The Bait & Switch
Last time Tracy and Davis had a date. There was homemade food and movies, and they ended the night with a kiss.
The morning after, I rolled out of bed and barely bothered to brush my hair before stumbling downstairs to grab coffee from the deli next door. The last thing I expected to find on my stoop was Davis, hand raised and ready to press the buzzer.
“Coffee?” he said with a short laugh.
I took a mental inventory of the ducky-covered shorts and ratty tank top I was wearing and cringed. There was no salvaging my “I’m only ducking downstairs to get a coffee and then I will groom like a grown up” appearance, but what’s a girl to do?
Releasing a short laugh in response, I shrugged and gestured towards my pajamas.
“Just so long as you didn’t have plans for us to go far,” I said. “I was not exactly prepared for anything further than the corner store when I came down.”
“Oh, you mean you don’t normally stroll around your neighborhood sporting animal mascots? Because it is the hottest trend. I read about it in Vogue.” He nodded sagely and pursed his lips. “But you’re wearing shoes so you must have had some expectation to come outside so I don’t feel all that bad.”
We moved off down the street, turning left towards the café on the corner that had stronger coffee than my normal deli and was slightly farther away. I hadn’t ever seen anyone sitting in there in pajamas, but this was New York. Anything was possible, right?
“What are you doing over here anyways?” I asked. Davis lived further from The Wilted Pen than I did. I had slept in but not nearly late enough for him to be on his way to work.
“Figured I’d head this way early. Talk you into getting breakfast with me before I have to go in for the lunch shift.” His mohawk was still damp from the shower, and it looked like his shirt had only spent a day on the floor of his apartment rather than a week.
Our conversation shifted to the mundane: when was he working, did I have an orientation this week and the like. By the time we had coffee in our hands, we were safely ensconced at a corner table in the shabby café waiting for our bagels. The coffee mug I had in hand was deep, and it took all my willpower not to bury my nose into it with little thought to my breakfast partner.
“It’s okay,” he finally laughed after he interrupted my vapor-driven meditations one more time. “It’s good to know you have this weakness.” With a waggle of his eyebrows he implied it would be used against me at some future date, but I didn’t really care.
Davis walked me back to my door after our bagels were consumed, and I felt appropriately inappropriate for sitting in public in my pajamas. His departure for the bar may have been slightly delayed by a brief make-out session in my doorway, but he wasn’t complaining.
Walking back into my apartment, indulging in a little goofy smile and absent-minded saunter from door to kitchen, I barely noticed the cell phone I had snagged on my way past the couch. I had thrown it there as I stumbled out the door over an hour ago to get a simple cup of coffee not knowing that I would be gone for so long. Thumbing the activation button at the base, I saw multiple notifications, and my aimless wandering around the room slid to a quick stop.
There was a text from Davis: Coffee?
And there were two emails, a missed call and a voicemail.
It was barely noon in the middle of the week, and I didn’t get phone calls. I preferred it that way and everyone knew it.
Biting the proverbial bullet, I tapped the icon to play the message.
“Hi Tracy,” the sharp tone of the human resources woman who had called me in May to set up my start date reverberated through my ear. “This is Jan at Longarm & Shys. Please call me back as soon as you can. I’ll send you an email with all my contact information as well.”
She hung up, and I was left looking at a blank screen with nothing but a message notification. I told myself that it was probably just a formality. I was sure they gave all the new hires a call before their first day in orientation just to make sure they had settled into the city and that they knew where to report on their first day. That would be the professional thing for a company of this size to do.
I thumbed through my emails until I reached “Livingston, Jan” and opened it. It read as though she had transcribed her voicemail except her signature had her phone number and email in it instead of a missive to check my email.
My fingers hesitated over the screen. Connecting with my new company made it real. My summer was really coming to an end, and I’d have to wear suits and get up in the morning and read spreadsheets.
Giving myself a shake, I made my fingertip connect to the glass and put the phone call through. As I listened to the lines connect and gave my name to the receptionist who answered the phone, I dragged a hand that shook around my waist and hugged myself. It wasn’t the brassy, confident voice that I mustered when Jan picked up on her end but the more timid college senior who had been so excited she’d landed a job she’d nearly been sick in the garbage can.
“Thanks for calling me back Tracy. Our hiring structure has been revamped for the fall…”
Cover art for Headed towards the Right Decisions was created by Maritza Lugo.