Dead End Job: A Louisa Hallstrom Novel(13)

By: Ingrid Reinke

Within seconds I heard a familiar squeak of orthopedic sneakers and groaned to myself under my breath. Oh, fucking hell. It was only creepy mail guy. He was a strange, grey-haired man who reeked of cigarettes and perpetually lapped the office, leering at all the female employees. Not only was he totally disgusting, but he habitually cock-blocked my slacking off, forcing me to minimize or click out of whatever website I was on and pretend to be working whenever he strolled by. If Maya, my favorite Associate, was in the office, I could complain to her about it (she was obsessed with a deep hatred of creepy mail guy), but since I was alone I had to get by with rolling my eyes and sighing deeply.

After creepy mail guy moved on, I checked Facebook and my personal email account, and then poked around on some gossip blogs before I checked my work email. I started going through my emails from the night before, when I suddenly remembered that in my hurry to dash out of my date’s private Tuesday night cocaine party, I had forgotten to log into the online website and block Jonah so that I would never have to think about or hear from him ever again. Oh. Crap.

I abandoned the work email requesting a copy of a client invoice and logged onto the dating site as quickly as I could, and I found that I had three new messages.

My chest tightened in anxiety as I pulled up my inbox. I was holding my breath when I clicked on “new messages,” and I did not exhale as I saw that I had 3 new messages in the folder, all from Jonah. The first message’s title was “Are you OK?” and it read:

Louisa, I am sitting here at the bar and it seems that you have stepped out for a moment. I am wondering if you are OK. Did something bad happen? Call me, Jonah : )

Second message: Subject: “Seriously?”

Louisa, I have now been sitting here BY MYSELF for 30 minutes, waiting for you to come back from wherever you are. Are you in the ladies room?

Third message, one hour after I bailed: Subject: “Fuck You.”

Louisa, it is VERY rude of you to do what you did. I don’t know what happened, but you should have at least called me to let me know that you were not coming back. I have never been treated this way in my life. Don’t ever call or email me again. You have really really bad manners. Jonah

I deleted the emails as quickly as I could and went on the site’s privacy area to block Jonah. Since he could no longer email me, I would try to forget that this entire incident happened as soon as possible, not to be spoken of until that nasty feeling of anger and shame that I got from remembering the evening had fully disappeared from my system. Unfortunately, that feeling was still around as of this morning.

After logging out of the site, settling into my desk chair that morning was like cozying down into a hole of self-pity. I hated the job, hated the co-workers and the bland, beige color of the walls and cubicles. I didn’t want to check my messages or answer emails. By the time I’d finished my coffee, I had already decided that I wasn’t even going to put in my normal two hours of work a day. Instead I was going to read an e-book and cruise around online retailers, putting items in my cart and then never buying them. I was also considering a nap on the floor of the empty cubicle behind me, because more than anything, I was just tired.

When Martin came in a little after 8:45, I hadn’t yet geared myself up for our morning’s perky gay chat, so when he walked over, put his chin over the side of my cubicle and sighed, I had to struggle to keep myself from snapping at him. He reeked of last night’s vodka and was eating a bag of French onion potato chips, so the aroma was not exactly a pleasant breath of fresh morning air.

“Have fun last night?” I asked.

“Oh Guuurrrlll…” He was in full-on drag queen mode. “We went to The Cuff last night, and from what I can remember, I did not come home by myself.” Martin, being a larger man, frequented several of Seattle’s “bear” bars, which are gay clubs that cater specifically to those who are, or those who like, large and hairy men. He usually ended up going home with some random stranger or “bear hunter” and although he was openly promiscuous, confessed to me daily that he was desperately seeking a soul mate, even though he was going about it completely the wrong way.

“Who is he?” I asked, playing along.

“Um, I think his name was Mitch and he was older. Bald guy. Hairy. Leather pants. You know, I’ve been going ethnic lately, and he was some kind of big Norwegian or German Viking type.” He winked and stuffed some more chips into his mouth.

I was going to tell him that there were not any German Vikings of historical note, but noting his appearance and smell, I decided not to bother and instead replied, “Wow. I am pretty sure you are still drunk, hon.”