The Up Close and Personal Interview

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“Holy shit,” I whispered, pulling up to the wrought iron gate and looking past it. In the distance, a brightly lit mansion shimmered like a jewel in the otherwise dark night.

“Hello, Dan” a voice said from a hidden speaker somewhere near my car. I rolled down my window and nervously stuck my head out, “Um, hi, I’m here for the interview.”

“Of course, come on in. You can park in the front,” the voice replied as the gate slowly opened for me. I drove up the long driveway, the mansion becoming that much larger every second until, finally, I pulled up to the entrance. I put my old, beat up Toyota Corolla in park and took a deep breath, taking the place fully in. The rich brick exterior looked beautiful in warm floodlights. Smaller dimmer lights also illuminated the various trees and Romanesque statutes dotting the landscape. My eyes moved to the entryway, a chandelier lit set of wooden doors.

“All right, you can do this,” I said quietly to myself, collecting my things. As I picked up my notepad, I briefly thought about how I managed to get here – to this interview in the middle of nowhere at night for some guy I had never met.

Truthfully, it’s not a complicated story. One day, about three months ago, my girlfriend of two years, Jenna, texted me to tell me it was over. “It’s never been great, and all you have is a construction job and a bad writing career. Bye.” And with that, she was gone. Jenna always had a way with words, and she summed it up for me in 20 words or less. Fortunately, she didn’t mention the shitty studio apartment, but I filled that part in for her.

I hit the bottle hard first and then, realizing that wasn’t the solution, the gym. I’d spend my days out on a construction site and my nights in the gym around the corner from me, trying to get back to my high school wrestling weight. Between those two, my already naturally dark Italian skin was a rich, deep amber and my old muscle tone was coming back, especially in my arms. I felt great, but between long days at work and a few hours at the gym, I hadn’t written for months and my dating life was nonexistent. Worst of all, while construction paid the bills for now, every day depended on the bosses finding more jobs for us.

That’s when I saw a job ad that caught my eye. I don’t remember the exact words, but it opened with the words, “Ready for a new adventure?” The rest was about being the personal assistant and handyman for some business guy a few towns over but way out in the country. In addition to good pay, it had housing, a clothing allowance, full benefits and “plenty of free time.” Steady work would have been enough to get me interested, but a brand new start, time to write and most of my expenses paid? It sounded too good to be true. But, hey, I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply, and I did.

A week later, I received an e-mail inviting me to a video conference interview. I took the day off and dutifully cleaned my place, even putting on my best dress shirt and tie and getting my normally longer hair cut into a clean combover. When I interview started, to my surprise, a guy around my age answered.

“You must be Dan,” he said, cracking a broad smile, “I’m Gio.” Gio could easily have been my cousin or some other close relative with his olive skin, dark hair and eyes and a light scruff covering his face. He also had huge dimples which appeared whenever he smiled or laughed. It was easy to think I was just talking to one of guys from my old neighborhood.

We started with the normal interview questions, but Gio quickly moved on describing the job. He discussed how the job basically manages the household for the boss, kind of like a combination of a handyman, project manager and go-for.

“So, I won’t sugarcoat it – this is a demanding job. The boss depends a lot on his personal assistant, so I would expect to be available at all times. That means if you got a girlfriend or some other obligation, I would think real hard before taking this job,” he warned me.

“Oh, no worries there. I’ve got nothing holding me up,” I laughed.

“Well, that’s good to know, but I really want to stress to you that this is demanding. The boss’s needs always come first and when you’re the PA at his home, you’ve got to be ready to answer. He’s not a super demanding guy but he likes what he likes. If you’re not comfortable with that, I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time by having you come out.”

“Oh no,” I replied, somewhat more seriously, “I understand and I’m all right with it.”

“Good,” he smiled. “I think you might like it out here. I’ve been working for the boss for about five years, and he’s a good guy. This job is actually my current job, but he’s hired me to work at his office. My last official duty has been to hire my replacement. You have any questions for me about the job?”

“Who is the boss?” I asked, finding it strange Gio wouldn’t name him.

“I will let you know that if we go to the next stage if we move forward. He’s a very private individual.”

I accepted that answer, not quite sure how to respond. We talked afyon escort a little while longer before he thanked me for my time and said he would be in touch. Part of me still couldn’t believe the job was real and decided to just write it off, but part of me was really intrigued, wanting to know more about his mystery man.

