The bar was dark and still. The only motion came from a baseball game playing on the several wall hanging flatscreens. A small group sat around one table. A solitary drinker sat at the bar.
The woman wandered in from the hotel lobby, paused a moment as if uncertain whether to stay or go on out and sit on the deck overlooking the beach, half the tables there were occupied. There came some laughter from one. A wave of sound from a big party going on close by seemed to decide her. She walked to a bar stool, rose on the toes of her moderately heeled sandals and lifted herself with a hand on the bar and a hand on the stool's cushion.
She was quite a pretty thing though none of the bar's inhabitants, not the bartender, not the guy sitting at the bar nor the 4 guys at the table seemed to notice. The 4 guys at the table were watching the game. The bartender attended to some unfocused point out over the beach beyond the deck. The solitary guy had his iphone out.
She wore a white dress with thin blue horizontal stripes. It was of a thin translucent material. Sadly for the bartender and the guests, she wore a white slip under it. Her legs were slim. Sitting on the stool had caused the muscles of her calves to tense and lift quite fetchingly. From where the man at the end of the bar sat, he'd've been able to catch a hint of thigh before she smoothed her skirt. Not that he had.
She watched him out of the corner of her eye. There was no sign that he'd noticed her.
She was distracted momentarily by the bartender drifting over, he could've been composed of congealed smoke. She bought herself a gin-and-tonic. Taking her purse from her shoulder, opening it and checking her room number on the keycard showed off the fine lines of her bare arms and slim hands.
How old was she? Neither the bartender nor the solitary man seemed curious. Her early thirties at the worst. Her hair was brown, she had a nice wide expanse of forehead, dark eyes, they could've been black in the dim light, a nice nose, a wide mouth whose lips were almost as pale as her skin and a slightly cleft chin. About her neck she wore a blue velvet choker with a blue flower embroidered over her throat.
Her phone rang, "Hey honey," she said with a yawn.
"No, the party's down the way. I'm just sitting by myself having a drink to unwind. I'm sick of people and I'm definitely sick of document management systems. I'm gonna suggest we invest in 3 ring binders and ditch this computer shit."
She slightly raised the volume on the last. She had a nice alto voice with enough overtones so it almost sounded like she spoke in harmony. The guy down the way glanced up from his iphone and smiled slightly then looked at the game.
"I got out for a swim after lunch, but it was too damn hot and these bastards schedule 100% of your time anyway. You're lucky to be back there in Minneapolis."
"I am, I am feeling sorry for myself," she said. "If you only knew how to be nice to people and how to lie you could take my place next time. This's no fun at all."
"What do you care that it's snowing and just 10 above? Did you have to go outside today? No. You worked from home. Bet you didn't even get dressed."
"No, that's too much information."
"Well hon, I'm beat, I'm going to finish my drink and head up to bed."
"Love you too, bye."
She idly placed her phone, a Blackberry, on the bar. She made no move to finish her drink and leave. She uncrossed and crossed her legs, scratched one just above the knee, sliding the thin material of her dress back and forth.
She eyed the guy down the way while pretending to watch the flatscreen on the wall in front of him. The multicolored ballplayers on the green carpet reminded her of male birds displaying for a mate. Like any good lady bird, she kept what interest she felt hidden behind an impenetrable poker face.
The guy eyed the game briefly, then he picked up his phone and dabbed about on its screen. He frowned with concentration. He brought it up close to his eyes and looked at it carefully. Then he turned it over and looked at its back as if there might be something useful there. He put it on the bar and ran his fingers over it again.
"He's having some troubles getting his phone to behave," she observed in a low tone to the bartender. The bartender glanced down the bar without interest and then looked back out over the deck.
The guy downed half his beer and said something under his breath. He looked over towards her and when it didn't look like she was paying any attention, he shook his phone vigorously.
"I don't think that's going to help," she murmurred.
He looked at the game and then slyly, without looking down, he poked at the phone some more.
"He thinks that if it thinks he's not really interested in it, it'll do what he wants."
It rang, one of those retro clapper ringtones. The man dropped it on the bar in surprise.
"It's too smart for him. He forgot that deep down inside it's still really a phone. Now it's scored another point."
He picked it up, fumbled about, said shit, then put it to his ear. All she could hear was the bass of his voice. From its tender reassuring sound she figured he was speaking to a spousal unit of some degree of closeness. She frowned.
He was a graying fellow. He wore a suit. The top buttons of his shirt were undone and his tie hung loose. His hair was short and there was a definite thinning at the top. She admired his hands and his fingers. They always seemed to be moving. They made her shiver. She did notice that he wore a wedding band.
After his call, he looked back at the game. He moved his finger over the phone's touchpad.
"He's back to his old tricks."
He said something and firmly depressed its sleep/wake button. She watched his lips move as he counted.
"He thinks if he turns it off and on it'll start working. When in doubt, reboot is his motto. And a good motto it is, it's always served him well."
The phone came to life and he tapped at it some more. His fingers struck it with some force.
