disclaimer: *forgive the spelling, please*

I walked along the cracked and rolling sidewalk in shoes too tight and too high on a day that felt like swimming through hot tomato soup. I can't believe the boss wanted a Foster's Burger. Not only is it greasy and hot and sits way too heavy on the stomach on an afternoon like this, it's also like ordering a heart attack in a white waxen wrapper.

He answered my disdainful look at his order with a threat to take my stapler. Dammit. I love that Swingline. They don't make them like they used to and that baby looks as smooth and streamlined as a Shelby Cobra. Debbie, my cohort in crime, laughs at my secret obsession with the stapler.

Nonetheless, I had to cave to the boss's wishes to retain my lovely Swingline. So here I am, swimming to Foster's in three and a half inch platforms.

Why am I wearing these shoes and why do I work for a boss who craves to harden his arteries? Good questions. I love my shoes and have another little obsession with them. Staples and Shoes. Yep, that's me. Throw in a little fire and I'm a happy camper. Did I mention I'm a pyromaniac? Oh, and a hottie that speaks in a German accent. That gutteral barbarism just makes me quiver inside.

Back to answering your other question. Why do I work for him? That's easy. The job pays good and pays for my shoes. And that's not all. Burger Boy just happens to have the hottest, most spittingly thick German accent you've ever heard and could understand. And so I wear my lovely shoes and bow to his wishes not only to retain my beauty of a stapler, but also because it wouldn't hurt to get brownie points with the Black Forest Bon Bon. I'm hoping he just likes watching me walk in my Steve Madden baby dolls. Foster's is, afterall, right down the street from our office and his window can see me the entire way.

I dare not look back, that would be too…coquette. So I think I should do something a little risque that will surely gain his attention if he's watching me. Then perhaps he'll mention it when I bring him the pulmonary ambolism disguised as a sandwich.

Hmm. What to do?

I look around and spot a grubby art student smoking against the window outside of Foster's. "Can I bum one?" Surely the shock of watching me smoke would make him comment. Me, the health nut of the office. Surely.

The student acquiesces with interest, staring at my shoes. I puff slightly, careful not to inhale. I barely get the taste of the tobacco on my tongue and I immediately crave my toothbrush. I thank the student, who is still staring at my shoes, and snuff out the rest of the cigarette.

I ponder the acrid and slightly sweet taste in my mouth all the way back to the office and all the way up the stairs to the boss's office. I should have stopped to at least rinse, but I was eager to see if he watched me. So I knocked on the rippled glass of the door bearing the name: Phillip Frieze, PI.

The thought flitted through my mind that I was living in one of those film noir's, but I quickly pushed that aside as absurd.

"Come in."

I shivered. Oooooooh, I loved that voice. I approached his mahogany desk and watched his face carefully for any other emotion than hunger. Alright, well, hunger for food. I hoped for the other kind but struggled to maintain a cool facade. Think Sean Young. Think Veronica Lake. Think Bacall. Yeah. "Your change is in the bag."

Oh, yeah. Utter coolness, there. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes at myself. His luscious German lips twitched at the corners. My eyes were arrested by that twitch.

He remained silent.

I deflated a fraction and turned to go, working my backside to at least leave a good impression. "Miz Rotcherz?"

Quiver. He made Rogers sound like sex. I looked back and raised an eyebrow. I congratulated myself at my restraint and utter Bacall-ishness.

He continued in that Autobahn accent, "Ven did you take up smokink?"

My breath left me. I could feel it leaving me to inhabit him. He had watched.

So. This was an exercise that came to me much like the drabbles we're so fond of over on the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn Bulletin Board. I took a phrase and wrote a concept around it, instead of including the phrase in the drabble. My idea was the title of this post and I wrote a story in which the phrase would seem a foregone conclusion to appear.

In design, the concept statement is crucial, so I don't know why I haven't seen this before. Now that I do, I'm smacking myself on the head for missing it.

I did it to see if I could. Does that make sense? I've been writing for over a year now and I've always had the plot and a goal, but never a real concept, as in design work. I'm sure some of you are reading this like I'm an idiot, but it's kind of a breakthrough for me. You have probably read/concluded this ages ago, but I feel pretty awesome about it. ;D So what do you think? Have you ever tried to conceptualize with a phrase *before* writing a story?