Richard was more than glad to receive Dale and Nancy in his office. He found it hard to take his eyes off Nancy. And he went on to tell Dale that Nancy was a pretty woman. Dale just began to laugh. Richard joined him. Nancy didn’t find anything funny, as both men roared away in laughter. She began to get uncomfortable, which both men noticed and stopped laughing. It was as if slight signs of irritation Nancy gave away, doused their laughter like water douses fire. This threw Richard at once, into pleading with her.
“Take it easy, woman,” he said. Nancy said nothing. “How interesting can life get without moments to stretch the mouth in laughter?” Richard went on, still admiring Nancy. “It feels great to have your imposing presence before me. Thanks for finding time to come.”
“Thanks, Mr. Richard,” Nancy chipped in.
“You surely look industrious to me. My instincts are telling me so.”
Nancy said nothing.
“Now you’re saying it, Rich,” Dale responded and giggled. “I told you.”
“You’re wonderful,” Richard said to Nancy, who only smiled with cautious suspicion, and said, “Thanks.”
“Oh yes,” Richard said, with his eyes still on Nancy. “Surely before me is the rock of Dale’s home.”
“One of those kind of women who can never be found wanting in domestic affairs,” said Dale.
“That is home affairs, Dale,” said Richard. “And such women can never be found wanting in bed as well. Don’t you think so, Dale?” Dale kept quiet. “Hello…, Dale, you can’t talk anymore?”
Dale was battling to suppress laughter that kept building up inside him as Richard talked on.
“How do you expect me to have a reply to that?” He later said. “You’re odd, Richard,” he continued and laughed at last. A lengthy laughter that wanted to come at first, now curtailed to a brief one. Three seconds elapsed before Richard spoke in response.
“I see…. When I’m odd, then you’re what?”
“Perfect my foot! “You are ugly and something close to being useless. Come on, Dale.”
“A man who can’t speak about his wife with pride is a coward. Oh… yes! Dale is a coward.”
“So you would take a microphone and announce all her fine qualities if she were your wife?”
“Yes!” Richard’s first word in response came very fast, much closer to being absolutely spontaneous. “No one should have what he can’t flaunt,” Richard went ahead. “I would flaunt them because I’m not a coward like you.”
“I’m not a coward!”
“Let me finish before you start flaunting your feeble protest. I would tell any man who feels he could, to come and get her. This is what I would say after speaking so proudly of her grand performance in bed.”
“Hey! Richard, I smell a game here!”
“What do you expect from my words? Caskets in the hands of undertakers or what? My words smell of my games always.”
“Once a game player always a game player,” Richard and Dale said simultaneously and roared in laughter that didn’t last long.
“I believe playing games is what gives life a meaning. It makes it interesting.”
“Now I believe that,” Dale concurred.
“I make movies. And the interesting thing about it all is the game in it. It drew me like a magnet into movie making.”
“I don’t get it.”
“The script. That triggers the game once it comes.”
Richard was a man who took movie making as one big game. He always relished it. He saw every script to be shot, as being in a game with actors and directors---all the cast and crew in a game to give the best interpretations to scripts and their inherent challenges, seeking to score excellence in the end. Richard loved writers. He could not do without loving these sound minds. Writers are grand originators as far as he was concerned. He believed writers are rare gems, for always setting the stage for games in their scripts, in myriad of ways, with very intriguing techniques that simply has transformed them into awesome human beings.
Richard loved Hollywood without the slightest trace of any reservation. He often called it the theatre of games. Games that have employed so many, still employing, and never going to even think of relenting in contributing its grand quota to the United States economy. Nancy was intrigued when she heard Richard speak of games. She got hooked, wanting to know more.
“Really,” she said after keeping mute for quite some time. “I’ve never heard of that before,” she further said.
“Now, dear,” Dale responded. “You’ve heard from the very man. The father of games.”
“She has just woken up from deep slumber?” Richard snapped, already starring at Nancy. “I thought you would never speak beyond saying thank you.”
“I speak when I just have to.”
