She was beautiful. No, she was much more than beautiful; she was perfect. She had to be mine. I don’t think she had a type. Money spoke to her, yes, but she was never really attracted to those sleazy bastards. They used to stare at her ass from across the room and send drinks over to her. She always politely accepted the cocktails, but never the advances. Even when I saw her husband, I could tell she didn’t love him. No one else saw it, but I could tell. I was the only one that saw through such pretensions. If she loved him, why did she wear those dresses? Why did she dance with such inhibition? I have run these questions through my mind a thousand times.
I know now, I’m sure that she was reaching out. I was, I mean I am, the only one that knows she was reaching out. She was reaching out for me; she just didn’t know it. I talked to her one time. She dropped her keys. I was following, I mean walking behind her and I dashed forward to grab them. Our hands met as we both grasped the keys at the same time. I played it cool. I never led on that the light touch of her silky skin nearly sent me into convulsions. I made sure to pull her hands towards me so that she knew I was helping her. She looked at me strangely, as though she was frightened. I know now that it was because she must have seen that I was on to her games.
She liked to play games. That is why she wore those high heels and tight dresses. That is why she sat alone. She was asking for company. I have always been great at reading body language. Even when I was a kid, I could tell when my mother was about to hit me. It was all in her body language. My mother’s body screamed anger, but Rosie’s body whispered sex. The swishing of her miniskirt drew me in. The way she liked to tease me and look through me was nothing more than playing hard to get. I see that now as clearly as I saw it then. I am very persistent. It is important to be persistent if you are a real man of character, like I am.
I should begin by telling you about who I am. I don’t want you to believe everything you might have heard about me from all those assholes intent on my demise. They put me here in this cold cell. They succeeded, for now, but this is not over. They have tried to define me and have shifted popular belief into a realm that portrays me as sadistic and crazy, but they do not know me. No one knows anyone. That is what I believed… until I saw her.
I was new to the city, Cleveland that is, when I first saw her. I had been hanging out at an Irish pub after work with some of my new co-employees whenever I could coax them after work to have a drink with me. I thought at the time that this would lead to new friendships and the intimacy I had been missing since coming up north from Tampa. Boy was I wrong. These people I spent my days and many nights with, would eventually come to use nearly everything I told them, in confidence (I thought), out of context to ruin me.
As I mentioned before, I had just thumbed my way up from Tampa, after another misunderstanding, and landed in Cleveland completely by chance. I didn’t know anyone in the city and really had no direction or guidance upon my arrival. I had no money but was able to find an abandoned house on the Westside of the city to squat in until I got on my feet. I knew it wouldn’t take long for me to find a job with the credentials I had made up and with the economy being as strong as it was in the mid-90s. Those first days of my residency in Cleveland, I woke early, before dawn in fact, and walked towards downtown. I wore the only suit I had every day and proceeded to walk into any office building I passed. I would approach the secretary and after flattering her with some original compliment, ask to speak to HR. Although this hardly ever got me a meeting with a hiring agent, the secretaries always let me leave my resume. One day, about two weeks after I had begun my stay in the abandoned house, I got lucky. As I was flattering the , shall I say homely, secretary of Zimmer and Kell Inc., a man in a Brooks Brothers suit stopped near the reception desk and watched as I sweet talked his employee. When I was finished commenting on how much she reminded me of a young Farrah Fawcett, I looked over to find the pompously dressed man smiling.
“Well done, my boy” he said as he slowly clapped and laughed with all the self-righteous confidence you might expect from a man in a $2000 pinstriped suit. “What’s your name and what are you trying to sell me?” he asked.
“Well sir, I was only dropping off my resume in the hopes that Zimmer and Kell might be in need of some talent in their research department. I’m new to the city and am seeking employment” I answered. I had assumed the man I was speaking to was either Zimmer or Kell, or at least one of their close cronies. Middle management would not have been wearing pinstripes or Brooks Brothers in my estimate.
