EXCERPT: Annette Sandoval's Spitfire

EXCERPT: Annette Sandoval's Spitfire

Annette Sandoval
Spitfire, by Annette Sandoval

Here's an excerpt from Annette Sandoval's new book, Spitfire, which is available at Amazon.com and Books Inc. Republished with the permission of the author.

Chapter 1

July 12

Inter-office Memorandum
Royce Durand & Associates
~: Great buildings come from great people :~

To: Samantha
From: Tomi
Date: July 12, 2011
Subject: Guess what?

Scott, the new associate, just offered me the Executive Assistant job. He says we could do a three month trial. He's offering $45,000 a year.

What do you think?

Tomi

P.S. Yo mama is so ugly she makes onions cry.

#

Inter-office Memorandum
Royce Durand & Associates
~: Great buildings come from great people :~

To: Tomi
From: Samantha
Date: July 12, 2011
Subject: Are you serious???

Shut up! You have to take it! We'll work on the same floor. We'll be neighbors... sort of.

Sam

P.S. Yo mama is so dumb she got hit by a parked car.

#

Inter-office Memorandum
Royce Durand & Associates
~: Great buildings come from great people :~

To: Sam
From: Tomi
Date: July 12, 2011
Subject: Hmmmaybe

I'm not sure if I am. I kind of like being the receptionist. I mean, how am I going to work on my film, if I'm actually doing some work here?

Tomi

P.S. Yo mama is so nasty she brings crabs to the beach.

#

Inter-office Memorandum
Royce Durand & Associates
~: Great buildings come from great people :~

To: Tomi
From: Sam
Date: July 12, 2011
Subject: Huh?

I thought you were done with the grant writing phase of your documentary and had at least six months to kill until you hear anything back.

Just think of all of the shopping we'll do!

Sam

P.S. Yo mama's so poor she uses Cheerios as earrings.

Chapter 2

It's just about time for my afternoon break. In the interest of eating more healthy, I brought a pear to work with me. But when I take it out of my tote bag, it is all bruised and has brown gash marks on one side. It looks like it has been tortured for information that it did not possess.

I toss the pear into the mesh garbage can when Doris, the office manager, shows up. "Be back in fifteen minutes," she says, sounding put out.

"I'm heading to Chew's. Do you want anything?" I say, nicely, while tapping on the mouse to make sure I have closed my open windows. Doris likes to snoop.

"Yeah, I want you to skip your afternoon breaks from now on, so I can get some work done," she says, making a show of dropping a stack of folders onto my desk. I watch, like I do three times a day, five days a week -- as she reaches for the lever under my seat and adjusts the height. Then, rearranges the stuff on my desk. It puts me in mind of a bus driver at the start of a shift.

Doris isn't really a bitch, she's a pooron -- a moron I try to feel sorry for. I hadn't known her for five minutes when she told me that she had once fallen out of a third floor window. A dense boxwood hedge broke her fall and saved her life, but she didn't exactly walk away without a scratch. For two years, Doris was in what she called a waking coma. Her eyes were open and she jabbered all day, but there was no brain activity.

I tried to look it up online. The closest thing I could find was this:

Vegetable
Function: noun

1 : a usually herbaceous plant (carrots, spinach, or peas) grown for an edible part.
2 : a coma-like state caused by head trauma characterized by open eyes and the appearance of wakefulness.

I grab my purse out of the tote bag, now covered in pear matter, then jot the time on a Post-it note. Doris tends to forget when I leave and that never works in my favor. After being yelled at for returning late from break multiple times -- which was not true -- I developed this system.

I go straight to the mini-mart directly across from my work, and select my usual snacks. I'm seventh in line at the mini-mart directly across the street from my work, staring up at a plastic Elvis clock. When his legs swing seven more times, I will have been in this same spot for exactly seven minutes. Lucky seven.

I glance at the Snickers bar and bottle of Diet Pepsi in my hands, then around. Not one single person is buying snacks with nutritional value. Four o'clock fatigue has to be an evolutionary throwback to our cockroach days.

The owner is having trouble changing the register tape. He is so engrossed in getting the strip of paper to catch, he's oblivious to the line of people threading through his store.

