The Morning After, Excerpt from "Betrayed"
by Bintell Powell
The loud and unforgiving metallic sound of the A-train hurling itself downtown towards my usual Canal-Street stop this morning is louder than normal. The noise from the train swaying back and forth seems to be dragging my life along with it, as it rolls from one stop to another. The pungent smell of urine and unwashed bodies permeate the train car and envelop my unsuspecting nostrils. My head's pounding and the un-dissolved liquor in my system, takes control of my body chemistry for the ninth time this morning. Last night, I almost had ménage a trios.
It was crazy all right. Last night was filled with beautiful women and tons of celebrities to boot. I attended the 2000 MTV Music Awards, as well as the after party at Lotus, now one of the hottest clubs in New York City. I saw so many good looking people enjoying themselves, laughing and talking amongst one another like they were genuinely enjoying each other's company, I was practically in a state of shock. The feeling was surreal. It felt like another world. A world I’d only heard about or seen on television. Like the forbidden fruit that one shouldn't touch but tasted oh so good, or that girl, always just a half a step away in my dreams, I could never quite catch, no matter how fast I ran after her, I’d finally arrived. Here it was, standing in front of me, looking at me with a nonchalant attitude like, “Where have you been? We've all been here waiting for you.”
The painful truth is, for the majority of my life, I’ve not been fortunate enough to get that oh-so-beautiful girl to stare at me like, “Take me, I want you tonight.” It's evaded me for all these years like the sunshine peeking through the darkest cloud’s lining, only to retreat before its warm sunrays can illuminate your face. Last night though, the most beautiful girls attended this party, and what was even more confusing was they were staring right at me. God knows I've been waiting for it to happen for too long. Now that it was, I didn't have a clue as to what I should do.
My feet felt like they were stuck to the floor. My mouth was dry and I had absolutely no idea what to say to win any of the girls over. This one Spanish looking girl at the bar shot me a sultry look as if to say, “I want you right now.” She had the body of Salma Hayek and the face of Catherine Zeta Jones. She was taller than me, and that I can assure you, never happens! She was about 5'10, 6'2 with heels on, and had the posture of a dancer. Her body was so curvaceous. Its design seemed to suggest that her vagina would be as tight and soft as her ass and breast seemed to be. Her ass was perfectly shaped. It looked as if it could stand alone, independent of her body, while at the same time it hung perfectly as an appendage on her feminine frame. Like a heart, it sat there on her lower back, winking at everyone through her silky chiffon dress. Her skinny waist seemed to magically support her broad shoulders and upper body, with the most interesting component of her physic being her two perky breasts that stared at me with the same intensity as her dark brown eyes. Her legs were long, with calves resembling little asses hanging off the back of her knees. She had long curly black hair that surrounded her face and faded right above her shoulder. Her lips were painted with red lipstick. They were bubbly and full. Perfect for oral sex. The white chiffon dress she wore, gave a precise picture of what she’d look like without clothing. She looked like those girls you see in comic books with over-developed bodies. The only thing was, this super hero was wearing a dress. I'd imagined girls looked like this, but seen very few of them in my day. The ones I’d seen, I never forgot. She'd be no different.
Her perfect breasts, ass, legs and spaghetti strap dress, that settled right above her knees was a picture of sexuality at its finest, timeless even. She was almost too fine. She scared me. I was immediately thrown off guard by her confidence and sexual intensity. I looked away, trying to act cool about it, but she stood there staring at me like, “Yes, I’m looking at you, waiting for you to come over and talk to me." I looked away and then back again, but my lack of confidence betrayed my intentions. I knew if I approached her and said something less then totally suave like, "What's your name? I’m a producer for Tommy Motolla. Why don't you and your friends join me in the VIP area to sip some champagne and after that, we can go to my loft apartment around the corner, incidentally equipped with indoor heated swimming pool just in case you want to take a dip?” she'd probably loose interest, so I sat there for about three minutes thinking about what I should do. She turned to a blond girl standing next to her. They began to talk and laugh. "Oh hell no!” I thought. “They're laughing at me.” That's when I made up my mind to wait a few minutes, then, as calmly as possible, make my way over to the bar where she was standing. I turned to my man Chris who I’d come to the party with.
"C, don't look now, but there are some girls over by the bar ice grilling me."
"Who?” Chris blurted out. He instantly got overly anxious. I had to grab his arm to stop him from looking towards the bar and making fools of us both.
