The driver’s window was open. So open she wasn’t sure it had one. Parked in the sunshine at the end of a line of antique shops, it looked…alien.
The message had been precise: she was to meet him here. The ‘small square’ turned out to be a parking space; almost exactly sized to fit the strangely exotic car. She felt a slight shiver. She had a fatal weakness for the strangely exotic. It had got her into lots of trouble…
She’d never seen a car like this. The tension forced a chuckle. “Straight out of a Batman movie,” she whispered, ignoring the inner voice that said she was being stupid – it wasn’t black.
“Must it always be black?” she heard herself say, coyly. None of the passing shoppers seemed to notice the well-dressed woman talking to herself, next to the strangely exotic, cream car.
She allowed the rogue gene to lure her to the driver’s door, where she peered in. Probably get arrested if this is wrong! she mused, silently this time.
In the folds of the dark leather of the centre console was a single, red rose. Nothing else. She felt her heart racing. “Oliver Rose,” she whispered, resuming the whispering voice. “The man I’m here to meet.”
But it was a long shot, and she worried she was grasping at straws. She began to walk round to the passenger side, her tall heels clicking on the concrete, but stopped at the front of the car.
Initiative, it had said on the letterhead of the interview invitation. Printed in beautiful type with an old-fashioned feel to it. The letter was now folded into her tiny clutch bag, but she could easily conjure its image:
Rose Tech: weaving initiative into the commonplace.
And then, like a typographical invitation:
‘Does your character exemplify these characteristics?’
She supposed this was a ‘common place’; mere yards from the town’s main shopping street, on this most ordinary Saturday morning in early August.
And I’m headed for the passenger seat, she thought.… Like any other passenger…. With that, she stopped and changed direction, narrowly avoiding the striding legs of a smartly dressed man cutting the corner. The denim of his jeans was expensive… but the shoes, the shoes…
She thought of the soft leather of those shoes as she got into the car, swinging the massive door closed behind her and wondering if she’d finally lost her oft-threatened marbles…
Although there was still no window, it felt strangely quiet in the cabin… As though the sheer opulence of the interior absorbed anything as mundane as noise…
Her fantasy – the one that was about to get her arrested – clutched at the one remaining clue in the letter. ‘You can set your own starting date’.
“Devil take the hindmost!” she laughed into the captive summer air as she reached across the cabin to open the glove compartment. The keys tumbled out onto the thick carpet and she had to contort her body to escape the depth of the driver’s seat contours. She watched her exquisitely painted nails reaching for the shining key ring, then the soft leather of the suddenly-bright Italian shoes and the deep blue of the jeans.
Sitting back, with time performing strangely, her eyes levelled with his.
“Fancy a bit of lunch?” he asked softly.
“I’m here for an interview,” she parried, cool as he was, but thinking: and you’re not having me yet… not for a long time…
“I was thinking of a celebration,” he said, gently. “You’ve got the job.”
She started the car and reached for the carved ebony of the gear knob. The roar of the V8 was deafening… but it was a long way away.
(Photo of Morgan Aero by the author)
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.