Sunday, April 6, 2008

Bad Call

The phone rang, but I let the call go to voice mail.

It was Gil. I hadn't talked to him much in the last year, not since I'd quit working at the bar. He'd called me a handful of times to see if I would fill in for one of the girls. It was clockwork: no less than three shifts a week opened up because one of the girls was "sick," or too hung over and strung out to make it into work at eleven a.m.

That isn't why he called. His message was a whispery grunt. "You are so fucking hot," he panted. There was a pause, and then he hung up. I listened to the message a few times to determine if there was some kind of subtext. Maybe I was giving him too much credit.

I was thoroughly skeeved. I couldn't remember the last time I'd actually seen Gil face-to-face. I went into the bar last week with some friends after dinner, but he wasn't there.

Oh, shit. Of course. The cameras.

Gil was cheap. He'd rip his own mother off for five bucks. He wasn't so cheap, however, that he couldn't have cameras installed that linked to his computer at home. According to him, they were for security purposes, but he called me in the middle of a shift once to tell me to get off my ass and stock the Lite. He'd done the same thing to Heide; he called her to bust her out for drinking during her shift.

Being under surveillance certainly sucked, but when he 'joked' that he had installed a camera in the staff bathroom, I knew I had to get out of that place.

I listened to the message one more time before I deleted it forever. He sounded hushed, busy. An image exploded into my brain: Gil, hovering over the recordings on his home computer, spanking it, calling me, or Kim, or Shelly, any of the girls who worked for him, whoever might strike his fancy as they appeared on the screen, as long as he had an image and a phone number.

How carefully he must analyze that footage. I'd been there for maybe an hour on a random Thursday night, how much jerk-off material could he get from that? Although I was fully disgusted, I didn't have time to think too deeply about it. I had to get to work. Bartending was good money, but people just poured their endless bullshit into my brain day after day. I really couldn't take it anymore. I drove to the art studio, thinking about what a sick fuck Gil was.

Walking into Life Drawing, I put my purse away and made brief small talk with the students as I prepared for class. I dropped my jeans and stripped off my henley. The block is always so cold in the evening classes. I placed a blanket on the slick surface and folded myself into a shape for the class to draw, grateful that no one spoke to me while I worked. The instructor circled the room, making suggestions and comments. As he passed my cube on the way to his desk, he muttered at me, "you look amazing." I glanced at him, and looked at the clock. Only twenty minutes until eight. Then I could get dressed and go home.

Published by The Laundry Room, 2007

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