2 June 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 2
In Search Of
His cubicle wall shuddered for the third time in the last hour, and he automatically began fishing fallen thumbtacks and papers from the crevice where the wall met his desk. He'd tried talking to her. He'd tried making a joke of it. But no matter what he said, Patricia Trumble's enthusiasm, speed, and girth propelled her rolling desk chair into their shared wall space repeatedly each day.
"Oh my God," she said this time, to no one in particular. "I just took another dominatrix call. What is it about Wednesdays? Tie me up, down, all around. Whew! It's really more a Friday kind of call. People getting freaky in the middle of the week now. Or maybe they're better planners, looking for weekend dates."
She continued to talk, but he tuned her out. It was a coping mechanism.
The two of them were among five advertising accounts managers for the city's entertainment and political newsweekly, but they shared a small section of the office away from the others in the paid personals department. They accepted text and payment for personal ads they would type up, format, and ship to the layout department.
"I mean, would you place an ad like that?" she said. "Or maybe I should ask, would you respond to an ad like that?"
He kept his head down, focused on his computer screen, but Patricia stood up so she could see him over the cubicle wall. "Yoo-hoo! Earth to Paul, come in Paul. Mr. Cake, Patricia's on line one." She giggled at her own joke.
Patricia, a woman of indeterminate age, gazed at him with clear blue eyes. Her teeth were straight and pearly. She'd have better luck meeting someone if she lost weight, Paul thought. While not exactly obese, she carried enough extra pounds to be winded walking up the three flights to the office. And he hated when they both walked in together from the parking lot. Her huffing made him uncomfortable, as did her attention, which seemed to be a cross between flirting and bullying.
"What? I didn't hear you. I was busy. Working." He sighed. He actually had been staring at the calendar, trying to calculate how many more months he needed under his belt before he'd earn his two-week vacation.
"Yeah, right. Your phone hasn't rung in 20 minutes. You didn't hit 'silent,' did you?"
He looked at his phone and saw the 'silent' feature, which transferred all his calls to Patricia's line, was on. He punched it off. "No," he lied.
"Oh. Well, this woman was inquiring as to how much information should she include, like whips, or just the leather."
His phone rang, and he cut off Patricia by taking the call. Because the two of them fielded so many calls, they used headsets and wore them whenever they were at their desks. He would sometimes leave work and notice his reflection in car windows, his gelled hair scrunched down by the black plastic headband that connected to the mouthpiece.
Patricia annoyed him by watching over his shoulder as he clicked in the boxes on the computer screen. The box marked "Single White Female" created "SWF," and all he had to do was click. The computer also formatted the page layout. It was a pretty easy job. But sometimes the hectic pace combined with Patricia's overbearing presence got to him. He'd wanted a job at the city's daily newspaper, but the editors told him he needed actual experience. In the two years since he'd earned his master's degree in journalism, this was the closest he'd come. His collection of post-college jobs also included car salesman, Abercrombie & Fitch employee, and temp-for-hire.
When they were on the phone with customers, his and Patricia's cubicles produced constant chatter, keyboard clacking, a mostly businesslike demeanor mixed with an occasional neutral joke. (They used caution in joking with the lonely-hearted—their sensitivities colored everything. "They put the 'personal' in Personals!" editor-in-chief Bix Crawford would say, often enough to be grating.) After hanging up, especially if the boss was out, Patricia liked to give loud, opinionated post-call commentary that the rest of the department tended to ignore.
"Anything good?" Patricia asked him, before he'd had time to place the receiver back in its cradle. She often tried to coax the same type of commentary from him. "Come one, was it a sexy one?"
He thought of a few dirty, inappropriate responses. He already knew he would call his girlfriend, Sheila, about this conversation. But he held back from Patricia.
"Standard," he said. "The usual."
She peered at the screen over his shoulder. "Does that say dog? It says dog! SWF seeks SWM with dog! Sweet Jesus. So that's your idea of standard? What do they do with the dog? Think they let him up on the bed? I bet collars are involved."
"Maybe she just wants someone to go to the park with," he said. "Maybe she just likes dogs."
"A little touchy about the dogs, are we? Sorry I asked." She went back to her cubicle, muttering her usual refrain: "Oh, the sad, sad, people out there. What happened in your childhood, sweetie?"
He didn't know who she meant this time: him, or the SWF seeking man with dog.
