Going freelance was the best thing I ever did.
Granted, it wasn't a big bold choice on my part. My company _downsized_, and my entire department got _outsourced_. Once I was told these very words, I was glad to go. Who wanted to work for a company that used stupid made-up words like that! What happened when a company expanded? Could they be said to have _upsized_? What did _upsized_ really mean? Nothing! Or some sort of mild gastro-intestinal distress- -I myself rarely suffered from an upsized stomach.
Of course there was the gratification of having a clever VP decide to toss the entire account my way. As well, since the stump left of the Marketing Department no longer had a creative arm, they had no need for all the high-tech heart of the Art Department. I basically signed over my severance check and got the lot for a laughable steal. And then I got to begin billing them at an hourly rate about twice my former salary.
That was the meat and potatoes. After a few months, I'd gone around town and scooped up more accounts for gravy. I worked hard for several years and built up such a clientele load that doing my old job became-- to move the metaphor from the main course to dessert--the icing on the cake.
Then I was on a comfortable plateau. The city could really afford me no more than what I already had. To increase my base I either had to start getting hyper-aggressive and become known as a regular back-stabbing bastard-about-town, stealing jobs, slipping in and destroying long- standing client relationships. That or start doing newspaper supplement shit.
Or--the lightbulb above my head flared--expand and go regional. There were half a dozen full-sized cities within a 200 hundred mile radius of me, the center of my universe. It was certainly worth the effort to try to pull jobs in from all of them. Maybe I'd have to hire an assistant, et cetera.
Using my connections and making cold calls to offer a presentation, everything started settling in one town. I scheduled Pressburg with seven or eight meetings over the course of a week, then sat with a travel agent in the hopes I might find a flight cheap enough I could thankfully abandon the prospect of driving.
Turned out that there was a little regional airline that serviced all seven of our cities, and at a price that was like just chipping in for gas.
Pressburg happened to be where my sister and her husband lived, so I sat down that evening with my schedule to give them a call, let them know I was coming, and maybe set something up to get together one evening.
Harold answered the phone. "Hey Bruce, you big stud! How's it hanging?"
"Thick and heavy as always. How about you Harold?"
"Heh heh, I'll spare you the details--doubt you want to hear me talking about your sister like that. So what've you been up to? Christ man, haven't seen you since when, Christmas?"
"Actually, that's why I'm calling, Harold. I'm going to be in town for a week early next month--thought I'd let you guys know, see if we could get together for dinner one night or something. So is Janice around? I know you don't book the social calendar."
"Damn straight! So your visit--is it business or pleasure."
"Harold, haven't you gotten that right yet? Business _is_ pleasure."
He guffawed. "Well, I've always made pleasure _my_ business."
I faked a laugh. "So... then... is Janice around? Can she talk right now?"
"Hold on, let me check. See if she can bear to quit giving me head long enough for a few words."
Gawd! As if blood relations weren't bad enough, having to know people fairly intimately simply because you share some genetic material. But then having to deal with morons who happen to marry into the family.
"Brucie! What's this about your coming for a visit?"
"Hey Janice! It's a business trip, actually. Trying to rustle up some action in your town. So I thought I'd check in ahead of time, see if we could get together for dinner one night."
"_One_ night? Try every night."
"Well... whatever. I'll be coming the 2nd and leaving the 9th. A Monday/Monday so I can get the cheap fare."
"What are you flying in on."
"_Mudflaps Airline_ flight 2 or 3--depending on whether they can get a grounded plane back up in the air--arriving out on the tarmac at precisely 4:37 in the afternoon."
"_Mudflaps Airline_? I've never heard of _that_."
"Neither had I. But they serve the whole valley region with regular flights. Probably it's some sort of 'linked flight', you know, where you occasionally have to wing-walk from one cropduster to the next in your field flight home. But it's great, a direct flight, only forty- five minutes up in the air--providing they can keep the plane up in the air that long."
"Ugh. I think I'd rather book national. Pay twice the ticket and have an hour layover to change planes way over in St. Louis, and wind up spending more time to fly than if you just drove the damn distance. God, what do they do, Bruce? Put wings on lawnmowers and let you fly your own plane?"
