"It would be some time before she'd be ready to leave."
That was the first thing the old man read every morning. After he'd had breakfast - cereal and orange juice, eaten standing at the tiny counter in the kitchenette - he'd cross to his chair, open his laptop, and start to read. Now and then he'd edit a bit, add a paragraph maybe. Mostly he read. He'd finish some time after 11, a little later each day. Then he'd make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and wash it down with a beer, again standing at the counter. After making use of the cramped little bathroom, he'd sit back down, think for a bit, and then begin typing.
Here is the first of what he'd written:
It would be some time before she'd be ready to leave.
To ease the time, I took out my IPhone and opened a video of her.
The video showed her arrival at my home outside San Luis Obispo. I'd put the video together from footage taken by the various security cameras along the long drive.
I looked at the first frame a moment.
She stands outside the gate in the light California spring rain. The mist makes the steep hills lose resolution and dissolve. Everything around her is green and blooming. Her cab has just driven off. She wears blue jeans and a white blouse.
It's hard to say what I felt as I looked at that first frame. No, I must be honest in this account to myself. I felt a sense of loss, though after the last two years she was certainly all the more mine.
I took another sip of my beer.
I started the video playing. Again I watched as per instruction she bends and takes off her shoes, the boring sneakers Dave'd let her wear to fly across the country. Even alone, I'd've made her wear something with long heels.
Again, the gate swings open and she walks in.
I watched her walk up the damp black asphalt, passed the rhododendrons, passed the beds of camellias, daffodils and iris, passed the magnolias and cherries. The drive up to my house was quite beautiful.
Her walk and the video end with her climbing the steps to my front door. There she waits a moment, bare feet on the wet stone, her beautiful face still and unreadable. Finally she rings the bell.
I left the phone showing that last frame, her hand raised. I took another sip of my beer, looked over to the bar's entrance. A couple of men came in. Women appeared like moths and fluttered around them. These guys didn't hesitate for a drink like some others, they chose a couple girls and moved on through to a hallway and then to an elevator.
I watched where they'd vanished. She would come down that way. Soon the elevator door would open and there she would be. Soon I hoped.
We'd arrived perhaps two hours before. She wore an expensive bit of black nothing. It started just above her slight breasts, leaving her shoulders and chest impossibly white, it clung to her form and ended just below her ass. If she stood still and demure, you saw nothing but long white legs and thighs, if she stretched, behind you'd see the little diamond her thighs and bottom made and a good bit of her bottom as well, in front you'd see ... Sitting with her next to me in the cab had been a hot agony. She had a black velvet circlet about her neck. Diamond pendant earrings hung from her delicate ears.
Her eyes, when she looked into the dark bar, had been wide and questioning. I hadn't told her what was going to happen. It was my present to her, expensive and what she would enjoy, though not something I wanted to give.
We had crossed to the elevator. The moth-like girls'd risen when we entered, but seeing her they'd subsided, unable to compete.
Three stories up we walked down a hall and into the large suite at the end. Five men were already there, they wore dark suits. Two were talking on their phones. The other three stood on a balcony talking. There was also a woman, a servant, red haired and beautiful, naked save for black stockings and black high heels. She held a tray of drinks and drugs.
I didn't like the memory of what'd happened next. It led to thoughts of what was happening to her now. Well, had been happening, hopefully she was just getting into the elevator, leaning on that servant for support perhaps.
I thought instead of how I'd first met her. Always a pleasant occupation. Unfortunately I've no pictures or video of that meeting, but I'd thought of it often and'd often discussed it with Jane. I opened the memory in my mind and pretended to click on it. If I concentrated on its unfolding, I'd not think of the present.
I parked the rental car and looked at the long narrow street of townhouses. I was not there by choice entirely. I had sudden business in the dreary little city that was the reason for being for the working class suburb in which Dave and I'd grown up and been friends. Some confluence of sporting events, March madness? a Nascar race? I don't know, had swallowed most of the hotel space. I'd had a choice of paying a lot for a poor room or staying with my grade school and college friend whom I'd last seen twenty years before.
