Grant rubbed his eyes and looked at the computer time. The place in the was blank, and he remembered why. He had purposefully disabled the clock display He sighed and went back to Powerpoint.
All the things hat he hated was working against him now. The time. Powerpoint. sleep deprivation And where no warm hand telling him to go to bed, to get some sleep, a voice heavy with sleep and of love. He sighed. I'll just proofread this last couple of slides and hit the sack,.
Having done that, he splashed water in his face to get rid of that slimy feeling, and, setting himself into the king size bed, he had to remind himself that she wasn't there anymore and couldn't. in fact, use that side of the bed He set his alarm and dropped off to sleep with visions of stupid Powerpoint slides in his head
The next morning, some five hours later, he readied himself for this crappy presentation. He knew his isht, and he knew that this was simply another part to the song and dance he knew all the steps to by now. He had his own way of these things: he didn't use bullet points, he used a lot of illustrations, he never red the slide, and he always talked to the audience like they could read. He hated when he got read to, like this as some second grade story hour.
To help wake him up, he turned the stereo up to blast some heavy metal. His soundproof walls gave him some sense of security from his neighbors. He liked AC/DC, didn't think Metallica had made anything decent since the mid 90s, and didn't really like most of the work cranked out by the new cats. He waited until the bells stopped raging and the rocking started on "Hell's Bells" before he started rocking out and waking up.
The presentation went as usual. The usual white faces just kinda blurred after a while; some old white guy thanking him afterwards for giving his perspective on a marketing concept, maybe a splash of color who didn't now if he was friend or foe, and, inevitably, a white woman who didn't even see him. She was usually the first one out of the meeting when it ended, so he never got a sense of where their heads were.
Afterwards, he was free to do as he liked, so he figured that now would be as good a time as any to go back home and collect himself. He took another shower (presentations made him feel icky, for some reason), and blasted more metal until lunchtime, where he fixed himself some baked chicken breasts with pasta.
With work out of his mind, the void in was immediately consumed with her. Dammit, he thought, and wondered if he'd let his mind wander on the topic or not. He could always just go somewhere, but he couldn't think of anywhere he wanted to go right away. Most of his boys were at work and wouldn't be able to pull themselves away for lunch just yet. His mom, retired, was probably home, if today wasn't Go to Church for Eight Hours Day, so he could probably call her to see how she was. His Mom live down SOuth now, a mysterious place to him, a city boy through and through, and he had noticed that she was increasingly becoming pretty dependent on the church for pretty much any semblance of community she left when she was living in the city.
Actually, what he should be doing is getting prepared for another presentation in another couple of days - one he’d actually have to think for. It was for a small non-profit, an audience he found that had high gals but often not enough funding. Dealing with corporate clients gets you into a rut, he figured. You could pretty much say the same bullshit, have the same clip art, and there would be people there who would nod like you were delivering the Gettysburg Address. That was the way of corporate.
But the way of these small non-profits was unlike that, and like it at the same time. He’d been in a couple of meetings were the principals simply asked to be spoken to in plain terms, that no amount of stupid buzzwords would obscure that he was, in fact, bullshitting. He had to tell them point blank, that what they wanted and what they were gonna pay for were two separate entities, but this is what he could do. That was earlier in his career, of course. Now he wouldn't think of forming sentences that were, well, negative. He didn’t get that account, but he was fired in the most positively life-affirming way possible:
“We regret that we are unable to hire your firm for our continued business. It is not because of the depth of work, not the speed of execution, but we became acutely aware of the disconnect between that we can pay and the quality of the service we would ultimately demand of you. Your account executive, a Mr. Grant Arrington, made it abundantly clear in that endeavor.” His boss didn't know whether to congratulate him or cuss him out.
Since then, Grant had built himself into a great consultant, a brain for hire, as the old man at the party had said. Not only could he be paraded around as the token, but inevitably, his knowledge and mastery of what he was asked to do shined through, and those who thought of him as simply an ornament were first surprised, then pleased that they knew one of them who spoke proper English and could handle complicated matters, like their need to "reach out" to the minority community.
Grant had learned to deal with it. He couldn't help what he was. He knew that people saw the color of his skin before he opened his mouth. When he decided to talk, he had traversed a totally new battlefield, where his mere presence was such a shock that he comfortably present even the dumbest of ideas before they regained their senses and could object.
This non-profit was something different, though. In his experience, the non-profits he dealt with were just smaller fiefdoms, a mini-corporation in structure. Even though the small size of the organization prohibited the rampant acts of stupidity he saw in the huge boardrooms , he could still walk in and point out the archetypes. The lifetimer, the veteran of many small organizations and concerns, who usually hated the bullshit. The do-gooder, usually a younger person who saw their job as a way to help people who didn't give a damn about being helped, the lord and master, usually a failed executive of some type who had managed to hook in and hold every vestige of power with the anxious clutch of a small child concerned that everyone wanted to play with the toy only the possessed.
He tolerated them all; he usually came in, introduced himself, gauged their reactions to him and what he was there to say, worked with them as he planned, developed, and executed the plan he came in with, and left. Not a lot of time to cultivate many relationships besides the professional. His Rolodex was full of business cards; his little black book, not so much.
He didn't mind that so much when he was busy, but it sucked when he wasn''t, therefore he tried to make himself as busy as possible. Sensible and practical, he had seen greater men than he climb inside the bottle and stay there. He got his physical needs fulfilled; he took care of himself and had an air of going places that women liked. But the love thing? Not now.
On his way out to the art museum to waste a few hours while one of his acquaintances finished up some business and could meet him for drinks, he went back into the bedroom. Grabbing his sunglasses ofd the nightstand, he looked at his disheveled bed and the still freshmade side that he still hadn't found it in himself to reclaim in the wonderings of his sleep.
"Dammit," he thought, and left.