Page 78 A limited Friend

                            A LIMITED FRIENDSHIP.                                           4-18-11

                                                                       Roy Garde.

Harry Simmons and his friend Christopher Meadows went through college together and when they’d graduated neither of them much wanted to look for a job that would mean occupying a – if not soul-destroying certainly spirit-eroding – cubicle.

They both went back to their parents’ homes and moved into their old rooms which they managed to do seamlessly – at least, that was their take on it – and they both cleared a space in their respective basements to set up their PC’s and Laptops, and the like, where they spent many hours everyday on the web playing games with each other or just browsing individually.

They’d both been blessed with average looks and agile brains and good brain/muscle coordination that made them useful members of most of their school and college sports teams in the different seasons.

That combination of attributes meant that, after they’d gotten to the age of sixteen, they’d attracted several BFF w/B’s, which was wonderfully convenient for them, and that state of affairs, as it were, continued until the time that they got to be twenty four years old and were still living with their parents! At that point, one by one, all of those BFF’s – knowing up from down and which way the wind was blowing and how nice houses with picket fences to keep their children safe are acquired – reneged on the second ‘F’ and what followed, logically, was they stopped giving out, or handing out, anymore B’s too.

At around that same time their parents started dropping hints that it was surely time that they found their own places to live – they told them that they were only thinking about their character development and their futures although the real reason was that they, understandably, were getting impatient about being able to check out the promised blessings that come to ‘empty nesters’ – and that made the two friends put their heads together with the aim of finding jobs that, they hoped would both pay well and let them come into contact with willing, and not too demanding, women.

They found out soon enough that those jobs are both scarce and already taken so they did some more thinking and came up with – starting their own Escort Service.

When they’d done enough web searching to get to know the ins-and-outs of starting a business like that they borrowed some money – from where else? – and they incorporated a new company that they called, “Friends Unlimited, Company.”

They then went back onto the web and they bought a one-year domain under that same name and then they took out several ads in strategic, statewide publications to draw people to their site.

They were very pleased when they received eight replies in the first week which made them feel pretty sure that their idea was viable and, after celebrating with the last of the money that their parents had ‘loaned’ them, they sat down at nine o’clock sharp on the following Monday morning and, yes, Chris – because they were in his basement – called the meeting to order and after saying that he kept a straight face for all of three seconds.

They knew that they had to run up some guidelines and the first one was that it was going to be company policy from the very beginning to reject all male replies out of hand – “Let them find their own girls, Mr. Chairman.” – and the second one was that there were going to be sliding scales in that if the client proved out to be attractive her fee would be minimal in an effort to get her to call for their services again, and tell her friends about them, but if she was fat or plain or old or a pain in some way they’d charge an exorbitant fee to make them think twice before hiring them at all and, if they insisted, it would probably discourage them from calling again.

They couldn’t think of any other rules right away so they decided to make up the others as they went along.

 They then moved from the boardroom to the control room, which didn’t take much time at all, where they checked out their first eight potential customers and a half of them got the ‘delete’ treatment a second after it became obvious that it was from a ‘he’ and they split the rest down the middle.

It took a while to work the kinks out of their MOs but when they’d done so, several months later, they started to make enough money to be able to rent a two bedroom apartment in a poky part of the city although there was never much left over after they’d paid the utilities and the groceries, and like that.

However, on the bright side, neither of them could possibly complain about there being a paucity of companions for their beds although they soon learned that instead of benefits freely given, as of yore, what they were being given was more in the order of an obligation to perform satisfactorily.

When they’d been doing the work for close to a year they lucked out by being hired for a Saturday afternoon and evening as escorts to two women who had a Russian background and whose names were Regina and Olga Connors – they’d changed their surname, when they’d become citizens in their mid-twenties when doing so is both easy and free of charge, from Khonoskowski – and who worked in the fashion industry. The occasion was a grand opening of their first boutique, which was in the Williamsburg district, and they needed a cheap way to get native-born back-ups to pose as PR Reps during the actual opening and at the party afterwards and then – “Well, we’ll see what develops. Shall we?”

