Dale was seated alone in a tastefully furnished office. A mere look at the office would reveal without doubt that the owner had taste for exquisite furnishings. Thousands of pounds sterling had been expended to meet the owner’s taste. To say the seats and tables in there were beautiful would amount to a gross understatement. They were arrayed in a splendid range of beautiful colours. It was a cosy enclave indeed, in which the atmosphere exuded sweet lavender smell.
Dale had wallowed in the massive comfort of the office for long, and was becoming anxious to meet the man he had come for. A tall pretty lady of Latino race walked in with a ravishing smile on her face. Killer smile! The shortness of her green skirt did a good job of leaving nothing at all to imagination, as far as her tall fleshy legs were concerned. She was everything but uninviting and unsexy. Oh...what an exotic beauty. And who could blame Dale for getting turned on, when he was a healthy man in the reproductive phase of his life?
“I hope you are comfortable,” said the lady to Dale. Her Puerto Rican accent came through and hit Dale like the whiff of a celebrity perfume. Dale, a man already engulfed in longing, offered a warm smile.
“I am. Thanks.”
“He will be with you soon,” said the lady before she left. Dale stifled a yawn and tried not to have much adulterous thoughts about the Latino beauty.
“Oh . . . dear,” he began his soliloquy, just to stifle the effects on him, of the lady that was gone. “I hope this day turns out well. I can’t afford not to grab this opportunity. Where is the god of good luck? Please . . . . . . I can’t afford not to have you on my side today.”
A man with blonde hair walked in as soon as Dale had finished speaking. His appearance was simple. Just blue t-shirt on black jeans, which rested on a white canvas. One thing striking about him was the confidence he exuded. The way he walked and threw glances spoke volumes about who he was. An accomplished man whose entire personage was imbued with some arrogance. He acted as if he was alone in the office for a while, not looking at Dale, but stroking the ears of a brown Alsatian puppy he had in his hands. The way he touched the Puppy showed his unmistakable love for it. The Puppy was a diamond in his hands.
“It’s time for business, baby,” he said to the puppy now wagging its tail. “Okay, go, baby,” he said and kept the puppy on the floor with much care. The puppy refused to heed his instruction. It kept wagging its tail and whining instead. “What’s the matter with you, baby? Now I see what is wrong.” The man called the name Jennifer, and once again, the Puerto Rican beauty stepped in.
“Anything the matter, Boss?” Jennifer asked with a smile that filled Dale with lust once more.
“The Puppy! I think it’s hungry. Please feed it its thousand-dollar dog food.”
“That’s okay, sir.” Jennifer picked up the Puppy and walked away, but not without catching Dale leering at her.
Then the man took a seat opposite Dale. His face, which had no expression earlier on, put on a smile that seemed to say, ‘I am the man’.
“I see you want her,” he said to Dale.
“Stop lying. I saw it all in your eyes. She can be all yours if you play your games very well.”
“No, sir, she cannot be mine because I’m married.”
“Oh.... what a faithful man. Sorry for keeping you waiting,” the man said to Dale in a deep tone. “I had to attend to some very urgent matters that arose this morning in Hollywood.”
“That’s alright,” Dale responded and grinned.
“I hope you felt comfortable while you waited.”
“Sure!” Dale said with a smile. “This is,” he went on as he threw quick glances around the office, “surely the best I’ve had in my lifetime. It’s a fine place.”
“Thanks for the nice remarks. I understand you are an experienced chef.” Dale’s acknowledgement was quick in coming.
“You are correct,” he responded. He felt proud of himself, his spirit lifting from doldrums. “Ten years’ experience and I deliver excellent cooking. The very best. And I know it will interest you to know that no one has ever said no to my cooking.” An awkward look wasted no time in arriving on the face of Dale’s interviewer. A look of ‘are you really sure of what you are saying?’ He went on to ask Dale what the reason for the loss of his last job was.