When Patricia left for lunch, he dialed Sheila at the insurance office where she worked. Patricia usually got take-out from Charlie's, the Chinese restaurant one block over. She'd bring back multiple grease-soaked brown paper sacks carrying sticky spareribs, two or three large Styrofoam bins containing fried rice, crunchy noodles, and a small vat of sugared soda to drink. Her keyboard suffered. Fingertips coated in grease and sauces handled the keys, and letters or periods or the spacebar would get stuck in place. Roger, the company tech expert, semi-annually visited Patricia's cubicle with an extra keyboard tucked under his arm. When he'd leave, the others could hear his muttering.
"Use a napkin for gods sake. A wet-nap. Charlie's gives 'em out for free."
Patricia kept her top drawer filled with the unused, square, moist towelettes from the Chinese take-out. Paul had never seen her use one, though more than once he witnessed her tossing one inside the drawer.
Sheila didn't answer the phone. She must have been at lunch, too. He left her a message, then tried her cell phone. He and Sheila had been together for almost a year. He spent nights at her apartment, but had no plans to move in with her or even get married. They had time. Sheila answered on the third ring. She was in the middle of lunch and sounded distracted.
"Hey, baby," he said. "Yep, I'm the only one here."
He and Sheila talked about Patricia every day. Sheila reveled in the Paul's stories, ever since the two women had met six months ago at a company party, shortly after Paul started the job. Sheila, never one for tact, had asked Patricia when she was due. Patricia set down her cocktail and napkin on an end table in Bix Crawford's ultra-modern living room, patted the rolls of her unpregnant belly, and confided, "Well first of all, sweetie, I've got to get myself LAID. That usually comes before getting knocked-up, if I'm not mistaken. It's been awhile, but I think I still remember how it's done. Know anybody who can handle the likes of me?" She eyed Paul across the room, nudging Sheila painfully in the arm with her surprisingly bony elbow. "What, I bet he's wild, huh? He likes to get all the pervert calls. Bet he likes it all dirty."
Sheila had backed off with a muttered "Whatever." She rejoined Paul across the room, and Patricia waggled her fingers at them as Sheila whispered angrily in Paul's ear. Ever since, when Sheila asked about Paul's day, she specifically meant Patricia stories. From her desk job at the insurance agency, she'd call for updates in the middle of the day.
Though he'd interrupted Sheila's lunch, she was eager for the latest installment. He described the noise with which she devoured a bag of microwave popcorn that morning—Sheila particularly liked details of Patricia's eating habits. Then he told her about Patricia's interest in the dog call.
"She won't stop talking about sex," he told Sheila. "She's a fiend. I think she's about five minutes away from jumping me."
He heard a rustle, and suddenly flushed when he understood the noise came from Patricia's desk. Usually he heard her coming a mile away; he didn't know how she had managed to surprise him. He awkwardly tried to save face. "Yeah, yeah, the callers. They're pretty crazy. Well, listen, I've got to get going. I've got a call coming in." He hung up with Sheila, and his phone rang. Patricia's phone was ringing, too. Throughout the day, in the lulls between calls, it was totally silent. Patricia still hadn't spoken to him by the time Bix Crawford came by their desk pod late in the afternoon. He pinned a flier on the outside cubicle wall's bulletin board, updating the "Your Rights As an Employee" information the company lawyers provided.
"Kids, how's business?" Bix asked them. He rarely waited for replies. "Patty, listen, we're having an editor's meeting, and I wondered if you could sit in. Paul can handle the phones. It's about one of the ads you took—the guy who goes by 'White Male.' Just White Male, no single, no searching. Remember him at all? People are calling left and right. This guy has become an instant celebrity. He's loved and hated."
Patricia stood up, blushing. "Yeah, I think I remember. I get so many calls. But his. Yeah, it stood out a little. OK, sure."
Paul was curious—and a little jealous—about the meeting. He grabbed last week's paper and opened to the personals. There he was, just as Bix said:
STOP BLAMING IT ALL ON ME.
NOT EVERYTHING'S MY FAULT.
I'VE GOT MY OWN PROBLEMS.
GET OVER IT.
The advertising department wanted to run the ads on the side panels of buses, on park benches, anywhere the newsweekly's name could be attached. They had to set up a second voice mailbox to accept all the calls White Male was receiving. Other calls to the main switchboard both praised and criticized White Male—and the paper. Some saw the ad as political, racist, or a joke.
