Mary’s Ten O’clock

mary at meeting - 2017 - 3x2
Eduardo Suré; Mary at Meeting, 2017; Watercolor
Mary sat at the conference table between space junk Wonder Boy and The expert on space weather. She wondered what she could possibly contribute to the efforts of this team. She could not remember half the names of the ten people in the room. She had not even introduced herself correctly. She thought she heard herself say her names was Murray.

“I would like gather a preliminary set of risks to our assets, and then…” said Michael as Mary’s attention wandered off. Mary made an effort to remember this person’s name because he was the facilitator. He had two other people with him. One was named Richard. She remembered his name because Dick is short for Richard. There was a Dick in her family. She could not remember the name of the other person even though she could not forget his face. She told herself to stop worrying about names and start paying attention. She missed a lot of what Michael said after assets.

“Murray, why don’t you start us off?” asked Michael. Everyone in the room looked at Mary. Adrenaline shot through her body. Her hand began to tremble. She felt her forehead moisten. Mary had to swallow before she could speak.

“It’s Mary,” she said.

“Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” said Michael.

“Cybersecurity,” said Mary. Richard typed the word into the notes page projected on the wall. Mary’s ears perceived each click of the keyboard like points being added next to her name on a scoreboard.

“Excellent,” said Michael. “Who would like to go next?” Mary did not hear what the next person said. She was too happy she had guessed correctly what to say. She had even contributed and there was a credit on her credibility ledger. She forced herself to pay attention so she would not be caught with her mind elsewhere again.

To keep herself engaged, Mary commented whenever someone else provided a good suggestion. Her strategy worked for the first half hour. She was feeling a connection between herself and the others in the room. She felt like she was a part of the group.

Richard stood up to let the other guy sit in his place and take notes. The room darkened a little as if clouds had rolled in. The lights flickered. ‘What the hell is that guy’s name,’ thought Mary. She stared at his face trying to remember. She thought his teeth were too big; especially his front teeth. His lips draped over his incisors like a miniskirt over butt cheeks of unusual size. His nostrils revealed an undergrowth of hair in his nose. He had eyes like a Chihuahua. His mother must have considered drowning him in the toilet.

“Did you say something, Murray?” asked the new note taker. He noticed her staring at him.

“It’s Mary,” she replied. “I was just thinking that we don’t have a good plan for disposal.” Michael nodded his head thoughtfully. A conversation began in the room. No one noticed the man had not typed in Mary’s suggestion.

“Could a competitor damage our assets?” Patricia asked.

“Good point, Patricia,” said Michael. “Please write that down, Logan.” Logan typed in a note summarizing her comment.

‘What the hell kind of name is Logan?’ thought Mary. She did not have a problem with the name; she had a problem with the person taking notes. She expected him to be named Beaver or Bug-Eye or Skid-Mark. Mary was determined not to break even or have a deficit in the esteem of her colleagues. She straightened her posture and cleared her throat.

“I’m sorry to press, but I still think we contribute to space junk without a proper disposal plan,” said Mary. “That adds to everyone’s risk.” She tried to make eye contact with Logan. She looked at his right eye, but it looked as if he was staring at Patricia. She looked at his other eye, it was looking at her. ‘Write it down, Skid-Mark,’ Mary thought. Mary could see in her periphery that other participants were nodding, but she stared at Logan’s eye and waited for him to enter the note.

‘What is your problem with me,‘ Mary thought. She guessed at why Logan wrote Patricia’s comment, but not hers. Patricia was a pretty blond. Her big innocent blue eyes made men’s intelligence plunge when she rested her gaze on them. ‘What do you think is going to happen with Patricia,’ Mary thought. ‘You think she wants the spawn of a walleyed Chihuahua?’

“Why don’t you write that down, Logan?” suggested Michael. Logan hesitated. Mary’s eye lids narrowed. Everyone in the room stopped moving and appeared to hold their breath. Then, Logan began to peck at the keyboard.