The two guys knew that they were being played but they were amiable enough to put up with it, this first time, and so they were both surprised and delighted with how they were rewarded after the party.

The two women had bought the whole building several months earlier and they’d installed workshops on the third and fourth floors and they lived in a converted loft on the fifth.

The vodka flowed for a group of friends who’d been invited up there and when it got to be altogether too Russian, and way too raucous, at around two o’clock in the morning the two ‘Reps.’ told Regina that they were leaving and she looked askance and stricken as she said, “But, that can’t be! Didn’t Olga tell you . . . . ? No? I guess not. Well listen, in another hour or so we’ll kick all these riff raff out of here and it’ll be just the four of us and, believe me, you’ll want to stick around for that.”

They did and they were really happy about their decision a little later on because although the two sisters had good, lithe figures – they rigidly followed the diets that models and ballet dancers of their acquaintance kept to – there was nothing much that they could do about their flat, wide peasant faces which meant that, to be sure that they’d have two males around to celebrate properly with in bed after the party, they knew that they’d have to hire them to be certain that they wouldn’t have to – God forbid! – go to their beds alone on the night of their triumph.

Regina had chosen Harry to come to her bed and after a half hour of mutually satisfactory but strange, to an American, gymnastics and a great deal of directed exertion she slipped away and a minute or to later Olga joined him and she knew how to revive him with blue pills and exuberance and, much later when the sky was brightening in the east, she pulled him out of bed and walked him to the other bedroom and the ensuing foursome gave them all a different kind of stimulus and the melee continued until Olga said something to Regina in Russian who answered, “Da,” and the two women left the men where they were and went to Regina’s bed and consequently they could all go to sleep and they did so until noon without hardly stirring a muscle.

At brunch that afternoon Harry made bold to ask Regina what Olga had said earlier that morning that had decisively broken up the marathon love-making session and Regina answered, without any attempt at diplomacy and not even with a pause out of modesty, “She asked me if I felt sufficiently fucked yet and I said ‘Da,’ which means ‘Yes,’ so we split.”

Even though they’d already paid the ‘Friends Unlimited Co.’ in full they forced them to accept three one hundred dollar bills each, and a gut-tightening kiss, before they left.

The sisters weren’t regular customers of the ‘Friends Unlimited’ Company but whenever they did call for a ‘date’ the two entrepreneurs cleared their engagement books to accommodate them. Indeed, both of them knew that, for the rest of their lives, they’d always equate, “Getting our ashes drawn,” with whatever the equivalent Russian phrase for that is. They looked it up once but they forgot it over time and so, from then on, they referred to it as, ‘The Russian way of getting it done, but good.’

Everything went swimmingly for another year and a half but then one of Chris’s clients turned out to be a plain-faced, large eared young woman named Harriet who needed an escort for her prom night and although he charged her their maximum amount she paid it willingly and she was so impressed with him that she kept calling back and hiring him to take her on innocuous dates – to the movies, and like that – and, over time as these things sometimes do, they got closer and closer and soon she didn’t have to pay him anything.

When that had happened she gauged his interest and, following her mother’s advice, she strung him out expertly – for instance, it took three regular dates before she allowed him to take one of her breasts out to admire and another two before she gave him full access to both of them and only after she got a firm commitment from him did she extend relief benefits in the back seat of his car and she had his ring firmly on her finger before she’d let him take her panties off but, even then, just before she lifted her bottom up for the first time, she warned him, “This is only to let you get – uh – acquainted down there, mind you. To let you see what you’re going to get, which is only fair my moth . . . uh, which is only fair, I think. Nothing more, you hear me?” and she made it very clear to him, when she’d estimated that he’d dined royally for long enough and had pushed his head away, that she wouldn’t open her legs up properly for him until after the church ceremony.

While his infatuation was developing Chris’s escort duties diminished steadily and he saw fewer and fewer clients and that number became zero when Harriet got enough confidence in her power over him to tell him that she’d no longer grant him any more benefits in the back of his car unless he quit the escort business altogether and, what’s more, had seriously started looking for a regular job.

