Alexandra worked down the hall from Louis as an administrative assistant. Louis was the head of an import/export firm and its only employee. He sat at a desk facing the open door in the office the size of a cubicle, so that he could see everyone coming and going.
Only a small desk lamp shone on Alexandra’s papers and a meager light pushed its way into the window from between two brick walls. She answered the phone and occasionally edited a press release for an event at an antique museum in Northern Wisconsin that often featured a carousel or an anachronistic ice cream stand. When Louis asked her out she agreed because at that time she said “yes” to everything. Mainly, she got stuck doing other people’s work.
On Friday night she changed from her work clothes into a dress with rhinestones around the collar and put her dyed blond hair into a ponytail. She drove to his house hardly just beyond the office complex where they worked. He lived alone in a small bungalow.
He kissed her hand when she arrived.
“Do you want a glass of water or anything before we go?” Louis asked her.
Alexandra shook her head.
Louis had changed into black pants with sharp creases and a gray shirt. He was clean shaven, but he seemed like the kind of man who should have a mustache. Each time she looked at him, she was surprised to find him without one. She was forced to turn her gaze to his graying sideburns.
He took her down a familiar street filled with strip malls and franchise restaurants. Then they took a turn onto the freeway and headed downtown. He parked his waxed black car behind the cathedral. They entered a club that had tables lined in green neon. Louis helped Alexandra take off her jacket. He hung it on the back of a chair. They ordered martinis.
After a couple of sips, he dragged her to the dance floor. “Papa Don’t Preach” was playing when they hit the dance floor.
“You’re a great dancer,” he told her, but she was hardly moving her body. When she was alone in her room, she knew how to dance. In front of the mirror, her body took on a fluid quality. Now she felt stilted because he was staring too intensely. She knew though that she hardly had to put in any effort for him to tell her that she was the best.
“How long have you been working in that office?” she asked him when they returned to their martinis. He slid his olive off the toothpick before answering.
“About three years.”
“Really?” She couldn’t imagine spending that much time amongst the brown carpeting and wooden walls. “How do you like working there?” he asked.
She felt nervous around him. He leaned too close to her when he spoke. His breathe smelled of the gum her grandmother always kept in her purse next to the Kleenex.
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