Kim and Eva Ch. 01bydaprich49©
"Number 28, they screwed up my name." Kim Burgos closed her eyes and sighed, hoping that when she opened them again, it would be early evening and she'd be in her hotel room, settling in for a solid ten hours of sleep.
"Sorry ma'am, was there something you needed?"
Kim smiled in spite of herself. "Oh nothing, I'm just feeling a little morbid today and I’m keeping a running list of everything that's gone wrong since I mistakenly chose to get out of bed this morning." The woman behind the table whose name tag very nearly screamed "Cindi" furrowed her brow, thoroughly confused. Kim held up her identification pass up for inspection. "Someone must think I'm Cuban and decided to rename me 'Vargas'. I beg of you Cindi, is 'Burgos' that confusing a name, tell me the truth?"
Kim was merely attempting to lighten the mood, but regretted it immediately. It was clear that Cindi's day had been nearly as long and frustrating as her own and any attempt at sarcasm was going to be taken as another annoying conference attendee testing her limits. "Ms. Burgos, you can attempt to get a new tag, but I suggest you pretend that you're Cuban for the week and memorize the name on the tag, will there be anything else?"
Kim smiled again. "I'm a black girl from Georgia, you think that will fly?" She thought Cindi would at least send her on her way with a courtesy grin, but she was stone faced. "Cindi, your list is way above 28 isn't it?"
"Closer to 128."
"Gotcha, have a nice week."
Kim turned heel and looked for the next line she needed to join. She took in her surroundings and sighed. "Why can't I just relax and enjoy myself?" she mumbled. There were certainly worse places to be than in Tampa for 4 days, no matter what the reason. Granted, a long weekend at the pool with the girls would be preferable to hours of lectures on new ways to get more insurance premiums out of unsuspecting victims…errrr… customers, but there was more than enough down time for her to get into some harmless trouble if she put her mind to it. The problem was....
"Kimmy, you still making lists of all the reasons you get to be whiny?"
"Jerry, how many times have I asked you to cut it out with the Kimmy crap?"
"Oh tons of times", Jerry replied with delight. "Listen, you got your package yet?"
"Yes Jerry, I have my name tag, my package, I've registered, I just need to check in to my room."
"Great, we're in the same boat, let's get in line."
"Number 29", Kim grumbled.
"Burgos, seriously, what is up with that? When I showed up late you started this ridiculous count. The weather was number 2, the cabbie from the airport asking you if you liked older men was number eighteen or something. Then I accidently touched your butt. Jeez, I didn't have you pegged as one of these dark, emo music-lovers."
"Yeah Jerry, us black girls LOVE our emo."
"Kimmy, come on, I.."
"JERRY", Kim snapped, drawing a crowd of eyes. Embarrassed, she jerked Jerry by the arm to the back of the shortest check-in line. "Jerry", she continued in a hushed voice, "please, just leave me be this week will you? You're a good guy, but we don't run in the same crowds and there are TONS of dumb, impressionable girls for you to work your magic on. Why do you need to pester me all the time? We got jobs for the same company and were placed in the same office, and now we've been sent to the same conference. Otherwise, we would never have spoken a word to each other as long as we lived. For a fun sociological experiment, let's see if we can have a long, successful business relationship while speaking less than 10 words a year to each other, how's that?"
Jerry stammered, clearly hurt. "I was just…ah…making sure you were ok. I..I guess I thought you had to be pretty upset to be making lists of….Ok, I’m sorry I make you feel uncomfortable, there are a bunch of other lines.” He shuffled away, head down and Kim could swear his over-gelled frosted tips were beginning to wilt.
Kim let out a long sigh. “That was harsh, but he deserved it”, she told herself. Jerry had been on her nerves since they had first shown up for orientation at the offices of Peachtree Insurance in downtown Atlanta. She had been longing to give him both barrels since almost the moment they met. He talked too much, came on too strong, stared at her ass and her tits whenever he got a chance, called her Kimmy, and constantly asked her out for drinks and to bring friends to hook him up with. He seemed like he was still in the Georgia Tech frat house that spat him out and it drove her up the wall. She resolved not to think about him the rest of the day.
It was a 15-minute wait until she was able to check in, which turned out to be perfect timing. She was able to get her bags to her room, and fix herself up a little bit before the first lecture. Luckily she was relatively low maintenance. Kim had been blessed with a clear, mocha-colored complexion and keeping her hair styled in her favorite tight black curls had always been a snap. She touched up her eyes, added a little lipstick, threw on some deodorant and was all set.
