Stephen wasn't sure what made him stop into the "book store" on Randolph Street on his way to the train after work. Lord knows the kind of "books" they sell there aren't the type he usually reads, and certainly they were unlike the book under his arm that evening, "The Thurber Carnival." It was his second time through that collection of stories, and he was quite sure there were no acts contained within those tales like the ones depicted in the literature behind that door - If there were, Mr. Thurber certainly didn't describe them quite as explicitly. Stephen wasn't feeling particularly frisky that evening, more exhausted from a long work week, but he just wanted something to break the monotony of his work week; throw a new element in that pattern of get up, go to work, go home, work out, cook dinner, go to bed. Whether it was a good idea or not, going to a porno shop was certainly a change in that pattern.
The gal behind the counter was about what you would expect, 5'2", great body, short pink hair, covered in tattoos and piercings and reading an actual book, but she had a trusting vibe about her when she said, "Hello there, sir" as Stephen stepped through the door. He felt immediately unsure and worried that he would look like some kind of pervert, especially if someone he knew was in there. It wasn't easy for Stephen to decide what to look for because he wasn't really looking for anything, and everything he looked at made him uncomfortable. He decided that the lubes were a safe place to look, since they didn't have nearly as many naked people on the packages.
"Looking for some lube there, buddy?" She said in a thick Chicago accent, that was still somehow sexy - something he wasn't sure was possible until then. "Uh, no. Not really. I'm not even sure why I came in here" he found himself saying. "Oh . . ." she said, "Well, I wasn't sure why I came in this joint either, but before I knew it I was working here, shamelessly selling pulsating vaginas to weirdos day-after-day. I'm Angelista," she said, giving him a warm smile and extending a delicate hand with black nail polish in his direction.
"Oh. Pleased to meet you. Listen, like I said, I don't know why I came in. I'm going to leave now and let you get back to what it is you have to do."
"Did I look I was extraordinarily busy to you?"
"Uh, no, but I'm sure you have inventory and things because there's a lot of . . . stuff around here, and um, you know, I'm sure just like any other place there are things . . ."
"What are you reading there?"
"Oh, it's a collection of short stories by James Thurber. He wrote for the New Yorker a long time ago. I saw you reading on my way in. Anything good?"
"Yeah! Really good. It's by Tulliver, the leading expert in the field of reflexology. Did you know that I could access every part of your body, including all your erogenous zones, through your feet?"
"No. But I believe you. I should go."
"Sure, but first, give me that hand again."
Stephen indulged her, giving his hand over to her, somewhat embarrassed, but a little bit curious, letting a sheepish smile come out despite attempts not to.
"You have beautiful hands. I bet you have terrific feet too."
"Yeah, they're not bad I guess. I mean, they don't smell or anything."
"Now, if I apply pressure right . . . here, I bet you will feel worlds better in your back. You keep a lot of your stress there, don't you?"
The truth is, he did suddenly feel better. Maybe there was truth to the writings of Tulliver and his hands and feet magic, or maybe it was just that he felt incredibly calm and comfortable around Angelista, who he barely knew, but already he was sure she was a far better person than the sharks and schemers he had to deal with every day at his firm.
"Wow . . . I actually do feel a little better. I should get on my train."
"Sure thing, big dog. Sorry if I weirded you out with all this mumbo jumbo."
"No, that's not it. It's just that I have to run. Pleasure meeting you, Angelista. So long."
"So long," she returned in a business man type tone and face that wasn't as much mocking as it was endearing.
Stephen stepped outside, stretched out his loosened spine and walked towards his L train, feeling a renewed sense of self, and he knew that he would see her again soon because five minutes with Angelista every few days could very well be the thing he would need to get out of bed and onto that urine soaked train every awful morning of his life.