"Good morning, Arrow Associates. This is Cara. How may I direct your call?"
I wouldn't last a week as a receptionist. I could never sound half that cheerful repeating the same thing forty times before noon. Not to mention keeping track so I didn't keep saying 'morning' at 3 pm. But Cara has been doing it for six months now while greeting the arriving staff and clients, keeping the coffee fresh and signing for deliveries. Of course, she's 19 years old and in her first real job while I'm a jaded 31 with a couple of workplaces in my rearview.
Call me Ishmael. I've always wanted to say that, but sadly my name is Dave. I know the score, I've been around the block, I wasn't born yesterday and so on. I do my job well enough, earning a salary commensurate with my skills and sufficient to my needs with a little left over for fun and various bad habits. By which I mean more fun.
Some of my bad habits don't cost money, at least not directly or not much. I like to smoke a little dope and have a drink or two with my crowd and I probably play a bit too much poker and a lot too much Madden and Halo. Plus I like to fuck young women, though I do hit a bit of a drought sometimes. Whether fucking around has any psychic cost is debatable, but I can claim to never having 'paid for it' as the saying goes. I've left no crazed stalkers and few hurt feelings in my wake.
I try not to get involved with women I work with, clients or colleagues, and I stay away from the marrieds. Mostly. So while Cara was certainly appealing in both form and face, someone I'd move on in another setting, I respect the rule my dad once articulated as "don't dip your pen in the company inkwell". He was much older.
So I'm single and on my own and my name is Ishmael. No, sorry, we covered that. Dave. I have a two bedroom flat in a trendy area with the second bedroom for out of town guests or a buddy with trouble at home. My drinking spots are within easy stumbling distance and work is on the bus route so my car stays garaged a lot, but once in a while if I'm running late or the weather's bad I'll drive in, as I did this day.
At times I'm less discreet than I could be and this was one occasion. I was in my car during lunch in a shady far corner of the lot, catching some tunes and having a quick vape. I actually do my job a little better with a slight buzz (no, really) and vaping doesn't leave me with a skunky aura. Anyway, I missed Cara's approach. Good thing I wasn't doing a joint 'cause I'd have spit a hot coal into my crotch when she tapped on the window and gave the old 'roll it down' sign. I was busted, but she was grinning.
"Hey Cara, what's up?" She was bending over slightly to see in, which opened her top just enough to give a glimpse of a lacy black bra. I'm sure her firm young breasts didn't really need a bra, but there's my mind wandering again. And I was probably staring, and of course she knew it. Busted twice.
"Hey Dave. Looks like you're enjoying lunch more than I did. What's that you're listening to? It sounds kinda old. But cool," she quickly added.
It was old for me too. "Oh uh, it's my '80s punk channel on Pandora. I got hooked a couple years ago and sometimes I rotate into it when I'm having a ... um, when I'm feeling a little mellow."
She grinned even wider. "Yeah, I can see you're a little mellow. Well, I better get in there. Those phones won't answer themselves." And with that she was gone. I wasn't as busted as I could have been. Two drops of Visine and it was back to the grind.
This became a thing. When I drove, which I made a point to do more often, she'd come out to visit at lunch. We'd chat in the car, checking out each other's tastes in music. I think I expanded hers more than she did mine but I still discovered some bands I wouldn't have gotten to on my own. I always offered her hits of the vape but she always demurred.
So we were work buds. It was a little weird with our different ages, but she seemed like an old soul and she made me feel like a younger one. Against all odds she seemed to prefer my company to the few others her age at work. I know I preferred hers. She was a devastating mimic and could just nail the folks we worked with. She cracked me up and I guess I entertained her too.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't find her attractive. I mean, what's not to like? She's a cute young blond with a killer body, a nice set of brains and personality out to here. Dresses well, laughs easily, will tolerate an occasional Husker Du or Dead Kennedys set. That alone marks her as discerning.
We'd gotten pretty comfortable in the front seat, to the point where her hand might stray to my leg as she was telling a story. It burned, oh dude it burned. To deflect I'd ask about her boyfriends. She deflected back. I got the idea she didn't go out much and had no steady men in her life, which was crazy because she was hot in so many ways. Uh oh, I might be about to break Rule Number 7 here. Sorry dad.