"Don't look, damn! I don't want these chicks to think I'm sweating them.”
“Alright. Who you talking about? She look good? She got friends?" he asked.
“The Spanish girl over at the bar with the white dress. She’s standing next to the white girl with the blond hair. Can’t you see her? She's staring all in my face."
"Which one?" he asked anxiously.
"The Spanish looking one, with the tits in the dress. Can't you see?" I asked thinking he must be blind not to spot her.
"Oh word!" he replied enthusiastically, while trying to catch her eye with his typical over-pronounced body movements.
"Yeah man, she's clocking me hard. I'm going to go over there and kick it to her in a minute. When I get over there and start talking, you come over and spit at the white chick. Alright?"
"No doubt, I got it," Chris replied while snickering under his breath. His mocking laughter got on my nerves. Almost shook my confidence but I shrugged it off. I had bigger fish to fry.
I began the long walk over to the bar area where she was standing. The music was blaring and the dance floor was crowded as hell.
You are not ready….dynasty..…young.. Hova….I’m a hustla baby….I just want you to know…..it ain’t were I been….but were I’m about to go…now I just wanna love ya….you know who I am….and wid all this cash….you’ll forget ya man…now give it to me…
I had to practically push my way past all the guys and even some girls to get to the part of the bar where she was standing. It was like they all knew what I was up to, and were making every effort to stop me. The girls were worse than even the guys.
As soon as I was within five feet of her, she turned to me and stared directly into my eyes. If I read her correctly, she was just as anxious to start a conversation, as I was afraid to make a fool out of myself. I was stricken with fear. It's not like I've got witty lines on the tip of my tongue, like Chris or other kids I know. I usually mess these types of opportunities up, playing the nice guy role. It just doesn't happen to me enough I guess? Despite my overwhelming fear, I somehow found the strength to follow through. I got next to her and caught the bartender's eye.
"What would you like sir?"
"I'll take a Barcardi Lemon on the rocks, a double."
"Are you ladies drinking tonight?" I asked staring right into the eyes of my prey.
She looked at me and batted her eyes daintily.
"No, we're okay. I haven't finished the drink I just ordered," she said with a smile, as her girlfriend, who was very good looking as well, leaned forward to witness our conversation. By the huge grin on her face, it appeared she was more interested in what we were talking about than even we were.
"Okay, I'm just checking. You ladies are just standing here alone, not being entertained. I felt it was my duty to make sure you were enjoying yourselves."
"Is that so?”
“So that is,” I replied.
“Really, and who would you be? Are you some sort of entertainment coordinator?" she asked. Initially her voice was whiter than Hillary Clinton’s. After she said that, I could tell she'd spent a day or so in the hood. She rolled her neck and looked at me with a cute little twinkle in her eye. Her girlfriend looked on thoroughly entertained.
"No, no, no, that's not my job. I'm not sure that job would pay enough come to think of it. I'm more the entrepreneurial type. I can't stand working hard to make other people rich. Where's the fun in that? I usually perform acts of hard labor for my own benefit. I mean this is America right? Now, are you sure you don't need another drink sweetheart?"
"No, but you can get me another one when I’m finished with this one."
"Alright, that'll work. So, what's your name, if you don't mind me asking?" The bartender came back with my drink. I took it and handed him my American Express card.
"Keep it open." He nodded and smiled at me while looking at the girls. I secretly gave him the nod back.
"Samantha, and yours?"
"Mark, Mark Christian. Where are you from? No, let me guess, um LA, although you look like you could also be from Miami. I don't know, why don’t you just tell me?"
"Wow, do you know me from somewhere? I mean, I’m just saying, that’s funny because I was born in LA, and I now live in Miami. How did you know that? Are you some sort of stalker or something?" she asked with attitude to spare.
“No, I swear, I'm no stalker. I just guessed. I’ve been watching a lot of the Travel Channels lately and I guess I just got lucky. Believe me, I’m not a stalker." They both laughed loudly. Samantha rested her hand on my arm holding my drink. She turned to her friend and they both smirked at each other. "Yes, I'm in. She likes me. Thank you God!" I thought. Her girlfriend leaned over.
"What’s your name?"
"Mark, Mark Christian. Nice to meet you," I replied. She extended her hand and shook mine.
"Jessica. Likewise," she said with a smile on her face. My heart relaxed and I took a deep breath.
