It was at least two sticks' worth. Or two tabs. A good glob, at any rate.
The meeting was seconds away from closing. We were standing or moving to stand, caught in a right angle with heads closer to the table than at any other point. Papers were shuffled, pen tops capped, glasses and cups retrieved from where they were left to rest. Keith was still talking, but the business of the morning was concluded - it was the jest now. The period of jest used to signify that Keith was in fact something of a chap, not your ordinary run-of-the-mill boss. His lightness of touch was forced, introduced like a gun in Act 3, laugh you bastards or you'll rue the day. We hissed or rattled as was fit.
A cluster developed by the door, obscuring the fern and doing violence to the blind, people gathering the way they do around a train when the train has yet to draw quite to a stop. I could see Gavin. I could see Gavin's head at any rate. Gavin's too thick head of rich black Italian hair. He was laughing. Or snorting, rather. He was snorting with Lisa. Some comment made under his breath. Prick. The ability he had to share an intimate remark despite the fact that the entire room was all but poised on his toes.
Gavin was closest. Gavin would be the one to depress the door handle when the moment came. I was furthest from, busy placing plastic cups within plastic cups, creating the office equivalent of Russian dolls. My back was turned - burying Russian dolls in the aluminium waste receptacle - when the door opened and people started to file out. I turned just as Clair - the last person in the room besides me - and hard on the heels of Stu and - what was that new chap called? Did Keith call him Hawkins? Was he really called Jack Hawkins? Maybe that was Keith joking as well? - I turned just as Clair introduced the thumb and index finger of her now I come to look pretty fingers into her mouth. She catches my eyes and removes a wad of gum - at least two sticks' worth, or two tabs, a good glob at any rate - which she sticks to the back of the chair closest to the door.
Clair takes gum from her mouth and sticks it to her chair whilst maintaining eye contact with me. She doesn't speak and the moment is over in a flash and she is gone. The whole thing feels like a dream or not that it is but fantasy. I can feel myself becoming tense and prissy. She didn't do that did she? This is what I think from the opposite corner of the table. I am the last person in the room. The boardroom table is bare, aside from three copies of the latest edition of the journal. I think about the fact that she maintained eye contact some more. What did that mean? I am shocked and despite myself shocked that I am shocked. I am shock caught in facing mirrors. Clair. Her name blinks on and off in my head like a dashboard light. In the space of one maybe two maybe three seconds I thought: did that mean something, did that mean nothing, did she want me to see it, did she think it important I see, was it done for my benefit, am I the kind of man she thinks would be impressed by that, do I mean nothing, am I the kind of man who gets unnecessarily worked up about nothing, did she do that to rile me, did she do that to plunge me into this orgy of thought, is this the beginning of something or the middle of something or is it nothing? I shake my head and think I must have imagined it. I must have imagined what I just saw. I think about Clair again, quickly. I try to define what I know and realise I know nothing. She is attractive, certainly. I admit as much. There have been mornings in which she has passed my cubicle and I have thought yes, Clair is attractive, Clair is pretty, Clair has good dress sense. All of that.
... but I think God dwells most in the swells and curves of the human body: the hips' flare forming a woman's behind, the legs' long muscles, the small-knobbed luxuriance of a bent back, the soft, private hollows hidden between the thighs, under the arms, at the front of the throat, the corners of the still eyes.
Ralph Robert Moore
SundW Vol.1 no.2