Here's chapter two. I pitched the novel as Bridget Jones's Diary meets Fifty Shades of Grey.
Despite Blake’s request to come back soon, it had been weeks since I’d been to the gym. I felt guilty about it, but then again, work was hell. Being a delivery driver for High’s was easily the worst job in the store. And driving was the smallest part of the position. In my previous truck driving job, I’d watch customer service associates unload the pallets from my trailer, but not at High’s. There was no such thing as “no-touch freight” here. Frequently, I got lip from customers who felt that it was a man who should be doing the job and not me, but I took it as a point of pride that I would probably be the first and only female delivery driver at the store with a Class A CDL. I could drive both the box truck and the flatbed, while only one other driver, Bob, could do so. My other, younger co-worker, Patrick, who looked like a young Satan, was the only other person who could drive the box truck. Cletus, a rather dim-witted guy barely out of high school was begging to drive the truck, but our delivery manager wisely told him he couldn’t. I sometimes told customers that yeah, I didn’t have the physical strength of a man, but I did have a Class A CDL, and it wasn’t my fault that other male drivers had quit because there was too much lifting for them. I maneuvered 364-pound Samsung refrigerators up front porch steps and routed these stainless steel, overpriced, shining beacons of yuppieness to the kitchens that made my own look like a closet. A food-spattered closet with urine-stained floors because my beloved Silky Terrier, Taffy, was getting up there in years and couldn’t hold it anymore.
Neither could I. My surgery earlier in the summer for the huge tumor (whom I named Arnold) wasn’t exactly a success. The surgery cut off the blood supply to Arnold (which had been pushing against my bladder and curling around my spine) and he was dying, but the awful period pain continued. To keep going, I’d turned into a Midol/Aleve junkie. That really didn’t help my appetite, however. Since nothing really sounded good to eat, I was surviving on water, granola bars, chocolate covered raisins, and those little cheese cracker packages with the little red stick to spread the processed yellowy goodness. It shouldn’t have been enough to fuel me through ten- and twelve-hour days, but it was. Not too long ago, I’d gone bowling with Trevor and his high school buddy Kyle after a 12-hour workday (fueled by Midol) and I’d solidly whomped both of them. I couldn’t believe that I’d won, but considering Trevor refused to wear glasses (but really needed them) and Kyle had fractured his forearms skateboarding, maybe it wasn’t such a triumph on my part.
The doctors said Arnold would still continue to grow as long as I was producing estrogen. So I opted for the less invasive surgery. It had solved one problem, but not the other. I wondered how thin I would get. And there was that pesky vomiting. I’d called both my surgeon and the ob/gyn, but they seemed unconcerned. “Those symptoms are not uncommon,” they said. Perhaps when I was found on the floor naked and skeletal, like Karen Carpenter, they might suggest I come in for an appointment.
On the days I wasn’t popping the Midol, I was exhausted and frustrated. And a little bit nervous about the vomiting and the weight loss. My period pain was reaching epic proportions. The rotating schedule of High’s meant that I should have had had one weekend off a month. But in my case, I was one of those unlucky employees whose weekends off fell on holidays. So I had a whopping eight weekends off a year.
Still, I tried to exercise at home. Part of me was scared to return to the gym. After I got home that night, I went over all the details I could remember. Blake fascinated and frightened me. I knew something about it was way off—it was undeniably sexual. Was he trusting me not to tell? Was I being sexually harassed? He wouldn’t have taken me to one of the back rooms if it was all innocent. There were no cameras back there, which meant he knew damn well what he was doing. And oh God, it was so exciting. I knew it was wrong, but if it toned me up, and gave me more excitement than sex with Trevor, I was all for it. So sue me.
Speaking of Trevor, our sex life had fallen into sort of … a fuck buddy routine. Gone were the days of him fetching ice cold water after we’d made love, both of us sipping from a plastic tumbler that hadn’t been washed in God knows how long. Gone were the days of chatting after sex, talking about our pasts, then going at it again.
