Dean tightened his red-black striped tie and smoothed out his white button up shirt inside the elevator. He had almost a dozen of that same shirt at home and wore them to work every day, despite having many shirts to choose from, ranging from party shirts he had never worn to graphic tees that he lounged around in. His body looked like it was stuck in high school with his boyish face, puny frame and black hair that revealed a dark brown sheen when the sunlight hit it. He easily looked like he belonged in an office job, or playing D&D. He fit perfectly inside the role society had placed him in. Well except with D&D, he never understood the appeal of that. Dungeon Lords was more up Dean’s alley. Dungeon Lords was easier to understand and didn’t require the participants to be Lord-of-the-Geeks. Anyone who liked board games could enjoy that one.
The elevator chimed right before opening. The office looked the same as ever. Cubicles were jammed against one another, packing the work spaces like sardines in a can. Offices surrounded the cubicles, though you could only tell they were offices from the outside because of the doors with people’s names on them. Take those doors away and they’d just be walled in. Not that those doors opened up very often anyway. Then there was the break room to his left and elevators to his right. This was his world from eight to five, five days a week. This morning was different though. He smiled as he strolled to his cubicle and sat down to start his work day. This morning his fingers flew across the keys. He never needed to stop and think; everything he attempted seemed to work out perfectly this morning, so he just kept on barreling forward. Nothing could slow him down.
It had been two weeks since Miranda had broken up with her boyfriend. Dean thought that should be plenty of time. Surely two weeks was enough time to get over someone, especially someone like Chris. Dean always had to listen as Miranda talked about how Chris would flirt with other girls and how Chris cared about his car more than he cared about her.
“Chris doesn’t listen like you do” she would say.
“Sometimes I think Chris could care less if I was there or not” she would say.
Dean was just about ready to tell her to find another ear, that his was closed for business. This was not the first time he had told himself that and it probably wouldn’t be the last. Sometimes he even believed it, that he was done listening to her rant. Then she had broken up with her boyfriend, and just two days ago she had mentioned how maybe finding someone new might do her some good.
“Nothing serious” she had said. Dean had told her that maybe she should wait to find a good man this time. She had laughed and then thanked him. She had said how he was a good friend and he was always a voice of reason.
“Do you have that report done yet?” Miranda asked from the doorway of his cubicle. He knew she was there before he even looked. He would recognize her voice anywhere. To him it was soft and even, gentle and confident all at the same time. He turned around and glanced to see what she wore. It wasn’t anything unusual, but he always looked forward to catching glimpses of her around the office. He loved the way it hugged her body. That morning she wore a white shirt that helped to show off her ample bust size due to the contrast between it and the small black vest that covered her arms and pressed against her stomach and a tight black skirt that almost reached her knees, showing off smooth legs that went for miles. Dean’s gaze settled on her face and what a face it was. Miranda had sharp features, wavy long hair that hung down to her hip, and golden eyes that sparkled in the sunlight.
“Not yet, it’s close though. Give me another hour.” His boyish face smiled as he spoke. They talked about work for a while and people in the office. Who might be dating who and who was currently fighting. Dean didn’t care one bit about any of that but Miranda liked to talk about it and Dean liked to hear her talk. Then Pete, the man in charge of their division, rounded the corner.
“Oh, Mister Boss Man is coming. Meet me at the lobby at noon.” Miranda didn’t give Dean a chance to say any more as she ran to avoid a direct confrontation with, as she put it, Mister Boss Man. Dean kept his gaze on the screen, not wanting to be caught staring at her walking away and get fired.
Memories of the first day they met filled his mind. He remembered that she was wearing the same outfit and that it had complimented her figure just as much then as it does now. She immediately made an impression on him. He was the first person she talked to in the office. At the time she was unsure about things, lost in a new building. Miranda had happened to choose his cubicle, to choose him to ask for help. Dean had walked her to the boss’s office and had even put in a good word for her in an attempt to make sure it wouldn’t be the last time they met. Even as early as that first day he knew that he had wanted more time with her.
The elevator chimed, opening up for Dean. It was time for him to take Miranda to lunch. He walked out and into the lobby, immediately spotting Miranda reading a magazine with her legs crossed in a chair. He went over and tapped on her shoulder. When she looked up he smiled.
“So where are we going?” He asked.
“I was thinking of pigging out.” She smirked up at him, her golden eyes reflecting the artificial light, adding a strange blue tint to them.
“So Five-Guys then?” He grinned. He almost never got to go there, Miranda always wanted to eat somewhere that she could order a meatless ten dollar salad and he always let Miranda get what she wanted.