The sound of each keystroke tickled Mary. She won that fight. She scored that point with the experts behind her after she took a risk and asserted herself. Her idea was projected on the wall for everyone to see. There was so much to savor in that victory that she felt like she was floating. She was so excited she could pee herself.

‘Oh, crap!’ Mary thought to herself. ‘I think I just peed myself!’

Mary wore a skirt, so she could not look down to see if there was a visible wet spot. She had felt a tiny squirt. The volume of liquid felt like a cheap water gun had been fired from her body. She felt a warm sensation. Then, there was cooling.

There was no way Mary was going to leave the room without someone noticing a wet spot on the back of her skirt. Wonder Boy was a known butt ogler. There was an ongoing debate among the women: one side argued that he was an avid connoisseur of posteriors and the other side said his glances were hardwired and involuntary. Regardless, Mary was in danger of detection. She did not have anything with her to wrap around her waist. Even if she made it out of the room, she was not going to avoid being seen in the halls on the way back to her desk.

Since Mary did not want to be noticed, she received a lot of attention from the meeting participants. They rallied around her after the unprovoked attack. As the meeting wound down, small talk began and people asked her questions about herself. Had she not soiled herself, she would have basked in the attention. She would have lain on the table with her arms and legs spread out awkwardly and purred like a cat. She might have gotten down on her hands and knees and done a figure 8 around Michael’s legs. Instead, she wanted to crawl alongside the walls and find a hole in which to hide.  She gave short answers to questions and diverted attention to others by asking questions about them as a part of her response.

Richard and Logan walked around the conference room and tidied up as Michael allowed the conversation to signal the conclusion of the meeting. Richard picked up extra copies of handouts on one side of the room, and Logan gathered the extra copies on the side where Mary sat. When Logan reached for the copies that were in front of Mary, he knocked over her coffee cup. The lid popped off of the cup. A tsunami of coffee poured across the table toward her. A waterfall went over the table. The liquid’s journey ended when a plunge pool of coffee found her lap. One of Logan’s eyes looked at Mary. He apologized with a note of insincerity in his voice.

“It’s one-hundred percent OK,” said Mary cheerfully. “I have a change of clothes in a drawer at my desk.” She was gracious and sincere. Logan looked hurt. He did not know he solved her peed skirt problem and gave her one more opportunity to be awesome. Mary purred as she left the room.

© 2007 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Predatory Behavior

runner - 2017 - widescreen
Eduardo Suré; Runner, 2017; Watercolor
Charles was frustrated that an empty beer glass waited on the counter in front of him. As he waited for the bartender, he watched the ring from the beer he had just finished slowly sink toward the bottom of the glass. Christopher looked over at Charles when he began tapping the side of his empty glass with his fingernails. The ticks were not audible to the bartender in the noisy bar filled with the happy hour crowd, but Christopher could hear them and he took a drink from his own half full glass of beer to keep himself from slapping his best friend’s hand. Charles picked up his glass and wiggled it at his eye level like a chemist mixing a solution in a test tube.

“Just give her a minute, Charlie,” said Christopher. He did not want the two of them to be the jerks at the bar.

“What are those shorts called?” asked Charles. He put his glass down.

“What shorts?” asked Christopher. “Who are you looking at?”

“Those shorts that girls wear,” said Charles. “They’re loose and have stripes around the leg openings and up the sides.”

“Are they for running or what?” asked Christopher.

“I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking,” said Charles. “They look like running shorts guys would have worn in the 70’s, but only women wear them now.”

“Where did you see them?” asked Christopher.

“Some chick on the subway was wearing them,” said Charles.

“Did you want a pair, or what?” asked Christopher.

“I’m just wondering what they’re for,” said Charles.

“They’re for attracting studs, like me,” said Christopher, “not for ogling by perverts like you.”

“How could one possibly give shorts a lecherous look? They’re just objects,” said Charles. “Speaking of ogling, you want to hear something funny? So my mind dwelled on the function of the stupid shorts and I glanced over at them hoping for a label to pop out of thin air or something. I didn’t look at the girl’s face or anything, but I got this feeling like she was looking at me. So; I glanced up at her face, and you know what? She was staring at me!”

