The User Pool - 8. Wheels
The day Mulhausen shot the CIO in Weekly Staff, was also the day our department fax machine ran out of toner and Kristy demonstrated how adorably stupid she was.
I wandered into our meager, windowless copy room to send a fax and ran into Kristy who had been sent by Plotkin to steal paper from the overabundance of paper IT was seemingly hording. Accounting needed more paper than anyone but always had less than everyone. IT needed less paper than anyone but always had more than everyone, including memo paper with the Company logo on it. Finance would not approve more paper for Accounting because Accounting always urgently requested it. However, Finance would aways approve more paper for IT even though IT never requested it. This is how Finance subtly usurped every department’s power with simple approvals for minor office supplies that departments either needed or didn’t need. For example, IT needed more toner for fax machines than most departments for vendor correspondence, so Finance egregiously slashed our toner budget across the board with no opportunity for appeal. Accounting had been approved for plenty of toner, but Finance ceremoniously denied their request for a fax machine.
“If you send that, they’ll just get a blank page on the other end,” Wheels warned.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“You’re out of toner.”
I beamed, all warm and snuggly inside because of her charming simplicity, her desire to help without capacity, her limited mental dexterity, her refreshing naivete, her polished white teeth and fetching smile, the glimmer behind those Catholic peepers, and the soothing waft of Elizabeth Arden Sunflowers Eau De Toilette.
“As long as the fax machine I’m sending to has toner, it’ll be just fine.”
She considered this for a moment, then finally saw the light, giggled and snorted repetitively. “I’m such a goofball!”
Kristy was tall and leggy. She typically wore tight, midrise cheetah or paisley print slacks and an open knit sweater or a slim fit Elesol with a sweetheart neckline. Polka dots were also a thing for her. She had frilly blonde hair and smutty ocean blue eyes that were less piercing and more muted but demure. I called her Wheels. She could have been an actress, at least on a daytime soap or a quirky, feel-good sitcom, or she certainly could have been a model, strutting the catwalk with lithe hips and tennis ball tits. She could be lying on the beach, sand clinging to her glistening, slightly bronzed smooth skin, shifting, posing, exploiting her long, limber frame for a generous bounty, but instead, she was Plotkin’s assistant with no fanfare, no glamour. It wasn’t a lack of ambition; it was the adamant desire she had to be unseen. Someone like her, the more attention you get, the more free fucks people expect you to hand out. The man wearing a suit standing in line behind her at Starbucks. He strikes up a conversation. If she engages, he continues to pursue. If she ignores him, he calls her a bitch. She prides herself on her appearance and also loathes it the moment this happens. She has a boyfriend, but unfortunately no ring to flash to all the rabid dogs slobbering around her. But she’s no less dedicated to him. She’s always been a rock. Until she met me. And while she was sexy, amusing, and playful, and not very bright, she didn’t get pissed off because I occasionally slept with my wife. Blair was just one of the Users in the available pool of resources at work. Blair didn’t know about Wheels, but Wheels knew about Blair. She figured it out after I inadvertently got into an elevator with both of them after work one day. We were going down to the parking garage; Blair thought I was leaving with her, and Wheels thought I was leaving with her. That was an exhilarating moment. All three staring straight ahead, pretending not to know each other although we all worked together and fucked together, separately, discreetly, happily in our individual and personal gloom and despair, and all three of us were hiding these and other secrets under a very thin veneer of professionalism. I got off the elevator with Blair on P1, while thank God Wheels was on her way down to P2. I exited without a word to Wheels, and I could see through a covert peripheral glance in her disoriented eyes the struggle to determine what she had done wrong or how she had somehow offended me. Out of guilt or inadvertently, I peered back as I walked away with Blair just to flash a friendly face to hopefully smooth over the moment. However, this turned out to be a huge mistake, at least initially. Better for Wheels to worry I’m upset or moody than to fuel Blair’s fire. Her sense of smell for treachery was as keen as a fox, for the Huntsmen, the Kennelmen, the hounds in North Leicestershire, when the horn was blown, she was immediately on guard, whiffing the air as the wind shifted, identifying her enemies, her allies, her competition, and absolutely, never missing a trick. And she did not miss my subtle glance back at Wheels who on that day was wearing a clingy black and white polka dot blouse and tight black slacks that rose to a slim waist nearly Blair’s total height.
“What the fuck was that?” Blair growled as I walked her to her car.
“What was what?”
“I saw you look back at that whore.”
For Blair, any woman that was at least mildly attractive, without any reasonable evidence, was a whore. “I work with her.”
“You were glaring at her camel toe in those tight-ass pants.”
“I was nodding good-bye,” I said. “I knew if I spoke to her in the elevator, you’d give me shit. So, I shut the fuck up. But acting like I don’t even know her is ridiculous. I nodded good-bye.”
“You’re a fucking asshole.”
“You’re a fucking bitch.”
