Warning: The following story has some triggering bits including alpha male behavior, mention of nudity. Nothing explicit or gory, but maybe sensitive.
It was business as usual in the upper district of Andrea Hills. An upscale and slightly eccentric area that was deemed to be the baby of Rodeo Drive and Downtown LA in Ohio. People went to Andrea Hills for atmosphere and character; they wanted non-cookie-cutter but tasteful homes and restaurants. People who wanted a taste of California and all four seasons.
Andrea Hills homed ‘The Caroline’. An 8-level apartment complex where the first two floors functioned as a hotel, complete with first floor restaurant, bar, and stage. The first floor also had all the handicap access. (The owner also ran a full hotel across the street). The outside was a faux-adobe texture of off white. The front of the building had the name in large mosaic lettering. The back of the building had a display of entertainment that weekend.
The third and fourth levels housed several workers for the complex. They got a rent-discount, free parking, and a zero-minute commute. But the cost was never fully getting away from work or coworkers. In fact, the workers had to use the law to get the manager, Grant, to not bother them in the middle of the night anymore. He wasn’t intentionally being a jerk; he just honestly didn’t know any better. The workers currently living in the hotel were the manager, the main chef and sous chef, the electrician/sound effects techie Daryll, head of maintenance, and head bartender/hostess and stage-manager Chrissy.
It had been a very bustling month at The Caroline, for Grant and Chrissy had booked ‘Side of Cirque du Soleil” from Las Vegas for October. Magic, music, and mystery for spooky season, without the usual haunted house, cheap jump scares. There was a show every weekend that month. People who lived in the apartment were offered a discount for one showing. Each show had been slightly different; acts added/removed etc. It had been mostly successful and now they were preparing for the last weekend of the show.
Mostly because no matter what was going or not going on at The Caroline, Chrissy and Daryll butted heads. Chrissy was a 31-year-old genetically graced girl, tall, worked out figure of a former cheerleader, and beautiful dark brown eyes, with cheekbones of a goddess. Her artificial tan only hurt her towels. She also was an eccentric. Chrissy’s hair changed constantly because even outside of October she wore one of her 26 wigs. She had every hue and she had a long and short version of each. She was the type to never leave her apartment without makeup. She wore stunning jewelry and eye-catching clothes. A word that never described her look was boring. Everyone was convinced she wore ball-gowns to bed. Chrissy was free to dress as she pleased as long as she got her work done. She was the only one to have lived most of her life at The Caroline. Her all-business parents moved here when she was 11 and even though they had moved out years ago, she stayed since she had begun working at the hotel when she was 12. It wasn’t working per-se at first, she got parts in plays the hotel put on; her first role was the female lead in the play ‘Fools’ and she went on to be Shakespear’s Juliette, the Ghost of Christmas Past in ‘A Christmas Carol’ and many more. Then the hotel started having more bands and comedians. Then she became a bartender and after being there a while, got promoted to Head Bartender/Hostess. She entertained guests with stories when the actual stage was empty. Anywhere Chrissy was, it became her stage.
And that drove Daryll up the wall. Chrissy was a below amateur actor and a sub-par hostess according the Daryll. He had moved into the apartment after getting the job at electrical maintenance about five or six years before and he was certified from a trade school and had renewed his license at 28. He was 34 now and had been asked to help with the sound and stage set up for a Journey Tribute Band and that’s when he met Chrissy. Daryll thought Chrissy was a snooty annoyance. She had been here a long time and therefore acted like she knew better and her theatrical outfits were annoying too. She never grew up. Daryll had been a guy who had hit puberty hard. Daryll used to be short, thin, lanky even, with almost white blond hair, and had sounded like a dying pigeon for three months. Then his hair and eyes both became the same shade of obsidian black. He muscled his way onto the wrestling team and sky-rocketed his height to the basketball team. Shaving every morning didn’t stave off the five O’clock shadow he got by three. And when he was mad, his growl resembled a monster truck without a muffle- he did it a lot when Chrissy was around. He had moved a few times with his family because his dad worked with an oil-rig company and wherever the company went, so did Daryll and his family. He started working at 12 but he was mowing lawns and cleaning windows. Then he worked part-time in an appliance and hardware store and found he had a spark for electronics. His high school offered a trade-school option in Junior year and he had taken it. His wardrobe had always been dark plain tee-shirts, black boots or sneakers and jeans. Outside of shaving and shampoo, Daryll didn’t stock much into his looks and he didn’t have to; he looked naturally suave with his strong square jaw and medium-length puffy black hair.
Daryll and Chrissy, him doing electric and her stage managing, were around each other a lot more than they cared to be. Chrissy felt like Daryll didn’t put enough effort into anything and Daryll found her overbearing and dramatic. And it all came to a head one late Thursday night.
“Do you just wear the same shirt over and over?” she asked.
“No, I just don’t need to change clothes every time I go to the bathroom” Daryll retorted.
