Authors: Stephanie Weiford
2015 Stephanie Weiford
All Rights Reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of the author or publisher.
Cover Image provided by iStockPhoto
Artist Creation, Stephanie Weiford
“All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…”
Table of Contents
“… Yes Mrs. Goldfinch, your total is $147.95. Do I have your permission to process this payment for you today?” I tapped away on the keyboard adding to the clacking roar on the cubicle floor. “Thank you. Please hold while your payment is processed.” I hit the mute button before old Mrs. Goldfinch could change her order again, adding more time to this call that’s already lasted an hour. Old women and their cats, who knew those two things made a multimillion dollar industry? Well, I suppose the master minds behind Meow Memory Makers, were aware.
A pop up on my computer screen flashed green, payment approved. Of course it was, while I was eating instant noodles and left over takeout for dinner Mrs. Goldfinch’s cats would be feasting on grommet salmon prepared by a world class chief. I sighed; at least this was the last call before my lunch break, where I would be dining on the remarkable preparations of Chef Boyardee. I hit the unmute button and was treated to the sounds of Mrs. Goldfinch cooing to her horde of purring felines.
“Thank you for waiting, your payment has been processed and you can expect delivery on Tuesday. We’ll send an invoice to your email address. Can I assist you with anything else today?”
I listened for a few long minutes as she chatted away about our new line of diamond cat name tags, “No mam the font is default, we can’t change it,” I answered in a long stream of questions.
This of course lead to her real motive, how as the paying customer she could get what she wants, her kitties deserve better, she deserves a discount because she spends so much money with us…
A glance at the clock showed I was supposed to be on lunch 2 minutes ago. I groaned inwardly. A tall, golden blonde appeared over the wall of my cubicle. Carolyn Jones was my best friend. She was impatiently tapping on the short wall between us, mouthing for me to get off the call. I gave her the one minute finger and she rolled her eyes.
“I will be happy to send you a feedback form. You have a wonderful day Mrs. Goldfinch and thank you for calling Meow Memory Makers,” I hit the end call button before she could utter another word. If my manager listened to the call I would probably be chastened for the abrupt hang up, at the moment however, I could care less. In five quick keystrokes I had the call wrapped up, the system closed down, and the time clock punched for lunch.
I stretched back, feeling my spine pop after the long hours spent in the hard chair. Obviously, Meow Memory Makers valued their furry customers much more than their human employees.
“Ready?” Carolyn called, already walking away. I grabbed up my lunch box and took off after her, feeling the muscles of my legs stretch comfortably with the effort.
The break room showed no more signs of employer affection then the plastic desk chairs did. The plain white washed walls were spotted with motivational cat posters, things like “Hang in There” with a kitten dangling from a branch, and “Eye of the Tiger” featuring a little orange tabby. I scowled at the posters taking my little bowl of ravioli from the microwave and went to join Carolyn at our usual table.
She sat with her iPhone flipping through a fashion website while munching away like a rabbit on her just as fashionable salad. She worked hard on appearing to be a socialite on the outside, but I’ve known the girl since childhood and knew it was just an act. Like me she came from a rather broken home and this was her way of hiding it from people. I on the other was nothing short of a wreck and stopped caring what people thought about it long ago.
“Soooo, Birthday girl, you got plans for the weekend?” she asked tearing her eyes away from a blue cashmere sweater dress.
“The usual, a hot bubble bath with a cheap bottle of wine and a good book and I’m all set.” I replied, stabbing a ravioli and popping the whole thing mercilessly into my mouth.
“Well, as delightful as
sounds, I have a much better idea,” she looked me over coyly from across her fork full of leafy greens. I glowered at her, the last time I heard those words I had ended up drunk off my ass in an ally downtown while wearing a bumble bee custom; and there wasn’t much coverage to the outfit. Since then, I had refused to attend any of her Halloween outings.
“Don’t look at me like that! You’ll love this one, I promise!” she chimed and dug around in her perfectly counterfeit Cooch bag. “Look!” she handed over two strips of paper.
Each pictured a woman with a large, red feathered headdress and glittery, seductive eyes. She was stroking the head of a lion that was sporting an impression of her ruby red lips. It was obvious this was not the normal circus marketing attempt for a family friendly affair.
“Circus of Desires? What is this?” I asked. Carolyn knew I had always loved the performing arts. I had even taken theater and dance back when I was in high school, home of the panther players. However, the circus had its own kind of mystery that I found compelling.
“It’s this awesome new trend of sexy, circus shows. The performances are always at night, after the regular stuff ends, and of course it’s just for adults, but I heard it’s basically like this awesome strip tease!” she squealed in a hushed voice.
“That’s insane!” I laughed, “So instead of sequenced bikinis and ‘Cherry Pie’ we get feather headdresses and carnival music?” I meant to sound playfully shocked, but there was something sort of memorizing by the thought.
“Oh stop being such a prude, live on the wild side Daphne!” she winked her long, fake eyelashes in my direction. Moral considerations aside, it looked like we were going to the circus.
The rest of
the day went by in a daze of catnip and tuna bonbons. A glance at the clock was more than enough to cause a groan.
it’s already 8pm.
Enough was enough as I pulled up my time clock to punch out. The clacking roar of the day was seriously diminished as only the workaholic’s remained. I stood and arched my sore back, feeling the pleasant tingling as blood flowed into my aching butt. A quick keystroke later and my workstation was powered down.
