Position wanted

By Cris Kane 
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• Latest update: 4 April. Next update: 18 April. (Submissions welcome.)

• Latest from BRK: “The apartment”; “Changing Nick”, Parts 15‑16.

 

Howard tugged on his sports coat, attempting to hide as much of his gut as he could. He hadn’t had a reason to wear the jacket in years, during which time his waistline had grown at least five inches, making it impossible to button. He had hoped that his bright red necktie might camouflage some of his girth, but now he feared it would just act as an arrow, drawing the eye immediately to his paunch. He probably should have splurged on a new suit for his job hunting, but, at the moment, his finances were even tighter than his coat.

He could see his reflection in the plate-glass window and wondered why anyone would hire an out-of-shape, balding, double-chinned old fart when there were plenty of young eager kids out there willing to work for half the salary Howard had grown accustomed to. Still, he was too young for “early retirement”. He took a deep breath, sucking in his buried abdominals as much as possible, and strode with an approximation of self-confidence toward the glass door bearing a single word in bright yellow lettering: “JOBS”.

The small storefront in the strip mall contained three desks, although only one of them was currently occupied. Behind it sat a trim and tidy fortyish man in a black suit, his hands intertwined and resting on his blotter, his eyes fixed on Howard. The man stood and stretched out a hand to Howard. “Welcome! My name is Gabriel. How can I make your life better today?”

The question made Howard pause as he reached to shake Gabriel’s hand. He hadn’t thought of his job search in such terms, but his life was definitely due for some improvement. “Howard Blake,” he replied, realizing how sweaty his palm was the moment after his hand made contact with Gabriel’s. So much for first impressions. “Just lookin’ for a job, I guess.”

“You’re not sure?” Gabriel replied with an arched eyebrow. His handshake consisted of one quick downward jerk before letting Howard’s hand drop away. With his other hand, he gestured to the open chair across from him. “Please, have a seat.”

Howard nodded and glanced down at the chair, cringing when he saw its rigid armrests. He had to wriggle his way through these barriers, squeezing his flabby ass down until it rested on the padded seat cushion. He stuffed his hand between his coat and shirt and extracted a folded piece of paper from his inside pocket. As he held it toward Gabriel, he noticed how wrinkled and sweat-soaked the paper had become. As he considered pulling it back, Gabriel snatched it away and spread it on his uncluttered desktop, automatically smoothing his hands across it to minimize the creases.

“Okay, let’s see what we’ve got here,” Gabriel said as he examined Howard’s resume. It was the opposite of eye-catching, a dry listing of the man’s previous jobs and educational experience, all in the default font style and size of a Microsoft Word document. Gabriel could tell in an instant that Howard had not sought a new job in some time. Among the telltale clues: the list of outdated software programs in which he claimed proficiency, the AOL email address, and the prominent listing of his fax number. Gabriel smiled. He enjoyed a challenge. He looked up and stared into Howard’s eyes. “So, what exactly are you looking for?”

Howard squirmed in the vise-like grip of the chair. “I wasn’t really expecting to be canned, so I hadn’t given much thought to what I should do next. To be honest, I’m open to pretty much anything.”

“That’s what I like to hear,” Gabriel said with a grin. “Gives us lots of options. Tell me, are you married?”

Howard looked down. “Divorced.”

“Any kids?”

Howard shook his head. With each admission, his life sounded more and more inadequate. But Gabriel’s reaction was jubilant. “Great!”

“Great?” Howard asked, glancing up.

“Many of our clients prefer people without a lot of other…distractions in their life. They want someone who is laser-focused on fulfilling their needs.” Howard’s mood brightened a bit. Searching for work online had been discouraging. Most of his applications never generated anything beyond an automated reply indicating that his resume had been received. There was never any contact information for a follow-up, so it was as if his job inquiries fell into a bottomless pit, never to be seen again. Gabriel, on the other hand, seemed positively giddy about Howard’s prospects. “So, what kind of jobs do you have available?”

“Oh, we’ve got lots of different jobs. You see, what we do here is tailor the applicant to the specific needs of our client. We’ve got over a ninety-five percent satisfaction rate with our placements.”

Howard whistled, impressed.

“Our slogan is ‘If you’ve got an opening, we can fill it!’ Now, I hope you don’t mind if I…finesse a few of the facts here, just to improve your odds.”

