Audio Ch. 01byKaryn Gardenia©
Darren knew he should have been fired today.
Instead, the woman he had been hitting on for a month in what she called a "vulgar and disgusting way" had quit in a huff earlier this afternoon, thus saving him his job by some stroke of luck. He wasn't about to over-analyze it. He still had his job and that's what really mattered in world where tolerable jobs were few and far between.
Still, he wasn't going to go unpunished. That would be a very bad example for all of the other hotel employees, who were right on the edge of bad behavior most days as it was thanks to their questionable leadership. His boss had given him a firm talking-to, which resulted in his being ordered to spend two extra hours in the basement's electrical maintenance room cleaning out all the old storage bins and completing the repair paperwork for the twenty-odd televisions that had been collecting dust down there- two jobs that absolutely no one wanted to do, and that no one had done for nearly a year. On any other day, he might have said no, but right now his job definitely depended on it and there would be no substitutions. He meekly headed down to the basement as soon as his routine work was finished and most of the better-looking cleaning ladies had gone home for the night.
The harsh, fluorescent-lit room he entered was a hodge-podge of wires, unfinished surfaces, black electrical casing, and randomly stacked bins and boxes extending in a large, fat L-shape. He set immediately to work, knowing that if he completed his tasks in less than two hours, his boss wouldn't make him stay longer just to sit out his sentence. If there was anything the boss, who demanded to simply be called "Ken," had intimate knowledge of, it was the mindset of a slacker.
He began to un-stack some of the bins to spread them around the floor for easier viewing. The first thing he noticed was a rather large insect corpse, which he plucked up and tossed away into the corner without much emotion. The second thing he noticed was a small tape-player with a long cord that seemed to have been tossed on top of the pile carelessly. It would be a shame to go about two potential hours of work in silence when there was a perfectly good tape player right here, assuming of course that it actually worked and contained a tape worth listening to. He plugged it in at the opposite wall, setting it on the empty metal table to the right of the outlet, and pushed the very stiff play button.
At first he didn't pay much attention to the tape, thinking instead about how to go about his business in the most efficient manner- he only noticed that it was a tape of someone talking...a woman. Most likely it was an audio-book. He set down the bin he was carrying and walked back over to the table, seating himself in a nearby folding chair. Now it sounded like a phone call that had been recorded on some pretty decent equipment, like a CIA tap or something.
"It's just nice to hear you," she was saying...sounding a little sad but good-tempered enough. "It's always weird going away like this and having to sleep in a strange bed by myself."
He continued to listen, eyeballing the workload from across the room and still not wanting to do any of it. He'd get to it once he made sure this wasn't evidence of some politician's secret affair or a priest's phone sex conversation. A man's slightly rocky, baritone voice responded with a comforting phrase or two- it seemed this woman was his woman, and she was away on business or some such thing. There was a moment of silence in which the two of them were obviously smiling wanly, positively missing each other.
"You know...I had the trippiest dream last night," she began again, pausing while he chuckled at her use of the word "trippiest." He prompted her to tell him more about it, and even Darren, who had only just "met" this audiotape woman, wanted to hear all about her trippy dream.
"I had a dream that I completely forgot our wedding day...and I spent the whole dream asking people questions about it trying to remember it....and of course I felt awful, because who forgets their wedding day? And oh God, Carl, you were so upset with me about it."
Well no kidding, Darren thought. The only reason a man ever agrees to a wedding ceremony is so that he can make his lady happy. The day she forgets about it is the day it never happened, and he's officially back to compensating again.
"Sounds like a stressful dream," he responded, sympathizing. "I hope you didn't forget our wedding night too."
She laughed, and he watched a pretty smile with its straight, even teeth form in his imagination. She must have been picturing some part of the night...whatever pervading image existed on the forefront of her memory...and thinking to herself, "I could never forget THAT."
"Oh wait...I'm remembering part of our wedding day," she joked, almost mockingly. "...something about you sliding your hand up my thigh under the table at the reception, whispering something very inappropriate in my ear."
"I simply told you how wonderful you looked..." "You told me I looked amazing, and that you couldn't wait to have me all to yourself..." "Right, that's not so inappropriate." "...and that it was driving you crazy that there was so much damn fabric between you and my naked body." "Oh...right." Now he was the one grinning. "But all that fabric served you very well when you went to slide off my garter."
Suddenly Darren could feel the mood shift from one of gentle amusement and accusation to something more erotic. What did he do? Stroke her naked leg in a provocative way? Squeeze her ass?