She nodded and hopped up. “Sure. It’ll give me a chance to tell you all about this great thing that happened.” She said. Dean raised a curious eyebrow. “I’ll tell you at the restaurant. You can wait that long, can’t you?” She said. Dean gave a large, theater style sigh.
“Yeah, I guess.” He said.
They made pleasant conversation about nothing in particular as Dean drove them to Five-Guys. As they walked in the salty smell of fresh fries filled his nostrils. He stood in line and snacked on peanuts that were in boxes stacked upon one another next to them. When they got up there he paid for both their meals. He smiled at her as he ordered his little cheeseburger. He chuckled, Miranda just rolled her eyes. She didn’t find the fairly sizeable burger being called small funny like he did.
They had just barely sat down when Miranda leaned over the table with a gleam in her eye. “The other night I went out to this nightclub, Moriarties. It’s a great place. It has cheap drinks, great atmosphere, but that’s not the best part. I met the most handsome man there...” Dean didn’t know what to do as she begun to recount, in explicit detail, her night with this man. He, for lack of any other idea of what to do, silently listened to her story, nodding occasionally and taking mental notes of what she had mentioned enjoying. This man sounded like a god, chiseled out of marble and sent down just to fulfill women’s desires. Dean hated this god of a man already. He had listened to her go on and on after Chris left her, yet she had given herself over to a total stranger.
“H-he really sounds like one hell of a man,” Dean said after she finished her story.
“Oh, he was. I think I may call him up again. Chris wasn’t nearly as good with his hands.” Miranda leaned back, a knowing smile on her face.
“S-so is he your new boyfriend?” he asked. She laughed, loud and uncontrollably.
“Oh, heavens no. The poor boy thinks Googling yourself is what you do when you can’t get yourself a woman for the night.” She still wasn’t done laughing, but as people started to stare she clamped her mouth shut and tried to suppress her laughter. After a minute, she had some limited success. “No, I won’t be getting a boyfriend for a while. I think you should though. You really deserve one.” Half of her disappeared from sight, blocked by the table, as she dug through her bag on the seat next to her.
“Well yeah, it would be nice to get a girlfriend but....” She came back up and grabbed his hand, putting a card in it. This was it; she was giving him her number. Dean couldn’t believe it. He smiled brightly in reflex.
“I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. Six months we’ve worked together and not once have I seen a picture of a woman in your cubicle. You’ve never mentioned a cute girl to me, let alone commented on the woman around the office. Not even when Penny started working here. After talking with my cousin, I figured it out. It was so obvious. I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner.” She was practically beaming with pride.
“It was?” he asked.
“Well yeah. Though more to him than me. You always seem so lonely. You’ve never talk about the dates you go on and you listen to me just like he does, even when I went on about Chris. He said you sounded just like he was a few years back, too afraid to say anything. He told me to tell you about the night before last as a test. You passed with flying colors,” she said. She removed her hand and Dean looked at the card. It had the name David Berkouwitz printed in bold letters on it. Dean knew that last name, it was Miranda’s last name.
“I think you gave me the wrong card, this is David’s,” he said.
“That’s my cousin’s card. Weren’t you listening? I figured it out. You’re gay….” Her words became distant as Dean stared at the card in disbelief. His thoughts raced. He was what? He tried to figure it out. No matter how he looked at it, he didn’t understand how she got there, to that conclusion. Dean knew now he didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell. He couldn’t very well argue about being gay either; she would just think he was in the closet. He set the card on the table, hidden under his hand. When she stopped jabbering, he looked back up.
“Th-thanks. I’ll make sure to give him a call.” She smiled and his lips twitched slightly as he forced himself to smile back.
“No problem. I’m always here for you. Let me know how it goes. I know he’s excited to meet you.” She winked and his jaw clenched in frustration, though he still appeared to smile. They talked until the meal was ready. All Miranda wanted to do was to talk about her cousin, David. She wanted to tell Dean just how great a man he was. How he had a fantastic sense of humor, how great a cook he was. She just went on and on about him. Dean tried desperately to circumvent the topic but it was like she was on a mission. It didn’t matter if he mentioned art or sport. He tried talking about clothes, but even that didn’t work! By the end of the meal all he wanted to do was to stuff an apple in her mouth. When they got up to leave he left the card on the table. He didn’t have any use for it.
She ran up to him with the gay man’s card in her hands. “You forgot this.” She said, putting it in his hand.
“Thanks. Couldn’t very well call him without this, could I?” He said, allowing a little bit of his bitterness to show through his tone. She looked at him confused for a moment.
“You’re welcome.” She said cautiously. Of course, now is when she’d pay attention to what I say, Dean thought.
