Disaster averted, she thought happily.
Wendy Watson was fairly certain her roommate, Lacey, had forgotten about the marks of a belt chafing her neck above her work shirt. It took three cups of organic plantation grown, fair trade coffee, and a conversation about bird habitats in Ohio, but she had planned a late night of sketching and painting anyway. The coffee was even pretty good, proving that coffee could not be screwed up unless you added whipped cream, and socially acceptable beverages were hideously expensive but worth it.
“I have to use the bathroom,” she said. “Back in two minutes.”
Her blond friend nodded and nibbled on an organic, gluten free ginger snap. It was even ginger free, which seemed like something she and The Middleman might have to look in to, but not that night. She went into the bathroom, locked the door, and looked in the mirror. The belt bruise was very light. Her boss was quick in the event of a near-strangling.
Wow, would his insurance rates have gone up if I croaked in the locker room, she mused. Poor guy. He got all pasty and jumpy after that.
She turned from the mirror and pulled the end of her belt, expecting it to unbuckle. It chimed at her. Her pants, tight by necessity for dealing with human and non-human evil things grabbing at her, stayed up. Her belt was not her belt.
“I'm an idiot.”
Earlier that day, idly waiting for The Middleman to change his shirt, she had picked up his fancy electronic belt and draped it around her neck. She pulled the two ends together, fastened them, and the world went fuzzy and red-tinged as it constricted around her throat. She had collapsed into Bossman's side and he kindly waited to flip out until she was free and coughing.
His thumb print opened the belt. It was the only thing that opened the belt. It was less than convenient to realize she was wearing it after drinking three cups of coffee.
Wendy told herself to calm down and lay down on the floor, sucking in as she tried to wiggle out of her pants. The little space she made just wasn't enough. Her pants were un-wiggle outable. Worse yet, she didn't have her cellphone and had taken off her watch.
She knew she wasn't getting any relief from just standing next to the toilet, but it helped to be in the bathroom. Once she got out she was going to be in serious leg-crossing mode. If she could just get her roommate to make one little call The Middleman would show up in minutes.
Water ran in the kitchen, drowning out her howl of agony and not really aiding Wendy's situation. The water stopped and a few footsteps approached the door.
“Dub-Dub? What's up?”
There were moments – fleeting but honest moments – when having a roommate was bothersome. There were other moments when it was a life saver.
“Could you call my boss on my cellphone and get him to come over here? Tell him I have a problem and I need him,” Wendy said, attempting casual as she clenched as many muscles as she could.
“Is it your neck?! I thought you said it was nothing!”
So casual wasn't working for her. Not surprising when she was having potty training flashbacks.
“My neck is fine. It's something else. I just realized something that I need him for,” she tried, being as vague as possible. “Something only he can help with.”
In the silence from the other side of the door, Wendy's bodily fluids sloshed and gushed under her skin. She jiggled up and down and leaned on the wall.
“You know, if there's a plumbing disaster you probably don't want to involve your boss. I know we're broke, but I have that emergency credi-”
She needed to pee, so, so, so badly.
“Lace, it's not a plumbing thing. It's me,” she whined, letting the desperation out. “There's something with me and I need his help.”
Almost a minute later, Lacey tried to open the door and pounded on it. She pulled on the knob, even though she knew it opened inward. She put her eye against the frame to see if she could peek.
“Oh my god, did you just take a pregnancy test?! Wendy! You can't just drop this on him until you know what you're going to do.” She was practically slurring her words in excitement and upset. “I mean, if this is great it's great for you guys, but if it's not then . . . You can't get him thinking about little booties and binkies and take that away.”
In another minute Wendy decided she would just let herself pee her pants and cry about it. It was the only response to Lacey's turn to the dark side of Watson breeding. She sighed and let the rant continue.
