A knock on the door.
“Yeah?” Debra Benz opens up, pops her head in.
“You wanted to see me Mr. McGovern.”
“I did, come in. Close the door.” She obeys, steps inside a sits down.
“You go right ahead and make yourself comfortable.”
“Oh, sorry. Am I alright?”
“Yeah, it’s fine; just ask in future, manners cost nothing. Cigarette?”
“It’s my office. I’ll do what I want.”
“No thanks.” He takes one.
“Let’s get down to brass tacks Deb, the recent recession, which you might have heard about, has been real hard on Mirus Tabernus. What we’re doing this week is lining up all our staff, all our resources, establishing the deadweight and cutting it loose. Perfect example, I’m doing Jade Cheung’s job right now.” Deb lets out a little laugh.
“I say something funny?”
“Oh, no. Sorry, go on.” Her jaw is disproportionate to the rest of her head, never stops smiling, even when she’s unhappy, even when she’s crying; she gets bullied a lot. She has long, feline fingernails, wee wart on the index finger of her right hand. He sees her in the canteen every now and then, eats a lot of junk food, eats alone, seems to bypass her gut straight to her legs. He looks at her long and hard (ha-ha-ha) until she fondles the crease of her pants and fakes an interest in his office.
“So,” he says, “you work is accounting?”
“What is it you do in accounting?”
“I record fanatical data onto Tyrone.” Tyrone is the database software wherein Mirus Tabernus store their information. He chuckles.
“What did you say?”
“I record the hotel’s fanatical data. Something wrong sir?”
“No, never mind. So, guy comes to stay a night, hands over his card, one of the girls swipes it, take me from that to you keying his details in.”
“Well, that information’ll be linked straight to accounting where I’ll log it into the database.”
“It let’s us know where we stand in the market.”
“Okay. Tell me, what do you do that someone with a typing certificate can’t waltz in and take over.” She mulls this over for a minute; someone else in her position might grimace.
“I can do the job.”
“I’m not saying otherwise. How many do you work with?”
“Three, well, four including Lee.”
“The four folks in accounting. Y’know I had coffee in the lounge this afternoon, had a few, was there for almost an hour. In that time, a family checked into their room and someone asked about eating hours. One payment. I’m not running Disneyland Florida here Deb, why am I paying four full salaries when I could be paying two, part time. I think that’d more than suffice for the moment. Don’t you?”
“So, who’d you keep?”
“Who’d you keep on Mr. McGovern?”
“Lee…I need a word with. Clarissa…is a very talented young lady. Andrea…is not quite as good as Lee or Clarissa but she brings a nice ambiance to the place y’know, brightens things up, mellows everybody out. Plus, she’s young, who knows, a little seasoning, she could be running that place.”
“I need this job Mr. McGovern.”
“You got a husband? House? Kids?”
“Then you don’t need this job. You’ll find something else, I promise.”
“I…I really…no…I really, seriously need this job…sir.”
“I know and I really, seriously need this hotel, something’s got to give, wish it wasn’t the case but…” Debra stands, dewy eyed, a tear rolls down her left cheek. He smiles, a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-smile, as if to say, nice knowing you. He’s expecting her to storm out, instead she starts unbuttoning her blouse, not slow and sexy, like she’s late for work. Pink bra.
“I’m married.” He holds his ring finger in the lamp light.
“She’d never know, you can do anything to me, anywhere, anytime, she’ll never know.”
“I know Deb, I…I was being polite.” He takes a package from the third draw of his desk and hands it to her, she’s really sobbing now.
“Button up, finish today’s work, treat yourself to a fancy meal, you’ll be fine.”
He arrives home at eight. Tina’s yapping away to her sister, he hears their conversation from two rooms away. She forgot to cook dinner again. He orders a Chinese, steps into the garden and lights a cigarette. Rex, Tina’s black Cocker-Spaniel, is on the prowl, barks intermittently at something in the bushes. Daniel takes in the garden, thinks back on happier days, the day he met Tina, eight years ago.
11/04/2002. 16:11pm. Tina George holds her pink umbrella aloft; didn’t think she’d need one but her dad insisted. Rain beats down from the dome of grey cloud, threatens to soak her school uniform of which she has just one.
There’s been a problem with the bus, one of the drivers lost his job, sprayed superglue behind the pedals, no little amount either, emptied a whole can. Of course, Tina doesn’t know this.
Daniel pulls up in his silver BMW 330i, rolls down the window.
“Hey.” He says from the shade of the car.
“Hey,” she replies, “you lost?”
“Lost? No. Do you need a lift?”
“No, I’m good thanks.”
“Been waiting here long?”
“Like twenty minutes.”
“What bus you getting?”
“Three-sixteen? I passed that on the way here, think it’s broken down or something.”
“God fucking damn it!”