“These boxes need to be in that corner” Chrissy pointed backstage to the far-left corner.
“Why? They’re not in the way here. Out of sight and out of the way. They can stay where they are” Daryll said, merely glancing up vaguely at the boxes.
He had made a temporary wall with some wood planks and drywall. He cut out a spot for a wall-lamp and a light switch that he was currently wiring together. It was a piece for a scene in the last ‘Side of Cirque du Soleil’ show that weekend and he cared a lot more about completing that than giving into Chrissy’s ‘I’m the best and I’m the boss’ orders.
“They’re in the middle of everything and people could run into them and they’ll be a nuisance to everyone; move them.” Chrissy demanded, hands on her hips.
“The only thing being a ‘nuisance’ right now is you. And if you didn’t have that stupid puffy collar-shirt on, you’d be able to see better and walk around the boxes like a normal person” Daryll responded and then deliberately turned his back to the boxes as he looked too hard at the wire between his fingers.
“This is NOT a puffy-collar shirt. It is a renaissance inspired dress!” Chrissy said.
“And it has as many poofs as your brain” Daryll informed her.
She had on a green and gold –faux corset laced dress that had puffed sleeves, a wavy lace collar, and a puffed back-end. The dress was actually on the short side, so Chrissy had added to wearing green with gold-glittered jeggings and velvet green ankle boots. She was wearing a green-pony-tailed wig and gold eyeshadow with green liner that would have made Cleopatra think was a lot.
“Afraid you’ll smear your lipstick complaining about doing real work?” Daryll mocked in response to Chrissy’s glower.
Chrissy pressed the tip of her tongue to the underside her upper teeth and sighed in aggravation. She turned on her heel.
Moments later, Grant- a short sandy blonde guy with rectangular black glasses and always in a button up dress shirt and black dress pants, came over.
“Ahem, uh, Hi, Daryll?” Grant said.
Daryll looked up and cocked a brow. Chrissy was staring with crossed arms and an ‘I told you so’ face from behind Grant.
“Daryll. Uh, you need to move those boxes” Grant said, gesturing with his hand palm up towards the boxes.
Daryll’s face turned into a glare with flared nostrils.
“They’re FINE where they are. No one can see them from the audience and they’re not in anyone who uses their eyes way” Daryll said between clenched teeth.
Grant was good with spreadsheets and numbers; he was not good with putting his foot down to anyone. Remember when the law was brought in? The staff had paid for a lawyer for a few hours of time and brought him to the hotel one early afternoon to talk to Grant. Grant had either been appalled at his apparently illegal behavior or had been in fear of getting sued yet either way, he immediately set to rectify his behavior, stammering his deepest apologies. He had gotten the job as manager through his family’s connections.
“Chrissy is the stage-manager, Daryll. She gets to choose how the stage gets set up, we’ve been over this. Is it really a big deal to push some boxes to the corner?” Grant asked as diplomatically as he could.
Daryll looked at Chrissy’s smug smirk of victory and then gave his own smirk. “You’re right”
Grant looked scared and taken aback; he was expecting backlash, not agreement.
“Chrissy IS the stage manager and she gets to make the stage how she sees fit. She can move boxes anywhere she wants. I won’t stop her.” Daryll said and walked off with the drywall piece to the stage right exit.
He smirked himself when he heard Chrissy’s audible offended gasp and forced himself to not respond as she went off about his ‘insubordination’. Daryll didn’t even look back when Grant called out to him. He simply left out of the stage door, leaving Grant to try to quell Chrissy’s Karen-attack. This is what happens when some women get in charge- they still go find a manager when they don’t get their way. He could still hear her going on and on about how her outfit prevented her from moving the boxes and how Daryll should have disciplinary action against him done. Daryll rolled his eyes as the stage door closed behind him; it shouldn’t have been news to Chrissy that she was head of the bar and stage manager- not his boss at all. Grant was his boss but Grant didn’t stand a chance against Daryll- ever since the lawyer thing, Grant had been very on egg-shell.
“See, this is how Daryll always acts. He works for the stage and he never listens to me!” she exclaimed to Grant.
“But Daryll isn’t your employee, he’s the hotel’s employee. He works with sound and is nice enough to help occasionally with the stage set, but he isn’t required to. I-I will go find some staff for you. I’ll move the boxes myself, in fact” Grant offered and went to the boxes.
He went to the stack of 4 boxes and tried to push them together but the bigger bottom box didn’t budge. The three small boxes stacked on top, wiggled aggressively, threatening to topple over. Grant reached his arms around quickly to steady them.
Chrissy blinked at him with crossed arms. “We need the dolly.” she said.
“Okie, where’s the dolly?” Grant asked, looking around.
“I don’t know. Daryll had it last and I don’t know where he left it. That’s WHY I asked HIM to move the boxes” Chrissy shouted, uncrossing her arms to flail them emphatically and dramatically.
