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The Nice Guy (standard:romance, 4956 words)
Author: RickAdded: Feb 24 2003Views/Reads: 2593/4936Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Jack is a stressed-out, overweight and veteran business traveler who dreams of a romantic interlude. When a close female business associate needs his help, he finds out whether the dream can become reality.

Jack settled into his seat and stared out at the airport tarmac.  He was
on yet another Sunday night red-eye flight to Europe for yet another 
weeklong business trip.  He purposely did not bring a magazine on the 
plane figuring he would work on the flight over.  Instead, he 
rationalized that his stressed-out psyche required that he spend this 
time relaxing rather than focusing on something as dry as the contract 
that he and his Telebotics colleagues would have to face this week.  On 
the other side of the table would be the Flemish delegation from Euro 
Business Systems (EBS)...pleasant enough socially, but very impassioned 
about this new collaboration, and flush with European venture capital.  
Getting the contract signed was the team's sole mission for this trip. 

Telebotics was a typical high-technology firm located west of Boston. 
Originally the brainchild of an MIT professor, many MIT alumni, 
including Jack, had worked there through the years.  Jack title's was 
Vice-President of Engineering, but he spent a significant portion of 
his time drumming up business by selling the technology to potential 
customers.  Telebotics was in the communications switching device 
development business, catering primarily to multinational financial 
institutions and their network providers. He had been with the company 
since its start-up days back in the early 1980's.  The company had 
successfully grown during the telecommunications revolution of the 
1990's; Jack was fortunate and just fanatical enough to have been along 
for this ride, so had accordingly been promoted through the ranks. 

During his 18 years with the firm, he had picked up a substantial
businessman's paunch from the combination of rich restaurant food, 
constant stress and lack of exercise.  This was a far cry from his MIT 
days when, as a member of the crew team, he had developed a fine male 
physique.  Those previously sculpted muscles had now softened 
considerably, but he retained rugged good looks with a square jaw, 
thick black hair with only a modestly receding hairline and reasonably 
good teeth.  He had been married for a short time after college, but 
the total dedication to his work at Telebotics has gotten in the way.  
In Jack's mind, this dedication precluded a commitment to another 
significant relationship, or even a regular workout routine, for that 
matter.  Jack had always had a hearty appetite, especially for rich 
ethnic foods, which he often used to ablate the ensuing loneliness.  
His girth gradually expanded, further diminishing his confidence around 
women.  Thus was established a repeating cycle of working, eating and 
lonely desperation that had gone on for nearly two decades. 

After so many years of solo travel, he knew all the most common
techniques to pass the time.  The in-flight British Airways magazine 
was predictable, and alcohol was rapidly becoming his amusement method 
of choice.  He had stopped in the terminal pub for a beer, and was now 
nursing his second mini-bottle of Chardonnay.  Jack longed to talk to 
someone but his neighbor to the left was Italian.  There was an 
attractive forty-something looking woman in a flannel shirt across the 
aisle.  They had locked glances a few times.  He imagined that she was 
British.  How easy it ought to be to strike up a conversation... 

“I noticed you reading Hello!.  Are you from the UK?” 

“Well, yes.  Actually I was born in New York, but my mother and father
divorced when I was only nine.  My mum moved back to London after that. 
So I have a dual citizenship.” 

“Funny, I was also born in New York.  However, my parents could drag me
only as far as Connecticut.” 

Jack imagined them both having a good innocent laugh at that.  With the
ice broken, they would spend the rest of the flight in pleasant and 
witty exchanges.  After disembarking the plane, they would split a cab 
into the city, and have a drink together.  With the alcohol-induced 
release of inhibitions, they would end up in an impassioned embrace and 
quickly agree to spend the night in his hotel room... 

“Chicken or pasta?” 

“Huh? Oh, uh, chicken, please” 

The flight attendant had interrupted his little revere.  As his fantasy
encounter with this attractive woman faded, Jack crossed his arms over 
his large belly, once again reminding him how out of shape he was.  He 

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