My phone buzzed and I knew it was her even though we had never spoken. Todd, my older brother, saw her once last summer when he interned at Sam Goldstein’s law firm. He said she is an 11 and Todd never even thinks any chick is an 8. I cleared my throat, adjusted my tie and answered the phone, trying to sound older. Dude, she can’t even see me – I need to chill.
“Eric,” she said. “It’s me, Effie. I’m here.”
I gave myself a solid look in the hall mirror and made my way downstairs. Mom and Dad were still at work. Out of habit, I opened the fridge, and peered around for a few seconds like I expected to see something new. I closed the door and noticed a yellow post-it amidst the jumble of souvenir magnets from various family vacations. “Good luck tonight, sweetie! Xoxo Mom.” Mr. Goldstein prepared legal documents for Dad’s office sometimes and I was lucky to score this interview. Our Goldendoodle, Sammy, was sleeping in a patch of afternoon sun by the front window. I ruffled his soft, curly fur and scratched him behind the ear.
“Later, dude,” I whispered. Sammy lazily opened one eye part way and went back to sleep. When I opened the front door, I saw the silver Benz idling near the curb looking like a hungry hammerhead shark. I crossed the yard swiftly and gripped the cool chrome handle. The door popped open with a soft click. Oh, frick… Todd was right. Mrs. Goldstein was hotter than some of the girls in the Victoria’s Secret magazines that came in the mail. She smiled and looked at me like I was a treasure trapped in a fishing net. She gave me a small nod and I smiled shyly, overtaken by her perfect white smile and subtle hint of cleavage.
“Hi, Eric. Nice to meet you,” she said, extending her small hand. Her nails were like Mom’s. French tip, I think. My hand, much larger, swallowed hers when I shook it, trying to be gentle. “Sorry that Sam couldn’t pick you up,” she said. “He’s still tied up in a meeting.” I thanked her for coming all the way to the valley to give me a ride.
Soft classical music played on the stereo. There was a ghost of marijuana smoke lingering in the vehicle but I told myself that I must have been imagining things. She began heading west toward the 405 and wasn’t saying much. “Mozart?” I asked. She gave me a smile as if she had just beaten me at chess and shook her head. I was wrong. I shouldn’t have even bothered guessing. I shifted uncomfortably on the smooth, cream leather, soft like a newborn puppy’s nose. I adjusted my tie again and saw my pale reflection in the dimmed passenger-side mirror. Shoot, I forgot to make sure I didn’t track dirt into her car. Dad had told me to make sure my shoes were spotless before the dinner interview and Todd had teased me that I better jerk off before getting in the car with a hottie like this. Important decisions had to be made, right?
The silence allowed my mind to wander too much. In an attempt to make small talk, I said I liked her car and asked what year it was even though I already knew. She shrugged as though she couldn’t be bothered by such details. I had no clue what to talk about. Must be nice to be rich. Her right hand grazed the hemline of her skirt as she attempted to smooth it down. It barely budged a centimeter.
Traffic was light on the 405 this evening and the sky was turning the color of crushed plums and ripe raspberries. It sucked that I was going to miss most of my summer but Dad was always on my ass about working hard and building my resume. Todd was in his first year at USC and if I got my scholarship, I would be joining him after high school. I pictured Mrs. Goldstein wearing a hot pink bikini and licking a popsicle.
I ventured to look over my shoulder into the backseat. It was like no one had ever sat back there before. The inside of her car was as clean as a hospital. The weed smell was gone and I wondered if I had just imagined it. It was like being inside a beautiful alien’s spaceship. The lighted panel of the dash glowed with violet light. Take me to your leader. I looked over at her, but she wasn’t paying any attention to me and was driving as if on autopilot. I peeked at her smooth, tan legs and flinched in surprise when she suddenly spoke. Did she catch me staring at her?
“How old are you, Eric?” She asked. I said I would be seventeen in September. “And you’re going to be a senior this fall?” I nodded. “You’re young for a senior,” she said, as if she thought this was really cute. Not really. There are lots of other people at school who are seventeen too.
“My mom enrolled me in school early,” I said, not wanting to argue or correct her, and began babbling about the importance of higher education. She pursed her lips as I trailed off. I wondered if she had ever been to college. Looking down, I noticed some dust on her center console and absently began to brush it off. This amused her.
“Do you party?” She asked. I had no idea what she was talking about. I swallowed hard.
“Yeah, sure I party all the time,” I lied. She chuckled. We exited on Santa Monica and were on surface streets now.