One rainy day I decided to bend the rule by offering her a ride home, partly to be nice - she was a bus rider too, not so much by choice - but also to check out where she lived. She directed me to a small house a few miles away. 'House' surprised me because receptionists in this town don't buy or even rent houses, they share one-bedrooms in cheap apartment blocks.
"Ok, here you go. Say hi to your roommates for me."
She looked surprised. She'd never mentioned her living arrangements so I thought I'd guessed right. Wrong.
"No, I live alone, ever since my parents died. I grew up here." She looked wistfully at the house and I felt like a jerk for making casual assumptions. But hell, how was I supposed to know? She'd never said a thing. Plus I often feel like a jerk so that was nothing new. Only 19 and both parents gone? Sad stuff.
"Oops, sorry Cara. I didn't know."
"That's ok, It's been over a year and I'm doing pretty good. Moving on. But hey, thanks for the ride, see you tomorrow." She gave me a quick peck on the cheek and bounced out. That burned a little too.
This happened a few more times over the next weeks, not regular but more than casual. Then one day we'd just arrived at her place and were idling as she reached for the door handle, then hesitated.
"Umm ... do you have dinner plans? I've got some pasta and I'd like to sort of pay you back a little for the gas and all. Wanna come in?"
Little head said, 'Yes, Cara. Yes, I want to come in ... you'. Ouch, slap your mouth you filthy cur. Instead I said, "Ah, sure, I'm game. Nothing on tonight but carousing with the other sad sacks at Guilio's. I'll bet your pasta's better than a cheap bar burger."
She beamed. "Great. Pull in the back and I'll get things started."
We had a fine time. The pasta was al dente and it paired well with cheap red plonk. She was looser, funnier and more upbeat than I'd seen her at work, I guess because she was on her own turf here, with her tunes on the box. Some of them I even recognized, thanks to her coaching.
When I pulled out the vape and raised my eyebrows in query she made a 'sure, go ahead' gesture. I took a hit and offered it to her as usual. She'd always declined in the past but this time I saw a hesitation before the No.
"What's the deal with you and weed?" I asked casually. "I can't believe anyone your age hasn't tried it. Hell, even at my high school it was as common as beer."
She couldn't meet my eyes. "It's not that. It's just..." She stopped and seemed to come to a decision. "I have tried it, more than tried it. But I learned something that made me quit. Now I don't smoke when I'm with people. And I'm not a loner stoner so that means pretty much never any more."
Now she looked at me closely, trying I guess to gauge my reaction. "The thing is, when I get high I get horny. Really horny. And my judgment goes on vacation. The last time I smoked at a party I did some stuff I'd never do when I'm straight, and I knew I had to put weed behind me."
Wow. I was getting a chubby just seeing scenes in my head. I was way curious and my imagination was in overdrive. I couldn't very well ask her for details, right? Yeah, but when I'm buzzed sometimes my tongue gets ahead of my brain.
"What, like a gang bang or something?" Oh shit did I just say that out loud?
She gave me an odd look. "Yeah, or something. You really want to hear this?" I nodded, maybe too enthusiastically. "Well, I got more than one date or party invite because people knew I was slutty when I got my smoke on. I knew it too and didn't care. For most of us Molly, X, was the party drug. For me it was pot. I'm lucky it wasn't crack or I'd probably be a dead whore now. So anyway I don't do weed anymore because it makes me a different person. One I don't think you'd like."
In my head I'm all: 'Oh yeah? I might like you just fine when you're high and horny'. Out loud I was more: "Hey, sorry. Sometimes I talk without thinking. Dope can switch off the filters, you know? Ah, hell, of course you do, that's what you're telling me. I'll shut up now."
She managed a small smile at my expense. "So that's my sordid past. I really like you, you know, and I don't want to lose you as a friend. But I had to get it out there or you'd always be offering and I'd always be saying no."
I was sure I'd say the wrong thing so I just put an arm around her. Somehow this turned into a hug and next I knew her face turned up and we couldn't resist a kiss, which soon involved a tongue rassle.
.... There is more of this story ...