Once, I had a normal life.
I don’t try to think about it too often as it overwhelms me, reminds me of what I have lost. It is just the past that I have sadly left behind.
The bottom line is that I have lost everything!
Many people have said that before, I am sure, when they have lost their fortune or their wife. Perhaps, after another form of personal disaster, they may have lost their house or a loved one, maybe a favoured pet animal.
Even though all of that can be tragic and overwhelming, it is not losing everything.
I, on the other hand, have lost everything!
Many would claim that I am exaggerating, that I could not have lost everything. I mean, I still have life, don’t I? That means I have not lost everything!
Once, I chose between so called life and death and I chose this life! It is worse than death!
Although I am alive, in a way, I don’t even have life!
I have lost everything that signifies that I am a worthwhile human being with dignity and self esteem as well as personal choice.
I am, in reality, nothing. There is nothing that can not be done to me and I must accept whatever pain or humiliations are thrust upon me!
Choice is an alternative for normal people, not slaves!
I have none of the things that signify humanity and, sadly, I never realised were so important. Foolishly, I thought sports cars, women and money were the most important things in life!
What a bitter and irrevocable lesson to learn!
Normal is not a word that can be applied to me in anyway.
I truly have nothing!
I am a modern slave!
My personal assistant bolted from her desk and almost ran into my office. She tottered on her stilettos and I hid my smile as I knew how nervous she was.
Last week, during her monthly performance review, I had read her the riot act and put her on notice of dismissal.
One more fuck-up and she was gone! Kicked out on her shapely arse and losing the high paid job she enjoyed. So, she had to treat me like a king!
Life was so sweet!
‘Yes, Mister Johnson?’
‘I need the monthly report. The old lady wants it!’
Rhonda blinked at my completely disrespectful term for the chairman of the company, Ms Van Horn. I didn’t care as I knew Rhonda would be too afraid to rat on me.
Besides, even if Ms Van Horn heard and sent one of her flunkies down to ask me, I would just smile, lay on my English accent and lie.
Ms Van Horn liked me, anyway. At least, I think she did as it was a little hard to gauge her feelings about anything.
She was a wealthy but flinty bitch who was ruthless in business. As far as I could see, she had no social life and only focussed on business. Lauren Van Horn was about forty, fifteen years my senior and I couldn’t see any husbands or lovers on the playing field.
Still, she was a good looking woman! She obviously looked after herself and, let’s face it, she had all the best beauty treatments that money could buy!
If they said that injecting bat shit into your arse would make you beautiful, Van Horn had the cash to do it!
Anyway, she was always on her own when it came to red carpet events.
I had taken that as a signal and had tried to chat her up at the first company conference I attended. It had been a personal disaster as Ms Van Horn had given me a chilly smile and simply walked away.
It was strange to be turned down as I usually had my way with any woman I desired. Young, English, fit and good looking in a Tom Cruise sort of way, I usually had no problems at all.
But Ms Van Horn had shown no reaction at all. In fact, she had seemed bored!
At our next meeting, she had coolly watched me do my presentation. When I finished, I waited for her response but Ms Van Horn simply rose and left the room, her simpering flunkies running after her.
Hours after the presentation, Mathews, my immediate boss informed me that I should practice more.
I was dumfounded.
‘Practice? What are you on about?’
It appeared that the mighty Ms Van Horn thought my presentation was not up to standard.
‘Not up to bloody standard!’ I had exploded. ‘Who the fuck does she think she is?’
‘She’s the owner of the corporation,’ Mathews said mildly, ‘That’s who she is. Some of us think she’s important!
‘I don’t give a flying fuck! That old lady…’
‘Now, Aaron,’ Mathews had said quickly, ‘don’t come unglued. She’s a stickler for details and expects the very best…’
‘She’s a stupid old bitch!’
‘Aaron!’ Mathews looked around and then spoke urgently while seizing my shoulder. ‘Shut the fuck up! Don’t speak so loudly! Ms Van Horn has ears everywhere! You do not want to aggravate her! I’ve heard rumours…well, best left unsaid. Now, your next presentation is in a month so practice and make sure it’s better!’
‘I’m going to resign,’ I sniffed, ‘if she doesn’t want me here…’
‘Quit if you like,’ Mathews said wearily. ‘I’m kind of sure Ms Van Horn won’t care at all. And if you can find a job that pays as well as this gig, well, let me know! Practice that presentation, Aaron,’ he said and walked away.
‘How goes it, Aaron?’ Kimberly asked with a broad smile as I pored over my desk.