"It's a freedom-of-speech issue," Bix, a white male, said. "The guy's got a right to express himself. Hey, it's about time somebody said something like this. Nice job, Patty, way to land a real moneymaker!"
As if she had anything to do with it, Paul thought.
In his kitchen that night, he popped open two bottles of imported Belgian ale, handing one to Sheila. He took a long swig before launching into his regular tirade about the day's events. He felt guilty for what he'd said, sure that Patricia had overheard him. Then he felt angry at Patricia for making him feel guilty.
"She's like this hippo, right?" Paul demonstrated his co-worker's heavy, rolling waddle. "But she's a hippo on too much caffeine. A really loud, obnoxious hippo. Or maybe she's a drunk hippo. It's all like 'Bang! Whap! Fer Chrissakes!' Knocking over the cubicle, trampling small children. Every move she makes is an event."
Sheila giggled, egged him on, but he was beginning to feel worse. He drank from his beer and looked through the cupboard for something to eat. Sheila shrugged off her tailored black suit jacket and sipped her beer, smearing her lipstick on the bottle.
"Order a pizza?" he asked.
"You know I'm on Atkins. Get me a salad, please." Sheila already was as thin as a catalog model, but she insisted she needed to lose more weight. She claimed her brown curls and green eyes shone more when she hit her target weight, which was ten pounds lighter than the recommendation for her height, five-foot-five.
She handed him the phone. "Hurry, Patricia's probably about to tie up their line with her order."
He dialed, facing the shiny black door of the microwave, and in its reflection he could see the usual headset indentation in his hair. He smoothed it out with his hand, feeling the stiffness of dried hair gel. Sheila wouldn't touch his hair, but she often told him it looked good and she liked how it smelled.
Girls always had liked his looks, and he'd always had girlfriends. He was of medium height, strong but not threatening, good-looking in a forgettable way. Even when he wore a shirt and tie, well-shined shoes, and expensive khaki pants, it was easy to imagine him in his fraternity sweatshirt and dingy white baseball hat, being force-fed beer after beer through a plastic funnel. The weekly's dress code was nonexistent, a form of self-styled office casual that ranged from coveralls to peppy holiday sweaters, but he insisted on dressing the part for the job he wanted to have - advice from the professor of the one management course he took in college. Still, touches of his fraternity days remained: the tie a bit too jaunty, a shirttail left untucked, a little crunch to his gelled, light-brown hair. Moving between girlfriends, with hardly a pause in between.
He ordered a large pepperoni pizza, plus a Greek salad for Sheila. They ate in front of the television, watching three half-hour situation comedies before going into the bedroom. They had sex, and much as he tried to dismiss the day's events, his mind kept going back to Patricia. Sheila sighed when he rolled off of her.
"Nice," she said. She usually fell asleep immediately after having sex.
"Yeah," he said.
"You OK?" she asked.
He thought for a moment. "Oh, it's just work stuff. It's nothing big, but one of the ad customers is this guy calling himself 'White Male.' They're all hopped up about it at work. Patricia took the call, and Bix was kissing her ass afterwards. All she did was answer the phone."
"So, you wished you'd answered the phone instead?" Sheila asked, her eyes already closed.
"I guess," he said.
"Then all you would've done is answer the phone, too," she said.
"That's not the point," he said, but she didn't answer. By her breathing he could tell she was asleep.
Paul stared at the ceiling awhile, still feeling like a jerk. Sheila snored lightly next to him. He rolled on his side and looked at her for a while, trying to discern her features in the dark. Her face held aspects of other girls he'd dated: Bridget's upturned nose, Amber's freckles, Layla's long eyelashes. Or was it Amber's nose, and Bridget's freckles? He couldn't remember. He slept without dreaming.
Patricia still wasn't talking to him, so the next day was relatively quiet—until Patricia's friend Peggy called. When Patricia talked to Peggy on the phone, she seemed to be engaged in a game of high-stakes charades, but with yelling. She shrieked, waved her hands, laughed. Paul was having trouble hearing the callers on his line. He'd already been slapped on the wrist a month ago by Bix after he accidentally placed two hetero ads in the "Bi-Curious" section, and he was sure he made the mistake because Patricia distracted him. Bix had connections at the daily paper, and kept promising to introduce Paul to the city desk editors there. Paul first had to improve, maybe move up to reporter, before he'd get noticed. With the latest White Male business—he now was placing an ad, sometimes two, every week—Patricia was upstaging him. Patricia had worked at the weekly almost a decade, since graduating from the City Business College. She had no aspirations to work elsewhere. Still, he felt jealous and competitive.