By then he was so totally smitten with her, and with her barred and buried treasures, that he quit the F.U. Company cold turkey and then, in the fullness of time when they’d named the date, her father found him a job in the insurance company that he ran. He did so only because his wife told him to and she did that because she longed to have grandchildren and this Christopher, worthy or not of her beloved daughter – Ha! – would have to be allowed into the family and given whatever aid was needed to become the highly privileged designated progenitor of them.

When Chris showed up on the first day at his new job he was escorted to and introduced to and was shown how to fit into – yes – a cubicle!

Harriet knew better than to let Harry get anywhere near her easily influenced swain ever again, if humanly possible, so she tried to block Chris from inviting him to their engagement party but when she saw how adamantly he rejected her suggestion – Harry  was not only his life-long friend he was still his room mate after all – she had enough sense to back off.

Apart from Chris Harry didn’t know anybody at the party that was given in her parent’s mansion of a home and he was further nonplussed when he saw that all of the women were at one end of the large sitting room and all of the men were at the other and both groups seemed to be happy with that ridiculous state of the non-union and obviously saw nothing unusual about it.

The only drink provided was fruit punch and when he found that out his heart sank because he knew that he wouldn’t be able to get through even one hour amongst all these tied and suited serious-looking Junior and upright Senior Citizens without finding a source of Dutch courage.

He forcibly pulled Chris to one side and told him his problem and was told right back, “You should have brought a flask of liquor with you. I always do when I have to meet this lot even when we’re all in church on Sundays – no, especially when we’re all in church on Sundays. Here, have some of mine.”

Thus fortified Harry looked around until he saw where the ‘younger set’ of guys in the room was bunched and he joined their group and, after a whole lot of instantly forgotten introductions and the shaking of hands had been gone through, he filled an expectant-looking silence by beginning to tell them a special joke that he kept at the ready for similar occasions.

The other guys all looked a little askance at this break in accepted custom but they politely let him get on with it and they moved around him so that they could all hear properly and by doing that they attracted the attention of other groups, nearby, who stopped talking to hear what was going on and the same thing spread all around the room and so, in the middle of telling his risqué joke – it wasn’t overly crude but it did have the word ’whore’ in it, which was essential to make it work, and he normally reserved the telling of it to male listeners only – Harry realized that everyone at the party was hanging on his every word and he didn’t know how to stop so he simply soldiered on. The punch line centered around the initials, ‘B.J.’ and when he got to it, knowing that for the humor to come through it was essential that he pause just before uttering the girl’s answer, he did that and when he’d come out with the last crucial line he waited for the explosion of laughter that had always come at him before, bolstered with the genuine delight that comes with the relief that people feel when they’ve had to listen to a long joke and finally know that they’ve safely ‘got it.’

Unfortunately for Harry, only Chris laughed and he’d heard it before, several times, which shows how funny the joke was and how uptight all the other listeners had to be but that justification, however valid, didn’t help Harry much at that moment.

The silence that came from all of those other listeners was palpable and all that Harry could think of to get out of it was to put on a brave face and say, loudly, “Well, I’ve got to go, it was nice meeting you all. ‘Bye. Hope to see you again real soon.” as he was edging towards the door. He reclaimed his coat and then walked out into the night and into his car.

When Chris came home at around midnight he asked him, “What the hell is wrong with all those robots that you’re marrying into? That was a really good joke that I told them, right?”

Chris told him that he’d wondered the same thing – “I knew that some of them were like that but not all of them, for God’s sake!” – so he’d asked around, discretely, and he’d found that the women were all pleased that he’d asked them because they wanted to know what a ‘B.J.’ is and all the men that he asked frowned in disgust at the memory, “My God, in mixed company, no less!” And, “Never in life have I heard of such a thing happening.” And, well, he admitted that  these next responses were ‘approximated’, “Fellow should be ashamed/Fellow should have his mouth washed out with carbolic soap/Fellow should be horse-whipped!”

The unfortunate incident saw to it that none of Harriet’s family wanted to come in contact with, ‘Chris’s crude friend,’ ever again and that meant that he wouldn’t be receiving an invitation to the wedding much less take part in it as an usher or whatever.