She was a colleague and although she dealt with me politely, we both knew we were competitors on the slippery corporate ladder.
She was beautiful with large breasts and striking blonde hair. In any other circumstances, I would have come on to her but as we were competitors, I couldn’t give her anything to use against me.
‘It’s brilliant,’ I said with a forced smile.
‘Just love your charming Brit accent, Aaron,’ Kimberly said sarcastically with a sly smile. ‘Your demographic presentation is tomorrow. Do you think you’ll be able to charm Ms Van Horn?’
I didn’t think so if past meetings were a basis on which to form an opinion.
Especially after the encounter in the lift the other day.
I had seen her in the lift (sorry, elevator) and Miss Van Horn had looked around when she regally entered. Everyone shrank back and smiled. Only Kimberly had spoken to her, greeting her with a cheerful, ‘good morning, Ms Van Horn.’
Ms Van Horn had smiled bleakly, nodded and turned away. As she left the lift, her cold eyes fell on me and I smiled weakly but she was gone.
‘I don’t actually think charm has any relevance,’ I said haughtily. ‘I think it’s the facts and the outline of the division strategy that will interest Ms Van Horn.’
Kimberly grinned and sauntered to the office door, her arse moving seductively in the tight knee length skirt.
‘You know,’ she said as a parting shot, ‘your limey accent becomes more pronounced when you’re worried and nervous!’
‘How…how did you think it went?’ I asked Mathews as we walked hurriedly down the hall.
‘It seemed fine to me, Aaron, but you never know with Ms Van Horn. She never gives anything away. I’d hate to play poker with her!’
‘I think it went well,’ I murmured as we stopped in front of the lift, ‘except for my stuff up on the projected numbers but I think I recovered well. Do you think I recovered well?’
Mathews was about to answer but Kimberly joined us at the lift and looking up at the floor numbers, said, ‘I think you made a hash of that, Aaron.’
‘Who asked you!’
‘Just offering my opinion. Ms Van Horn didn’t like it!’
‘And just how do you know that?’ I hissed. ‘She gives nothing away…’
‘Maybe not to guys,’ Kimberly said mildly, ‘but chicks see the signs! She didn’t like it, Aaron,’ Kimberly said as the lift doors opened.
Kimberly walked inside and smiled at us.
Mathews and I shook our heads.
As the doors began to close, Kimberly said, ‘she didn’t like it, Aaron. You’re toast!’
The doors slid shut and I turned to Mathews.
Mathews patted my shoulder.
‘Don’t worry, buddy, we’ll know soon enough.’
‘She’ll call me if she didn’t like something,’ Mathews said wearily, ‘she always does.’
‘How about a weekend in Vegas?’
Tom Whitfield was perched on my desk and waving airline tickets at me.
‘Vegas? What on earth for?’
I was a little distracted as even two days after my presentation, Mathews had not received any word from Van Horn.
Even though I told myself that no news was good news, I was still worried.
‘What for? Hey, come on man,’ Tom grinned. ‘Beer, showgirls and gambling! That’s why we go to Vegas!’
‘I don’t think it would interest me…’
‘What?’ Tom looked at me disbelievingly. ‘One of the greatest pants men I have ever met and he doesn’t want to go to Vegas? Man, the women there are legendary! When was the last time you scored? I bet it was that latino chick a month ago and you only took up with her after you broke up with Kelly!’
‘Maybe,’ I said, looking out the office window.
Kelly, tall, blonde and warm had, in truth, broken up with me. She had, of course, claimed we could still be friends, that it was her and the place she was in at the moment and all that rubbish American girls go on with when they dump you!
There it is – she dumped me!
Kelly called me from time to time to maintain the pretence that we were still friends and I played along just to hear her voice.
‘A month, man? That’s not like you at all! Come on, a weekend in Vegas will do you good.’
‘Where did you get the tickets?’
‘I won them in a poker game.’
‘I didn’t know you played poker.’
‘Only every now and again. Look the tickets are good for this weekend. Are you up for it? Come on,’ he wheedled, ‘a few days drinking, gambling and whoring! What is there not to like?’
‘Why not,’ I said, ‘let’s hit Vegas!’
‘Now you’re talking, my man!’
The first day was fun. We drank, watched a few shows and played the tables.
Then Tom started getting interested in the poker tournaments. To humour him, I sat in with him and to my surprise, I won.
In fact, I won more than Tom.
‘I’m done,’ Tom said bitterly, ‘let’s find some chicks and fuck them silly!’
