**"Another Day at the Office" was selected as Editors' Pick for Issue One - you can listen to it here, recorded audibly by the author, Kristin Garth.**
Another Day at the Office
by Kristin Garth
You’re there because he chose you - front row of his concert, Princess Lea buns and a Catholic schoolgirl skirt. Your small town civic center is a cheap week’s rental for his world tour rehearsal, a hotel presidential suite across the street, your strip club a block away.
You’re 25. Your tipsy coworker is 18 – tall, lithe body, bouncy black curls. Anyone looking at you two would reverse your ages. She is your crush at the club. You rub flesh together for an aging rock star, far older than your fathers, all week — nuzzle breasts, tweak nipples, one $20 dance at a time. Sometimes he doesn’t even seem to pay attention, but you are mesmerized — not with the rock star but with the girl.
His second night at the club, he invites you both to his concert front row, and for drinks after at his hotel. You hesitate. When you chose this life, you made rules: no private parties, nothing outside the club. You’re an exhibitionist; not a prostitute. You know yourself. You’re passive -- require boundaries.
Tabitha, your coworker, bounces in her chair at his invitation. Dark curls float and land across wet brown eyes, wooing you for your essential yes. You hear it leave your lips before you realize you’ve said it.
When you tell your asexual stoner best friend Claire about your concert plans, her mouth drops.
“I’ve got an article somewhere about them from the 70’s. Maybe I can find it.”
She looks, unsuccessful, and then pulls a chair up close.
“Something happened on a plane. And there was an underage girl that he — it’s fucking a straight up miracle they didn’t go to jail.”
“But they didn’t, right? It was the 70’s, a long time ago.” You don’t even believe your own argument. You’re only thinking of Tabitha.
Claire shakes her head, “You can’t be alone with him.”
Claire's stories concern you, but they don’t match the paternal man who discussed progeny and poetry with you for a week with more enthusiasm than he seemed to garner for his double schoolgirl topless dances. Not wanting to argue, you nod and change the subject.
Tabitha collects you before the concert, offers a Xanax. You swallow it quickly though it’s your first, beyond anxious for a reprieve from nerves. By the time his iconic songs waft in your ears, the drug whirls inside your mind. At the edge of the stage, he bends down as close as possible and plays to you, only you. His lips form a kiss.
You lean your head against Tabatha’s chest. She takes your hand. Topless, gyrating with this girl all week, you’ve felt teased; here, fully clothed, holding hands, it feels stripped-nude consummated. He looks at you, for the first time, a real girl in street clothes as you are a thing he could easily possess. You look away.
After the concert, his assistant walks you both to the hotel. The bar downstairs is packed with fans hoping he’ll stop for a drink. You know he won’t. Ushered through the elevator to the top of the hotel, down a hallway inside a massive room, Tabitha pulls you to a couch and embraces you. You’d be happy if he never showed.
When he does, he’s red-faced, a towel wrapped around his sweaty neck.
“I’ll hop in the shower. Drinks are on their way.”
A minute later, the assistant pulls in a cart with champagne, vodka, cheeses, an array of olives, unwrapped Hershey kisses. The assistant offers you a glass you sip as the rock star emerges in an oversized robe and plops down next to you. You lean to put down the glass, avoid a nervous spill; when you lean back, his arm is around you. Tabitha moves closer.
The assistant lights a joint. You take a modest hit, pass it to Tabitha. Strong pot mixed with Xanax makes you instantly dizzy; your head finds his shoulder. Eyes flutter closed. He’s speaking about a son in Argentina, kids he’ll visit in the States. His elbow nudges. Your eyes open to a gesture, joint in fingers, towards what looks to be ten silver-framed photos on a credenza.
When your eyes leave the credenza, you see a blur that is Tabatha, on the ground between his legs, eyes glistening as they lock with yours, mouth furiously occupied. His eyes, half closed, breath only slightly affected. If your eyes had stayed shut, you wouldn’t have known a thing.
He pats his chest. You rest your head against him, close your eyes.
“Tell me about these sonnets.”
“They’re weird, about stuff like this.”
He laughs at your chatter and gasps, the latter not for you. Eyes closed, you feel her ministrations in the race of his heart. You hear chokes, smacks, pops of lips, and the slap of erect flesh. His motions shake you, on his chest progressively pulling you out of the coziness of deniability. Then you are just an impediment he pushes aside, lunges forward. You look away and her distinct staccato pants suggest he doesn’t finish in her mouth.
Alone, you’re pulled back on his chest. Wanting no attention, your eyes remain shut. Invisible, quiet and still. His heartbeat slows and you hear the faintest snort and snore. Moments later, footsteps.
“He fell asleep?”
Your eyes open to Tabitha’s pout, tears ready to drip down her freshly scrubbed, makeup-free face. You don’t want her to cry in his presence, even sleeping. You grab her hand and walk her to the bedroom, where you both climb on the puffy cloud bed fitting for the richest world travelers to come to your southern small town. This is the only way the t