“Lack of shrewd management at the very top ensured that the fortunes of the restaurant dipped. And . . .”
“Massive lay-offs followed,” the man quipped before Dale could speak further.
“You are very correct.”
“Wow! Your cooking should really have spurned the restaurant back to profitability if you are anywhere near as good as you are claiming. Don’t you think so?”
“I can only say one thing, sir. Give me this chance and you will never regret you did?”
“I like it when a man sounds confident,” the man remarked with a smile, already falling in love with the persuasive spirit that he detected in Dale. “You really want to cook your way to international reckoning?” He asked.
“I’m a born chef.”
The man looked at the dossier before him. “And I understand you are Dale Flowerfield
The name rang a bell at once. The name Dale Flowerfield seemed familiar, so the man closed his eyes, fingers of his left hand tapping his head, all in an effort to make something out. Nothing seemed to be coming up at first.
“Dale Flowerfield . . .?” He muttered and continued his search down memory lane. Then he decided the name had to do with his days at the famous Etton college. “Etton College,” he slowly said three times, his gaze now firmly fixed on Dale’s face as if the facts he sought were embedded there.
“You know about Etton College?” Said Dale with warm interest on his entire face, one a blind man would even notice.
“I think your face is telling me something,” was the beginning of the response the man gave. “What do you know about Etton College, Mr. Dale?”
“A lot, sir!” Dale began and continued slowly, travelling down memory lane. “I think your face is telling me something interesting. It is taking me back to my days at Etton College.”
“Etton College? Are you sure or just making it all up?”
“Is your last name Dangerfield?” The man laughed.
“Of course. Richard Dangerfield is my name. And were you and a friend called ‘sons of farmers’ in college?”
“Yes. That was simply because of the field we have as our last name.”
“Exactly,” Richard yelled.
And it was the pleasure of discovery that drove him to do that. It also got him to spring up from his seat. He starred at Dale like a man that suddenly found a lost son he never believed he would set his eyes on again for the rest of his life. “Dale! Look at you . . .”
The excitement in Dale was so enormous that he couldn’t contain it; an excitement only a very poor man that suddenly discovers his rickety house is standing on a huge deep reserve of gold knows. Dale was swept up his feet by this excitement.
“Richard,” he screamed. “I can’t believe my eyes!”
Both men then locked each other up in an embrace amid thunderous laughter. They just stuck to each other as if one was a magnet and the other, metal. The laughter and embrace with its associated hugs went on for so long that some men who were in the office, got attracted to the scene, which must have caught the fancy of anyone of them who was gay. They all soon left for their duty posts, wondering what their boss’s interview had degenerated into. Some unusual boyish reunion? They left anyway, for it was even none of their business if their boss had suddenly turned gay. The Latino girl would go green with anger of course. Her lustful eyes were always on her boss.
“Oh . . . dear,” Richard screamed, as he released himself from the embrace at long last.
“Oh . . . dear,” Dale wailed. Both men still had smiles on their faces by the time they sat down again. One conviction which struck them was that life always leaves a man with all sorts of things he would not be able to predict. How could Dale and Richard have known that their tracks would cross again in the grand-prix called life?
“Dale, you still love to play those silly games of yours? Games like, catch me if you can?” Dale asked and gave Richard a gentle punch on his left shoulder.
“Oh . . .,” Richard wailed a little, playfully though, as if he felt any pain. “You had better not be trying to knock me out like Mohammed Ali did to George Foreman. Rumble in the jungle 1974.”
Both men roared in laughter, which turned the atmosphere from formality to carousing, even though there were no bottles of beer. So much for the interview.
“You remember them,” Richard continued and pointed at Dale’s head. “What a super memory you have. I still play games. And I can’t stop. Only God can stop me.”
“Is that obsession or what?”
“Well, call it obsession, addiction or any other thing you feel. I’m a game player till my last breath. No wonder you ended up a chef, Dale. I can remember you liked to talk about food a lot in school.”
