A Name Worth Remembering
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"I'm here for my paystub, please," a low voice.
I'd been so busy filling out safety reports, I didn't even notice anyone walk down the hallway, or come into the front room.
I nodded. "Just one second." After quickly typing a few lines, I marked my spot, and saved my work.
"The name's Mark Marrucini."
I continued sitting in my rolling office chair, and simply wheeled over to the paystubs. "Excuse me, can you say that again?" I coyly looked up to see—the grinner, Big Beard and Tall Man.
I could've hid under the desk! Who knows what my problem was, but nerves overtook me. "Can you," my voice came out a million times higher than it should have, "spell that?" My eyes glanced at the speaker, the grinner, who did look quite Italian now that I came to think of it.
"M-A-R-R-U-C-I-N-I. It's pronounced kind of like linguini," Mark Marrucini said, and his words made me smile.
I eventually found Mark's check and his co-worker's checks too. I didn't really look at any of them directly—for God knows why.
Usually employees would leave after getting their checks, but these guys didn't—and although I'd been jumping at a chance to talk with Mark, I was mortified.
"So, you're not like the regular security guards," Tall Man said.
"'Cause I look so tough?"
The trio scoffed. "No. They're just usually men, really hairy...men."
I nearly coughed up a lung, so taken off-guard. Yep, it was time to change the subject. "Someone told me you're a singer?" I said to Tall Man, even though no one had told me—I'd just heard him singing in the hall once.
"Yeah! I sing in a band. We're kind of like INSANE CLOWN POSSE."
"Right on." I had no idea what that was, but it sounded interesting. "I'm a violinist. If you ever need a fiddle in your music...let me know."
I swear he suppressed a smile. "Ya know, you're all right. I'll come talk to you later about music and stuff," he said.
He and Big Beard walked toward the door, obviously expecting Mark Marrucini to follow, but he didn't. "I'll meet ya in there, guys," Mark said.
I gulped. So this was it. I finally really looked at him in person. He had these big blue eyes that practically forced butterflies into my stomach. His dark hair and features made him look just as Italian as his name sounded. And his deep voice made it easy to imagine him talking on the radio—"This is G Q 105.9, giving you your daily wakeup call"—who wouldn't want to wake up to that! Awe....
But then he was actually talking and I realized I'd been ogling him like a school girl!
"What did you just say?" I idiotically twirled some of my hair with my fingers. "I was just thinking about safety paperwork. I'm trying my hardest to do a good job here. And I lose my train of thought so easily with all the new things I'm learning."
He smiled. "Sure you weren't listening. You just want to hear it again!"
"I swear, I missed it." Boy, had I.
He grinned and leaned against the counter, like it was his damn job. I bet he'd leaned against a million counters, just to perfect that look. "I was just saying, the whole plant has been talking about the cute new security guard."
"Oh, I'm sure!" I blushed.
"So..am I. Have to admit, I was curious."
THIS coming from a man who'd I'd overheard talking about how he didn't need a woman. What a player!
He started walking from the room and I couldn't help saying, "Don't be a stranger! You gotta come visit sometime."
"Okay," he nodded, and left the room.
I watched him on the camera, strut down the long hallway, 'til he was off the screen.
There were mounds of paperwork to do, but on the off-chance that Mark would come by again, I did my work in record time. He didn't come for the next several nights. And my manager was so impressed with my efficiency and speed, he started leaving more work for me, demanding it all be done by the morning.
One night, I sat feeling like the heroine in Rumpelstiltskin. So much paperwork covered the desk, I thought I'd never get it done. And to top that off—I'd been doing such a good job—a different night manager had left me two garbage bags filled with various kinds of gloves that needed to be paired together. "You're the only guard who can get this done quickly. We're so proud to have you here."
"Gee, thanks." Gloves...what a promotion.
I worked even harder, just hoping Mark would come talk to me. The maintenance guys sure kept coming up enough, haunting the front desk. I loved those guys, though. They always talked about the same things, mainly the end of the world and hunting. I wasn't always involved in the conversations and they'd still come to my desk.
At one point, several people stood around. "Ya know what you need," the maintenance man, Rob, asked as I continued pairing gloves that night. "You need one weekend where you just meet up with someone you hardly know, go live. Don't even think about it. Do things you'd never do. Make love under the stars. Go gambling! Just live. You're young. And now you're wasting your life away, bored—obviously—and this place has you doing their laundry? You're a guard, not a maid!"
"Hey, if they need extra help and I'm done with paperwork, just sitting here watching cameras…I might as well." I put some gloves in the 'paired' bag. "Rob, did you ever have a weekend like that?"
"Don't be asking him that crap!" Jay, one of the other maintenance guys, said. "None of us need to hear it."
"No, not a weekend," Rob whispered. "But I did have a day a long time ago. Oh, she was somethin'," his voice suddenly blared so loud, "the rack on that girl. And, hell, she could dance! I'll never forget that girl. Ever."
I smiled, 'cause Rob really is one of a kind. A lot of the other employees don't like him, but I think he's a hoot.
After they left, I wondered about what he'd said. Good ol' Rob, who was at least fifty, looked weathered, and wouldn't stop talking hunting; he was a romantic. And maybe he was right about me. Was I just a bored, unexciting girl? It felt like all I ever did was take care of my kids, go hiking, or stay home and get stood up.
My mom had always told me everyone's allowed one fling per lifetime. I hadn't used mine up yet.
I was about half-way through the gloves when Tall Man came to visit with me about music. He had a couple CDs for me and I was excited to "give them a listen" as he said.
We talked about a lot of things. I found out he has a beautiful wife and kids. He seemed like he was working to better himself and his family. And the description of his music made it sound very promising. I liked the guy—and I also liked his choice of friends.
"So, this Mark Marrucini person, what's his story?" I was thinking about Rob's advice. Maybe I could ask Mark out for my once-in-a-lifetime spontaneous weekend. "Does he have a girlfriend?"
"Sure does. She's in a different state though."
Nine thousand pounds of pressure fell on my chest. Really? The grinner...Mark...had a girlfriend? "Oh, that's nice," I said, trying not to sound disappointed. What was it to me anyway? I didn't even know the guy and now I was upset? That's when I resolved, if Mark ever came up to talk with me again, we could be friends. Even if things didn't work out with his girlfriend, and—by some chance—he ended up liking me, he was in the friend zone, permanently. And to think, we weren't even friends yet.
Of course all of this was ridiculous, I told myself. He'd probably never come talk to me anyway.
"What about you?" Tall Man asked.
I bit my lip. I'd told The Schmuck that I couldn't stomach being stood up anymore, that I wanted to date other people, but now I just felt like my life was wasting away while everyone else was married or in serious relationships. The Schmuck had been amazing when we first started dating, why had things turned so sour, and maybe they could go back to the way they used to be in the beginning? "Yeah, there's this guy I've been seeing," I told Tall Man. "We aren't serious, but who knows what the future will hold, right? Time doesn't wait for anyone."
"It's true," Tall Man said. And after he left, I put my face in my hands.
I'd been stupid to put so much hope in a random guy I didn't even know! I should have been putting that faith in myself. No one was going to raise my kids except me. No one would take care of me like I could. And how could I keep hoping "love" would save me? I needed to be like a sole bonsai tree, sure and strong. I needed to stop worrying about men.
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