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GEEK PLAYER, LOVE SLAYER/Steve Almond COMPUTER BOY SWAGGERS over to my cube to help me open this one knucklehead e-mail Phoenix sent me, and within about two seconds, Tm ready to whip offhis khakis and blow him right there. He's leaning over my keyboard with his lousy beautiful sideburns and his Right Guard wafting all over the place, and underneath that this kind of wounded musk that makes my nipples go stiff, and his teeth, which I could fucking eat they look so healthy. I have, mind you, already offered him my seat, but he can't allow that. No-no-no. Don't you move your pretty little self, he tells me, which is when neighbor Brisby starts snarking away, snickety-snark, and I think, for chrissakes, why does this obnoxious creature, this dopey slab of masculine grace, whose name is (try not to laugh) Lance, and whom I have taken to calling Lancelot, Sir Lance-me-a-lot, why does this totally throat-lickable hotty have to be such a shitbrain? So I just sit there smelling him, watching his unreasonably defined triceps pulse and unpulse, noticing the blond hairs on his earlobe, like tiny spears of wheat, and the way his firm little rump tenses up when he gets a system error. The worst part of it is that he keeps going on about how I must be doing something to my machine, how my keystrokes must be pretty vigorous—keystrokes, get it?—and even though I'm kind of impressed by his use of the word "vigorous," there's no way I can flirt back without losing total office cred with Brisby, who's outright laughing at this point. It's not like I have time for this crap anyway; I'm on deadline. Though the worst part is my leched-out imagination, wherein Lancelot is bending me like a bandsaw and this can'tbe happening, this cannot be happening. I cannotbe lusting after the Computer Guy while on deadline. That is too lame for even me. Now Brisby's on the phone with his fiancée, for the twelfth time this hour, and Lancey tells me he's going to have to reboot and suddenly down he goes, under my desk, and I forget to scoot my chair back because I'm too busy staring at his back and counting the individual muscle groups, sort of flow-charting them. Then something rubs against my knee—his wrist I guess—but I've got these jeans on because it's forty fucking degrees in here; the hotter it gets outside, the colder they keep the office. Then, just to balance himself I suppose, Lancey sets his hand on the bridge of my foot and starts in with these little appraising squeezes, like he's fitting me for a pair ofpumps, and I want to tell him, 126 · The Missouri Review Hey, bright boy, there's a whole calf and thigh where that came from! But before I can say anything, he turns and informs me that I'vegot real soul, and I want to barf and run my tongue along the pink canals behind his ears all at once. I can hear Brisby mumbling his I-love-yous and hanging up. Then my screen goes blank, and Lancey rolls back on his haunches just enough to send a ripple under his shirt, and I imagine looping my arms around him, taking the meat of his shoulders Ui my palms, and his front teeth—his goddamn perfect front teeth—biting my clavicle. I know Brisby's going to slag me for the rest of eternity, until death do us part, but it's too late; I'm halfway off my chair in a cartine posture and my knees are trembling. Ahem. You're aU set, Lance tells me. Just turn it on. He's back to hovering over me. You know how to turn it on, don't you? It's not the turning on I'm worried about, I say. It's keeping the hard drive going. Immediately I regret having reduced myself to lurid banter with Computer Boy, who gives me his...


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pp. 126-136
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