Finally, victory was mine. I looked around to see all the other guys in the club staring at me with piercing envy in their eyes. Seconds later, Chris came over and placed his hand on my shoulder.
"Ladies, this is my partner Chris. Chris, say hello to our new friends from Miami." Chris introduced himself and I watched closely to see if Jessica approved of his overall appearance. She was nice enough to him, so I took that as a yes, and suggested we all get a table so we could get to know each other better. Naturally they agreed. The waitresses shot me a dirty look when I caught her by the arm as she attempted to walk by quickly. Her demeanor changed as quickly as a sun shower when I politely asked for a table in the VIP section. She smiled and informed me there was a two-bottle minimum. I made sure not to flinch, although I felt like running out of the club.
After I agreed, she quickly escorted us to the only free table available in the VIP area next to a bunch of models. Some of them looked familiar. Like I’d seen them in commercials or something. They were all blond with breast implants. There was one black girl with them. She had beautiful smooth dark skin and big brown catlike eyes. She was just as fine as Samantha and for a moment, I forgot all about her until she touched me on my shoulder as she sat down snapping me back into reality. I just stood their staring, hypnotized by the majesty of her black beauty. Luckily I snapped out of my momentary trance just before I insulted Samantha. I picked up the drink menu to check out the expensive bottle selection.
"Can we get a bottle of Absolut and a bottle of Cristal?"
"Sure sweetie. How many glasses would you like?" the waitress asked ever so politely.
"Four glasses should do it, and you'll have to get my card from the guy at the bar. I got a few drinks over there earlier."
"No problem. What's your last name?"
"OJ or Cranberry?" she asked as she swiped the menus out of my hand and off the table.
"Both," I replied. Chris took the liberty of asking the first question.
"So, what are you ladies doing in New York?"
"I’m here for the awards. I was dancing tonight. Didn't you guys see me?" Jessica blurted out just as quickly.
"So you’re a dancer?" Chris inquired.
"Yeah, I’ve been dancing ballet, jazz and tap for as long as I can remember."
"That's real hot. Some of my models were dancers and have gone on to become choreographers," Chris said in a laid back tone, making himself look far more important than he really is.
"So what do you do?" I asked Samantha quietly. She turned away from Chris and Jessica to speak directly to me. Just then, the waitress and another girl brought our bottles to the table and again, for about three minutes, all eyes were focused on us. After catching the dark skinned beauty’s eye once or twice, I leaned over to show Samantha I was giving her my undivided attention, even in the wake of us being gawked at.
"I'm a stylist, slash makeup artist. I did the make-up for the presenters tonight."
"Word? And how do you like it?"
"It's okay I guess. The money is cool, and the companies that contract me usually pay for me to travel. The only thing that becomes a bore, is living out of a suitcase for weeks at a time. Other than that, I get to meet a lot of nice people, and go to really amazing parties. Like this one for instance,” she explained.
"I know how you feel. Whenever I travel for work, or even for pleasure, I get so stressed out. You have to make sure you pack all you’re shit, and God forbid you leave a favorite belt, or your favorite cufflinks home. Then, you have to make a trip to the local mall and spend extra money to get something just as nice or even nicer. When you leave, you always leave something behind and then you have to call the hotel, rant and rave about which housekeeper stole your shit and they never find it. You go away to relax, and end up more stressed out than you were before you left. For you, I can only assume traveling is more of a pain in the ass, than I could ever imagine."
She smiled, put her chin in her hand and with her face one inch from mine, she asked, “What do you do that makes you have to travel with cufflinks?” as the waitress gave us our glasses of champagne. I cleared my throat, and with more charisma than Larry Fishburne on stage at a Broadway play, I spoke.
"Well, I have two occupations."
"Really, do tell."
"Well, I'm kind of like Superman. By day, I’m a mild mannered Computer Consultant for AB&T.”
“Yes, and by night, I’m the C.E.O. of a fashion magazine on the Internet called Life-Stylish.com. That's actually why I’m here tonight. We’re about to get financing, and my success will be based on how well I can align myself with other established organizations within the entertainment industry. Like an MTV for example."
"I see. So I’m hanging with a real live Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the NYC?"
"Please believe it," I replied with a smirk on my face. Samantha held up her glass to toast to what I’d just told her. We touched glasses and sipped on our champagne, never taking our eyes off of each other.
