Bankers' Hours(9)

By: Wade Kelly

I guess she had seen me snickering to myself. “Yes, I suppose I am. How about you, Mrs. Snyder?” I asked politely, taking her deposit.

“I’m well, thank you. Did you have a good weekend?” Her eyes on me felt strange. I think it was the way she didn’t blink.

“Yes. I painted part of my kitchen.” Not that she needed to know the details of my life, but that wasn’t revealing. Painting was a task, not personal.

“What color?” she asked.

“It’s called Salmon Sunset. I thought it seemed cheery.”

She smirked. “You know, the color of one’s kitchen says a lot about a person. It’s the room we spend most of our lives in, other than the bedroom.”

I handed her the receipt. “Oh? Then what does that color say about me?” I was slightly afraid to ask, but I couldn’t stop the question from slipping out.

She smirked again. “I think it says you’re… happy and carefree.” She put her receipt in her purse and winked as she walked away.

The hair stood up on the back of my neck. Happy and carefree sounded like code words for “gay.” Did she know, or was she toying with me? Or both?

I straightened my deposit slips and aligned my container of pens with the edge of the window, took a deep breath to cleanse me of Mrs. Snyder’s icky vibes, and then called over the next customer.

My breath hitched… again. It was Tristan Carr. Good God, I’d never had such trouble breathing normally before, and my tongue was plastered to the roof of my mouth. Where was a glass of water when I needed one?

I had to clear my throat. “C-can I help you, Mr. Carr?” I asked as steadily as I could. This time I kept eye contact as long as my jittering nerves could stand. His eyes were blue. Dark blue compared to my sky blue.

“You remembered my name,” he commented.

“You were just here on Friday. Remembering for a couple days isn’t a challenge.”

He nodded slightly.

“Weren’t you just in here? Jessica helped you.” I pointed out. “Did you forget something?”

“As a matter of fact, I did. I need change for my cash box.” He took a check out of his pocket and put it on the counter. “May I borrow your pen?”

“By all means,” I said, gesturing to the container full at his left.

“I find it interesting that you have a plethora of pens when other tellers have one pen lying in their windows.” He filled out the slip and signed it.

“I found a single pen seems to walk off. If I have a bunch, they tend to stick together longer.”

“Then I guess he needs to join his friends,” Mr. Carr said, smirking. Only, his smirk lacked Mrs. Snyder’s smugness. His was more of a whimsical grin. He slid the check to me and deposited the pen into the container… upside down.

I was not about to right the situation in front of him. It could wait. I might seem anal, and not in the way I liked to think about that term. “Did you want this back any certain way?”

“Four rolls of quarters, a roll of dimes, a roll of pennies, and the rest in ones.”

“Okay,” I said. I punched in the numbers and opened my drawer. “I only have one roll of quarters for some strange reason. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll just go grab a few more.” I locked my drawer and went to the vault, got my quarters and logged the exchange properly, and returned to Mr. Carr.

After I put the quarters in the drawer and left four rolls out for Mr. Carr, I noticed three pens were upside down. That couldn’t be right. I blinked and shook off my confusion when Mr. Carr asked, “Is there something wrong?”

I cleared my throat one more time. “What? Um, no. Nothing wrong. Why do you ask?”

“You spaced out for a second as if you were thinking about something.”

I couldn’t very well explain that my pens weren’t nestled correctly. I could fix it after he’d gone. “No. Everything’s fine. Do you need anything else?” My hands were shaking, and I wasn’t certain whether it was because of the pens or the guy. Mr. Carr made me self-conscious, but those pens wouldn’t write properly if the ink ran to the top and not the tip. I could not keep my eyes from darting to the container as I strained to pay attention to my customer.

“I suppose not,” he said.

“Then I hope you have a nice day, Mr. Carr,” I commented, thinking it was the end of our exchange and I could remedy the situation.

“Tristan,” he said.

I blinked. His voice was gentle and his gaze soft. Unexpected heat rolled down my chest and swirled in the pit of my stomach, and suddenly the pens weren’t as important as his attention. “Tristan,” I affirmed.