One Day Maybe
by Mark C.
by Mark C.
The alarm went off 15 minutes earlier than normal since I set it the night before to make sure I had plenty of time to arrive at work before James. I wasn't overdoing it, I told myself, just wanting to make sure our new Team member was met properly upon arrival and toured around. "Can't fool me, you are so hot for him!" my inner mind chided me. Ok, maybe I was enraptured by his charm, sexy body and the sweet rounded ass his slacks had caressed. And didn't the blind pig find an acorn every once in awhile through random luck, thus giving us losers hope of a miracle? Mentally perusing my list of dating failures brought me back to reality with a thump and with a sigh, I traipsed into the bathroom.
It was hard to position my morning erection low enough to pee in the toilet but I managed to do it by standing on my toes. A satisfying stream flowed into the bowl and I felt so much better for it. While shaving, though about the things I had to do this weekend: call my mother, take my tutoring group out for a farewell lunch and explore the new exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. I'd call my friend Fay to see if she wanted to go with me. We had a support thing going between us where each of us would be there for the other, if we had a disastrous date. So far I had more date commiserations than she had and her last date had seemed to blossom recently into a serious relationship. Though I was pleased for her, a tiny bit of me was jealous. I just wanted to love and be loved, what was wrong with that wish? Fay had assured me I was nice, considerate, fun, caring and a catch for someone. If she could see it, why couldn't my Mr. Right?
The drive in was a faster crawl than usual since it was earlier in the morning. At some point in the future, there would be no rush hour traffic; it always would be a crawl through Seattle no matter what time of day or night. Back in the World's Fair days in the '60s, there had been the idea of mass transit up and down I-5 but it was considered "too costly" back then. I bet traffic planners wished they could go back in time and make it happen now as it actually would have been a bargain, in hindsight.
I arrived at my desk and started my morning system checks and was in the middle of them when Janice arrived and greeted me.
"Mornin' Ben! Weekend ahead, you have any plans? Hey, the new guy starts today, doesn't he? Hope he works out, losing Frank sucks. What was his name again..., Jim?"
I laughed and said, "Take a breath, Janice. Yes, I have weekend plans. Yes, the new guy starts today. Yes, losing Frank sucks and James is his name. Not sure he wants to go by Jim, and it will be your job today to see if he prefers Jim or James."
"I'll worm it out of him in my usual subtle and circumspect way." She grinned at me.
"Oh, you mean you'll walk up to him and flat out ask him first thing, Jim or James?"
"Yeah, something like that," was her retort.
"Just remember to be nice as you have to work with the guy." I smiled at her.
"Me, I'm always nice!"
"Tell that to the printer you kicked last month." I reminded her.
"Hey, it was our last box of checks and there were only 10 more checks to print and the stupid printer messes up and chews a check to pieces, leaving me exactly 11 checks left in the box. I had to realign the checks perfectly with no alignment checks for safety and make sure they were printing correctly. Boy, did I sweat the last two minutes."
Right then Frank arrived and we turned to greet him. "Hey, very short timer," Janice called out as he put an empty packing box down on his desk. Seeing the box, Janice said, "I'd hoped you would leave your belongings behind. I could sell the picture frame you have on your desk and Alan upstairs wants your coffee mug. We could get one of his homemade apple pies for it."
"Geez, I'm not even outa here yet and the vultures are circling and picking the bones!" was his amused reply.
"Frank, I know you have to see HR to sign your exit papers this afternoon, but I'm hoping you and James can have the morning, going over as much as you can fit in, teaching him the highlights of what you do. A half day knowledge transfer, as it were."
"I sure wish I had more time with him, Ben." Frank said.
"I know, but we don't," I sighed. "Just do the best you can, Frank. Hit the high points and he'll just have to learn the rest with our help."
Right then, James came into the area, his face wearing a mixture of both excitement and first day jitters. He looked simply delicious and I wanted to run up, hug him and plant a huge kiss on his lips. Calm down, keep it professional. He was carrying a black briefcase and looked like an eager "suit" - minus the suit - on his way to his new office.
