Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm Really Not a Good Person

This week's [Fiction] Friday prompt:

Step 1. Go to a busy locale—a cafe or coffee shop would be easiest. Sit down with a notebook, and make sure you look busy, so people don’t know you’re listening. Now write down random soundbites of conversations.Try to get at least 10 lines or snippets.
Step 2. Now use all ten in a cohesive scene of dialogue or as dialogue in a story
Step 3. Leave a list of the lines plucked from real life at the end of the story for people to see.

I’m Really Not a Good Person

It was finally raining. A warm, sad drizzle. Dan stood up. Abby followed his lead, scraping the metal chair across the concrete as she pushed back from the table. He led her down the two steps and into the parking lot. When he saw the slick pavement he almost put his hand on the small of her back, but something stopped him. Maybe he knew it was too personal, too intimate a touch.

They had purposefully met in a public place and her husband was one of his closest friends. He would call her on Monday and apologize. He knew it would be better if they didn’t see each other again. He couldn’t imagine the two of them confined to the small adjoining offices for eight hours a day. I’m really not a good person, Dan reminded himself, even if I am apologetic when I screw up.

“One more question, Abby.”
“Do you think it’s a conflict of interest that Eric and I are friends?”
“That did cross my mind, but we’re all grown-ups here. Right?”
“So I’ll hear from you on Monday?”

Dan watched Abby climb into her black Tahoe. She had to use the side step and the effort made her black skirt hike up the back of her legs, exposing her knees as she twisted to slide into the driver seat. Standing with one arm propped on the door and the other against the side of the vehicle, he realized that he was boxing her in, staking his territory. She looked at him expectantly and he finally pushed the door shut. He gave her an awkward wave and turned around before she could reciprocate.

As he walked across the lot, he tried to replay the highlights of the interview in his head. He couldn’t stop picturing her soft smile, her wavy amber hair, her pale skin. Just a few freckles marred her china doll complexion. They were charming, beautiful. In a silky red button-up shirt and a black pencil skirt, she was the epitome of secretary. The kind of woman he could fantasize about between conference calls and meetings with clients.

Dan got into his hot car, started the ignition, and flipped on the air conditioner. He was hoping this rain would cool things off, but instead it just made the heat worse. Now there was a clingy wetness to it. He felt like it was seeping into his pores. He loosened his tie and ran his hands through his short, black hair. Come on, Dan. You’re bigger than this. What if something were to happen? I don’t even know what would happen, he tried to talk himself out of calling her right then and there. Think it over man. Is she even qualified?

Dan tried again to recall the important details, her answers to his questions. He remembered one answer that had made him laugh.

“Are you an organized person?”
“Yes, but I don’t type well. I don’t spell well,” Abby had said.
“Well, there are classes for that,” Dan had said before they both broke into laughter. She had just taken a drink of her espresso, and a tiny dot of whipped cream clung to her upper lip. Before he could reach across the table to wipe it clean, she had licked her lips. A seductive act that she couldn’t possibly have meant. Now he wondered.

Dan tried again to talk himself out of it, but it didn’t take. He dug his cell out of his pocket and dialed Abby’s number. He knew she was expecting his call Monday, but he couldn’t wait. He tapped his fingers on the warm steering wheel. After the third ring, she answered.

“Hello,” Abby’s sultry voice came across the line.
“Hi, Abby. It’s Dan.”
“Did you forget something?”
“No, no. I just didn’t want to wait until Monday. The job’s yours if you want it.”

Dan could here the excitement in Abby’s voice. He couldn’t help smiling.

“When do I start?”
“Tonight. Sometimes there’s this on-the-fly stuff. There’s a special event at the Adolphus in Dallas. Not everyone’s eligible to go to these things and I don’t want to waste the opportunity. If you’re taking the job, I’d like to have you at my side, my right arm so to speak.”
“Well what would I be doing?”
“I have to warn you, you’re coming into a desperate situation. I have a terrible memory and I need you to stay close and remember things. You know names and titles. All the little details.”
“Okay. I can’t wait to tell Eric the good news.”
“It’s formal dress. I’ll pick you up at six. Oh and don’t worry about the drive. If it turns into a late night, we can always just get a room. The company will pick up the tab.”

Dan slid his phone closed. He put the car into reverse and pressed on the accelerator. He shook his head. I’m not a good person, Dan thought, not good at all.

Lines plucked from real life:

Not everyone’s eligible to go to these things.
If something were to happen? I don’t even know what would happen.
It didn’t take.
There’s this on-the-fly stuff.
Apologetic when I screw up.
I don’t type well. I don’t spell well.
I’m really not a good person.
You’re coming into a desperate situation.
Are you an organized person?
We’re all grown-ups here.