“Now I know we have a selective woman in our midst, Dale. She selects time to speak and time to keep mute.”
Richard went on to applaud Nancy. Applaud not thunderous. It also was far from being a sarcastic one. “Bravo!” He further said, as Nancy’s face showed no expression in reaction to words which Richard was raining down. She remained calm and collected. “I like that!” Richard continued as Dale looked on.
“People who select their time have been worthy companions of mine in the past. Very many of them were women. That is great.”
Richard took his eyes off Nancy and directed a glance to Dale, who had not just been looking on, but choking with grins and giggles whose cause was not exactly clear.
“Do you really know your wife?” Richard asked him.
“Like the back of my palms,” was Dale’s straight reply. But it did not come until after the earlier grin on his face had become a smile. Richard would not take it, and had to get on his feet.
“Now how come you never knew she is absolutely selective?”
“I’ve always known that.”
Richard was not at all comfortable with the reply which Dale adduced. He would not take it, and had to get on his feet as a demonstration of that, nodding his head twice in a way that clearly evinced his disagreement.
“Don’t lie to me, Dale.” His tone now risen a bit. “I’m seeing your eyes strut the fact that you never knew. Dale, do you think a man deserves what he does not know very well? A man deserves his mouth because even in the dark, he can still locate it and put something into it. A man who doesn’t deserve his wife is also a man whose friend will help woo a woman successfully and also teach him how to get her pregnant.”
Nancy got a bit irritated at once. And she said, “Don’t you think your utterances have played enough games here, Richard?”
Richard smiled and took his seat. “Enough?” He said in a slight sarcastic tone. “That word doesn’t exist in my world.”
“How do you mean?”
“Enough has never and will never be found or tolerated in the lexicon of the game playing world, woman.”
“I love games that first show me prospects of coming tough. Very tough.”
“I have been wondering why you have remained unmarried. Dale told me.”
“Nancy!” Dale screamed in an attempt to stop Nancy from talking further. But she was not to be stopped.
“Are you not scared that Gray hairs might come on your head and meet you still single and without children?” Nancy went ahead. Dale’s quick stare rested on Nancy, out of awe.
“Oh . . . no! Nancy! You shouldn’t have said that!” His quick protest went off. “That amounts to knocking on the door of his privacy.”
Dale then turned to Richard and showed him he was sorry for all what Nancy had said. But Richard did not wait for all the words to show apology, which Dale had, to come forth. Dale had only said, “I’m sorry she . . . .”, before Richard interrupted him, though not rudely, for he was never bothered. He just loved to hear Nancy talk. Nancy’s tone had done a good job of fondling his eardrums, making them even much more eager to receive speech impulses from her.
“No room for apologies that should not be tendered,” Richard had uttered and interrupted Dale. “Why, Dale?” He went ahead. “Why are you hindering such an intelligent and determined woman that can always melt away the door to my privacy with her towering quest to get to the bottom of the unknown?”
“Richard! Are you speaking Arabic now? You are making a big mistake if you think I’m now from the Middle East. Please speak some English I can understand properly.”
“She has made history for being the first woman to throw questions like that at me.”
“Now don’t tell me you were deaf a while ago. Come on! Two questions that made you want to stop her from talking.”
Richard turned to Nancy. “Bravo,” he hailed her. He turned to Dale again and said, “Your wife is the very inquisitive type and you don’t know. Who deserves what he does not know?”
Dale said nothing. His face remained blank for lack of any discernible expression. If there was any reaction that had surged around within him, then he must have muffled it with tremendous expertise. Richard gigged and turned to Nancy once more, his face widened with receptive smiles.
“I admire your courage,” he said to Nancy. “You strike me with stunning attributes of a tenacious game player. Ever played games before?”
“A little of football in my teenage days?”
“I mean what I call games. Come and play some games with me and Dale.”
“Your kind of games?”
“You have all to gain, Nancy.”
“No deal,” Nancy voiced her staunch refusal. Richard giggled.
“No deal? No word sets me on fire for games like no,” he remarked, and drove his attention to Dale. “I know you know that, Dale,” he said. Dale’s response was swift.
