YOU WANNA GET FiRED?
You wanna get fired? It started in a kind of accusing voice at first. It was an admonishing, disappointed me, fully aware of all the thoughts that crossed my dirty little mind as we closed up for the night. I was absently organizing games on the walls of this shoebox of a store, trying not to stare while my manager agonized over a spiral notebook on the counter. Our numbers for today? Nah, maybe homework? And while he studied the notebook as I studied him.
Don ran a hand through his long ash blonde hair, squinting hard at the maze of scribblings in front of him with intense focus. When he wasn’t scratching his head over the page he was flipping back or ahead like he’d missed something. My favorite was how he’d bite the corner of his bottom lip when he was thinking. And despite myself, I just couldn’t pull my gaze off him. His hair looked so perfectly disheveled over those stormy sea glass eyes of his and his shirt hung off him so nicely... His collar was unbuttoned just low enough to reveal just a hint of his clavicle and his sleeves were rolled up so they clung to his biceps as he leaned over the counter, propped up by his elbows.
Looming over the counter like that really drew my attention to how tall he actually was, especially compared to all 5′2" of me. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it when we were so close that I could catch the scent of his shaving cream of a forest fire in winter and feel his body towering over me. Even if it was only to pick something up off a shelf I couldn’t quite reach. Then the idea of him holding me with those big strong hands of his came unbidden. Something about the thought of him picking me up and throwing me over his shoulder filled my stomach with nervous excitement. What the hell are you doing? You wanna get fired? Then I remembered the games in my hands. I was on "M" and still had another wall of games left to go.
There was a long silence that made the thought echo in my mind as we each went about our business, that kept me lost in fantasy. He was so effortlessly attractive that I kept getting drawn back to him no matter how hard I tried to focus. Just watching him think was endlessly entrancing, but he was so innocent and unassuming there, hard at work while my thoughts wandered past what he might be doing and slipped into what I’d rather be doing. I wished he’d lean over me like he did that notebook, daydreamed he’d bend me over that counter, and...
Suddenly I was there: locking the door behind me and pulling the gate down across the large plate glass windows... making my way around the counter, stalking toward Don like a wild cat... grabbing him by his belt and pulling his hips toward mine with uncharacteristic confidence... looking up into his hazel eyes with mischievous intent flashing in my dark honey gaze… Peeling off the layers of fabric between us until all I wore was the question on my lips. So? You wanna get fired?
“Aren’t you done organizing that wall yet?” Phil grumbled, noticing my preoccupation. And just like that, I was flung back into reality, somewhere in the middle of my alphabetization. I brushed off his complaints as casually as I could manage, but still he persisted. “Well? What’s taking you so long, rookie?” He asked again, somewhere behind me.
“Since when do you hang out here after work anyway?” I sighed in reply. He got up from his seat against a gift card display that faced a convex mirror - where, I surmised, he must have gotten a good look at my gawking - and spun around to get a better look, to my embarrassment.
“Changing the subject, slacker?” he smirked with an edge of menace. Looking over my shoulder at him, a small part of me thought he might actually be handsome if his only two modes of being weren’t smug asshole and unamused diva. His honey brown curls framed his pinched pouting face nicely enough, but it didn’t help that his hair always gave the distinct impression it was dripping wet with product. I turned to face him with my arms folded over my chest as he shrugged back at me.
“Well, Iris is working, and Andrea’s picking me up, so...” he trailed off, as if that were explanation enough. Iris was the cute chick from the Starbucks next door, and she’d been following Phil around like a lost puppy, bringing him one drink or another every shift.
“Well, that’s classy,” I growled, rolling my eyes. He pushed back his wet curls with his free hand and shook a clear cup of quickly melting ice with the other as he released a lazy yawn like a lion at the zoo. Being a gross, self-absorbed scumbag really must be so exhausting... He sipped loudly at the last of his passion tea lemonade in response. I got the feeling that Andrea didn’t know about Iris, that Phil wanted to keep it that way. But that just ticked me off, so I dug myself in a little deeper.
“Yanno... It’s not fair to lead her on like that,” I sighed, turning away from him and kneeling by the bottom shelves to keep alphabetizing.
“Whaaat? Me and Iris? Nooo... I mean, Iris is nice and all, but. Her eyebrows are just so... rectangular,” he replied. I heard the sound of metal groaning as he leaned back against the display he was just sitting behind.
“What about Andrea?” I asked over my shoulder. I didn’t know Andrea too well, but I did know that I didn’t like how Phil flirted with every barista and bartender in striking distance when a nice girl like her was sitting at home waiting for him.
Phil’s expression soured at the implication, raising his shoulders in another laissez-faire shrug. Then he looked over at Don behind the counter with a side-eye glance. “Yeah, well, you mind your business and I’ll mind mine,” he just about snorted in response, tilting his head toward the front counter and letting me connect the dots. My face must have flashed red and given Phil all the confirmation he needed because, mercifully, he let the point go.
“Speaking of business... You got a paper for me or what?” He held out the hand that wasn’t busy holding a cup of passion-fruit-flavored backwash.
“I emailed it to you already. Before work,” I replied, a little less certain of myself than I’d expected. It was just an ethics paper, but the irony of writing it for someone else for money made me shrink a little in my own summation.
“Well that’s just bad customer service,” he sneered, crossing his arms and affecting a disappointed posture.
“What -- am I supposed to print it for you, too? I’m not a Kinko’s,” I scoffed. I found confidence in that unfamiliar edge to my tone as I went. “Besides, it’s only business if you... yanno... pay me?” I continued, shuffling games absent-mindedly. “Otherwise it’s charity.”
“You wound me,” Phil laughed, feigning offense, clutching an imaginary hole in his chest where his heart should go. “I didn’t know it was like that, Ana. I thought we were friends! You knooow, friends who look out for each other..?” he went on. Then he lowered his voice. “So, you and Don, huh? I didn’t know you were into guys,” he sneered, walking past me, toward the front counter.