“I dunno,” Howard said. “I’m not real comfortable with lyin’ on my resume.”

“Don’t worry about it. Everybody fudges a little. It’s practically expected!”

Howard scratched his scalp uncertainly, but he definitely needed a break. “Well, okay, but nothing too drastic.”

“Nothing you can’t live with,” Gabriel reassured him. Gabriel swiveled toward his computer and pulled up a blank template, the cursor blinking in the top field for the applicant’s name. His slender fingers briskly typed “HOWARD” in the “First Name” blank, but Gabriel paused before hitting return. You didn’t encounter many young men named Howard these days. That would be an immediate red flag to potential customers that they were dealing with someone middle-aged at best. Gabriel took a glance at the resume on his desk, backspaced away “HOWARD” and typed Howard’s surname instead: “BLAKE”. A definite improvement. Gabriel tabbed over to the section for “Last Name”, entered “HOWARD”, and pressed “Save”.

Across from Gabriel, the applicant felt a sharp zing shooting behind his eyes, like an ice-cream headache, only unprompted by the consumption of anything cold. He raised a hand to clutch his forehead, but by the time his fingers reached his temple, the pain had already dissipated. He shook his head, hoping Gabriel hadn’t noticed his sudden flinch.

Gabriel waited for the moment to pass, then asked, “Now, Blake, what is your age?”

The applicant looked momentarily confused. “I’m sorry, what?”

“How old are you?”

Blake scowled. “I didn’t think you were allowed to ask that, ‘cause of age discrimination and all that.”

“It’s okay to ask, it’s just not okay to discriminate because of it. I mean, it’s not like it’s some big state secret, right? The second you walk in the door, people are gonna notice how old you are anyway. Might as well be honest up front. If someone’s not gonna hire you because of your age, do you even want to bother being considered by them?”

Blake could see the logic of Gabriel’s argument. Even so, Blake couldn’t help but shave a few years off his true age of 55. “Fifty-two,” Blake informed Gabriel, hoping that made him seem slightly more employable and slightly less AARP-worthy.

“You’re kidding,” Gabriel said. “You look a lot younger than that to me.” Blake scoffed at the idea that he didn’t look his age or worse, but Gabriel lifted his fingers to the top row of his keyboard. He typed “25” instead of “52”, then clicked “Save”.

Another quick jolt rocketed through Blake’s head, only to fade just as quickly. He felt dizzy and his vision was blurry. He wondered if he could be having a stroke, but that seemed unlikely for someone his age. He removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. When he opened them, he was relieved to discover that everything around him looked sharper, clearer and brighter than it had moments ago. Maybe he just needed a new prescription or something, he thought. He breathed more easily and swept a hand through his hair, brushing back the unruly brown forelock that had fallen past his eyes. He couldn’t help but notice a smile growing on Gabriel’s face. “Something the matter?”

“Not at all,” Gabriel assured Blake as his attention returned to the lengthy resume on his desk. “Now, it says here you’re a personal trainer?”

Blake guffawed at the absurdity of the notion. “Yeah, right. No, it’s ‘personnel trainer’. See, I was assigned to teach the new hires how to do their jobs. Then, of course, once I trained them, they’d get promoted above me, while I trained the next round of brats. Eventually, they decided one of the brats I trained to do his job could do my job, and so I wasn’t needed any more.” His resentment was obvious in his tone.

Gabriel responded with a sympathetic nod and a brief hum. Most of the people who came through his door felt discarded by life, hopeless about their prospects. Gabriel felt good that he was able to offer them a second chance. He began to fill out the “Previous Employment” portion of the document on his screen. Despite Blake’s clarification, Gabriel entered “PERSONAL TRAINER”, followed by a series of skills, accomplishments and vital statistics which could not be found on the applicant’s actual CV, like the measurements of various body parts and the amount that Blake could bench.

As Gabriel clicked “Save”, Blake shifted uncomfortably in his chair. A drop of sweat trickled down his forehead, followed by a torrent. As he wiped away the moisture with the back of his hand, he heard an ominous rip. His eyes shot toward his shoulder where the seam joining his sleeve to the body of his sports coat had popped, exposing the lining. He knew he should have bought a new suit before he started job hunting, given how much he’d bulked up recently. He had barely been able to squeeze into his jacket while getting dressed that morning. Embarrassed, he looked across the desk at Gabriel and shrugged his broad shoulders, which only caused the seam to tear further.