“Not very ladylike.”
“Hop in, I’ll take you home.”
“Thanks mister, I appreciate it but I’m not in the habit of getting into cars with strange men.”
“You know what I mean?”
“Where do you live?”
“You know Rhinestone park?”
“Half an hour walk; you’re bound to catch a cold, if you haven’t already that is. Or, I could give you a lift, five minutes, heating system, independent locks on the back seats, plus it’s on the way to my hotel.”
“Which one’s your hotel?”
“I smell bull.”
“Care to make a wager?”
“A grown up wager?”
“We get there and you prove the place ain’t mine, car’s yours.”
“And if it is?”
Presidential suite. This is the first time Tina sees a stranger’s genitalia. He yanks her skirt and panties down, turns her around, bends her over his desk and starts pounding her tight little asshole. He rides her like a jockey, smacks her right thigh every ten seconds or so, heavy breathing gives away his physical inadequacy. She’s static for the experience, silent, gnaws her bottom lip, wipes a tear from her cheek. He’s almost at the minute mark when he ejaculates. He leans on her back for a minute, attempts to fondle her boobs through three layers of fabric, unplugs, sits down, checks on his junk.
“That your first time?” he asks.
“How’d you know?” Her voice has stooped an octave.
“You bled on me.”
“It’s alright; you’re going to take it back in about five minutes.” Three minutes later she’s sucking the dry blood off his cock. He’s got his hand on her nape, won’t let her stop until his shit’s resplendent.
“What’s your favourite meal?” he asks.
“Don’t really have one. I like Chinese food.”
“What’s your favourite movie?” he asks.
“I don’t know…Titanic.” He picks up the phone, calls one of the off-duty clerks, tells him to rent Titanic, grab some Chinese food.
“Just drop it off at the presidential suite and don’t expect a tip.” He hangs up. “I’m going out. Call your parents; tell them you’re bunking at a friend’s house. Alright?”
“Will you be here when I get back?”
“I think so.”
“That’s no answer.”
“I’ll be here.”
“I prefer Mr. McGovern.”
“Mr. McGovern, why are you being so nice to me?”
“I’m a nice man kiddo. See you tonight.”
Plumbing her poop shoot in 2010, Dan wonders if any of her “orgasms” were for real. Is money the aphrodisiac or just the motivation? She wants a baby. He screws her on the table where she does her hair and makeup. Tina here’s used to being the birthday girl everyday, Dan’s incompetence as a manager has reduced her to the status of a well-off housewife. He sees her looking at him in the mirror; her expression’s a cocktail of pity and ennui.
“I can’t.” he says.
“Pussy.” He thinks back on the woman he fired this morning, Debra. She was prepared to devote her mind, body and soul to his Johnson. Unlike Tina here, she sees him for what he is, a made man, a powerful man, she don’t like it but Dan’s never needed people to like him, what he craves is respect.
He calls Debra, asks if her proposition is still valid. It’s not about sex, it’s about reviving the glory days of his marriage, Tina’s life is a Cinderella story and she doesn’t even know it. Dan can’t consider himself her saviour (pretty people will always get work, ain’t ever got wood over a hobo) but there’s no doubt that he radically changed her world, she was on the fast track to becoming a waffle waitress, now look at her. It used to reflect in her eyes, she looked at him like her own personal Jesus Christ.
He makes Debra his personal secretary, takes full advantage of her offer. Within three days her every orifice has been pounded purple. He grows fond of her, she’s such a social retard it makes him feel “cool”. She’s got potential though, when business picks up he’ll buy her a sexy suit, a side order of whatever makeup Tina deems “in” and a personal trainer.
The other day, Daniel and Tina stopped in Caf?or?or half an hour. Whilst there, they spotted Alfie Jackson and his wife Helena. Dan’s kept Tina up hours past midnight ranting and raving about “that bastard” and his hotel. Bonus Domus was hailed the cr? de la cr? of Washington, eclipsing Mirus Tabernus overnight, fluxing Dan’s stellar social standing. Tina insists that they sit together, before Dan can protest she’s halfway to their table, they’re adults, they’re familiar, it’s only appropriate that they sit together, right? Dan doesn’t think so, paves the way for a lot of unnecessary tension. Alfie is his usual verbose self, goes on and on about the business and the parade of aristocratic men and women that’ve come through his doors. Dan looks at Tina, looks like a little girl hearing about St. Nick for the very first time. She used to look at him like that. Alfie feels the ball of Tina’s high heeled shoe graze his lower leg, he looks up, she smiles at him and sips her hot coco, he clears his throat and sips his espresso. Daniel eyes Helena, figures her for twenty-four when she’s barely twenty, full lips, perfect teeth, tongue stud and a jaw slight enough it’d make the humblest of teenage boys feel like big black men, so this is what Al’s gone and got with his fortune, God’s gift to filatio.