"You were soaking wet," Carl finally said. "So wet that I knew you couldn't be mad at me for sliding my finger into you....right there in front of everyone." "And in front of no one...thanks to all that fabric," she corrected. "I was incredibly angry, but only for about a half second. Do you realize how difficult it was for me to keep a straight face with your finger playing inside me? It was impossible!"
"At that moment I wanted nothing more than to start our wedding night early."
"But instead we danced until all the stoplights turned to blinking yellows..." "...and when enough was enough we chased everyone away and nearly sprinted to that hotel room."
Darren was jolted back to reality by the sound of one of the air-conditioning systems kicking on. Was he really sitting here listening to this random erotic conversation? For all he knew these people weren't even married anymore... it might have been years and years ago. He tried to picture her: the woman in her white dress- probably one of those strapless ones that was just as classy as it was sexy. Her hair would be swept up in a twist or up-do of some kind, her cheeks flushed with her profound happiness. She'd probably have lipstick on...something special-occasion that looked like she'd been sucking on some delicious red berries. He wondered why these were the images coming to mind, since he had never actually been to a wedding, and hadn't ever eaten a red berry, for that matter. He had seen enough movie weddings to know what was expected at one, but that was about it.
"Remember the red lace teddy?" she asked quietly, knowingly. "Oh god, do I ever."
Carl was clearly slipping back into nostalgia- picturing his wife in her scandalous lingerie. Darren pictured her too, tilting his head as if he were viewing her from across the room standing among the storage bins.
"It took me forever to find the perfect shade of lipstick to match that silly thing..." she explained, knowing that he loved that particular detail. The moment they had entered the room she had probably pushed him back onto the bed so that she could slowly peel off her dress in front of him, performing a seductive virgin's dance or some such thing...though he doubted if she had actually been a virgin. The two of them had probably done everything imaginable together long before the "I do." Hardly anyone waited these days.
"I had never seen anything so hot in my entire life," he reminded her, his breath dropping onto a barely noticeable snag. "Me neither," Darren spoke aloud.
"Until five minutes later," she corrected him, "when you had me up against that full-length mirror..." "and the parts of you that I couldn't feel, I could see...." "I had been in all that fabric all day, and the feel of that cold mirror on my nipples was maddening."
Darren felt his smile turn sardonic. This was really going to get good. No wonder someone had this tape stashed away down here. It was probably the secret jerk-off room for one or many of the hotel's employees anyway. It was obvious that no one had actually been down here for any other reason lately, what with all of the dusty crates and piles of unorganized junk. He glanced at his watch. There just wasn't time to finish listening to the tape. He wouldn't get anything done and then he probably WOULD be fired. With a great amount of bitterness, he pushed the stop button past its clicking point and the woman's sultry voice silenced. With the greater part of a hard-on, he pocketed the tape, went about his work and managed to finish nearly all of it by the time his boss came down to check on him.
"You're doing okay work down here," he was praised immediately, "but you don't have to stay all night. Get out of here... I can get somebody to finish this up tomorrow."
As Ken began shutting down the fluorescents, Darren absolutely could not overcome his curiosity.
"So...what's the deal with that tape player? I was hoping there would be a tape in it, but..."
His boss's hand fell to his side after the click-down of a switch, and he turned slowly to face Darren. For one awful moment he was sure he would be fired after all.
"How much of it did you hear?" he was asked carefully by a clearly guilty man. "I didn't hear anything, unfortunately... I couldn't find a tape to put in it," Darren lied gracefully, something he had always been pretty good at. "Oh," Ken answered light-heartedly, his mood suddenly very different. "I hadn't used that tape player for quite some time. About a year ago we had to let one of our employees go because he was taping phone conversations from the hotel. I ended up listening to a few of the tapes to determine what it was he was taping. It was mostly just room-service orders and drunken calls to the front desk. Isn't that crazy though?"
"Yeah, crazy," Darren offered, still wondering.
"Nice guy though," Ken affirmed, leading him out of the darkened room, "It was a shame to have to let him go, but we can't tolerate that kind of thing in a place like this."
As they climbed the stairs and Darren grabbed his coat and backpack from the employee coat room, he tried to memorize the sound of the voices he had heard... Carl and...whatever her name was. Maybe he'd never know. Maybe the rest of his relationship with them would consist of him making up scenarios to round out the rest of their wedding night, ignorant to its realities. Such robbery, he thought, such absolute robbery. He reached down into his pocket as the door clanked shut behind him, and felt the edges of the tape there as he rounded the corner and started his short walk home.