“You have to admit that she has a very cute butt,” my friend said.

I smiled in agreement.

 

The Clown

 

Her name was Maxine and she was my workmate. Now the first thing that catches your attention when you see Maxine is her swinging rear end. Her behind is like a man magnet: and to be more
precise, a trap. And when she catches you looking, a seductive smile crosses her face and lures you forward. It’s the last thing you remember because the next thing you know is that you are seating butt naked in the middle of a cold empty room wondering what in the world happened.

          I took a hard right when I saw Maxine headed in my direction. Our office was huge and the various blind spots gave me great cover. I always went out of my way to avoid her. But right before I got to my cubicle, she miraculously reappeared.

          “Hi Donte!” The seductive smile.

          “Oh hi Maxine. How are you doing today?”

          “Not so good.” She frowned.

          “Why’s that?” I already knew what was coming.

          “You haven’t given me my hug today,” she said with outstretched hands.

          I pulled her in and she prolonged the hug for as long as she could. I felt her body contours rubbing against mine, but I pretended not to notice. And then suddenly her hands slide down my back and squeezed my butt. It happened so
fast, and my dilated eyes reflected my shock. One moment she was standing there and the next she was swinging away, a complacent look on her face. I stood there for a long time, mouth agape and feeling violated.

 

          Sexual harassment: definition simplified … it’s when someone looks or touches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable.

 

          “She likes you,” my workmates said.

          “She likes everybody,” I replied. “I sometimes think that she will rape me.”

          We laughed and threw in a few more Maxine jokes.

          “You think she’s good in bed?”

          “I think she has slept with every man in this office,” someone else added.

          “Stay away from that one Donte. She’s on a different level.”

 

         Shortly after, work resumed and we shifted to more sober topics.

          There’s money in the world of accounting. But then again there’s also the danger of dying at an early age from boredom. They make it so hard and challenging in AccountingCollege and then
stash you behind a desk for the next fifty years of your life, punching the same numbers over and over: Profit and loss Account, Balance Sheet, Receipts and Payments. For every credit there’s a debit somewhere. Sometimes we humans do one thing for so long that we can’t imagine doing something else.

          At 2 pm Friday afternoon, I looked outside
my office window and saw a girl under a tree. From the second floor of my office building it wasn’t hard to make out Maxine’s full figure and black long hair. She looked sad and I wondered whether something had happened.

          The elevator opened as soon as I hit the call button. I looked at my reflection in the elevator mirror and liked how the grey business suit fitted. I rode down in silence and walked around the building to where I had seen her. She turned at the sound of my footsteps and quickly tried to hide her tears.

          “Hi Maxine,” I greeted as I sat next to her. “Beautiful day ha?”

          “It’s gorgeous,” she replied staring straight ahead. The sun was burning hot making the tree shade look like a five star hotel.

          I hesitated, unsure about whether to venture into the next territory. It was a rule of nature that most humans ignored. A word of caution: do not ask somebody what the problem is if you are
not willing to help
.

          “Is everything okay Maxine?” I couldn’t hold the words back.

          “Ha? Oh ya,” she said with a shrug. “I’m used to it by now.”

          “Used to what?”

          “Used to people talking about me behind my back.”

          A wave of guilt jolted through my body and I squirmed on the grass where we sat. “You shouldn’t listen to what people say Maxine. It’s just office talk, that’s all. A bunch of bored folks tired of staring at the numbers, and feeding off
made up stories.”

          Maxine smiled and looked into my face. “Thanks Donte,” she said. “I’m glad to have you
as a friend. You are different from the others.”

          We are not friends Maxine, I wanted to say but couldn’t. She looked hurt, almost human. “You wonna get a beer after work Donte? I need something to cheer me up.” And there it was. I had expected it but still it caught me by surprise. She was wishing for rain in the desert.

          “Donte?” Maxine continued before I could reply. “Why do people make fun of me? I’m I
that bad of a person?”

          A guilt trip. I knew then that we were going to have that beer.

 

          We arrived at Ben’s Sports Bar and Grill around 6pm, sat on the counter and ordered some food. While I had Jack Daniels on the rocks, Maxine requested sex on the beach, a drink that
was delivered to her in a fancy glass. She looked happy as she seductively taunted her lips and I was glad for it. I wanted to make her happy but also wanted to keep the evening short least she got any crazy ideas.

          My eyes flickered to the big screen as she talked. A soccer game was in progress: Manchester vs. Chelsea, a season opener. I could barely concentrate on what Maxine was saying
as Van Persie dribbled down the right lane and crossed the ball.

          At 7pm and on my fourth glass, someone
tapped my shoulder. I turned and saw Martin my colleague with his wife. My heart dropped because I knew that everybody at work would hear about it: that Maxine and I were together. I grimaced at the thought and felt like I had been walking all day with my fly and zipper open.

          “Donte,” Martin said as he shook my hand. “Fancy meeting you here like this!” The sleeves of his work shirt just like mine were rolled up.

          “Hi Martin, this your wife?”

          “Yes.” He stepped aside. “Honey, this is Donte and Maxine. We work together.” Maxine moved her red scarf out of the way and stretched out a professional hand.

          After a round of small talks, they moved on to another table where a baseball game was in progress. I cursed silently and ordered a shot. Maxine threw clandestine glances in my direction as I flashed the burning liquor down my throat.

          “Never figured you for a drinker,’ she said.

          I laughed. “I don’t go out often, but when I do I drink a lot.”

          She understood and took my hand in a commanding way. “Come Donte, let’s dance.”