“I’m sorry son, but you replied a little late to the wanted ad. We just got done vetting a couple potential candidates and are deciding at lunch today on which we are going to hire. Tough luck kid, but I like your moxie.”
The way he spoke to me was really beginning to grate on my brain. I was not a boy or kid. I was, I am, a man of principle. I deserve respect, not tones of condescension from some Muppet in a silly suit. I held my tongue.
As I was making a B line towards the revolving doors, the man called to me. “Excuse me son. Wait!” I rolled my eyes, expecting him to throw me a dollar or something of the sort to get in one last patronizing jab. “Wait a moment, young man!” Young man was better than kid or boy, I guess. “Although I don’t have anything open right now, why don’t you let me take a look at your resume? I like the way you flattered my secretary, and I can tell you are confident and determined to get what you are after. Those are good characteristics in an employee.” He looked through me as he spoke, making it hard for me to keep eye contact. “I was just coming from my uncle Mort’s deli to set up our lunch meeting, and he mentioned to me in passing that good help is hard to find.” All this time he had been perusing my resume with the attention a connasiour of French wine gives to the beer list at Applebee’s. “I know that deli work is not in line with what you are seeking in terms of employment. It’s not white collar work, but a white apron might help you get on your feet until you find something more in step with your credentials. Here’s my card. If you are interested, go see my uncle. His name is Mortimer Zimmer. His deli is on 6th and Erie, just two blocks west from here. I’ll mention your name when I see him for lunch. By the way, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he scanned the top of the resume he was holding, “George. George Morrison, huh?”
“That’s right, Mr. Zimmer. Thank you. I just might go see your uncle. I’m getting hungry anyways. Have a nice day and again, thank you.” I replied, holding back the rage with a wide gracious smile that had been boiling over since the first thing this asshole had said to dress me down. Who did this clown think he was anyways? I may be far from my home and without any connections, but I graduated Cum Laude with an impressive recommendation from my internship. That is what my resume said, anyways.
I took leave of the marbled lobby and hit the cold Cleveland sidewalks intent on finding the next office building to drop a resume. I turned west out of the giant revolving doors of Zimmer and Kell Inc. and found myself in front of Uncle Mort’s deli within a two minute walk. I wasn’t joking when I had told Zimmer I was hungry. The smell of fresh baked bread warmed the otherwise cold, thin air and made my stomach growl. I looked into the storefront’s bay windows and my stomach wrenched at the combination of the smells and sights that excited my hunger. If I had even a dollar, I would have walked right in and bought one of the small sandwiches sitting on the counter. But I was flat broke. I had never stolen anything in my life, but between the growing hunger in my stomach and my hatred for Uncle Mort’s nephew, I had the rightful claim to one of those sandwiches. I looked left and then right down Erie Avenue. No one was around, so I helped myself to a half-smoked Camel from the ashtray beside me. I lit the smoke with my last match, and waited for Mort to head to the back of the deli. I was promptly obliged to his absence and I made a dash inside to the counter and grabbed what appeared to be the biggest sandwich in the stack. As I turned to make my swift exit, I rammed right into her. I nearly knocked the both of us down but managed to hold onto my lunch. Our eyes met briefly. My eyes lit up with passion as they made their way up from her beautiful long legs and past her curvy waist and large breasts, all of which was smashed beautifully into a short red dress, and met her neon green eyes. Her eyes lit up with indignation and offense as she observed my disheveled visage.
As she opened her mouth to call for Mort or address me herself, I landed a quick peck on her cheek and dashed past her. All I heard was a gasp from her as I made my way out the door. I quickly walked down Erie until I found a safe place to sit and enjoy my sandwich. After lunch, my mind was set on the beautiful woman I had managed to kiss in the heat of such an intense moment. I knew then that this was fate. I am not a religious man and have never spent time questioning existential dilemmas, but surely this woman existed for me to possess. She held an otherworldly passion over me. Surely, these things are reciprocal. It was decided then. I would have her. No matter the cost.