"I don't expect you have to become your own pilot. I think the unions have very explicit language in their contracts about that. At any rate, I'll give you a call once I'm settled at the hotel."
"I don't think so, Brucie. Why do you think we have a guestroom? Screw that whole hotel idea. So... I'll be there to pick you up."
"No," I turned, "just give me directions. I have to pick up a car at the U-Rent lot."
"Bruce you doofus. Harold and I live in a quaint but cozy 2-bedroom 1- bath house... with a 4-car garage we keep packed. Pick your set of keys, okay?"
There was that weird incongruity in their lives. Harold was a true corporate honcho, while Janice made a killing selling overpriced real estate. Yet they lived in the tiny type of _quaint but cozy_ bungalow that Janice would sneer at listing. To which they'd added a 4-car garage. That had more square footage than the damn house itself.
I had asked before, and almost wished I hadn't.
"That's because we're True Believers in the Church of Conspicuous Consumption, my man," Harold had answered. "The house is unimportant. It's just a place to pack in your trophies, and park your ass for the moments when you're not out running the race."
"Besides," Janice had chimed in, "this size we can keep up with the housework ourselves. I hate having help. I don't want some strange woman in my house not bothering to move the chairs to vacuum, and stealing all my best things."
"But still," I'd persisted, "isn't it part and parcel of the American Dream? The desire to have a separate bathroom for every resident?"
"Well," Harold had boomed in reply, "we _enjoy_ the intimate scale." Then he leaned in with a leer, "Besides, nothing your sister likes better than when I barge in and jump her right after she's taken a dump."
Jesus! I didn't want to know about these things, and I was sure as hell hoping Janice hadn't heard that I suddenly did know about them. She just smiled and rattled on, "Anyway, this summer, off the master bedroom, we are going to break ground on what's left of the lot and install, well, not so much a second bathroom as an aquatics center."
What could I do on the phone but shrug? That was that. The business deductions for the hotel and car would have been great on the taxes, but I was better off getting accommodations and transportation for free. Even if I was greatly hesitant about sharing their house. I'd just have to be wary of getting cornholed by a sleepy Harold if I went for a pee in the middle of the night.
It was one of those amazing coincidences that should be written up for the records. Not only did the weary traveler's flight arrive on time, but his ride was neither early nor late. And then I had the vicarious thrill of the looks of envy I garnered from my greeting. Those poor guys, still uncertain how it was that a big diamond and a gold band had transformed their hot girlfriends into prematurely matronly wives. Offering up a cheek for a quick peck. While Janice, in a clingy cotton spring dress, came running shrieking down the ramp to jump into my arms.
Being her brother hadn't blinded me to that period of months at thirteen when Janice had suddenly transformed from a dyed-in-the-wool tomboy to a voluptuous young woman. Although at the time I'd been oblivious to almost everything but the nearly constant surging in my pants.
So I knew what was being observed--a pretty face with a cute upturned nose, shoulder length dark blonde hair flying like a mane as she ran, breasts that bounced along screaming _look at these great tits!_ And then in passing an ass like somebody had taped a sign reading _Squeeze me_ to her behind.
Even though she was my sister, Janice was still a very squirmy girl. My arms could barely contain her in our hug. Her breasts were practically mashed flat against my chest, and she was bathing my face with the kisses of a tongue-happy dog. Finally I had to just step away from her embrace to avoid a rather doggy reaction myself. I nearly blushed at the burgeoning sensation, even though everyone knows the penis knows no distinctions.
"God, Brucie," she gushed, "just look at you! It's so-o great to see you!" She took a few steps back and just _beamed_ at me, taking me all in. I felt nearly naked. Then she reached and grabbed one of my bags. "Come on, let's get out of here. Got everything waiting for you. Pillows fluffed, bed turned down, chocolate on the bedside table."
I'd brought just the one carry-on, and a portfolio, so we were able to avoid the circus down at the luggage carousel.
.... There is more of this story ...