Chapter 2 – All For A Good Drink

***And here is chapter 2. If you just happened to stumble on this site and don’t know WTF is going on, click here to get wise to it.

Several years ago…

The alarm rang on a Tuesday morning, but Seth Pullman was already awake and let the crude buzzer sound off for a while. He’d been staring at the ceiling for just under an hour. Now’s the time, he told himself, arched his upper body up into a sitting position. His unusually wide eyes, often mistaken as being black, absorbed the red circle around the fourteenth day of September. Everything will change in his career. As of two in the afternoon, he would no longer just be a man by age. In a few hours, his stature was to be gauged by the corporate meter stick. He was too excited for his morning coffee and also took a pass on any form breakfast. He had called his parents the night before and did his very best to appear aloof and leave the excitement to them, but his faced beamed unseen pride he heard in their voices as he gave them the details of his trip.

Seth adjusted his blue shirt as dynamically as possible in his pants and fiddled with his tie to allow no margins of shifting. For good luck he removed the brass cufflinks he had inherited from his grandfather from the false panel in the back of his dresser and tightened his sleeves around his wrists with the heirlooms. After pulling his coat over his suit and buttoning the top button, he looked back at himself for five minutes in the mirror. When he felt right about heading out the door, he did so with a lift that was not found in his shoulders just a few hours before.

The pre-trip meeting with the manager regarding the itinerary was the only bit of time in the long-dragging day that helped bridge the gap between showing up at the office and leaving for the airport. When the clock did finally strike two, a very restless Seth and his equally-excited cohorts were barrelled down to the building’s lobby to meet the small shuttle bus with a bright white airplane silhouette painted along its side.

Of the seven man team, Seth was the greenest of the bunch and the only one on-hand attending his first conference. The other six men had all been to Houston before for the same conference held for the foodservice management and were quite animated about arriving there and living like sailors on leave. The ride on the shuttle bus served as a half-hour cacophony of giddy man-boy reps yelling one over the other, each of them trying to come off as the most well-lived of sages. Each felt he had the tales of debauchery to tell the rookie. The lad didn’t know who to listen to first. The missives came from all directions in varying pitches. What tracts to follow for the most ideal pub crawl, where to find the most pernicious callgirls and who to talk to for some of the primest bumps of blow. One of the sages even knew of a dry cleaning service that would bill blow to the company credit card. Excesses of exuberance aside, Seth didn’t fail to get swept up in what appeared to be the party of a lifetime.

In three days, Seth got only got about twelve hours of sleep and his vomit ratio reached the double-digit mark. He also suffered the humiliation of getting swindled by a callgirl who pushed her way out the bathroom window. She did so only seconds after coyly pocketing the payment that had been place on the nightstand prior to service. Still, Seth knew all about keeping up appearances and managed to conceal every case of the pukes he endured during the pub crawls and through the deceitful hooker. He chose to save face at a strip club by paying a dancer to fellate him in front of the other Monte Food Brand delegates, while sipping back on a full tumbler of straight whisky.

Appearances were important indeed and what the six other delegates were not aware of was that earlier in the day Seth had stopped by the Fred Meyer’s to pick up some food coloring and mastered the brown-tint required to simulate the copious-looking amount of whisky in his tumbler. Having flown his flag, Seth was able to enjoy the rest of the night drinking watered-down beer while the rest of the guys pounded back martinis and attempting to score audacious blowjobs of their own.

Those three days in Houston set the cadre by which Seth would be known by the upper echelons of the company. Since that first trip, something else was cemented – a preference for solitary travel, whenever such was possible, was what Seth came to enjoy most when dispatched. That was almost thirty years ago and the sentiment has not wavered since.

Seth was slated to travel alone in a couple of hours, yet he found himself in the company of a small man. His name is Tanaka Ichi and he’s one of the local reps who helped Monte Foods acquire the final property required to the giant to become the definitive industry leader. His presence was an intrusion to a very beloved ritual of Seth’s. Aside from being partial to solitary travel, Seth also greatly relished the experience of arriving early to airports and indulging in much drink in VIP lounges. The hum of the runway matched with the drink lulled him into welcome trances. After any job well done in a foreign city, he always looked forward to downing gin-and-tonics or straight scotches while watching the planes come and go. Just about any drink would do for the ritual. With the most important deal of his career now done, Seth felt he could not permit himself his precious favourite indulgence. This aggravated him.

For the sake of company face, Seth felt he needed to nurse his drink for an extended time while in Tanaka’s presence. It was considered a courtesy to be escorted to the airport by a local rep, but Seth viewed it only as an unwanted presence, offensive to his personal rhythm. Seth and Tanaka had been together forty minutes, forty of the longest mintues. Seth had already grown bored with the rare and inane small talk within by the ten minute mark.

He turned his head left and faced Ichi and politely, but coldly told him his company was not required. The small man’s eyebrows raised a moment and Seth could read it in the creases of his face that he had taken offense, but he could care less. There was to be no consequence for this mild infraction against the escort. Ichi insisted that he really didn’t mind waiting by his side, but Seth insisted he preferred to sit at the bar alone. Begrudgingly, the conversationally inept man removed his coat from the nearby coat hangar and offered a lukewarm handshake to Seth and wished him well. Before the small man was even two steps out of the lounge bar, Seth called for a pint of malt and a rum-and-coke.

The first mouthful of rum lingered in Seth’s mouth as he looked into a mirror on the side of a thin rectangular pillar that faced him at an angle. Since that first trip all those years ago, he had lost little hair. His hairline had yielded a few follicles, but remained stately all the same. He had actually lost far more freckles than hair since the time of that first trip. He didn’t have any remaining spots left on his cheeks. The rusty-colored hair he had on his head at that time has long been supplanted with an artificial chestnut-brown, Seth’s color of choice after the sides of his shortly cropped mane began graying prematurely. Unlike most of the men his age, he had a rather unnoticeable paunch when measured up to the potbellies of most men he held company with. His face had grown a little more terse with age, but he could easily lie about his age and cheat his way into a slightly lower bracket. Whenever he sported his carefree jester’s smile, he lost more years from his age. His frequent laughter also helped keep the features from his face from stoning over anymore than they had. Now that he had now idea what he was coming home to, he was going to need every grin and chuckle he could muster.

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4 Comments

  1. :~j said,

    December 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I’m enjoying your writing today, thank you!

    the characters here and in chapter 1 are interesting, I wish you’d give them a little dialog here and there

    And this can’t be right, can it? “In three days, Seth got only thirty hours of sleep”

    will keep reading, thx!

    :~j

    • ftlp said,

      December 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm

      Yes, J, you read right: 30 hours of sleep in 3 days. All the more reason why I needed to set this up and have little details such as those pointed out.

      As for the characters, they will be engaging in more dialogue starting in chapter 3, but since a couple of others have made that same mention, I’ll be sure to at least slip something in between Seth and Ichi in chapter two.

  2. :~j said,

    December 1, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    I guess I was thinking more of the 1st conference with the dialog comment; you describe an animated cacophony of banter but we dont hear any of it first hand…. then again it is a flashback so who’d remember the dialog from that long ago?

    but yea, keep em coming

    :~j

    P.S. a minor typo: “He was too excited for his morning coffee and also took a pass on any form OF breakfast.”

    tho actually you could just say “took a pass on breakfast”

    hope you dont mind the nit-picking… I can stop…

    • ftlp said,

      December 1, 2009 at 10:58 pm

      I don’t mind the ‘nit-picking’ one bit. You guys are helping me smooth out the kinks before I present this to a board or reviewers who’ll be scrutinizing it up and down.

      Thank you once again.


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