"Careful now," she murmured, "You'll do some damage."
She finished her drink. "I'll have another," she said. Then when it was served, she slipped off the stool, stretched, picked up her phone, dropped it in her purse, smoothed her skirt where it'd risen on her legs, and said a lazy, "Wish me luck," to the uncaring bartender. She strolled to where the guy sat.
"Having trouble?" she asked as she hoisted herself onto the stool. She made sure he had a glimpse of the side of a breast as she settled herself. Her dress had two thin straps that left her shoulders bare.
The man glanced at her.
"What're you trying to achieve?" she asked.
"TO get our fucking application to launch."
"It's not my fucking application," she said primly, "I presume it's your or more precisely your company's fucking application. You work for the vendor. I work for the customer. Let me see it."
She took the phone from his hand, laid it flat on the bar so he could watch. She gently caressed it with knowing fingers. "Here, it wants your login."
She pushed it back to him. She watched with amusement as he actually tried to touch type. There was no way his fingers could be crammed onto its tiny screen.
"The double prehensile thumb method works best," she said.
He grimaced. A mistaken movement brought up a photo of 2 children. 2 girls, maybe 10 and 8.
"Here," she said patiently. She took the phone back from him. "Those yours?"
"Yes," he said.
She looked at the kids a moment without expression, then brought back the application he wanted, now authenticated.
"Thanks," he said. "I'm supposed to show the damn thing off at our new products forum tomorrow morning."
"I look forward to being there," she said.
She took a sip of her drink. "You know, it's funny, at home I couldn't've managed that. I'd've made a mess of it and my guy would've said 'Here let me'. When I pick up one of our thirteen remotes, I'm sure to turn on the DVD player when what I want is to change channels. I think once I turned on the microwave all the way in the kitchen, though my guy swears it has no remote at all and is not connected to anything but the power grid. At home I'm not allowed to touch anything. It's very sweet to be helpless."
He looked at her with a faint smile.
"No," she said, "I don't think you were trying to get me to come over. You, I think, really are helpless."
There was a slight pause. He idly moved his finger on the phone. He actually managed to get his application to open a document.
"I enjoyed your talk about the differences between social and collaborative networking," she said.
"Emm," he said.
"Shit," she sighed, "Look, how about we pretend we already know each other and're having an affair? We'll waste less time."
He looked at her steadily for a moment. He sipped his beer. "OK," he said, "So how did we meet?"
"Shit. How do I know? There's no need to know. Just pretend you remember."
"I want to know."
"Look. It's like we're 2 kids playing house. One says she's the mommy, the other takes the daddy role. To play, they don't need to agree on when they met, where they first did it, when they got married, how many hours of labor it took to actually become a mommy."
He kept looking at her, "Still, I want to know."
She frowned. "Shit. OK. We met in college? You came to help my roommate study for a soc. exam. You were a thin gawky guy. Thinner than now, except in the hair department. You had some pimples as I remember, hair over your ears and definitely hair on the top of your head. Oh, maybe I shouldn't dwell so much on the hair? And you only looked at me with these little furtive side glances. I was lying on my bed, I was working on a paper about the causes of the great depression.
"Next day I made sure to loiter outside the humanities building about the time your class let out. I fell in beside you and my roommate. I asked how the test went, you said it was a snap, she said it made her snap. I felt a bit jealous of my roommate, she was such a hot little thing. She hit me lightly on the shoulder, 'Steer clear of this guy, ' she said, 'He's useless, I failed that test because he's a useless fuck, ' and she went off in another direction.
"A day or so later I had you in my bed on top of me. My roommate comes in, 'What's he doing here?' she goes, 'He's useless, throw him out. I failed.' I said, 'It's not his teaching skills I fancy.'
"A month later we moved into a room in an apartment. 3 of the kids renting it couldn't get along with the 4th. That guy moved into your dorm room. We had a room to ourselves, last room down a little dark hall. We fucked all the time. Your dick would hurt in the morning. You said you felt like I'd been sharpening it slowly with sandpaper. I said speed wasn't the goal and it was too much like a pencil already and that you weren't the only one in pain, my thighs never stopped aching until about noon. I had to hobble to my morning classes. Still somehow we kept our grades up. We were both ambitious. Our futures were lined up like stories. You wanted to be a senior engineer at Google. I wanted to be a corporate lawyer. Nights before tests or when I had a paper due, we'd separate. I'd go to the library, you went to the computer lab.
"Then it happened," she paused, took a sip of her drink and touched him on the knee. She liked how it felt so she left her hand there. He glanced down, frowned, but didn't remove the hand. "I did some babysitting to earn a little extra money on top of my college job in the dining hall. Generally I babysat for faculty families. When the kids were asleep, I'd poke around, I don't know why really, I was just curious. I wanted to know what they were like.
