Monday, November 14, 2016
Stuck in the Office
Claire's hands ached and her eyes watered as she shut down her computer. She glanced at the clock, and decided that 7PM was too late to still be at work. Working for an accountant involved extra hours, but ten hours a day overwhelmed her. As she stared at the fuzzy screen with tired eyes, she imagined all the mistakes she made. It was time to leave. Her boss was demanding, and expected her to work long days. She despised him. She touched her necklace, which was a four leaf clover given to her by her grandmother. She found it last night in her apartment as she cleaned. She put it on this morning, and prayed it would bring her luck.
“I should buy a lottery ticket after work,” she thought, as she heard a growl and placed a hand over her hungry stomach. Baked ziti , which she cooked last night, was waiting for her at home. She imagined the pasta, tomato sauce, and garlic and onions, sliding down her throat. Boy, was she hungry!
The sound of footsteps interrupted her erotic thoughts about food . Her head spun around, and in her drowsy state she saw two figures down the hall. Her heart started palpitating as she imagined masked intruders entering and holding her hostage, or making her a sex slave.
“ I watch too many movies, but the way my life is going, a sex slave sounds good,” she thought.
She ducked into a closet as the footsteps got closer. The voices sounded familiar. She cracked the door open and saw her boss Larry kissing Jenny, the new intern. She felt her breathing quicken as she thought, “Oh my God, he’s married. What the fuck?”
She remained in the closet as she remembered Larry’s bad temper. Last week he threw a plant across the room because he was angry at a difficult client. What if he killed her to keep her quiet? “Oh, Claire, not only do you watch too much TV, you read too many murder mysteries,” she thought.
She peeked out and saw him remove Jenny’s shirt and bra. “ Damn, her boobs are perky,” she thought.
This could take hours, and she needed to get home. But who awaited her at home? Nobody. She hadn’t had sex in such a long time that this would be cruel punishment to watch.
As she sat in the dark, she felt the familiar tickle travel through her nasal cavity. A sneeze was about to erupt. She made sure the door was closed and she cupped her hand over her nose, sucking it back in. She knew it would explode at some point.
She thought of Lili, Larry’s wife. She was such a sweet woman, and she had been undergoing chemo treatments this year. How could he cheat on her? What a dick! She thought about texting someone. But whom? Her cats? Her friends? The guy she dated last month who never called her again?
She peeked out again and shuddered. They were both completely naked.
“Oh my, and oh no, the sneeze is coming back,” she thought.
Her nose began to itch and quiver, and she sneezed at the same time that Jenny groaned loudly.
“Whew, they didn’t hear me,” she thought.
She peeked out again and overheard Jenny saying, “I could stay here all night,” Larry replied, “Lilli is out at her book club meeting, so we can spend hours doing this.”
“Hours?! I don’t have hours, ” thought Claire. “I’m hungry, and I want to go home.”
Claire thought she would cry. Maybe they will both need to go to the bathroom so she can slip away?
“Please, let them leave so I can escape. I know I wished for more excitement recently, but I sure as hell didn’t expect this!” Claire thought.
Then she heard words that sounded like music to her ears. “ Hon, let’s leave and find a hotel; it will be much more fun,” said Larry.
After a few more kisses and feels, they threw their clothes back on and left.
Once she was confident they were gone, she tried to open the door, but the doorknob was stuck. She was trapped in a hot stuffy closet. She felt like she was going to die. She held onto the knob and twisted but nothing happened.
She looked in her purse and found an eyebrow tweezer. She tried to jiggle the lock. No luck. She had various types of make-up, a comb, a tampon, but nothing that would open this door.
“A blow torch would be helpful!” she thought.
She found dental floss, and a nail file. She tried to jimmy the lock with the nail file, but it didn’t work. Damn it, she would have to call the police and deal with the humiliation.
She pulled out her phone and saw the familiar low battery message.
“When will I ever learn to charge up my phone on a daily basis?” she thought.
At lightning speed, she began her text to her friend Jamie. I’m locked in a closet at work, please help, tell security when you -----And then the phone went dead before she could press send. She panicked. She banged the door and yelled for help. She grabbed her four leaf clover necklace and made wishes. Maybe Jenny forgot her bra and would need to come back. She would pretend she heard nothing. She would even offer her body for a menage a trois. This was a disaster. Tears burned her eyes as she thought of how miserable her life has been. She worked at a dead end boring job for a two timing accountant, and her love life was non-existent. This was the most excitement she had in a long time.
She felt feverish, thirsty, and cranky.