“I mean, you have options. And we can talk about your options. I'll support you in whatever you decide to do. But that man – Sexy Bossman – he's an old-fashioned guy,” Lacey nearly sobbed. “You can see he dreams about white picket fences and a little mini Dub-Dub to call him 'Daddy.' He wouldn't survive nine months of hoping to see you give her away.”
Her friend had apparently settled on a girl for her and Sexy Bossman. He'd be glad to hear it, then disturbed by the looming tragedy. Somewhere between trying to figure out when they might have conceived the mythical Middle spawn, he'd let her out of his stupid, horrible belt. That was a winning plan in Wendy's estimation.
“I'm NOT pregnant! Please just tell him I need his help like earlier today in the locker room,” she said firmly.
Sometimes her life felt like a cheesy sci-fi movie, and other times it felt like The Wendy Watson Story: A Lifetime Movie Event. Between her mother and Lacey obsessing over her love life, what little romance she had was blown up to epic proportions. No wonder she couldn't get them past the idea that she was dating her boss. From the sounds of it, Lacey had been lying in wait for The Middleman to knock up her roommate so she could step in and pull a Hand that Rocks the Cradle.
“Fine,” Lacey yelled in, irritated. “Should I tell him to bring anything?”
“Just his hands,” Wendy answered. “Well, really only one thumb is all I need, but it's better to keep the set together.”
Yeesh, that hadn't sounded quite so sexually exploitative in her mind, but it was out now. Wendy closed her eyes and tried to think of deserts. But the deserts kept turning into lush rainforests with leaves dripping high above in the canopy. There were rivers flowing underfoot, and a humid, sticky atmosphere.
She stared at the toilet longingly, knowing she might as well be a thousand miles away for all the good it would do at that moment. She tried pacing but it shook up things that didn't like to be both overfull and shaken. She planned an escape route if Lacey pulled out the Dr. Gil tapes about denial. She tweezed her weird eyebrow and tried to make it more symmetrical to her normal one.
Finally there was a knock on a door in the hallway, then a knock on the bathroom door. Lacey's voice came through with concern.
“Wendy, your boss is here. Are you going to come out?”
“No. I'll let him in if you step back from the door. You can't come in, though,” she said. “Just him.”
Lacey's hurt silence was punctuated by a murmur of The Middleman's low voice, smoothing things over. Wendy would happily apologize once her bladder wasn't bursting. She listened for steps away, then unlocked the door and pulled the startled man inside.
“Quick! Quick! Come ON! Do it!”
She startled him further by grabbing at his hand and pulling it down to her waist, but he pressed his thumb to the belt's sensor and unlocked it. The click of the buckle was beautiful, and Wendy closed her eyes in relief. She opened them and he was staring at her with his mouth a little open. She had his hand clamped to her belly.
“Ohhhhhh. Thank you,” Wendy moaned. He smiled and she reached behind him to open the door and shove him out. “Go away for a minute!”
He let her push him out through a crack in the door that he probably shouldn't have fit between. Wendy slammed and locked it, and stripped her pants down to her ankles for the best, longest pee she'd ever had while sober.
She emerged from that bathroom a new woman, in love with life, the world, and – in a nonsexual manner – her lovely, sexy boss. He was standing awkwardly in the kitchen with Lacey, under the blond's harsh glare. His hands were jammed in his pockets very deliberately.
Wendy squished her arms under his elbows and hugged him exuberantly. “Thank you for coming. Please reprogram this stupid belt so it doesn't try to kill me again.”
She handed him the high tech accessory and smiled at Lacey. “I'm sorry I was so snippy. I was stuck in my belt because the big galoot here needs to have a biometric belt encoded to his thumb print.”
They trailed in her wake of calm and peace as Wendy went and poured milk for The Middleman and more coffee for herself. “Hey Boss, as long as you're here we should all talk about how we're not having sex.”
“Like a threesome,” he squeaked.
Both woman giggled and Lacey patted his arm with a sly grin. “No, but now that I think of it, that's worth discussion.”
His biometric belt was never seen again.