London England, Tuesday August 12th 2262
Hillary Jane was at the data-desk in her office. She had been putting off calling Tamarah Stein for the last hour. If she was going to make use of the evening, while Norman visited the museum with his brother in Northampton, then she was going to have to call her to confirm where they were going to meet.
She sipped at her coffee and sighed as she put the cup back on its saucer with a clink. She had asked Stephen to buy Tamarah her usual obligatory gift this afternoon; he was far better at that sort of thing than she was. She must check with him what was in the small silver-papered gift box presently perched on the edge of her data-desk.
Tamarah had confirmed her availability for this evening when Hillary Jane had called her the previous Friday - the bitch was always free, still you had to go through the motions.
Albert Stein never stood in his wife’s way if she wanted to go out; he was probably pleased to be shot of her for the night.
“Call Tamarah Stein, audio only,” she said with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.
The call connected quickly.
“Hills darling, how are you?” Tamarah asked ardently.
Hillary Jane winced, how she hated her name being shortened. “Hello Tamarah, I’m just fine thank you; well I’m rushed off my feet as usual at work, you know how it is?”
She would have no idea; the money grabbing cow hadn’t done a day’s work in years, Hillary Jane thought silently to herself.
“How are you and Albert?” she asked instead.
“Oh, we are just marvellous darling, Albie is such a sweetie, he’s booked a trip away this coming weekend and just won’t tell me where we are going!” She bragged.
“What a treasure he is,” Hillary Jane provided, staring out the window at a pigeon that had just settled on the stone cill.
“He said I won’t find out where we are going until we teleport in on Friday!” Tamarah added excitedly.
“How exciting,” Hillary Jane said coolly, more interested in the way the pigeon could twist its head round and preen the feathers of its nape without a problem.
“Yes, very,” Tamarah agreed. “Are you still free this evening?” she added.
“That is the very reason I was calling you,” Hillary Jane confirmed, her eyes still transfixed on the pigeon. “Yes of course I am; I’ve been looking forward to having a good catch up. Is there anywhere you would like to go in particular?”
“Well,” Tamarah said. “I’ve heard of this new wine bar in New York’s Liberty State Park, Obama’s, it’s supposed to be fabulous; just about everyone’s going there.”
“It sounds like we should join them then,” Hillary Jane chuckled falsely.
“Great!” Tamarah responded eagerly. “I have been dying to try it out for weeks now; it’s not really Albert’s idea of fun though,” she giggled.
Hillary Jane laughed politely. “He does like his traditional English pubs doesn’t he?”
They both laughed.
The pigeon turned and looked in the window. It stared directly at her for a few seconds as though it could see Hillary Jane behind her data-desk; before continuing with its routine.
“I must get on Tamarah; I have heaps to do before I leave here today,” Hillary Jane lied. “I will get Stephen to organise teleportation and find out what the dress code is; he will be in touch with the details later.”
“Ooh, I’m quite excited now; I hope I have something suitable to wear,” Tamarah enthused.
“I’m sure you will find something,” Hillary Jane replied.
A second pigeon flew in and landed on the other end of the cill, it was quite a bit smaller than the first one.
“I must dash Tamarah, see you this evening.”
Hillary Jane ended the call before Tamarah could say goodbye.
She maintained her observation of the pigeons. The first one stopped its grooming having noticed the second one perched on the opposite end of the cill. It strutted over, its head bobbing back and forth, and savagely pecked at its smaller companion. Startled, the smaller bird flew off in a light shower of down and feathers. The larger bird resumed its preening.
Hillary Jane smiled.