“I mean it, thank you.” He smiled and forced himself to sound happy this time. She nodded but didn’t take her eyes off him until he pocketed the card. She wouldn’t be satisfied until he did and he could always throw it away when he got home. She nodded and they got in the car.
Dean got back to his desk at work and checked his work email. Payroll reports were due before the end of the day and he was assigned that task. This was monotonous work that he thought a program would do better. He just made sure the figures added up properly and matched the original numbers, that nothing was wrong. Ninety-percent of the time everything was perfect. He just stared at the screen and then sent the paperwork off, not really accomplishing anything at all. Paperwork kept him busy though and that meant he would get his paycheck, whether he really earned it or not. He took his break later than usual in order to avoid Miranda. Thankfully it worked.
Dean got home and checked his answering machine that now blinked. There were three messages on it. Two of the messages he listened to were from his family, his sister and mother. He couldn’t talk to either of them that night; they would know something was wrong. Those he deleted without a second thought. The third was from Miranda. For the first time he could ever remember he regretted giving her his number. “Dean, I know you’ll forget if you don’t call Dav....” Dean pressed delete, interrupting the message. He never wanted to hear her demanding and over eager voice ever again. Dean thought that tomorrow he would demand, ask, he corrected himself (he did work with her after all) that she not call him again. His home was his sanctuary, somewhere he could hide from his troubles for a while and right now, that included Miranda.
As he got back to his room, he undid his tie and opened up his closet, putting it on a hanger. The sight of the cuff of a shirt caught his eye. He moved the racks and sighed. A blue silk shirt with a black twisting pattern was the shirt he stared at. He bought that shirt two months before his twenty first birthday. He had expected someone to take him out to get smashed that night. He had hinted for a month to everyone he knew that his twenty first birthday was coming up. No one invited him out though and he had thought going out to get drunk by yourself would just be sad and pathetic. So he hadn’t gone out drinking. Not that night and not any night since.
Right now the shirt seemed to be taunting him. What was the name of that club she mentioned, Moriarties? Tomorrow was his day off. It wouldn’t matter if he slept in the entire day and after today he probably would anyway. Tonight he would let loose. Tonight he would find someone who would like him. There had to be someone like that at a nightclub; that was the entire point of such places, at least if he understood correctly.
As he walked through the door of Moriarties, his senses were berated. Flashing lights hurt his eyes, causing them to close instinctively. Loud drumming music made his thoughts seem jumbled and distant. The pungent aroma of stale ale and sweat so powerful he thought his nose hairs would burn off filled his nostrils. A big man opened the door and shoved him aside without so much as slowing down for Dean as he struggled to regain control of his senses. He opened his eyes and forced them to adjust to the new lights. When they had, he looked around.
Sofas and chairs to his left, a bar, with a beautiful woman behind the counter to his right, and in front of him was the huge tiled dance floor with a disc-jockey on a raised stage. The place was packed with more bodies than he could believe. He weaved through the crowd towards the bar and sat down on a stool. As he went to rest his arm on the counter and it slipped on what he hoped was spilled beer.
He lifted his arm up and could feel the liquid slowly trickle downward. That was his luck. He licked the liquid. It tasted like something had gone a little sour. He then realized he didn’t know what beer actually tasted like, finding the idea of drinking alone equally pathetic. The bartender was nice enough to give him a towel to dry off with. He took it from her, avoiding eye contact and thanking her. As he finished drying off he ordered one vodka shot from her simply because he thought that was what you did while you were out at a nightclub. He grabbed the shot and took it all at once. It burned down his throat and left him with a bitter taste in his mouth. He just barely controlled himself as his body wanted to go into a coughing fit right there and then. He was able to keep it down to one hack and clearing his throat a couple of times, a success as far as he was concerned.
When he finally had control of himself, he looked up to find a woman sitting just a couple of stools over with her back to the bar. He stared for a moment, struck by her black leather cocktail dress that showed as much as it covered and shiny black hair that draped behind her shoulders. He got up and stood next to her. “H-hi. My name’s Dean.” Dean held his hand out towards her, but she didn’t as much as glance at him. Dean thought that maybe she just couldn’t hear him over the music. “Hi! My name is Dean!” She looked him up and down out of the corner of her eye. His twig body and boyish face contrasted the nice blue silk shirt with the twisting black pattern on it and blue jeans that would have looked fashionable on most men. He thought the outfit had seemed right for a club. The woman shook her head and smirked. He didn’t have a chance to say any more. Her hips swayed with the beat as she went over to a man clad in black leather across the nightclub. Damn bikers, Dean thought.
He sat back down and ordered more shots. Liquid courage is all I need, he thought. Just a little more of that and they will swarm around me. He drank them all, getting better at it with each shot. By the sixth, and last, shot he was able to do it without so much as coughing once.
