Taking Work Home with You

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Taking Work Home with You

The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.” -Oscar Wilde

Byron couldn’t help but look across the ballroom at the woman standing by the painting. She was like some sort of temptress from a spy novel.  Her olive skin and regal posture made her stand out amongst the well-to-do in their formal attire.  As if asking for more attention, she was the only one wearing a dark green dress amongst a sea of black with white specks tossed in here or there.  And the dress… Byron gulped.

The dress was an impressive combination of fabric and engineering.  The neckline plunged to an extreme depth would put any natural chasm to shame.  Byron saw many V-neck dresses around the room, but none of them went down to the belly button.  It possibly dipped even lower than that, depending how the woman stood.

Byron decided that the dishes at the other end of the grand dining table needed to be cleaned off first.  The closer vantage point to the woman in the green dress didn’t hurt his decision either.  He smoothed the apron in front of his slacks and tried to quietly gather the gold-plated dinner ware while taking in the view.  Her eyes were wide-open and perfectly round.  While others had started wobbling from too much champagne or dragging their polished-shoes as a sign of exhaustion, this woman maintained her perfect pose.  She carried herself with sure strides and led with her chest.  Byron was starting to notice that there were other quite round attributes to the woman in green besides her eyes.

“You know those aren’t real, right?”

Byron almost dropped the dishes on the table.  As it was, he struggled to regain the load he had been carrying and the clattering sound caused the woman in green’s head to turn.  Byron nodded to her and faced the woman next to her.

“Seriously, those were store bought maybe half an hour before this shindig.  It looks like they were made on the cheap too.  I mean, c’mon.  Does she really think she’s fooling anyone?  These people know their high-value accessories and she went the bargain basement route.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about”, Byron whispered back to Allison.  An angry tone was present underneath his hushed voice.  “I was just…”

“You were just what?”  Allison wrinkled her nose and elbowed Byron above his kidney.  “So you’re saying you weren’t scoping out the emerald earrings?  I’m telling you, those things aren’t real.  I have costume jewelry that looks better than those.”

Byron laughed in relief.  “Yeah; those earrings.  I don’t know what she was thinking.”

Allison put her hands on her hips. The black apron and white dress shirt were a match for Byron’s, but somehow her disappointed attitude shown through.

“Really?  Those things?  That’s what you were looking at?  I hate to tell ya, bucko, but those aren’t real either.”

Byron started to push Allison towards the catering area.  He didn’t think that the woman in green had heard, but he wasn’t in the mood to be embarrassed or get in trouble.   He hurriedly pushed the door open and ushered Allison inside.  Their two fellow caterers were headed out and Byron closed the door behind them.

“Are you trying to get us in trouble?”

“Oh c’mon.  She didn’t hear me.  You’re just upset that I interrupted your ogle-fest.  One more time; those breasts aren’t real.”

“You’re upset that I’m enjoying the scenery?  At least I haven’t been slipping extra fish fillets to the old guy.”

“I’ll have you know that his name is Reginald”, Allison replied.  “He owns a house in the country and three around the world.  He’s already invited me to go horseback riding with him.”

“And you’re going to let the grandpa cradle-rob you?  Please.”

“He’s not old, he’s distinguished.”

“He’s bald.”

“I’ve told you time and again that baldness is a sign of extra testosterone in the body.  I would hope that you’d find that comforting, what with the little Friar Tuck spot you’ve got going up top there.”  Allison smiled as he reached up and ran her fingers through Byron’s hair.

Byron cocked his head at an angle, raised his eyebrow, and sighed.  “I shall consider myself thoroughly chastised.  How about we go back to work now, please?  We can both not get fired and we can go sit on the couch with our loved ones of choice.  Deal?”

“Alright, but don’t come crying to me when she turns you down and I have plans to go yachting tomorrow.”

Allison left her coworker alone to compose himself.  Byron adjusted his tie, looked at the clock on the wall, and took a moment.  Just one more hour, he told himself.  The crowds will be gone in an hour and you can get out of here.  Maybe with a little company, if she’ll let you.  You’re so close.  Byron brushed off his apron and opened the catering door.  Standing right in front of the door, her fist raised and ready to knock, was the woman in the green dress.

“Oh, hello”, she said.  A smile started to form on her face.  Byron had seen society women smile like that before.  It was a dangerous smile.  The woman couldn’t have been any older than Byron, but she clearly had years of experience perfectly that seductive and terrifying smile.  “I was wondering if I might be able to get an extra napkin from you.  I seem to have gotten a drop or two down my dress.”

Byron gulped.  He nodded and reached for the pile of napkins that was thankfully right by the door.  The woman in green took it with a nod of her head and dabbed at her chest and stomach.