The next week, Gio sent me an e-mail with his phone number and asked me to call him at my earliest opportunity.

Once I got off the work site for the day, I called and he asked me to come to an in-person interview. I accepted without really thinking about it, and he told me to check my e-mail when I got home. He would have all the arrangements already made for me to come out by the time I got home.

Sure enough, when I got home, Gio sent a e-mail with an address and an interview time of 9:00 p.m. the upcoming Friday as well as the location of a hotel I would stay at.

“Sorry for the late time,” he explained in the e-mail. “He had no other availability until next week and really wants to get this going.”

Snapping back to the present, I glanced down and caught the time on the dashboard clock: 9:01 p.m.

“Shit, I’m late,” I shouted to myself, picking up the pace to get to the front door. Walking quickly, I scaled the small stone staircase in one leap and landed in front of the doors, frantically searching for the doorbell. When I couldn’t find one, I knocked three times and waited.

A few seconds passed before the left door swung open, and a friendly face met mine.

“Hey, Dan, glad you found the place,” Gio smiled and extending his hand out to shake mine. His broad smile caught my attention right away, and I eagerly shook his hand. Gio waved me into the house, “Come in, come in.”

“I’m sorry about being late,” I stammered, my breath still slightly heavy.

“No worries – that driveway is long. Plus, I saw you jump those stairs,” he laughed, “Did you run track in school?”

“No, I wrestled,” I laughed.

“Oh me too,” Gio replied, “You’re about 25 or 26, right? I bet we wrestled each other at some point in high school.”

We laughed and he pointed to a door off the entryway. “Come on it,” he said, throwing the door open.

I followed Gio into a dark room. I heard him fumble slightly for something and flick a dim lamp on. Once it lit up, I could clearly see this was a study, lined with dark wood shelves, multiple books in numerous colors and a huge stately desk that the lamp sat upon. The room had earthy smell and the lamp light gently disappeared into the dark green walls and ceiling.

“Sorry, thought this damn thing was on,” Gio said, motioning to the lamp. In the dim light, I seized up my potential former wrestling opponent. He was slightly shorter than me with a slightly smaller frame, but he was clearly in shape. We probably had wrestled in high school, I would guess. His scruff was gone and his face was clean shaven with a crisp, short haircut with faded sides. His suit fit him perfectly, hugging his body tightly but in every flattering way.

“Take a seat,” he said, pointing to the two large leather seats facing the desk.

I sat down, placing my notepad and pen on the desk. Gio sat comfortably in the second chair, crossing his legs and placing a similar notepad and portfolio on his lap. He looked up to me and gave a slight sigh.

“Ok, so I apologize for all the mystery. As I said, the boss is very private, so we have to be careful about who we invite. I’d say you understand, but this whole thing must seem weird.”

I nodded and smiled slightly stupidly, trying to agree without being a dick.

“Ok, man. First thing’s first, I need you to sign a NDA,” he said, producing a paper from his portfolio and handing it to me.

“A what?” I asked.

“Non-disclosure agreement. We can’t go forward from here without it,” he said, eyeing me closely to see my reaction.

“What am I agreeing to?” I said, looking down at the tiny print on the page and struggling to read it in the dim light.

“Basically, if, for whatever reason, you aren’t hired then this night never happened and you have no idea who the boss is,” he explained in a surprisingly patient voice, “I know it’s weird, but this is the level of discretion required. If you’re not comfortable, I can walk you out right now.”

“No, no it’s not that,” I said, trying to reassure him. “It’s just that I’ve never done this.”

“I hadn’t either when I started,” he admitted, “But, trust me, this job is worth it.” He sat back in his chair relaxed but continuing to watch me closely.

I signed. “What the hell,” I reasoned out loud. Giving it once last fake look over, I handed it back to Gio and he placed it back in his portfolio.

“Very good. Now, let’s get down to business. The boss is Ron Conover. Ever heard of him?”

I shook my head.

“Ok, I suppose that’s for the best. He’s a partner attorney at a large real estate firm down in the city. He’s down there a few nights a week, but this is his actual house. He’s usually here some weeknights ağrı escort but almost every weekend. Just likes the seclusion, I suppose,” Gio explained.

“Uh huh,” I said. I bounced my knee slightly, partially to calm myself down. The combination of the rush to get in the door, the random contract and all the mystery being solved must have finally gotten to my nerves.

Gio must have noticed it as well.

