|Posted On:||2006-10-13 13:57:52|
“Working late?” Terra assumed out loud.
Daniel stopped fixing his bagel and walked affectionately towards his wife. As she sat by the kitchen table, under the yellow of morning sun, his arms drifted to her shoulders. His hands worked her shoulders so wonderfully, his fingertips running along her neck as if he she were brail. “You know I don’t want to…” Daniel whimpered to her as he began to kiss the top of her head. “but if we want that place by the waterfront I’ve really got to put in overtime.” It wasn’t the first time Terra received this answer and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. But somehow, each time, she still got disappointed.
“I’ll tell you what,” Daniel smirked. “When I get home we can go in the pool and watch tonight’s meteor shower together”
Terra’s sulking face quickly turned to a smile and she leaped into his arms. “Ooh! That would be so romantic! We haven’t stargazed together in so long! Oh, I already can’t wait!” Her face dropped quickly. “But the shower’s at 11:47, will you make it back on time?” she purred to him.
Daniel gave her that smile that got him anything he wanted “I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world.” He looked at his watch, realized the time, practically swallowed his bagel whole and rushed out the door.
Daniel drummed his finger along his steering wheel, stuck in traffic. The rays from the sun made him burn, even through the blasting A.C. of his car. Slowly, bumper to bumper, he made it to 2876 Mallow street, a large skyscraper lost amid larger ones. Like a bad dream happening again and again Daniel began the process which he’d been doing for the last 6 years, every Monday to Friday from 8 to 3:30. Check in at security; “Hey Dan” - “Hey Bob” No eye contact, just a reflex. Daniel doubted he’d notice if Bob kicked the bucket.
At the golden elevators to the right, the security card went in and he was brought up to level 16. Daniel trudged to his cubicle, trying to avoid the putrid smell of last night’s old coffee with Xerox fumes. He sat at a boring desk looking out at a brick wall and began his day. Dan had papers he’d take from one box, walk them to the copy room, make copies, sign them and put them back in another box. Nobody noticed what he did because nobody needed him. He didn’t know what his job was. Truth be told he just was “lucky” to get hired here when he was eighteen by some cousin in management, twice removed. The cousin had moved on and people had forgotten about Dan. He just worked there and as to what he worked, he was as oblivious as the others. He just did this every day just to look busy.
A 16-page memo had been sent out to all staff members, rules and regulations, just useless junk and such. Behind him, the nasal voice of Mr. Freeman’s plastic secretary picked up the phone like clockwork, 4 times every 70 seconds. “Mr. Freeman’s-office-how-may-I-help-you?” The banshee screeched. At least he wasn’t the only one with a made-up job. As he had just finished reading the same sentence 5 times, his alarm clock jumped across the desk, ringing madly. 3:25. He hit the bell. He’d figured that if he started getting ready to leave now he could be out the door by 3:30; finishing time. “Bye Dan” - “Bye Bob”.
Terra had just gotten back from buying candles and roses and was setting them up for her romantic evening. She had also bought a black negligee. But that could wait. She was setting up the rose petals along the floor and putting candles on any ledge that dared to be candle-free. The dishes were clean, the floors were waxed, the windows shined. She had a manicure, a pedicure and just about any other thing that can be done to the female figure in a salon had been done. Even waxing on her legs, arms, fingers, toes and, after much screaming and wriggling, her bikini-line. It was only 4:00 and Daniel wouldn’t be home for hours, but she just couldn’t wait. Everything had to be perfect.
Brassy jazz was playing in the background and the air was thick with smoke. Lights were coming from unseen places. Unseen was what this place was all about. All of the day-working men came here after work and stood at the bar. Waiting, staring and examining. As Daniel walked through the door, he walked by the row of standing men. He took his sweet slow time and looked each man long in the eye. At the fourth man, Daniel stopped and pivoted slowly. He sized this particular up. He couldn’t have been older than 20, tall, dark skinned, dark haired and dark eyed. A tense moment held Daniel to the spot. Slowly he stepped forward. His hands reached out towards this man and landed on his chest. They worked their way down. Daniel whispered to the man and walked downstairs.
The buzzer rang and Terra ran frantically to the kitchen. She opened the oven and gently removed the strawberry and chocolate mousse swirl that was to be tonight’s supposed aphrodisiac from the tray. Ever so gently she placed it in the fridge and prayed it would be perfect too.
Daniel worked his way down spiralling stairs into a long dark hall filled with doors. He smiled as he heard footsteps landing behind him. There was much one could hear in footsteps, Daniel thought, and he liked the quiet reserved patter that was following him. He turned into the third door to the left and kept it open for his follower. The room was decrepit. A single incandescent bulb hung from the ceiling, fighting against the eternal night of the room. On the floor was a single mattress and beside it, Daniel’s accessories. The stranger walked in. -Click- The stranger locked the door. -Foosh- The stranger pushed Daniel on the mattress. Unseen things were done, unheard noises were made and promises were broken.
Daniel woke up alone in his dark room. He stood up, dressed himself and half-alive, stumbled out of nowhere. He got in his car and drove down the eerie early morning streets. No memories were made on his way home, he didn’t even remember the drive. He pulled up into his driveway, his headlights making creepy shadows in the dark. His keys jangled in the door and he entered the house. The place was filled with dying candles and dying rose petals. He walked towards the back patio door and saw Terra lying out on the deck by the pool, in the black negligee he’d always hinted he wanted her to wear. She never had the courage before.
By her side now, he gently picked Terra up, and started walking towards the bedroom.
“I waited for you…” she whispered and tiny slits of eye lit up in the night.
“I know dear, I’m so sorry, I couldn’t leave work. There were unforeseen circumstances.” He caressed her lovingly and kissed her forehead. The slits of light were taken by the darkness.
He lay her down in their bed, tucked her in beside him and whispered “I love you” in her ear.
Daniel was fixing his bagel when his wife’s voice interrupted him.