Author's Note: First off, I originally was going to post this as a short story, but then I realized it was going to be a very long short story, so I decided to turn it into more of a... novella. I doubt there will be any more than three or four chapters, but that's better than turning it into a 30 page short story. So yes, this is the short story I was talking about in my update on my profile. Secondly, the title Valet might be changed sometime in the future. I can't decide if I like it or if I need a cleverer title. If you have any suggestions, please let me know! Thanks!
The midday sun beat down on me as I fanned myself with the comic book I had given up reading an hour ago. It was just too hot to read anything, even a book where the words "POW!" and "WHAM!" played a major part in the plot. Of course, the fact that I was sitting on an old, metal barstool didn't help, nor did the fact that my uniform required me to wear khaki pants, no matter how hot it got. We had tried to petition for shorts or at least a set of plastic or wooden chairs instead of the hot, metal ones, but we had been shot down pretty quickly on that. According to the country club, members expected their valets to be dressed properly at all times. As for the new chairs, well, why would they give us new things when the only reason we had chairs in the first place was because they had replaced the furniture at the lounge bar a decade back? I mean, we were just the help. Why would they spend money on us?
Still, working at the country club wasn't all bad. I mean, they had splurged on a beach umbrella for us this year. Last year we hadn't even had that. But unfortunately, only two people could fit under the umbrella at a time and seeing as I was the third and final person to show up for my shift, I had been forced to sit out in the sun while Justin and Tim reclined on their stools in the shade.
I sighed and fanned myself harder and closed my eyes so the bead of sweat that was currently rolling down my forehead wouldn't land in it. I was too sun drunk to actually reach up and brush it away. It was a good thing the sports cars we parked had AC or else we probably would have all perished from the heat… even Justin and Tim under their umbrella. The summer was already a scorcher and it was only the middle of June. I shuddered to think of what August would bring.
"Hey, there's a car coming in,"
While Tim eagerly turned his head to see what car was driving down the long road that wound through the golf course, I didn't bother. After the first month of this job, all the patrons had seemed to blur together. Sure, they all came in different cars, but they were all fancy ones made by companies like Bentley, Aston Martin and Porsche. I kind of wished that someone would show up in an old, beat up Honda or something one day to mix things up. That would be the person who would stand out, not the guy in the latest Ferrari. As for the people, well, the women all wore their polo shirts and pearls while the men wore their slacks and blazers. Sometimes I felt like I had stepped onto the set of the Stepford Wives. It didn't matter who was about to pull up in front of the clubhouse. They were all the same.
However, my coworkers felt differently.
"Is it crazy old Patty Marcell?" Tim slid his sunglasses up onto the top of his head to get a better look at the approaching car. "God, I hope not. Her car always smells like dead cats. I can't decide if she's actually got one in there or if it's just her perfume,"
"No, you idiot," Justin gave him a smack on the shoulder. "Marcell drives a BMW. That's a Mercedes. Get your eyes checked."
"Oh. Well either way, it's not my turn," He gave his glasses an absent flick and they fell back onto his nose.
"Not mine either," Justin leaned over and snagged the Nalgene bottle filled with God knew what from under his stool. "Corey, it's yours,"
I sighed and looked down the driveway towards the approaching car. Would I be driving stick or automatic? As long as it had AC (and it would) I really didn't care, but it was always good to know what you were getting into before driving it down to the parking lot.
My breath caught in my throat as I recognized the car. This wasn't just any Mercedes, this was Kaitlyn Albright's red, SLK Mercedes convertible and there was Kaitlyn, sitting at the wheel, singing to some song on the radio as she drove. Her blond curls bounced around her face as she rocked her head to the music. And even still yards away in her car, I could see her perfect, creamy skin. It wasn't too tan unlike a lot of the other girls here who lived on tanning beds, but it wasn't as pale as the traditionalists who believed that white was the only way to go. She was just… normal. I liked normal.