Chris and I talked about everything from sex, to exotic cars, to sports, to relationships, with Samantha and Jessica like we’d rehearsed our every line beforehand. After the bottle of Cristal was gone and we were well into the Vodka, Samantha let me know about her favorite sexual pastime. Oral sex. She whispered in my ear, about how she liked to give blowjobs and make men cum down her throat while sucking on the cherry in her drink. She held it by the stem between her teeth and looked me directly in the eye, giggling like she’d been tickled by a private joke. Then, just for effect, she tied the stem into a knot inside her mouth. I couldn't believe what I was seeing before me, but I played it cool. I wasn’t about to mess this opportunity up.
After the bottle of Absolut, a bottle of Cristal, a $1,000.00 bar tab along with some intense stares from everyone within eyeshot in the VIP area, I was ready to go. The VIP was practically empty. The models left along with the black beauty accompanied by some wrinkly white men in there mid-fifty’s, which caused my stomach turn as I watched them calmly stroll out of the club. Everyone was leaving and I had to get up early for work that morning. Samantha and Jessica were drunk. At first, my mind was on getting them to a hotel and having sex with them both. Samantha’s comment about guys and oral sex let me know she was definitely living in the moment. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't live out my sexual fantasies with her tonight. If I did, I’d never make it to work in the morning, and my new manager is just waiting for me to slip up. I checked my watch. It was 3:55a.m. I got Samantha's cell number. She was staying at the Four Seasons Hotel, room number 935. I had to leave. I had a long day of work to look forward to. Chris, on the other hand was free to hang out and take advantage of all my hard work. He didn’t so much as offer to help with the bill so I reluctantly paid the tab and kissed both of them on the cheek.
"I'll call you tomorrow. I know you're leaving for Miami, but maybe we can get up before you jet?" I whispered in Samantha's ear.
"Okay sweetie. Are you sure you have to leave? We have a suite and there's more than enough room for you," she said in a drunken stupor as she grabbed on my forearm.
"Yo, you have no idea how much I don't want to leave, but I have deadlines I have to meet and I can't afford to slip up now, but I promise, believe me, I am going to call you!" I kissed her on her forehead and turned to leave. There was no way I was kissing her on the mouth. She pinched me on my ass as my back was turned and I turned around to see Chris groping them both with a Kool-Aid smile on his face. I felt sick to my stomach but I smiled and walked painstakingly towards the door with the large bright red blinking EXIT sign above it. All I could do was keep walking like Cinderella before the clock struck four.
I guess that's why this morning the conductor's voice as he announces the next stop, as well as the lifeless faces of the other passengers on the train is making me feel as if I’m in an asylum. As I hold onto the cold steel handrail, I hear voices in my mind saying, "What the hell are you doing with your life? Didn't someone tell you this was how your life could end up?” After last night and an hour of sleep, it’s apparent that something is seriously wrong with the direction my life is headed. This morning, I feel betrayed by all those people who’d convinced me I was doing the right thing by going to school to become an Electrical Engineer. Mrs. Johnson, an English teacher that used to act as a mentor and guidance counselor to all the African American students in college said to me one day, "Mark, when you graduate, you’re going to have so many women after you, you’re going to have to beat them off with a stick!" Yeah right. She must have been smoking weed or something because the only women I see all up on me, are the ones I can afford to buy champagne for. Although I doubted what my elders were telling me in those days, I still followed their lead and did what I thought was the ‘right thing”. Now, all I want to do is lash out at them for misleading me. Whether they did it intentionally or not, I’m now hopelessly stuck in a profession that micromanages every aspect of my social-life. After all my hard work, this morning I’m on the verge of a serious breakdown.
There were clues I ignored. I should have known something was wrong with my parents direction for me by the way my father would rant and rave saying, “Yu ave tu be suppa nigga tu suvi in corporate America yu ear mi tell yu!” Maybe I ignored him because it was just too much to think about? Maybe, I ignored him because we all thought he was crazy? He was always upset about something or another. Nevertheless I’m stuck. What’s more is, I’m confused. I’m confused because based on the way people react to me, I should be happy. I’m known about town on the black New York City party circuit if nothing else, by face. Even though I’m not on the "A" list at some of the more exclusive parties, I manage to get around town pretty well. Any pretty girl or Underground Celebrity, my own term given to people known in the in-crowd, but not yet on the cover of PEOPLE magazine, knows who I am, either by face, or by direct contact. I have all the things that should bring me social success in this glamorous world in which I live. I wear the most expensive clothing. Well, maybe not the most expensive, but I’m up there with the best of them. Between $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 is my price range for an average suit. Rene Lezard, Ralph Lauren-Purple Label, Donna Karen, Paul Smith, Ermenegildo Zegna, just to name drop a little. As for my wrist, I’ve chosen to wear a Cartier Pasha, stainless steel watch with white gold bezel, equipped with caged faced. It gets the job done. Whenever I’m out and about, people know exactly what type of watch I'm wearing. I live in a decked out duplex apartment in Garden City, Long Island, one of the most exclusive areas in Long Island that one can live. I drive a Black Range Rover with beige leather interior and brown piping. All I hear from people is, "Mark, you got the fly gear!” or “Mark, you sexed that chick I saw you with the other night?"