“Reach in the back and grab my purse. Don’t worry, I won’t say anything,” she said. I was confused but grabbed the metal chain of her bag and brought it into the front seat. It had interlocking Cs facing opposite ways. Without looking at me, she fished around and retrieved a small vial, never taking her eyes off the road. She brought her knee up and began steering. We drove through palm tree-lined streets and past massive houses. She dumped more white dust onto the center console and handed me a gold metal straw. “You first,” she said and turned her attention back to the road. I had never seen cocaine in real life and stared at the pile as if it could spontaneously combust at any moment. I heard Todd’s voice in my head. Don’t be a pussy – a little bit won’t kill you. Mrs. Goldstein glanced at me then down at the pile. “What are you waiting for?” She asked. Is this a test? Her eyes had these sparkly gold flecks mixed with green like freshly polished emeralds. I imagined her tricking me then telling Mr. Goldstein about this and envisioned him telling Dad. He would be so angry and disappointed. I heard Todd’s voice again telling me to do it. I thought about Dad again and felt this unexpected surge of defiance. I glanced at her perfect legs. Fuck it, I thought, looked down and held the straw up to one nostril and covered the other with my pointer finger like I had seen DiCaprio do in The Wolf of Wall Street. Thank God the windows are tinted. I lowered my head, inhaled quickly and sneezed. Dust swirled around the shockingly clean interior.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I kept repeating. This made her laugh. Somehow her light, musical laughter made me relax a bit. She tipped some more out of the vial and reached over me to open the glove box, her breasts grazing my thigh. I closed my eyes and breathed in the scent of her shampoo.
“Take the wheel,” she said. I felt like I was going to throw up but did as she said. The back of my throat felt bitter like I had tried to swallow an aspirin without water. She removed a silver flask and took a long pull, knee still on the steering wheel. My hand was still there to steady it as well, and I felt a sudden desire to run my hand through her hair. Her knee jerked and the car swerved – a Mini Cooper honked at us in indignant fury.
“Mrs. Goldstein…” I began, but she cut me off with a sharp swish of her hand. Paranoia was sinking in. “Mrs. Goldstein,” I said again as she took another pull off the flask. My voice sounded strange and whiny to my ears. A sharp smell filled my nostrils. I thought I was going to be sick. “Mrs. Goldstein,” I said firmly, determined not to back down. I felt suddenly powerful and invincible. “I’m sorry but we should not be doing this. I’m interviewing with your husband tonight and – ”
She cut me off again.
“Fuck him,” she said. The classical music was still playing. She turned it up. Then it was her turn to lean over the center console and snort. My hand was still clutching the steering wheel and leaving little beaded sweat drops on the polished leather. Her face softened and she looked at me. “We won’t tell him, okay?” She said and patted me on the head, as if I were a child. I could feel my suit becoming sticky with sweat against the leather. Suddenly, she gripped my face and kissed me hard on the mouth with no tongue. After she released me, my face hung suspended between us – disappointed and wanting so much more. Embarrassed, I pulled away. She patted my knee as we pulled up to the valet. My thoughts were running laps, pole-vaulting, and swimming the English Channel.
Pterodactyls were inside me beating monstrous wings against my ribcage. He’s going to know I’m high. This was a horrible idea. I’m not going to get the job. He’s totally going to know I’m high. Shit. Fuck. Fuck. I climbed out of her car as gracefully as possible and wiped my palms on my dress pants. A heavy hand clapped me on the back and I let out a tiny shriek. I covered my mouth and pretended to cough.
“Eric!” said Mr. Goldstein in his booming voice. Although he was about 4 inches shorter than me, his presence was formidable. The last remnants of sunset glinted off his bald head. “Effie,” he said in a softer voice and took her hand to help her up the curb. Although his tone was gentler when speaking to her, I could have sworn I detected a flash of annoyance in his pale eyes. She totally married him for that car. She lightly kissed both of his clean-shaven cheeks and winked at me over his shoulder. “I hope you two are hungry.” My appetite was suddenly lacking yet I chewed the inside of my cheeks.
Once we were settled, Mr. Goldstein took the liberty of ordering for us. Not only could I not understand half of the menu, but I also couldn’t pronounce any of these things. He had barely glanced at the menu, but with perfect accent and pronunciation, he ordered beet salad, agnello di latte al forno, muscoli pepati, ravioli di magro con funghi, piccola parmigiana, and beef carpaccio. The wine cost almost as much as I would be making in one week working part-time at his office. I prayed that he wouldn’t offer me any, as my heart was still thundering. Is it safe to mix cocaine and alcohol?
Dinner went smoothly. A few men in business suits stopped by the table throughout the night to say hello and jovially pump Mr. Goldstein’s hand. He didn’t speak to me much. Isn’t this supposed to be an interview? Whatever. Dad said this job is pretty much a guaranteed thing. I got the sense that he was simply doing this dinner for his own benefit. In between gulps of wine and shoveling mussels into his mouth, I caught him eye-fucking one of the waitresses. Mrs. Goldstein kept studying her appearance in the mirror across the restaurant as she shuffled ravioli around on her plate. I was beginning to grow tired and bored. My thoughts were finally slowing.
