Power Talk

This was an assignment for my writing class, an improv exercise where several elements are drawn from a hat and then are all incorporated into a story 750 words or less. It’s interesting how even with 5 or 6 common elements, people come up with very different ideas of what to do with them.

The gabardine feels a bit rough in his hands, those hands soft for so many years now. Draping the fabric across his arms, he watches the sunlight streaming from the dingy window dance in the warp and weft. His ring finger catches in the belt loop, and a twinge of guilt springs up in his stomach.

He pushes that feeling down and brings the trousers to his face, breathing in David’s musty odor. There’s a hint of cologne mixed with a slight sweatiness. His eyes are closed, but they must be rolling back in their sockets in ecstasy.

A thought occurs to him, and he sets the slacks on his desk. He reaches behind his back and pushes apart the hook and eye, then pulls down the zipper. The slim, glen plaid a-line skirt falls to the floor and he steps out of it, kicking off his navy pumps in the process. He pushes the girdle down his body and lets himself fall freely.

Pulling on the trousers, one leg then the other, he feels each instance of contact the gabardine makes with his smooth flesh. He imagines he’s looking in the full-length mirror at the gym on Columbia Street and sees himself as David after a workout, energized, clean, and fully alive.

For a moment he muses to himself, “Do I dress right or left? I can barely remember.” He walks about the office, allowing the fabric to caress him with each stride. Every successive step becomes firmer, and he notices his feet fully touching the floor. Squaring his shoulders, he plants himself in the middle of the room, arms akimbo. Now he sees himself as his own father. He mimes a few pulls on an imaginary pipe.

He struts over to the coat rack while introducing himself to a nonexistant young couple, jutting out his hand to the new husband for a firm handshake in the air. He slips on his gold blazer and practices his spiel in his manliest voice. “The windows have all recently been resealed, and the schools are excellent.”

He takes a few more tugs on his pipe, congratulating himself on another sale. He drops back to rest his bottom on his desk and slips into a reverie. He sees himself in a large-brimmed hat, tending to the hydrangeas as David expounds on the finer points of the knuckleball to their son while he and David exchange loving, lingering glances.

Letting out a bittersweet sigh, he reluctantly slips off the stolen trousers and replaces them with the restrictive girdle. Some day, he thinks, this will be unnecessary. God willing. He puts on the skirt and picks up the trousers. He carries them to the filing cabinet, breathing in David, now mixed with his own scent, one last time. A sound at the door startles him, and he tosses his treasure into the nearest drawer.

Slamming the door open, David inquires loudly, ” Hey Anne, have you seen my pants?”

He clears his throat, smooths out his skirt, “What pants?”

“I think that goddam faggot Jack stole them while I was in the shower. I swear there is something shifty about that guy. I can literally feel his eyes on me when I’m doing squats. I think I might have to change gyms.”