Yes, my choice of occupation has given me the ability to acquire some of my material desires. I have most of the amenities any young man should have. Yet there's something missing. Something's wrong. Very wrong. I’m constantly consumed by strong feelings of loneliness and insecurity. Maybe it has something to do with my family being so disjointed? Everyone, myself included, has an individual beef with everyone in the Christian family. The fighting between my father and mother was vicious to say the least, not to mention the fighting between my sister Kennedy and I, verbal as well as physical. At this point I'm not sure if we'll ever speak again. Even though I would love to have a sister to talk to, I'm afraid we’re just better off this way.
My family isn't the only dysfunctional aspect of my social life. Too many of my high school friends are either in jail, or hell bent on looking down their noses at me. No middle ground. With my friends, it's either one extreme or the other. I saw this day coming back in junior high school. Since the eighth grade my immediate family situation has been getting worse and worse. I've felt like a child with his finger in a dam, trying to prevent the water from crashing through, but to no avail. It's been like watching a car wreck happen right in front of you and being helpless to stop it. God knows I've tried. It seems like the more I tried to hold things together, the more the dam caved in.
Maybe my so-called friends and family aren't totally to blame for my bewildered state? Maybe it's my own personal disappointments? I've spent obscene amounts of money traveling here and there to events that would put me in contact with the upper echelon of society. South Beach, the Super Bowl every year, the Hamptons in the summer, Cancun, Atlanta, Vegas, LA, Monte Carlo, Jamaica for Jazz Festival, etc. The list goes on and on. After spending an average of $8,000.00 on each venture, I'm back exactly where I started. No real friendships to show for it. Here and there you may get lucky. You may get to sex a nice piece of tail on too few occasions, but that’s about it. That’s the best you can hope for.
I have grown up watching guys on television – white guys mostly score with beautiful women, who seem to for reasons that can only be attributed to their good looks, take an immediate and overwhelming interest in them. These girls fell head over heels in love, not to mention in lust, for these white characters. The movies played like old Bonny & Clyde pictures with very little words, but tons of passion. The question that burns in my mind is, where is my spontaneous passionate moment? My girl Tamar cares for me, I know. Always has my back, but something's missing. She isn't like the other girls I meet and sleep with, once in a very blue moon at these industry events that Chris gets me into. There is no adventure with my girl and that’s what I’m living for.
For these reasons and others I can't quite explain, even to myself, today I’m practically suicidal. Maybe, if I'd boned Samantha last night, I wouldn't be feeling this way now. I get a chance to have sex with a girl like her, and because of my stupid job, I can't even close the deal. I've sexed one or two industry girls in my time, but Samantha, she's different! She knows she's fine. Sex with her would have been the turning point in my mediocre sex life I've been waiting ever so patiently for.
This morning I feel sorry for everything that I think I can identify with personally. I feel sorry for the children on the train and for the women who look like they’re making just enough money to get to work and back again. The sight of them moves me almost to tears. It feels as if I’m watching my own life's horror story play out right in front of me, and the worst thing is, I’m finally coming to grips with me being helpless to change it.
The images of disenfranchised mothers and children seemed to stare back at me and laugh at the fact that I recognized the inevitable. As I look at the children with their mothers, I see my past. Portions of my life I thought were forever locked in the deepest parts of my memory. They come back to me so vividly, they send chills through my spine. I hear music getting louder and louder in my head until I can hear it perfectly.
But I would not give you false hopes. On this strange and lonely day, Cause the mother and child reunion is only a motion away.
I think back to my own childhood and that day my mother, while still pregnant with my sister Kennedy, took me out to the local park in Brooklyn where we lived at the time. I think it was Prospect Park.
