BY MARISA CHAMBERS

“This elevator is a piece of shit.” The extremely abrasive assistant manager, Becky, spoke aggressively with her hair in a bun tied tight enough to give someone a migraine. She furiously pressed the 5th floor button repeatedly as if that would make the elevator unstuck. She stood tall at 5’11’’ in heels and wore her resting bitch face proudly. Her anger probably has something to do with her lack of promotion after being the assistant manager for eight years.

I don’t blame Becky for her negativity because this job is definitely no walk in the park. Neither is this town. Or the people around us. The most exciting thing that has happened to me in the past month is the 15% off coupon to Bath & Body works I got in the mail. Life kinda sucks.

I lean against the wall closing my eyes wishing to be anywhere but here when my thoughts are interrupted by the trembling intern’s heavy breathing. I look over and see him about to drop the two trays of the overpriced lattes for the staff in the office. Apparently he is pretty committed to his unpaid experience.

“Hey, kid, you know you can take two trips right?” “Never. That’s a waste of time. My internship depends on these coffees. None of these overpaid jerks have any time to wait on me. But just wait, all of you will be working for me someday, just wait.”

I wonder if he saw me roll my eyes. How did I end up here? I have a bachelor’s degree, I’m not terrible to look at, and I have mediocre people skills. So why am I surrounded by people who have no hopes, dreams, or aspirations? Why do I feel the need to buy my business attire from Walmart? Because I’ve always played it safe. I was drinking a $2 draft beer when my friends had Jägerbombs and I was the designated driver on the night everyone decided to go on an acid trip.

I wondered if Carl, AKA Mr. Perfect, ever felt this way. He was the HR guy that everyone LOVED for whatever reason (although it could have something to do with the fact that he’s nice to everyone and flirts with all the secretaries that haven’t been on a date in 15 years.)

I stared at Carl standing there in his perfectly pressed shirt and smelled his aftershave because he was standing uncomfortably close in front of me. I hated his stupid smile. And his stupid white perfect teeth. He reminded me of those stupid athletes in college who never went to class but could still pass all his classes with his “charm.”

“Don’t worry, everyone. These things happen. We will be going up in no time!” He looked at me with a creepy smile and winked.

I rolled my eyes again. Ew. Shut up, Carl. I needed some excitement, some thrill, something exhilarating. I was literally and figuratively itching for it. That also could be my dandruff, but whatever. Regardless I was ready, I needed it now. I could go skydiving after work. I could make out with a random stranger. I could dye my hair green. My heart was racing just thinking about it.

“Fifth floor.” The robot elevator voice suddenly sounded like an angel, the elevator felt like purgatory and the doors seemed like they were opening up to heaven. As everyone was herding out the door like a stampede, that was when I felt the rush. I had the drive and I was determined to take a risk.

I looked at Carl’s butt, which I do more often than I’d like to admit. His wallet was bulging out of his back pocket. I reached into Carl’s pocket and slipped his wallet into my purse. Ha. Take that, Mr. Perfect.

I finally felt it. The adrenaline rush I had only heard about but never experienced. I felt like I was born into a new life. I could conquer the world. I could cut someone in line at Starbucks and think nothing of it. Finally, I took a risk.

I got next to nothing done that day because I was plotting what to do with Carl’s wallet. I couldn’t just take it and let it collect dust, I’m a risk taker now. I could shred all of his cards, go on a shopping spree with his money, drop it in the ocean right in front of him. Wait, I don’t even know what’s in the stupid thing. I can’t open it at work because Otis is constantly scaring the shit out of me by poking his head into my cubicle to catch me slacking off.

I’ll wait until I get home. When five o’clock finally hit I swerved through rush hour traffic to get back to my apartment as fast as possible. I sat on my couch and pulled out Asshole’s wallet. I took everything out and started rummaging through it. I sorted through debit and credit cards, driver’s license, Starbucks rewards card, a gift card to Target (which is mine now), and a picture of the scariest looking baby I have ever seen. Does this jerk really not have anything good in here?

I sighed and started to put everything back inside the wallet. So much for taking a risk, this is what I get. When I just started to give up I see a small folded up piece of lined paper that I looked over. Opening it up, I expected to see a poem or a love song or some stupid Shakespeare quote.

“69 Opal Street Apartment D,” I read aloud. Holy shit, that’s my fucking address. That creep, that pervert, that son of a bitch. Why does he have this? What is wrong with him?! I had never felt so unsafe in my own home. Carl is twice my size, he could definitely kill me. I wouldn’t stand a chance. Or maybe he wants to stalk me. Maybe he’s been watching me change my clothes all this time and I haven’t noticed. I tiptoed around my apartment, all of the sudden regretting my decision to live alone. I looked behind all the curtains, under all the furniture, and around every corner. I knew there was something about that shithead that wasn’t right. People should listen to me more often. I stopped for a second and thought about taking risks again. I can’t let Carl hurt me. If I didn’t take his wallet I could be dead by tomorrow. I need to get to him before he gets to me. I’m a risk taker now, I got this. I walk next door to my drug dealing neighbor Sid, I knew I’d need him some day.

I locked all my doors and windows, put my cat Chewy’s toy bells all around the floor, and set up my bed on the couch. Hopefully Carl didn’t memorize my address, but better to be safe than sorry. I was plotting my backfire for hours that night, barely getting any sleep. I finally came to a conclusion. I never thought I’d say this in my life, but I’m going to ask Carl to dinner.