“Nobody will even miss me when I don’t come home tonight, “ she thought as her eyes watered. She wasn't religious but prayed. It was hot and she felt the sweat drip down her neck. She recalled reading news articles about children and animals dying in a hot car. Would she suffer the same fate in a closet that felt like a hot oven? Her throat felt parched as she longed for a glass of water. She thought about dying a violent death by suffocating in this hot closet. She then felt a familiar urge. She needed to pee. It must be nerves.
She banged on the door again. She sang songs in her head to relax her brain. She counted to 100. She tried to meditate, but unwanted thoughts invaded her brain. Her bladder was filled. She then heard footsteps. Was this a serial killer with matches and gasoline to set the place on fire? She took her chances and kicked the door. It was opened by the handsomest man she ever saw. In her delusional state, he looked like a Greek God.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
“ I have to pee,” was all she could think of saying as she thought, “ What is wrong with me? All I can talk about is my urge to urinate?”
“Who are you exactly?” he asked.
Claire felt like she was living in a dream world.
“I work here and got locked in the closet and---but who are-- and how did you find me?” asked Claire.
“I’m Matt. My sister Jenny is an intern here, I know she works late a lot so I thought I would stop by and say hi. She’s not picking up her phone.”
“Oh, um, well, she, oh God,” exclaimed Claire. Her heart was beating so fast, partly because Matt was exquisite, and partly because of her nervousness on how much she should tell Matt about his sinful sister.
“I really need to pee,” she said again as Matt looked her up and down.
“Why am I standing here like a tongue tied moron,” she thought.
Claire excused herself and ran to the bathroom. When she returned, Matt was texting someone. He looked like a male model. She blinked several times and pinched herself, convinced she was dreaming.
He smiled at her and his emerald green eyes shone.
“So, Jenny just texted me that she decided not to work late tonight and is having a grand ole time, so all is well.”
Claire felt butterflies in her stomach. “Well, she, oh never mind, I’m just glad you saved me. It was hot in that closet.”
Matt rubbed her shoulder. “Do you want to grab a bite?”
Claire kicked herself still convinced she was deep in dreamland. A Brad Pitt lookalike asking her out? This has to be a dream.
“I guess we can grab something to eat,” she stammered.
Matt took her hand. “You know, I would rather eat you.”
“Um, what?!” Claire asked, looking around and wondering if she was better off locked in the closet.
“You know, we have this whole floor to ourselves and--”
“I gotta go,” said Claire. As she started to walk away, he grabbed her arm roughly. “Not so fast missy. I saved your life and--”
With a burst of adrenaline, Claire kicked him in the shins as hard as she could. He looked startled and she bolted down four flights of stairs. She silently thanked her best friend Jamie for forcing her to join a gym.
When she got outside and felt the fresh air hit her face, she felt a sense of relief. Until she felt a drop. And then another, as a torrential rainstorm poured down on her head. And then the tears streamed down her cheek. She realized she left her purse in the office and there was no way she was going back up there. She had her apartment keys with her, but no phone or wallet. She started walking the twenty blocks to her apartment, when a familiar voice said, “Claire?”
She turned around to see Jeanette, one of her boss’s former clients. Jeanette was a woman in her seventies who was spry and fun. She carried a bright pink umbrella, and wore a golden yellow rain coat.
“Oh hi,” said Claire as she wiped tears away.
“Are you ok? Here, stand under this with me.” said Jeanette as Claire stood under the oversized umbrella.
Claire burst into tears and told Jeanette everything, from her boss and Jenny, to being locked in a closet, to Matt’s come on.
“And I left my purse upstairs. I can’t go up there. All Matt did was verbally seduce me and I attacked him.”
“Let’s take a cab, I’ll treat. Tomorrow when you go to quit your job you can retrieve your belongings.”
“Wait, what, I can’t quit, I need the job, I mean, I hate it but--”
“I stopped using Larry Winsler because he was sleazy. I didn’t trust him with a ten foot pole. My new accountant is honest and nice. His administrative assistant is pregnant, and I know for a fact, she is not returning after she gives birth. You’d be perfect and I would give you great references,” said Jeanette.
“Oh my God, you are so kind but I don’t know if I want the same job somewhere else. I really want to be a professional photographer but---”
“Let me guess? You work sixty hours a week for slimeball so have no time to pursue your passion, right?”
“Yep, pretty much. My life consists of work, eat, TV, and sleep. And on weekends, in between laundry, cleaning and other chores, I try to take a few pics here and there,” said Claire.
“Working for Scott will be different. The hours are flexible and there is no overtime except during tax season. You can have a life. Mindy, who is pregnant, is a writer, and takes classes after work. She is also writing a novel. Let me talk to him,” said Jeanette.
At that moment a taxi approached and Jeanette waved for him to stop.
As they entered the taxi, Claire fingered her four leaf clover necklace and smiled.