By R. John Quisenberry
Wednesday always sucked for Stephen. His wife left him on a Wednesday. He moved into his condo on a Wednesday, only to be laid off the next Wednesday so his boss’s nephew would have an income while he failed as an actor. This Wednesday would be different. He had a hot job lead.
He had gone to the party to blow off steam. His old friend Mark had thrown the party for that very reason. For a Tuesday night, it had been a wild party. Mark had gotten a promotion and was taking some vacation time before he had to take on the responsibilities that came with the extra money and title.
Stephen had been enjoying the party right up until the arrival of his ex-wife and her boyfriend. As luck would have it, the boyfriend was also the failed actor who had taken Stephen’s job. This was too much! Rushing out onto the balcony, he almost collided with another guy who was standing out there.
“Excuse me!” said the thin man as he stepped gracefully to the side. “Sorry for blocking the door. I was just looking. Great view huh?” Swinging an arm wide, he indicated the view of the valley behind Mark’s apartment. “Still, the show in there seems to be heating up too…” he remarked as he nodded towards the room behind Steven. “From the disturbed look on your face and the intense way you aren’t looking at Becky and her boyfriend, you must be Stephen. Mark has told me about you. I’m Alan.”
“Nice to meet you Alan. I need a drink!” Steven was studiously not looking back towards the human pretzel that his ex-wife was making in the room behind him with his strapping nemesis.
“Here, have a beer!” Alan replied as he handed Stephen a bottle from the cooler behind him that he had been sitting on. “Mark should have hidden the cooler somewhere better. No way was I going to fail to find it.” with a wink, Alan popped the cap off of the fine, imported beer against the balcony railing. Stephen tried the same trick. Half of the beer foamed out in an alcoholic volcano. “Dude! Too hard man! Here try this.” Alan took the flaccid remainder of the first beer. In exchange, he passed a dark brown bottle that was not chilled. The cap was already off. ” Sip that gently. A good stout is rich and pungent like a beer wishes it were.”
He waited a moment as Stephen was enveloped by the rich flavor of the ebony liquid of the stout. “So, Stephen, I hear you need a job.”
If it had not been for the distraction of the surprisingly delicious stout combined with the heady relaxation and pleasure as it caressed it’s way down his throat, Stephen would have been startled by the lack of subtlety in the statement.
“Sorry to be so blunt. I heard from Mark about the whole thing. I’ve been working in the area. I have a lead on a new place that just opened up recently. I’m sure there must be some spots left.” He then wrote down an Address on the back of his card. The front of the card read :
Consultant and Reconciliation Specialist
without a number or an address.
“What’s the name of the place?”
“Prometheus Transformations. It’s some sort of management firm for an experimental laboratory. Should be a good place to make a change in your luck.”
“How did you hear about it?”
“Hey, I consult. In my line of work, you have to keep an ear to the ground. I hear things. Better go tomorrow though. They have some big project starting up and you want to be in on it from the beginning.”
Stephen was almost done with the stout. It’s bitter-sweet smoothness had settled his nerves so that he could even view Becky and her ‘date’ cavorting on the couch with a stoic air of indifference. “I think I will check it out. Thanks man! I’ll see you around!” Leaving the dregs of the bottle, Stephen headed out to his car. Becky seemed to have found some place to privately slobber on her boyfriend. Images of her regret as she watched from afar while he moved on and became successful ran through his mind. He could see her envy and sadness at not still being with him as he followed an imagined rise to power in his new career. Visions of his triumphant future filled his mind the whole way back to his apartment.