It was a near thing. I hadn't seen Dave since his divorce. Then he'd come west on a visit that had been all his idea. He'd been pretty broken up. He'd made a bad choice of wife, she'd been ambitious and he couldn't meet her expectations. They had 2 little girls. I introduced him to the pleasures and pastimes I'd picked up since I'd left school, since I'd started to make real money.
He'd taken to those pleasures like a drowning man to a rope, a rope that in this case was weighted.
When he returned home, well, to his sad new bachelor digs, he took with him the name of a club in Cleveland. I'd paid for his membership as it was outside his reach.
The detective his wife employed followed him there. Faced with the prospect of a scandal that would've cost him his job, he gave up all visiting rights to his children.
Dave'd always been shy and awkward and to be frank, only average in intelligence. That was probably why we were friends back then, I was just the opposite, smart and personable and arrogant, though it's not really arrogance if one's abilities are real, is it?
His shyness and awkwardness stuck with him, but he lost his glad good humor. When his parents died, his mother of cancer, his father shortly after of sadness, he'd moved back into the house on the block that'd been our stomping grounds as kids. He lived there pretty much as a recluse.
He kept in touch, sending Christmas cards and when his company got email, the occasional message. I replied to neither kind of communication.
In the course of arranging to stay with him, I was surprised to learn that he'd moved out of the old house a year or so previous and into a condo.
A light snow fell, the least of the many reasons I'd left the Midwest. It was hard to make out the numbers on the townhouses. I got out of the rental and walked by maybe 2 units and found his. I walked up the short brick walk and pressed the buzzer.
She opened the door.
I've never been so surprised in my life. She was such a pretty girl, simply dressed, a modest maize colored blouse tucked neatly into her jeans. Her jeans were simple and crisp and very very blue. She wore no makeup that I could see nor jewelry. Her hair was a lustrous brown, cut so it made a lively cup for her pretty face. I prefer women's hair to be long, of course. The only imperfection on her oval young face with its ample warm lips, green eyes and fine eyebrows, was a small pale lump just by her nose. I wouldn't've noticed it if her face hadn't been so close to mine. I stared at it like it was the only explainable thing in a world gone mad. Her feet were bare.
I could only figure he'd gotten back in touch with his daughters.
She said, "You're Dave's friend Leo! I'm Jane. I'm Dave's well, his, well, his girl friend." She blushed.
"Come in please," she went on, "It's month end. Dave wanted to get out of work early but couldn't." Dave was an accountant. "He'll be home soon. He's so looking forward to seeing you. He's told me a lot about you."
She showed me into a little living room. "Would you like something to drink?"
I managed to say I wouldn't mind a beer. She went through the dining area into the kitchen. Where she was, things seemed to be in sharp focus. Where she wasn't, I had only the sense of a vague blur.
She handed me the beer, a Bud for Christ's sake. "Let me get your things from your car. Which is it?"
"A blue Lexus. It's two doors down. There's just a suitcase in the trunk. I can..."
"I'm on it," she said. She put her hand on my arm, "Drink your beer. The keys?"
She walked out the door barefoot though there was a good 2 inches of snow on the ground. I went to the window and watched her stroll to the car like it was a summer day. I watched her pop the trunk, bend to get my suitcase, she had a very nice taut bottom, lift the suitcase and roll it back to the townhouse.
My surprise'd surpassed its previous record, set only moments before.
Her feet were quite red when she came in. Though she brushed them on the mat, they left narrow wet footprints on the gleaming wood of the little entryway. "Here, I'll show you your room."
I followed her up the stairs and was shown the sort of cramped second bedroom you'd expect to find in such a place. If it weren't for Jane, I'd've been regretting my choice big time. The worst hotel room was better than that tiny little closet.
I thought that if I had a week to spend there, I'd surely be able to lure her from Dave. As it was, I only had the night. I had to meet with someone the next day and then had to fly out the next afternoon. Not much time. I felt desperate.
.... There is more of this story ...