The Grayness of it All
Sitting back in his red Bradington-Young leather recliner, picking his iPad up off the side table, to peruse the day’s news, heading first to the sports section; reading the reports of the Ducks preparations for the big Stanford game the following day mildly brought back the sense of Friday excitement. He drank the rest of the carafe of coffee over the news before realizing that it was already past eight thirty. He stood, walked to the entry hall and looked at himself in the full length mirror on the back of closet door. Jeans, button up shirt with blue and yellow vertical stripes and French cuffs, cuff links made from the inside mechanics of old watches, Stacy Adams grey suede shoes with yellow laces and a grey CK sports coat. This was the closest Stephen would come to casual Friday.
In the elevator, Stephen was greeted by a barking Mr. Potts, with Larson now wearing a bathrobe and black galoshes, standing in a back corner of the elevator reading the newspaper, a white reusable Whole Foods bag at his side. “How’s it going Larson? Didn’t get your flip flop back?”
“It’s cloudy out, I miss the sun.” He didn’t look up from his paper. “Mr. Potts chewed the strap off.” Mr. Potts looked up from sniffing Stephens’ leg at the sound of his name, before the closing doors of the elevator startled him back to Larson’s side where he danced in dressage like fashion. “Do you want to go someplace next week, Stephen?”
“Some of us are stuck with jobs,” Stephen reminded him. “I don’t think I can get the time off without more notice.”
“You own the company.”
“A minority share of stock options doesn’t get you far.” Larson didn’t respond, still looking through the paper. “I was thinking about taking some time off in January, after all the holiday travel mess is done.” Larson mumbled something about holidays and the stock market. “Maybe hit Vegas for some college bowl action.”
“You’re coming over for the game tomorrow.”
“I could. Some of the guys from the office…”
“No no no. Unacceptable. Larson blustered as he dropped the paper to his side, further startling Mr. Potts. “You don’t even like those people.”
“I like Jerry.”
“Jamie already invited Jerry and Samantha, they’re coming.”
The elevator doors opening startled Mr. Potts who began to jump up on Larson’s leg, disappearing under his robe each time he leapt. “I might have an extra ticket for the Oregon State game end of the month, if you’re interested.” Larson said casually as they stepped from the elevator, Mr. Potts becoming half stuck in the hem of the robe momentarily before Larson shook him out of it.
“I might not say no to that.”
“After tomorrow’s game, depending on the outcome, Jamie won’t want to see an Oregon fan for a while or they won’t want to see her. Nobody wants a repeat of what happened last year.” They approached the door and stopped, looking into the grayness of the morning, Mr. Potts the only one excited to get outside. “Do consider a trip someplace, and soon; I can’t take much more of this.”
They stood in silence, watching a woman walk in front of the building, a little bit of leg showing from underneath her almost full length jacket. They both independently wondered what she looked like, each conjuring up their own images. Winter is better for fostering the imagination, Stephen thought. “I won’t be able to make it for at least a month and probably not till after the beginning of the year.”
“See what you can do,” Larson said with such a soft tone of sincerity that Stephen was touched. “Though, if I went to Vegas alone, I could spend the week drunk and surrounded by hookers without fear.” He paused. “The only way to make sure what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is to make sure nobody knows you.”
“That and don’t get arrested.”
“Don’t be silly,” Larson said with a tone between patronizing and dismissive, “that’s what money is for.” Pulling himself up tall, his chest puffing out through his robe just slightly, Larson addressed Mr. Potts, “time to get these to the dry cleaner. Trip me up again and you’ll be stew tonight.”
Stephen pushed open the door and ushered Larson and Mr. Potts ahead of him. “Sir.”
“You’re coming tomorrow and Jamie said to bring a date, so make sure Holly knows she’s coming as well.”
They walked up the street next to one another. “I might be dating someone,” Stephen said offhandedly.
“Oh, are you?” Larson replied with feigned curiosity.
“No,” he snapped, “of course not, too busy with work I imagine you’ll opine.”
“That’s not the word you mean,” Stephen said into the ether.
“Your dating or not isn’t my issue,” and he picked up the pace of his walk as a few drops of water began to fall, “bring a hired escort if you wish, if that would make you feel more of a man. I don’t care. My point is this,” and he stopped as they reached the corner where their paths would diverge and turned on Stephen in a forceful manner, his eyes full of a right guard’s fourth and inches determination, “let Holly know she’s coming.”
Stephen smiles at him; “Will do, Larson,” and Larson smiles back before they both turn to head in their own directions.
“I’m serious about that trip,” Larson calls back over his shoulder.
“I know,” Stephen responds, as he considers the falling drops.