One Day Maybe
by Mark C.
by Mark C.
This time it was the alarm instead of the phone which jerked me out of a sound sleep and announced the day had commenced, like it or not. I lay there for a moment to make sure I was still alive and then extended all my limbs in a righteous feeling stretch, one for the ages. My morning erection bumped up against my stomach and informed me it also was awake. And my bladder was complaining it had not been emptied for some time and would I please attend to it or suffer the consequences? Swung my legs out of bed, stretched my back this time and then stood up. Made it to the bathroom without getting lost and let loose the morning libation stream to the ceramic bowl. Next up was my shower and after drying off, I found myself staring at my pre-shave reflection in the mirror.
Ben Carmichael stared back at me. If the Average Club of America wanted a poster boy, I was it. Average height, average weight, even average looks. I was not a gym rat but at least walked for exercise to keep fit to some extent. No winning a nationwide model search for me. Short brown hair and blue eyes rounded out the face in the slightly fogged mirror. I was 28 and alone on the path of life. Average does not cut it in the gay world, it seemed to me. Everyone in the bars were looking for Mr. Perfect and what chance does Average have? Plus I did not smoke or do drugs and after being made to feel like yesterday's left over liver time and time again by the shallow, one track mind hotties, I did not bother with the bars anymore. It also did not help that I was extremely shy by nature which made it almost excruciating for me to meet anyone. I wanted more than a moment's conquest and then back out searching again for the next notch on my belt though. I wanted to share my life with, open a joint checking account with, own property jointly with and always be there for, a man who felt the same way I did.
My road to love had indeed been bumpy. My very first sexual experience with a man had been magical that first time. I was in college and working during the summer break and my boss propositioned me after working together on the night shift. I was so horny and had years of repressed feelings and in the end I think he was surprised how much I attacked him! I was in heaven and the next day started wondering about the next stage of our relationship and getting excited at the possibilities. Man, was I so innocent and naive. Cynics would have flat out called me a dumb bunny. While at work the next day, a handsome man came in looking for my boss and after he left, someone told me he was the lover of my boss and they had been living together for 5 years. I was devastated and I'm sure everyone around me heard the sound of my heart shattering into a million pieces. Thank goodness it was time for my lunch break or I don't know how I would have managed to survive the next bit of time. When next I saw him, I told him exactly what I thought of him and then, as it was time to head back to my last year of college anyway, I quit.
Everyone has a bad experience I suppose but to have two in row? It was months later I was at a bookstore downtown and was approached by a nice looking man and we chatted about the book I was holding. It was hard for me to get the courage to actually converse with him, my shyness shouting at me in the background to run for your life! I should have listened. To make a long story short, we ended up at his place, where I was almost raped. I'm sure he would have called what he tried to do, just rough sex and learn to like it, bub. His squeezed balls accompanied by lots of his pained sounds later, I made my exit by almost slamming his door off the hinges. Too bad his cock was not caught in the slam!
Since then had several more attempts at finding love. Had the date where the other guy spent the whole time expounding on his many attributes. Had the dinner date where no one showed up and never bothered to call me later. The final straw was the date who drank too much and passed out on me in the men's room of the gay bar after dinner at the Sorrento Hotel. Since then have shied away from dating and just concentrated on my career and satisfying volunteer work tutoring junior and senior high students in the sciences. So you see my present thoughts on finding love and resigned to my single status. So "maybe one day" is now my motto.
My morning routine over, I got dressed and drank a glass of orange juice. I found it ironic I lived in one of the coffee capitals in the world and did not like the taste of coffee. The aroma of a freshly brewed cup was tantalizing but even adding chocolate to coffee could not make me like it, chocoloholic that I was. I'd have breakfast later at work after checking the activity at night was completed with no additional issues. Hopped in the car, a three year old Camry and for the hundredth time wished I had a second person car-pooling with me so we could take advantage of the I-5 HOV lane. Made a mental note to check this week on the car-pool website for someone needing to go to or near Interon during my work hours. Traffic was the usual bumper-to-bumper crawl until my exit taking me to Pill Hill. This was a hill downtown where various hospitals and medical buildings were located, thus earning the nick name. And this was where Interon had its headquarters and my destination.
Pulled into the parking lot and strode into the building, swiping my employee card against the security device to let me in. The computer room was downstairs on the first floor, tucked in the corner and out of the way of the management suits. Can't have nerds mixing with the high and mighty. There was a desk with several ViewSonic consoles on it and that was where Joe performed his nightly run magic. Each console controlled five IBM servers locked away in the climate controlled computer room. On the desk was the log of the nightly run which Joe had checked off as processes and tasks were completed and sitting next to reports generated by the run, was the stack of invoices. Looked like a good sales day yesterday as there must have been almost a thousand of them waiting for Accounts Receivable to pick up and process.
I noticed that Frank, one of the daytime Operations team had not yet arrived and was already late and this worried me. He had been late quite a bit recently, three times last week, plus his work on assigned projects had suffered lately. I sat down with him several days ago, not as the Senior Operations Administrator but as his friend, to warn him that I couldn't smooth over his tardiness and below par work much longer. I knew he was having marital issues and had tried to help him through this low point but it looked like it might not be enough. Another word to the wise would be in order today, and just hoped he took heed.
Sitting down at my desk, I quickly scanned the consoles of all the servers, checking on status, error logs and in general, making sure each server was operating at 100%. The company could not build its devices if systems were down and it was critical all was well. Next in my routine would normally be answering any urgent e-mails but today I had to see Dan, the Programming Manager first.
