An Early Jump—Clark Humphrey
4:30 a.m. The iPhone screen shone that number on its screen, as bright and bold as all fuck. The little fucker also blasted forth the screeching ode to joy of some KEXP neo-neo-neo-punk band. No lulling acoustic emo ballads for the early risers this day. I tried to assemble my brain. The pieces wouldn’t fit together, at least not easily.
Slowly, clumsily, it all came together. I remembered who and where I was. I remembered why I was there, and why I had to leave here soon.
It was the club. The club to which I became a member over the past two days. The club I had to get out of, by getting the hell out of here.
Where was here, again?
Oh yeah. A guest room at Frank and Cindy’s place. Way out in the exurbs.
I soon also remembered why I’d set the phone’s alarm app (which I’d never used before) to get me up at this gawdawful hour of the dark.
As soon as I could see anything besides the blinding blinking digits on the alarm app, I looked around the room. Nothing had changed here since my eyes were last opened.
Then I looked directly around me on the bed. A figure, totally hidden beneath the bedding, slumbered and breathed in a manner that reassuringly reminded me of my own girlfriend.
But just to make sure, I pulled back the covers.
I exhaled completely for the first time that morning. It was her. Janie. The woman whose man I am. She stayed, and she stayed with me. Thank God.
From what I’d learned about Cindy in the previous 59 hours, that woman would do just about anything.
No, correct that. No “just about” about it.
It’d be well within Cindy’s repertoire to sneak in while I was passed out, to arrange for Janie to not make it into this room, and then to take me while I was still groggy. To take me in my unconscious “morning wood” condition; for her selfish pleasure, for a sense of territorial acquisition, or just for the hell of it.
That would not be “cheating.” Not in Cindy’s OR Frank’s definition.
Their loyalty to one another is based not on what they consider the obsolete rules of petty society, but on their shared beliefs.
In their worldview, the world existed to supply them with luxuries and thrills. Other men and women in their world were to dutifully supply what Frank and Cindy wanted, when they wanted it, no matter how outrageous or capricious the request.
Any man or woman who failed at any time to supply what Frank and Cindy want was exiled from their world. This exile included the termination of employment at their company.
To the outside world, I would have simply been let go for not being a “team player,” as proven during my abysmal performance at this “team building weekend.”
In my anguish over my precarious spot, the memories of the previous 2.5 days came back to me.
Four co-workers, and their companions, had joined Janie and me at this session. All of us were picked up at our respective homes in a rented limo.
The Friday evening portion had been fine; all dinner and drinks and get-to-know-you parlor games.
Then early Saturday morning (even earlier than this morning) the hell began.
Imagine the worst fraternity hazing rites, as re-imagined by a couple of role-playing-game entrepreneurs.
Then, add a big dose of Ayn Randian sociopathy.
Then, top it off with their insistence that, as masters of the plantation, they could direct who mates with whom and when (and even how).
These two didn’t just create a popular pseudo-Medieval fantasy world. They lived it. And they expected us to live it too, and to like it.
Another memory came to me.
Of me, stripped and restrained with ropes. Watching Janie being taken by Frank and another man. I somehow made eye contact with her. I tried to silently assure her. We would get out of this, somehow.
Back in the here n’ now, I quickly dressed. I packed my overnight bag and too.
I picked up the phone and looked up where I was. The estate, as I already knew, was large. Perhaps a quarter mile to the gate. I knew they’d probably have a car tracking Janie and me down, to and beyond the gate. I didn’t know if the gate would be manned. After that it was a mile and a half to a little strip mall, where we could presumably get a cab back to civilization.
I finally took the time to try to rouse Janie; something I should have done minutes before. She was as out as I had been.
She grumbled about how early it must me. She writhed about in the bed, trying to feel me beside her. She opened her eyes, and found she had to look up to see me.
She smiled. She begged me to come back to bed.
I told her we had to get out of there now, before they found us. I told her they could fire me. I’d take it proudly. We could start that social networking startup she’d always said she’d wanted to start. But we had to get out of here, now.
She yawned, said what the fuck was I talking about, smiled again, reached up, and tried to pull me back onto the bed.
After all that excitement last night, she said, didn’t I want a little refresher?
What the FUCK?
She LIKED IT?!?!?