Eavesdropper #1

I gave up on climbing the corporate ladder with hard work. I just want to get laid now. I’m ready to sleep my way to the top.” he said, leaning back in the red velvet covered, 18th century replica Wing Back and crossing his legs, slowly, foot dangling and wagging ever so slightly.

She looked across the table at him, amazed at his obvious swagger, and thinking she would never say such a thing. Especially so loud and in public. It seemed like a statement best whispered. In the dark. Maybe in a closet and to no one.

“I’ve stumped you, have I?” He chuckled and made a movement to grab his Pal Malls from his jacket pocket, realizing a little too late that they weren’t there. He had quit, again, two days ago after promising his girlfriend to ‘participate in saving his own life.’ He then clicked open his briefcase and found the emergency pack he had tucked in the bottom. Only three left. Lighting up, he coolly looked her up and down. Exhaling a smooth white ribbon he said, “Listen. I’m not going to climb across the table and jump you right here. I just want you to know the option is there. You have something I want and I’m willing to pay you for it.”

The air made its way slowly through a small O her lips had made. A tiny, quiet whistle escaped and mingled with his smoke. Embarrassed, her cheeks and neck warmed and she looked down at her hands folded neatly in her lap. She smoothed the wrinkles in her skirt across her knees and wiped off some of the sweat accumulating in her palms under his scrutiny.

She remembered the time she had driven in the silver convertible with the love of her life to the top of the lookout. Trees covering them overhead, leaves making their dancing way to the damp earth and a breeze blowing, at one point so hard she lost her scarf. The one with the tiny blue flowers and made from fancy silk. The one her love had given her. She had cried out and grabbed for it, just a little too late, but he had laughed and kissed her and told her not to worry, he would get her a new one. It had been almost 8 years now since he’d left her. She hated cancer.

Clearing his throat, he said, “I just notice you’re always alone. I’ve never seen you with anyone the entire time I’ve been with the firm.” Leaning forward and looking at her, just inches from her, he reached out one hand, slowly, carefully, and set it next to hers on the table, just grazing a finger.

She left her hand where it was and contemplated the tingle she felt shoot up her arm. Then she thought about her scarf with the tiny blue flowers. She smiled at him, meeting his eyes and putting on her piercing look. The look she’d practiced for years in the mirror. The look she used with problem clients in her office and with colleagues intent on taking more than they gave. The look she would never, ever use on her daughter. “I thank you for your kind proposition.” she offered, “And I’d love to pick up the tab for our drinks.” She said nothing else and made no move forward or back.

He felt confused after a few minutes had passed, uncomfortable, and leaned back a bit, removing his hand and straightening up in his chair. “Thanks.” He raised his eyebrows almost imperceptibly, but she saw it. She noted the unsure look in his eyes and smiled a bit bigger, showing a few more teeth.

Editor’s note – This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to anyone you know is purely coincidental and kind of cool.

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