Seizing the hangman's noose stored in a nearby cabinent, I placed the printout of the offending code inside the noose and I marched off to see Dan. Last year Janice, the other day Operator read a story about a company using the noose when a program crashed, hanging it over the cubicle of the errant programmer. She thought it a great idea and wanted to do it here but I hesitated to turn a mistake into a humiliation and nixed the idea. However, in this case, felt it was justified.
Dan was at his desk, sipping coffee when I entered his corner office.
"Morning Dan! Had a bit of a problem last night with the nightly run and want to place this in Stu's cubicle." I held up the noose.
"Whoa.." Coffee forgotten and now wide eyed, he asked, "What gives?"
I began to relate the events of last night and though I tried to keep it calm and professional, when I reached the part about Stu assuring me his change had been tested, I heard the anger in my voice.
"Dan, he did not test it dammit! No way! If he had, he would have produced the same error we received last night! He stood there and lied to me and then signed off on it to boot! I bet he thought it one little easy change and why bother test it? Totally unacceptable, Dan. You know we're under serious FDA scrutiny and one instance of our testing procedures not being followed and we get audited up, down and sideways! You explain why IT has a Line Item on an FDA audit report to the CEO."
Dan leaned back in his chair, upset as well by the apparent lack of testing and replied, "Let me get to the bottom of this, Ben. If Stu screwed up, you won't need the noose, I promise. There won't be anything left to hang. I'm sorry this happened to you and Joe and please let Joe know." He took the noose and placed it on his desk. "This may be hanging up later this morning as a warning." Dan was a good manager and I knew he would give Stu a chance to tell his side of the story, in case there was some mitigating circumstance we did not know. I didn't see one but you never know. Dan was protective of his people but also demanding, yet fair.
"Ok, will let you dig deeper, Dan. Just tell Stu we're supposed to be on the same team. Now off to scarf a bite to eat before my stomach thinks my throat's been cut. Later, Dan."
The cafeteria was on the upper floor and I detoured by the computer room area to see if Frank had arrived yet but Janice was the one sitting at the consoles as I walked past.
"Mornin, Ben. Looks like an exciting night. I read Joe's run log. I checked the systems but all looks good."
"Yeah, love those early morning heart attack calls." I grinned back at her. "Things were good when I checked as well. Is Frank here yet?," I asked. She shook her head no and this defensive look came over her face. I knew she was worried about her co-worker and tried to cover his tardiness as best she could, not wanting him in trouble. They worked well together and I knew she would miss him if he left.
"I'll be in the cafeteria for a bit of breakfast, if you need me." She nodded and off I went to persuade my stomach I still loved it. The cafeteria provided breakfast and lunch items, both custom ordered and standard fare. There was an island in the middle of the area where juices, fruits and coffee were available and along the wall were two glass doored refrigerators holding dairy products. I picked up a tray at the place where you could order and watch the cook prepare hot food.
"Morning, Sandy! How about some French toast with a side of bacon today. Can do?"
"Hiya, Ben. You bet I can. One batch of Sandy's special toast coming up! And I suppose you want the real maple syrup I have hidden away too?"
"Of course, only the best tops your French toast." I don't know what she did to make it melt in my mouth but I was hooked on it. It had been my go-to breakfast since I had joined Interon years ago. And after visiting Vermont on vacation, on the way to Maine to try to put a dent in the lobster population there; I had been hooked on real maple syrup. Straight from the tree.
Walked over to the register to pay for it and when it was ready was handed the hot plate of goodness, thanked Sandy and went over to join a table of fellow co-workers talking quietly.
"Pull up a chair and take a load off, Ben."
"Thanks. What's the good word?"
"Well, Alicia here was telling us about the latest concerning her parents." I knew both her parents were alive but older and beginning to have issues being on their own.
"Oh, are they ok, Alicia?" I asked her and she nodded but replied, "Mom made dinner last night; however forgot to turn off the gas burner and left it going. Second time this week. Damn lucky she didn't burn the house down. It looks like I really need to get serious about either a retirement home or go live with them. It would have to be me as my brother is overseas. It's going to be a bitch to get them to sell the house so odds are I'll be moving in soon."
The others either commiserated with her or told her stories about their own aging parent issues as I finished my breakfast. The last of the bacon was dragged through the remaining pool of syrup on my plate, making for a sweet-smoky delicious end to the meal. It was a great flavor combination in my opinion and I wondered if I could sell some potato chip executive in the idea it would be a rad flavored chip. Done, I excused myself from the table, disposed of the dirty dishes in the gray container provided for such and headed for the stairs.
Contemplating Alicia's problem while heading for my desk, I reflected on my own parents living across the country in Florida. We did not have a great relationship but one of toleration. Oh, they did not care I was gay, it was not a big deal to them. What was the big deal with them; I existed at all. Neither one particularly wanted me and those feelings did not change with my birth. No postpartum state of euphoria for my mother or father for that matter. And my father immediately had a vasectomy to ensure I would have no siblings. My childhood did not include abuse or other horrors some children endure but a childhood of benign neglect with little emotional involvement had taken its toll on me. A shy nature plus wondering about my self worth while growing up had almost wiped out my self esteem and made me wonder if I was worthy of love. No wonder I was a no show in finding my Mr. Right. My mind may have given up but my heart was still looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with, someone to come home to every night and to love, even as it looked it might not happen any time soon or ever at all.