The life of a writer is often a solitary pursuit not to mention its lack of rewards and recognition. I find a moment of happiness whenever I receive a message of support or an acknowledgement of a story read, but physical gratification is outside the realms of the online storyteller.
Recently I received correspondence from a new admirer of my work and it appeared as if they were working their way through my story list at SOL so in my replies I started to suggest stories they should try and ones that I felt were better than others. I also expanded on some of the story outlines that I thought didn't really reflect how I viewed the story.
(I know I wrote them and can go and edit them but once it's out there I prefer to let it fly.)
Like everyone who sends me a message I always like to reply with a thank you when I can and am happy to receive all sorts of queries and story direction and again this leads to additional correspondence but after a while readers drift away and I get on with what I am doing.
This mailer was different; messages came in regularly on a wide variety of topics. Every now and then questions started with what country I was in and then they gradually moved in like a Google Earth search.
Sydney was as close as I wanted to give out, big town and known overseas.
Then there was stuff about the weather, time differences and what it was like to live Downunder. All done in a jovial tone of internet friends. They reciprocated and I knew my fan was half a world away in Canada so I felt safe from stalking.
Days would go by without a message but I wasn't concerned because as I said before fans drift away but my spirits always lifted when I knew they were back. The messages were always done in such a way that even after months I was still not 100% sure if I was dealing with a male or female.
Regular updates of both Canadian football and the NFL, weather across Canada, the Winter Olympics as well as poetry and story ideas kept me slightly perplexed as to the gender of my fan.
I didn't want to push it and waited until the day they revealed that tit-bit of information of their own accord.
Then a message arrived that had me spilt into two minds. They were traveling with a friend to South Africa for the World Cup and would be in Sydney for close to 40 hours.
The flight arrives on a Tuesday morning at 6:30 AM and their flight out to Johannesburg departs at 10:30 PM on Wednesday. Even allowing for screening by Customs on arrival and the security check before flying out. Add a bit for travel to and from the airport to the city and their hotel I was still looking at roughly 36 hours that they would be on my turf.
Of course I was polite and agreed to meet my fan at Arrivals on the due date, maybe take them to their hotel in the city even offered to have a drink or two in the interest of Commonwealth relations between Canada and Australia.
A few days passed and then the suggestion was raised about me getting time off work so that I didn't leave strangers alone in a strange land.
At this point in time neither of us knew the others correct name and had no idea who we would be meeting. I could have exchanged photo's and got it all out in the open but my story writing is my private domain and I felt a bit weird sending a picture because I didn't know who it was really going too.
It was finally agreed that I would be at the airport holding a card with the email address of my fan on it, if at that moment they got cold feet they could just walk past in the crowd and I would go home and back to my normal life.
Finally the day arrived. I had received a message to say they were still coming a few days beforehand so I was committed to going.
Early June in Sydney was cold at that time of morning so I was wearing jeans, shirt and had a jacket over the top. I had the AC on in the car to hopefully get it warm by the time I got back to it.
Car parked and sign in hand I headed for the arrivals terminal. As soon as I was through the door I checked the board to make sure the flight had touched down. It was on the ground so they would be getting their bags and making their way through Customs.
I found a spot where I had a view of people arriving and once I saw a few backpacks with Canadian flags on them I made myself more visible and stood holding my sign, my stomach doing butterflies as each face walked by without a glance at the man with the card in his hand.
I looked towards the exit doors to see if anyone may be looking back as if sorry for walking by but nothing. I swung my head around to focus on the people still coming through the gate but standing right in front of me was someone I was not expecting. Of all my mental images of my fan I had conjured up this young lady didn't even make it onto the radar.
"Hi Bakerman" she said as she held out a hand to shake.
This must be the friend I thought as I scanned the thinning crowd for anyone else lugging a bag.
Being a gentleman I took her and lightly kissed the back of it, responding to her Hi with a typical Aussie G'day.
She began to explain that her traveling companion had opted to travel by a different route due to a disagreement between the two. She was definitely the fan from the correspondence and that maybe for the duration she would call me Mr. B or Bakerman if I would call her Dee as in the letter D.
Being a middle aged man with thinning gray hair I now felt a little awkward being alone with an attractive young lady at a busy airport so I grabbed her bags and headed for the car trying to mentally change all the plans I had thought of as suitable for someone completely different.
Once in the car with the AC on I relaxed a little as she talked away about a whole host of things that just blew by my brain. She was also snapping off pictures every part of the journey as the city came awake around us.
OK details time. D is 19, from Canada, single, stands about 165cm. Hard to tell weight and other measurements under the coat she was wearing but from the flash of stocking clad legs as she seated herself in the car I would think she was trim and athletic.
Early morning traffic into the city wasn't too bad and we were soon at her hotel. Mid range price for a night and close to a number of eateries and of course the harbour.
I parked in a visitors spot and noticed the sign saying I could stay for 10 minutes so I hauled the one large suitcase and the overnight bag out of the car as she made her way inside.
I explained to the lady at reception how I was helping D for the short time she was in Sydney and asked about leaving the car where it was. I was told it would have to be moved but a few more than 10 minutes wasn't going to be a problem at this time of day.
While D registered her details with reception I decided that as I only worked two blocks away I would park my car at work, where it would be safe for days, if I decided to leave it. I got her room number, thanked the lady at reception and in my best Arnie impression went "I'll be back" and ventured out into the cold day.
Ten, twelve minutes and I was back, I waved to the lady at reception and went straight on up to D's room. Gently rapping on the door so as not to attract the attention of nobody in the empty hallway I was having a stomach churning time trying to work out how I keep an attractive 19 year old woman happy for the next 36 hours.
I was hoping she was jet lagged and wanting nothing more than a good lie down, and then I would say I'd come back in the afternoon and take her out for a meal.
Sorry, D had her own ideas on how to keep entertained for the next few hours.
She carefully opened the door to see me, then closed it again as I heard the sound of the security chain come off. Opening it wide to let me in she made sure she was mostly behind it.
I walked in and typical hotel room, double bed, TV, bathroom and wardrobe.
My eyes were drawn to the splash of red leather poking out from under her black coat that had been hastily tossed over the chair in the corner. In the colour tones of the room it really stood out and then I turned as I heard the chain go back on the door.
OMG, D stood there in black stocking, white suspender belt and matching mesh thong. Her hair had been brushed so that it fell down her front and covered most of her boobs.
.... There is more of this story ...