That afternoon, David moped about the office, taking yet another depressing survey of his life. He was in his mid-thirties, reasonably fit, reasonably good looking, with an average face. His black hair was starting to recede from his forehead, but it wasn’t too thin. He maintained a gym membership and sometimes worked out at lunchtimes, when he wasn’t ruining his own effort by eating fast food with Kevin. Those days, they chatted about Kevin’s martial hobbies when David wasn’t complaining about Kim’s increasing coldness, or ogled young women customers, or all of the above. David sometimes fantasized about the women they watched, but he knew it was all in his mind. He’d no sooner try to pick up a stranger than he’d stand up to Kim at home, as Kevin was only too eager to point out. He was a pussy. Kevin regularly and cheerfully told him that. David knew it only too well.
Though Kim didn’t give a damn, David knew he had a decent job and made a decent paycheck illustrating software guides for the network software Kevin (and dozens of other engineers like him) spent their days coding. The downside was Tom Wolkowski, middle-manager and “Lord of the Software Engineering Group,” as Kevin had dubbed him behind Wokowski’s back. Wolkowski embodied everything that was bad management – watching his employees’ every move and questioning even the most valid of personal time off requests, criticizing their work while never offering positive feedback, taking credit for the ideas and even the work of people within his department, criticizing those who reported to him when speaking with other managers… Wolkowski was the worst of all possible worlds. Kevin had chafed so much under Wolkowski’s management that he’d started actively defying him in meetings and then in company e-mails copied to upper management. Finally, the Powers that Were had put Kevin in the Quality Assurance Group, where he would spend his days double-checking and cleaning up code, his interaction with Wolkowski minimized. That was fine for Kevin, but it left David – Kevin’s best friend, for the two years they’d worked together – under Wolkowski’s thumb.
At half past four, David sat through another forty-five-minute, “fifteen-minute” meeting with Wolkowski and several of the support staff, shifting impatiently in his seat as Wolkowski droned on about quarterly performance numbers and department goals. Wolkowski was legendary for scheduling his meetings at the end of the day on Friday, if not just before lunch during the rest of the week. These always went over their allotted times, as the man was in love with the sound of his own voice. As the minutes ticked past five, David became more and more annoyed. There was nothing being covered in this meeting that could not be sent out as an e-mail. After five on a Friday, his time was his, and Wolkowski was chewing away at it. He had nothing to go home to but an indifferent wife and maybe some take-out Chinese, but he’d rather be sitting in his small office at home playing World of Warcraft on his computer than listening to Tom Wolkowski filibuster.
Across from David at the conference table sat Dana Stevens and Rachel Ward, the administrative assistants attached to Wolkowski’s department. When he looked at Rachel, the first word that came to David’s mind was always, “cute.” She was adorable, in fact – sweet, even innocent, with naturally curly, sandy-blond hair and a penchant for pastel-colored lipstick. She smelled of some maddeningly enticing perfume and was always friendly, which did nothing to stop David from becoming tongue-tied whenever he had to ask her for something. She and Kevin had struck up quite a friendship and the older man frequently visited her cubicle to idle away a few minutes chatting with her.
While Kevin spoke glowingly of Rachel’s figure, it was the soft-spoken Dana who had first caught his eye around the office. Dana was the type who often wore oversized clothes that hid her curves – until the first summer she’d worked in David’s department. Then she’d started showing up to work in considerably less.
“Dude,” Kevin had said to him one day, carrying a coffee cup while making his conversational rounds of the office denizens he counted among his friends. “Have you seen Dana today? I never realized how stacked she was.”
“Stacked” summed it up, too. Dana had long, brown hair framing an unremarkable face. It was difficult to make eye contact with her, however, as her chest never failed to draw David’s gaze. As she sat in the meeting, as bored as everyone else trapped around the table, David let his eyes linger over her. Her large, perfectly round breasts strained against the fabric of the tight, waist-length sweater she wore, the buttons fastened only at her navel, a tight, scoop-necked blouse underneath baring more than a little cleavage. She had a tiny waist and, David knew, a perfectly curved bottom that she kept sheathed in tight jeans during the warmer months.
Dana kept to herself, for the most part, sitting at her desk and quietly doing her work. Kevin had chatted her up a few times, but given up on her as less agreeable than Rachel. David was nonetheless quite infatuated with her and would go out of his way to catch glimpses of her. Except for work-related matters and perhaps some abortive small talk, he had never really spoken to her. As he sat across from her, his right leg moving slowly back and forth beneath the table, David pictured how her breasts would feel beneath his hands, filling them, the nipples stiffening at his touch…
She looked away from Wolkowski and straight at David. David quickly averted his eyes, pretending suddenly to be very interested in his manager’s speech. Wolkowski, for his part, showed no inclination to shut up. The wall clock’s minute hand continued to tick past five, the meeting long surpassing the fifteen minutes Wolkowski always estimated for these status sessions.
Broken from his reverie, feeling his face grow hot and hoping he did not look as red as he felt, David waited. Eventually he calmed himself. Eventually, the raging hard-on straining against his Dockers began to subside. Then it was just Wolkowski and his numbers and his droning voice, going on and on. And on. And on.