“Who doesn’t like food? Not even you, the game player, can do without it.”
“Wait a minute! Come on, now, don’t draw me into that food stuff. You haven’t changed one bit, Dale. I see you still like to talk about food all day long and even twenty four seven. Are you married?”
“I’ve told you the answer before. Yes.”
“Oh.... Forgive my short memory please. Yes! You’re married, and no wonder all you still like to talk about after all these years is food. She has been feeding you like a child, hasn’t she?”
“That is why she is my wife.”
“So all you do is to eat, sleep, wake up and visit the toilet all day long? Come on, Dale. A man that eats the way you do always gives toilet bowls more than they can contain, if you know what I mean. That mountainous stuff you drop in there.”
“Yes, only healthy men can drop such mountains.”
“I’ve actually seen that dogs in Africa love to lick such mountains.”
“It’s a special delicacy for them. They always relish a chance to lick it. Some studies have actually demonstrated that those things we deposit in toilets are full of vitamins and minerals for any dog’s healthy development. Strong bones and good teeth. Can you understand me, Richard?”
“I believe you. It also keeps crops growing strong. How is your wife doing, Dale?”
Dale’s response was one he took pride in. A smile flickered across his face before he began to respond.
“I think I have been so well blessed.”
“O yes. She listens. She cares. She has been the solid rock upon which my family hinges since I lost my job.”
Richard was impressed. He nodded his head with a very visible and enormous interest that would be very difficult to conceal, just like a-nine-month old pregnancy.
“Interesting,” he said. “She must be a wonderful woman. And she has been faithful to you since you lost your job?”
“Absolutely!” Dale was proud to say it. He would even relish a chance to announce it to the whole of the United Kingdom and beyond, if such a chance could be his.
“You are lucky, Dale. Such women are now endangered species. Not many of them are around these days. They are like sunshine in rain.”
“I agree with you. She is my big asset. What about you, Richard? Are you married?”
“What do you think? Let’s play a game. Make a wrong guess and lose your wife to me.” Dale laughed.
“Stay away from silly games,” Dale said after he had managed to suppress the huge laughter that could have got his mouth widened. “You ought to be married now,” he further said.
“That is where you are wrong,” Richard hit back at Dale: “It is the exclusive preserve of a man to decide when he wants to get married and how. And that is if he wants to get married at all. Isn’t a man at liberty to remain single and play a lifetime game of sampling different kinds of women?”
Richard picked up a stick of cigar that lay on the table, put it in his mouth and lit it up. He stared at Dale. Curling smoke rose up in between the two men, as Richard continued. “I mean different kinds of women. Tall, short, slender, light, dark, stubborn, cheap, faithful, British, Spanish, American, African. You name it! You need a cigar? It doesn’t come better than this. Pure Cuban cigar,” he concluded by taking the cigar off his mouth. He admired it, then a smile full of pride swept across his face. What followed was his gentle kiss of the cigar. A kind of tender kiss lovers share and hope it remains as sweet as it comes in their fantasies, as reality strikes. Richard just loved his Cuban cigar. Dale’s response was swift and polite.
“No. Thanks,” he said. “I don’t smoke.”
“I see. You are one of those guys who think smoking is gradual suicide. Aren’t you?”
“I never said that.”
“Okay. Straight to what I understand you’ve been itching to know. I’m not married. And I’m not planning to.”
“That is your decision, which I respect of course. Your decision is your decision, Richard, but what have you been doing with your life?”
Richard had flown in from the United States just the previous day.
“I’ m in London for the muse of my next game,” he told Dale. “I’m badly in need of preys for my next game.”
“Preys? What the hell are you talking about? What game?”
“Who might just be the right person to provide the link to my next game?”