Patricia was telling Peggy about last night's antics. Besides being irritating, it forced the glut of all incoming calls to his phone. He waved at her quickly, a little too subtle for her to see. Or, she did see, and required something more forceful—he sometimes imagined a whap to the head would be appropriate. He still felt bad for talking about her, or rather, for getting caught talking about her, so he opted for a gentler approach. He laid a hand on Patricia's padded shoulder, cringing with the immediate reaction he knew it would provoke.
"AAAAAGUPPTH!" she shouted in her friend's ear. "Holy Christ, Paul. You scared me shitless. You shouldn't sneak up on people like that." She turned her back to him again.
"Peg, I gotta go. I'll call you later. Yeah, no freakin' shit."
She expertly knocked the phone back into its cradle and whipped off her headset, tearing a few bleached-blonde hairs with it.
"This had better be good, Paul Cake."
He must've flinched, because Patricia turned sweet. She batted her eyelashes and flashed a pretty smile.
"Cake, sweetie, I'm only messing with ya. Relax. What can Miss Patricia do for you?"
He spoke fast, anticipating the inevitable ring of the phone.
"It's not that big a deal. It's just that, well, sometimes when you're talking, you know, on the phone, I can't, I have a hard time."
The phone rang, and in one fluid motion, she swiveled in her chair, realigned her headset atop her teased hairdo, and lifted the receiver.
"Personals, this is Patricia. How may I help you?"
She waved him off and began to type the new ad. He looked briefly at her screen. "SWM in search of S&M. Prefer Amazons, big biceps, thighs like vise."
"Just your type," Paul muttered, walking back to his desk.
Patricia talked to White Male once every couple days, and Paul suspected he was calling other times, too. Paul was getting more hang-ups, and he wondered if White Male was trying for Patricia's line. He could always tell when Patricia got a call from him. Her tone would change, become more breathy. She never discussed the calls after hanging up, the way she would with the others. Paul would check the computer system to see the latest ads before they ran in the paper:
YOU'LL BE WORKING
FOR ME SOMEDAY.
WHY NOT START NOW?
I CAN'T GET HIRED, BUT
I'M NOT BLAMING ANYONE.
MORE REASON TO DATE ME.
Paul thought the ads were a bit much. He was a white male, too, but he had nothing to prove. In Paul's opinion, this guy was asking for trouble. Paul tended toward caution. He didn't see a reason to make a stir. White Male was making a stir.
A few weeks later, Patricia took a call, and Paul immediately knew it was the guy. He pressed "silent" on his phone, which he wasn't supposed to do, and ignored the incoming calls.
"I like your voice, too," she was saying, "Listen, I know you're white and I know you're male. What about single?"
Paul involuntarily flexed his quadriceps and pushed his chair back into the wall of his cubicle. Patricia was purring in such a low voice, Paul had to hold his breath to hear.
"Why don't we cut out the middleman?" she was saying.
Paul needed to walk. He strode the hallway to the vending machines, feigning great interest in the dusty packets of peanuts and Zagnut bars. He examined the empty slots, imagining Patricia holding an open bag beneath the catch-tray like a lottery winner. In reality, she hadn't been frequenting the vending machines like she used to. In fact, in the last month, she seemed somehow different. Paul suddenly knew what was missing: a good 15 to 20 pounds. He wondered if she was dieting and losing weight because of what she overheard him say to Sheila on the phone weeks ago. He was feeling jealous that Patricia was getting all the glory for the White Male calls. A part of him, a very small part he was trying to ignore, was jealous White Male was getting Patricia's attention.
He walked back to his desk, and purposely passed Patricia's cubicle instead of going around the long way. She was running her fingers through her headset-tousled hair. She'd had it cut a new way, and it framed her face in soft wisps. Paul felt a strange pang for his co-worker, something he usually defined as pity. This time, it was something else: He missed her.
Patricia turned and caught Paul staring. She gave him a sly grin.
"Take a picture, Cake, it'll last longer." She flipped her hair and swiveled back to her computer monitor. "Is your phone on 'silence'? Because I have been getting a ton of calls."
