My Weekend in Portland Ch. 01byChazThain©
Portland is a great town. In fact, I used to live there until I was pushed out of my job for reasons I didn't understand at the time. More about that later.
Anyway, I live in San Francisco now, and one day my boss told me to get packed and head for Portland. One of our top clients needed some serious hand-holding. So I flew north expecting anything up to a week of frantic, 12-hour days with the jittery clients.
I was able to quickly get our clients past their big problems and they were pleasantly surprised when I cleared up several smaller glitches as well. We were done by late morning Friday, so I shook hands all around and left with their relieved thanks ringing in my ears.
Since I had an open ticket, my grateful boss told me I could spend the weekend in Portland at the company's expense. I eagerly accepted the offer but soon ran into problems finding playmates.
My old girlfriend had a new guy, and plans for a romantic weekend on the coast. My best pal was dealing with his fiance's parents, just arrived on vacation from the Midwest. Several other friends also had plans, including one who still worked for my old company. At least
he had time to buy me lunch.
I was leaving his office after lunch, heading for the elevators, when I ran into another old co-worker, Ruth K-------. In fact, Ruth used to be my supervisor. Our relationship had varied from strained politeness to occasional moments of genuine warmth, but she was not an easy woman to get along with. One day she could be warm and personal, the next cold and aloof. We had gotten along fine at work and really had no relationship outside the office.
So I was surprised by her reaction when we met by chance. Ruth hauled me into her office and sat me down to talk as if we were intimate friends. She seemed genuinely disappointed that someone had already taken me to lunch. Talking with unusual animation, she seemed pleased, flustered and perhaps apprehensive at the same time.
After a bit of catching up, she surprised me again by inviting me to dinner at her townhouse. In fact, she was insistent. I hesitated, but not for long. With all my other friends committed elsewhere, my alternative was dinner by myself. I accepted Ruth's invitation.
So at 7 that evening Ruth opened her door for me. A New York native, she was 28 and educated at a first-class university. She had worked several years for an East Coast division of the company before getting an unusual transfer to the Portland office. The company rarely transferred low-level supervisors all the way across the country.
We talked and drank glasses of wine as she prepared dinner, and I found myself looking carefully at Ruth. Her large, brown eyes and dark, shoulder-length hair were her best features. Her typical expression at work was a bit severe, her thick hair tightly controlled. But when she relaxed her face was expressive and quite pretty. At 5'7" and maybe 145 pounds, she was no fashion model, but then I've always disliked the anorexic look.
She had broad shoulders for a woman, and hips to match, but her waist, calves and ankles were relatively slender and nicely proportioned. There had always been some curiosity about Ruth's body among her male coworkers because she dressed for work in clothes that concealed everything between her knees and shoulders. Her breasts seemed large, but nobody really knew. The rumor mill reported she was a regular at the downtown YMCA. But that was also uncertain, since most of us worked out at a gym closer to the office.
Sitting in her kitchen while she dealt with pasta and sauce, I became aware that Ruth seemed quietly but intensely excited, maybe even apprehensive. Her face was flushed, her eyes bright. Her conversation was a little distracted, but charming and she displayed flashes of wit she rarely showed at the office. She wore a loose, long-sleeved and high-necked blouse of some soft, opaque fabric, closed with dozens of tiny round buttons. A nun could have worn her brown wool skirt without embarrassment, except that it was expensively tailored.
Through dinner the conversation was casual; work and coworkers, my life in San Francisco, hers in Portland. But when dessert was served, she became quieter, seeming even more distracted. Finally we were sitting over coffee, in silence.
I realized she was working up the nerve to say something, but couldn't begin to guess what. After a few false starts, though, she nervously began explaining how -- and why -- she had gotten me run out of my job more than a year before.
Some time before that, I had taken over Ruth's duties in the Portland office while she attended a month-long training session in L.A. She returned to find her department running smoothly under my leadership, and her boss singing my praises. Looking over my evaluations, she began to see me as a threat to her job. She began a panicky campaign to reduce me in the eyes of her boss, and succeeded too well. Orders came from New York to cut costs and my job was eliminated even though Ruth had regretted her actions by then. She tried without success to undo her work and get me retained.
Most of this was news to me, especially Ruth's role, and I got quite angry listening to her account. I kept my cool, though, for one big reason. I found a much better job in San Fracisco barely two weeks after being driven out of the company in Portland. Getting laid off turned out to be a piece of luck for me, professionally and financially, though I was less successful socially in San Francisco. In a way, Ruth had done me a favor.
But she didn't know that. It was clear Ruth carried a big burden of guilt over her role in getting me downsized. In fact, she talked for quite a while, explaining in detail what an cruel backstabber she had been. Tears glistened in her pretty brown eyes.
Finally she fell silent, sitting across the dining table from me, staring down at her hands clasped in her lap. I couldn't think of anything much to say, so I stayed silent. After a few moments she took a deep breath and spoke again.
"I know you're angry, and you have every right to be," Ruth said meekly. "Nobody would blame you if you beat the crap out of me and left me bleeding in the street, not even me.
"If you want, I'd like to do something to make up for the horrible things I've done to you," she said.
I laughed with a trace of bitterness.
"There's nothing you can do that would change anything," I said a little sharply. "Unless you can turn back time."
"I know, I KNOW, there's nothing I can really do that will fix the past!" Ruth said, staring at me desperately. "But there IS something I can do that would even the scales a little."
At this point I began to think she was talking about money, which struck me as ridiculous, so I didn't quite hear what she said next.
"Would you say that again."
"I could be your slave," Ruth said, barely above a whisper.
This time I heard just fine, but didn't understand.
"What do you mean, you could be my slave?"
"For the next 48 hours I would do anything you told me to do," Ruth said, her voice growing stronger. "Anything that wasn't illegal or life-threatening."
She didn't act or sound like she was joking, but I still wasn't sure.
"You mean if I ordered you to clean my house or give me a back rub, or drive out to Astoria for fresh salmon you'd do it?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, pausing, "anything."
"What if I ordered you to do something you wouldn't ordinarily do?" I taunted, still not really believing. "What if I ordered you to take off your blouse?"
"Is that an order?" she asked quietly, her eyes cast down.
"Yes, that's an order," I said, beginning to wonder how far she would go.
She made no reply, but her hands moved up to her throat and began unbuttoning the first of the tiny round buttons. Barely breathing, my mouth was suddenly dry. I watched her unfasten one after another until, finally, they were all undone and she pulled the tail of her blouse with difficulty out of the waistband of her skirt. Then she unbuttoned another dozen tiny buttons at the cuffs and a few seconds later she dropped her blouse to the floor. I could see from the heave of her breasts in her bra that she was breathing heavily, almost panting. A flush spread across the smooth, bare skin of her shoulders and neck.
"Stand up," I said, feeling bolder, and she stood, still looking down at the table.
"Take off your skirt," I ordered, and when her skirt dropped to the floor, "Take off your bra." Seconds later her large, pale breasts swung free, her big, dark brown nipples already pointing stiffly.
I stood and walked around the table to her. "Look at me," and her eyes locked on mine. Hers were full of fear. My mind was racing, full of ideas.
"Do you want to be my slave for the next 48 hours," I asked. She tried to speak, her eyes boring into mine, and finally managed a choked, "Yes."
(End of Chapter 1 of 15)