Arizona’s arid desert winds were nothing like the much more humid breezes I had grown up with in Chicago. The dry heat took some getting used to, but I was getting better. After going through a really bad breakup with a woman I dated for three years, I decided I needed a change of scenery. I couldn’t get much different from Chicago than by moving to Arizona. My college roommate had a house in Lake Havasu City. He was managing a golf course and the house was part of the deal.
I was staying in his guesthouse. My ex, Aude, broke up with me via a mix CD. The last song was “I’m Moving On” by Rascal Flatts. It was – according to the accompanying note – the way she felt about us. Given the fact that we weren’t in high school anymore and we had been together for so long, I was pretty pissed off by it. I couldn’t help feeling like I had wasted three years of my life on her.
Thankfully I was past the point of wanting to strangle her. I definitely wasn’t looking for a relationship though. Aude hadn’t ruined me for all future relationships or anything like that. At the moment I had enough on my plate. I was adjusting to new surroundings and making new friends. Well, kind of leaching on to some of Godric’s friends, but he didn’t seem to mind. Godric was like the brother I never had. I was the youngest of three and both of my siblings were girls.
I was a surprise baby.
Which is a nice way of calling me an accident, but my parents never treated me like one. In fact, my mom had been pretty intent on trying to make me a mama’s boy, but I took after my dad and got into sports and guy stuff. That didn’t mean I didn’t bask in the extra attention lavished on me because I was definitely her last baby. Moving to Arizona had made Dad a little jealous, especially living on a new golf course so close to a lake.
Having been a jock for most of my life, I had decided pursue my athletic talents when I got to college. My height was an advantage for playing basketball and it was because of my abilities there that I had won a scholarship. After graduation and four good years on a very successful NCAA division team, I had been invited to a combine. It was what I imagined Olympic trials would be like. By some magic somewhere I was selected and ultimately drafted into the NBA. I only played for one season before my mom was diagnosed with stage four inoperable brain cancer.
Her doctors warned that it was aggressive and she died six weeks later. There was barely time to adjust to the news before she was gone, but it was shortly afterward that I met Aude. She was patient and understanding of my grief. At the age of sixteen she had lost her own father to pancreatic cancer. His battle had been much longer than Mom’s, but she was the only one outside of my immediate family who understood what I was going through.
Aude was good for me. At least I thought she was.
Godric was more than willing to let me move in with him when he found out what happened. Like me, he was passionate about sports. Godric was more of a runner, though. He had broken several world records and had come extremely close to making the summer Olympic track team. Both of us had wisely taken the academic side of college seriously. He had double majored in sports broadcasting and hospitality.
I… Well, I had a harder time knowing what I wanted to do, so I got a much more generic degree in business. My rookie salary as a professional athlete netted me a bigger salary than most twenty-somethings could dream of making. Most of it was spent paying off the commission for my agent and the debt I accumulated in college. Being a young hot shot, I also paid way too much money for a car and even more money for a fancy high rise apartment on Lake Shore Drive.
It never occurred to me how quickly it would all be over.
The decision to move to Arizona was a good one, as far as I could tell. Godric had a friend named Stan Davis, who was a senior underwriter for a workman’s compensation insurance company. I didn’t know much about workman’s comp or the insurance business, but it turned out I didn’t need to be an expert. I had a college degree, was a pro at using the internet and I was very detail oriented. It was all I needed to be a claim tech, which just so happened to be a position they had open.
Just a week after I started another tech quit in the indemnity division. All of the techs were stationed in cubicles in the same section of the office. The building we occupied was four floors. The main floor was full of conference rooms, filing and the mailroom. The second floor was claims. Adjusters were in offices that lined the circumference of the building. Us lowly techs were divided up and assigned to a particular adjuster. I worked for a loss time adjuster named Patrick Furnan. Pat was a decent enough boss. His team consisted of myself, two other techs and an administration specialist.
Apparently ‘secretary’ was sexist.
Arizona Mutual Insurance was a successful business with offices all over the state. I never would have guessed I would end up working in the insurance business, but until I figured out what I wanted to do in the long run, it was a way to pay the bills. I had made a little money when I sold the fancy apartment in Chicago, but there was debt to pay off. Mostly I tried to be thankful that Aude hadn’t let me propose her before she pulled that bullshit. At least I hadn’t gone out and dropped a few grand I didn’t have on a ring she didn’t want.
The week after I started working at the insurance company, another tech gave his notice for the adjuster next to Pat. Lorena was a big bitch. She had a hard time retaining employees for long. Why management didn’t consider replacing her, I had no idea. I felt bad for the techs she was always barking at.