On my day off, I headed over to his house. His place was actually pretty cool, but growing up in a house that had been condemned twice didn’t teach him anything about basic housekeeping. I knocked, and he let me in. The house reeked of cat piss, and shit. Trevor had had a bike accident when he was younger, and he fell on his nose. Something happened with the cartilage, but he refused to go to the doctor. His nose looked fine, but his sense of smell was affected. Since he never opened the windows, the only fresh air came in when he came home. I stepped over the plate with crumbs and dried barbecue sauce and moved a pile of mail off the loveseat, which was carpeted with cat hair. I sighed and sat down.
“Wait until you see this video game I got,” he said, getting up from his computer desk. He turned on the television set and clicked on his Playstation 2. “It’s totally badass—Outlaw Tennis.”
Trevor was quite a few years younger than I was, and there were times I felt like his mother. He wanted an easy relationship—and a somewhat twisted one. Trevor wanted someone to pat him on the head, praise his videogame skills, and give him sex with nothing expected in return. I was his childless MILF. Dating a 14-year-old boy might be cool when you’re a twelve or thirteen year old girl, but in your late thirties, you want someone a little more sophisticated than someone who didn’t know you couldn’t wash cashmere and who considered TGIF’s a “nice restaurant.”
The graphics came up on the screen. Video games all looked the same to me—thuggish characters, impossibly buxom women, and lots of swearing and violence.
“Here’s your controller—you push this to run, this to jump, and this is left and right. This is the A button and this is the B button. Ready? Go!”
After his generous two second tutorial, I was slaughtered in a nanosecond. “Wasn’t that fun?” asked Trevor. I sighed. Over in the corner, Libertarian the cat was taking a dump. The litter box was in the kitchen.
“Um, do you know that Libby just pooped?”
“Yeah, the cat box needs changing,” Trevor answered, distractedly. I watched him play for a few more minutes. I thought about Blake. Would he be living in a home like this, cat hair like little tumbleweeds against the Stainmaster prairie of Trevor’s living room? Would the floor be an obstacle course of Reason magazine, junk mail, and porn mags featuring “mature” women? Would there be giant plastic coffee mugs advertising some convenience store? Surely, there wouldn’t be boxes of discounted Little Debbie snack cakes on the floor with giant packages of paper towels? His valet parking uniform was sloppily draped over a chair. It dangled precariously over a huge half full mug of cold coffee. When Libby had done her business, she strolled over to the chair with the uniform, sat down, lifted her leg like a pole dancer, and kicked the coffee mug over. Fortunately, instead of 64-ounces of cold, putrid liquid, there were only 32 sinking into the carpet. Libby licked her ass like a pro. By this time, Trevor had finally realized I wasn’t playing anymore. “Wanna go upstairs and fuck?”
“Okay,” I said. Fourteen year old boys weren’t good at romance either, especially when they are trapped in the body of a 30-year-old.
Trevor zipped up the stairs; I trudged behind. His bedroom windows were still blocked off with tinfoil, from the days when he was a security guard and worked at night. The day was bright but overcast, but inside his room it might have been midnight. He switched on the lamp. “I’ve got to run down and get new sheets,” he said. I sat on the bed and heard his footsteps thump downstairs. There was Vaseline on the tiny night stand, and a copy of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition on the floor beside the bed. Suddenly, I got up. Did I just sit in something gross? I turned around, but didn’t touch the sheets. Well, these sweats would have to go into the wash when I got home. Cat hair was one thing, but jizz was another.
Trevor thumped back up the stairs. He tore the sheets off and I helped him put the fresh ones on. He lit the candles on the desk near the foot of the bed, and turned off the light.
“You know what I want,” he whispered.
