Rocked by Him(9)

By: Lucy Lambert



Was there any booze left? Or had Jerry taken it all? It would be like him to come back and steal it all away from me.

Then an arm shot into the shrinking gap of the closing door. The door halted, then began opening.

That guy I saw earlier, the one with the bitchy girl, came in. He held hands with another bar tramp with bleach blonde hair and a killer body. They crowded me into the corner as he kissed her, one hand flailing back to try and press the button for his floor.

I scrunched my nose. Her perfume was cloying in this small space, tickling the back of my throat. So thick my eyes started watering.

I hated them. I hated him, I hated her. Just because they were able to enjoy themselves at that moment and I wasn't.

She ran her hand through his hair, messing it up. He didn't seem to care that much. His hands were busy messing up a few things, too.

The elevator dinged at his floor.

"Which way is your place?" she said, panting, trying to drag him out into the hall. They'd been kissing the whole time, so it was no wonder they were out of breath.

"Down this way, babe," he said, letting her pull him along.

The door started sliding closed behind him. I looked at his back, at that skull stitched onto the back of his jacket.

Then he looked over his shoulder at me. He smiled and winked, as though we were sharing some secret.

"Ass..." I said as the door closed fully and the elevator started climbing again.

But even as I said it, I don't think I really meant it. Aside from being a manwhore, he hadn't really done anything mean to me. In fact, all he'd really done so far was notice me.

***

That hangover hung out with me for the entire next day. Also, it was my first day to start taking the subway to work.

All those flickering lights, that medley of beeps and announcements, the mix of music blaring from cell phones and iPods. Not to mention the smells! Yeah, all that didn't help with the hangover either.

There were dark circles under my eyes that I tried to hide with an oil-based concealer. I put so much makeup on that I might as well have had a layer of fondant over my cheeks.

When I finally did get into the office, the air conditioning felt too sharp against my skin. It was like the middle of winter in there. I walked as softly as I could, trying to avoid that jarring jolt at the back of my skull.

Each step, I promised myself that I would never drink again. Or at least, nowhere near that much that quickly.

And no more rum. I swore that stuff was made by the devil himself.

The fluorescent light cut into my eyeballs, and I almost grabbed my sunglasses out of my purse. Luckily, I got to Lucinda's desk. I didn't know whether I should go straight to my cubicle or not, though I realized it was a gamble. I might have to see Bud again.

She looked up at me, then did a double take, her fingers jerking.

"Did he do something to you?" she said.

"What? No. I... I went out last night. Hey, do you mind if we talk quieter?"

"Sure," Lucinda said, lowering her voice so that it was just above the level of the office din. "I knew I shouldn't have left. It's just... He's..."

"I understand," I said.

We both glanced at the closed door to Bud's office. He roared with laughter in there at something, and I winced as his voice cut into my brain like a knife. I really, really hoped that I didn't have to go in there to get my assignment for the day.

"I don't suppose you have my work?"

Lucinda opened a drawer in her desk, flipping through various folders. She bit down on her lower lip as she squinted down, and I wondered if she needed glasses. Then I had an awful thought: what if Bud didn't let her wear them? He seemed like that sort of ‘60s misogynist prick, wanting a perfectly pretty secretary.

She pulled a folder out and handed it to me. It was almost twice as thick as the one from yesterday. And I still had a bit of that to get through.

Then, glancing over her shoulder first, she pulled out a small bottle of amber liquid. Jack Daniels; I could make out the remains of the black label. She kept it hidden by her desk, so that only we could see it.

"Some hair of the dog that bit you?" she said, raising her eyebrows suggestively.

I wanted to say yes, but I thought I could throw myself at my job better with a hangover than with a buzz.

"No thanks. But thank you, really. Maybe after work we could grab something?"

As I said it, I regretted it. All I wanted to do after this was go home, curl up in bed, and sleep through the entire night. Oh, and pump myself full of aspirin to get rid of that hangover.

"Sorry, got a date tonight. Maybe some other time?" Lucinda said, sucking her breath in through her teeth and then glancing back to make sure Bud hadn’t heard.

Relieved, I agreed and then went to my cubicle to lose myself for another eight hours. Though, this time I told myself to actually get some lunch.

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