"One night, on the top shelf in the master bedroom, too high for any kid to reach, I found this box. It had some CDs, a set of silver clamps with chains attached, a little pencil like thing with a roller with wicked sharp spikes, something that looked like a soldering iron, some candles, various whips, 4 cuffs, some aluminum tubing whose purpose I couldn't make out and some other shit. I hardly knew what I was looking at, I had a theoretical knowledge that such things existed but'd never felt any interest and there the things were in that box and in a Chemistry professor's house too. I felt so hot. I checked out one of the CDs on my laptop, there were a bunch of.avi files. I watched one. Its plot was sketchy. This girl, after a date, brings the guy home. He's shy and hesitant, wants to watch a Doris Day movie 'cause he's nervous, then she pulls off her top and gets him to put a clothespin on a nipple and he's like a wild man. I watched the whole thing. It'd ended and I was positioning it to watch again where he dripped wax on her tits and stomach and pussy when the sound of the couple's car door penetrated my daze. I barely had time to get the clamps off my tits and the CD out of my laptop and the box back on the shelf. I was in the upstairs hall when they came in through the kitchen. When I came down the stairs, I mumbled something about having been up to check on their darlings, which went over well, then I was out the door. The guy had to call me back to pay me.
"On my way home I stopped at a CVS. It was like five minutes before they closed so I had to race. I bought clothes pins, clothes line, duct tape, candles, and a fly swatter and this plastic spatula. I didn't know which would work better, which would hurt more. I also got a collar and this pink flexi-leash, I got the kind for a 20lb dog, since I wasn't going to be pulling hard. I got back to the apartment we shared, we'd moved into one by ourselves, and I stood before you. I pulled off my top. I had clothes pins circling my breasts and one pinched to each of my nipples. I was so like scared. I'd put them on in the CVS parking lot with shaking hands and all the drive home I'd wondered what you'd do. What if you laughed or looked disgusted? It wasn't the nip from the clothes pins that made my breath short, it was that fear. Oh but your face! You were so surprised and excited. You cupped a breast and twisted the clothespin on its nipple. I gasped. 'That hurts?' you asked, looking so excited but concerned and curious and concerned too. 'Yes.' 'But you like it?' 'Not the pain, but it makes me feel so fucking hot.'"
"That was the end. We didn't go to class. We hardly left the apartment. I wore wax more often than clothes. 4 months later our grades had gone from deans list to threatening letter. One day our respective parents arrived. Mine from Ohio, yours from Maryland. They didn't know everything, they never learned of the toys, but they knew what the problem was. Miraculously, for the first time in the history of the universe, a pair of kids listened to their parents. They were right, we had to split up. We were still ambitious, only now, we were ambitious for each other, not ourselves. I could see how I was ruining your chances. The story I had for you, of your exciting career as a software engineer wasn't going to happen. You were drugged by and addicted to the sensations you got from playing with me. That I was similarly addicted to being your plaything was unimportant. There was only one thing to do. I went home with my folks and worked in a Walmart for a while then got into Oberlin. You stayed and were back on the dean's list the next semester. Went to summer school so you didn't even graduate late. We didn't dare communicate in any way less we fell off the wagon. Then 2 years ago we met again. By chance. At your company's annual shindig for its customers. You're not working for Google, but you are the VP of engineering at a vendor of document management systems, which is pretty good, I'm not a lawyer, but I am a rising manager. We agreed that it would be safe now to be together for like one night a year. We're older after all. The fires're not so hot. So, are you ready to go up? My room or yours?"
He looked at her and sipped his beer. He looked at the game and then back at her. He took her hand which had drifted far up his thigh and placed it on the bar counter. "Very nice," he said, "But how about our ages? You are 35 tops. Much more likely 29 or 30. For a fact, I turned 47 last September. Either I was held back an awful lot or my parents thought I wasn't prepared for 1rst grade until I was fifteen or you were exceedingly precocious and there is an illegal aspect to that story because you were a college freshman at age 11. You'd probably need all three options to account for the age gap. You'll have to do better."
"Shit. Pretend that I just got the bartender to hand me a bottle and I clobbered you over the head and you've got amnesia and can't remember how we met."
He shook his head, "Nope."
"Shit. This is taking longer than it would've if I'd just seduced you straight. OK. We met at work. Maybe eight years ago. You were the lead engineer. I was the newly hired assistant product manager, only 2 years out of school. That makes me 32. Is that OK?"
"I'm willing to suspend disbelief as far as that," he allowed.
"Thanks. The next product release was late. Because its features had leaked to the sales force and so of course to the customers, we had a rapidly approaching hard drop dead date when we had to be out of QA. You were fixing bugs. I was doing what I could to help with testing. The rest of the team was doing its part by knocking off at 5 and not working weekends and talking about children and home improvements over coffee when at work. That really pissed me off.
"At our status meetings I knew you were looking at me. Mostly to have someplace nice to rest your eyes while our boss yelled about how late things were. 8:30 one night I knocked on the door of your condo. You were surprised to see me but I said I thought we'd work more efficiently if I was right there to check on things immediately when you were done and show you right away how you'd fucked up. You can't rub a dog's nose in his shit by IM, I told you.