"Yeah, sorry. I had to take a quick break."
He punched the button and immediately the phone started ringing.
Patricia's phone was ringing, too.
Her hand paused over the receiver, her headset already back in place.
"Your hair looks nice."
Paul immediately sat down and picked up his phone, trying to ignore the blush creeping up his neck and cheeks. "Personals, this is Paul. Can I help you?"
Patricia smiled, shaking her head and laughing a little as she answered her call.
At the end of their shift, they walked out together. Usually Paul waited for Patricia to leave first, so he wouldn't have to make awkward conversation. But she was acting different, less brash. He actually wanted to talk to her.
"Paul, I need a favor. It's kind of a big one."
He was taken aback, immediately thinking up excuses, but she didn't give him a chance to speak.
"Listen, I figure you owe me," she said. "You know, after what you said on the phone that day."
"When?" he feigned confusion. "What day? I don't remember. What's the favor? I'd be happy to help if I can."
She seemed to accept his lie, and he was pleased to be back in her good graces.
"Well, it has to do with work. Like, a don't-you-dare-fucking-tell-anyone favor," she said. "Can I trust you?"
She drew a deep breath as they reached their cars. Patricia's new Volkswagen Jetta and Paul's old Buick Regal were parked nose-to-nose in the small lot.
"OK, look, I don't know what the company policy is as far as getting involved," she began, and Paul felt his heart involuntarily jump. "But I've been talking to one of the men, a regular. He does an ad every week, pretty much. You probably know who I'm talking about, since we practically sit on top of each other."
White Male, Paul thought with venom. He nodded mutely.
"It's White Male," she said. "We decided it's time we meet face to face. In ten years here, I swear, I've never come close to doing this. I'm kind of freaked out about going by myself, to be honest. I mean, what if the guy's a psychopath? That would be just my luck with men, anyway, not that you care or need to know about it. I'd ask my girlfriend Peggy but she's got to work. And, I don't know, I'd kind of feel better anyway if it was a guy who went with."
Paul interrupted Patricia's babbling. "Sure, OK, yeah. When?"
She sighed. "I know it's short notice, but I told him I'd go tonight."
Paul had planned to have dinner at Sheila's.
"No problem," he told Patricia.
She gave him directions to the coffee shop, and he called Sheila on his cell phone from the car. He couldn't tell her the truth, after his relentless mocking of Patricia over the last six months.
"I don't think I'm coming over tonight," he told her. "I'm really tired."
"What? Come on, I wanted to make the Chilean sea bass. I can't eat it all by myself. I'll give you a backrub." Her tone was a bit on the petulant side, close to a whine.
"Sorry. Maybe I'm coming down with something. I don't want you to get sick."
He punched the cell phone's hang-up button. Instead of feeling guilty for lying, he felt free. He pulled his car in behind Patricia's on the street in front of the coffee shop. A nice, neutral meeting point. A staging ground for deciding whether a future dinner would be worth the effort. It was 6:30 p.m. They were a half-hour early.
Both Paul and Patricia seemed nervous: he tripped over nothing on the sidewalk, and she laughed as if nothing could be funnier than a co-worker's pratfall, as if he'd done it for her amusement. They didn't know how to act outside of the office. There was a brief tussle over who would open the door, and Patricia strong-armed it while he stood aside dumbly.
"Sit near me, but don't sit with me," she stage-whispered, with all the subtlety of a young child telling a secret. He noticed she was wearing a blouse he'd never seen before. It was red and shiny, like a present. Her hair seemed nicer-looking, too, as if she'd gotten highlights. They wound up at the only empty tables near each other: two tables for two, pushed flush against a wall with a mural depicting the street outside. Neither had ordered anything from the counter, where a twenty-something girl in a form-fitting shirt and baggy blue jeans wiped down the day's coffee spills. She gave Paul an easy smile. Paul faced the counter, and Patricia faced the storefront window with the view of the bar across the street. The two of them sat back to back.
"So, what now?" Paul asked. Feeling led, a little out of control, but in no position to change it. It wasn't his blind date.
"Now we wait. There's papers over there if you want to read. You don't really have to do anything, just be backup. Turn back around! I don't want him to know I have backup."
"Do you want me to move so I can't hear you guys, once he gets here?" Paul looked around, but all the other tables and armchairs were taken. At quarter to seven, Patricia's cell phone rang.