"Hello, James!" I greeted him and reached out to offer my hand. He took it in a firm grip and then held it a fraction of second longer than protocol deemed necessary in my opinion. I didn't know what to think of it so I let it go without much thought, being busy with introductions. "Janice, this is James; James, this is Janice."
"Nice to meet you," she told him, "and which do you prefer to be called, James or Jim? I'm the designated asker."
James smiled and replied, "I was 'Jim' in school and I'm glad to be out and about in the world, so now I go by 'James'. 'Jim' reminds me of junior high school English class for some reason. Maybe because my teacher was always calling my name and wanting me to explain the different parts of a sentence. I always got the capitalized first word and the ending period right but the stuff in the middle was Greek to me. Clauses, prepositional phrases, all gobbledygook to me."
Janice laughed and replied, "Well, guess I know who not to go to when I need to know if a subordinate clause should be followed by a semicolon or colon."
"Definitely not," James grinned hugely at her. "Now if you want to know which liqueur is the best for flambeing or how to format a hard drive, I'm your man."
"And James, this is Frank. His leaving us is the reason you're here."
James bowed a bit and said, "Thank you, Frank. My next gig was going to be on a fishing boat hauling in flapping, wet creatures and being seasick if I didn't get on here." Seeing the look on Frank's face, he added, "and yes, I'm kidding."
"There's one more of the Team to meet but we'll call him later this afternoon." I informed James, "And right now you and Frank need to do the mind-meld of the century in half a day. Plus he will make sure your profile is set up with all the necessary permissions. There will be a test afterwards," I joked.
James opened his briefcase and removed a yellow legal pad, looked at Frank and raised his eyebrows in an invitation to proceed. I liked his attitude and hoped it meant we had a great replacement for Frank. Janice and I left them to start the transfer process in peace.
When out of their hearing, Janice remarked, "What a hunk! Have you seen his eyes, they pull you in... I don't suppose you know if...."
"Down, girl." I grinned at her. "And yes, I have noticed his eyes. No, I don't know; and as long as he is part of this Team, it gets played straight."
We both laughed and said at the same time, "Never go straight, always forward."
"Honestly, Janice, I don't know much about him and even if he is gay, he must have a little black book full of names or else it won't take him long to fill one up out here. And if he does not bat for my team, may I remind you, you are happily married to Alex and he's a friend of mine too. I admit it will be nice to have James around since he is so radly handsome but we all have to work together and that comes first. Now, wipe the drool from your chin and get your Sarbanes-Oxley report over to Finance."
Sarbanes-Oxley, SOX as it was often called, was legislation passed after one of the financial debacles and was designed to make fraud even harder to perpetrate in a public company. The idea was a good one but it meant a lot of time spent on it by Finance and IT.
"Yes, boss. Have I told you lately how much I hate doing the SOX reporting?" she asked with a resigned tone to her voice.
I laughed and replied, "Better you than me! I did it when I was first here and it was such a tedious mind-numbing job and I bet it hasn't gotten any better over time. So glad when I was told to give it to the person you took over for when you arrived. I went out and had a chocolate milkshake at lunch to celebrate. Sorry about you inheriting the mess though."
She left to do her reporting and I settled down to my morning's tasks. Though I could not see Frank and James from my desk, every once in awhile from over the cubicle wall I was able to hear a laugh or exclamation coming from Frank's soon to be vacated work space. I could pick out each voice and the sound of James's laugh was one of pure delight for me. It was so expressive and sexy and I could just imagine what pleasure it would bring me to be able to hear it all the time. Damn, his laugh was so distracting. Good thing I could not actually see them as they toured the system. The hormones released by just his laugh alone were definitely racing through my bloodstream, I certainly did not need to see James as well! I sighed. It was going to be very interesting working with him and somehow keeping my sanity at the same time.
Lunch time finally arrived and I asked Janice if she and Frank would take James up to the cafeteria to show him around and for her to get to know her new teammate a bit better. I claimed being too busy to tag along but she saw through my bullshit and gave me a look that said, "You have to interact with James sometime, you coward." Once in awhile I do procrastinate on a task and I needed a bit of time to steel myself and harden my soul to working with a man for whom I would gladly sell that same soul to spend the rest of my life with and love every second.