Kim walked into the lecture hall just as the room was being called to order. She knew no one in the room other than Jerry and found herself scanning the room for him. “Some resolution I made”, thought Kim. Not spotting him, she chose a seat as near the back and away from the most strangers as possible, hoping to make a break for the door as soon as it was socially acceptable.
The topic of the lecture had to do with life insurance and by the time she’d heard the term “death benefit” for the 1000th time and fully considered the ridiculous nature of that term, Kim was ready to fall asleep. She thought that might look bad, so she tried to focus on more interesting topics, but all that she could think of was Jerry. Was he annoying? Yes, but that harmless kind of annoying, mixed with that little bit of stupidity that made him kind of puppy dog-ish. Attractive? Hardly. But Kim knew that she’d been borderline cruel and now she had to fix it. “Drinks with Jerry,” she thought to herself. “That’s a recipe for numbers 30 through 50 at least.”
Kim scanned the crowd a second time. Still no Jerry, but she got an idea of what kind of crowd she’d be around for the next 4 days. She thought she spotted a few people close to her age, but certainly not many and she guessed the average age in the room to be in the vicinity of 45. “When dinosaurs walked the earth,” she thought and let out a sigh. Again she berated herself for being so bitchy. After all, she should be one of the happier souls in the room. Only 24, she already had a decent job, a house, lots of friends, she was close with her family…she was doing better than 99% of the population. Surely Jerry’s presence wasn’t enough of an annoyance to ruin all that, and she knew that to be true. It wasn’t all that long ago that Jerry’s nagging would have been like water off a duck’s back, but she didn’t feel like the same person lately. Painfully, her Mom had run down the list of ways she’d changed in the last 6 months at Sunday dinner just 2 nights ago.
“Baby, you call your father and I half as much as you used to”, she had said. “Your sisters never hear from you, you’re testy and sarcastic all the time, short-tempered and even rude. I haven’t talked to your friends, but I’ll bet I’ll get similar stories from them, won’t I?”
Kim hadn’t said much in return, she just hugged everyone in the room and promised to try to be more like herself when she got back from Florida. Now here she was acting even worse. The 6 month mark her Mother spoke of corresponded with her breakup with Cory, her boyfriend of almost 5 years. At one point, the bachelorette pad she was currently living in was going to be theirs. That went out the window when she came home earlier than expected from a night out with the girls and found Cory taking a bath with one of his former students. Given that he teaches Grade 12 Math, he was lucky that kicked out was all he got.
She didn’t take psychology in school, but she knew that her present mood had everything to do with not dealing properly with that shock. The problem was, she couldn’t bring herself to talk about it. As far as anyone knew, they had just come to that breaking point and grown apart. She just couldn’t come out with the real reason with her Mom, sisters, friends, anyone. She and Cory had been having issues, but they were more issues that he had with her than the other way around. She had tried so hard to change for him, which wasn’t really like her, but she loved him. When it didn’t work and he turned to a 19 year old with huge boobs, it just made her so angry that it scared her. She didn’t want to see either of them ever again because she was scared what she would do and she didn’t want to talk about it, because she was scared what she would say. She didn’t gossip about him to hurt him because she was scared it would all become too public.
To top it all off, she had been far too angry and standoffish to attract anyone new outside of Jerry since that day and was experiencing levels of sexual frustration she hadn’t thought possible. She was just pondering which of the 2 things her biggest problem was when movement in her line of vision snapped her out of her daze. Blinking to refocus her eyes and sitting up in her chair like an actual person, she realized that the person seated closest to her, a girl one row up and a few seats over, was waving to her. She leaned forward. “Sorry…hi”, was all Kim could think to say.
The blonde girl flashed a big smile and leaned in to whisper. “You’ve been staring directly at me for like 10 minutes, I was worried you had died on the spot or were extremely strange, either way I was concerned.”
“Oh wow, I’m sorry, that’s so rude. I was just zoned out, lots on my mind. I didn’t mean to bother you.”
“No bother Ms. Vargas”, said the stranger, eying the ID hanging from Kim’s neck, rolling her “r’s with a purr.
