This story is by Raymond Savage and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“God help me, it can’t be 5:30 already.”
The shrill alarm penetrated Lester’s pre-dawn sleep paralysis.
“Did I drink that much, or am I just getting old?” He whined.
Begrudgingly, he slid one leg off the mattress, touched the floor with his toes, and rolled to his back. His fingers walked over the nightstand and groped the void where his phone normally lay. His head pounded out thoughts.
“Where’s the doggone phone?”
He envisioned a serenity that only the snooze button could provide. Realization dawned that the murderous alarm came from behind the nightstand….he rubbed his eyes and sat up.
“Perfect day to have a shitty day.” He mumbled.
He stood, immediately stepped on his cat, Onions, who shrieked like a banshee and bolted.
Onions loitered in the threshold of the kitchen door watching him.
“Hey, you little bastard. Guess you don’t feel like eating huh? Right!”
Lester reached behind the nightstand and retrieved his phone. According to the time he had twenty-three minutes to be out the door.
“No time to make coffee. I’ll settle for the coffee shop.”
He mounted his throne and evacuated his bladder and bowels, then jumped into the shower. He emerged from the bathroom swank and primped in eighteen minutes.
Onions sat by his food dish with the usual stink eye.
‘Hey human, yes… you! How about a little service around here? Is that too much to ask? There are three hairs in my water and my food dish is only 75% full. Get on your J.O.B. or I’m buggin!’
Lester rubbed him behind the ears. “You want food? Let’s hook you up.”
Onions purred and twirled as cat food rattled into the dish. He dove in headfirst.
Lester grabbed a nectarine, an orange, and an individual-sized package of Fig Newtons from the countertop and a ziplock bag of cherries from the fridge. He looked back on the way out the door.
Onions stared up from his bowl. He licked his chops and casually strolled towards the living room window.
He jumped onto a comfy, Budapest imported, down-stuffed, silk-lined, mahogany-framed bivouac. A day of rigorous lounging and surveillance from his opulent second-story observation deck lay ahead. He turned and stared as to say,
“Are you still here?”
Lester chuckled and clicked his remote start.
“I get it. You are too spoiled for your own good.”
The lifted Jeep Rubicon headed off into the morning herd with radio psychobabble in full stride. After hearing a couple of headlines he switched from political punditry to the morning personality shenanigans.
A couple blocks from the coffee shop the effects of his hangover kicked in. He beat the last stoplight… not a second too soon. Lester needed meat. By the time he pulled into Liquid Gold’s sparsely filled parking lot his stomach was rumbling like a Mack truck.
* * * * *
Lester pondered the multitude of choices on the menu, unable to decide.
“Ain’t no way on God’s green earth that they’re making all this shit in that tiny ass elf kitchen.” He mumbled.
He squinted and scanned the 80+ item menu. Sloppily handwritten on a chalkboard in single spacing.
Complicating matters, he became distracted by the woman ordering at the front of the line.
Very attractive, in nurses’ scrubs. With long, black, wavy hair.
His father always said…
‘Only two places a man can be treated with true tenderness by beautiful females are strip clubs and hospitals. Except nurses really care, strippers just want your money.’
Lester vaguely recognized her. “Nice figure.” He checked her out while nonchalantly pretending to look down at his phone. He even dared a second and third glance to her shapely buttocks.
She received her order and walked swiftly by and out the door, leaving a wisp of sweet fragrance behind. He savored momentarily and again focused on the theatre-sized menu. As he stepped to assume the position of la persona que ordena, he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“Hey, remember me?” Lester turned and looked into beautiful almond-shaped eyes peering at him.
“I remember you. You took a pre-employment physical where I work. I gave you the eye exam.” She said.
“Can’t forget because you tried to memorize the small line on the eye chart so I had to make you read it backward. Hahaha.”
“That sounds like me.” He grinned. “Busted!” They laughed.
“What’s your name?”
“Abbey. It’s not short for Abigail, please don’t call me Abigail.” She laughed. “It sounds so old-fashioned.”
