I stood at the edge and looked out at the sun; hot, orange and far, far away—slowing sinking behind the city skyline. It wasn’t as congested and “majestic” as her city, but I loved it all the same. The silhouette of the Arch, rising up amid the old brick buildings. I never got tired of it.
Jazz was born over those bricks. Hearts were broken over those old buildings.
I stood on the roof and took a drink. Top shelf scotch. I swirled it around, re-mixing the sugar sitting at the bottom of the glass with the melting ice and took a deep breath.
It was all about enjoying the view and not drinking too much, while I waited.
It wasn’t my turn just yet. They were still a little too sober.
Business is one thing, ideas are another. One keeps the accountant happy, one proves we’re different than the others. Better.
I lit a cigarette and leaned on the rail.
I felt good. Damned good. My suit was tailored, my drinks were free and the setting allowed me to wear sunglasses, protecting my worse tell—my eyes.
I also smiled when I lied.
In my mind, I had already gotten away with it, before I even finished saying it. I never got away with it. So I quit lying. I didn’t need to.
I just had to be who I never knew I was before I met her.
It was somehow easier when she wasn’t around, so long as I didn’t think about the fact that someone else was probably inside her while I drank and schmoozed and patted myself on the back for my life.
But I didn’t know. I never did with her, until I did.
She only told the truth after I’d caught her in a lie. And right now, she was many state lines away most likely acting her age.
I looked across the rooftop bar, and watched our clients. I listened to their conversations, and watched for their ticks. Their tells. The uncomfortable shift when a subject was brought up that shouldn’t be. The half smiles that came with each new cocktail. The flicker of the eyes when something clicked. By the time it was my turn, I’d know what to say, and what to keep to myself.
It was not unlike the game we play for love.
By the time it was my turn, I would already know how to convince them my great idea was theirs, stepping over the other creatives to ensure it was my strategy they wanted to put into place. They were better strategies. It wasn’t manipulative, it was being smart. It was protecting the client.
Or so I told myself.
It wasn’t lying. That was out of the question. It was merely consideration.
Calculated strategies are far easier to stomach than selfish manipulation.
The bar was open, and I had no plans of going home at the end of the night.
Below the bar, about 10 floors down was a room, paid for by my company. I had no intentions of going any lower than that after the schmoozing ended. No intentions at all…
…Unless you count the fact that the room was for one of our clients, and she had already made it clear, I was welcome.
I didn’t even want to. I just wanted to know I could.
In the end, I never did. In the end, I always took the long elevator down at the end of the night, a happy client settling in, buzzing with booze and a refreshed confidence in what we do, wishing I had stayed, though thankful I had left, most likely thinking about what I would have done to her, had I stayed.
In the end, I just wanted to know I could.