the key!” she smirked.
“You birthday gift awaits my lady.” Greg bowed again turning his hand and gesturing to the two men on the bed who were no longer showing interest in the younger secretary, much to her chagrin.
“Goody!” Sam clapped her hands together. “Everyone that’s not fucking me, get out.” she commanded. The young woman collected her belongings and scurried out the door. I smiled as she left but stood in the doorway, still dumbfounded. “Zale, unless you’re going to whip that dick out and started fucking me like a mad man….it’s time for you to go.”
I grinned sheepishly and took a step back out of the doorway.
“Close the door when you leave.” Sam commanded and as I closed it I could hear her say, “Now who wants their cock sucked…”
I made my way back down the hallway, and down to the main floor again; not entirely sure what to think of what I just saw.