Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 42: Life, the Universe and Everything


Picture 1

Picture 2

Kimmydon's Choice: both

Life, the Universe and Everything

Notebook in hand, I took my usual lunchtime post on the bench in front of City Hall. My glasses had slid down my nose, again, and I pushed them back into place. Honestly, even with a hundred adjustments, they’d never fit properly. I just had too pointed a nose, a slope too steep for anything but tape or glue to ignore.

Who would be my subject today? I spent every lunch hour watching one person, usually also outside, enjoying their lunch, and inventing some glorious past or present for them. Some were hilariously inglorious. One time, I wrote that the round bald man buying a hot dog on the corner was actually a former Luchador, Mexican wrestler, who had cheated on his wife and been forced to go into hiding. That was a good one. Where did I put his story?

I flipped back through pages covered in scrawling cursive. Someone blocked my light for a moment and I twisted a little until he passed.

“What ya writing?” someone asked beside me. I slipped right off the edge of the bench onto my ass. My glasses slipped to the tip of my nose as I did, and the traitor pen rolled under the bench, right behind one scuffed up sneaker. Who wore sneakers with those nice pants? My eyes lifted to see a younger man sitting on the bench. He had dark sunglasses and clean cut black hair. His burgundy tie was hanging loose on his blue shirt, unbuttoned halfway to reveal a band T-shirt. My roommate would probably know the group, but I didn’t.

“Nothing,” I muttered, moving to my hands and knees to retrieve the errant pen. He shifted his foot to cover it. I scowled up at him. “Can I have my pen, please?”

“Only if you tell me what had you grinning and flipping pages a moment ago. You’ve got something good in that notebook.” He grinned, white teeth standing out against tanned skin.

Grumbling I brushed off my knees and settled back on the bench beside him. It couldn’t have been a moment, but now his arm stretched across the back of it. Someone thought highly of himself. Pushing my glasses up, I resumed my flipping. I kept darting my eye to the hot dog stand. That guy came every couple of days. Opening to the right page, I handed him the book and pointed to the hot dog stand. As if on cue, Luz Maria Diaz de Leon de Vaca came out of the building across the street.

“This is his story.”

As the nameless, intrusive, and way too stealthy guy skimmed the page, I retrieved my pen from under his foot. I resumed scanning the block for my latest subject. He started to chuckle and I looked at him again.

“That’s good. You do this often, then?” He put his arm on the back of the bench again, making me uncomfortable.

“Most days, yes. I like to write in my spare time. Sometimes I’ll plot out whole stories from these.” I turned to a clean page before setting my chin on my hand, not wanting to lean back.

His elbows came to his knees as he struck a similar pose. “What are we looking for?”
At this angle I could see though the side of his glasses to his eyes. They were a still shaded, but seem to gleam with mirth.

“You’re very pushy, you know that? A subject. Someone I haven’t written.” I took the opportunity to lean back. I noticed his line of sight stayed on my knee for a moment before turning to the street again.

“I’ve been told. I figure, you’re not going to get what you want by stepping around it.” He leaned back putting his arm around me again. “Her,” he said, nodding his head. “The one in the heels. Done her?”

The woman wore a knee length black skirt and sheer black blouse over camisole. Her honey coloured curls fell to her shoulders and were pinned up on one side.

“Nope.” Narrowing my eyes on those heels, I put pen to paper.

Grateful to finally be out from under his thumb, she donned the one thing she knew he couldn’t resist. She was walking over his heart, stabbing it with one sharp heel as she departed. He had no control over her anymore. His contract, and hers, was finished. She would be a free agent from now on, finding her own clients, deciding what she charged, proving she was worth every penny.

“She’s a whore?” he asked.

I started, scrapping a long inked furrow down the page. “No! She’s a consultant.” I shook my head at his implication and started making notes in the margin while they were fresh. 10 yr term, ad business, jr intern makes big, lands deal he only dreamed of

“Oh. Just.. y’know, under his thumb, controlling...”

“Who are you?” I asked, unable to bear it any longer.

“Dan. You?”

I didn’t answer, bending over my page again. I heard a rustle and peeked at him out of the corner of my eye. He had my purse!

“What are you doing?!” I grabbed for it, but he held my licence and let me have the purse.

“Jennifer Chase. Oooh, Chase, I like that.”

“Give me that.” I snatched it back.

“You’re only a year older than me. Shame I didn’t grow up here, I could have been your prom date.” His smile was huge, and I had the unusual urge to slap it. I wasn’t a violent person, and without siblings, there were few people who had aggravated me as much as Dan did.

“Excuse me,” I said, slipping my notebook and pen back in the purse and rising.