Grant pinched the bridge of his nose for a couple seconds and looked around, wishing a dolly would just appear in one of the corners. “Look, do these really need to be moved, Chrissy? They’re really not able to be seen from the tables or bar” Grant tried to reason with her as peacefully as he could.
He was actually just as intimidated by Chrissy as he was Daryll, but he felt that her being a woman would make her less likely to cause him lasting physical harm. Hopefully. Maybe.
“YES! THEY NEED TO BE MOVED” Chrissy screeched and clenched her fist.
She took one step forward and that was enough for Grant to recant his previous thought.
“Okie, calm, don’t... I-I will go find Daryll and ask about the dolly” Grant offered quickly.
“Make HIM move the boxes.” Chrissy demanded “I have enough to do with bar inventory and he makes my life difficult on purpose!” she was roaring by the end of her statement.
He went up tentatively to Chrissy and gently patted her green-shoulder puffs. “Okie, I will. Listen, it’s late, it’s been a long day and a long week. Why don’t you go home for the night? I will take care of everything, okie?” Grant offered.
“Fine” she sighed out. “I don’t want to be bothered the rest of the night”
Grant gave her a thumbs up. She rolled her eyes and walked off.
Grant chased Daryll down “Daryll where is the dolly?” he asked breathlessly. Grant was leaning his palms into his knees to gasp for air.
“The dolly?” Daryll asked, completely befuddled.
“Yes. We need to move the boxes and Chrissy said you used it last” Grant breathed out in a burst.
Daryll’s vein in his head threatened to burst like Vesuvius. “Where is she?” he demanded.
This was too much. He had been working on re-work for the new scenes for the show AND several people had electrical issues he was sorting out and NOW Chrissy, who had the dolly last to move the delivered beer cases into The Caroline’s refrigerated back storage area, was blaming him?
He told this to Grant in a thunderous rage and again demanded “WHERE IS SHE?”
“Gah, I-I sent her home for the night! She was upset and...” Grant stammered.
“I’ll take care of this myself.” Daryll shoved the temporary wall light at Grant, who stumbled back in taking it.
“No, calm down, I’ll get the dolly and move the boxes, come...back” Grant tried to stop him, but then just leaned back and partially slid down the wall. Why couldn’t his family have had connections to a high-security bank?
In the meantime, Daryll was storming out of the elevator and down the hall of the 3rd floor after stopping at the maintenance office. He had snatched the spare key to Chrissy’s apartment. He was enraged and going to confront that haughty ‘high-fashion’ loud-mouth.
He checked the coast was clear and then put his ear to the door. He slipped the key in and peeked inside; nothing but a light on in the front room. He heard the shower and muffled music and saw light spill from the crack under the left door.
Daryll used his shirt to muffle the doorknob turn and -as he suspected- it wasn’t locked. He slipped inside the door and Chrissy was singing the chorus to the song playing her phone-dock on the sink counter. From the silhouette it looked like she was washing her hair. Her ridiculous clothes from the day were strewn about the floor.
He didn’t want her to have a chance for anything and so he took two quick strides to the shower and ripped the curtain to the side hard.
Chrissy screamed and turned, covering herself. When she saw it was Daryll, her face went from fear to fear mixed with anger.
“What the HELL? GET OUT!” Chrissy yelled.
“No.” Daryll growled.
Chrissy tried to grab the curtain, but Daryll stepped into the shower, fully dressed.
Chrissy was breathing hard and tried to not seem like she was cowering. “What is wrong with you? Get OUT!” but this time it came out as a whine as she tried to cover herself more. There were white bubbles in her hair and around her face that deeply contrasted the black makeup that raccooned around her eyes.
“I didn’t have the frickin’ dolly last. YOU did and you know it” Daryll accused between clenched teeth and pointed at her. He completely ignored the stream of water soaking his clothes.
“Get out” Chrissy whined again, on the edge of tears.
It wasn’t what Daryll was expecting; for some reason he was prepped for a brawl. Then he became enlightened.
“Ohhh” he said. “You don’t like that I’m seeing you without being all costumed up?”
“I don’t like that you’re in my shower without my permission” Chrissy said between her teeth, but her tone was weak.
“Your confidence comes from your clothes. You’re only high and mighty when you have pounds of makeup and beads on. Seeing the real you is something you don’t want people to see” Daryll said. He meant to sound superior but it came out softer. He swallowed and for the first time fully realized she was naked. He blushed and focused on her face. She looked so pretty with a natural pink to her skin from the shower and from blushing.
Chrissy looked gob smacked and then started to actually tear up. Daryll took a step towards her, through the shower, wetting his hair down. He leaned down and kissed her quivering lips.
Her eyes opened wide in confusion but a weight lifted off her shoulders suddenly. She had a moment of acceptance she’d never had before and kissed him back hard.
They stood partially under the shower spray and kissed until they needed breath.
Nothing was right about this but it didn’t feel as wrong as it should have for either of them. It was a new beginning for them both that they never saw coming.