A Day in the City

Elevate form over function to get at less easily articulable truths.

A Day in the City

Postby Flamin'RedJJ » Sun Mar 16, 2003 6:37 pm

A Day in the City

‘MacLean- JJ MacLean.’
She shifted her lips to one side as she stared at the computer screen in concentration. She tapped the keyboard again. It cut through the oppressive silence of the waiting room.
‘No- how do you spell that?’ she asked, looking up, her beautiful green eyes as deep a green as the sea is a deep blue.
‘M-A-C-L-E-A-N, capital M, capital L. Look- there really can’t be all that many people by that name, it’s quite an unusual name, you know.’
Another tap of fingers with nails that have just been grown out, but haven’t hardened all that much.
‘Oh yes- here we are. What time did you say your appointment was, again?’
‘Twelve o’clock. Twelve noon.’
‘Yes, certainly- take a seat.’
JJ sighed. These temps were always the same- completely hopeless. They never knew where to look for anything or even how to look- not like old Mrs Waters, the regular secretary. He turned round and stared pensively at all the available seats. He picked a comfortable-looking one, one with a soft-looking floral cushion, and sat down with a soft-sounding hiss as the air rushed out of the cushion. He was alone.
It wasn’t long before he noticed that the three clocks, ‘New York’, ‘Paris’ and ‘Tokyo’, were slightly out of sync. Their ticking was enough to drive a guy mad, he thought. He laughed to himself. He didn’t dare break the silence.
He hated the atmosphere in these places- it was always the same. It didn’t matter where you went, or rather, which one you went to, the mood was always beige. The walls were always beige too. He hated waiting. He checked the time on his watch against ‘New York’. His watch said noon.
‘Your clock’s slow,’ he said. His voice echoed like that of the dashing adventurer in the forbidden canyon in one of those old movies. Silence.
‘I said “your clock’s slow”.’ This time he almost sang it.
She looked away from the screen.
‘Oh.’
‘Yeah, by four whole minutes.’
‘Oh,’ she said.
She wasn’t unattractive, he reflected. Quite the opposite, really. Those deep green eyes drew him in, as if to swallow him completely. They were beautiful, like the fluorescence of a full moon on a clear winter’s night. Like an ice-cold beer on a hot summer’s day, he thought. He felt a little hot right now, so he took off his jacket, which was one of those long, thick grey ones- not that he was grey in personality. Quite the opposite, in fact. That was the problem.
She looked at him quite deeply with those deep green eyes, taking in every detail. The tip of her tongue ran along the cherry red of her lower lip, replenishing the moisture. She was obviously hot too, he decided. He smiled at her and looked up at the clock, up at ‘New York’, again, then looked straight ahead at the pointlessly beige wall.
The clocks continued to tick.
He looked at the coffee table opposite him, which wasn’t quite beige but was more of a pine, although the finish wasn’t all that convincing. It was quite fake really, although obviously it wasn’t hollow. On the right hand side, towards the desk with the computer where the girl was sitting, and towards where the two doors were, one facing the other- the way in and the way out- was a stack of beigy magazines. They were the kind that you always got in these places, in waiting rooms, where the condemned are forced to learn humility as well as patience- they looked as if they had been read a hundred if not a thousand times each, maybe even once each by the exact same person in the vain hope that the next might be more interesting than the last or even the first. They looked like they had once been thick and glossy, but now, in this godforsaken place, they were just thin and faded and torn and all shredded up. Who the hell cares about yachting, anyway, he asked himself. JJ sighed again.
‘Listen- is he going to be long, do you know?’
‘Who?’ she asked, her beautiful head tilted a little to the right hand side, towards the door, the door with the steel plaque on it.
‘The doc- the shrink- the guy that works here?’ There was more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
‘I don’t think he’ll be too long,’ she replied sweetly, seemingly oblivious to JJ’s growing frustration.
He went back to looking at the wall. It was very, very beige.
‘You know,’ she said, with a very serious and intellectual tone which, to JJ, seemed just a little out of place, ‘kisses are free.’
‘I see’, he said, perhaps a little alarmed, but not too seriously.
‘Yes, they’re free, but they don’t mean anything, of course.’
‘Right. OK.’
‘You don’t believe me?’
‘I have no reason not to,’ he said.
‘Good,’ she said, quite firmly, with the kind of resolve of a respectable judge wrapping up a case for the evening, a delightful meal with his charming wife and two adorable kids on the cards. How grey; how charming; how delightful.
JJ stared quite definitely and incontrovertibly at the wall, in all its glorious beigeness- suddenly it was very appealing. More silence. More out-of-sync ticking- whether it was the fault of the French, the Americans or the Japanese, it was impossible to tell.
To his left, a beam of intense sunlight had come through the narrow window up where the beige wall met the dirty grey ceiling, and the dust was caught swirling round and round like tiny fish in the deep blue ocean, or rather the deep beige ocean. He wanted to sneeze, but he did not dare break the silence.
He glanced to his right, trying to look at what she was doing without turning his head. He thought she was staring at him again. The rubber-tipped feet of the chair at the desk made a squeaking noise as she pushed it backwards and stood up. Don’t come over, he thought, please don’t come over. He chanced a quick look to see, but she was looking straight at him and she was smiling, so he smiled. And then she came over.
She sat on the chair next to him, one that had a cushion that was a little less comfortable-looking, but still gave a soft-sounding hiss as she sat on it. She crossed her legs, which were beautiful in an athletic sort of way.
‘Mr MacLean. Erm- JJ?’
He smiled again.
‘Listen- I hope you don’t think I’m being too forward or anything,’ her hand was on his thigh, ‘but I was wondering –’
‘Yeah?’
‘I was wondering if you might be free this Friday to come on a date with me.’
‘Oh.’ He breathed an inward sigh of relief- he was always hiding his emotions like that. It was a terrible habit he had.
‘I thought maybe we could see a musical- I hear there’s a great new one on Broadway. It’s based on Shakespeare, or something.’
‘Oh- yeah. Sure. I think I heard about that- that sounds great.’
‘Great!’ she said, with a slightly nervous laugh.
He smiled, genuinely this time. They always came to him, sooner or later, he thought, it was only a matter of time.
‘Let me give you my number,’ he said, and felt inside his jacket pocket, the pocket of the long, thick grey jacket, and pulled out an expensive, shiny new pen and a little notebook.
The door opened, that was, the inner door, the door to the room as opposed to the door to the corridor- the way in- and the two of them looked up.
‘Miss Fitzgerald, Mr MacLean- what are you doing in here?’ It was the voice of authority, the voice of Dr Harvey, ‘I thought I locked the door and switched the sign round to closed.’
‘Oh, I’m sorry, Doctor,’ said JJ, ‘I thought we had an appointment today at twelve, twelve noon, and your secretary here let me in, so –’
‘My secretary? But I sent Mrs Waters home half an hour ago- she wasn’t feeling well.’
‘Sure, but your temp here, er- Miss Fitzgerald,’ he waved his arm in her direction and she smiled sweetly at him, ‘she let me in instead.’
‘My temp?’ said the Doctor, ‘no- Miss Fitzgerald is one of my patients from the hospital.’
‘From the hospital –’
‘You know,’ she said, that same enlightened voice and the same sweet smile as before, ‘kisses are free. They just don’t mean a thing.’
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Flamin'RedJJ
 
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