“It happens,” Gabriel said reassuringly, watching as the applicant’s physique reshaped itself beneath his clothing.

Blake was oblivious as his stomach receded while his sleeves and pant legs grew more constraining. His necktie was practically choking him, so he reached up to loosen his collar, the cuff of his jacket now loose around his wrist. He undid the top button and pulled down the knot of his tie, easing the pressure on the bulging veins of his thick neck. That felt better. He hated getting dressed up in a monkey suit like this, preferring to spend his days in a tank top and shorts, showing off his wicked bod. He leaned back casually, shifting his firm ass cheeks comfortably in the roomy chair.

Gabriel watched as the tension ebbed from the applicant’s body, replaced by a relaxed confidence. Even seated, Blake now had a certain swagger. Gabriel could think of any number of clients who would be eager to use Blake’s services, but Gabriel knew that further embellishments would make him even more suitable to his clients’ particular needs.

Gabriel’s eyes skimmed the other employment experience on the wrinkly resume, but it was preposterous that someone as young as Blake could have toiled at a lengthy series of tedious desk jobs. Instead, Gabriel placed his fingers back on his keyboard and free-associated a new employment history which included two years as a lifeguard in Maui and a stint as a swimsuit and underwear model for International Jock. Similarly, Gabriel ignored the “Education” section of the applicant’s resume. A BS in business administration wouldn’t do him much good now. A GED ought to be plenty. Gabriel moved the mouse to the “Ethnicity” section, which featured far more options than a typical form. After a bit of daydreaming, he clicked the boxes beside “Samoan” and “Irish”, curious to see what would result from that particular combination. Satisfied, Gabriel pressed “Save” and spun around in time to watch Blake’s skin take on a permanent tan, liberally dotted with freckles. His facial features were rearranged by an unseen force, lowering and thickening his eyebrows, lifting his cheekbones to prominence, and strengthening his jawline into a series of sharp angles. Piercing green eyes peered through narrowed eyelids.

Blake’s attention had drifted toward the ceiling tiles, the countless black dots reminding him of the astonishing number of stars visible in the night sky in Hawaii. Although Howard had never ventured further west than Las Vegas, Blake now had distinct memories of spending much of his early twenties in the warm tropical surf. In his mind, he could still smell the combination of sea salt and coconut oil on his bare skin. He could even remember the day when a guy who said he was a fashion photographer approached him and insisted that Blake could be a model. Only in this case, the guy actually was a fashion photographer and the course of Blake’s life changed dramatically. What transpired after his modeling days that might have led him to this storefront employment office in Omaha, Nebraska, was fuzzy in Blake’s mind, since Gabriel hadn’t bothered filling all of those connective details into the form on his computer. Gabriel left some things vague, knowing his clients liked to customize their hires further once they’d gotten to know them. All Blake knew right now was that he was looking for something new and exciting in his life.

“Okay, Blake,” Gabriel said, shaking Blake out of his daze, “all I need now is some photos to attach to your application and we’ll be all set.”

“Sure thing,” Blake said, hoisting himself easily out of the chair. “Where ya want me?”

“Over there is fine.” Gabriel gestured toward a plain green wall, into which he would later be able to insert any backdrop that might appeal to prospective clients. As Gabriel walked over to lock the front door and lower the shades on the windows, Blake strutted toward the wall, arms swinging stiffly in his ill-fitting sports coat.

In an offhand tone, Gabriel proposed, “Say, maybe you oughta lose the jacket.”

Blake liked that suggestion. He felt like he was strapped in a straitjacket. As he struggled to extract himself from the coat, the right sleeve separated completely at the shoulder and the fabric down the center of his back tore loudly. He wondered how he’d ever managed to cram himself into the coat in the first place. Frustrated, he yanked on the lapels and shredded the jacket, flinging the scraps to the floor. He felt relieved, like a butterfly escaping its cocoon, although his drenched Oxford shirt still clung to his skin like a sticky membrane.

Noting Blake’s displeasure, Gabriel suggested, “You can take off the shirt too, if you’d feel more comfortable.”

