Six months ago, I started working for a large upscale cruise agency in Portland. I joined the marketing team. Seven gorgeous women and three regular guys, including me. Beautiful women, great pay, and to top it off, they gave me a window office that overlooks the Willamette River. What luck, I thought. Then Nel moved in. Right out of grad school and into my life. Over a weekend, she brought in her lamps and curtains. She even rearranged our desks. She sits behind me, now, and I sit by the door.
"Uh, dude, these numbers don't make sense," she blurted out. My headphones were on, but it was no use. You can't tune-out a voice like that. Pitchy, grating.
I spun my chair to face her. Nel's chubby face leaned forward on her desk. She sneered. The two diamond studs by her eye-tooth glittered.
"What do you mean? I just did what you asked for," I said.
"I need totals by day and by week. I can't use dailies to get nets for the week. Come on." She threw herself back on her chair, flipped her short permed hair, and jabbed a finger at her monitor.
"Fine. How about you send me a request by email and I'll work on it."
"Why do I have to do that?" She let out a derisive laugh. "We're talking about it right now."
"OK, fine. I'll work on it," I said, and turned back to my computer.
"I can't do my analysis without those numbers," she kept on.
"OK, got it." I turned up the volume and drowned her out with my headphones.
Moments later she was on the phone. She'd been going on for almost half an hour. It sounded interesting, so I lowered the volume.
"But, mom, I don't know what I should do. He's leaving in a few weeks." She sounded hurt.
"Yeah. I know I shouldn't feel this way, but I do. Yeah, yeah. No, he doesn't work. His visa's expired. He can't get a job. I'm paying his rent. And his food. No. No. He's going back to the Czech Republic. I wish. We used to be boyfriend, girlfriend, but we're just friends, now. Yeah, I still love him. I couldn't kick him out."
Sounded tragic. I did my best to pretend I wasn't overhearing. But if she wanted privacy, it was not in our little fishbowl of an office.
I kept listening. Maybe I should've taken a break.
She hung up the phone, grabbed her jacket and left the office. She didn't say a word. She came back hours later.
It was the end of the day on a Friday, and our whole group was meeting for drinks at the Basement. When the time came, I volunteered my driving services. Two women came with me, Karen and Jennifer, two of the younger ones. All ten of us were waiting by the elevators, when Nel came into the lobby.
She zipped up her blue rain coat over her lime colored blouse. Her tits bunched together over the top. The coat was too small.
"You coming, Nel?" Cheryl, the director, asked.
"I don't have a ride." Said Nel, a little dejected, it seemed.
Cheryl said, "That's too bad. I'm all full, otherwise you could come with me."
"You can come with me, Nel," I said. She agreed and went down the elevator with the rest of us.
We went down to my car. Karen and Jennifer sat in the back and Nel in the front. I got out of the parking garage and sped down the hill to 12th Street.
We got to the bar early, grabbed three tables together, and ordered our drinks. When Cheryl and the rest of the crew got there, we were working on our second round. We were experts. The waitress brought out the food, and we all had a great time, moving in and out of conversations, just yakking and eating good bar food.
Nel leaned in and talked business with Cheryl, and Cheryl did her best to answer her questions and act like she actually cared what Nel had to say. Nel just didn't get it.
The drinks kept coming, beers, martinis, fru-fru drinks of all varieties. Several hours later, when Cheryl was wrapping it up, making last calls, and arranging for everyone to have a ride, we were all a little drunk. She called for the bill, and slapped down the company plastic. We stayed a while longer. I was leaning in close and talking to Courtney, a cute blond with small tits. Nel was chowing down on the remains of a Nacho plate, and sipping the last of her Long Island. No one was talking to her.
"Karen, I'm going to be driving you home. Where do you live?" I asked across two tables.
"Nel, you need a ride?" I asked next.
"Yeah, dude. OK, tell me when you're ready."
"You better not puke in my car, Nel." I said jokingly.
She made crazy eyes at me and wobbled her head.
The three of us we got up, and walked to my car. I drove Karen home a few blocks away, and then it was Nel's turn.
"Where do you live?" I asked.
It was a farther than I'd hoped.
"Why don't you move up front?" I asked.
"I'm good," she said, and crumpled up in my back seat.
