Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.
May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others
and a love within recall that alters you.
A day of flattening shadows, fattening calves, rippling six-packs and electronically nipping out nipple hairs.
If Lin hadn’t tapped him on the shoulder he would have worked right through lunch.
“Working very hard.’ Lin leaned in to get a better look at the image Harris was working on. “I can see why. She is a very pretty … spokesperson?”
“I suppose. I stop seeing them as people but as pixels to be nudged.”
“It is sad when beauty loses meaning.”
“I can’t get distracted by beauty.”
“Time for lunch break Harris. Let the pixels rest.” Lin laughed. “I want to go a fast-food to get some meat on my bones like you have. Friends tell me I am too thin.”
Harris pushed away from his desk. He enjoyed the slow steady progress he was making with the images. Touching them without touching them. Monica didn’t need as much work at Geoffrey. Facial eruptions of hers to be smoothed out but adjusting Geoffrey’s package over and over was an action he happily anticipated. He was becoming curious as to what was there.
“Are you saying I’m fat?”
“Oh no Harris. Large, yes. Fat never.”
As they crossed to the Eaton’s food court Harris spotted Becky. Their eyes met briefly but he didn’t acknowledge her. He’d learned his lesson the other day. One remembered rejection was enough for him. At least the curse had been sparing him that.
As they were going into Eaton’s Harris heard a woman calling him.
“Harris! Harris! Hold a minute.”
It was Becky.
“Look I truly am sorry for being such a snob the other day.”
“I see.” he glanced at Lin. “Uh … Becky this is Lin Zhang. Did I pronounce that right Lin?”
“Very nicely Harris.”
They stepped out of the way.
“I’d love to see you again Harris. We could meet at Mug Thuggs.”
“I guess so, but you said … boyfriend etc.”
“I know what I said. Things are iffy but it’s not like …. I’d just like to get together with you again. I did enjoy myself.”
Why did she care … oh Christ … was this the latest variation the curse.
“I may be busy tonight. I’m not sure what time I’ll be free.”
“I’ll be there. Until about 10, say?”
She pecked him on the cheek and disappeared into the lunch crowd.
“You see this is why I have to put on some weight. Women like men of substance. It makes them feel secure.” Lin grinned.
“I have never heard that theory before Lin.” Harris said following Lin into the shopping centre.
“And she smells like candy I want to be eating.”
As they rode the escalator down his cellphone rang.
“Hi Harris it’s Alex.”
“What’s up?” Harris’s heart sped up.
“Look do ya know how to clean a computer.”
“You mean the hard drive? That’s not my end of the business.”
“No. The screen. Stuff got splashed it.”
“Hum …” Harris nodded at Lin and then towards Big Eats – Where Everything Is Supersized. “I usually call maintenance when that happens here. I’ll see what I can find out and call you back later.”
“I’s hopin’ ya might come by later an’ help.”
“I could drop by after work. Where do you live?”
Alex started to give him the address.
“Wait I’m going to have to write this down. Or better yet why don’t you text me the address.”
“T’anks. I really appreciate this.”
The afternoon at dE.tail was endless as Harris fussed with minutia to satisfy the Sport Spot people. Faces that looked fresh and perfect to him were sent back with a request to make the freckles a shade fainter, to change the trailing arch of an eyebrow. Internet consumers we’re going to buy this overpriced equipment because a Top Model’s eyebrow had one or two less hairs in it.
They were more likely to buy it because it came in a range of colors. This was the only innovation Sport Spot offered. No amount of re-sized genitalia was going to change that fact. Now if Geoffrey were spokesperson for Santa’s Sex Shoppe that would be a different story. At least Harris would have had a glimpse of the real thing, all be it as a silicone duplicate as battery operated dildo. Andy would have three legs.
He took one brief break to text maintenance to send up something to clean his monitor screen. They replied there were kits in the supply closet.
He groaned when a photo he had worked on twice came back with a further request for facial toning. Tired from the hour overtime already put in he slightly heightened the gleam of the lavender LatteLat machine and sent it back without doing anything to the model’s face. He got an instant reply that it was perfect.
He left before they could make more requests.
As Harris exited Chester, the subway station nearest Alex he texted that he’d be there shortly.
Alex lived on the second floor of a house a few streets north. Large open front porch with a couple of lawn chairs. Bright pink geraniums in pots and hanging baskets of fuchsia and baby’s breath.
He rang the bell and while he waited he wondered if his balcony got enough light for this kind of plant. Alex never struck him as the plant type.
“T’anks for comin’.” Alex held the door open for him. He wore a loose UofT polo shirt and baggy grey sweats.
After a day of working on Geoffrey’s pecs, abs and other attributes Harris was relieved that none of Alex’s attributes were suggested.
“No prob. Got tied up at work.” He had to brush by Alex to step in. His flabby stomach felt even flabbier as it briefly came into contact with Alex’s. He looked up the stairs to keep their eyes from meeting.
He walked up as fast as he could. How large did his ass look. What difference did that make.
The apartment door opened directly into a small living room. TV to one side of the door. A dresser to the other side. Photos of Alex along the wall by the door. The apartment smelled of a vanilla body-wash from a recent showered.
Harris slipped off his shoulder bag. Rested it on the dresser and opened it to get out the cleaning kit.
“I got this as the office.”
“T’anks. Get ya a beer? Sapporo chilling in the fridge?”
“I know at’s what ya get at Story.” He put the two Sapporo on the coffee table.
“Nah.” Harris was flattered and puzzled. This was the curse but no one had been this attentive as a result of it. If it were Monica Bostford he’d know exactly what to do, and would want to do it. He had no idea of where to begin with Alex but desire would probably be a good starting point. He felt no desire.
“Where’s the …” he hoped it wasn’t in the bedroom.
It wasn’t. The computer desk faced a bay window on the other side of the living room.
“What happened.” He leaned over to look at the smear.
“Mine.” Alex blushed. “M’ ex Linda found it on a pair of her delicates an’ to get back at me smeared it.”
“Got it.” Harris hit his head in mock stupidity. “Tilt the screen for me. That way when I spray, it won’t drip into the monitor. At least that the theory.”
He squirted the small spray bottle to mist the bulk of the smear.
“I’ll give it a minute to soften the spooge residue.”
“Spooge residue” Alex grinned. “Never heard that not even on CSI.”
Their eyes met for the first time. They both laughed.
“Hold it while I see if this’ll clean it off.” With the soft cloth Alex gently wiped the screen. “I think that’s done it.”
Alex set the screen back in place.
Harris moved a throw cushion and sat on the couch to drink his beer. “Homey. You lived here long.” He got up and walked over the computer again.
“ ‘Bout five years. M’ Da owns the house. Owns a couple.” Alex sat next to Harris. Adjusted the the cushion between them.
“Yeah. Last few years I shared it Linda. She left th’ other week. I t’ink I told ya. It wasn’t workin’ any more. Ya know t’ings ‘appen. She though’ I was sleepin’ ‘round an’ … it’s not as if she wasn’t either but … ”
Their eyes met again.
Harris noticed the trophies shoved into a corner by Alex’s computer. He stood and picked up one. It was a round metallic column about five inches tall with a gold kick-boxer on top. “Best Senior Division Boys”
“So how did you get into U F?” Harris hoped knowing more about Alex would ease the longing the curse had forced upon him.
“First grade bullies at new school pushed me ‘round. I went nuts. Beat the crap out o’one of ‘em. Broke his nose ‘fore they broke us up. I was small. When I got goin’ nothin’d stop me. I got angry easy. M’ma figured I should get a way to … direct that anger.”
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