|The Blood Bather|
Darryl, the erstwhile unformed man, was also having a good day. It was the first week of class and he felt very confident that things were going to go his way. Already he had had a great conversation with Audra in class, and it was clear she knew who he was because she actually said his name without being reminded and she had picked up his pencil case - a colourful tin reproduction of an Egyptian sarcophagus that he had picked up at the museum this summer - without even asking. Yessir, things were looking up.
Now he was on his way to the library to begin studying but first he had to make a stop at the food court on the ground floor before he buried himself in the stacks. He bypassed the salad trolley and set his sights on carb-loading with bagels, cream cheese, Doritos, and a super caffeinated sugary soda. For the next few hours he could be found "studying" in a dark corner of the library, playing first person shooter games and downloading an increasingly alarming amount of gay porn. He wasn't gay - he was attracted to women! - he just hadn't managed to put the theory into practice. Fucking a man, or having a man fuck him, was just somehow more believable. At least he recognized all the parts and knew where they all went. After a quick trip to the bathroom down the hall to clean up, usually devoid of other humans (no witnesses!), he would then crash - "power nap" - right there in his seat, drooling on his laptop.
Darryl had been raised by his single mother, a dirty blonde morbidly obese smoker who was now confined to a wheelchair and oxygen tank, named Wanda. Life had not always been so hard for Wanda. At age 22, fresh from secretarial college with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo and her first polyester suit that fit like a second skin, she had taken a great job in a law firm in the big city. The farm she had been raised on with her two older brothers and her parents held no interest for her and besides, it was likely that there would be more money in selling the land and equipment than any crop outside of marijuana; which was not yet legal, but that didn't stop her brothers from trying.
Wanda had shared an apartment with a couple of other girls and diligently saved her money in the bank. By all accounts she was a stellar employee and became head of the secretarial pool within a couple of years. She visited her folks at Christmas and took beach vacations with her girlfriends in the summer when it was cheaper. Wanda caught the eye of every unmarried man at the office and at happy hour, and even some married ones, but despite the few awkward fumblings in the cloakroom after a party there was not much to write home about.
That was until Wanda walked in one day and found a long stem yellow rose on her desk. No note. She asked her co-workers about it but they didn't seem to know a thing. She kept the rose on her desk, cut down to fit in an old chipped mug with some water until it wilted, and even pressed it between the pages of an old telephone book she found in the drawer of the apartment to preserve it. She was touched. But time passed and nothing came of it, so she figured it must have been a mistake. Or an attempt that fizzled. She forgot about it.
Until it happened again. This time it was on her desk in a delicately fluted bud vase, room enough for just one bloom. It was spectacular, a muted yellow like the colour of a fuzzy Easter chick. It reminded her of Spring and hope and...
Certainly, this could be no accident. But no one in the office would cop to it. The rose attracted a lot of office attention. Men made appreciative comments and women walked by with eyebrows raised in silent judgment, and barely concealed jealousy. A few men on the office were inspired to buy their wives a bouquet, just because. The power of the rose was far reaching.
A short time later Wanda received a new file on her desk. She was beginning to law clerk for the firm, taking classes at night to achieve her credentials. She was doing well, building a career for herself. The case was a fairly dry patent negotiation and well within in her ability as a law clerk, just filing documents at City Hall. She opened a few pages and realized it dealt with some sort of mechanical invention, a new way to process sugar for candy. Sold to the right companies, this process could be very lucrative to the patent holder. The client was a scientist, a Dr. Ballantree...
Hmmm, she knew this name. Wanda picked up a copy of the regional
newspaper that was delivered to the office every morning and flipped to the
society pages. It was pretty thin which meant that what she was looking for
was fairly easy to find. There it was! A colour picture of Dr. David Ballantree at
a recent hospital fundraiser, where he was honoring student
volunteers. Students who volunteered their time during their high school career
were being honored and also received a small cash contribution to college
tuition funded by Dr. Ballantree himself. As a former volunteer himself, he had
a long history and connection to the hospital and this initiative had really raised
hospital needs awareness and an interest in science, technology and medicine
among local high school students. It was a truly worthy cause. But that wasn't
what made Wanda remember his name. It was the picture. There he was,
smiling into the camera holding a glass of wine, face flushed in the seeming
candid shot while behind him scores of students stood holding plaques and
small cheques. He was uniquely handsome yet approachable, his eyes sparkled
and he had a gorgeous head of black shiny hair that reminded Wanda a little of
Superman. He did seem heroic, if that was what it was. Wanda wondered if she
would ever meet this client. Immediately she blushed and pushed the
newspaper aside. Enough, she told herself, get back to work.