“You ok?” Gio asked.

“Yeah, sure. Just a little nervous, I guess,” I forced a small laugh.

“Relax, buddy. No need to stress,” Gio said, chuckling slightly. “You want a drink?”

He quickly got up and walked over to a small, built-in bar behind us and pulled out some bottles. “Whiskey, vodka, rye?”

“I’m not sure I should…”

Gio quickly picked up a glass, pulled some ice from a chest underneath the bar and poured at least a double shot of vodka. He brought it to his mouth and took a small sip.

“See? Not a big deal,” he said, offering up the vodka bottle with a wry smile.

“…I guess I’ll take the same,” I said quietly, still unsure. Gio made a second, bringing it over and handing it to me.

“You’ll be a bartender sometimes too,” he said with another grin, sitting down again in his chair and picking up the notepad.

“Ah, let’s see,” he said looking over his notes, “Ok, again, my apologies on the late time. I had a hard time scheduling Ron this week, and this was the only time that worked out. Also, I’m not sure how long he plans on talking with you, so I’d say just plan on staying here tonight. Trust me – this place is comfortable and I can get you a change of clothes.”

I nodded, taking a big gulp of vodka. I needed every drop at this point.

Gio kept talking, never looking up, “You’ll have a separate bedroom from me tonight, but in the morning, I can show you my apartment. Honestly, it’s nicer than anything I had in the city. Plus, you get to use the pool, gym, sauna, all that stuff. It’s a sweet gig.”

I nodded again, continuing to just take in everything around me. What the fuck was I doing? This also seemed so wrong, but I felt strangely compelled to see where this was all going.

Gio kept talking, flipping through pages of his notes. “Questions?” he would ask periodically as he did. I shook my head because, honestly, I wasn’t really listening. The strangeness of the whole thing had caught me so off-guard, and it was a struggle to stay on task, especially with the vodka slowly emptying in my hand.

“Ok, he’s gonna come in here and Christ knows what he’ll ask,” Gio said. “But you seem like a nice guy, so here’s some advice – just relax, go with the flow. I recorded our interview and he likes you already. Just listen to whatever he says, go with it him as he talks about whatever and you got this in the bag. Cool?”

“I…I…” I started.

“You’ll do great,” he said, standing up. “He’ll be in a few minutes. Want another vodka?”

“No, I think I’m good.”

Gio smiled, patted my back and exited out the same door.

For a few minutes, I sat, nursing the drink. Anything I had prepared was basically out the window, and I wasn’t even sure I wanted the job really. I could leave, I reasoned, but why? This would have all been for nothing, and driving this late now in the total dark with a double shot already in me? There was no way.

I nearly jumped when the door behind the desk opened, and Ron walked in it.

“Hello, hello!” his booming voice filled the room. He was easily 6’3″, an imposing bear of guy with piercing ice blue eyes and a salt and pepper hair. His hair was carefully combed and styled in a crisp, clean combover. His trimmed short bread rounded out his face, making it a pleasing round shape. A slight beer belly appeared underneath his loosened suit coat. Some black chest hair poked out of his undershirts exposed by his parted dress shirt.

“You must be Dan,” he said, extending his hand and almost crushing mine with his handshake. “Welcome to my home.”

“Thank you, sir. It’s beautiful,” I yammered. No matter what I pictured before I got here, a fucking linebacker wasn’t it. In construction, I’d seen some big guys, but the lawyers? They were all so small and lean. This guy could definitely give me a run for my money in a fight, if not just pin me.

“Well, thanks, but I don’t answer to ‘sir'” he said, taking a seat at his desk and placing his elbows on the table. “Just Ron is fine.” I liked him almost instantly once the surprise wore off. Here he was dressed down only slightly from his job but still, he seemed just like one of my dad’s friends or one of the guys on the site.

“Sure, sorry, Ron,” I said, taking another sip. I needed whatever it took at this point to relax.

Ron quickly noticed the glass in my hand. “Glad Gio hasn’t been a totally terrible host,” he said, laughing to himself. He opened a desk drawer and reached out until pulling out a glass and a bottle, pouring himself a heavy pour of the brown liquor.

“What’d he get you – vodka, gin?” Ron asked, motioning at aksaray escort my glass.

“Vodka,” I replied.

“Finish that and have a Scotch with me,” he said, his voice still friendly but slightly firmer. He picked up his drink and talk a long, slow sip and peered at me like a scientist examining a new specimen.