“I like old-fashioned, old-fashioned is good. And it looks good on you, Abbey. Hi, I’m Lester.”
“I’m happy someone thinks so. Hello, Lester” She smiled.
A man mumbled something and cleared his throat immediately behind them. Lester hastily stepped to the cashier. Abbey touched him again.
“I got an extra sandwich if you want it. I was saving it for lunch but changed my mind.” Abbey said. Lester waved an apology to the man.
“Deal, but only if you join me for happy hour this evening. It’s my one-year anniversary with the company and we’re having a get-together after work.” He smiled.
He ordered and received a large black coffee then turned to Abbey and they walked out together.
“I work with great people, you’ll have a good time.”
“Here’s your sandwich. I’ll write my number on the bag, don’t throw it out by mistake. Call around four and I’ll let you know. ” She said.
Lester made the fifteen-minute remaining drive to work and sat at his desk. The workload was pretty light and most of the other associates were carefree. He unwrapped his sandwich, opened his coffee, and turned on his computer. Unable to take his mind off of gorgeous Abbey, he took a bite.
His palate exploded with an avalanche of delicious yet unfamiliar flavors and spices. Many that never occurred to him went together. Mixed with familiar flavors and blended remarkably.
“She has excellent taste. Indian, Thai, and Mediterranean. All rolled into one. Wow.”
He worked a couple of accounts until lunch, then took a snooze at his desk. He woke up and turned on the home camera to see what Onions was doing. He was just within the camera’s range, unashamedly licking his butt.
‘That figures…you little pervert’
His co-workers were taking off early so he thought it time to call Abbey… *Goosebumps*
“Hello? Hey, Lester. How’s it going?” She answered enthusiastically.
“I’m great. Just calling to see if you can make the engagement? And to say the sandwich was delicious. I’ve never had anything, let alone a sandwich so exotically decadent. I owe you one”
“Thank you, it was no problem. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too spicy.”
There was a brief, awkward silence that broke when they both tried speaking at the same time.
“Engagement huh? Sounds classy. Yes, I can make your engagement. When and where dear?” Abbey asked.
“Krusty Krab on W. 110thSt. If that’s classy enough. Hahaha! In an hour?”
“Sure, see you in a jiff,” Abbey said, with enhanced sultriness in her voice.
Lester’s heart filled with lust and blood pumped to his loins.
It took mind over matter and a will of firm resolve to suppress the demon.
Abbey walked into the restaurant wearing a casually sophisticated sundress. The color and form accentuated her exceedingly well.
“Abbey, you look outstanding,” Lester said gently and kissed her cheek.
“Come let me introduce you to my work brothers and sisters.”
They had wonderful conversations while playing pool, darts, and of course beer and the seafood buffet. After a while, they found a quiet booth.
“Abbey, thanks for coming. I enjoyed your company. I hope this isn’t the last time.” He placed his hand on hers and she tenderly squeezed it.
“You’re not done with me yet. Where are you off to so early?”
“I didn’t get much sleep last night. I’m going to turn in early. Plus I have a cat who’s pimpin’ me so I need to check-in.” They laugh.
“Really? What’s your cat’s name?”
She laughed louder.
“Oh my! Can I meet Mr. Onion?” She giggled.
“Onions, with an ‘s’. Yes, you may.” He smiled.
At Lester’s apartment, they had coffee and a more engaging conversation. They established balance in their personalities and felt each other instinctively.
Onions was elusive and hid from sight, stealthily surveilling from the shadows.
Lester took Abbey’s hand again. This time more intimately.
“Abbey, you have made this a wonderful and memorable day. It is a one year anniversary for me, but I hope on this day next year it will be a one year anniversary for the two of us. How does this future look to you?”
“That future looks very good to me.” She whispered.
They started to kiss deep and passionately. Suddenly, Onions jumped on the couch. He trampled across their laps then wedged a spot between them. He started getting rubbed from both sides and purred.
- ‘Thanks for bringing her human. Now, you may be excused’…