“Like pissed off or what?” asked Christopher.

“Yeah, I guess,” said Charles. “So I looked down, all embarrassed. Aren’t women supposed to ignore you?”

“They can’t ignore me,” joked Christopher.

“So I was uncomfortable and I wanted to look around,” said Charles. “So I looked over at the map mounted on the side of the train above the seats by the door. I wanted to look like I was trying to figure out my stops. There was a guy sitting underneath it, so I glanced at him. It was just a reflex. And you know what? The dude was staring at me!”

“Like mad dogging you?” asked Christopher.

“What do you mean, mad dogging?” asked Charles.

“It’s like when someone is trying to threaten you with the way they are looking at you,” said Christopher.

“I don’t know,” said Charles, “but I looked over at the girl with the shorts and she was staring at me still.”

“Well, that’s what you get,” said Christopher.

“That’s not all I got,” said Charles. “So I was just looking down at my lap because I didn’t want any trouble with this guy. I didn’t know if he was crazy or what. Then, some lady walked over and stood by me. It wasn’t weird that someone would do that because I was sitting by the door. She was just waiting for her stop. I looked up at her real quick and…”

“She was staring at you,” said Christopher.

“Right!” exclaimed Charles. “I looked over at the guy and the girl and they were staring at me too!”

“Well, you asked for it,” said Christopher.

“Maybe from the girl in the shorts, but not the other people,” said Charles.

“Yeah, you did,” said Christopher. “Everyone responded to your predatory behavior.”

“Get outta here with that crap, Chris,” said Charles. “Like you know anything.”

“Predators stare when they stalk,” said Christopher. “You were like a creepy little lioness in the grass and they were like gazelles. You triggered their fight or flight response.”

“I don’t think I stared so much they felt threatened,” said Charles. “It was just glances.”

“Maybe it seemed that way to you,” said Christopher.

“So you’re telling me they wanted to fight?” asked Charles. “Because if they wanted flight, they would have moved or avoided looking at me.”

“Well, no. Since you are both human, the confrontation escalates before there is an actual fight,” said Christopher. “It sounds like they just wanted to dominate you.”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” said Charles.

“Yeah, I do. Want me to show you?” asked Christopher. “There’s a guy sitting near the corner of the bar. Look at his face for a little longer than one should.” Charles had no intention of staring at a stranger, but he scanned the faces at the bar and found the man Christopher had pointed out to him. The man looked up from his drink and their eyes locked. Christopher noticed and said, “Don’t look away, Charlie.” Charles stared at the stranger.

“Thanks to you I’m going to end up fighting this guy,” said Charles without looking away.

“No, you’re not,” said Christopher. “Walk over to him and expose your neck.”

“Hello, no,” said Charles.

“Do it,” interrupted Christopher, “and I’ll pay for your tab tonight. Have you ever seen a monkey do it? It’s either your neck or your genitals.”

Charles spun around on his bar stool and stood up. He began walking toward the stranger with a confidence elevated by the alcohol in his system. The stranger at the end of the bar continued to stare at him, but did not stand. Charles removed his tie and unbuttoned his collar. He looked for a reaction from the stranger, but the stranger only turned to face him. He did not stand. When Charles was within an arm’s length of the man; he reached into his own collar, pulled it down, and exposed his neck. The stranger rose from his stool and bit Charles’s neck like a vampire. The bite left pressure marks, but did not break the skin. Then, he sat down and took a drink from his beer ignoring Charles.

Charles walked back to his seat humiliated.

“Well?” asked Christopher. Charles picked up his fresh glass of beer and took a long drink.

“I don’t think I like what I just learned,” said Charles.

“There’s a hierarchy of status among people, Charlie” said Christopher. “You’ve been asking people where they stood all along without knowing it.”

“Yeah,” said Charles, “I’m going to be the lion from now on.”

“As long as you can accept,” said Christopher, “that lions don’t live very long.”

© 2017 EDUARDO SURÉ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED