Chris - Erick's Boyfriend
John - Erick's Managing Editor
Steve - Erick's Supervisor
Simmons - The Lefty HR Director
Erick walks into the lobby of the PR and creative marketing firm where Chris works. “Hello, may I help you?” the familiar-looking receptionist asks.
“Good afternoon. Erick Davidson for Chris Russell,” he responds.
“Is he expecting you?” the receptionist asks with a hint of playfulness in his eyes.
“He is not.”
The receptionist picks up the phone and dials into Chris’s office. “Chris, I have your BOYFRIEND in front of me,” he announces.
“Which one?” Chris says through the phone so Erick can hear.
The receptionist giggles and hangs up the phone. “Chris will see you now.”
“Thank you,” Erick replies as he starts to head back to Chris’s office.
“Aren’t going to ask how I know who you are?”
“I wasn’t planning on it. I just figured Chris has told you a lot about me.”
“You don’t remember me?”
Erick looks at the receptionist for a moment. “The face looks familiar, the context does not.”
“Great. I’m Erick.”
“I used to work at Houston’s in Century City.”
Erick instantly places the face. “That’s right! You were our waiter when he took me there for my birthday.”
“You remembered,” Evan gushes.
Erick snickers. “Eventually,” he replies as he takes his leave of Evan and walks down the hall to Chris’s office. He peers through the window and sees that Chris is on the phone. Erick waves to get his attention. Chris waves him in. Erick slowly opens the door, slinks in and settles into the nearest chair.
He looks around the uncluttered, largely sparse office. There is a large dark oak desk with several file drawers that is attached to a tall, wide bookcase. On top of Chris’s desk is an in box, an out box and a monthly planner. On the wall is the generic office art Chris plans to have replaced for several far more eclectic, eye-catching and discussion-worthy pieces. Though Chris’s apartment is far from messy, Erick marvels at how much more immaculate he keeps his office.
Chris notices Erick looking around and smiles slightly. He reaches over to the eye-level shelf of the bookcase and pulls out a framed photo of him and Erick that Evan the receptionist had taken when he served as their waiter at Erick’s birthday dinner the previous August. Erick smiles.
“…alright Ben, I have a client on the other line. We can work on the presentation tomorrow,” Chris says trying to end the call. “That will work. First thing. We’ll discuss it and take notes over coffee. Perfect. Bye.”
Chris hangs up the phone. “You didn’t have to show me that photo,” Erick says.
“I wanted to. I never want you think there’s a minute I’m not thinking about you.”
Erick rolls his eyes and giggles. “I had that same framed photo at work.”
“It’s my favorite photo of us.”
“My favorite is the one in my phone that I can’t show anyone.”
“Not even on my dying day. If you do, I’ll haunt you in your sleep.”
Chris motions for Erick to come closer so he can give him a kiss. “How long has Evan been working here?” Erick asks as he and Chris sit back down in their respective chairs.
“It was purely coincidental. After that Houston’s in Century City closed a few months ago, he applied here. He recognized me and asked me to put in a good word. I figured if he can handle table service, he can answer phones.”
“How’s he doing?”
“He’s…amusing,” Chris answers leaning forward on his arms. “Now to what do I owe the pleasure of this pleasant surprise visit?”
Erick pulls out the framed photo he had on his desk at work and places it on Chris’s desk.
Chris stares at the framed photo for a moment. He looks back at Erick for another moment before he figures out what Erick is trying to tell him. “Now the ‘had’ makes sense. What happened?”
“There have been changes at work,” Erick begins.
TWO HOURS EARLIER
“Erick, can you come to my office?” Simmons asks Erick over the phone.
“Sure, I’ll be right down,” Erick replies. He turns off his monitor, walks out of the office he shares with Steve the Promotions Director and heads down the hall. He passes by John the Managing Editor’s empty office and begins to sense that something is up. He walks into Simmons’ office to find Steve and John sitting on the couch across from Simmons’ desk. Simmons is seated at the desk with his hands folded as if he were a judge ready to rule on a court case.
“Please sit down,” Simmons instructs Erick.
“Hiya fellas,” Erick says nervously. “I knew Anthony was going to complain about me one of these days.”
“You may want to sit down,” John says in an unfamiliar, auger tone.
“Do you want to sit on the couch?” Steve asks.
“No, I’m fine. This hard plastic chair will suffice.”
“There have been some changes to the company structure,” Simmons begins as Erick slides into the hard plastic chair near the door.
“What kind of changes?” Erick asks.
“Well, they are good changes for the company…,” Simmons continues.
“…but not for me,” Erick surmises.
“You’re not fired,” Simmons states. “You’ve been a valuable asset to Lefty for the last two-and-a-half years.”
Erick looks back and forth between Simmons, John and Steve waiting for further explanation.
“The company has been acquired,” Simmons explains. “Our new parent company is more video-based and that is the direction in which they want us to move.”
“And they’re not interested in how we do Promotions,” Steve piggybacks. “They’re all about social media.”
“So the Promotions Department is being shut down,” John adds.
“But we’d like you to stay on board as a free-lancer,” Simmons concludes.
“I’m sorry, sweets. What did you say?” Chris asks.
“Well, they offered me severance and told me I could file for unemployment plus I’ll have two months of benefits before going on COBRA. So I said yes, signed the paperwork and walked out. Since I didn’t get to say goodbye to anyone, a few of us are meeting at Larrabee’s for Happy Hour if you want to join us.”
Chris comes from around the desk with his arms extended. Erick stands up and the two embrace. Chris kisses Erick on the top of his head. “You go out and have fun with your work people.”
Erick looks up at Chris and gives him a gentle kiss on the lips. “I’ll come over to your place after.”
“That sounds good. Where are you headed now?” Chris asks.
“I’m going to Fiddler’s on Third for steak and a glass of wine while I wait with bated breath for my first free-lance assignment.”
“Would you like some company?”
“Only if he’s cute,” Erick says with a smirk as he starts to walk out.
Chris reaches over his desk, grabs his suit jacket and follows Erick out the door.
“What about that client on the other line?” Erick asks outside Chris’s office.
Chris takes Erick by the hand and starts walking toward the reception area. “He’s cute, but he’s based in Seattle.”