With his inhibitions gone, he went up to another five women and tried different tactics on all of them. All of these women showed their legs and had breasts that seemed ready to pop out of their outfits. The most success he had was when one laughed said he was “so cute” and pinched his cheek. He had turned his head down, a light blush on his face. When he looked back up she was on the other side of the bar, talking to some man with a chiseled jaw and rippling muscles. Dean was just sure he must be a model. If he was that handsome and had those muscles he could get any woman he wanted. Dean shook his head, clearing those thoughts from his mind.
After that, with little hope left, he stumbled away from the bar. His eyes fell on three women, facing each other, dancing near the edge of the dance floor with a large enough space for him to fit in. He slipped in and they gave him strange looks. He had never danced much before and his intoxication didn't help him a bit. He moved his arms around with no rhyme or reason and bounced way out of beat. All three of the women laughed at him, with varying intensities. One even pointed. With his head held down, he left the dance floor and flopped down on one of the love seats.
“Why is zis soo hard?” he said, to himself out loud, slurring his words. His hands covered his face, as if that lessened the shame somehow.
“I don’t know.” He barely caught her timid voice with the loud music. He cracked open his fingers and looked at her with one eye, in his stupor he had not noticed someone was already there, sitting next to him now. The girl wore a solid pink shirt and a black, lacey skirt that hung down just past her knees, which were of course crossed. She stared down at her interwoven hands.
“There is soooo many gurls here.” He took one hand off his face in order to gesture at the entire bar with a large wave of his hand. She giggled in response “Why can’t I finds wun who likes me. Tats all I need, jus wun,” he said, his speech getting worse as the alcohol flowed through his system. He removed his other hand from his face, letting them both fall next to him and he leaned his head over towards her, looking like a sad puppy dog.
“I’m sure there is. There may be one even closer than you think,” she said. He smiled at her. Long eyelashes that hid deep emerald eyes fluttered as she smiled back.
“Where day at? I don’t see em.” He said as he looked around the room. “All of dem tay no. I tried but tey won’t teven talk to me. None of tem like me.” He said.
“You shouldn’t give in so easily. What if the one is here, right in front of your eyes and you’ll miss her by being unwilling to try.” She sounded sure about it. That she was here, tonight. He grinned as he grabbed her hand with both of his and looked into her eyes. She stared back into his eyes, a blush dusting her cheeks.
“Jour right. Tanks toe much. I keep tat in minds.” He said.
“Good. Now then, how about....” She started to say. His eyes left hers, noticing a hot little number walk out of the bathroom and towards the bar. He stood back up, his fingers trailing along hers as he removed his hand. With a cocky stride back he went back to the bar to meet the woman. The girl hugged her hand to herself as she watched him leave her on that love seat, alone.
“So, how bouts me buys de pretty lady what she drinkes” Dean said, smiling and looking her in the eye. A large man next to her turns his head and puts his arm around her.
“Sure. Then get out of here.” The man’s voice was deep and reminded him of all sorts of movie bikers that kill people. So when the bartender came around he actually did just that, he bought the woman a drink. The bartender looked at him, then the couples. She shook her head but brought it out anyway. He went around the corner of the bar to an open stool and ordered a beer. When the bartender slid the beer across the counter she stopped and looked at him.
“I’ve been watching you all night. I don’t usually give out advice but after that last debacle.” She stopped talking in order to suppress her laughter. “Well, I haven’t seen anything that pathetic in a while.” Dean opened his mouth up to argue but she made the zipper motion, stopping him. “Trust me, it was. Men don’t pay for other men’s dates drinks. It just doesn’t happen. He was joking you idiot. He just expected you to walk away, not embarrass yourself further.” Dean just blinked at her, a little afraid to speak up now.
“You should try someone more your own speed. Like that girl on the coach. I saw you talking to her.” She pointed over at the woman on the coach.
“She wash nice. Like my siserr alway is.” He said. She chuckled.
“This is why I usually don’t bother with you people.” She shook her head. A man across the bar yelled for another beer so she walked away to go get him even drunker than he already was.
Dean looked at the woman who had been nice to him from his perch on the bar. She put both her hands on the seat and pushed herself upright before gliding over to the dance floor. She then disappeared into the crowd. Dean thought about looking for her on the dance floor and cringed both internally, and externally, thinking about those other women who had laughed at him for trying. She wasn’t like them but he didn’t want to try, just in case. He probably wouldn’t be able to find her in the crowd now anyway.
Dean slid off the chair and almost fell down. I’ll get a number tonight if it kills me, Dean thought.