I slammed the vodka and put my glass down on the table. Ron eagerly poured a heavy drink for me and added a little more to his glass.

“We’re not going anywhere anyway,” he said with a laugh. I genuinely laughed back, finally feeling a little more comfortable with his easy-going attitude. He lifted his glass and we clinked our glasses together. “Cheers,” we said in unison.

“So, you want to be my PA?” Ron asked before leaning back deep in his chair.

“Well, I certainly think it would be an interesting job, Ron,” I say, trying to make light conversation.

He gave a low chuckle, “So, is that a yes?”

“I mean, I would certainly consider it,” I said, feeling a little more loose.

“Oh, well well – I thought you were in construction, not negotiation,” Ron said. A twinkle filled his eyes and a boyish grin formed across his face. I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Well,” I laughed, “I am also a writer.”

“Yeah, I remember you saying that. What do you write?” he asked.

I’m not sure if it was the alcohol hitting me already, my nerves or just Ron’s imposing presence, but I took a risk: “Eh, mostly dick jokes.”

Ron burst out laughing. “Wow,” he mouthed after he settled down slightly. “You know, most guys who talk about dicks all the time do it to compensate for something.” He took another sip.

“Oh, well, in that case, I write wifi setup instructions,” I chuckled, slightly blushing.

“Well, you must have a huge dick then,” Ron said, grinning wide again. He smile was infectious as I felt my lips curl upward as well in response.

We continued talking a little bit further about my first interview with Ron asking about things I had said. We talked back and forth and he gave me more about his backstory. After a few minutes, he slapped the top of the desk.

“Ok, well, in addition to all this fun, I have a little test for you. But, let’s take a little look around the house. You can ask whatever you want along the way. As you can see, I’m pretty informal around here,” he said, standing up and waving his hand toward the door.

“Don’t bring anything but your drink and know how,” he said, a grin on his face. “We can refill along the way.”

We walked out back in the entryway and through his surprisingly small dining room with a normal, family-sized table for four. “I so infrequently have guests out here for dinner,” he explained.

“Does anybody live with you besides Gio?” I asked as we walked through the room. I took note of the fancing moldings and lighting as we did

“Nope. Gio’s my ride or die bitch,” Ron laughed. “But, honestly, he’s outgrown this job. Did he tell you he’s becoming my executive assistant at work?”

“Not exactly – just that he took another job with you,” I replied.

“Well, now he gets to deal with my bullshit from 8 to 5 instead of 5 to 8,” Ron flashed another little grin to me.

Behind the dining room, we walked through an doorway and into a huge gaming room, completed with billiards, ping pong, a pool table and big screen TV. It was the ultimate mancave, complete with what looked like a wet bar in the far back.

“This is one of my pride and joys,” Ron beamed, pointing out the features of all the things in the room. We walked to various items as he explained where he got each thing and I dutifully responded with an “mmhmm” careful to let him do most of the talking.

As we approached the back of the room, he took me behind the wet bar and let me inspect his whole collection of expensive wine and liquors.

“Holy fuck,” I accidentally let slip, noticing a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue, an extremely expensive Scotch. I gasped immediately afterward, realizing my error.

Ron chuckled appreciatively. “Would you like a little taste?” he offered.

I nodded, and he carefully opened the bottle and pour a shot’s worth into two glasses. Leaning against the bar, he handed me a glass and in a low, deep voice he spoke as if to command me, “Sip it slowly.”

I nodded, taking the glass and watching him as he took a small sip. Being up this close, I could finally appreciate how truly big this man was. Like Gio, his suit was extremely well tailored and clung to his arms snugly, showcasing his large biceps. It was something to admire – especially in a guy who you wouldn’t expect this from. I found myself almost wanting to feel them just to make sure they were real and not just the alcohol playing tricks of me.

“Everything ok?” Ron asked, snapping me back to reality.

“Oh, yeah,” I said, “Sorry. I just got lost in thought there.”

He smiled. “Hey, this is a weird experience, I know. Nobody’s trying to pull a fast one, so you can relax.”

I nodded, taking a polite sip. The Scotch was smoother than water, and I let it bath my tongue as Ron poured another for himself. I swallowed, and for the first time, I noticed Ron’s dark, earthy cologne. It was clearly fading after a full day and mixing with his musk. The combination was strangely warm and inviting.

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