At first, Kevin Darlington didn’t understand what his supervisor, Jack Calhoun, meant when he said, “If you turn your head just right…” It took a moment, but then Kevin realized the older man referred to gawking at the waitress from an angle.
The young woman kept her smile in place, her lips red and stretched, with cracks along the fleshy part. Pale flakes rampaged across her puffy cheeks, remnants of makeup she’d applied that morning, Kevin supposed.
She poured water for Calhoun, the same for Kevin. Pencil poised above her pad of pale green order slips, she tossed an errant curl of from-a-bottle blonde hair away from her soft brown eyes and said, “Ready to order?”
“Been here before?” Calhoun asked when the waitress left them,
“No. First time.” Kevin glanced out the window to his right and watched the passing crowd of attractive men and determined women, all walking at a going-somewhere pace.
“Good place,” Calhoun said. “Good food. My daughter told me about this place.”
“A long walk from the office.”
Calhoun chuckled and asked, “Did you notice? Look at her from just the right angle. You’ll see.”
“See what?” Kevin shifted his weight on the green vinyl covered bench. He’d agreed to lunch because Calhoun said they’d talk about his sixth-month performance review.
“You can see her left nipple,” Calhoun said, and sat back, the booth groaning in response. He moved his large hands along the edge of the Formica-topped table. His bald head beamed. Oily skin, Kevin thought. From his first day at Abbot Factors he’d found it expedient to hide his dislike for his boss. He didn’t even indulge in complaining to his co-workers, though he often joined them for Friday Happy Hour at Brenner’s Bar, a nearby tavern that tried to be sports bar during part of the day and Western music haven at night.
“I didn’t notice,” Kevin said in response to Calhoun’s remark.
“You gotta look for those things. Did you see what skinny-Minnie wore yesterday?”
Kevin shuffled through his mental catalog of cute names Calhoun had for everyone in the office, from sales people to clerks to techies. Minnie referred to a 22-year-old girl who’d recently started as an administrative assistant to the two VPs that ran the business. Even after six months of handling a dozen clients’ accounts receivables that Abbot Factors managed, Kevin still didn’t know what the VPs actually did to earn their separate offices and, he supposed, high salaries.
“I didn’t notice Minnie,” Kevin said, using Calhoun’s nickname for Minerva Wells.
“No bra. Almost see-through shirt and no bra. Course, she’s got no tits to speak of, but still…” Calhoun screwed up his thick lips in a configuration that confused Kevin as to the man’s meaning. Snarl? Silent snort? A smile of some sort?
Kevin continued to stare. Until Calhoun’s facial muscles twitched, his eyes, red-rimmed and black-no-pupils, elongated, the corners blending into his temples. The skin turned green. Calhoun’s bulbous nose straightened, grew pointed, like his chin — suddenly pointed as well — like the tops of his ears. His bald head remained flat and shiny, in contrast to the pointy parts.
“I guess we can talk about your review,” Calhoun said with a sigh, his appearance returning to normal. He’d become a devil for a moment. His face matching the thoughts behind his words. Kevin had let his imagination rule him, but now he took back control.
And blinked. “I’ve been with Abbot six months,” he said.
Calhoun chuckled. “I’ve been there twenty-five years. I got my job — your job actually — right out of college, right after I got married.” He flashed his wedding ring. Then his dark eyes lifted. They lit up. The waitress brought their lunch, a hamburger for Calhoun and a BLT for Kevin. She refilled their water glasses. She left and returned with two ice teas.
“Almost forgot these,” she quipped.
When she left, Calhoun continued looking in the woman’s direction. “Nice wiggle. Like to get inside that. Huh?”
Kevin swallowed, uncomfortable again.
“Do you like girls?” Calhoun asked.
“Yes,” Kevin said. “Sure.”
“The way you act, I thought maybe you didn’t.”
“Can we talk about my review?” Kevin asked.
“I just mean, you don’t say anything and there’s all these nice skirts everywhere and I’m doing all the talking.”
Kevin looked out the window at the passing crowd. He caught the eye of a young blonde-haired woman, legs flashing from beneath a short plaid skirt. She smiled in his direction and Kevin reached for a comment and said, “I’d like to get into that one.”
Calhoun narrowed his eyes. The blonde waved at them and skipped away, shiny hair bouncing against the back of her short white jacket . Calhoun glowered, eyes smoldering. The girl came in from outside and glided to where Kevin sat with his supervisor.
“Hi, Dad. What’re you doing here?”
“Having lunch,” Calhoun grumbled.
“You going to introduce me?” the girl asked. She didn’t wait. She extended a thin hand towards Kevin and said, “Cindy Calhoun.”
After Kevin took her hand and gave her a weak handshake, and after she kissed her father on the cheek and skipped away from their table, and after a long period of quiet, with neither Calhoun nor Kevin eating their lunch, Kevin said:
“Can we talk about my review?”
“Back at the office,” Calhoun mumbled. “Maybe then.”
◊ ◊ ◊
After a long and successful career as a software developer and technical architect, David has turned to a first love: SF, fantasy, and magical realism. He’s published stories in Phase 2, Farther Stars Than These, Martian Wave, Encounters and other online, as well as print, magazines. Visit his web site: http://www.davidsjournal.com to learn more and for links to his Kindle books on Amazon.
3 thoughts on “Peeking”
Nice twist (forgive the Cockney slang) at the end. I wondered about the implications of identifying one of the men by first name and the other by last name. But the poetic justice of Calhoun’s being trapped by the objectification of his daughter is interesting. AGB
Heck of a kicker
I put up with reading about the objectionable man and when his comeuppance arrived, it didn’t carry enough punch for me.