Midday on a sunny Saturday in Atlanta, Ga., Stephan sat up from writing in response to the chirping of his company phone. It was his boss, Tiny, asking him to review some memos. Stephan threw the phone down with a “shiiiiiit”. He and Tiny had been at odds for several weeks now, both of them taking turns belittling the other in any way they could, dancing on the line between compliance and misconduct. Tiny’s last “two step” had brought him over the line. Asking an employee to work off of the clock was illegal in any state, even if it was just to review a few memos. For anyone else, Stephan would have happily complied. But with Tiny, he would deny him whenever he could. Stephan picked his company phone back up and text one word in reply to Tiny’s request, “Monday”, knowing full well it would send Tiny over the edge. However childish it seemed, the law was on Stephan’s side. Stephan laughed smugly to himself as he leaned back into his couch to continue writing.
“Fuck that shit…”
Even though Stephan had thwarted Tiny’s belittling, the entire situation had now come to the fore front of his mind causing a disruption in his writing. He sat up again and began texting his girlfriend, Tiara. It had been a week since they’d spoken and he felt that her presence could help him shake his sudden bad mood.
Hey…I miss you. What are you up to?
Several hours passed with no response from Tiara. The lack of response only confirmed for Stephan what he’d been speculating for the past week, that Tiara was seeing someone else. After about an hour of pacing and muttering to himself, Stephan gave up on the day and resulted to his sure fire mood changer, alcohol. He retrieved his bottle of tequila from the freezer and turned it up with several seconds of gulping.
The following Monday morning Stephan dragged himself up the steep hill leading to the U-View team meeting room, as he had done every Monday morning for the past 6 months. He dreaded the morning huddles because the message never changed. Tiny would stand in the front of the room and blab on about safety, quotas, and numbers. No one ever listened. This morning would be no different. Stephan greeted his coworkers as he took his seat. Tiny stepped into the room and closed the door meeting room door behind him. Tiny’s eyes scanned the room. When they fell on Stephan he paused and leered at Stephan for a long moment keeping silent. His round face began to bunch together at his nose and turn red. His fist slowly rolled into a ball. Stephan shot back a smug laugh and broke Tiny’s gaze. Tiny took a deep, over dramatic breath and began addressing the room with U-View rhetoric.
As always, Tiny spoke too long causing the team to file out of the meeting room in a rush back down the hill to their installation trucks. Stephan was the last one out of the room. As he passed, Tiny leered him again. Tiny stopped him before he made his way completely out of the door. Tiny grabbed the ball of Stephan’s shoulder.
Hey…don’t forget about those memos.
Stephan opened the back of his truck to place his new stock of cable boxes while looking over his first installation for the day.
Hey Stephan, would did you get?
I got a 4 box, Internet on Collier…
Man! That’s on the other side of town. I hate doing going over there.
Yea…I bet Tiny pinned this one to me just to fuck with me. It’s a chic at least.
Well that’s up. You can’t let Tiny get to you.
It is what it is. I’m looking for a new job anyway.
Stephan climbed into his truck and set his GPS to the address. As he was pulling out of the lot, he could see an overweight, middle aged, bald man flagging him down. “Fuck…what does Tiny want now…”. He pulled over and rolled his window down to speak to his supervisior.
Get out of the truck.
What’s going on?
Really? Do I get any extra time on my first job for this?
Nope. C’mon now. Get out.
Stephan placed his truck in park and waited as Tiny searched every inch of his truck, looking for anything that he could write him up on. Several minutes went by and Tiny emerged from the truck with disappointment in his eyes.
I’m clean Tiny. Now can I go do my job in peace?
Tiny did not respond. He backed away from the truck as Stephan re-entered it.
*Bling Bling, bling bling, Bling Bling, bling bling*
Stephan’s personal phone rang in his pocket just as he was about to close the door to his truck. Tiny quickly turned to face him.
That phone’s been in your pocket all this time huh…
Tiny’s southern drawl was deepened by his excitement.
Aw, C’mon Tiny. I forgot to put it in the back of the truck.
You KNOW it’s company policy to keep the cab of your truck free of all electronic devices, personal and business related, with the exception of the company issued GPS.
I know, I know. I was rushing and forgot to put it in the back.
It’s ok. Go ahead to your first job…There will be paper work for you when you get back.