It was the early 70's, and my mother was sporting her Afro as natural as the day. She was a vision of a soul sister to behold. The sound of the train vanishes as this day plays out in my head. My mother and I, sitting in the middle of the park, on an old blanket she'd carried from our little Flatbush apartment. Mama took a plastic bag, blew air into it, and threw it into the bright summer's sky.
"Go and get it Mark," she said. I ran after the bag, watching it float so high above the ground. I remember being determined to catch the bag as it soared so far out of my reach. When it finally came down, it landed right in the middle of some young white people playing acoustic guitars and singing folk songs. They must have been hippies? In any event, I ran into the middle of their circle to collect my prize, but as they played, my attention was diverted from the balloon I’d come to collect, to what they were doing as well as the happy sounds they were making. They were all singing and clapping with bright smiles on their faces. I naturally began to dance and became overjoyed by their approval of my antics. I sang and danced for their entertainment. After a few verses, my mother came over and took me back to where we’d made camp. It was that very day I decided that when I grew up, I would learn to play the guitar. My mother was so happy. I can still see her bright smile beaming at me as I showed her how I’d play the guitar on bended knee. The thought of her smiling brings me joy as it replay’s this morning it in my mind's eye.
The train rocks back and forth and my attention is again focused on the mother and child images that I have this morning, reminded me so vividly of my own lost youth. Will these children that sit so innocently before me today be destined to live out their lives, one dreadfully mundane day at a time, much like the ones I’ve been living through on an everyday basis for the past six years? Is my life repeating itself right before my eyes, almost mocking my hopes of fame and glory? Things are beginning to make sense. I’m following in the footsteps of my parents. Life is repeating itself, almost in a perfect circle of mediocrity. I've sacrificed everything that I’ve really wanted and it’s all been to no avail. What scares me most is that, day-by-day, week-by-week, it's becoming clear to me. With true clarity, the only thing that can get me to where I want to be in life, there’ll be a painful price to pay. Upon the acquisition of my dreams, I’ll probably be left broken hearted. I’m recognizing a pattern. Nothing good in my life has ever been earned without great pain and personal loss.
The A train rolls into the Canal Street stop and I exit the train. I look around in the hope I'll see a face with a smile, or a sign on a poster that'll help me make sense of why I continue with this day-to-day grind, that leaves me so unfulfilled. I'm looking for something to show me a bigger reason to continue with my daily routine, other than me just paying my bills. If I continue this way, will my dreams and I miraculously collide? I see no sign of hope, nor do I see that beautiful girl that would normally appear in the movies just about now. I see nothing, so I push my way through the cold hard faces of the Canal Street stop, and up the stairwell, which leads me directly into my building.
I try to avoid the other lifeless faces of my coworkers by playing with my Palm Pilot as the elevator takes us to the 13th floor. As soon as the doors opens, I hurry out of the elevator, and make my way to my lonely cold cubicle. I've noticed lately that as the young executives come up the elevator, they usually talk and laugh about whatever they think will give them the last chance at human contact. Almost every time I’m in the elevator I’ve noticed, as soon as they get to the floor of his/her destination, almost immediately they stop talking, put their heads down, and walk directly to their desks. I still remember the first time I took real notice of this. It scared the shit out of me. Not because my fellow co-workers were in prison. I could care less about them. What shocked me was I know I can’t last in this type of an environment. I know that sooner or later, my passion for life will get the best of me, and I’ll be discovered for the rebel I really am. This morning I accepted my fate, and decided to make a go of it. Although I'm not a religious person, I call on a higher power. "God, please show me the way."
My cubicle is exactly the way I left it last night. I rest my elbows on my desk and take a long, unhappy deep breath. I look around hoping to see something to bring a smile to my face. There’s nothing on my desk except things not worth stealing. There are stains from me eating lunch that are now dark from dust particles sticking to them. My organizer is in the upper right hand corner and my calendar is under my docking station. I’m embarrassed to see how many notes that have nothing to do with work are jotted on it. Hopefully my boss has not taken a look at my desk and discovered these scribblings. I have personal notes, phone numbers, and locations for after work gatherings all over my calendar in bold blue ink. There’s a penholder in the upper left hand corner, filled with brand new blue pens I stole from the supply room while the office manager was talking about her children to the receptionist, and her back was turned. If not for the scribbling on my calendar, my desk would appear uninhabited. It looks as if I left yesterday with the same desperation to get out, as I feel this very moment. I hear chatter behind me. I turn around to see some of the younger associates on the other sales team talking amongst themselves. They all have Starbuck’s coffees in their hands. Steven, Suzy, and Jason are young white kids on Rick Sadlman's team. Rick is a laid back sort of manager, who smiles and jokes around more than anything else during the day. From the looks of it, he’s hired a young, fun loving team that mimics his personality almost to a tee.
