22 Nisan 2021

Air Conditioning

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It’s ten thirty and the air conditioner has broken for the second time this week, so the suits on the floor above are in shirts sleeves and they don’t like that. Swaggering in full dress, mobile phones and an ego kept in the pocket with the comb, bright sunshine, ray bans. This men don’t earn money. They “pull down” in “‘k’s”.

Stevie is talking to Melissa again. She’s brainless, he’s charming. His name’s Steven, no one actually calls him Stevie except he himself. He’s explaining how to delete a computer file so that even God can’t find it, but he’s wasting his time since she doesn’t even believe in God and he’ll be in her pants by Friday afternoon regardless of his efforts.

Her apartment is made for one, becomes overburdened after the bars closed, then back to the status quo by dawn. Stevie will think he’s first. They all do.

The filing on my desk isn’t mine, it’s from Gordon’s desk. He sees me as his “out” tray. Rumour has it that Melissa gave him head under the desk while our MD stood talking to him. She had the good sense to moderate the action at the critical moment saving both their jobs. Well, that’s what they say.

I put the filing back on Gordon’s desk. He flips me the bird. By lunch time, he will have done some of it but by the morning it will be back on my desk.

Angie and Sophie are supposed to lesbians. Angie is and Sophie isn’t, though Angie has hopes. She despises me for the looks I get from Sophie. I get coffee and cookies from her too, when she’s not busy.

I look at Sophie and then the stock closet and think back.

The stock room is warm and the pine scent from the new shelves makes it somehow homely. We have locked it from the inside and Sophie has perched her small buttocks on the edge of the shelf. I want to get her breasts out, to suck them, tweak her nipples, but she doesn’t want the bother of the catches. She has already taken off her underwear, put it in her desk drawer. She raises her knees and I fit neatly inside. We are quick and quiet. She comes. I come. We unlock the door and leave and the mail boy, Digby – we don’t know his real name – has seen her put the panties in the drawer. ataşehir escort He’s wearing them on his head and is making as ass of himself. The fat Xerox engineer leers at Sophie as she grabs them back.

That was then – now – is lunchtime ever going to arrive?

The new temp picks up my coffee by accident. Realises her mistake and apologises. I apologise back and I know what’s in her head.

My mouth on the cup, her mouth on the cup. My God, she’s thinking, an intimate exchange – we’re almost there. I will probably go home with her. She becomes coquettish and giggling at my feeble jokes. She’s attractive and Jeffrey Stokes glares at me. He had given himself to the end of the week. Too late, Jeffrey, I’ll tell you all about it though.

New mail on my computer. Two memos. One I knew about, one I didn’t and one has a picture of a fat woman showing her ass with her cat stood by her in the same pose. Funny if you like that sort of thing. Two mailings are deleted. The spreadsheet won’t load and the temp knows why, but I know she doesn’t. She leans across me, punching keys, speaking with authority about this place and that place she worked at where they had the same problem. She hasn’t a clue and she doesn’t object as my hands feel her calves and thighs. She admits she must have made a mistake, drops a pen and leans low, her low-cut blouse affording a voyeur’s view.

She returns to her own desk and Jeffrey Stokes warns me off her. Tells me in an undertone that I’ve no chance, that I’m out of her league.

I nod sagely as if he’s right. He appears satisfied by that but his demeanour shows he’s crushed – to the victor . . .

Louise is bad in hot weather. She wipes her face unaware that her the patches under her arms have spread and her bra is wet. The contours of her breasts now give way to shape and colour. Light brown aureole, dark nipples. She’s not aware. She’s conscientious, wedded to her job as she will not wed elsewhere. Home by six. Cats and cocoa, BBC world service and a cookie. She sleeps like a child and dreams of her job. The only men there are those giving and taking her work. Louise bagdat caddesi escort doesn’t know sex, want it, need it. She likes the cats and the young man downstairs is pleasant enough. He’s never suggested anything nasty to her, which leaves her feeling secure. She’ll sleep till dawn. Exercise by running, talking to anyone as she goes.

Andy is an old friend. We went to school together. He believes he can convert Angie and he might. Where Stevie is slick and professional, Andy is profound and sincere. Angie could well be turned around because this conquest is not an idle challenge. He has hand written memos from Angie going back months. He files them. He’ll show them when the time is right. She’ll see not a lusting male but the sensitive man he is. Devotion from anyone of any sex is a good basis. She’ll see that. That’s his hope and he has time on his side.

Now it’s lunchtime and the hasty exodus is controlled by the cool factor. We all want to work on, show dedication and disdain for weaknesses of the flesh – lunch, a light beer, a Coke. We gather in the bar. Alex takes orders for a round – he always does. What he lacks in charisma he makes up for in generosity. This man has no friends but he can buy them, and for the time we’re all his friends.

We laugh and joke. Angie has her arm round Sophie’s waist. We pretend not to notice. Sophie pretends not to notice. Jeffery Stokes buys the temp another drink and she thanks him, moves away, talks to me. The juke-box music is Electric Light Orchestra and everyone knows some small thing about Jeff Lynne, the Move, Bev Bevan. We trade trivia.

The temp, who’s name I still don’t know, has her hand on my buttocks. She closes gently. I turn to her. I ask her name – does she want another and she explains her situation by raising her glass to Jeffery. He returns a cold smile. I now know her name is Chloe.

The sandwich girl is skinny and sexless with the figure of a prepubescent, though she longs to be touched. She watches the men as she gives out their orders. She has her blouse open. My dear girl, I want to say, the shop doors may be open, but bostancı escort the shelves are empty. I ask her name – it’s Rupert. The boy from the mail room laughs. She insists it’s a girl’s name while the mail boy experiments with Rupe, Rupert Bear, Pooh Bear until she cries. Angie tell shim to shut the fuck up and laughing with embarrassment he shuts the fuck up.

The afternoon is split unevenly. More tedium with tedious characters though Chloe looks promising. And after strap hanging past a dozen stops, in intimate contact with scores of strangers in diminished clothing. Under other circumstances this would be indecent.

The mail on the doorstep can wait. Chloe can’t. We fall into the living room where she starts undoing my tie. Already I’m hard and she’s trying unsuccessfully to get me out of my flies. I take of my clothes and I leave them lying inside out. A button comes off from the shirt cuff and hits the TV screen. Soon we are naked but for her panties. I pull the leg to the side and suck her into my mouth. My tongue explores and I turn round so she can take me in hers. Her arms wrap around my thighs, her hands are on my buttocks.

I turn round again, enter her hard and she cries out. She lifts her self off the floor and I enter deep. She rocks herself, flicking her hips in rapid motion until neither of us can wait.

The office is cooler the next day. Angie and Sophie come in together and I watch Andy. A cloud momentarily crosses his face then he smiles to himself. I wonder what he knows – what he’s thinking.

Chloe has been recalled by her agency and is working elsewhere. Jeffery won’t speak and Sophie throws me a lingering smile. Angie cold shoulders Sophie. The rest of us see and we smile.

It’s a living but it’s not living. There’s the weekend when I sleep and drink and watch football. Then there’s work and the air-conditioning. That’s it. Top to bottom. My apartment was broken into a few months back. It was exciting, I met the cops, they shrugged and drank coffee. We joked and talked about sex. With some regret I realised it was like the office in my home. There are breaks in routine: fourteen days in Florida, the odd theatre visit, Sophie and the stock room, the air conditioning breaking down.

The differences only make the smallest difference and I’ve grimly come to realise that my life only drew breath at birth to spend the rest of it’s existence sighing.

Copyright Gregg Dean 2002

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