Blake grinned widely and tore away the shirt as if it were tissue paper, revealing a jacked torso that left even jaded Gabriel slack-jawed. The front of Blake’s now baggy pants drooped to reveal boxer shorts, tented by the semi-hard cock within. All that was keeping his pants from dropping to the floor was the shelf of his firm glutes. Blake shot Gabriel a look. Gabriel gave him an encouraging nod. With glee, Blake grasped the waistband of his pants and yanked, letting the ruins of his slacks fall around his feet. He kicked his legs free and basked in the cool breeze of the office’s air conditioning.

“All right,” Gabriel said with enthusiasm, adjusting the camera atop his computer screen so it could capture Blake from head to foot. “I’m gonna want a bunch of shots, so the clients can see you from all angles.”

“No sweat,” Blake said with a smirk. He knew the drill. Nothing felt more natural to him than standing in front of a camera in his underwear and gazing seductively at the photographer. He followed Gabriel’s instructions carefully, flexing, bending over, lowering his boxers to offer a coy peek of his ass. After years of modeling, Blake had no inhibitions when it came to posing, and he knew how to give the photographer a little extra thrill. Unprompted, he took hold of the elastic band atop his boxers and tore them to bits, letting his engorged penis flop hypnotically.

Gabriel gasped. He hadn’t even specified anything in the form about cock size. Whatever Blake was sporting was what Howard had brought with him. For a few moments, Gabriel forgot all about the task at hand and simply stared, wondering how Howard could have been so miserable if he was packing a monster like that.

“Anything else?” It was Blake’s virile, youthful voice that shook Gabriel out of his stupor.

“Uh…no, I think you’re fine,” Gabriel said, uncharacteristically flustered. “I mean, we’re fine. The photos are fine. You can get dressed.”

“In what?” Blake asked with a snort, looking at the scraps of clothing encircling him on the floor.

“Oh, uh, go into the back room. There’s a whole bunch of clothes for you to choose from. I’m sure you’ll find plenty of stuff that’ll fit you.”

“Okay, cool,” Blake said. “So, whatta you think? Can you find me a job?”

“I think you’re gonna be beating off…beating them off…” Blushing, Gabriel course-corrected. “I think you’ve got nothing to worry about.”

“Righteous!” Blake nodded and turned around, offering Gabriel a full view of his wide back tapering down to his bare ass and athletic legs. Gabriel was entranced, watching the globes of Blake’s cheeks undulate as he swayed through the doorway to the back room.

Gabriel chewed on a knuckle and wondered whether he should just keep Blake for his own pleasure, but he knew that what he had created would be in high demand and fetch him astronomical commissions. Besides, he had a feeling that a megastud like Blake wouldn’t be satisfied by a mere mortal like Gabriel. Gabriel told himself that, one of these days, he would use the program to create an amazing new life for himself, but he hadn’t yet summoned the courage. He knew from experience that, if he wasn’t extremely careful with his wording, he would risk losing his own identity, just as he had eradicated the original identities of so many sad and desperate applicants who had walked through his door. Maybe he shouldn’t be scared. Maybe he should welcome that kind of change. Everyone he transformed certainly seemed happier as a result. Certainly they went on to have more interesting lives than he did, sitting in this office day after day, reshaping strangers to fulfill the fantasies of others while he remained unchanged. Maybe, he told himself. Someday, he told himself.

For now, Gabriel busied himself with gathering the remnants of Howard’s discarded clothes, making sure not to leave a scrap behind. He stuffed them into a trash bag which he stashed beneath his desk for later disposal. As he pondered which of his clients to contact first about his latest offering, he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.

Gabriel turned back to the screen. He had been so captivated by Blake’s transformation, he had neglected to complete the form. One last question needed to be answered. He considered the various options. Although most of his clients were gay men seeking companionship, he felt he might be missing out on some choice revenue if he limited Blake to being purely homosexual. He slid the cursor toward a box which he had rarely chosen in the past, clicked the mouse, and saved the entire document, locking in Blake Howard’s new identity as “omnisexual”.

From the back room came a deep, yearning moan.

Gabriel rushed toward the sound. Maybe he could keep Blake around the office for a day or two. After all, he told himself, it wouldn’t be fair to his customers if he couldn’t personally vouch for the quality of his product.


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