“That’s the problem with this dress”, she commented.  “It looks great but you have to take care of it.  One false move and I’ve got dinner all over me.  We wouldn’t want that now would we?”

The woman in green laughed as she tossed her head back.  Her long black hair fell behind her shoulders and Byron caught himself looking at the sleek curvature of her neck as it flowed towards other curves and slopes.

“No”, Byron said as he tore his gaze away.  The fire extinguisher on the right wall needed all the attention he could muster.  Byron focused on that red cylinder and nothing else.  The fire extinguisher; it was clearly the most important thing in the room.  There was no reason to look at the exotic woman in front of him.  No reason whatsoever.

“I remember the first time I wore this dress”, the woman in green said as she reached over and turned Byron’s chin towards her.  “Why, I turned the wrong way too fast and the dress nearly fell off.  Can you imagine?  It’s amazing to me how easily and how quickly some dresses can come off.  But sometimes it can be rather convenient, don’t you think?”

Byron started to walk sideways away from the woman in green.  “I’m sorry Miss, I really wouldn’t know.”

“Vanessa”, she corrected as she stepped sideways to match his location.  “Call me Vanessa.  I’d like you to know my name so we can become better acquainted.”

“Well thank you Miss, but I really do need to attend to those dishes.”

Vanessa shook her head.  “No, I think not.  I know the organizer of this gala; you’re fine.  Focus on me.  Give me your undivided attention and I’ll make it worthwhile.”

“Oh, I think you’re quite fascinating Miss, but I really should…”

“Look”, Vanessa said as she stroked Bryon’s bicep.  “Have you ever seen anything quite like me before?”

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that I haven’t”, Byron admitted.

“And you are attracted to me, yes?  The windows in this room reflect the lighting quite well.  I saw you taking me in.”

“You are a stunning woman”, Byron said.

“So you’re saying that you don’t want to get out of here?  Go back to my place and admire me some more?”

“I would have to respectfully decline”, Byron said.

“Why?”  Vanessa was indignant.  “You really think you can do better than me?  You think some sexier woman with more money than you’ll ever see is going to come up to you?”

“I don’t think that at all.  I just have other arrangements that I need to see to.”

“I told you”, Vanessa purred.  “Your job will be fine without you.  I’ll take care of it.”

“And I appreciate that”, Byron replied.  “But there’s someone I’d like to spend the evening with.”

“Not me.”

“No, but it is a very tempting offer.”

“You’re turning me down.”  Vanessa’s flirting ways had turned into indignant anger.  “You’re a caterer, you’re nothing.”

“I would respectfully disagree with you Miss.  But she’s sort of everything a guy could want, so what can I do?”

Vanessa sent an icy glare straight into Byron’s eyes.  He felt a chill go through him as the formerly beautiful woman transformed into a heinously bitter person.  The scowl on her face made Byron’s blood run cold.

“You’re a fool.”  Vanessa reached for the nearest glass, threw it in his face, and stormed off.

Byron sputtered and wiped the liquid out of his face.  At least at had been water and nothing more.  He noticed the room’s attention turning to him.  He twisted and ducked back into the catering room.  A few seconds later, Allison burst in after him.

“What happened?”  Her eyes were wide with panic and concern.  “Did you do something wrong?”

“Apparently”, Byron said as he held out his arms and displayed the large water spot on his uniform.  “Hand me a towel, would you?”

Allison complied but she wouldn’t stop staring.  “What did you do?  Did she catch you staring at her?”

“Yeah, but that’s not why she was mad.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was mad because I wouldn’t sleep with her.”


“Apparently Vanessa has quite the hots for me.  I would have considered it a better compliment if she hadn’t ended our conversation so abruptly.  I’m going to guess that she has anger management issues. What do you think?”

“She wanted you to leave with her.”


“And go back to her place.”

“I assume so.  We didn’t really go into specifics.”

“And have sex with her?”

“Very much so.”

“And you said no?”

“I believe that is what happened.  Why?”

“I saw the way you were staring at her.”

“Yeah, but you weren’t supposed to see that.  I was just going to glimpse and walk away.  It’s like holding your breath.  It’s a fun little diversion for a bit, but after a while it becomes dangerous.”

“So you didn’t want to ask her out?”

“Well, maybe a part of me did”, Byron admitted.

“And the rest of you?”

“A good ninety-four percent of me would like to go back to my place and watch a movie with you.”


“It was like ninety percent before, but then she had to go and throw the water on me.  That’s just rude.  Either way, you won; by a large margin.”

“You really like me that much?”  Allison’s eyes were starting to water just as Byron’s apron was drying off.

