When you grow a bit older you realize the cliché people keep singing about the world being unfair is true. It is not a level playing field out here. The woman with the bigger boobs and the lesser brains will be picked over your first class degree. Some people will get special privileges simply because they’re in good books with the boss. You won’t get that promotion not because you’re incompetent and you do a lousy job but because your competitor has an upper hand because of race, tribe or relations with the man upstairs. You have to watch what you say—informants are everywhere waiting for you to slip up, so they can have sauce to serve your seniors for favours.
They didn’t teach us about these snakes in school. They didn’t tell us there will be people peddling falsehood behind our backs. People out to get us even though we have never done them harm. They taught us about hard work, trapeziums and ethics instead. Ethics. Huh, what an oxymoron in this half-truths and the-end-justifies-the-means world. Ethics almost goes out the window the moment you start drafting your resume because, after all, this is the world of men and women, the real world not a high-school or campus simulation.
The elevator has a down arrow above it. She’s anxious to meet him. They talk often nowadays even though they do it at the smoking zone so that it can look like two colleagues taking a break. She holds her breath, the gleaming red down arrow turns to “GF” and the elevator bings open. He’s wearing a checked shirt, white khakis and black lofs and he almost looks like something from a TV commercial. He sees her and smiles.
She takes a long pull from her cigarette then smashes it on the rim of the metal dustbin before disposing it and looking at him. She’s wearing a stretchy white mini-dress and he’s looking at her legs with naked lust. They came in together as interns although you wouldn’t tell by looking at them now. He no longer wears those baggy suits he used to wear and she no longer wears those long frocks that covered her ankles and turtleneck sweaters that almost covered up her face. She grins at the memory. He’s probably the only person she can trust in this tophet they call a company.
“Third date huh? You’re still leading the free meals woman on, eh? Just so you know most women are ready for the kiss on the third date. But judging by the horny eyes on that one she might be ready for something more. Something that doesn’t involve clothes. Some gland to gland combat to compensate for all those fancy meals she’s been spoiling you with.”
He laughs. She imagines bacon being dipped in hot oil because his laugh is melting and sizzling.
“You know she’s the head of HR and I need that promotion desperately. I will lead her on. Wear a thong and a piglet nose if that is what it will take to get that office. Then after the contract is signed I will go cold on her.”
“Is that your kink? You’ve always come across as weird, but I would have never guessed that a thong and a piglet nose is what gets your goat.”
She looks at him as he takes a pull from his Embassy Lights. He’s probably the only man she knows that is comfortable with his girlfriend smoking with him. Most men want to smoke but have nightmares when they imagine their woman touching a cigarette. Most men want to cheat but would go berserk at the very idea of their woman hugging another man.
“There are a lot of things you don’t know about me but I just hope you’re not in this for my piglet nose and my thongs.”
She laughs at his sense of humor, some other sod with a fragile ego would have caught offence and she would have never heard the end of it.
“What if you go for this third date and you end up liking her. I mean, if you look past her disastrous weave, her falling apart dress code and the sagging skin on her face she’s a pretty OK woman, some might even say a catch.”
“You’ve been having steamy dreams about her, haven’t you?”
“What can I say, I can’t help myself, she’s eye-candy.”
“You know I can’t like her because I already love you.” His eyes burn into hers and for a fleeting second she almost believes him.
This promotion, what will it mean? She wonders as she takes the packet of Embassy Lights from his hand and taps out a nicotine stick. It will mean that he will have a little bit more money and a little bit more status than he had before. It will mean that pretty girls will be swarming around him like vultures do carrion.
“You know I’m doing this for us, right?” He blurts out, almost unsure after sensing her silence. “And If I’m going to pull it off I’m going to need your help?”
“My help? I thought you had everything under lock and key romancing the head of HR?”
“No, that is not enough; I need the final big guns. The managing director. You fill him with delight. I have seen how he undresses you with his eyes. How he smiles at you as he digs his pupils into your cleavage. He has the final say and I need him on board.”
“Ah, that sounds like quite the task. What’s in it for me?”
“You name it. A vacation, just the two of us. A bubble bath and breakfast in bed every day for a month straight.”
“Tempting. And how far I’m I supposed to take things? Casual flirting, dinner, a strip tease?”
“Whatever it takes.”
He says it sternly and it hits her how desperately he wants that promotion that he would even sell her for it. She scans him. A man in his mid-thirties who is perhaps over ambitious but also fails to read situations well. The promotion is attractive: an office, a fueled company car and a hefty paycheck. Perhaps it will heighten the bonds between them. Bring them closer, she thinks as she dials Sandip, the managing director.
“This is a pleasant surprise.” He says while pulling her seat at the Sarova Stanley Exchange Bar.
Her wide hips sink into the seat and she crosses her legs elegantly.
“I will cut right to the chase, this is about the open vacancy.”
“What about it?”
“What would it take to have it reserved for someone?” She says her eyes locked into his then she looks away shyly and bites her lower lip. It’s a seductive move she has perfected over the years.
“Just a single stroke from my pen.” He says with a bit of an accent, an accent of a kid who went to an international school, while his hand brushes her exposed thigh. She grabs it and keeps it on her and the heat between them rises to fever pitch.
“Who do you want it reserved for? That snotty little boyfriend of yours?”
She gasps. How did he know, she thought they were being extremely careful? She takes a minute to think while Sandip’s hand climbs up her stretched mini-dress. Why should I get him the job? For a week’s vacation? And a few bubble baths? If I get this gig for myself I can go to as many vacations as I please and I can hire helps to ensure I have endless bubble baths.
“Don’t believe everything you hear,” she says while scanning his profile. He is cleaned up nicely in a black pinstripe suit and a thin silver watch. He is handsome for his age. A few white hairs are sprouting on his head and his beard. He can’t be a day older than fifty. She rubs his collarbone and slides her hand down his belt feeling his protruding manhood which is hard enough to cut diamonds. “I think an office would go great with this white dress,” she continues as his hand, which spots a ring climbs further up her thigh.
“I completely agree.”
He picks up his glass of Chivas Regal 18 Year Old whisky and gobbles down its contents then leans into her ear and whispers.
“Meet me in the washrooms in five.”
She toys with her glass of Pinacolada for less than two minutes her face flushed red like the coil on an electric cooker. She gets up, straightens her dress and trots towards his direction because after all, this is the world of men and women, the real world, not a high-school or campus simulation.
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