“Oh, you’re going to want this, too,” he said passing over my phone. My jaw dropped. Recovering slowly, I narrowed my eyes.

“Enjoy your weekend,” I said icily, taking it from his hand. I could feel his eyes on me the whole way back to my office. Honestly, who was he?!

“Come on, Jenn. You can bring your notebook and be boring, just come with us.” My roommate was tugging on my arm as I fought her pull.

“No, Marla. I don’t want to go,” I whined. I was so comfy in my sweats. I didn’t want to get dressed.

“You don’t have to change much, just a different shirt. You’ll have fun, I promise. Lots to see. You need to get out of this house!”

I couldn’t argue with her there. I’d stay glued to the couch for the whole weekend if she brought food.

With a loud sigh, I relented and she yanked me right off the sofa. “Okay. Let me brush my hair.”

“Take your time. Denise won’t be here for another fifteen to pick us up. It’s just the lake, not a club or anything.” She followed me into the bathroom and cleaned my glasses while I fixed my ponytail.

“Thanks,” I said, peeling off my sweatshirt and taking them back. Hands on hips, I faced my closet. The lake. What to wear to the lake? I yanked a blue button down off its hanger.

“That’s nice,” Marla said, appraising. Then she giggled. “Cottontails have to stay home.”

I laughed too, swapping for a pair of sneakers. “You’re sure this is okay?” I was used to dressing for the office, but didn’t really go out with Marla and her friends much.

She smiled. “Yep. I mean, I’m not dressed up, am I?” She wasn’t in faded jeans and a t-shirt.

“Which band is that?” I asked, pointing. “I saw someone wearing one of their shirts yesterday.”

“Really? They’re local,” she said pulling it down and looking at it. “I only bought it because the logo was great.” It was an office tower with all the windows breaking, bursting out. “They’re the Sonic Wave. Get it, blowing out the windows?”

I nodded. We both turned at the door buzzer. Marla ran to the keypad first, pressing the button and calling, “We’re on our way.”

Grabbing my purse I followed her out.

The day was gorgeous. The sun was bright and high, warm enough that I wished I hadn’t worn sweatpants. Sitting on picnic bench, I soaked rays while injecting my own little tidbits into the girls’ conversation.

“Hello, ladies.” The male voice made me open my eyes and sit up. There was a group of five young men approaching. The other girls seemed to shift, trying to get a better look, but I just cringed and reached for my purse. I wasn’t going to be of any interest to these guys, I might as well do something productive.

“Seems I’m done chasing,” one of them said, and my head whipped back to the group. There was Dan, shirtless, approaching. I groaned and covered my face with my hand.

“What?” Marla whispered.

“Remember me telling you who ‘42’ was?” The jerk had put his number in my phone.

Marla snickered. “That’s him,” she said still quietly. “Hubba hubba.” She couldn’t tease me more as he was quickly drawing closer.

“I’m starting to think you’re following me,” I complained, crossing my arms.

He laughed loudly. “With that pale skin? I’m here all the time. It’s you following me, I think.” He put a hand to my arm below my sleeve and it was hard not to flinch.

“Who are your friends, Dan?” one of the others asked.

When he turned we all got a look at the wings tattooed on his back. They were very nicely done. I wondered if they’d hurt. “Don’t know the others, but the very literate Jennifer Chase is here.”

There were a couple of chuckles, so he must have mentioned me to them. He really had some nerve. Rather than respond, I continued what I had been doing and pulled out my notepad and pen.

“Look out! She’s armed!” one of the other men teased. I ignored him.

Dan piped up, “Hey, don’t joke about that. She’s deadly with that thing. Next thing you know, you’ll be the mail room boy who can’t get his shit together and never has a girlfriend.”

I couldn’t help it, I laughed at that.

“Hi, I’m Denise, this is Marla...” The other girls started introducing themselves, but Dan took their vacated seats to lounge beside me, reading over my shoulder again.

“You want something, 42?” I asked. “What is that anyway? A jersey number?”

He put a hand to his chest. “I’m appalled. You don’t know what 42 is?”

I scoffed, “A way to make sure you’re at the top of my call list?”

“No, Miss Priss,” he said, smirking. “I am the answer to life, the universe and everything.”

I’d been had. “Douglas Adams. Well played. So you’re not only pushy, you’re full of yourself, too.” He still rubbed me in every kind of wrong way, but damn if he wasn’t starting to grow on me.

“Yeah, well, I was going to take you to heaven with me. One day you’ll know what you missed,” he said holding the back of his cap and walking out on the dock.

The knight, having driven the princess to the point of exiling him from her kingdom, returned as the last of her guard fell to give her the ingredient she needed to cast her protective spell.

“How did you know where to find it?” she asked.

“I’m good like that.”