Keith Spencer looked up at the clock on the wall and sighed. The crew-cut eighteen-year-old couldn't believe that only thirty minutes had passed of the eight hours he was required to put in at the Roosevelt Park Tri-County Help Center. For perhaps the hundredth time this month alone, he asked himself how he had gotten into this fix.
A few years back, the local school board had passed a requirement that every student have a hundred hours of community service in order to graduate. While it did involve an investment of time and energy, most students had no problem meeting the task. They volunteered a day or two a month and finished up their prerequisite long before senior year.
But, in every class since the requirement had been instated, there were always a careless few who paid no attention to their obligation until their senior year. An even smaller few, and Keith fell into this category, didn't do anything about it until their very last semester. Then, because of time restraints, they found that what would've been only a few hours a week, now took up half of every weekend.
To make matters even worse, all of the really good jobs were already taken by students who had been at them a while. All Keith had been able to come up with was the graveyard shift answering phones at the help center. A job he really thought sucked the big one. After all, who wanted to spend every Saturday night listening to a bunch of losers' problems? Especially when they could be at the movies with Lauren Cusak.
Keith had been dating Lauren for three weeks now, and while he hadn't gotten halfway to second base, he was sure that it was only a matter of time before he went for the gold. The word was that Lauren was the kind of girl who went all the way. You just had to catch her on the right night, when she was really in the mood. At least that was what he'd heard around the locker room.
The big problem was, with half his weekends tied up with this community service nonsense, Lauren wasn't the type to spend her nights at home. So while she was dating Keith, she was also going out with Pete Hardy. The blond-haired teen was pretty sure that Pete hadn't gotten any further with Lauren than he had, but that could change with the flip of a coin. It would be just Keith's luck for Pete to be the one out with her on a night when she had a major case of hot pants.
"Roosevelt Park Help Center," Keith said into the microphone of his headset as he answered another call.
It didn't take more than a few seconds for Keith to realize that this was what was considered a Class Two call. Those he could handle, as they were usually just people who were lonely and wanted someone to listen. Class One calls were people with real problems and Keith always passed them along to the supervisor on duty without fail. He had enough problems of his own without trying to solve anyone else's.
As he listened to his current caller's tale of woe, Keith's mind drifted back to the night one of his calls had turned out to be an obscene phone call. He had only been at the center three weeks and, thankfully, the supervisors had just stopped monitoring his calls on a regular basis. The female caller had been incredibly vivid in describing her body and all the things that she wanted him to do to her, and her to him. It hadn't even mattered that she sounded a little old, because she had given him a major hard on. By the time she was finished, Keith had to hold a newspaper in front of him just to make his way to the bathroom.
The voice on the other end of the line this time was hardly as interesting as the one from that night, and Keith was glad when he was able to finally bring it to a close. The call had lasted almost a half hour. Only a dozen more like it and he could call it a night.
"Mr. Spencer, I'd like a word with you," Peggy Diaz, the shift supervisor called out across the room. "In my office." she added in a harder tone that meant right now.
"Great, what did I do now?" Keith asked himself as he took off his headset and punched the code into his phone position that would list him as being unavailable for incoming calls.
Crossing the floor to the small, glass walled enclosure in the far corner, Keith racked his brain for anything he might have done wrong and came up empty. It was an unusual feeling to not be guilty of something or other when called into the office, here or in school. He couldn't remember the last time, if ever, it had happened.
"Yes, Mr. Martone, I'll see to it personally," Peggy was saying into the phone as she motioned to the empty chair in front of her desk. "No, it's no problem at all. We're more than happy to help out when we can. Yes, sir, you have a good night as well, and enjoy your trip."
Peggy took another minute to make an entry in the folder on her desk before turning her attention to Keith. With nothing else to do during the short delay, Keith reviewed what he knew of the shift supervisor. In her mid-forties, Peggy Diaz was one of the Center's few permanent employees, having been there for over ten years. She wasn't married, he knew, and even with all of the gossip that got traded back and forth about who was seeing who, none of it had ever involved Miss Diaz. If she had a social life, it was kept quite private.
Not that she was unattractive, at least not bad looking for a woman her age, Keith thought. She was probably pretty hot back when she was in high school. The Hispanic woman had a nice face, short, reddish brown hair and a body that, while not the kind of figure you'd find in some of the men's magazines Keith liked to look at, was a lot better than his mother's or most of her friends, who were around Miss Diaz's age.
In fact, the only thing negative that Keith could really say about the woman was that she was a little too straight-laced for his taste. The center was probably her life and when she was on shift, she ran it by the book. There were three other shift supervisors, and all of them were a lot more laid back. Still, he had to also admit that, except for one time when he'd really screwed up, Peggy Diaz hadn't come down on him too hard. So he really didn't have anything to complain about.
"I have a special job for you, Mr. Spencer," Peggy said as she closed the folder and dropped it into the completed box on her right.
Keith wasn't sure he liked the sound of that. Her voice was a little too friendly, something that was never a good sign.
"Don't look too worried, Keith, I have a feeling that this is going to be right up your alley," Peggy added as she took note of the worried look on his face.
Her use of his first name didn't exactly inspire confidence, but then again, maybe he was reading it wrong he told himself.
"You have a car, right?"
"Yes I do," he answered.
"Good, I'd like you to go to this address, and see a ... Mrs. Martone." she answered as she handed him a small card with the address on it.
"And what do I do when I get there?"
"Basically, the same thing you do here, listen to someone's problems."
"Since when do we make personal visits?" he asked, thinking there was a lot more to this then she was telling him.
"Well normally, we don't," Peggy admitted, "but Mrs. Martone is a very special case."
Martone, Keith realized, was the name of the man she had been speaking to on the phone when he came into the office.
"Look, let me put it all on the table and you'll see how this can work to your advantage," Peggy said, he tone shifting ever so slightly.
This caused warning bells to go off in the young man's head. It had been his experience that it was never good when someone wanted to tell you how something they needed done was to your advantage.
"Simon Martone, is one of the single biggest contributors to this center," Peggy began. "His donations help keep us in business so to speak. So, when the situation calls for it, we're willing to go a bit further than we normally would for other people."
"Some pigs were more equal than others," Keith thought, remembering a quote from one of his English courses.
"So what's the problem?" Keith asked, when what he really was thinking, what can I get out of this?
"Before I go any further, I have to ask for your promise not to discuss this with anyone else. After all, Mr. Martone is an important man and he values his privacy." she stated. "I can count on your discretion, can't I, Keith?"
"Of course," he smiled, suddenly remembering where he'd heard the name Martone before. There was a picture of him in the outer office turning over a check at some charity dinner. An old guy in his sixties, Keith remembered.
"Good," Peggy smiled. "So let me explain."
Keith was all ears.
"From time to time, Mr. Martone is called out of town to take care of his business concerns," she began. "When he does, he usually arranges for someone to stay over with Mrs. Martone while he's away. Unfortunately, this afternoon he was called away somewhat unexpectedly and it wasn't possible for him to make those arrangements. When this had happened in the past, we have provided a substitute."
"So what's the deal with this Mrs. Martone. What does she need with a baby-sitter?" Keith asked. "Is she sick or something?"
"More in the area of something, I'm afraid," Peggy went on. "Mrs. Martone is a lonely woman, and when she gets too lonely, she at times has a tendency to drink a little too much. That is something that her husband would rather she not do. It would only be for a few hours, her housekeeper has the night off, but will be home by midnight."
"So I'm supposed to do what exactly?"
.... There is more of this story ...