I finished my quest for a job after my encounter with her for the day. I made my way back “home” and sprawled out on the dusty carpet of the living room and slept until the next morning. I woke early, again before dawn, resolute on securing a job that morning. I dusted off my suit that was beginning to betray the fact that I was living in it, and hit the streets once again. This time I was successful. Sometimes opportunity is nothing more than being in the right place at the right time. By mere coincidence, I walked into an ad agency that had a position in their development department. My resolve to find a job had translated into an almost superhuman level of confidence. I was throwing every clichéd compliment at the fat receptionist and she was lapping it up. She was outright giddy when she told HR that a candidate for the open postion had arrived. Success! I have always found that the hardest part of securing a position is getting past the gatekeeper, the first line of defense. If you are successful at flattering and appealing to their egos, the next step is a breeze. The man in charge of hiring quickly led on that they were in desperate need to fill the department’s position that had suddenly been vacated. He was impressed with my credentials and hired me after a quick interview. This was perfect. I didn’t need anyone following up on my references or my past. I was tickled to learn that I would be receiving a generous paycheck, but most importantly, I knew she would be impressed.
I started at the ad agency the next day and quickly fell into the good graces of the office drones that worked near my cubicle. They insisted that they take me out after the first day of work. We made it to O’Flannery’s every night for happy hour the first week of my new job. Things were looking up for me. I had a job that didn’t require me to report often to any Muppet like Zimmer. I could come in with no one bothering me and collect my paycheck at the end of week. This was all great, but the thought of her never left my mind.
I made it a habit to search for her every night after leaving O”Flannery’s. Good old Uncle Mort’s deli was on the way to the apartment I had secured (without so much as a security deposit) so I always made my way down Erie to get home. The deli was normally closed by the time I was headed home, so I started leaving my co-workers earlier every night. They began to catch on to me giving them the slip earlier and earlier and finally one of them started to harass me about it. He made off-color remarks; asking if I had a “piece of tail to get home to” and other disgusting things like that. I hate to be questioned. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t just mind their own god damned business. I envisioned grabbing the back of his bloated head and smashing it into the varnished bar top, but outwardly I smiled politely and responded, “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
It wasn’t long before I was quickly emptying a few highballs of Jameson, all while watching the clock on the wall go tick-tock, tick-tock, and heading out before the deli closed at 8pm. This routine went on for a month or so until one cold January night I found her. Only she wasn’t at the deli. She was coming out of the doorway that led to the apartments above the deli. That night, she was wearing the same tight red dress she had on the day I first ran into her and gave her our first kiss. If there was any doubt in my mind before then, it was washed away when I saw her that night in that same dress. But I wasn’t sure how to approach her. I knew that I couldn’t just come right up to her and say, “Hey, remember that sandwich burglar that ran into you at Mort’s and kissed your beautiful face? Yeah, I’m him!” Even though I knew we were star-crossed lovers, like Romeo and Juliet, she might not recognize that yet. I had to be more tactful in order not to scare her off. So I decided to follow her.
I kept my distance, ten yards or so, as her tall leather heels clicked down Erie Avenue. After a quick hike around the corner, she headed into a dark bar with a flashing Neon sign that read “The Deuce”. I entered the Deuce behind her outwardly languid but feeling ready to jump out of my skin. I spotted her towards the far end of the bar sitting alone. The bar was dark, smoky atmosphere. It smelled of whiskey and sex. The men were all suits, office drones. The women were desperate lonely housewives. “Ex-prom queens overdone in makeup and dresses that might have fit them ten long years ago just waiting for some drone to pay them a courtesy.” I thought to myself. But not her. She illumed fluorescent in a sea of beige. I decided then that I would call her Rosie.
I walked to the opposite side of the bar with my eyes intent on my prize the whole way over. I kept my eyes fixed on her and ordered a Jameson neat when in my peripheral I observed a cocktail napkin set in front of me. “Start a tab” I said without breaking my concentration. I took a seat and sipped, all the while waiting for her to glance over at her true love.