Perhaps I had been exaggerating a bit when I had said all of the country club members had blurred together in my mind. There was nothing blurred at all about Kaitlyn. I had known she was the girl for me from the first moment I had seen her on my first day. She wasn't like most of the girls around here and not just because of her skin. She didn't panic when her clothes got dirty, she didn't mind falling down, and she didn't seem to care about daddy's AmEx nearly as much as the others if the grubby looking corduroy bad she always carried around with her was any case. And God knew she was hot. I could look at her all day without getting tired, especially if it was one of those times when she came to the club with only a pair of short blue jean shorts to cover her bikini… And, as a bonus, her carefree, surprisingly unspoiled personality only helped to make her even more attractive. I loved to hear her laugh and smile never failed to be an instant turn on for me.
As the Mercedes rolled to a stop, I slid off my stool, shoving my comic onto my now vacant seat. Unlike most of the women who attended the club, Kaitlyn never waited for me open the door for her. I wasn't quite sure if this was because she was too impatient to wait for someone to do something she could do herself or because she found being waited on uncomfortable, but either way, it didn't matter how fast I made it around to the driver's side of the car, she always had the door open by the time I got there. Today was no exception.
I needlessly held the door for her out of a lack of anything else to do as she stepped out of the car. Unfortunately today was not a bikini day. She had on a white tank top and a pair of Underarmor black shorts—It was a tennis lesson day.
Once she was out of the car, she gave me a quick smile, slinging her corduroy bag over her shoulder. I could see her tennis racket's handle sticking out of the top. "Hey,"
"Hey," It was a pathetic greeting, but it was all I had time for before she was off, jogging into the clubhouse so as not to be late to her lesson, her blond curls bouncing behind her as she went. I stood there for a second, watching as if in some sort of trance. We never exchanged more than two or three words a day plus the two or three dollars she slipped me as a tip when I returned her car, but I was still crazy for the girl and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
I watched her until she disappeared through the clubhouse doors and then I slid into the Mercedes. Her fruity perfume hit me immediately and I closed my eyes, letting the mercifully cold AC blow it all at me. I had heard other valets say that they thought it was funny a twenty-one year old girl would wear a scent that smelled like it was made for preteens, but I thought it was perfect for her. Maybe it was just because I had been driving her car forever now, but I couldn't imagine her smelling like anything else.
Opening my eyes again, I shut the car door and took my time moving the mirrors and seat around to suit my needs. I had the whole thing down to a science that only took a second with the other cars, but I always took my time with Kaitlyn's. The longer I could spend in the Mercedes, the happier I was. After all, it was the only time I had with her… even though she wasn't there. It wasn't like we had a chance together—I wasn't stupid enough to even entertain ideas about that. I came from a family of one parent and three children, just barely scraping by on a beautician's salary. Her dad was a CEO and her mom was a lawyer. A pig and a rooster had a better chance of hooking up than we did.
After a minute or so, I put the car into drive and began my leisurely drive down to the parking lot. Kaitlyn had turned the radio off when she had gotten out, but I turned it back on, curious to hear what she had been singing to. To my disappointment the DJs were talking now, but I was still amused to see that she had been listening to the local college station. They weren't really known for their musical selection, so she must have been station surfing and had run into a good song while doing so. I doubted she had actually tuned into the station knowing what it was. It wasn't like it was her alma mater. She went to Bard. It said so on the back of the car.
Arriving in the lot, I guided the car into the closest spot I could see and turned off the ignition. I waited a bit, reveling in the last moments of AC I would get before starting the sweltering trek back to the clubhouse. If I had any luck, Justin or Tim would parking a car of their own when I got back and I could steal one of their chairs, but for now I would take advantage of the AC.
As I glanced out the passenger seat window to see if Tim or Justin were coming down with another car, I spotted an envelope on the passenger seat with a creamy peace of note paper peaking out just enough for me to see the forest green and crimson that identified it as a country club invitation. People had accidentally dropped enough of these out of their cars at various dinners and dances that I could spot one on sight. But what was this invitation for? I hadn't been asked to valet for an extra event yet...