“What have I been telling you these past seven months?”  Byron put his hands on Allison’s shoulders and looked her straight in the eyes.  “Yes, Allison Allons.  I like you that much.”

“Thanks, you’re pretty great when you’re not ogling other women.”

“Oh come on now, what about you and Alfred Hitchcock over there?”

“He’s not that big”, she said with a giggle.

“He’s not small”, Byron replied.  “I think he got so rich because he sits on small children until they give him their lunch money.  Is that who you want to spend your weekend with?  A child squisher?”

“He happens to be a very nice man.  He’s just lonely.”

“Well it would be nice if you weren’t so attentive to him.”

“Then I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t stare at other women when I’m around.”

Byron pulled Allison close to his wet apron.  A few tears found their way to his apron and dabbed a series of watermarks onto his uniform.  He wrapped his arms tight around her and hugged her.

“I think that can be arranged”, he offered.  “Of course it wouldn’t hurt if you wore dresses like that.”

“Unnhhhh”, Allison groaned as she pulled free just enough to look Byron in the face.  “Honey, no one wears dresses like that.  Not even mannequins.  But I think we can work something out.”

“Fair enough”, Byron replied.  “In return, I shall do my best to go bald since you clearly like that sort of thing.”

“Oh no, you’re doing just fine.  Another year or two and you’ll be all caught up with him.  You’ll be completely bald in five years; guaranteed.”

“Remind me again why I’m turning down a night with a stunning woman who thinks I’m rather stud-like?”

“Because I’m classier and cuter and funner.”


“Yes.  I caught you gawking, so I get to use bad grammar.  Funner.”

“Alright”, Byron said.  “You’re funner.”  He looked to the clock on the wall again and noted the time.  “Forty-three more minutes.  Then we can go do whatever we want.”

“Think you can make it through with a slightly damp apron?”

“Hey, I’m not the one whose butt is about to get pinched.”


“I’m telling you, the old man that seems so nice is about to get frisky.  They can get away with it because they’re ‘harmless’.  Keep a safe distance there, missy.”

“Now would be an excellent time to shut up and kiss me.”

“Yes ma’am.”  He leaned forward, as did she, and they felt their lips brush together.  They immersed themselves in the moment, broke off their embrace, and headed back to work.  Byron was irked that their affection had to be put on hold, but he was confident that they could pick up where they left off.

Award-Winning Attire

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Award-Winning Attire

Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim.” -Jane Austen

Nicolette was ready for her moment in the spotlight.  Not even the unreasonably cold weather outside could deter her excitement.  She gave herself one last glance in the mirror.  The actress had worn many elaborate dresses, but this one she had selected personally.  The long blue gown was, by Nicolette’s standards, quite lovely in the front.  It was a solid dark blue color and covered her legs and arms rather well while still letting her feel swanky.  That impression was further perpetuated by the back of the dress.

Nicolette craned her neck and twisted to take one last look at her gown.  The dress cut away dramatically, exposing most of her shoulders and back.  The fabric returned midway around the small of her back and Nicolette liked how she was showing off a nice chunk of skin but not too much.  She breathed a sigh of relief at the butterfly tattoo that she had almost gotten during her high school days.  She thanked her teenage self for chickening out.  Nicolette was trying to cultivate a reputation as a serious actress. She didn’t feel that a tattoo on her lower back that had been acquired in a third-world country under drunken circumstances would have helped her image.

Many choices had been made to preserve Nicolette’s profile.  She seemed to be the only one of her actor friends who had escaped being in a horror movie.  Granted, she had missed out on a few paychecks and the chance to work under some fun directors, but the roles simply didn’t appeal to her.  If Nicolette was going to run around in a white tank top and short-shorts, she wanted it to be for a better reason than portraying “girl who gets attacked in the cabin”.

Ever since playing the leads in her high school’s productions, Nicolette had done her best to only audition for roles that she truly wanted.  She liked being the responsible and studious character.  There was value in being the female lead that ran around with the action hero and acted in front of a green screen, but it was not for Nicolette.  She preferred to adopt period costumes and act off of other actors rather than scream and reply to computer graphics.  Of course, she too had made a kids movie where she was the plucky lady that the dad falls for, but happily the script had been well-written and the small boys had some experience in the craft.

The buzzing of the door shook Nicolette from her pondering.  She grabbed a small purse and wondered one last time if she could get away with wearing sneakers.  Her dress was certainly long and it seemed to flow enough.  She once more reminded herself that she had the possibility of winning tonight and the last thing she needed was her photo taken with an untied shoelace peeking out of her gown and decorating the red carpet.