Suddenly bored, I do what comes naturally. I eat the candy bar. I'm licking my fingers when I notice that Pepsi is still running the Free iTunes promotion. I used to check for winners by tilting the bottle at a twenty-five degree angle and looking underneath the cap. You can't actually see the letters, but you can see the tips of the text and figure out if it says, 'try again,' or not. I used to check all of the soda bottles, until the owner started glaring suspiciously at me, like I was a Middle Eastern terrorist planting biological warfare into his cooler. I'm Mexican, but I'm pretty sure he can't tell the difference.

My name is Tomasita Reyes, or Tomi for short. I'm twenty-eight years old and live in San Francisco. I tend to turn heads when I walk. But it's not my big brown eyes, long black hair, or even my bright smile that men notice. What stands out about me, literally, are my boobs.

Believe-you-me, I'm not bragging about it, either. Small-breasted women are bitterly aware that a C or D cup attracts a lot of attention from men. What they don't realize is that it's always, and I do mean always, from men you wouldn't let pet your dog. Decent men are afraid to approach overactive mammary glands. Anyone considering implants should keep this in mind.

As the line finally inches forward, I twist off the cap and read, "Try Again." I'm mentally kicking myself for not having rifled through the Pepsi stash, when I notice the guy in line ahead of me. He's wearing a sweat-stained T-shirt and blue work pants. A double parked truck is idling on the street. I'm guessing it's his.

He's staring intently at my lumps, like the rest of me isn't even here! This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. Disgusted, I shift my torso and glance away. My eyes happen to land on a plastic bucket of week-old flowers near the register.

"Which ones do you like?" T-shirt guy says.

I don't answer right away. I know if I say that I like the wilting daisies, or the dried up roses, he'll hand the bunch to me and drip swamp water onto my open toe shoes.

"No hablo inglés," I say.

He looks north of my chin and points to the flowers. "What kind do you like?" he says a little louder, like he's talking into a cell phone.

I shake my head and shrug my apology. I've clearly ruined his moment. Then, he remembers my boobs and we're back to square one.

It's his turn next. I point. "You're up," I say, hating to tear him away from his leering. T-shirt guy gives me the exact same look the owner gives me when I get too close to the sodas. As he places a bag of pork rinds and a pint of Arrogant Bastard Ale on the counter, I think, wow, you really are what you eat.

Turning back to me he says, "Now you're up, señorita," like he's on to me.

I pay for the Pepsi, then glance at my watch. Five minutes left. When I step outside, T-shirt guy is reaching into the open window of the double parked truck.

I don't want him to know where I work, so I start walking up Jackson Street. I'm watching the bottleneck of traffic his truck is creating, when he shouts, "Wait ... muchacha!" He catches up to me, holding out a business card. "If you were a new hamburger at McDonald's, you'd be McGorgeous. How 'bout dinner this weekend?"

I refrain from saying, "Yuck!" Instead, I whip out my iPhone to capture this on video. I collect stupid pick-up lines. I'm going to splice them together and make a short film. I'm thinking of calling it, The Quicker Picker Upper. "Can you say that again?"

"Huh?" He goes from cocky to confused in a split second. This isn't just about documenting pick-up lines, it's about turning the tables and seeing how men like being cornered.

I smile. "So, we can show it to our grandchildren someday. Three, two, go!" I say, pointing at him.

"Uh ... if you were a new hamburger ... at McDonald's, you would be McGorgeous?" It came out like a question. He probably uses the line a lot, but I'm guessing this is the first time he's actually heard how stupid it sounds.

I grab the fucking card and walk away. I know from experience that if I don't take the card, I won't get rid of him. When the truck's out of sight, I hurry across the street and into the lobby of Royce Durand and Associates, with two minutes to spare. The reception station is a circular desk with a circular interior desk top, that looks like the ugliest jacuzzi you've ever seen. Not only is my desk an eyesore, the counter is way too high. I can see the top of Doris' blond head, like she's floating face down in the hot tub. She glances up at me, checks the Post-it, then the clock. A look of disappointment passes on her face. Doris has got the features of a pioneer woman. Picturing her in sepia tone, I imagine Doris scowling on some prairie; a washboard and pile of laundry in front of her.

She picks up her stack of folders, but I keep going. "Restroom," I say without looking back. This is also part of our daily routine. I swear to God, she has the memory span of a goldfish.

I return at exactly four-fifteen to the sound of the ringing phone. The buttons are lit up like a row of white corn and Doris is standing by the elevator, grinning. I take it back. She is a bitch. In sequential order, I put a half dozen people on hold. As I go back to the first call Doris disappears behind the closing elevator doors.