I sat in that stool for three drinks. She was good. Rosie didn’t give one glance my way. She could play games. Somewhere between my second and third Jameson, her husband walked in. He could have been any of the other suits as I saw it. I can’t understand what made him stand out from the others in her mind. He must have more money. Maybe they vacation in the Caribbean. I don’t care any way. They don’t have the love, the deep connection that I do with Rosie. I watched as they talked lightly of their day at work, the weather, and etc., etc., ad nauseam. He finally took her home at the same time I was finishing the third Jameson I had been nursing. Tonight was not my night. It was not the night for us to make that connection I still feel so deeply. I went back to my empty apartment and fell asleep with visions of Rosie bouncing all through my mind.
I took the next day off from work. It was a Thursday. It was cold and the sky threatened rain over Lake Erie. I didn’t care. I sat on a bench across from Rosie’s apartment and waited. I watched as the early birds left Mort’s with bagels and muffins. I grew hungry when the lunch crowd filed through the deli for sandwiches and midday coffee. When the sun began to retire, Rosie stepped out from her stairway. She turned down Erie again as though she were headed towards the Deuce. This time I followed a little closer. I walked lock step with her heels as we made our way down Erie Ave together. It was a walk we shared. When she dropped her keys I ran up to help her. We bent down simultaneously and both managed to grab a handful of keys. She looked into my eyes with what she later called suspicion. But it wasn’t suspicion at all, it was desire. I felt it through my body as I drew her hands towards me.
The words “Thank you” whispered through her red lips as she took control of her keys.
“That’s what friends are for” I replied. She drew her eyebrows down as if she didn’t understand. As if she didn’t feel the passion between us.
“I’m sorry? Do I know you?” She asked, pretending not to recognize my face from the deli or the eternal bond we had between us. I played along. If she liked playing games, I figured I should oblige her.
“Maybe this will jog your memory, Rosie.” I said as I laid a passionate kiss on her milky cheek.
“What the FUCK!” she screeched. “Who the fuck are you? My name’s not Rosie!” She looked around for help as if she didn’t feel the passion arising from her hips that I was feeling.
She threw out a fist that connected quite effectively on my left temple. I laughed awkwardly, disguising the fact that I wasn’t used to playing these kinds of games. She began to run. She really knew how to play hard to get. I stood stunned for a moment at her determination and then laughed. This was fun. This was exciting, even though she was quite slow in her tall pumps. She was no match for me and I quickly caught up with my angel.
“Wait up Rosie!” I called out mockingly. I made my way up to her laughing. She tried to scream but I covered her mouth before anyone got the wrong idea. We were having our moment finally and didn’t need to be interrupted by any peeping tom that wasn’t hip to our game. I pulled her towards the alley closest to us and put her against the brick wall.
“This is so hot” I said excited and horny. “I’ve been waiting for this Rosie, just like you, ever since I saw you at the deli. I’m so glad we finally found each other.”
She was squirming and screaming into the palm of my hand that held her mouth firmly shut. I could feel her flush with desire but she got carried away when she bit my hand and kicked me in the balls. “Come on Rosie.” I pleaded. “Enough with the games. It’s time to make you mine.” I began to pull down her panties when a light lit up the alley and illumed our romance. Before I could ask what was going on, a billyclub met the back of my head with brutal force. Out went the lights.
When I awoke, I was sitting in this cell. I write to pass the time before Rosie comes to rescue me from this hellhole. This is no place for a man of principle like me. The days go by wasted when we could be making love. It is all because of those fuckhead drones. I should have never led on that I had a girl. They were all jealous and I know it was that pervert that questioned me at O’Flannery’s who was spying on me and called the police. His dull mind could never understand the game Rosie and I were playing. He should have minded his own business. Now I’m sitting in jail while he is probably waxing heroic in the ears of the other drones over fucking vodka and tonics. They might have won this round, but I’ll be back sharper than ever, to finish the game. I know Rosie is waiting for me to come and play.
© Copyright 2017 Kyle Stead. All rights reserved.
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