"Hi mom," she said. "No, I'm here but I'm waiting. Because I'm early, that's why. Listen, is everything OK? Are you alright? OK, then I'm going to call you later. I can't talk now. Yes, that's what I said. I'll call you tonight." She hung up.
Paul couldn't resist a jab. "Does your mother approve of your fraternizing with strange men in coffee shops?"
"Paul, really, you're not so strange," she said, her voice low and flirtatious. She laughed. "I know who you mean. Mom's all for it. It's hard to meet people anymore. And I'm not getting any younger."
"C'mon, you're not old. You're what, forty-five, forty-six tops?"
"Thirty-eight." She didn't sound offended, just sad, resigned. "And how old are you, Mr. Cake?"
They were quiet. Paul's digital watch, which ran a little slow, beeped once to indicate the hour.
"My watch is fast," Paul lied.
Patricia sighed. "Thanks." They remained back to back.
"Um, you still seeing that same girl?" she asked him.
"Sheila? Yeah, we still see each other. It's not serious, though." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew they were true. But he was sure Sheila would not characterize their relationship that way.
"Then what's the point?" Patricia said. "If it's not serious. I mean, sex, yeah, sure. But what about the rest of it? Don't you want something more substantial?"
"Wait," Paul said. "You don't know me or her well at all. Don't you think you're making some assumptions here?"
"But am I right?"
Paul thought a moment. Sheila's attractiveness was what drew him to her, and the sex was good if not great. He instinctively knew their relationship was "for now," as in, "good for now." They were fighting more frequently. They couldn't even agree on what to have for dinner. Even when it was bad, the "for-nowness" made it manageable.
"Never mind," she said. "Your silence says it all."
"You don't know what you're talking about. You take personal ads for a living, suddenly you're a psychologist?" He stood up to leave. "I don't know why I came."
"You don't, huh? I bet you do," she said.
He swiveled, and stood facing her. "You should really mind your own fucking business. Did you make all this up, just to get me here? Is there really even a White Male? It's you. What, do you want to date me?"
Patricia's eyes turned steely and mean, and whatever vulnerability she possessed moments before had vanished. "Do I? No. But you might want to ask your girlfriend if she does," she said, nodding across the street. In the doorway of the bar, Sheila was standing with two of her male co-workers from the insurance agency. One leaned down to say something in her ear, and she laughed.
Without answering Patricia, Paul left the coffee shop and shouted across the street to Sheila. She saw him—and his car—simultaneously, and frowned in confusion. They met halfway in the middle of the sleepy street.
"What are you doing here?" she asked him accusingly. "I thought you were tired."
"And I thought you were making your whatever-you-call-it fish," he said. He was jealous. "Who're they?"
"Paul, you know Robert and Bob, from work. You've met them. Don't be a jerk."
Robert and Bob shifted uncomfortably, nodding hello and goodbye simultaneously before heading back into the bar.
"I had to do a favor for someone," he said. He looked back at the coffee shop window, and saw that a dark-haired man now sat at Patricia's small table, his back to the street. A bouquet of roses sat on the table. Patricia beamed. She looked lovely.
"Well, you could have told me. What's your problem? Who'd you have to do a favor for? Can we please just go? I can still make dinner. Can you drive me? I've only had two beers, but I'm such a lightweight anymore."
Paul nodded to Sheila's questions, leaving some unanswered. He got in the car, staring hard at the coffee shop window.
"What are you looking at? Who did you say you were doing a favor for? Did you want to get coffee first?" Sheila chattered on.
"It was nobody. Let's just go."
"No, wait. Look. Is that Patricia? Boy, she's dropped some pounds. Not quite enough, though."
White Male, a not unattractive thirty-something, was ordering at the counter. Patricia saw Paul and Sheila, and gave a small, subtle wave. She rubbed the corner of her eye with her middle finger, which Sheila didn't get. He knew he was being flipped off.
Patricia's date returned to the table with a tray holding coffee and two slices of cake. They could see her mouth the words "My favorite!"
"She sure looks happy," Sheila said. "Maybe she's finally getting laid."
He laughed bitterly. He dreaded going to work in the morning.
About the author:
Sarah Layden is working on her MFA in fiction at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, where she teaches composition. She is a submissions reader for Sycamore Review. She previously wrote true stories as a daily newspaper reporter. "In Search Of" is her first published piece of fiction. Sarah lives in Indianapolis.