Stephan didn’t bother to put his phone in the back of the truck. He pulled off and began to follow the GPS’ directions. He looked down at his phone to see who had blown his inspection. “Heh, figures. The one time she decides to actually call me back gets me in trouble.”
Stephan dialed the number back to speak to his estranged girlfriend.
Hey. Where you been? I hadn’t heard from you in 3 days.
You know me Stephan. I’ve been busy. I told you when we got together how hectic my life is.
Ain’t nobody that damn busy…
What was that?
Nothing. What are you doing today? You’re off right?
Yep, every Monday. Nothing really. I’m in bed now, just got back home from taking the kids to school and now I’m about to go back to sleep.
That’s what you do best…
Well, I work hard.
I’m almost at my first job, let me call you back.
Stephan had no intention on calling her back. He pulled up to the gate of the apartments at his first job. He reached his arm out of the window to look for the customer’s name on the call box. Before he could find it, a black SUV pulled up behind him and buzzed him in. He waved in thanks to the SUV and pulled through into the apartment complex. The SUV followed him all the way around to the back of the complex, where his job was located. As he parked his truck he noticed thatthe Black SUV parked nearby. He made his way up the steps to the apartment and began to knock. A shadow cast by Stephan’s feet caused him to turn and meet the gaze of a tall, dark skinned man with locs standing in close proximity behind him.
Can I help you?
Yea…this is my apartment. You are here to install my cable and internet right?
I guess so. My order says “Ashley Hopkins”…
Hi, I’m Ashley.
Oh hey, I’m Stephan.
Don’t worry man, I get that a lot.
They both laughed at the awkwardness of the situation as they proceeded into the apartment. Stephan set his tools by the door and began inspecting the apartment for the installation.
So, where do you want everything to go?
Ashley walked Stephan through the apartment instructing him on how he would like his cable to be installed. The walk through was always a formality and a show of courtesy for Stephan. He seldom installed the way customers requested.
…and there is one TV here in my bedroom but my lady is in there sleeping right now. Would it be okay if you did that room last?
Sure. Alright, I’m gonna get started. If you have any questions let me know.
Stephan made quick work of the installation, knowing that he would probably be suspended afterward. He wanted to meet his fate and get on with his day. He went to the customer as it was time to go into the bedroom. The customer obliged and they walked to the bedroom door. Ashley placed a finger up at Stephan as he knocked and poked his head into the door.
Babe…you decent? The U-View guy needs to get in here to do the cable.
Ashley turned and nodded to Stephan, signaling the “go ahead” for him to enter the room.
Man I swear all she does is sleep…
Sounds like my girlfriend.
Stephan entered the room and began working. In the room the bed was to the immediate left of the door. Stephan could see the small frame of a half-dressed young woman covered in a blanket. She shifted at the sound of his entrance. The 46” television was atop a large cherry wood stand a few feet from the foot of the bed.
I’ll be as quiet as I can ma’am.
She made no response. He continued working and was finished installing the cable box in a matter of minutes. He returned to the living room where Ashley was seated, enjoying his new cable.
Hey man you’re all set. Any questions for me?
Naw, I think I’m good.
Well we are done here. I’m just going to do a walk through and make sure I didn’t leave anything.
Stephan completed his walk through and made his way towards the door, arms full with cable boxes and tools. Ashley opened the door for him and he proceeded to leave. Before he could completely exit, the female shouted from inside the bedroom.
Did you ask him to add the Disney package? I’m bringing my kids over this weekend remember, unless you plan on entertaining them.
Hey, right quick. Do we have the Disney package?
Yea, let me show you.
Stephan dropped his things and went back into the apartment. He and Ashley stood in front of the living room television as he scrolled through the guide to show him the Disney channels. The female appeared in the peripheral of Stephan’s vision from the doorway of the bedroom. At first, he paid her no mind. But his curiosity won him over as the familiarity of the woman became all too apparent. He turned to me the hazy gaze of a small, fair skinned, long dark haired woman dressed in only a long white tee. She was not fully awake, and began to walk towards the bathroom in the back of the apartment. Stephan dropped the cable remote and called to her.
Ti…Tiara? Tiara is that you?
The woman stopped in mid stride. She paused momentarily, realizing who had called her name.
“Babe go put some clothes on. Don’t be showing the U-View man all my goods” Ashley said with a laugh. Silence fell over the room. Ashley quickly realized that the situation was no laughing matter.
