Sunday, September 16, 2012

She Is Where, Part 12

Of course, she should have just ignored him, walking with the crowd and acting like she'd not seen him but she still would have gone into this building with the two side entrances.

Which to take?

"Screw it," she said aloud, but no one gave her a second look because it's a city, people are crazy in cities, and no one wants to get involved with crazy as it might be contagious.  She turned around and went out the front door and continued up the street to store with the nice handbags which she'd peruse before going to look at the coats in the other store.  It was two blocks and she knew the giant was long gone or would be by the time he got done dealing with one-way streets going the wrong way and nonexistant alleys.

The giant might have been long gone but it was getting toward the end of the year and everyone wanted to use up their remaining personal and vacation time.  She found herself sharing the sidewalk with her soon-to-be-former boss.

"Well, fancy meeting you here," he said.

She looked at him and was about to say something clever like "Uh huh," or "Yeah," but instead let out a giant belch.  From the depths of she knew not where -- although her lunchtime jumbo hot dog with raw onions, fries, pickle wedge, and a giant Diet Coke might have had something to do with it -- and she had the good sense to look embarrassed, which she was.  She managed a small grin and took a tissue from her left pocket, always keeping a tissue in her left pocket, and dabbed at the corners of her mouth and then used it to blow her nose in earnest.  She stuffed the tissue back in the left pocket and tipped her head to the left, grinning insincerely.

"Oh my goodness," he said.  "You don't seem well.  Are you on the way to the doctor?"

It wasn't a lie.  Her new manager knew she precisely where she was going and approved.

"I look forward to seeing your new things," said the woman manager.  "I just love new coats and a handbag you like is so important."

She had a handbag obsession so a new one wasn't so much important as feeding the addiction.

"If I am successful I will wear them both tomorrow," she said.

"Good luck with the dermatologist.  I hope they don't have to carve you up.  My husband goes regularly for carving.  His doctor is an absolute artist," the manager told her.

She knew it was nothing serious and told the lady manager this.

"But you never know," the woman said, "so if you need to recover tomorrow, I'm good with it.  You've got lots of time left and overtime, too, that you can tap into."

The woman manager was terrific and sane, generous and thoughtful toward her employees.  Every day was Christmas in comparison to her former situation which was now sharing the sidewalk with her.

"I am on the way to the doctor but I need to make a stop first," she said although it was none of his damn business.

"I'm on my way to the doctor, too," he said.  "I have something mysterious on foot and I need to have it looked at before I go home for the holiday."

"So you're going to the ..." she started.

"Dermatologist," he said. "Yeah."

He told her where and it was in another part of town, near his apartment.  She'd always gone to physicians downtown because, while inconvenient, they were much better doctors.

"I think I need to duck into that store over there and use their restroom and maybe get a bottle of water in their food court," she said.

"That's a good idea," he said.  "I have to get a bus.  I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving," he said, sounding like he meant it.

"And you," she said.  She did not mean it.  She almost hoped his giblets were rancid.

"Yeah, going to see my mother," he said.

"Ah," she said.  "Bye for now," and she turned and walked purposefully away from him.

She walked with her head down thinking it had really been old home week for people she'd not wanted to see and when she looked up she almost ran into someone.  His topcoat was the most beautiful wool she'd ever seen and his haircut was perfect.  He was the handsomest nonactor she'd ever seen and he was just as handsome as the last time she'd seen him in Mount Prospect.

It was all too much for her and she bent over and threw up, pulling the tissue from her left pocket and wiping at the emissions around her mouth.

"Let me give you this bottle of water," a woman with a high voice said.

She straightened to take it, happy that she'd barfed on no one's shoes.  Mrs. High Voice pulled a bag of air temperature water from her bag and gave it to her.

"Are you okay?" she squeakily asked.

She walked over to the curb, opened the bottle, rinsed the water around her mouth and spit it into the street, something she repeated two more times as the woman watched.  She took the rest of the water and poured it over what happened to break it up.

"Here, let me tell the guard to send someone out with some litter," said Mrs. High Voice, and ran into the building entrance by the accident point.

She didn't want to leave without saying thank you so she just looked at the door.  She was too afraid to look to see if the handsome man was still there but finally mustered up all her courage and scanned the area.  He was at the corner, getting into a flesh-toned Fiat 500.  She gasped.

"The guard's coming out with something," said Mrs. High Voice.  "Now can I help you get somewhere."

She was beginning to lose her desire to get that handbag and winter coat.

"First, thank you.  You have been so kind.  Second, I think I'm just going to go into that store and sit in their restaurant and get some hot tea," she told the woman.  And also a handbag, she thought.

"I can walk you over," the lady offered.  She thought that voice might drive her crazy but it probably drove the woman crazy, too.

"If I inconvenience you further, I will be embarrassed," she told the lady.

"Then I wish you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving," the lady told her.

"I wish you the same," she said.

"There is much to be thankful for," said Mrs. High Voice.

"Barfing on the street isn't one of them," she told her.

Mrs. High Voice smiled.

"True enough," she replied, turned and walked away.

Hot tea sounded like a great idea.  And a black and white calfskin hide crossbody hobo with an outside pocket sounded good, too.  She headed up the street and took out her cell phone to send Lee a text about meeting for coffee on the weekend.  At the corner, just a few feet up from the light, the flesh-toned Fiat 500 sat with the blinkers going, two men inside who seemed to be chatting and looking in the rear and side view mirrors.  She changed the mode of the phone to camera, walked boldly to the back of the car, took a picture of the license plate and did something she'd not done since she was 26:  She ran.  It was more like a weird, lumbering gait, like something you'd see when the colossally unfit tried to get somewhere fast which is pretty much what this was.  If they'd seen her take the picture -- the giant and the handsome man -- she didn't know.  She burst into the store and headed to the rooftop restaurant.

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