‘You go ahead,’ I said distractedly, ‘I think I’ll stay.’
‘Aaron, come on. Don’t get in with these guys, man, it’s out of your league.’
‘Can I remind you,’ I said icily, ‘that I am winning?’
Tom sighed and raised his hands in surrender.
‘Ok, ok, do your thing and I’ll do mine!’
I really didn’t hear him leave and turned back to the cards.
I did not see Tom again until we were leaving. He was quite cold with me but I shrugged it off as I had my own worries. The cards had gotten the better of me and I lost five thousand dollars.
The disgust at my stupidity stayed with me when I paid the smiling goon the money and trudged to the hotel room for some much needed sleep before the flight home.
‘Did you win?’ Tom asked at last when we were airborne.
‘A little,’ I lied.
‘You wasted a weekend, bud,’ he growled. ‘I found us some air stewardess but you were out of it!’
‘Sorry,’ I said as lightly as I could, lost in thought.
He stared at me for a moment and then returned to his magazine.
When we landed, Tom nodded curtly to me and walked off to find his own cab, rather than sharing one with me.
In my apartment, I threw my bag onto the sofa and collapsed next to it, flicking the TV on with the remote.
It was Kelly.
‘Hi Aaron,’ she said.
Her voice still gave me goose bumps and I wondered why she insisted on keeping in touch. It was torture.
‘Hi, Kelly,’ I said as brightly as I could.
‘How was your wild weekend in Vegas?’ Kelly asked archly.
‘It wasn’t so wild, I’m afraid,’ I said, ‘not for me, anyway.’
‘No? Do you really expect me to believe that? You and Tom in Vegas? Is there a showgirl left unmolested in all of Vegas?’
‘Don’t be like that,’ I said mildly. ‘Ask Tom. I played cards while he did whatever he did.’
‘Played cards? Did you win?’
‘A little,’ I lied again. ‘It was just for fun, something to do.’
‘Sounds boring to me,’ Kelly said but I could tell she was pleased that it sounded like I had a boring time. ‘Don’t forget the party for Lisa.’
‘The party for her engagement to Mark? Surely…’
‘I didn’t get an invitation,’ I said evenly.
‘I guess Lisa didn’t want me there since you and I broke up.’
I guessed that Kelly knew that I hadn’t received the invitation and was playing some female game. Frankly, I was so exhausted, I didn’t care.
‘Look,’ I said, ‘I’m really tired so I’m going to crash. Goodnight, Kelly.’
‘How was the weekend? Bachelor boys berserk in Vegas?’ Kimberly asked with a sneer.
‘Go away, Kimberly,’ I sighed, trying to concentrate on the report that covered my desk in pages.
‘Ooo,’ Kimberly said mockingly, plump red lips pouting, ‘don’t tell me our little Brit boy didn’t get any over the weekend?’
I tried to ignore her as Kimberly lounged in the doorway to my office but it was difficult. She was such a tall, sexy woman and Kimberly always wore a little more perfume than other women did so I could smell the exotic aroma from my desk.
She said nothing for a moment and I hoped she was going but, after a moment, she purred, ‘I had a coffee with Ms Van Horn this morning.’
It had the desired result.
‘What?’ I demanded, immediately looking up and Kimberly smiled in satisfaction at my reaction. ‘When?’
‘At breakfast,’ Kimberly said airily. ‘We had breakfast together,’ she added with a malicious smile, ‘to discuss things.’
‘Things? What things?’ I quickly asked.
‘Just girl talk really, and a little chat about my career. Have you ever had breakfast with Ms Van Horn, Aaron?’ Kimberly asked innocently.
‘No,’ I snapped angrily, looking down at the report to avoid her mocking eyes, ‘I haven’t!’
‘You should really try to get to know her, Aaron,’ Kimberly taunted. ‘Ms Van Horn is a very interesting woman with wide experience and interesting tastes.’
‘What sort of tastes?’ I asked, in spite of myself as it gave Kimberly another opening to taunt me.
‘I guess you’ll just have to get to know her to find that sort of info out, Aaron. Bye, bye!’
She gave me a wave and sauntered off, her long legs attracting my eyes just as she knew they would.
There was no doubt, Kimberly was the most ambitious and ruthless woman I had ever met in corporate life!
There were times when she actually frightened me with her single minded approach to getting ahead in business! Her ambition was such that I thought Kimberly should have been born a man!
But then, that gorgeous body of hers would have been wasted!
And what a body!