She gave me directions.
"Doing anything tonight, Nel?"
"No. Maybe watch a movie on TV. What about you? Got any plans?"
"No. I think I'm going to go home, drink a beer and maybe read a book."
"We're an exciting bunch. Shit, I should've stayed in the bar. I could've hooked up with some hot guy."
"Not too late. I can drive you back." I said.
She laughed. "I was kidding. Don't you know when I'm kidding?"
I drove into a development and and parked by her town house.
She got her stuff together. "You want to come in?" she asked.
I was surprised at the offer. I thought for a split second and said, "Sure, why not."
I followed her up a wet grassy hill. The lawn was unlit, but I could still see Nel's wide hips sway in front of me. I couldn't help it. I watched her from behind. Red rubber boots. Drenched rain coat. Black jeans that didn't stretch, stretching in painful torture. We walked up some steps to her place. She unlocked the door and flipped on the lights.
Her place was a disaster. Clothing everywhere, bowls, food wrappers, garbage. Who'd invite anyone to this dump? Where's the self-respect?
There was no sign of her boyfriend.
"I thought you lived with some guy."
She paused. "He's in Seattle visiting some of our friends."
She turned her head around the place. "Here we go. You like tequila? I have that or Sapphire gin." The two bottles were resting sideways next to a beat up brown couch. She got me a red plastic cup and poured me the tequila. She went into the refrigerator and poured herself the gin. She walked back to me. The ice cracked in her cup.
"Ah," she said. "I hate drinking in crowds." She tossed back half the cup, maybe more. Her face contorted in a freaky way, buggy eyed, with more of that nasty grin I dreaded so much.
"I like drinking in private," she said. "Hold on. I'll be right back."
I sat down on a dining chair and she went to bathroom. I could hear the strong jet piss strike the toilet. It went on forever, and then a flush. She came out, stuffing her blue blouse into her tight jeans.
"You don't mind, do you? I drink, I piss." She grabbed her cup.
"I don't mind."
She exhaled. "You think they like me? Our coworkers?" she asked.
"Of course, why wouldn't they?"
"I get that impression. That they don't like me. The girls don't hang out or talk to me as much as they talk to one another." She took a sip of her drink. "You like me right? I'm not a total bitch?"
"No," I answered without hesitation, probably too quickly.
"Thanks, I like you, too, Craig. I probably treat you the worst."
I smiled and nodded in mock agreement. "It's not so bad."
"Listen, it's only because we work so well together. I think I can trust you. Not like those other assholes. You see where I'm coming from? You can't trust anyone."
She came to the table, pulled a chair and sat down with a thud.
"Is it just me, or is it hard to make friends in this town?"
"You've only been here a while. Give it time."
"I had lots of friends in college. I could talk to them about interesting subjects, about philosophy, books, music." She looked away, probably recalling these conversations that mattered.
She took a sip from her glass, casually put her hand on my knee and said, "I really like you."
I nodded. "And I like you. Nel."
I met her eyes.
"Hey, you know what? Don't take this the wrong way." She slapped her forehead. "What am I thinking?"
"What?" I asked.
She said, "I really want to suck your cock." She whinced.
I took the bottle of gin and poured some into my cup. I couldn't resist a laugh.
"Ah, I don't know if that's such a good idea."
"No?" she asked puzzled.
I looked at her with an are you kidding me look. I took a drink and flinched at the burn. It was short relief. And then it started again, the voice.
"Here I am, a woman. Look at me. I have these." She grabbed her tits. "I may not be the most attractive woman, but I'm still a woman, damn you."
I nodded in urgent agreement.
"A woman's telling you she wants to suck your dick, you say, yes." She looked at me with a look of disgust. "Fuck."
"Who said I didn't want you to suck my dick?" I put my hand on her shoulder. I stood up.
"I want you to suck my dick."
I took off my black t-shirt, to show her I was serious. She put a hand to her face and laughed out loud. I squeezed her fleshy arms. I propped her up with some effort and got us on our feet. She was a little shakier than me.
"You're not going to regret this the next day, are you?" I asked.
She put a hand on my shoulder. "Come here. Give me that." She pointed at my crotch with her finger.
.... There is more of this story ...