A most improbable story – The Broker, part 1

mollyinthemirror.jpgThe Broker: A Breaking-in Story

A crowded Friday morning train. I’m headed out of town among a bunch of other people headed to work. I am alone. He is with a friend and co-worker. I first noticed him on the platform, on his cell phone, talking apparently to another friend, berating the person for being disrespectful him and his co-worker by not working hard enough the previous day and by leaving early without saying anything. I hear his voice before I look at him but I have a feeling I know what to expect.

I’m right. He is young, lean, slick. Smaller than he’d like to be, I’m sure, but with straight shoulders, and exuding a confidence and control that is evident in his voice as well as his posture. Self-important and not used to being anything but privilege and commanding positions.

When we get on the train he stands in the same crowded vestibule as I. He has not noticed me yet. When his eyes catch mine, a strange look comes over his face, just for a second, before he looks away. Fear. Recognition. Shock. Desire. Combined in that one short moment they make him look like he might be sick, but he recovers quickly. He resumes his conversation with his friend. I can only make out every few words. “Stocks,” “Tahoe,” “money,” “mine,” “deal.” Traders, though of what I don’t know. I don’t particularly care. I enjoy watching him carry on this conversation because it is evident that his mind is not entirely on it, that he is trying to disguise that fact, and that his friend can tell, too, but doesn’t seem to know what has happened. I stare at a fixed point on the window beside his head, gazing out at the passing buildings. Occasionally his eyes flicker toward me and I smile. He looks quickly away.

I have imagined this happening in many different ways, but this is the first time it has occurred: recognition by a regular reader. And such a one! He offers a rare opportunity: the chance to offer submission to a man — barely more than a boy really — who is working so hard to be on top. But I know he needs it. He craves giving up control for a little while, though he’d never admit that to his friend. Even better: I think I might arrange for his friend to witness it. Why depend on him friend to tell his friend, words alone, after the fact, over a beer or something. No. We will want an audience, so his friend will have a role to play!

He is gaining his composure again, this incredibly confident young thing, and now, during a lull in his conversation, he meets my eyes directly and smiles. I smile back and look quickly away, as if he has caught me staring. I lower my eyes and look up again. It is all so calculated, and it is working. He seems to think he’s now back in control.

Loud music suddenly transmits from his pocket. He smoothly reaches for his phone, then goes stone-faced when he sees the number. He flips it open and answers. I hear phrases like “to the office,” and “dinner tonight” and “me too.” A girlfriend? He seems too young for a wife. I look at his face, waiting for him to look at me again. I know he wants to look, yet he is hesitant again. He chats with his friend for a moment before allowing himself a glance.

I smirk at him when he finally looks. He grimaces. I hold his eyes, arching an eyebrow. He blushes slightly. His friend has now caught on to our flirtation. He seems amused. I drop lean-and-slick’s gaze and look at his friend a moment. I tilt my head toward lean-and-slick as if to say to his friend, “Can you believe this guy”? He grins. I smile back.

We are nearing the station and there is some jostling in the vestibule. I allow myself to be pushed over toward these two intriguing young men. We are now all touching shoulders. I turn to lean-and-slick and say, under my breath, “I know you know who I am.” He looks down at me and grins. “Yes, Molly, I know who you are. I’ve been reading you since you began.”

“I hope you’re not in a rush,” I tell him, and now I include his friend in the conversation. “I have plans for you two.” I place one hand on the small of each back and as the doors open I give them each a nudge and then instruct them to follow me as I brush past them, striding ahead of the crowd and up the stairs.

~ by Molly Montrevoir on April 15, 2007.

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