Dale was completely lost. All Richard said about his game and prey were like he spoke them in Spanish, which Dale didn’t speak or understand any word of, or some still evolving brand of English language yet to come to his awareness. But Dale, in spite of the confusion he was confronted with, chose to stick to why he had come in the first place.
“I can understand you now reside in the United States. And your words show me you might not need a chef after all,” he said.
“I can’t let you be my chef anymore. Not anymore, Dale.” Dale was rattled. Fear of failure in his quest quickly set in. It gave birth to worry in him, which translated to thick creases on his brow at once. Dale’s face was then the last place one could find even the faintest of smiles that evaporate as fast as mist caught by the full glare of bright sunshine.
“Why?” Dale said at once. It was easy to hear and feel dejection in his tone. “I desperately need a job,” he quipped, and there sat a broken man once again.
“Don’t worry, Dale,” Richard urged. Then he smiled. He understood Dale’s situation completely, and told him he had very quick plans to change it for good.
“What are you talking about?” The desperate Dale was eager to know.
To Richard, it was no longer the time for his friend to keep standing before many cookers, watching oil and foodstuffs become delicacies all day.
“There are exciting ways to earn a living you deserve,” he responded. “And you are not far from feeling them.”
Richard was beginning to speak in another language which was difficult to understand as far as Dale was concerned. He, however, managed to say something. In his confusion over what exactly Richard was driving at, he was also thrilled that some sort of help was on its way.
“Oh thanks,” he said after chuckling. “I’m short of words to express my appreciation of your good thoughts towards me.”
Richard in his gentle response to Dale’s appreciation of his willingness to help, just said, “The right man has stepped in to rescue you.” Words which any man with plans can speak. Not just mere plans, but concrete ones. Not only concrete plans, but deliberate strategies to overhaul, and bestow upon tumultuous horrible situations, a revolution from which the best that lies ahead can be made real.
“You own this place?” Dale asked.
Richard laughed. It was a kind of laughter synonymous with men very sure of their abilities and very proud of their accomplishments. It would be an obvious error if one tried to use the phrase ‘confident laughter’ to describe it. Maybe arrogant laughter could come closer to being apt for describing it. Richard’s laughter was so loud that it was enough to shake a building to its very foundations, but only in a fairy tale world.
“Look, Dale, what you call this place is my London office. And the people here work for me.”
“Incredible!” Dale thundered and began to throw glances around the magnificent enclave that would be an office. It was so expansive that it beamed so many state-of-the-art facilities that it could even host a United Nations Security Council meeting. It was a fantastic office to behold. So Dale could not be blamed for staring around, even though he did it as if he had not done enough of it before Richard came in to meet him. “What a fortune you managed to eke out of life and I’ve been frying oil,” Dale went on to remark. “So what kind of business are you into, Richard?”
“Have you heard of playing games?”
“Playing games? What is playing games? Oh.... Richard, one of those your silly games again. Get serious for once.”
“We are located right in the heart of Hollywood, Los Angeles.”
“What else is Hollywood other than movies?”
Then Richard announced he was the owner of ‘playing games pictures’, one of the best studios in Hollywood.
“Incredible! Congratulations! Now I see how far you have come.”
“We have very successful titles to our credit.”
“And shouldn’t we be talking more in the confines of a very cosy bar?”
Dale nodded his agreement with all eagerness, like one noticeable in a very hungry cheetah. The cheetah’s eagerness to proceed with a chase at the sight of a gazelle. Dale and Richard didn’t need to go out to reach a bar, for Richard’s London office was equipped with a bar section that boasted any kind of drink a man could desire. Beer, gin, rum, whisky, carbonated drinks, juices. You just name it. They were just there for the asking of any visitor whose nerves and appetite needed a special treat absolutely out of this world. But the regulation that reigned supreme in the bar never condoned excessive drinking, which can raise men and women who might drop copious urine on their pants while speaking strange languages never documented anywhere, in their hallucinations. Non-existent languages alcohol intoxication always gives men and women when it takes them prisoner.