The next day at work I had my espresso in hand ready to take this motherfucker down. I marched into Carl’s office with a smile on my face.

“Good morning, Carl! How are you on this beautiful day?” This was harder than I thought.

“Mallory! I’m great, thanks for asking. What brings you in here in an unusually chipper mood?” Carl stared into my eyes like he was on to me. But little did he know I was on to him.

“Oh I actually wanted to ask you something, I’m just a little nervous.” I took a deep breath and swallowed my pride. “I was wondering if you wanted to go out to dinner with me tonight...like a date.”

Carl paused. “Mallory, I thought you despised me! I knew it was because you were shy. This is wonderful news! I was actually planning on asking you out this week as well, but I misplaced my wallet.”

Dumbass. Carl kept speaking, “But I won’t be able to take you out until I get my wallet back, could we maybe do this next week?” I couldn’t wait. He was plotting something. I could see it in his stupid, beautiful blue eyes.

“You know what? Why don’t you come over, I’ll make you dinner. Come over around 7:00. Here’s my address.” Look familiar, fuck-face?

“You’re the best, Mal. I’ll bring the wine. I’m looking forward to it.” I walked away in disbelief that I’m having dinner with this douchebag. I wondered if I should have just let Carl kill me. That night, I prepped my famous chicken parm while strategically placing knives around the countertop in case Carl tried anything. I wore a turtleneck sweater dress showing the least amount of skin possible. I’m just hoping he doesn’t bring a gun, then I’m screwed. I had a pit in my stomach. I wasn’t sure if it was nerves, fear, or disgust. Definitely not nerves. Carl was a piece of crap with a hidden agenda. An attractive one at that.

I heard a knock. Here goes nothing. “Mal! I hope you don’t mind I’m a little early. I brought my best bottle from home.”

“Thanks, Carl. Dinner’s almost done. Come in, make yourself at home.” I looked for any unusual items that may be hidden under his dress shirt.

I took Carl’s wine from him rolling my eyes at the fact he brought white. Everyone knows red is better, except this dumbass apparently. I poured two glasses for us, with a splash of Rohypnol in Carl’s drink for that extra kick. The adrenaline rush was coming back.

I sat with Carl and put his wine next to the plate of chicken parm in front of him and smiled. After a painful silence, Carl started to speak. “Okay, so I have to ask, Mal. Did you ask me out because you got the edible arrangement I sent you?”

I nearly choked on my chicken. “The what?” Carl chuckled. “I’ll take that as a no. Truth is, Mal, I’ve had my eye on you since you bitched out Becky at staff meeting. Your drive, your passion, your legs, you’re just so sexy. I’ve been wanting to ask you out for so long but I was so afraid you’d reject me. To be honest you’re the only one in the office that doesn’t obviously drool over me and isn’t a 40 year old virgin. And if we’re being completely honest, I took your address from the HR files so I could surprise you. Sorry if this seems a little forward, but I wanted to be romantic.”

I could taste the vomit. I was about to roofie someone who wanted to send me chocolate covered fruit. This is what I get for taking risks. God damnit.

“Carl, I—” just as I started to explain myself, Chewy jumped on onto the table and started to claw at Carl’s face. I never heard a grown man scream so loud. And I have never laughed so hard. Carl flailed his arms around knocking almost everything off the dinner table, including the glass of wine.

“Oh my God, Mallory, I’m so sorry. I’m just a little...afraid of cats, all animals actually. I should have said something. I’ll help clean up.” Chewy was under the table licking up everything that had spilled. At least she was good for something.

As we were cleaning, awkward silence turned into small talk, and small talk turned into real conversation, laughs, and flirting. Carl wasn’t that much of a piece of shit, I guess, and his positive attitude on life was almost charming.

After a few more glasses of wine I realized how hungry I was. “Want to order Chinese or something?”

Carl looked back, “Sounds great, but I still haven’t found my wallet. If you want I could get the next date. I mean, if you want another date.”

There was a pit in my stomach. I could admit to being slightly psycho and stealing Carl’s wallet and admit this entire scenario was to roofie him. I could lie and say I found it in my bag. There are plenty of things I could say that would probably make Carl never want to see me again.

But then I took the biggest risk possible. “Actually, fuck the food.” I straddled my legs over Carl and kissed him passionately. I felt the rush again, but this time I wasn’t sure it was adrenaline. He was an amazing kisser and he certainly wasn’t hesitant.

We came up for air and I stared at Carl’s perfect face and was ready to see the perfect body that went along with it. “You know I still think you’re annoying as hell, right?”

“At least I’m not a miserable bitch.” Carl revealed his pearly white smile.

I gave him the eyes and pulled him up to walk to my bedroom. I open the door, fall into my bed, and pull Carl on top of me. As we’re kissing passionately he stops to take off his shirt, then stops right as he reveals his abs only to glance over at my bedside table. Carl reaches over to find the familiar wallet that belonged to him. He stared at it, and stared back into my eyes as our crotches were still touching.

“You found your wallet, Carl! It was here the whole time...” Now I felt like the piece of shit. Carl paused, then smirked at me. “You fucking psycho.” He kept kissing me like nothing ever happened.


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