So, this is why you never pick up the mutha fucking phone huh…
Again, silence. Tiara was motionless for several moments. She placed the foot that had remained frozen down on the floor and said one word without turning around.
She re-initiated her saunter to the bathroom and gently closed the door behind her. Stephan was devastated.
Oh I don’t even believe dis shit right here!!!! You ain’t got shit to say huh? That’s fine with me!
Ashley watched the drama unfold in his apartment, mouth gaped in disbelief. Stephan motioned towards the bathroom behind her, but stopped in mid step. He thought better to leave as he was already in trouble with his supervisor. He rushed out of the apartment door and slammed it upon exiting. Ashley could be heard yelling from beyond the door. Stephan retrieved his things, rushed down the stairs, and threw them in the back of his truck in a heap.
Stephan knocked on Tiny’s office door. Tiny opened and smiled as he instructed Stephan to take a seat. Stephan sat reluctantly. Stephan’s face was full of emotion. Tiny sat behind his computer and clanked on the keys for several minutes without a word. Finally Stephan spoke up.
Look Tiny, I already know one of two things are about to happen. You are either about to suspend me or fire me. Which is it?
Tiny continued clanking at the keyboard as he revealed in the agony of suspense. He peaked his head slightly above the computer glare at Stephan.
You are being suspended sir for misconduct and failure to follow company policy.
Well let’s get this show on the road. I got shit to NOT do.
Stephan bypassed the expressway home. He took the scenic route instead, lost in thought and emotion. Everything was clashing in his mind. He picked his phone up several times, contemplating calling Tiara, but never went through with it. Eventually, he found himself in a strange neighborhood nowhere close to his residence. He turned into a burger joint, as his stomach was grumbling in deficit. It had actually been grumbling for a while, but his day had numbed all feelings. He got into line, head bowed and almost at tears. A woman from the back of the restaurant approached him and grabbed his hand.
Are you alright Stephan?
Yea…wait. Who are you?
I’m Phylicia…Tiny’s wife. We met last year at the company Christmas party.
Oh yea. How are you?
I’m good, but you look awful. What happened? Why aren’t you at work today?
Well, your husband just suspended me and I caught my girlfriend at another man’s house while doing an installation.
Well I declare. When it rains it pours huh.
Yea…it sure does.
My house is not too far from here. The kids are at school and I wanted to have a drink but I didn’t want to have a drink alone so early in the day. You look like you could use a drink or two…
Hell yea!!! But I don’t think…
Shhhh. Don’t worry about it suga. Just get in your car and follow me.
The next day was normal enough. Tiny flicked the light on in his office and collapsed into his office chair. He began to sort through his e-mails and memos. One e-mail marked urgent caught his attention. It was from Stephan. He laughed a victorious laugh at the thought of his suspended employee as he opened the e-mail. He anticipated a long, wordy e-mail begging for another chance and a shorter suspension. He opened it, still laughing. There was no title, no message, only a single video attachment. He stared intensely at the computer screen bewildered as he opened the attachment and played the video. Loud moans came blaring through the computer speakers as he watched an interracial couple in doggy style. Both faces of the duo were out of the camera shot. He watched five minutes of video before becoming bored and concentrating on other details. He scrolled his mouse over the small, slow moving ball at the bottom of the screen keeping time on the video.
There’s two and half hours of this. Why would he send this to my company e-mail.
He skipped forward on the video near the end. His face dropped in grief as Stephan and his wife’s face were now in focus, in close up on the video. He watched as Stephan pulled out of his wife and come all over her receiving face.
*ohhhh you were pent up inside weren’t ya*
The video cut to Stephan smoking a cigarette half naked at a desk.
*What up Tiny… I got tired of you trying to fuck me over at work so I thought I would show you how to REALLY fuck somebody over. Thanks for suspending me. I would have never BUMPED, no pun intended, into your wife if I was at work. Guess everything happens for a reason huh. I got a job offer right after I pulled out of your wife. Isn’t that great? If you hadn’t figured out by now…I quit!!!*
Tiny slammed the computer screen down as hard as he could. Just then Tiny’s supervisor scrambled through his office door.
Tiny, Tiny! Don’t open ANY of your e-mails…
© Stephen R. Freshley and wordbending, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this
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