I ate my peanut butter and raspberry jam sandwich while making sure all was on track for Frank's goodbye bash after he was through with HR and his exit process. I had ordered a chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream from the cafeteria and they knew to make the cake heavy on the chocolate for me. Those who order get to chose. The trio returned from lunch and I reminded Frank of his HR appointment and told James and Janice to finish up as much learning before the goodbye party and then quitting time for the week.
As James and Janice walked away, I stared at the two perfect globes which were James's ass. And at that moment, he turned his head around, as if he felt my ardent gaze on his ass and caught me admiring his sexy perfection. I could feel the blush rush up my face and he smiled at me with no hint of unease or reproach. It was a look of acceptance and admiration on his part and it threw me into confusion. Was he gay? Was he interested in me or was he toying with me until he was able to find sexier men in town? All those thoughts swirled around my mind as the redness slowly receded from my bemused face.
The digital clock on my computer read 2:55 and a reminder flashed up on the screen regarding the farewell party. I rounded up all three, Frank just having returned from HR, and off we went. The entire IT department as well as Frank's more important company contacts were waiting for us in the large meeting room and clapped when they saw Frank. He was popular, well liked in the Department and people were going to miss him and proceeded to tell him so as he cut the cake and supplied the plates while Janice scooped ice cream on top of the cake. I made the rounds with James, introducing him to people he needed to know. He was friendly, gregarious and I could see he was making a good impression. Several times he bumped my shoulder and each time I felt a spark burn a figurative hole in my arm. How was I going to be able to work with this man and not become a blithering idiot? I was so doomed.
People had drifted out slowly, returning to their work needing to be done before leaving for the weekend. When the cafeteria workers arrived to clean up, just the four of us in Operations were left, making a start on the cleanup. We let them take over and headed for the computer room area.
Upon arriving I told Frank he could leave and get a jump on traffic. He and Janice hugged, wished each other good luck and then Frank hugged me and I also added my good thoughts for his future. He grabbed his box of personal belongings and with a wave, headed for the exit.
The new Operations Team looked at each other and for a second, it felt awkward and a bit strange. James broke the spell with a smile, warming my heart, just as it must have done for Janice. He said, "Well, here's to us and it feels good to be with the two of you."
"Hey, there is one more person you need to talk to... Joe. Let's call him and you two can meet via phone. You won't see him very often though."
"Sounds good, Ben."
I dialed Joe and introduced him to James and let the two talk. Janice finished up her last task and took off for home, waving at James and myself as she left. I watched James as he shared a couple of stories with Joe about jokes he had played on his Boston IT team. He was at ease, his body lithe and loose, leaning against his desk. Suddenly he looked directly at me and gave me a look which seared my inner being. If we had been in a gay bar, that look would have meant a very pleasant night ahead, indeed. Visibly flustered, I bent to study several documents on my desk so as to give me time to breathe. Could he really be interested in me? Me? Do I dare hope? And if I say anything and he is not interested, then I have a possible negative work situation and I initiated it. Dang, what do I do?
James hung up and I finished my last task. Needing time to think, I took the coward's way out by saying, "Well, James, I guess your first day is over and it's the weekend. Why don't you call it a day and I'll see you on Monday. Go have a good weekend."
He gave me a quick smile which lit up his entire face and replied, "Thanks again for the position. I have a feeling we are going to be a great team and do fantastic things." He reached out to shake my hand and his touch was tingling. I wanted to hold it the rest of the night.
Double meaning? Just first day enthusiasm? My heart wanted him to mean it as a future prediction of us as a couple but my head told me to relax and not get involved. After all, it may not be Beauty and the Beast but it certainly would be Hunky and the plain guy. I can't even win $3, the lowest amount to win in the state Lotto but I expect Cupid to pick me for James? It was going to be a long weekend.
"You earned it, James. Frank told me he thought you'd fit in well and were picking up things quickly all morning." I reluctantly released his hand. I know I held on a tad too long and could tell he noticed but he grabbed his briefcase, waved to me and left to start his weekend.
Yes, indeed, it would be a long weekend.