Cut to 20:13pm today. Dan goes into the garden for a cigarette, sees Tina’s figure silhouetted from the bedroom window. He flicks the stub toward the drain and goes up to the bedroom. She’s wearing a silver dress of exquisite satin, barely approaches her knees, cut halfway down her chest to that point where the ribs meet. Her shoes are black except for the heels, which are silver, and the toes, also silver. When she stand’s she’s as tall as him, he made a point to never her buy her anything more than five inches, that goes for shoes too (ha-ha-ha) She’s running a straightener though her platinum blonde mane when he enters.
“You going somewhere?” asks Dan.
“Me, Al and Helen are going to try out that new sushi place.”
“What happened to my invite?”
“I thought you had a meeting.”
“Postponed.” Dan takes his suit off, opens the wardrobe and starts picking out his best clothes.
“What are you doing?” asks Tina.
“I told Al you couldn’t make it so he booked a table for three.”
“I need a fuckin’ reservation for shit I can get at the beach?”
“I think there’s a little more to it than that.”
“Can’t I just pull up an extra chair or something?”
“I already thought of that. Al said the restaurant won’t do it.”
“Wait a minute, where did you get that outfit?”
“Had to dip into my piggy bank since someone hadn’t been bringing home the bacon.”
“And those shoes!” he exclaims. “What have I told you about those really, really high heeled shoes? They’ll damage your feet for life.”
“Yeah, if you wear ‘em day in, day out.”
“What’s this place called?”
“The Sushi Place!”
“Brilliant. You leaving soon?”
“Okay, I’m going to take a shower, have a nice night.”
“You too.” After his shower, Dan wraps a towel around his waist and goes to the living room so he can watch TV whilst he dries. He remembers the way Tina looked at Alfie in Caf?or?tries to forget it and focus on Desperate Housewives but he can’t and after a few minutes he’s prompted to call the restaurant.
Tina returns home in the wee small hours of morning. Dan waits for the shoes to come off before confronting her, he hears the sigh of relief, comes in from the living room to see her massaging her left heel with thumb and forefinger.
“Where’ve you been?” She lets out a little scream and slaps her palm to her breast.
“Jesus Christ! You scared me.”
“Where were you tonight?”
“What? I told you, I was at dinner with Al and Helena.”
“Cut the shit Tina, I called the restaurant, you weren’t there so where the fuck were you?”
“There must be some mistake. Perhaps you called the wrong restaurant.” He lurches forward, seizes her throat and thrusts her to the door. She starts screaming for help but he pays no mind, he lifts her dress and rips her panties off. Moist. She’s creamed tonight. He smacks her so hard it feels like his hand’s been severely scalded but the pain is infinitesimal in comparison with the rage so he smacks her again and a third time. He then tosses her into the wooden staircase leaving ample bruises on her back and forearm. He throws himself upon her and pins her wrists. She’s too terrified to protest or even speak.
“Now listen here cunt. Listen good. You just think about everything you hold dear in this world, all your clothes, shoes, makeups, fragrances, your car, the food you eat and that fucking dog. Would you have any of that shit if it weren’t for me? Fuck no! This business has been hard on me lately. I’m going through a rough patch. How can you be so selfish? I have one bad round and you jump ship, risk wrecking a marriage, did you even think about Helena? No, of course you didn’t, selfish little brat. I ought to kick your ungrateful cunt out on the street but I won’t. Know why?” She shakes her head. “It’s because I love you. You’re the most beautiful woman in the world to me. These past eight years I’ve felt like the king of this town, was nothing to do with the business. I’m not na?, I’ve got no delusions about our relationship, I’m ugly, you’re beautiful, you’ve never done a day’s work in your life, my work’s made me the envy of half the state. I can’t stop you from leeching off-a Al but if you’ve got a fucking heart you won’t, you won’t do that to me. I’m prepared to fight for this marriage. I’m prepared to devote my every last drop of body and soul into the business, to get us back to the way we were. Now tell me, who’s it going to be, me or him?”
“You?” she whimpers.
“Speak up! I can’t hear you!”
“Good.” Neither of them speak for a minute, violet mascara blotches her cheeks, he feels her trembling beneath him. “I’m going to fuck you now.”
“Take me to bed.”
One month later, Tina tells him she’s pregnant. One month after being told by Tina she’s pregnant, Debra tells him she’s pregnant with twins. She (Debra) threatens to make the pregnancy public knowledge thus whitewashing his marriage and the seeds of a “respectable family” unless he makes her his business partner. He agrees. Anyone and everyone with knowledge of this move assumes (quite rightly) hanky panky on his part. Salty language was invented for just these situations. He’s able to keep it under wraps at home. Rachael McGovern is born in May. Joanne and Enid Benz are born towards the end of July.