A Girl Like You
I’m really off my game since this morning. I have no idea what was said in the production meeting earlier. Good job someone always volunteers to do the minutes! It takes me twice as long as it really should to reply to even the simplest emails. I can’t seem to get my head round the sales figures that I myself sorted out yesterday. It’s almost like nothing makes sense anymore.
There’s a welcome excuse for a break when Marcus comes in for the last time, his kids in tow. We have a laugh and a joke before I shake his hand and wish him all the best. I practically order him to keep in touch, and I think we will. The whole team bid Marcus a grand farewell with a cake, bottle of champagne and a huge card that we all signed. He’s a jackass, but a popular one. And all too quickly it’s back to the grindstone.
“Dan the guy for the Journalist job is here, Mikey’s bringing him up now.” Emma’s announcement knocks me a little, I had no idea it was so late. Sure enough though, it’s close to half one. At least this one’s on time.
“On my way. What’s his name?”
“Simon Barton. I left his CV on the top of your ‘in’ tray.”
I eventually find the two sheets of crumpled A4 under a small plate and coffee mug and head out to meet the candidate. Just to be safe I reach for my mobile and check it’s on silent, wouldn’t want to be disturbed. Would be nice if I got a text or a missed call though. I open my door and look back at my desk. It’s not taken long at all for the entire office to become a complete tip. On the cabinet behind me you can just about see the National Broadcasting Award sat gathering dust behind a dead plant. It isn’t gratifying as I thought it would be.
* * *
It’s taken me about ten minutes to find our new station journalist. The guy doesn’t know it yet but he struck a chord before I even met him. Studied Broadcast Journalism in Bournemouth, probably started when my lot had graduated. He knew all about Landmarc, and the fish & chip place by the IMAX building. He’d stayed for two years in the university halls of residence, had coffee at Rick and Jenna’s bistro on the Poole Quayside. It was like going back again but with someone else’s eyes. Add to that some impressive life experience and a good strong determination and he’s got the job. Part of me wants to call him now and give him the good news, but Dad always said it’s best to make them sweat a bit. Make them really want it. Mind you I tried that tack the last time and the bitch sauntered off to a TV station! I’ll ring him this afternoon, let him at least get out of the building first.
I get back to the office and check my phone. There’s an excited voicemail from Raph telling me he’s one step closer to owning his own airline. I went to see him last week and we spent a lot of time doing web searches for planes. I can imagine doing that with cars, but with planes? The guy must be loaded. His place in the Isle of Man is practically a mansion. It was almost a hike to get from the guest room in the East Wing to the dining room in the West. We spent a few hours reminiscing about our recent trip down memory lane. He showed me some pictures of the Shapiro’s with their adopted kid; a baby girl they’re calling Isabella. Apparently mother and father are sleep-deprived, stressed and loving every minute.
No word on Max and Lucy though. Ironically I’m now ‘friends’ with Max on Facebook. Within the space of four weeks his relationship status went from ‘married’, to ‘it’s complicated’, back to ‘married’, then down to ‘single’. At last count it was back at ‘married’. Either way I’ve never heard directly from either of them since leaving Bournemouth, and I’m betting ‘it’s complicated’ doesn’t even begin to cover what they’re going through.
I’ve not heard anything more from Rita since saying goodbye back at Bournemouth airport, and I don’t want to. If seeing her again proved one thing it’s that the past isn’t all you thought it was, and the future is way more exciting.
I send Raph a message of congratulations, telling him I want to be the first one to fly with Sky-Dogs.
Sitting back at my desk there’s about fifty new emails waiting for me. Just from reading the subject boxes I can tell they’re a total waste of time.
“Sorry to barge in Dan” Batman says through the half open office door. “But there’s someone here to see you.”
“Mikey do you have to wear the mask?”
“Oh like you wouldn’t! Anyway, shall I send her in?”
“Who is it?” I ask, clicking on the email marked ‘Urgent’.
“Says her name is Suzanne Walker!”
Shit, I slipped and pressed delete! Ah bet it wasn’t that urgent! What the hell is she doing here? I stand and move over to the window and look over to the main doorway. Sure enough, Suzanne Walker is in the building.
“So?” Mikey asks, bouncing up and down on his toes. “I could tell her something if you don’t want to see her. Tell her you’re in a meeting, or better yet that you fell through a trap door and can’t get out?”
I’m not prepared for this. Granted even if I was I’d still find it difficult to think of anything remotely interesting to say. “Is one of the meeting rooms still free?”
* * *
I’ve just downed five plastic cups of ice cold water and I’ve still got dry mouth. She’s been waiting in the room for a good five minutes. I don’t know what my fucking problem is. Chances are she’s probably stopped round to chat a bit more about her campaign, nothing too taxing – I hope.