          “What? Nooo.” But she was already pulling me over to the empty dance floor. I felt my colleague’s eyes burning through my body.

          We started slow, conscious of the watching eyes. But when the DJ dropped Murder She Wrote by Chaka Demus and Pliers, that was it for me. I started bouncing on my feet, spinning around and doing splits. I moon walked and cat slid on the
dance floor. The song evoked memories of my younger days and for a moment I forgot where I was and whom I was with. In the meantime, Maxine just wiggled her waist seductively and the men in the room had a rough time focusing on
their dates.

          “I didn’t know that you could dance like that!” Maxine yelled as she tried to keep up with my fast steps.

          “What? Those were the good old days!” I yelled back and danced some more. By the time
the song was over, I was sweating and drunk.

          She looked flustered by my performance. “Donte! You should have been a dancer. Forget accounting!”

          I laughed sheepishly. “There was a time and place Maxine. But those days are gone now. I look forward to a full life behind a desk.”

Maxine paid the bill and led me towards the neon exit sign. “I wonna show you something,” she said. Her drinks didn’t show on her face.

          The cool night air steadied my footing and I stopped staggering. “Where are we going?” I asked suspiciously. This was Maxine, and she was the most cunning woman I had ever met. She raised a hand and I heard tires screeching. We jumped into the back seat of the cab giggling. I didn’t know where we were going and I didn’t care any more. I was having fun.

          The cab stopped outside the Deco Theatre and we stepped into a red carpet hallway. “Two tickets please,” Maxine said as she handed over some money to a lady behind a glass window.

          The auditorium was dimly lit as folks found their way to their designated seat areas. We were the last few to enter and our seats were not the best in the house.

          “You’ve been here before?” I asked her.

          She took my hand and squeezed it. “A few times.”

          The show started and took me completely by surprise. It was a ballet dance, only that this one was more contemporary with a mix of hip-hop. The dancers were professional and I found myself following their gymnastic moves with hawk like eyes. At the end of the show and an hour later, I was the first one to jump to my feet and applaud. I didn’t realize that I was clapping alone until I saw Maxine laughing. It was the liquor in my system talking.

          We strolled down the streets after the show and enjoyed the cool breeze. Drunken folks sung and danced by the road; music blared from the various buildings and speeding cars. The world is a happier place on Fridays.

          “Thanks for a lovely evening Maxine,” I said as I took her hand into mine.

          “I hope you liked it,” she said softly.

          “How did you know?” I asked her.

          “What? That you used to take dance classes?” She shrugged. “It was the way you danced at the bar. That wasn’t street dance. That was something else.”

          She tilted her head back and laughed. Suddenly, she looked different. This was a side of her that I had never seen before. Forget all the talk and gossip at work. Right here, at this very moment, Maxine was perfect in every way
possible.

          We stopped over a bridge and looked down into the dark river. “Can you hear that?” She asked as she leaned forward.

          “No,” I replied. “Hear what?”

          “Close your eyes Donte, and listen with your heart.”

          I did and was surprised at what I heard: the soft sound of the waves as they meandered
around the rocks; the sound of the wind whooshing through the trees and buildings. I opened my eyes and saw Maxine smiling. She looked beautiful under the rising moonlight. Without further control of my actions, I pulled her in and kissed her softly on her mouth. She kissed me back with an amused expression on her face. My brains dropped to my crotch and my hands slid over her back and started making their way around to the front. Her body stiffened. She
untangled herself from my embrace and took a step back.

          “What’s the problem?” I asked.

          She placed the soft of her palm on my torso and nudged me down the road. “I can’t do that Donte,” she said casually.

          I did not understand. This was the same woman who had been pursuing me for months
to the extent of grabbing my butt. “I don’t understand Maxine, I thought you liked me?”

          “I do Donte. But I can’t give you more than I have to offer. I’m married.”

          I stopped walking. “You are what?”

          She pulled a flower from a nearby bush and smelled it. “I know Donte. It sounds strange. Been married for five years now.”

          “How come nobody knows about this?” I couldn’t believe my ears.

          She threw the flower away and continued to walk. “I have a problem Donte. I have a very big problem.”

          “What’s that?” A worried look shadowed my eyes.

          “I’m a flirt. I admit it. I’m a flirt.” Sigh. “I flirt with every good looking man I meet. I just can’t stop myself.” Pause. “But I love my husband and have never cheated on him. Can you believe that?”

          No I can not believe that! I stared at her unable to recover. She was the very image of dignity and respect, contrary to everything I had heard about her. We walked on in silence, her face looking
pensive, mine hazy. I had called it wrong again. I had judged a book by its cover. I should have opened the book… read a few pages and made my own decision. I should never have listened to the words of others. Maxine was a flirt yes, but she never talked about me behind my back. I did. I was the devil. I was the filth and scam of the earth.

          I tried to read her mind but couldn’t. It was the way she had reacted to my sexual advance that worried me. It was as though she was used to men like me. Men like me? The thought was appalling. I was but a statistic in a long queue of men trying to take advantage of her openness. It was goodbye to ‘a few good men’ for me.

          She leaned over and pecked me on the cheek. “It’s okay Donte. We are still friends aren’t we?”

          “Yes Maxine. We are still friends.” And this time I meant it.

So the next time you walk down the street, look out for the guy wearing a red nose. It’s not Maxine.

News

Off to AFRICA

 

My book A Whisper in the Jungle has been picked by a publishing company and approved by the board. It has been scheduled for release soon.

 

The music is all around you, all you have to do is listen

 

Contact

 

mrobertto@yahoo.com

Without God, what are we? What do we have? What is life...