Fighting for a rare chance at friendship : a short story
“Hey, shove over. You always pick the best spot! Give others a chance!” Calvin Rodriguez shooed Henry Lee, a valued member of his clique and long time friend, over to the other side of the table at Lawry’s. The clique often parked itself at their reserved table at the upmarket restaurant which served savoire faire dishes; Lawry’s was the place to see and be seen for trendy, young professionals with a few dollars to spend. Henry quickly made his way to the other side of the table. The company consisted of a few colleagues from Calvin’s accounting firm who liked to see themselves as members of the gilded set.
Henry soon put a finger to his lips. “Oh no. Look who’s making his way here.” Everyone at the table craned their necks and an awkward hush soon fell over the group. Dilbert Yeo, the company’s known drag with a tendency for the outlandish, was sashaying his way over to the group. The ladies at the table soon started giggling. With his sheer loudness and effeminate behavior, Dilbert never ceased to be a conversation topic. Henry threw Calvin a cheeky look. “Look. Your ardent admirer has arrived.”
Calvin groaned inwardly. All he wanted was a peaceful dinner. Could the nonsense wait for later? That Dilbert was partial to the suave-looking-hit-among-the-ladies Calvin was already gossip fodder, and his presence at the time only made matters worse. It would be all over the office headlines (or gossip lines) the next day.
True to form, Dilbert squeezed himself next to Calvin. “Hi Calvin. Wondering if you would be here. Mind if I join you?” He addressed all at the table and began placing an order for a fillet mignion while the rest gawked helplessly. Could they say no?
Rushing through his food quickly, Calvin made his excuses and left the restaurant as quickly as his legs could carry him. Dilbert soon followed and from the corner of his eye, Calvin could already see Mabel and Marianne, two of the office’s renowned gossip queens, peering in curiosity. Calvin wondered what antics they would be up to in the office the next day. It definitely would not be auditing accounts.
Stopping at a nearby traffic junction, Calvin made the effort to turn to the persevering Dilbert, who still insisted on stalking him. “Look, I really have to make my way home. I’ve a report to rush before tomorrow, and we all know how our boss is about not meeting deadlines. So could I see you in the office tomorrow?” Dilbert flashed a lopsided grin and winked. “Sure Cal, my pal, I’ll catch you in the morning.” He soon sauntered off and Calvin slowed his pace, sighing in relief.
Mylie Cyrus The Friendship Song
Calvin stepped into his apartment, grabbed the remote control for the television and threw it on the sofa. Flipping through the channels, he realized that he was in no mood for his favorite show; he decided instead to have a quick shower. He stood under the shower head, letting the soap suds wash over his compact, muscular body. Gazing at himself in the nearby mirror, Calvin was proud of what he saw - his tanned looks, well-chiseled chin and well toned arms made him a to-die-for-catch. Musing, Calvin knew that he had sometime for bachelor play before settling down; he made it a point to call one of his girlfriends after his shower.
Dilbert Yeo, however, proved to be an obstacle to his reputation as a Casanova. He was stuck for a solution; what could he do to ward the effeminate stalker off? The ladies at the table that evening were already seeking their next story; he could not allow himself to be the next office headline.
He stared ponderously at the computer screen in front of him. Computers. Dilbert was fond of being online and befriending everyone on Facebook and Twitter. Smirking, Calvin had a sudden grasp of the situation. A brilliant idea soon took force. Why not use these social platforms to his advantage - it should not hurt, because it is all virtual. He sounded himself out, made up his mind and began to type.
Calvin was soon carried away at the computer and forgot to call the girlfriend he had promised himself to. He was taken by his story of Dilbert as a Gay stalker who took pleasure in harassing him over the phone and sending him love notes. As Calvin got more involved in his story, Dilbert became a closet cross-dresser as well. So captured was he by his attempted characterization that he hardly realized that it was morning.
Calvin arrived in the office the next day, entering the office with a confident gait and cheerful whistle. He trundled over to his desk and one of his pretty office secretaries, Melissa, dressed in a polka dotted miniskirt to accentuate the length of her legs, made it a point to make her presence felt.
“Cal-veen,” she attempted an unsuccessful, flirtatious drawl.”Dilbert’s not in today, so you’ll have to see that big client of his behalf.”
“What the....” Calvin groused, thumping his desk. “As if I have nothing else better to do!” Then he remembered to respond to his secretary’s attention seeking attempts. Deliberately looking her up and down, he cooed, “It’s alright, do me a favor and just set up an appointment, will you?” Melissa, highly pleased that she had gotten his attention, went off with a flick of her hair.
She suddenly turned back. “Oh. I forgot to tell you. Dilbert’s not coming in for the rest of the week.” Calvin felt like doing a cartwheel there and then. It looked as though his attempts at loose rumor had succeeded in fending of the obstacle to his reputation.