She adjusted her hair a final time.  Nicolette was glad that her hair was pulled back in a simple fashion, but that one strand that dangled down was going to be trouble.  When it was positioned just right, it added an air of mystery to her charming face.  However, when the hair became tempestuous, it flapped against her nose and blocked her vision.  Nicolette moved the strand one more time and headed for the limousine.

ImageSitting in the back of the spacious car, Nicolette tried to gather her thoughts and fine tune the speech that she hoped she could give.  She didn’t really want to thank her agent, but she knew that she had to.  Once again, she was grateful that she hadn’t bothered with a date tonight.  Companionship was all well and good, but she had too much to do without checking in with one person over and over.  She had established herself as a capable and confident woman; she didn’t need any males to drape herself around.  Nicolette liked men just fine, but she was unfocused enough this evening without their tuxedos distracting her.

Much like the actor herself, the roles Nicolette took on were about strength.  She had been the intelligent and outspoken daughter on the dramatic television show, become the college student that in a movie where she raged against the chauvinistic professor, and gone back to being a high school student who took the field to win the game for the hometown.  Withering push-overs held no draw for Nicolette and her most recent role was evidence of that.  Susan Flin had quarreled with a father that ignored her while taking care of a mother that had cancer.  Then there were the advances of her boss who sought to fire her for not having an illicit affair with him.  All of that had gone on while World War I waged in the background and she found her family threatened due to their heritage.  Then, in the second act, her character had been struck blind and lost a leg when she fell down a well during a tornado.

Nicolette had known as soon as she heard about it that the role was one that she could relish.  Upon the film’s release, multitudes of fans and critics alike had rushed to extol her with accolades and admiration.  The role had not been an easy one.  Many days she had wanted to remove the brace that held her leg out of sight, but she had pressed on regardless.  She had spent three months walking around her apartment and the neighborhood blindfolded and had broken more than her share of appliances and décor in the process.  In the end, it had all been worth it.  The film had turned out well, she had felt pride in a job well executed, and now she was on her way to hopefully win the award.  Nicolette told herself that awards were not everything, but they certainly would help her career.  Best of all, she was doing it on her own terms.  There would be no squealing actress who giggled and had footage of swimsuit shots.  Nicolette was determined to survive the world of acting with class and dignity.

That was how Nicolette found herself ascending the stairs to the podium.  The walk out of the limousine had been a bit of a challenge with the cold air whipping against Nicolette and her dress, but she remained confident that she had posed for all the photos without shivering.  The food had been too rich, but at least the host had been amusing enough.  Nicolette had even gotten to exchange a little pre-scripted banter with him during the intro.  Her film had been awarded Best Actor, and her fellow actor had taken the stage again to announce her category.  With a wink and a broad grin, the actor read Nicolette’s name and the audience cheered and applauded.

The situation was entirely under her control.  Nicolette had practiced her walk and climbed to the stage without once stepping on her dress or stumbling.  The joy and delight of the moment was starting to wash over her.  She was truly happy to be having this fleeting time in the spotlight.  Nicolette was the picture of professionalism.  Unbeknownst to her, Nicolette’s fellow actor was about to change all of that.

Her speech started exactly as she had planned.  Nicolette had the initial and unplanned wave of emotion, but she regained her composure before she came off as unstable.  She hugged her fellow actor who elbowed her jovially.  She thanked her parents, her teachers, a remarkable cast and crew, and made sure she mentioned her agent.  She made a comment about how blessed she felt to be awarded such an honor.  Then, right as her time ran out, she thanked the audience and heard the music begin to play.  She took the award and held it triumphantly in her hands.  Then, her handsome actor friend put his icy hand on her back to lead her off stage.

Frigid sensations like icicles shot into Nicolette as the man’s cold hands shocked and chilled her.  Nicolette let out a scream and crouched forward in a quick move to escape the frozen fingers that had attacked her.  The music stopped.  The crowd gasped.  An awkward silence filled the giant auditorium as all eyes fell on Nicolette.

The award-winning actress felt her improvisation skills failing her.  She couldn’t explain the unfortunate complication of her attire; she’d look like a fool.  Still, Nicolette knew that the actor was about to put his hand back on her naked back to lead her off stage and she would shiver yet again.  She had only seconds until she became one more freak in the gossip columns.  Nicolette clutched the shining statue in her hand and straightened up to her full height.

“What can I say”, she said with a laugh.  “I’m just so excited!”

Her gambit worked.  The audience now bought that her outcry was merely an outpouring of her elation, not an explosion of shock.  They laughed along and she floated off stage with all the grace she could muster.  Nicolette’s reputation remained intact and she made a mental note to save her backless dress for warmer days.

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