Sweat

Oftentimes, a spoon-fed writing prompt can inspire something new or even inject new life into an existing project. A couple of days ago, my husband handed me a sweat-injected writing prompt not to be ignored. Below is the resulting story.


     With a conscious effort, Jerry inhaled and exhaled three times before entering the reception area of Simon & Simon, Engineers and Architects. Stepping through the mahogany double doors, he mumbled a fleeting prayer for calm nerves, and greeted the receptionist with a smile.

     "Jerry Miller to see Mr. Wilder," he said.

     The receptionist nodded and pressed a series of switchboard buttons. She spoke softly into her hands-free headset. Flicking a final switch, her focus returned to Jerry. "Mr. Wilder is expecting you. If you'll have a seat," she said, pointing a slender, manicured finger at the Biedermeier-style chairs encircling the reception area's Persian rug, "he should be out in a minute or two."

     "Thank you," said Jerry. He strode to one of the artfully plain chairs, but while lowering himself to the thickly padded cushion, he bobbled his briefcase and smacked a vase stuffed with white lilies, which adorned the coffee table, a cherry wood hub to the ring of chairs. An arc of water and lilies flung outward. The receptionist let out a gasp as the vase thudded onto the rug. Luckily, the vase remained intact.

     Punching a button, the receptionist removed her headset and hurried to the scene. Jerry had already begun collecting lilies.

     "I'm so sorry," he said, handing her a stack of flowers.

     The receptionist, in search of paper towels, took the buds and veered toward the coffee area. Noting his concern, she smiled wearily and said, "Don't worry about it."

     Jerry slumped into the chair. If this was any indication of how the interview would go, he was doomed. He chased back the negative thought, knowing that dwelling on it further would only serve to ignite a disastrous chain reaction. As he choked back his worry, a portly man with wire-rimmed glasses appeared.

     "Mr. Miller?" asked the man.

     Jerry stood. "Yes, Sir," he said.

     The rotund man shoved a bloated hand toward Jerry. "Dan Wilder. Nice to meet you."

     Jerry shook Wilder's hand. Pleasantries exchanged, then Wilder led Jerry to his office, urging him to sit in one of the stiff leather chairs facing his mammoth desk. Jerry obeyed, sliding into the chair with a squeak as his backside chafed against the taut leather. His body tensed and his face reddened at the flatulent-sounding noise. Although Wilder seemed unfazed by the sound, the first trickle of sweat seeped into Jerry's boxer briefs, causing him to shift in his seat, which produced another quack. A continuous drizzling of perspiration soaked his underpants, but he dared not move again.

     Jerry eyed Wilder, who was oblivious to the pool forming in the interviewee's crotch. Instead, Wilder blathered on about Simon & Simon's status as one of the city's top employers. Desperately in need of work, Jerry willed himself to listen to Wilder's ramblings. Soon, Wilder entered into a line of typical interview questions, such as why Jerry considered himself to be a good fit for Simon & Simon, where Jerry saw himself in five years and what Jerry considered his strengths and weaknesses. Focused on the task at hand, Jerry's incessant sweating slowed as he paused to answer. Siting anal retentiveness as his primary weakness, Jerry felt the weight of a shadow behind him.

     Wilder pushed to his stubby legs and waived someone in. "Miller, I'd like you to meet Ms. Langdon, our head of HR."

     A pair of well-toned legs strode into the room. Transfixed by the glorious gams, Jerry forced his gaze upward. As recognition set in, a torrent of sweat poured from his scrotum. "Anna?" he asked.

     The woman turned seventeen shades of red.

     "I take it you two know each other," said Wilder, eyes flicking back and forth from Jerry to Anna.

     Over the weekend, a slightly tipsy and noticeably horny Anna had all but hunched Jerry's leg on the makeshift dance floor of a local bar. No longer strangers, the two had exited in a tangle of arms, heads and necks, aimed toward Jerry's apartment. They barely came up for air as they hit Jerry's front door, and as soon as they crossed the threshold, clothes peeled off quicker than the skin of a clementine. In the bedroom, Anna excused herself to freshen up. Splashing water onto her face, she sobered a bit, but not enough to want to leave. She returned to Jerry, who was waiting on the bed, still sporting a pair of boxer briefs. She soaked in the sight of him. As her eyes trailed down the line of his body, she noticed something darkening his groin and the sheets beneath him. She sat at the corner of the bed. He reached for her, and she melted into his kiss. Mouth on mouth, he pulled her down until they lay on the bed. She positioned an arm lower to support her weight. Her hand slicked with wetness, causing her to sever the embrace.

     "What is that?" she asked.

     "Nothing," said Jerry, reaching for her.

     As Anna examined the saturated sheets, a deluge of sweat poured from Jerry's balls. Anna gasped. "Did you just piss yourself?" Disgusted, she hopped off the bed and began collecting her clothes.

     "No," said Jerry, shaking his head at a dizzying speed. "I just sweat when I'm nervous . . . I swear."

     Anna backpedalled from the room. "Nobody sweats that much," she said. And then she was gone.

     Jerry had anticipated never seeing the woman again. Now, she potentially stood between him and a job. The overactive sudoriferous glands in his groin flared to life, drenching through his boxer briefs and wetting his suit pants. He unconsciously pulled his briefcase to his lap.

     Anna offered a hand. "Jerry. It's . . . err . . . nice to see you again." Her hand remained extended, waiting for a handshake.

     As both Anna and Wilder eyed him expectantly, Jerry stood, securing the briefcase in front of his groin. With one arm, he reached for Anna's hand. The office-wide intercom crackled to life, announcing some unintelligible message at deafening decibels. Jerry jumped, dropping his briefcase to the floor with a resounding thud. The crash drew both Anna and Wilder's attention.

     Jerry stood before his potential employer, crotch stained by the merciless sweating of his groin. Anna huffed and Wilder chortled.

     Pointing to Jerry's crotch, Wilder chimed in, "I'm guessing this is on your list of weaknesses."

     "You have no idea," said Jerry.