An early birthday present from Carolyn hung over the back of my chair, the black jacket was soft and the perfect combination of not to thick but still warm. I pulled it on and enjoyed the weight of it on my shoulders and the way it fell to just above my knees. Carolyn defiantly had the soul of a fashionista. My old purse looked grubby and sad in comparison to the jacket, but I slung it over my shoulder and headed for the door. If I hurried I could still make it to…
“Daphne!” I stifled a groan as I turned to face my boss. He couldn’t be more than a year or two older than me, but he had made, the perhaps wiser decision, of going straight to work after high school instead of college. As a result was now a well-compensated boss of the kitty crap sales department.
I glued a smile to my face, “Hello Mr. Kelly.”
“You should call me Peter,” he returned a megawatt smile full of perfect white teeth. The management dental plan must be a perk. An awkward couple of seconds passed as he just stared at me.
.” I tried again and his smile went super nova.
“How are you this evening?” he asked. I felt the corners of my plastered smile slip just a little.
For crying out loud!
It was already dark outside and he’s making small talk like we had just sat down to a fancy dinner instead of standing under fluorescent lights in the dinghy hall before the evaluators!
“I’m well. Was there something you need help with?” I tried to ask politely but the façade was melting.
“Just wanted to let you know I got your email, about leaving early tomorrow. Which I don’t mind, but the company, well I just have to give them a reason, not that
need one, but
do you see, and well your email… it didn’t say much,” he looked at me expectantly.
I didn’t think asking to leave early was going to cause a freaking inquiry. This was exactly the kind of moment all those Twix commercials were about. Or was it Snickers, either way I felt screwed.
“Oh yes!” I tried to sound cool, but my voice sounded as dry as an alcoholic during prohibition. “I have a doctor’s appointment,” it was a lame and common lie, but hopefully one that he couldn’t argue with.
“I’m so sorry I didn’t realize you weren’t feeling well!” Peter looked me over carefully with his mouse brown eyes that perfectly matched the shade of his short hair. He really was a nice guy, even if though I found him annoying. But, then again I tended to dismiss most people as a bother these days.
I suddenly felt a little guilty about the lie, but there was no way I was telling him the truth; which was that by some miracle I had been granted an interview with the CEO of the Optics Technology Cooperation. Apparently the CEO was in the market for a new personal assistant, just the position that could really help launch a career in this town.
“Um, Daphne, did you hear me?” Peter asked, concerned. I had to blink a few times to erase the dreamy future I had been envisioning.
“Er, sorry Peter my ears were ringing,” I said and he gave me a lingering pat on the arm.
“I was saying, I hope you feel better soon and you have the time off, just make sure you bring back your Doctor’s note on Monday!” his perfect smile was back and he slowly let his hand slip from my arm. I just nodded, turned on my heel, and made for the elevator.
The city air
hit me as soon as I stepped outside and it helped to quiet the angry thump of blood that had rushed into my face on the way down.
A Doctors note?!
What was this high school? Feeling thoroughly childish, I kicked a crumpled cigarette pack some litter bug had dropped on the ground. I walked for a while letting the wind carry away the stress of the day. A car honked at a bicyclist in the street.
The nice thing about Triford City was that it could barely be labeled as a city. It had the potential of blossoming into a great, big beautiful mega-city, but for right now its roots were just starting to take hold. Luckily, the Optics Technology Cooperation had decided this was a nice place for its new headquarters.
I felt the buzz of my silenced cell phone go off in my pocket, I knew who it was before the screen had time to light up the text, since only one person ever messaged me.
Whats up pussycat ;)
Carolyn. I replied with a quick word,
, and ducked inside my favorite cramp, dimly lit store. The little brick shop was tucked tightly between a super bank and video gaming store, and it’s where he worked. Charles Larson. He was the quintessential male sex god that was currently masquerading as a liquor shop owner in dark jeans and a hip, flannel long sleeve shirt. He waved from behind the counter as I walked in.
“Hey Daph, how’s the cat business?” he smirked as he talked and for a moment I envisioned what it would be like to see those lips up close and personal. His dark hair was tied up today in a small knot and he was sporting just enough shadow on his chin and cheeks that made me wonder how it would feel brushed across my skin…
“Better than the telemarking business that’s for sure,” I scoffed.
“Well I think I have something here that will cheer you up,” he winked and I felt my heart skip a beat as his blue eye went in and out of sight. He bent under the counter and came back up with
of his blues eyes, rimmed with dark lashes, all looking at me. I had to viciously force my own gawking eyes to look at what was in his hands.
“Black cherry wine!” I exclaimed softly. My excitement earned me another coy smirk, as I took the bottle from him. “You got more in!”
“Yeah, gotta keep my favorite customer happy,” he chuckled.
“You’re the best! How much do I owe you?” I started for my purse but he just waved me off.
“Consider it a birthday present.” I opened my mouth to argue but was stopped when he came out from around the counter and enveloped me in a hug. It was warm, being in his arms and he smelled like sandalwood. I felt my stomach drop and my head go dizzy when he step back a space.
“Thanks Charles,” I felt giddy but smiled at him all the same. Not knowing what else to do I tucked the bottle in my purse and made for the door.
Outside the air hit me like a wave of cold water and I felt my cheeks flush with realization;
was as close to being laid as I had gotten in months, still it had felt pretty damn good in that man’s arms.