By John Gorman
My eleven o’clock was nothing short of spiffy. His hair was Ibiza-slick, combed over his bronze forehead. His brows were waxed and he held his distinguished nose as an Opera buff. He kept his legs neatly crossed so as not to frazzle the delicate crease in his herringbone trousers. I gave a quick look over his nails. Immaculate. Maybe a bit longer than I liked, but trimmed evenly only enough to pierce an orange skin. His jacket had virgin lapels, which was understandable. Who really tucked gardenias nowadays? But right on the lip of his white shirt collar was a scarlet smudge. It dripped to the right, a twisty little river of stain. He made no attempt to hide it, in fact, his collar peeled over his jacket as if showing off a frat pin. So help me, he shouldered it forward with spin-the-bottle precision and dabbed it with his middle finger so I had no choice, but to stare. What the hell was he thinking coming in for interview like that? But, maybe there was a good reason. Maybe he’d been evicted, flooded out of his home and he was living out of a Camry, the rearview mirror his shaving buddy. But there were no cut marks on his chin. None on his cheek. Perhaps it was a wine stain: Chambolle-Musigny, Fronsac or Yellowtail. Maybe it was jelly donut splotch. Then, of course, I considered lipstick. Yeah, lipstick. Maybe this was his ballsy way of letting me know he was a play hard/ work hard kind of guy. Bastard. We could use one of them around here.
After I’d rattled off my scripted intro, I could plainly see his face reddening to the rouge of his collar. Frankly, I didn’t give a rat’s ass if my staring offended him. I only wanted to know the story behind the smudge. It drove me nuts. The ruthless busybody in me made me clear my throat. And then, he uncrossed his legs, raised his Opera nose and pushed away from the desk.
“Hold on there,” I said, “Where are you going?”
He aired a snarky hmmpth and split and I followed him, Woodstock trailing after Snoopy, out of the office— my head a stale jar of sauerkraut.
“Wait,” I said, “Wait” and his Monkstrap heels chortled on the scruffy floorboards— six more sugarless hours till quitting time.
John spits wine for a living. He enjoys fried pickles, a hoppy beer, and a good game of Mancala (preferably in sand). His work has appeared in Monkeybicycle, The Summerset Review, Apt, and Writer’s Digest. His debut novel Shades of Luz is published by All Things That Matter Press. He snagged his MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University.