Even though he’d lost his longtime friend and partner Harry was having far too good a time of it to so much as think of closing down, ‘Friends Unlimited Co.,’ even though he found it very difficult to get a suitable replacement. The guys that he’d known from high school, and that he’d thought would make likely candidates, all demanded ‘a piece of the action,’ and so he was forced to take on a series of eager, but, it turned out, more-or-less hopeless unknown applicants who all let him down by not staying strictly within the rules that serious professional escorts must observe if they want to stay in business. No matter how much he attempted to pound those rules into each one of them before sending him out on an assignment all too often he’d find himself, an hour or two later, having to apologize on his employee’s behalf for being too forward or for balking a half way through a ‘date’ or, once, for turning on his heels and fleeing the second that he found out that the woman who had let him into her house wasn’t his ‘date’s’ mother but was his ‘date.’ None of them seemed able to grasp the simple but incontrovertible fact that because they’d been hired they had to follow their hirer’s lead at all times. That basic fact stayed beyond their comprehension even after being assured that if they followed it assiduously they would, overall, be the happy recipients of more magical pussy than they could have ever dreamed of getting.

Harry kept on keeping on and one day, not long after Chris had gotten married, he got a call from the sisters Olga and Regina Connors. Olga, in a voice that was full of excitement, told him that the ‘House Of Connors’ was opening a branch in Chelsea and they wanted the house of ‘Friends Unlimited, Co.’ to be present and that they were both looking forward to celebrating the occasion and they wanted to, “Finish the night spectacularly with you and Chris again. Like that time in Williamsberg. Remember?”

Harry certainly did remember – indeed he’d never forget it – and he knew that Chris felt the same way and that there was an excellent chance that he’d be tempted enough to want to re-sample some of, ‘The Russian way of getting it done good,’ and would likely think up an excuse to take an evening and night off from his self-imposed purgatory so he tried to contact him at work. However, when he did so he was told that personal calls weren’t accepted in working hours, “following Company policy,” and so he waited until he’d probably gotten home that night but Harriet answered the phone every time that he called and she categorically refused to let him talk to her husband.

When it got to be just two full days before the big date with the highly loving and loveable sisters, not to mention the highly rewarding aspect of it, Harry got to be desperate enough to go around to the couple’s apartment.

When he gave his name to the doorman he found that the clever and resourceful woman had anticipated such a move on his part and had told the doorman to not let him in.

He couldn’t persuade him otherwise – the man stood stoically just inside the second, locked, set of doors and merely looked at him as he tried all that he could think of: including telling him that he owned the building and that he’d get him fired in the morning if he didn’t show some sense; and doing some pleading; and shouting imprecations that were accompanied by thumping the glass – and so the only thing that was left for him to do was to keep pushing the button for Chris’s apartment that was on the intercom box in the outer foyer where he was standing, stalled and stymied.

He kept at it and kept pleading for Chris to come down and talk to him, “I only need two minutes to tell you something that’s really important for both of us.” But Harriet’s was the only voice that he heard and that only once as she dismissed his pleas curtly and told him to go away. From then on he buzzed and buzzed in vain because no one at all answered him.

When his buzzing had passed the limit of Harriet’s patience she took action but decidedly not in the way that Harry had hoped.

To stop him from pestering them any more she told him, over the intercom, that she was going to bring down a note that would explain their position decisively and precisely in words that even he could understand. She would give the note to the doorman and ask him to hand it over to him.

Harry had to accept that so he waited and he eventually saw Harriet come down to the lobby but she stayed near the elevators and called to the doorman to come over and take an envelope from her and give it to, “that horrid person at the door, but be sure that you don’t let him in for any reason.”

When the man came back he had a sour, long-suffering look on his face and he shrugged to convey his feelings – something along the lines of, “I’m not paid enough to have to put up with this kind of shit,” – and then he opened the inner door enough to be able to hand over the envelope.

Full of foreboding, Harry opened it and took the note out and read:

“Harry. For Chris’ Sake. Will You Shut The F.U.C. Up.”