Abruptly, she got up and ever so slightly rubbed against me while doing so. I felt the hairs at the back of my neck stir. The image of her with the popsicle popped up again.
“I’ll be back in a flash,” she said. Mr. Goldstein turned to me and I took this moment to thank him for giving me the opportunity to meet with him tonight. He seemed sufficiently pleased by my praise and almost looked the part of a proud father. The Goldsteins had no children. I pictured them having sex and felt nauseated. I bet his balls look like prunes. We continued to eat and he offered me some wine. I was finally feeling relaxed, so why not? By the time I had quickly finished the glass, Mr. Goldstein seemed to notice his wife’s absence and a scowl came over his face.
“Eric, please go check on Effie,” he said. He was somehow still eating and wasn’t showing signs of slowing down or wanting to be bothered.
“Yes, sir,” I said, gently blotting my mouth on the linen napkin for good measure and standing immediately. I made my way to the back of the restaurant and a busboy guided me to the restrooms. For a minute, I stood dumbfounded, not knowing if I should just tap on the door. I raised my hand, prepared to knock and let it fall limply by my side. Hot embarrassment crept over my face. Mom had always taught me to give a woman her privacy. I cleared my throat and knocked weakly three times.
“Mrs. Goldstein,” I said. “Is everything okay?” She ripped open the door, looked left once, then right and pulled me into the ladies room by my tie as if she was a Great White dragging a seal to its watery grave. I wanted to get the hell out of there but she blocked the door.
“What took you so long?” She whispered, her hazel eyes piercing me.
“Are you trying to get me fired? Or killed? Or both?” I said. The pterodactyls had returned to my chest, nested, hatched eggs and now there was a whole family of them roosting inside me.
“You looked tired,” she said, as if me being in the ladies room with her was no big deal. “Want a pick me up?” Before I could even answer, she pulled her left breast out and poured a generous amount of white powder on it. I hesitated. “Do it, Eric.” I vigorously shook my head in denial. I was tempted to do more because I actually kind of liked the way it made me feel, but I didn’t want her to have that power over me. She repeated my name again and drew out the vowel making her sound like this annoying girl who sat behind me in chemistry. Dad had said to listen to Mr. Goldstein and that I must not do anything to raise his temper or upset him. I figured the same principle applied to his wife as well. If she got pissed, he’d get pissed. This was how I rationalized things in my head.
I leaned in and had to snort a few times to get all of it. She was giggling. “Good boy,” she crooned. “You’re going to be really sexy when you grow up.” I instantly felt all the blood rush to my dress pants and tried to hide myself but she saw the effect she was having on me and smiled wickedly. She reached for me, but I was not about to let this get any more out of control and batted her hand away but – whoa, okay… she is not taking no for an answer. I didn’t want to do it for the first time in a bourgeois bathroom on Melrose but Todd would probably think this was awesome. Maybe I would just lie to Todd and tell him we banged.
I batted her hand again but she was still blocking the door. What am I doing? This chick is like a foot shorter than me. I grabbed her by the waist and picked her up so I could get the hell out of there but she gave a shrill scream as if I were hurting her. Still in my arms, tears were forming in her eyes. I set her down. “Don’t you like what you see?” She asked and forced a small laugh as she brushed a tear away with the back of her hand. She giggled and pulled up her skirt a bit. Although she was stunning, I almost felt sorry for her. I was tempted to pat her on the head like she had done to me earlier in the car.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
“Miss, is everything alright in there?” A voice asked. Mrs. Goldstein didn’t look away from me and another tear slowly rolled down her cheek.
“Kiss me or I’ll scream again,” she said. This chick is insane. I did not want to test her, so I closed my eyes and leaned in even though my mouth was terribly dry. I’m not sure what happened, but something got the best of me and I jerked back.
“No fucking way,” I said, slowly pronouncing each word. I didn’t break eye contact and my gaze probably told her not to test me. My heart was pounding but not from the drugs. I had never said no to a woman in my whole life. Sometimes it was hell growing up with Mom, aunts and a grandma telling me how to behave and what to do. She bit her lower lip and tugged at her top, exposing more cleavage. I seriously thought I was going to lose it. I felt a twitch in my pants again and forcibly moved her out of the way, slamming the door behind me. The busboy who had knocked on the door was still standing there, but I looked down and avoided his curious stare.
I must have looked a mess when I got back to the table because Mr. Goldstein raised an eyebrow at me. Before he could say anything, I told him that she was having problems with her shoes.
“There’s lipstick on your face,” he said. Shit. This is it. I’m getting fired and I haven’t even officially gotten hired yet. I hadn’t cried since our family dog died when I was a kid but my face was getting all hot. His eyes lit up excitedly. “Did one of those waitresses try to kiss you?” he asked. Oh my God. My breathing was returning to normal and he was chuckling heartily as if I had just told a hilarious joke. “My boy, I think your father is right. You’re going to learn a lot this summer.”