He was standing hunched over his desk breathing heavily, sweat pouring from his forehead, his shirt and tie disheveled, and a half empty bottle of whiskey clutched tightly in his hand. Yep, the sight looked very familiar to me.
I decided to ignore him and head out.
“Hey, are you leaving?”
Ted’s voice bellowed from down the hall. To his credit, he sounded only slightly inebriated.
I turned around slowly and walked towards his office. By the time I got there, he had straightened himself up slightly, and plastered that cocky, alpha male smile on his face once again. He was cool as a cucumber. Only I knew him way better than that.
“Yeah. You sounded busy, so I didn’t want to disturb you. The boys are asleep and should be quiet for the night. Anything else I can do for you before I take off?”
Ted laughed. “Well, I’d love a massage, to get this kink out of my neck, but uh… no that’s fine. Thanks for taking great care of the boys. You have a good one.”
I wasn’t about to pass up an invitation like this to get closer to him. Sooner or later, he was going to lower his guard, and then I’d have him.
“Massage? I could do that,” I said.
Ted looked up at me shocked. “Really? That’s not in your job description at all.”
I smiled. “I know that, but I used to work as a part time masseuse in a health spa. I could totally help you out. Do you have a table?”
Ten minutes later we were in the massage room. Ted was lying face down and shirtless on the table and I had the towels and oils all set up. I placed the oil in my hands and began to rub them together to warm them up. I’d been getting massages regularly since I was a teenager and I figured I could fake it good enough. At least that was the plan. I couldn’t believe that Ted actually had a massage room for himself in his house. But it was pretty fancy and very serene.
“Wow, this is the life,” I said. “You know how many people would love to have a room like this in their house?”
“Yeah, it is pretty sweet,” Ted said. “I usually have my masseuse come once a week, but this week has been so stressful…”
“Oh, problems at work?” I asked. “I don’t mean to pry, but it is sometimes helpful to tell someone, especially someone you don’t know very well.”
“I’ve noticed that. It’s always so much easier to talk to strangers about weird shit, right?”
“Well, the business has been taking a bit of a nosedive lately, and honestly it doesn’t seem to be bouncing back.”
“The cosmetics company isn’t doing well?”
“Oh, no. The cosmetics company is fine. It will never have an issue unless people just stop wearing cosmetics. I’m talking about my motorcycle business. The manufacturing has dried up, and several of my best sponsored racers have decided to quit me this past week, too.”
“That’s rough,” I said. “Any particular reason they quit?”
“Because their wimps,” Ted said. “This game isn’t for everybody. I did it and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s the reason I have back problems to this day and have to get massages and chiropractic adjustments at least once and sometimes twice a week. By the time I’m forty-five I’ll probably have major issues. And I can thank that sport I dedicated so much of my time to.”
Ted almost sounded sincere. But I knew most of his back issues were bullshit. He’d done most of that to make me feel sorry for him. It was all part of a con job.
I began the massage with Ted’s shoulders. The oil began to warm up even further between my hands and his skin. He tensed up slightly when I first touched him, but very quickly he started to relax. I kept my hands smooth and steady, kneading into the muscles, slowly working my way in to relieve the tension and the knots that I felt.
Ted really was tense. He didn’t even need the bike business. He could sit on his ass and do absolutely nothing if he wanted to and be fine.
But his ego wouldn’t let him. He had to succeed at whatever he decided to do. And he often attempted to do things in a very absent-minded and narrowly focused way.
“Oh, that feels great,” he said, his voice almost purring with the expelling of breath.
“Good,” I replied. I was really working into the major muscles in his upper back and shoulders, pushing through them and flattening them out and then slowly letting them come back to shape, before starting over again.
“Where did you learn to do this?” Ted asked.
“My aunt used to own a spa. I would work with her and she taught me how to do massage work. I used to be pretty good at it, but then I graduated high school and I decided that I wanted to do something else with my life. I’m just now starting to figure that out.”