“Like the back of my palms! So natural like lovers knowing how to make penetration occur in the dark when the game of sex is on!”
Nancy became awe struck immediately. She had never heard Dale speak like that before. It irritated her ears and sounded terribly despicable to her.
“Dale! That is obscene!” She had to scream. “So you do speak like that?”
It was Richard that responded quickly.
“He does and you never knew. Who deserves whom she does not know?”
“And what would that mean?”
“Nancy, have you seen the only movie my out-fit made last year?”
“Games will bring marriage his way someday.”
Nancy was intrigued by the title. This intrigue took hold of her. This brought a wide smile on her face that nearly turned to laughter.
“Wow!” she exclaimed. “Interesting! I’ve never heard of that title before.”
“If the title is not catchy then it can’t have a place in the stable of Playing Games Pictures.” Richard quickly recalled that he had allowed talks to lead him into forgetting to offer his guests a drink. He wanted Dale, who by now knew his way around the London office of Playing Games Pictures, to go and get the drinks, instead of asking any of the other men and women who worked for him. And Dale was quite glad he was asked.
“Sure,” he replied, and laughed a little, before leaving Richard and Nancy all alone. Whisky for himself and some red wine for Nancy. He didn’t need to ask Nancy what she wanted to drink. He knew the kind of drink she would like, like he knew how to put food in his mouth.
Richard and Nancy allowed silence to reign for a while as soon as Dale’s exit took effect. Prevailing atmosphere was one that was a bit tense. It was like both Richard and Nancy were sizing each other up, in search of each other’s possible areas of strengths and weaknesses, each waiting for the other to be the first to talk. It was intense battle of the sexes, without utterances, that raged.
‘She is not tough!’ Voices in Richard’s head kept saying. ‘She is just putting up a no-nonsense demeanour to hide the fact that she is very soft. Come on, you can break her down!’
‘Come on, be mean!’ voices raged in Nancy’s head as well. ‘Show him that not every woman is easy to trample on. Come on, you’re tough!’
“Games will bring marriage his way someday, is a movie about a man,” Richard finally eliminated the prevailing silence, “who is single and believes strongly that only the games he plays will bring him a wife.” Nancy only giggled in response.
“That man is Richard,” Richard spoke again, and this time, drew Nancy’s sudden reply.
“He is bound to fail,” she said, almost shouting. Richard remained calm and spoke gently.
“I can have any woman I want, Nancy.”
“Silly games won’t get you anywhere, Mr. Richard.”
“I mean any woman.”
“I see,” Nancy quietly said, before anger got her on her feet to speak.
“If women have been throwing themselves at you for your wealth and fame or any of your silly games, then you’ve come across the very wrong one!”
“I mean any woman!”
“You’ve come across a brick-wall.”
“A bulldozer tears a brick-wall apart with ease!”
“Better steer clear!”
“I mean any woman I put my mind to!”
“Then I’ve never met a man so out of his mind! Nonsense!”
Richard decided to speak no further. He just simply rose with a smile on his face, as Nancy fumed. His smile said it all. His mind was made up.
Nancy and Richard and their surrounding had begun to fade off, as Kevin’s urging voice entered. It soon became clear that the place that suddenly unfolded was the interior of Kevin’s office. There he was, standing with Katy.
“Come on, Katy!” He first said. “You have nothing to lose.” Katy gently raised her left hand for Kevin’s attention, brandishing the ring on it. Sudden shock overtook Kevin. He held his chest as if heart attack had suddenly set in there.
“I’m sure you know what this means, sir.”
“No! No, Katy, that can’t be real.”
“Your eyes can never deceive you, sir.”
“Who on earth did that to you? Please don’t stop my heart from beating.”
“I shall unveil my little secret when the time is right, sir.”
“Oh . . . . no . . . . .”
“I would love to get back to work.”
“Oh . . . . no . . . . .”
“Oh! Please do so by all means.”
Katy then left, leaving Kevin all alone to mope around in deep thought.
“Who is doing this to me?” His voice came ruefully.