Curiosity getting the better of me, I grabbed the envelope and pulled the invitation out to read,
Miss Kaitlyn Albright is cordially invited to:
The Founder's Ball
July 4th, 2009
7:30 to Midnight
Guests will not be admitted without invitation
Of course. The Founder's Ball. I could have smacked myself for being such an idiot. It was one of the bigger parties that the club hosted each year, with a full course dinner, dancing, and fireworks at midnight. I had valeted for it last year—Justin had snitched a bottle of champagne from the kitchens and all ten of us had all gotten pleasantly buzzed. It was a miracle none of us had crashed any cars.
Curiosity appeased, I slid the invitation back into the envelope and dropped it onto the passenger seat where I had found it. Justin and Tim would think I had abandoned them if I didn't get back to the clubhouse soon. With a sigh and one last breath cold, climate controlled air, I grabbed the keys from the ignition and stepped out of the car. Locking it behind me.
I passed Tim on my way back to the clubhouse, saluting him as he drove by. He flipped me off, knowing just as well as I did that I'd be stealing his seat and there was nothing he could do about it. I didn't feel any regret for him. When Justin drove the next car down Tim could steal his seat. Besides, I had been the one broiling in the sun for the past twenty minutes, not him.
The first thing I did when I arrived at the clubhouse was to grab my comic book off my chair. Then I promptly moved to Tim's.
"Did you know the Founder's Ball is coming up?"
Justin snorted, not bothering to look up from the issue of Maxim he was reading. "No shit. It's a Fourth of July party. The Fourth of July is coming up. What do you expect, man?"
"Shut up," I could feel my face coloring. Of course I knew that the Founder's Ball was a Fourth of July party. I had just forgotten all about it.
"Have they asked you to work during it?"
He continued to read his magazine. "Not yet. Why?"
I shrugged. "Just wondering,"
Seeing as the conversation was over, I snapped open my comic book and went back to reading. It was still really too hot for reading, but seeing as there was nothing else for me to do, it was just something I would have to deal with.
"So what's up with you and that girl?"
I looked up from the comic book, taken aback by his question. "What?"
"I saw you staring at her before. You're lucky she didn't turn around or else she might have called the police on you for stalking." He turned the page, continuing to read.
I scowled at him, feeling my face go bright red again. "So what?"
"So you want to ask her out or something?"
"Shut up!" The more he spoke, the brighter my face got. Why couldn't he just leave this alone and let me suffer through my own inability to at least strike up a conversation with Kaitlyn.
He nodded as if I had just something smart, a smile tweaking one side of his mouth. "Thought so. You should ask her out then. You won't know what she'll say until you ask."
Laughing, he held up a hand in surrender and finally looked up from his magazine. "I'm serious, man. I've gotten her car a few times. She seems like a nice girl. Worst case scenario, she'd let you down gentle."
"How am I supposed to ask a girl like her out?" I let my comic book drop to the ground. It didn't seem like I would be getting any more reading done, at least not at the moment. "She doesn't even know my name. How would you feel if your valet just randomly walked up to you one day and went, 'Here're your keys. Oh, and do you want to go out with me this Friday?' Compared to her I might as well be that homeless guy on the corner of Fifth and Rugby."
"Then make sure it's not random,"
"How do I make something like that not random?" Justin may have been a college graduate for the past two months, but obviously diplomas didn't always transfer over to street smarts. He obviously had no idea what the hell he was talking about.
"Really man, you're making this harder than it should be. Just because the people here at the country club can afford the membership it doesn't mean they're royalty. They're just normal people with a little more money than us. That's all. If… what's her name?"
"Kaitlyn," God, he was giving me tips about asking Kaitlyn out and he didn't know her name? Yeah. He was going to be a lot of help.
"Kaitlyn, right," He nodded. "If Kaitlyn thinks you're nice to look at and you haven't been a dick to her at some point in time, there's no reason she should say no. If money matters to her enough to dictate who she dates, then she's probably not going to be worth the hole she'll put through your bank account."
I felt the need to defend Kaitlyn from Justin's hypothetical accusation. "She's not a gold digger."
"Well, then you've got nothing to worry about unless you're a dick, because my little sister in high school thinks you're hot."
"What?" That was by far the last possible thing I had been expecting to come out of Justin's mouth.
Tim ambled past the umbrella and collapsed onto my vacated stool, flinching as his bare arms touched the hot metal. "It's fucking hot out here. What are we talking about?"