When he did come back, Dilbert seemed like a changed person. he did not make himself seen at Lawry’s anymore; instead, he opted to leave straight after work, avoiding the gazes of curious colleagues. He had also taken to going to the rooftop of the office building and spending moments alone.
All of this, of course, did not bother Calvin an iota - in fact, it was exactly what he had intended. His mean streak took hold of him as he took delight in Dilbert’s new moroseness.
Encountering him in the pantry one day, he could not resist goading him a little. “Hey, Dilbert, who are you stalking today? Is he handsome?”
Dilbert did not answer but returned Calvin’s remarks with a quiet look. He walked to the stairs that led to the rooftop.
At the end of the work day, Calvin made his way to the cross junction leading to the bus-stop opposite his office. With his trademark whistle, he swung his branded Armani jacket over his shoulder and walked over to the bus stop. Spotting a pretty colleague, he decided to stop for a short conversation.
In his reverie, he did not notice that the light at the junction had turned its trademark warning red. The car cruised its way unstoppably through the junction, the driver careless of the harsh color.
“Hey, watch it!” Calvin heard a voice he thought he recognized. Dilbert grabbed him by the shoulders and they both fell over, rolling on the road. Everything went black.
Calvin woke up in the hospital realizing his head was bandaged and that he had a splitting headache. He attempted sitting up, but realized he needed assistance. A nurse, looking attractive and school-girlish in her uniform, helped him to sit up.
Despite his injuries, Calvin couldn’t resist his trademark smolder. He suddenly remembered that Dilbert had actually saved him. “Hey, good looking,” he purred, “ Could you tell me how Dilbert Yeo is doing?”
The nurse was obviously less than impressed with his pick up. “He would be better if he had not tried to rescue you,” she shook her head. “He’s next door, in a coma. Not sure if he’ll ever get the chance to wake up, but you can take a look at him if you like.” She stared at him with an instead-of-flirting-you-should-be-checking-your-friend-out-look. Not waiting for a response, she left the ward.
Calvin, in spite of himself, could not help but feel a little guilty. Perhaps he should visit Dilbert a little later.
A little later, Calvin found himself in Dilbert’s ward. He regretted stepping in immediately.
Dilbert was covered in bandages, attached to a respirator. His heartbeat still registered, though a little slow. Calvin, casual as he tried to be, had not expected things to come to this. Questions the self-centered young man usually chose not to ask suddenly popped into his mind. What if he remains in bandages forever? What if he never woke up? What if...
At the corner of his eye, he spotted a white envelope on the table next to Dilbert’s bed. The same nurse he had tried to flirt with suddenly popped into the room. “That was found in the pocket of one of his shirts. Keep it for him if you’d like.” She bustled about her business, adjusted the drip on Dilbert and made her way out of the room.
Curiosity got the better of Calvin and he grabbed the envelope quickly. He knew Dilbert was a sentimentalist - he wanted to see what emotional nonsense he was writing. He unfolded the paper - and could not put it down.
I never had the chance to say this to you, so I am writing this so that I can find some way to tell someone. I don’t know if you or anyone will read this, because you know that I have no family since my mum died last year Since I can't really talk to myself, I’ve to write, and I’m really grateful for this pen and this piece of paper.
Everyone thinks of me as a joke. I’m used to the remarks - I’ve had that since I was young. I know no other way to behave, because mum had always taught me to be a gentle soul who should speak softly and not offend anyone. I want to do mum proud - I’ll never behave any other way.
I just want you to know that I don’t blame you one bit for doing what you did. Perhaps if I’d met someone else like this I’d behave exactly the same way because I don’t like people stalking me either. I understand how important your reputation is to you and I’m sorry if I’ve ever gotten in the way.
I only wanted to get to know you a little bit better. I was sort of hoping that someone would just give friendship with me a go for a change.
I really admire you for having everyone around you, you know that? You are one of the most charismatic people I know. I was just sort of hoping that some of it would rub off on me.
Calvin, for folks like myself, being someone's friend is a rare opportunity. I just wanted a once in a million lifetime chance at friendship.
Thanks, Calvin, for everything.
A shell-shocked Calvin stood in the room biting his lip. He stared at the quiet, slim figure on the bed, not knowing what to do but hope that Dilbert would finally get up. He was flummoxed at how childish he had been.
A bit of movement from the bed got his attention. Calvin ran over to Dilbert immediately . “How’re you feeling?” he asked, concern for the first time etched on his brow.
Dilbert did not respond. He was just a little too tired to. He heard Calvin’s voice calling endlessly but did not answer. He closed his eyes, happy that someone had finally taken him as a friend, hearing Calvin’s voice fading away like a loving whisper.
Copyright (C) by Michelle Liew Tsui-Lin