The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(5)

by Mariana Zapata

Before that day, his manager had already interviewed me twice. The position was in the income range I’d been aiming for, and that was all that had mattered to me back then. The employment agency I’d signed up with, had already called me into their offices on three separate occasions to make sure I’d be a good fit for ‘a celebrity’ as they called him.

A bachelor’s degree, a wide range of jobs I’d worked at that varied from being a divorce lawyer’s secretary for three years while I went to college, summers spent doing photography for anyone who would hire me, a pretty successful side business selling makeup and stuff from a catalog, and excellent references, had gotten me a callback.

I was pretty sure that wasn’t what really got me the job though; it was my ignorance when it came to football. If there was a game on TV, chances were I wasn’t paying attention to it. I’d never even seen Aiden Graves before my first day. I didn’t exactly walk around telling people the only games I ever watched were the ones I’d been to in person during high school.

So when his manager had mentioned the name of my potential employer, I had stared at him blankly. I would more than likely never know for sure if it was my lack of excitement that scored me the position, but I had a feeling it was.

Even after Aiden’s manager offered me the job, I hadn’t bothered looking him up. What was the point? It wasn’t like anything the Internet said about him could change my mind about becoming his assistant. Really, nothing could have. I wasn’t ashamed to say he could have been a serial killer and I would have taken the job if the pay were right.

In the end though, I thought it had been a good thing that I hadn’t done a search for him. As I would later learn when I was busy sending out promotional pictures to fans, photographs didn’t do him any justice.

At six foot four, just a quarter inch shy of six five, sometimes weighing up to two hundred and eighty pounds in the middle of the off season, and with a presence that made him seem closer to some mythological hero than an average mortal, Aiden was a beast even fully clothed. He didn’t have cosmetic muscles. He was just plain massive. Everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if X-rays showed his bones were more dense than normal. His muscles had been honed and crafted for the specific purpose of as-effectively-as-possible blocking passes and tackling opposing quarterbacks.

An extra-extra-large T-shirt that morning of our first meeting didn’t hide the massive bulk of his trapezius, pectorals, deltoids, or much less his biceps and triceps. The guy was ripped. His thighs strained the seams of the sweat pants he’d been wearing. I remembered noticing his fists reminded me of bricks and the wrists that held them to the rest of his body were bigger than I’d ever seen.

Then there was the face I would be looking at for the next chunk of my life. Where his features might have been bluntly shaped like so many big guys were, Aiden was handsome in a way that wasn’t aesthetically beautiful. His cheeks were lean, the bones above them high, and his jaw lantern shaped. The deep set of his eyes highlighted thick, black brows. Short, trimmed facial hair which always resembled a five o’clock shadow even after he’d immediately shaved, covered the lower half of his face.

A white scar along his hairline, from his temple to below his ear, was the only thing the short bristles couldn’t hide. Then there was that mouth that would have seemed pouty on any another man who might have been smaller and who didn’t glare half as much as he did. He was brown haired and olive skinned. A hint of a thin, gold chain had peeked out from the collar of his shirt, but I’d been so distracted by everything else that was Aiden Graves, it wasn’t until months later that I learned it was a medallion of St. Luke he never went anywhere without.