When we arrived at Blair’s car, we got inside and fucked our brains out. It was an angry fuck for both of us. So deliriously intense, both of us, screwing fiercely, indignantly, savagely, so utterly irritated, so magnificently turned on. It was amazing. Her small Honda Civic was sheathed between a truck and an SUV. Unless the car owners showed up, nobody could see our explicit display of anger and affection. We were in Parking Lot 2, underground, in the dark with only a hint of the dim yellow florescent lights near the exit. I wasn’t worried we’d get caught; as usual, I was worried about Jason Vorhees. This was a perfect setting for a slasher film and the perfect sinful couple, copulating like teenagers in the backseat of a car, poised for death. The faint sound of water dripping somewhere; the flickering light near the elevators; the dinginess and a tinge of urine in the air. It’s difficult to maintain an erection when you keep imagining a San Angelo bar shattering the rear window and skewering both of us. But it all played out with a very happy ending, total annihilation.
Wheels desperately wanted to be married, but her boyfriend had the Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free attitude—and in his opinion, if she didn’t like those apples, she could go find another orchard. Since that was his attitude, she decided to adopt the We ain’t married, so I’ll fuck anyone I please attitude. This worked out fine for me, because there was all this vindictive passion when she fucked, and let me tell you, that made her an extremely sexual vulture between the sheets. Not because she hated me, like Blair, but because she hated her boyfriend for his lack of true commitment. And at work, she was as pleasant to me as peach cobbler. She didn’t give me shit because the sun was shining that day; she didn’t care if I looked at other women or flirted with them; she didn’t get angry with me, torture me, tell me to go fuck myself; and she didn’t care if I occasionally had sex with my own goddamn wife.
Kristy wasn’t, of course, without quirks herself. She believed the X-Files series was based on factual events; that Chinese restaurants used dog meat in their chow mien; and that Oliver Stone was the greatest filmmaker who had ever lived. And it was always interesting to discover the things she was not. She was not a racist, although she judged people by the color of their skin. She was not a hypocrite, although she did not practice what she preached. She was not a liar, although she never told the truth. She was not paranoid, although someone was always following her, watching her, taping her conversations, photographing her every move. She was also not the kind of woman who would fuck around with a married man.
At the first Annual Office Holiday Party I attended, I arrived by myself but ran into Wheels at the line to enter the Red Lion Hotel’s largest banquet room. Coincidently, Blair arrived soon after and at the sight of me in line with Wheels chatting it up, she inferred we had come together. However, this was the epitome of innocence; Wheels and I had not consummated our relationship by that point, nor even toyed with the idea. She was deeply committed to her boyfriend and had every intention of marrying the man and remaining unquestionably faithful to him.
Blair displayed her stolid face candidly as she approached, but her smooth, brown shoulders were taut and rigid in her strapless silver sequined dress. She came close and leaned in. “Fuck you,” she said and then stepped ahead of us in line.
Wheels looked at me oddly, not understanding. Although she wouldn’t fully put it together until the elevator, this was her first inkling I was not a deeply committed husband. The full confirmation would come later that night.
Now that Blair had written me off for the evening, I sat with Wheels at a large round table off to the side of the over embellished holiday party in the mammoth hotel banquet room with its streamers and balloons and confetti and office dalliances in every direction. Gladstone, Kessler, Petrizzo, Conklin and de la Puente all sat at the table with us.
It was an open bar, so I kept ordering Screwdrivers while Wheels nursed a single glass of champaign. The next time the server came by, I asked Wheels if she wanted to upgrade to a real drink.
She shook her head adamantly. “I never drink more than a single glass of Champaign at a Company event. This is not the place to get drunk and stupid. Not where executives are. Never. People ruin their careers that way.”
“You are absolutely right,” I said as I ordered another round for myself.
Since Wheels was being prudently unentertaining and I honestly didn’t see any future with a woman so sober and devoted to decorum and her boyfriend, I proceeded to discuss the true possibilities with Gladstone and Kessler.
“Who is that?” I asked, pointing out a young brunette wearing a viscid red dress that clung to her voluptuous curves liken oleoresin.
“Olivia,” Kessler said. “Works in Marketing.”
“No boyfriend,” Gladstone said. “Too new to be sleeping with anyone in the office yet. Someone is gonna nail that tonight.”
There was a shuffling, squaring of the hips and shoulders, droning sighs, restless body language which didn’t make much sense until Wheels waved the nearest server over to our table. “Jameson, neat.”
I looked at her surprised. “Your rule?”
Wheels did not like the fact that she was no longer getting the attention, nor that everyone else was throwing caution to the wind and having a blast drinking without restraint, without reverence or fear of retribution—including the executives.
Wheels and I had sex for the first time that night back at work in Mulhausen’s office. On his desk, on his couch, on the floor. She no longer had to pretend to be unwavering toward her selfish, phlegmatic boyfriend. She was free to be just as passive as he was by aggressively attaching herself to me at the party and then cordially fucking me afterwards, free of guilt, blame, misery, anxiety, panic or willies, simply, explosively erratic and soppy, seething with delight. The furniture was drenched with all of it, which is how we left it, with absolutely no post copulation clean-up.
Wheels wasn’t the only user who happened to be on the I.T. floor the day Mulhausen shot the CIO in Weekly Staff. Blair was there too.