Overman studies Maricela as she works the phones. She has an effortless, inviting smile, chatting with the ease of someone who has yet to experience despair, know anybody with cancer, or even gain a few extra pounds. He thinks about getting to work, but instead contemplates for the gazillionth time whether or not she’s fucked Rick Crandall or anyone else at the dealership. How could she say no to the boss and then bang one of his puerile protégés? Then again, she’s the one in control of the company pheromones. She can do whatever she wants. For all Overman knew, she was blowing Gene Cantalupo in Pre-Owned, who fucked his way through Nissan of Rancho Cucamonga. Picturing the two of them together made him want to throw up. He tries to get to work, but an Einsteinian equation, profound yet elegant in its simplicity, invades his already cluttered brain. Based on the massive amount of fantasizing, plotting and planning at Steinbaum Mercedes, one of these degenerates had surely banged or would bang the exquisite Maricela.
Overman manages to regroup, and is about to dial a number when he hears Maricela laugh from across the room. As he stops to savor this primal, unrestrained thing of beauty, he sees that she’s looked up and caught him staring. He feels himself starting to blush, but Maricela doesn’t chuckle or grimace or avoid his gaze. She gamely stares back, openly and without judgment. Overman keeps looking at her. Maricela doesn’t blink. Should he turn away? He tries, but he can’t. Overman is focusing with an unconscious intensity, a wild current coursing through his veins. He feels his body start to convulse, his blood pressure rising like the price of bathroom fixtures in his dream. Fearing a seizure or worse yet, a spontaneous public ejaculation, Overman manages to get up and stumble toward the water fountain. He bends down and lets the cold stream splash all over his face, now drenched in sweat. The sleeve of his poly-cotton shirt comes in handy, a surprisingly quick drying agent. Overman takes two deep breaths and starts to regain his composure when he feels a tap on his shoulder. He turns to find himself face to face with the magnificently sweet-smelling Mar- icela; her bare midriff only inches away.
“Excuse me, Mr. Overman.”
“Please. Ira,” he managed, his pulse racing.
“Ira,” her lips formed the two simple syllables of his name in a way that really did make it a beautiful day at Steinbaum Mercedes. “I don’t know what it is, but something about you seems… different.”
I’ve been the same asshole my whole life, he thinks to himself. Then he remembers that there has, in fact, been a change. “No glasses,” Overman informs her, pointing to his naked face. “I had Lasik.”
The young woman can’t take her eyes off him. “I… I don’t know why but when you looked at me just now, something happened.”
“No kidding?” Overman asks lamely, an impressively speedy erection in the making.
Maricela nods her head. “Even though I’ve seen you like a gajillion times before, I felt like I really saw you for the first time. And you really saw me.”
Nothing new about the latter, Overman thinks to himself. He’s studied every inch of this girl in the office and reviewed his find- ings in the shower for as long as he can remember.
“Does that sound stupid to you?” she asks adorably.
“Not stupid at all.” Overman has no clue what she’s talking about. At the same time, he’s smart enough to recognize that he’s scoring points and must get them on the board while the getting is good. He tries to think of something insightful to say, but draws a complete blank. As he wonders how any man could be this pathetic, Hal Steinbaum appears out of nowhere and grabs Maricela by the arm, dropping a roll of Mentos on the floor in the process.
“Just the girl I want to see. I got a laydown who’s about to get reamed for two g’s over sticker. Come in my office and watch how it’s done.”
Maricela follows him, her eyes not wavering from Overman as she goes.
What just happened, Overman wondered? It was as if he had telepathically communicated his needs and desires to this young woman and she now wished to respond in kind. But why would a smoking hot twenty-six year-old be interested in a poorly preserved middle-aged relic? Maybe it was a nasty joke set up by one of the Green Peas. Then again, maybe it wasn’t. What if the Lasik surgery really did make him handsome and desirable? Overman checked his reflection in the showroom window and quickly nixed that theory. Still, on the off chance that this beautiful girl was trying to make a connection, it would be a ray of sunshine in a life that had thus far wallowed in every conceivable shade of gray. While highly unlikely, for now he would allow himself to bask in the possibility that things could get better. Maybe he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his days feeling like some stray dog at the pound, marking time before his incineration.