"Corey's too chicken to ask the girl in the Mercedes out," Justin turned his attention back to the copy of Maxim. Glancing over, I saw what had caught his attention—they were doing an article on Camille Belle featuring pictures of her in her underwear. I found myself staring as well…
"Oh, that Albright girl, right?" Tim leaned down to itch one of his Birkenstock clad feet like the idiot he was.
I nodded, finally pulling myself away from the pictures. "Yeah, Kaitlyn."
Itch apparently appeased, he straightened back up. "So why won't you ask her out?"
Justin flipped the page. "Corey seems to have gotten it into his head that country club girls couldn't possibly be into him because he parks their cars,"
"Aw, man, that can't be true! Justin's little sister totally has a crush on you and she's hot, so you can't be that bad."
Looking up from the magazine, Justin gave Tim a death glare. "Watch it, man."
"Sorry," He didn't sound like he meant it that much, especially since the second he finished apologizing, he was talking to me again. "I mean, rich people have affairs with their pool boys all the time, right? Why shouldn't valets have some fun too?"
"I think the pool boys are usually targeted by older women though, Tim. Kaitlyn's our age,"
"Oh," There was a few seconds of silence after that until Tim suddenly changed the topic. "The Founder's Ball is coming up soon,"
Justin sighed. "Yes," The word came out sounding overly patient as if he were talking to a five year old. "It happens every year on same day. Seeing as today is June fifteen, the Fourth of July is coming up soon." He went back to enjoying more half naked pictures of Camille Belle.
"I know that, idiot. I was going to say that Corey should sneak in."
That got Justin's attention. For a second time in the past minute, his head snapped up and he glared at Tim. "Absolutely not," Being one of the oldest college students employed as a valet at the club, Justin answered directly to the head of the club's valet service unlike us who answered to well, him or another head valet depending on what shift we were working. It was unnecessary to say that he took his job seriously. Besides, I wasn't so keen on the idea either.
"What? In my valet uniform? I think I'd stick out pretty badly in khakis and a white polo when it's a black tie event."
"Fuck, no." Tim gave me an offended look. "Do you really think I'm that dumb? You'd come in a tux and just not work that night. They have all the valets work on the night of the Founder's Ball. They won't miss you as long as you remember to clock in and out at the right times. If you don't think your girl's interested in slumming it, then you've got to raise yourself up to her level. If you have any other ideas on how to do that, please. Be my guest."
"I seriously hope you're not thinking about this," Justin was still frowning. "Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't want you to get the girl, you just can't blow off your job to do it,"
Unfortunately for him, I was thinking about this now. How could I not? Tim might not have been the brightest bulb in the box, but he had a point. Kaitlyn wasn't going to slum it, so I'd have to rise above my lowly status.
"Car," Tim announced lazily. We all looked up to see a particularly stunning silver Maserati coming down the drive. It was the sort of drive we'd usually fight over to get the privilege to bring down to the parking lot, but today there were no wild shouts, attempting to claim the car. "Justin, it's yours,"
He grinned. "With pleasure."
We waited in silence, watching the sleek beauty of mechanics glide down the road, coming closer and closer. And then it stopped and Justin opened the door, letting a middle aged man out. The moment Justin had closed the door behind him and the owner had passed us on his way into the clubhouse, Tim continued.
"So, what do you think, man?"
"I think you're on to something,"
He laughed. "My brother works at the concierge desk. He can get you on the guest list no problem."
"What about an invitation?"
The pleased expression faded from Tim's face. "No, shit. That's someone else's department. And it's invitation only, isn't it?"
I nodded, suddenly feeling that our plan was a lost cause… or was it. "But could he get me someone else's invitation?"
"Yeah, all the mail comes through the desk and some people send their invitations back if they're not going—are you going to pretend to be someone else?" His eyes lit up as if we were twelve again I had just said we were going to put a stink bomb in the vice principal's office."
"No, but someone else's might just do for what I need."
"Hey, car… And shit, it's yours,"
I looked up to see a red BMW… It was Mrs. Marcell with her dead cat car… and yes. It was my turn. I groaned, cursing my luck.