When the crisis is over, I reach for my Pepsi. I realize that I'd wrapped T-shirt guys' card around the bottle, like a coffee sleeve and have to peel it off. I look at it. It's the cheap-ass type of business card that the police use, with the company's name and logo.

"Coolly Mender" and his phone number are written in the fill-in lines.

Flipping the card over, I see the same scratchy writing on the back. It's the username and password to Coolly's email account. I chuckle like the devil. "Hot damn!"

"¡Hola Tomi!" Momentarily startled, I look up at my maybe new boss, Scott Martin's open face. ¿Qué hora es?"

Scott loves to practice his high school Spanish on me. I don't really speak Spanish, but neither does he. I put on an exaggerated Mexican accent. "Es time to buy a watch ... I theenk."

We both laugh. Scott's okay in my book. Anyone who laughs at my jokes is okay in my book.

"I'll be in Royce's office. Can you do me a favor? If Andrew, my 4:30 arrives early, buzz me there. And if you decide to be my assistant feel free to interrupt."

Giving him an eye roll, I say, "Sure." I answer the ringing phone and watch Scott's confident walk as he heads to the backstairs. He's tall and thin and reminds me of Jack from the Jack in the Box commercials, only with a human head and chestnut brown hair.

Before I do anything else, I check the pull down menu and click on "Web History," to see what Doris was up to. I like to snoop too. Fortunately for me, Doris is not aware of this feature. Scrolling down, I marvel at how much ground she covered in fifteen minutes.

As usual, she'd made the rounds on the online dating sites. I scan the subject headings from the personal ads:

Looking for a Sugar Baby
Let's get married in Vegas by Elvis
Looking for a "New" Barbie Doll the old one broke :-(
Are You Breathing?
I'm Dangerous Baby. Proceed With Caution!
Must Love Porn and God

"Huh?" I say, backing up. I have got to click on this link. The window opens and I read:

I am looking for the perfect woman. You MUST have a banging body with really big tits. You MUST be really good at giving head and love doing it. You MUST love using your pussy. You MUST be bisexual and love threesomes with other women (men negotiable). You MUST love porn.

Also, you MUST be intelligent and funny, sweet and wholesome, and Catholic! You MUST be a VERY religious person and attend mass weekly. You MUST NOT be a slut!

Hey, that sounds just like me, I think. Well, except for the liking to give head part. I get more out of sucking on a baked turkey neck, than that! And, the stuff about being bisexual, liking threesomes, or going to mass. I stare off into the middle distance, trying to imagine the woman of this psycho's dreams. The best I can come up with is a woman with a split personality. Both identities MUST be suffering from a lack of self-esteem.

I'm switching to my personal email account when the elevator dings, then Samantha appears. She's holding a mug that says, 'A morning without coffee is like sleep.'

“Sooo?" she drags out the one syllable. "Are you going to go for the promotion?”

Samantha, or Sam, is a year older than me and a jogger. She tends to dress in black and understated outfits that flatter her curvy, yet athletic shape. She has sleepy brown eyes and thick, dark, tousled hair. I went to the salon with her once. It cost her two-hundred buckeroos to get that just rolled out of bed look.

I don't remember how we got on the subject, but Sam is the only other person I have ever met that shares in my passion for Yo Mama jokes. We could probably cap each other for hours without running out of material, if our stomachs didn't hurt from laughing so hard.

"Okay. Let's examine the benefits to the promotion." Sam says, leaning against my desk. "You can go pee anytime you want. It's a promotion. A lot more money."

She's right. As a receptionist, I make crap-fifty an hour and take home less than $20,000 a year. I can't argue with her list, but I try. "Pitfalls. More responsibility. I'm not even sure what the job is. I'll be Scott's office bitch."

We go 'round and 'round until we hear the swish of the glass door opening. It's got to be Scott's appointment. Oh good! He can decide for us.

Sam is about to glance up, when I tug her close to me and stare into her eyes. In a rapid whisper, I say, "If his hair is parted on the left, I'll take the job. If it's parted on the right, I'll stay where I am."

"What if it's parted in the middle?" Sam says.

"I'll... do the Hokey Pokey?"

Sam grins. "That's what it's all about."

"Hi... Andy Bosc to see Scott Martin," he says.

Sam looks up. Enjoying the suspense, I wait a beat. I smile into Mr. Bosc's eyes, before glancing at the part in his hair.