“Hi Suzy, sorry I kept you waiting.” I walk in feigning an air of ‘hassled boss’ and go for the obligatory greeting hug. “Everything okay? You have some questions about the campaign?”
“Um, yes” she says. “Yes that’s why I’m here.”
“Is there a problem?”
She sits there, still in her leather jacket, seeming to struggle to find the words. “Dan I…” Wow she’s really struggling. “Oh fuck it!” She reaches in to her designer handbag and pulls out an envelope. I don’t even need to see the contents. It’s pretty obvious what it is.
“You want some water?” I figure by now I’m not the only one with dry mouth.
I step out of the office and fill two more cups with water, downing one myself in three gulps and filling it up again. I look up and the office seems to be way too quiet for this time of the day. I catch the staff staring over and they immediately pretend to go back to work, nosy little fuckers!
Back inside the office I close the blinds. “You don’t mind do you?” I ask her. “It’s so hard to find some privacy in here!”
She just smiles and downs her own cup of water. I offer her another one but she declines. I think she’s ready to get down to it. Not sure if I am!
“I found this a couple of weeks ago” she says, waving the crumpled sheet of paper in front of me.
“I’m surprised you hadn’t thrown it away.”
“Me too!” And then it all comes out. She explains that she ended her engagement with the half Dutch/half convict Rupert prick when she’d found it after returning from Holland. It was the final push she needed after one of the worse holidays of her life. He was obnoxious, controlling, snide, rude. Were it not for her using her time there to visit a few friends and check out a few fashion shows she would have come back home the day after she’d got there.
“How did he react?”
“Not good!” She tells me he threatened legal action, breach of contract or some other ridiculous bollocks. When Vantage was officially set up they’d just started being a couple and he’d made sure he was a full partner, with the whole thing split between the two of them. When they got engaged Rupert had drawn up a pre-nup which he must’ve thought gave him complete control. He probably thought that once they were married, whether she stayed or left him he would still have the business.
“So what happened?”
“Well turns out, Australian/Dutch hybrids, not so smart! I’d got a few clauses of my own in there, and the stuff he’d drawn up was practically Swiss cheese. He got a few stern letters from my lawyers and I haven’t heard from him since!”
“Good for you” I say, a little too patronising. “So Vantage is all yours now?”
“Oh no, you met my partners today, well two of them. Carol and Roger. Monique is the fourth one.”
We’ve both lost track of the conversation. Suddenly she remembers the letter. “So what you wrote?”
“What about that actor bloke?” I interrupt, not ready to talk about the letter. “What was that story?”
“What that Wayne tosser?” she squeals, trying not to laugh. “I didn’t even know who he was ’til I read it in the paper. Monique reckons he managed to get in the shot at just the right time, and then he probably got paid to lie about me and him being a hot new item. Or maybe someone else made it up? Either way it was completely made up.”
“Oh!” I’ve got nothing else.
“Anyway stop changing the damn subject.” She waves the A4 sheet in the air again. “This letter of yours; did you mean it?”
I probably shouldn’t be, but I’m a little insulted. “What do you think?”
“I don’t know Dan, that’s the problem. You left me, remember? You were the one who said I was getting too close so you fucked off! And then months later you say you made a mistake? What happened?”
“I guess you just don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”
“Stop quoting fucking song lyrics Dan!” Her face is starting to go red, never a good sign.
“Okay, you want to hear it? You’ve been fucking haunting me from the day we broke up. Everywhere I go you’re there, in my head.”
“So you missed me?” she says sarcastically. “Big fucking deal!”
“No, more than that. It’s like…” I struggle for a decent analogy. “Okay, its like those stories you hear about people who have limbs cut off but they can still feel them. Or twins who are separated at birth but somehow they still know they’re not alone. I know it sounds as corny as hell, but you complete me Suzy.
“Okay, now you’re just quoting films!”
“You know – ‘show me the money’!”
“Oh Christ, look if I had the time I would invent a completely new fucking language and tell you how I feel using those words, ’cos it turns out films and song lyrics have nicked all the best fucking lines, so I’ll just tell you this; yes. Yes I meant every fucking word in that letter and even more so now!”
My rant is finished. Surprisingly it was a little more eloquent than I thought it would be. My subconscious has probably just been waiting for the day to let that out. Even so, now we’re sat in one of those uncomfortable silences.
“We should start again” she says, finally. She stands, and holds her hand out. “Hi!” she says, thrusting her hand towards me. “I’m Suzanne Walker. My friends call me Suzy.”
I look up at her, and can’t help but follow. I stand, taking her hand firmly in mine and shake it, like a deal has just been struck. “Nice to meet you” I reply with a nervous smile. “I’m Daniel. Daniel Sterling.”