Punchline

“Then, she says, ‘I’ve finally had enough’!”

He was laughing so hard by this time it was difficult to make out what he was saying. The only things I could be sure of was that Josh thought his raunchy joke was hilarious, and that it truly wasn’t.

I was standing by the buffet table as far from him as I could be and he still managed to make eye contact right at the moment I looked his direction. He did that stupid frat boy chin wave, and winked as he made his way over to me. In my mind I was frantically trying to find an escape route, but Kathy, our receptionist had cornered me by the punch bowl and was holding my cup hostage while she told me about her latest OPI nail enamel obsession.

“It’s called Little Red Wagon,” she said, splaying her fingers so I could see how the light bounced off the hint of glimmer in the polish. “It’s part of the Holiday Toyland Collection.”

I maneuvered around so Kathy was between me and Josh, keeping an eye on his progress and trying to look interested in the Christmas-themed nails of my co-worker.

“It’s lovely.”

Kathy’s back was turned away from Josh as she wiggled her fingers at me. He stepped up behind her, a tumbler of Jack on ice in one hand, and her right ass cheek in his other.

“It really is lovely,” he growled in her ear.

She was at least coy enough to blush before moving away from his lascivious grasp, giggling like a school girl. Adjusting her skirt back into place, Kathy ran a trembling hand over her expertly coifed hair. Averting her eyes, she made some incoherent comment about having to check on getting more ‘ass’ for the drinks.

Realizing what she said, she giggled again and left me to the wolves, or rather the lone wolf.

Josh was now standing beside me, lightly running his fingertips along the back of my arm. I fought the urge to gag as I felt bile rise in my throat, the hair on the back of my neck standing up.

“Did you hear my joke just now,” from the muffled tone of his voice, I could tell he had his head turned, his attention now on my ass. “If you didn’t, I can tell it to you in private.”

I had to swallow hard to keep from telling him what he could do to himself in private, but I knew that he’d turn that insult around on me.

“I did hear it,” inching away from him, twitching my arm slightly to make him stop touching me. I’ve never had much of a poker face, and I wondered if the total disgust I felt was evident in the sneer I knew was taking the place of my earlier smile.

“Effing hilarious, right? She says, ‘I’ve had enough’! Get it?”

Making obscene hand gestures and wagging his eyebrows at me, he was grinning like a 12-year-old caught with his father’s Playboys.

All I could do was close my eyes, and take a deep breath. Josh must have taken that as a sign that his vulgar story had the desired effect on me. His rancid whispers were hot on my neck, his roaming hand found the small of my back and began to inch lower.

“Why don’t you come back to my office, I can retell the joke for you, just in case you missed the good parts.”

That Monday, the whole office staff was crammed into the break room. Peter, the division manager, was explaining how Josh broke his nose and lost two teeth at the company Christmas party over the weekend.

“She says, ‘I’ve finally had enough,’ and started throwing ‘bows. Caught him right in the face, twice. You could hear bone crack all the way to the bar. He was bleeding everywhere. Gawd, it was the funniest damn thing I’ve ever seen. Could not stop laughing!

“No, she’s not getting fired. If it were up to me I’d give her a promotion. He’s had that coming for years. Only reason he’s not been sacked before is because he’s the owner’s son. I can guaran-damn-tee you, that’ll be the last time he says or does anything even remotely inappropriate around her.”

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Diane challenged me with “She says, ‘I’ve finally had enough’.” and I challenged Liz with “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

10 replies »

  1. I love this. Man, NaNo buries you. I’ve missed my inkers!!

    I love the way she tries to avoid him, then gets cornered anyway. I love the way you twisted his punchline to make him the butt of the joke at the end. absolutely riveting!

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  2. Ugh people like that creep me out. I try to figure out every time how you’re such an awesome and normal person yet can so easily share the creepy nasty icky side of people’s personalities. It’s an impressive talent.

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  3. I think that was superb! I loved the way you made me take the narrator’s side, hate Josh, raise my eyebrows at Kathy and clap in the end about what happened on Monday!

    Tara, you rock!

    I really look forward to treating myself to reading your entire book :)

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