Timothy is about to be dragged into the dark waters
This story almost didn’t happen.
You see, I wouldn’t have been available to meet Steve for lunch if Sharon hadn’t cancelled on me an hour before he called. Then again, if her son hadn’t fallen off his bike and bounced his head on the sidewalk like a hairy basketball, our meeting would have gone on as planned.
Hell, Steve and I would have never met in the first place if my parents hadn’t decided to settle us in Portland, Oregon when I was four years old. Or if they’d chosen to wait another year before having me, or even performed the horizontal tango a year sooner. And what if they had never gotten together to begin with?
Enough. That line of thinking can only end up at the dinosaurs. Or Creation, if you were raised with those ideas stuffed between your ears.
Besides, if I can be honest and take on some responsibility for a moment, none of this would have happened if I had just told Steve I couldn’t make it. Okay, okay - that I didn’t want to make it.
It’s not that I disliked him; in fact, we used to be very close back in the day. Used to be. But a girl had come between us for a few years in high school and our friendship had never really recovered. It had been years since I’d heard from him and I was pretty certain I had seen the last of him.
To say that there were no tears shed over this would be a mild understatement.
But then there he was, at the other end of the phone line, talking to me as though Tammy Winfield had never happened, asking me to join him for lunch at McTaggart’s Pub. I should have known something was up, and in my defense I certainly was at least a little suspicious, but it was the Friday of a particularly long week of work. A beer or three sounded like a damned fine remedy.
McTaggart’s was over on Killarney Street, about a ten minute walk from my office, so I left half an hour before our agreed meeting time - it had been that kind of week. Not sure of what exactly I was walking into, I told my secretary to call me in an hour with an urgent message that required me back at my desk immediately.
“If I don’t answer,” I told her as I headed for the elevator, “have a great weekend.”
It was a sunny spring day, the first in almost two weeks, so I draped my jacket over my arm as I made my way along the crowded sidewalks. I’d only gone about half a block before I undid my tie and stuffed it in my pocket. As I undid the top two buttons on my shirt, I tried to remember what Steve had been up to the last I’d heard about him. I vaguely recalled something about the military but I had no idea what branch he might have joined.
I took a left onto Killarney Street and had to step quickly to avoid a head-on collision with a baby stroller. The mother hardly noticed so I didn’t bother apologizing. Plus it looked like she had another on the way, so there was no point even flirting with her.
The pub was in the middle of the next block and I was nearly twenty minutes early, so I slowed my steps and did a little window shopping. A John Lobb in the window of an upscale shoe shop caught my eye and I lingered for a moment, wondering if I could spare a grand for another pair of shoes. Glancing down at my current pair, I decided to hold off for a little while longer. It was always more satisfying if a purchase was a reward for something specific and I hadn’t done much of note recently.
Continuing on, I let my gaze settle on the tight-skirted behind of a young woman several steps ahead of me. She was wearing heels and her hips were swishing back and forth like a hypnotist’s watch. It was utterly mesmerizing. I thanked God for spring’s return and matched my pace to hers.
Life is good, I thought with a smile as I followed her across the next intersection.
I looked up to see Steve striding towards me, a toothy smile on his tanned face and his hand outstretched. I mistook it for a friendly handshake but I should have recognized it for what it really was.
A drowning man, floundering in angry waves, so desperate to save himself that he was about to drag me overboard.