“Oh yeah, I forgot I was Cuban for a minute,” replied Kim. Blondie looked at her as if she had three heads. “Sorry, that was a one-person inside joke….which really is the worst kind.” The stranger smiled politely but painfully and Kim imagined her fleeing the room any second. No one had left the lecture yet, so Kim decided to try and hang on a little longer and pulled out a pen. “Maybe pretending to make notes will make me less creepy,” she thought.
Unexpectedly, the girl made a return trip down the aisle about 10 minutes later. “Seriously, are you ok? Sorry if I’m annoying, but I can’t shake the feeling that you’re upset.”
Kim flashed the big smile this time. “It’s really nice of you to ask, but I just have a lot on my mind. Plus the conference changed my name from Burgos to Vargas, so you know, there’s some serious stuff piling up. It’s Kim by the way.”
“Eva”, came the reply, with another big smile.
“Enjoy your week Eva, I’ll try and not stalk you in any way, consciously or unconsciously, for at least the rest of this lecture.”
Eva laughed heartily, attracting some glares from neighbouring rows, and Kim immediately brightened. She realized that she hadn’t made anyone genuinely laugh in the longest of times and wondered what it was about strangers that made her so eager to be more like herself again. Eva touched her hand, leaned in and whispered, “You’re a dangerous woman to know Ms. Newly-Cuban, and I’ve got my eye on you this week”.
“Well I plan on packing it in at the buffet this week; you may need 2 eyes to see my entire butt by Friday.”
“Oh I doubt it Kim, but have fun trying.”
“Will do,” replied Kim as Eva stood to leave.
Kim jerked her head around and saw that the lecture had come to an end and that about half the hall was making its way to the doors. Kim threw her bag over her shoulder and raced to join them.
Number 30 on Kim’s list was provided courtesy of Jerry, just as she suspected it would. What she didn’t expect was that he’d be sitting on the floor outside her hotel room as she walked up. He looked like a man you could write a really depressing country song about. “Jerry, how did you know which room I was in?”
Jerry reached behind him and knocked on the door opposite Kim’s. “We’re neighbours, it’s a coincidence. Don’t panic, I didn’t force the conference to put people from the same company in neighboring rooms”
“Ok, wow, I’m just a bitch without even trying lately.” Kim stepped over his feet and slid her key card in the door. “Jerry, I’d like you to come in and talk to me. Will you do that? I promise you’ll feel better.”
He looked up and the puppy dog expression changed to pervy grin in seconds. “Jerry, what is wrong with you? You’ll feel better MOOD-wise, not in your genitals, ok?”
“Sorry Kim, I can’t help the jokes, I really don’t mean anything by it, I just….”
“Jerry just stop right there, I know. Come in ok?”
He gingerly rose to his feet and hesitatingly walked through the door. “I presume you’d prefer if I sat on the chair and not the bed?”
Kim laughed. “Jerry you’re not getting any either place, so it doesn’t matter where you plant yourself.” He kicked his shoes off and thought about spreading out on the king size, but thought better of it. As he sank into the chair Kim started her speech. “I have not been a nice person the past few months,” she started. “I had something happen in my life right about the time we started working for Peachtree and I haven’t been the same since. I walked in my bathroom and found my serious boyfriend having a bubble bath with his 19-year old former student. I’ve replayed that exact moment in my mind a million times and I know for a fact that she was bouncing up and down on his dick under that water at the moment I walked in, even though I only had my eyes open for a millisecond, walked out of that house immediately and didn’t return until he assured me that he’d removed every trace of himself from the place. He still calls me at least 3 or 4 times a week and he tells people it’s because he needs to apologize and still loves me; but he really wants to know if I’ve told anyone about the girl and whether I plan on it. He never really loved me. The criticism he gave wasn’t intended to let me know how I could change and make him happy. It was a setup to explain things when he eventually left, and I don’t want to hear it. I’m afraid because I’ve never been this angry about anything. I haven’t talked about it or even wanted to until this very moment. Keeping this in for 6 months has made me into a person capable of speaking to you the way I did before. I’m not sure why I’m telling you other than by way of explaining that instead of just going to bed for a very long time, I’d like to go and get a little drunk at the bar maybe.” She stopped and inhaled deeply. Had she just said that in one breath? It felt like it.
Jerry was in a state of mild shock. Kim normally told him to buzz off in varying 5-word combinations. This was the most she’d said in one sitting by a longshot. He wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he wasn’t hopelessly dense the way Kim took him for. “Then I’m buying,” he said, rising off the chair and stepping back into his shoes.