One morning a few weeks later there was a new tech in the vacant cubicle that just happened to be adjacent to mine. I was working on the agency letters that I needed to send out on behalf of new claimants when I heard Lorena snapping at her new tech.
“You were two minutes late. I don’t tolerate tardiness. Your first day and you were late. How did your parents raise you?” Lorena demanded.
And that was her being nice.
“Seeing as they passed when I was seven, I was raised by a pack of wild wolves,” the new girl replied with a little shrug.
“Watch it,” Lorena hissed at her and then marched off to her office on thick high heels.
“She was an abused child,” I offered, hoping to make my new cubemate feel better. She was going to be sitting to my right. I peeked over the top of the high wall, making her jump. She probably wasn’t expecting to see me up there.
“Jesus, you coulda warned me you were coming in with an aerial attack,” she chuckled with her hand resting over her heart. “I’ve dealt with worse than her. I was also on time but she was in the bathroom.”
“Ah, constipation,” I nodded. “Explains a lot.”
“Clearly. I’m Sookie, by the way,” she told me, holding out her hand to shake.
I reached over the top of the cubicle to meet her. “Eric,” I replied. “Hopefully you stick around a while. Good luck, if nothing else.”
Sookie had blonde hair about my color but she was shorter than me. Probably about my weight, though. It was hard not to notice her tits, but the rest of her was just as… doughy.
“Thanks.” She pulled her hand back and sat down in her chair so she could log into her computer.
“You’re lucky I.T. got your computer all set up already. Usually it takes a few days for them to show up.” I didn’t want to keep bothering her. No doubt the Dragon Lady was just waiting to bitch Sookie out some more.
“Maybe it’s my boobs?” she suggested, looking up at me again.
“Could be. Bill’s a big enough pervert for that,” I snickered. Bill Compton was a weirdo as far as I could tell. There were rumors around the office that Lorena had her evil eyes on him. Poor bastard.
“Is that the little man with the greasy bangs?”
“It is,” I agreed.
“That’s unfortunate,” she said. “What do you do around here?”
“Aerial assaults,” I grinned.
“I’m jumpy, so don’t be surprised if I attack you,” she smiled back at me.
“Fair enough,” I nodded. “Well I’m next door if you need anything.”
“Thanks. It’s nice meeting you.”
“Likewise.” I reclaimed my seat and promptly grabbed a post-it note so I could write down my Google Hangouts chat name for her.
They monitor interoffice chat here so be careful.
I folded up the note and said, “Incoming!” before tossing it over the wall into her cube.
I heard a small giggle followed by some scribbles and then a new post-it came flying back over the wall.
She added her Hangouts name at the bottom. Her handwriting was quite a bit neater than mine. I pulled my phone out to add her to my chat list. Pat didn’t care about us surfing the net on our phones as long as we got shit done. Lorena, on the other hand…
All the same I sent the command to the printer for my letters to come out. I got up and nearly ran Sookie over since I wasn’t expecting her to dart out of her cube. She smelled good.
“Sorry,” I apologized. “On my way to the printer.”
Letters went to a different printer than everything else since it was stocked with just letterhead. We had a hub of four printers and each cube had its own scanner so we weren’t constantly fighting for the machine.
“It’s okay. I’m short and quick so it was probably my fault,” she replied, taking a step back out of my way.
“Nah, I’m a bulldozer. Did Dragon Lady show you around at least?” Usually Lorena couldn’t be bothered and her twatty assistant Talbot was as big of a bitch as she was.
“Not yet,” she answered.
“So you can print stuff but you have no idea where to find it. Brilliant.”
“I’m pretty self-sufficient. I figured I’d be able to find it,” she shrugged.
“Well I’ll make sure I look both ways from now on,” I promised her with a little smirk.
“I don’t know, it could like an adventure never knowing if I’m going to be clobbered or not,” she smirked right back.
“Good point. Let’s keep it interesting,” I winked and then headed for the printers. It just so happened the rest of the office supplies were there too. I felt kind of bad for the way Sookie seemed to be wandering around, looking all lost.
Lorena was a stellar leader.
I got my letters and went back to my cube. The job was monotonous and a lot of routine but it wasn’t too difficult. It was sorting out duplicate documents for case files going to legal that got tedious. I put my earbuds in and got to work stuffing envelopes.
As far as roommates go, Godric wasn’t terrible. He kept the main house pretty clean, but then he entertained a lot. Technically, I was pretty sure it was his girlfriend Nora who kept the place clean. She was like the little sister I never wanted. Then again, throwing her in the pool two days after I moved in probably didn’t help.
