Sunday, September 2, 2012

She Is Where, Part 10

It was pretty stupid, saying gezundheit when a bottle of liquid makes a rude noise, but they both laughed like it was hysterical.

"Now I'm a lemon foundry, too," said the boss and sat back in his chair, then asked her, "So what have you noticed today?"

"You do business like you're a spy or a hit man.  In the restaurant you wanted to face the door and not be too close to the restroom.  You don't deal in names -- you never asked me my name, you didn't tell me yours, you didn't tell me the giant's name ..."

"The giant!  That's rich!" he interrupted her to exclaim.

She immediately jumped back in.

"You didn't tell me the giant's name and when Mr. King asked if he should be worried, you both shook his hand and looked him in the face but you didn't offer him your names either.  Like you weren't concerned that he was seeing you because he'd never see you again so it didn't matter.  You paid cash for everything, even the train tickets.   You have yet to offer me a business card with the name of your company and you keep telling me all the great things about working for you in magnificent generalities -- a company car, great healthcare, good salary -- but have offered nothing tangible like my duties, what kind of business if is, and why you would be so generous with a total stranger."  I paused and looked the handsome man with the beautiful suit up and down.  "And what was in the little plastic bag you gave the giant?"

"That's the basis of my business, the contents of that bag," he said.  "That's how I make money."

"For all I know," she said, "there was nothing in that bag but a piece of tissue paper that had been cleverly folded to look like something."  She paused and advised him, "I remembered a line from '30 Rock'."

"'I want to go to there'?" he asked, trying to show how hip he was.

"No," she replied with a head shake.  " 'Never go with a hippie to a second location.' "

They looked at each other.

"And a line a co-worker likes to throw out -- if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

The face of the handsome man suddenly became hard, like all the effort fell out of it, and his eyes turned cold.

"So what are you accusing me of?  Are you calling you a liar?" asked the boss.

She didn't think she was accusing him of anything.  He asked what she'd observed and she'd done so with pinpoint accuracy.  She didn't realize that this was not what it seemed until he asked her to say it out loud.

She never knew what her face was doing.  She thought she knew but was presented with photographic evidence mostly to the contrary.  She tried to keep as neutral a face as possible but something always betrayed her -- an eyebrow, her lower lip, the way her eyes had gone suddenly wide.  When he paraphrased what he'd just said, she knew she'd managed it.

"Am I a liar, then?" he demanded again, sounding insulted, his voice hissed out.

"Sir," she said.  "I don't know who or what you are.  I don't know if you are sincere or otherwise.  I know nothing about you as you've honestly told me nothing.  About the only thing I know for certain is when the train gets to Mount Prospect and I leave this train with you and the giant, I don't think I will ever be seen or heard of again.  It won't matter if the conductor or Mr. King saw me with you because I don't think you or the giant will ever be anywhere near these parts again.  But that won't matter because I will disappear without a trace and the mystery of my disappearance will never be solved."

They looked at each other, she taking in this handsome man, now so annoyed, and he looking at, well, her.  She got the better part of that deal but it was making her feel a bit sick but not enough to stop talking.

"I really did think that meeting you was my lucky day.  You nailed my work problem on the head and  you noticed how I take my coffee.  But you could have planned all of that in advance -- what type to look for, how to talk to that person, how to appeal to any fundamental concern.  You can be an intuitive person and still be a louse.  One minute ago I had no idea but I put it all together as I said it out loud and then it just sounded like a giant rouse and if I pursue it, I am a big dope who deserves to have a giant snap her neck like a twig."

His eyes were slits and his mouth was a line of anger.

"So I have to advise that no, I will not be joining you in Mount Prospect," she said with finality.  "If it's a real job then I can come for an interview tomorrow."

"You know I work virtually," he said.  "The world is my office and I go where my customers are when they need my products."

"Which are what?" she asked.
 
"If you won't believe me, then I am not going to convince you it's so," he said.

"Just tell me your first name," she implored.  "And the name of your company."

The steely look was all she got as the train slowed coming into a station.  The handsome man stood up slowly.

"Tell me the giant's first name, then."

"It's about trust," said the handsome man.

"Yes, it is," she answered.  "I don't trust you."

He turned and made his way down the aisle to the stairs and out of her sight.  She heard the death rattle of snores suddenly stop and faintly heard the giant say, "What?  Huh?  Okay."  When the train stopped she saw the handsome man and the giant alight from the train and walk along the platform to the stairs where they walked down toward the street.

She must have been more anxious than she'd thought because when the conductor came up behind her and asked where her friend was, she jumped.

"He and the giant had to leave," she said before adding, "I think they were made."

"Made?  What do you mean made?" asked the conductor.

She didn't explain but just asked a simple question.

"Have you ever seen them before?"

"The big guy?"  He thought for a minute.  "No.  I've seen other huge men but not that particular one.  The guy sitting up here?"  He thought again, "No, I can't say I've seen him either but that doesn't mean anything because there are a lot of trains and conductors.  We can't have seen everyone."  He paused.  "So just you to Mount Prospect?"  Realizing she had more to say, he added, "Sorry, I've got a lot of tickets to take."

"Yeah, sure, I guess," she said.

"No prob," said the conductor.  "Look for me tomorrow and say hello.  Maybe we can have coffee."

She breathed a sigh of relief.

"Yes," she said.  "Coffee.  Great.  See you then."

She thought she might get off the train in the city but stayed on all the way to Mount Prospect where she walked around for a while waiting for the next train to come back.  She looked for the giant, the handsome man, a giant on a large motorcycle in the distance, or any combination thereof but finally decided she was safe and got a coffee to go for the train back into the city.

As she waited on the platform she heard a motorcycle's roar and off in the distance she saw a tiny person on a small Harley-Davidson.  The motorcycle was white and the rider was dressed in white leathers.

"That's some outfit," a person beside her said.  "And that custom bike must have cost a bundle."

She turned to look and saw the handsome man and the giant standing to her left, both looking angry as the train was speeding into the station.

She gasped, closed her eyes and waited.  She felt the wind of the train as it entered the station, slowed, and stopped.  When she opened her eyes they were gone and a conductor was waving at her to enter the next car.

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