"Hey what's up Mark?" Steven says as he comes over and gives me a pound much like a black person would. Steven is the resident pretty boy in our division. All the girls love him, and even though I'm a little jealous, I can't really blame them. He's got more personality than anyone else in our office.
"What's the deal Steve?"
"Nothing brother. You look like you had a hard night. Out partying with the celebrities for the VMA's?"
"Jesus, do I look that bad?" I ask, hoping Steven is just exaggerating. I don't need my manager coming over asking me questions. Then he'll be looking for me to come in late, and if I do, he’ll think it's because I’m a party animal.
"Naw brother, don't worry about it. Go in the bathroom and splash some water on your face. A strong cup of coffee and you should be fine. So where did you go? Let me know?” I get excited by the chance to relive last night's escapades."
"I came this close to fucking these two chicks from Miami in town for the awards," I explain while holding my hands up like I’m pinching something, attempting to show Steven just how close I came from having the ménage a trios.
"Bullshit! What happened?"
"I had to get up for work this morning. I couldn't bring them back to my apartment. What, so my girl can pop up and bust me? She knows I went out, and I know she suspects me. That would be just too easy. If I had gone with them to their hotel, come on, you know I wouldn’t have made it to work this morning. What was I to do? I took off. A hot fuck in the sun isn’t worth me loosing my job over," I explain as Steve looks on in complete shock. Suzy and Jason, now hearing my level of enthusiasm, come over to listen to our conversation. Knowing I can't talk about explicit sex in front of Suzy, I decide to tone it down a few notches.
"Yeah man. It was definitely a lot of fun," I say, trying to quickly regain my composure. Steven extends his hand and gives me a pound like he grew up with me.
"You guys both go to the hottest parties. All the rest of us are just working stiffs for AB&T!" Jason blurts out loudly. Jason is a nice kid who has no idea when to speak and when to shut up. If it weren’t for the fact that he means no harm, I would have told him to beat it long ago.
"Yeah Mark. Why don't you ever invite us to any of your parties? What’s the matter? We're not cool enough to hang out with you?" Suzy chimes in.
"Take it easy. I don't go out that much for one, and for two, somebody walked me in. I had absolutely no juice last night," I reply trying to calm them down.
"Okay, tell us anything." Jason says, as he and Suzy walk off gabbing.
"They don't know shit," Steven says, as he turns to go back to his desk.
"Yo, do you guys have your monthly reviews this morning? I know my team has ours."
"Shit, we don't have them like you guys. We have to do a report and e-mail it to Ryan. Shit, I forgot to finish mine! I’ve got to do it now. Thanks for reminding me,” I reply.
"No problem brother. Talk to you later. I want to hear about these chicks in detail."
“Alright, I got you," I reply as I lean down and get my laptop out of the bottom desk draw to finish the funnel report. I turn my laptop on and wait for it to boot up. My head is pounding and I have to fight not to rest on my desk and fall asleep. After a few minutes, my laptop turns on and I begin looking through all the folders in my drawer with 30, 60, and 90 close tags. I try reading through all the notes I’ve written down inside the folders. As I add up the revenues for the upcoming months I loose track. After about three attempts I'm totally frustrated.
"This is bullshit!" I think in my head so strongly the words may have even slipped out of my mouth. I know all those beautiful people from last night are probably waking up to a much different picture than the one I’m seeing now. In fact, they’re probably all still asleep. “They’re no better then I am,” I think to myself, as I push my notepad away from me, towards the top of my desk in disgust.
"This is all wrong." My head is now in both of my hands, as I lean forward and place my elbows on my desk. I close my eyes and hope the pounding in my head will stop.
I feel trapped. Caged in by life. Like I have no place else to run and I'm at the end of my rope. It feels like the powers that be, the ones I knew I could always outrun or outthink, somehow, are finally going to get a chance to put those cuffs on me, lock me in a cell, and cage me in for good. This isn't the way my story is supposed to end.
Where did I go wrong? How in the hell did I ever end up here?