Usually, I’m the first to pull in the office parking lot, but today there’s a car I don’t recognize, a small silver Mercedes, careening across the painted lines of the parking places. The driver throws papers, hundreds of them, in front of the office, onto the manicured grass between the palm trees.
The tires of the Mercedes squeal as it turns out of the lot. The car races down the street.
I park in my usual spot and get out with my styrofoam cup of coffee. I can’t resist picking up one of those papers. It’s wet from dew. It’s a photograph of Elysse, the administrative assistant for the big boss and the classy lady who’s sometimes on my mind. Long, light brown hair, all wavy. Blue eyes. She looks back at me from the paper in black and white.
I glance at the other copies near my feet. Some are face up, and they’re all the same. It isn’t from a men’s magazine. The snapshot has a TV in the background and a picture on the wall behind her. She’s not posing or smiling, just standing with her arms at her sides. She doesn’t have to do anything. She looks great with no shirt.
I’d asked a friend about Elysse, and he’d told me she wasn’t available. She had a boyfriend. They must have had a fight, and he’s getting back at her.
I gather up the damp papers. I can’t throw them in the trash at work, because someone might spot them. The news, if not the copies, would get around the office in about thirty seconds. I’ll throw them away at my apartment. I stash them in my trunk, every last one of them. I stand beside my aging Toyota, holding my keys and coffee, as I wait for Elysse. It’s chilly, and the coffee helps keep me warm. Once again I marvel how immaculate the parking lot and landscaping are. I go over in my mind what I would like to say to her.
“I’m your hero. You should forget about him and go out with me.” I don’t even need to say it. All I have to do is open the trunk.
But that would humiliate her.
She pulls up in her little SUV, and although the windows are up, I can hear Cher belting out, “Do You Believe In Life After Love?” Elysse is singing to it in a high voice. She steps out and smiles at me.
I finger the keys. If I open the trunk, I’ll prove what a great guy I am. It’s my one chance.
“Good morning!” She’s glowing. She’s happy after a fight with her boyfriend.
Should I ruin her day by opening the trunk?
Maybe she picked that CD as a pep song. I repeat the words to the song in my head.
Did she dump him?
“You free for lunch?” It felt like it wasn’t me talking. I could feel my heart beat.
She looks me straight in the eye with those killer blues.
She smiles. “Sure.”
I slip my keys into my pocket as we walk into the office together.
Pamela Tartaglio writes out of Pasadena, California.