“Welcome Insurance Professionals” read the sign greeting arrivals to the bar off the lobby of the Tampa Ambassador Hotel. It was the 2 for 1 drink tickets in the orientation package that felt like the warmest welcome, however, and Jerry had been able to convince some “old farts”, as he called them, to throw some additional tickets his way as well. The bar itself, The Crown Jewel, was an impressive spot. Comfortable leather booths, good lighting, good food, good service, a dance floor for when the conference-goers got a little frisky; what more could you ask for? It wasn’t until the second round of 2-for-1s when Jerry actually broached the subject of Kim’s rant.
“I don’t know what to say about what you told me,” he said with genuine honesty. “Not that I don’t know ANYTHING to say, I just don’t know if you actually want to talk about it, or if you just needed to get that off your chest.”
“Jerry, I’ll get back to you on that, but for now, let’s scope for hotties.”
“Scope for hotties? Jeez, that’s cheesy even for me.”
“I didn’t think anything was too cheesy for you.”
Jerry grimaced. “I thought you were being nice to me now.”
“I am being nice to you. I don’t let many people scope for hotties with me. You can do worse than me for a wing man.”
“Sometimes being the wing man means taking one for the team. You ok to leave with the hot girl’s cross-eyed friend with the limp?”
“Jerry, everyone deserves some loving and it’s been so long, I might just drag that hot limping girl out of here kicking and screaming. The more unbelievable part of that is you leaving with someone hot.”
Jerry was finding this endlessly entertaining and sensed he could do some probing that would normally get him stomped upon. “So you go for girls and guys do you?”
Kim rolled her eyes. “A bit of an amateur there Jerry. Hoping to turn pro but the Lesbian Association is concerned with my inexperience and inability to actually spot one.” With that, Kim pointed an unsteady finger at the approaching waiter, a tall, well-built black guy with a goatee and an easy smile. “How about her? She’s hot!”
The waiter noticed the gestures and came right over. “I’ve been beckoned have I?” he asked, never taking his eyes off of Kim.
Jerry was amused. “While you’re here, we’ll definitely take some more 2 for 1s, but my friend here was just commenting on the fact that you could help her turn pro. I don’t know what it means, but I’ll bet it’s dirtier than it sounds.”
Kim glared at Jerry who simply wagged his tongue at her. She wished her shoes could reach his balls somehow. The waiter’s smile grew wider and he leaned cockily against the table, biting his lip. “Is that soooo,” he said, and, for some reason, Jerry thought immediately of him and his friends getting rejected at every local Atlanta bar.
Kim suppressed a laugh. “Wow buddy, is that the first time you’ve pulled out the ol’ creepy lip bite and lean? Next time try ‘Hi, my name is’. I’m done with you, drinks please!” The waiter slinked off at the exaggerated wave of her hand and Jerry noticed him head right for the bar to probably arrange for someone else to continue at their table.
“Kim, I don’t know your moods at all, so are you just a cheap drunk, in a genuinely good mood, on the verge of a breakdown, what? Can you give me a hint?”
“Jerry, not to worry, I am in a very good mood despite your bit of meddling just now. I am aware that I’m getting tipsy and, more importantly, I know my limits big boy.” She paused, seemingly deep in thought.” For instance, I just called you ‘big boy’ so the next one is probably the last before I switch to Diet Coke.” She looked across the table and saw his genuine concern. She sighed. “Listen, you’re obviously a sweet guy at heart, I’m sorry I’ve never given you any credit for that. Sometimes it’s hard to see through the part of you that still got your chest painted at a Georgia Tech football game, that’s all.”
“No worries Kimmy.” She started to protest the butchering of her first name yet again but he threw up a hand in protest. “I’ll stop calling you Kimmy when you actually remember that I went to Georgia State. The only sport we were mildly competitive in was basketball and I never painted my chest at any games. If you’re going to make fun of me, at least do it right.”
Kim nodded in assent and took the last of her drinks from their new waiter. “Ok then, this place is starting to fill up a little bit, any promising fish I can help you reel in? After these 2 drinks are in me, you’ve got one good hour of me until I have to either have a complete steak dinner or a long nap. Either way, I’m out of here, so make good use of me.” They had positioned themselves at a booth near the bar for maximum exposure and sociability.