Especially since she had been trying to get Godric to agree to let her move in with him for the last six months. He hadn’t told her yet, but there was no ring in her future and it was obvious she thought there would be.
She was lying out by the pool in the back when I got home but she was lying under the shade of the enormous patio umbrella.
I’ll take exercises in futility for $400…
I grabbed the hose and aimed it at Nora.
“Need a cool off?” I offered.
“No, I’m perfectly cool, thank you,” she replied.
“You sure?” I moved the hose to the left a little bit and squeezed the trigger. Water landed on her feet.
“You asshole, don’t do that!” she hissed, pulling her feet back.
I chuckled and put the hose down.
“Relax, Nora, you’re not made of sugar,” I said as I headed for the guesthouse.
“I could be.”
I let it go, though.
As soon as I got into my little living space I closed the blinds and peeled off my work clothes. It was a business casual office but Arizona was no place to hang out in black slacks and button down shirts just for shits and giggles. I pulled on my swim trunks and decided to go mess with Nora some more. She really needed to lighten up.
“Cannonball!” I yelled and jumped in the pool. I could hear her cussing me out before I even came up for air. I shook the water off my face and laughed at the redness on hers. She was pissed.
“I hate you!” She got up from the chaise and pulled it further back, trying to get it out of the splash zone.
“God, why are you so boring?” I asked her. “Do you ever do anything fun?”
“I was having a fantastic time before you showed up.”
“I guess it sucks that only one of us lives here then, huh?” I sometimes wondered if Godric agreed to let me move in so Nora would break up with him. He was kind of a pussy like that.
“Just you wait. When I do move in you’ll be out on your ass,” she said confidently.
“Oh you think so?” That was amusing.
“I know so.” She got up again and headed for the house.
I wanted to tell her to tread lightly but it wasn’t my place. As much as Godric wanted me to pull the trigger for him, I couldn’t do it. I had just been on the receiving end of a secondhand breakup. Godric was going to have to do his own dirty work. If Nora would fuckin’ relax I was willing to bet she’d be alright to hang out with.
I was still floating around the pool when Godric came out of the kitchen door with a beer in his hand and a grump on his face. If I had to guess, Nora had given him an ultimatum.
“What’s wrong, princess?”
“I sent her home and she’s pissed,” he told me.
“I cannonballed her,” I said unapologetically.
“Oh I know. I can feel the “it’s him or me” convo coming soon,” he chuckled.
“That’s a safe bet. She told me told that when she moves in, I’m out.” I moved over to the cement steps and climbed out of the pool.
Godric shook his head. “I don’t know why I can’t pull the trigger,” he sighed. “It’s going to end sooner rather than later though, I know it.”
“No shit. She crazy good in bed?” I figured with that attitude she was either a five star fuck or a corpse in the sack.
“She’s decent. I’ve had better,” he shrugged. “She wasn’t always this bad.”
“Then I don’t know what’s holding you back,” I said. Not that relationships were all about sex but if that wasn’t blowing his mind, it was only a matter of time.
“It’ll happen,” he sighed. “For now I just want to enjoy my beer. How was work?”
“Same shit, different day. A new girl started in the cube next to mine.” I opened the door to my place to grab a beer from my mini fridge. I didn’t like the sissy light beer Godric was drinking. He said Nora picked it out. Uh huh…
“Sounds cool. Is she cute?”
“She’s not really my type,” I replied. “Nice tits, though.”
“There’s a girl out there that isn’t your type?” he snorted.
“I like curvy but she’s… thicker than that,” I said. I didn’t want to sound shallow or anything but I just wasn’t attracted to her. “She seems nice though. And she smells good, so that’s a plus. The last guy reeked of body odor and ball sweat.”
“Definite plus,” he chuckled. “Hey, at least you don’t have to worry about trying to impress her, right?”
“True that.” I took a swig from my bottle. “You got plans for the night?”
“Sittin’ on my ass. You?”
“Same. I was thinking of getting some guys together for poker.”
“We could do that. The house is clean,” he shrugged.
“Yeah, the maid just left,” I snickered.
“She’ll be back. She’s good at that if nothing else, right?”
“She’s looking for a platinum, two carat raise.”
“Not gonna happen. She can look all she wants.”
“You’re such a pussy,” I laughed.
“Hey, you don’t have to clean up around here, right? She’s not completely useless.”
I just shook my head. It was all going to catch up with him eventually. One thing I knew for sure, there was no hanging on to someone who decided it was over. Godric was going to find out the hard way, it seemed. I couldn’t really judge him since I did too.