Claire sat in her apartment waiting for the doorbell to ring. She had spent most of the day cleaning her apartment and the last two hours trying to make herself presentable. Her stomach knotted when the clock struck 7:00. She’d told the service to send him over an hour before the party, so they could get their stories straight. She’d seen the Rent a Buddy ad in LA Weekly and called out of desperation. She hoped he wasn’t too good looking, she’d instructed them to be realistic.
She got up and looked at herself in the mirror again. There she was, plain and pale with thin blond hair and bad skin and ten pounds overweight to boot. She wasn’t sure what was more ridiculous, the problem she was having or the solution to the problem.
The bell rang and she opened the door to find a tall dark haired man with perfectly chiseled features standing in the door way.
“Claire?” the young man asked.
“Are you Tim,” she asked without a smile.
She stepped aside and he entered. He sat down on the sofa and she offered him a root beer. She studied him suspiciously as he drank it.
“How old are you.”
“Twenty Seven,” how old are you?
“Thirty three, If anyone asks I’d like you to be thirty.”
“How much do you pay for this place,” he asked.
“$1000 a month.”
“Am I supposed to live with you?
“No, we’ve only been dating for a month.”
“Are you trying to make someone jealous,” he said with a note of judgment in his voice.
“No, I’m trying to discourage someone. My boss wouldn’t leave me alone. I’m not used to that sort of thing and I didn’t know how to handle it. I told him I had a boyfriend.”
“Why didn’t you just sue the company?”
“Well, It’s only a temp job and, I don’t know It didn’t seem worth it I mean sometimes those things make the news and they make the woman sound nuts “She said looking at the floor,afraid to meet his glance.
“Look, I could use something stronger. Do you want some whiskey,” she asked.
“Sure,” he brightened. “So tell, me about myself. What’s my name what do I do?”
“You’re a paralegal.”
“Not just one,” he chuckled and she looked confused.
“I told them you worked in the legal department of BOA. I didn’t want them asking too many questions. Your name is Greg and you just moved here from Denver and you moved here to be closer to your family.”
He took a moment to absorb this.
“What is it you do,” he asked emptying his glass.
“Telephone customer service for a video production company. Their normal girl is on maternity leave she’ll be back at the beginning of February, “she said refiling both of their glasses.
“How did we meet,” he said draining his glass and pouring another.
“We met at a party of a guy in your building. We bounded over a love of Robin Williams movies.” She paused to refill her own glass.
”That was how I ended up mentioning you, actually. My supervisor, is this really creepy guy and we were talking in the break room and the subject was 80’s movies. He said he loved Mrs. Doubtfire and that it was playing at the Beverly, I panicked and said something like you know who love’s Robin Williams, my boyfriend! Were gonna have to go see that movie! Thanks for telling me about it. I said something like that. So then he started asking me about you. I just got deeper and deeper into the lie.”
She began to feel a bit more confident and everything in the room seemed softer, even their aesthetic inequity,
“I did like that movie.” He smiled.
She smiled to herself feeling a bit superior in knowing that the film was a trite piece of shit.
”Do you have any smoke?”
They both sat in silence for a moment smoking from Clair’s cheap glass pipe. More alcohol was consumed.
“So, how did you get this job,” she asked with a laugh.
“I just came here and I was looking for a day job while I pursued acting. My roommate told me about the company, he said fighting of a slur.
They both began to giggle.
“We should go,” she said. She staggered to her feet.
Realizing they were too drunk to drive they got into a cab a rode to the restaurant where the office Christmas party was being held. By this time they were both quite jovial and a bit speech impaired.
Tim laughed at the sight of palm trees with lights on them.
“I miss snow,” he said.
There was a light rain that pounded the cab and made the filth on the street shine and rise and run into the gutter. The lights from the cars seemed bright and magnetic to Clair she wanted to follow the light itself as it sank back into the world of the car.
They arrived at the party fifteen minutes after it had started. They made a bee line for the bar to get their two allotted free drinks, they ordered Jamison’s and went over their details as they drank.. After a moment, Randy the supervisor that Tim had been hired to fool walked. In the door. He took off his hat to reveal that a bare pate sat above the chubby exterior which was clad in a cheap, powder blue suit.
“He’s here,” Claire jumped up and almost fell to the ground in the process. Tim giggled hysterically and caught her. Claire felt a warm rush go through her body as he pulled her to her feet and put his arm around her, leading her towards Randy.
“Hi, Randy” Clair said.
“Hey…” Randy began.
“I’m Ti…..Greg! How ya doin’ man!”
“I’m doin’ well. So you….
“I’m a paraplegic in a firm.”
Claire looked horrified.
“You’re a what.” Randy said confused.
“I’m from Denver” Time screamed.
Clair began to laugh. Tim slapped her butt and kissed her with an open mouth.
Randy looked confused but a little aroused.
Clair and Tim stagger out into the street. Tim began to run along Melrose Ave as fast as he could. Weaving in and out the passers by who regarded him with curiosity. Clair chased after him trailing a block behind. He stopped at a vintage store and waited for her to catch up.
“This store sells Fruit Loops T-shirts for fifty dollars apiece” he said. “Throw a rock!”
“I don’t think so,” she said.
“Do it and I’m free”.
“I already paid,” She said.
He kissed her, this time more seriously. She picked up a rock and aimed at the window.