I let him tie my wrists to the bedposts. The bed was a hand-me-down, a king-sized wood frame that was a bit wobbly. Having sex in it felt like every scene in every movie where the couple getting it on was dead broke—or trash. The sex itself was pretty much the same thing, every time: I was on the bottom, he was on the top. He always rubbed me too hard. The only part of my body he actually touched was between my legs. His technique made my body feel like a Porta Potty—he touched me as little as possible in order to keep the germs at bay. I tried telling him repeatedly what I wanted, but his response was “that doesn’t excite me.” Yet, I was supposed to be okay with having a threesome with him. Had I known more about these things, I would have been a smart ass and said, “Sure, as long as I can pick the other guy.” Every so often he’d ask, and every so often, I’d say no. He was inadequate with one woman, why did he think two of them should suffer?
I heard a soft “thump” and turned my head to see Libby sneak in. Trevor was busy shoving away at me, but I’d noticed the pillow had slipped. My head was hitting the headboard in triple time. I felt like I was being jackhammered into the wall. The sound we made was a cross between a squeaking and a thumping. For one wild moment, I thought of The Big Bang Theory and Sheldon knocking on Penny’s door. Squeak, knock, squeak, knock, squeak, knock times infinity at 24,000 r.p.m.
“Could you adjust the pillow? I’m getting a headache.”
Trevor just thrust harder. I could tell he was almost there. Sometimes I could finish him off by talking. I started in with my submissive, whispered patter that made him feel manly. He was almost there when—
THUNK! Reaaaaaaaaoooooow! Reaaaaaaaaoooooooooow!
“Oh shit!” said Trevor. “The bed fell on the cat!”
Reeeeeeaaaaaaooooooooooooow! Trevor leaped off the bed and grabbed the bottom edge of the frame. He struggled to get a grip, then managed to raise it higher. Meanwhile, I was still tied to the posts, the circulation cut off in my left hand, which was still bound to the post, as was my right hand. My lower body suddenly flipped towards the wall at a 45-degree angle. Was this how Jesus felt on the cross? Because this was dammed uncomfortable.
“Can you see Libby?” I yelled.
“Yes! But I think her leg is broken.” Trevor just managed to balance the frame of the bed on one shoulder, while he lifted up Libby, who was still yowling like…well…a cat who had a bed with two fat people collapse on her. He tucked her under his right arm, then used his left shoulder and right hand to ease the bed down. Trevor wasn’t the strongest guy. He meant to be gentle, but PLUNK! I was now facing the ceiling once more. My hands felt like they were going to be pulled off.
“I’ve got to get her to the vet!”
“Untie me first, Goddammit!” He laid Libby on the bed who continued her shrieking. Trevor leaned over Libby, a normally doclile long-haired white cat like it was his own child. “Well, there’s no blood, but--”
“Untie me now, Goddammit!” Finally Trevor got around to me. He untied my wrists. I couldn’t feel my hands. I heard him clump downstairs.
Libby was now hissing and making some sort of moaning noise, like her intestines were being Hoovered out, mouth first. Or maybe ass first.
Trevor was back upstairs again with a cat carrier. Libby was now howling. Trevor picked her up, and she promptly sunk her teeth into Trevor’s hand. “Ow! Libby bit me!” He managed to shove Libby into the carrier and then latch the door. Trevor went into the bathroom to wash his hands. I sat there naked, level with the floor, trying to mumble comforting things to Libby, who retreated to the corner of the carrier, a big, white, furry ball of hurt. Trevor came back into the bedroom and threw his clothes on, and grabbed socks and shoes. I’ve never seen anyone get dressed so fast before.
“I’m taking her to the vet,” he gasped. He grabbed the carrier and took off down the stairs. His “See you around,” echoed in the upstairs hallway. I heard his uneven galumphing on his way to the first floor. Libertarian wasn’t a small cat, and bringing 18 pounds of pissed-off feline down a flight of stairs, even in a carrier, was enough to throw one’s balance off.
I didn’t want to put my clothes back on. I took a shower (true to form, there wasn’t any soap to speak of in the bathroom) with a tiny trickle of lukewarm water. I pulled my sweatshirt and sweatpants on over my racy lingerie, and made sure to lock the front door on my way out. I planned to give some excuse to Trevor in order to get out of there early enough to go and workout, but I guess a squashed cat was good enough reason. Thanks Libby, hope you get well soon.