Bills, Then Balls

A serial I am toying ’round with… I’m not entirely sure where it’s headed, but know a few stops along the way — if, that is, I don’t stop along the way. *wink*

***

I entered my office directly through the back door marked “Privat” in gold letters (the ‘e’ had faded away just as the ‘t’ was near-ready to do), bypassing the lobby entirely. I barely had time to place my hat on the wall hook when the ‘real’ door, off the lobby, opened and I heard the click-clack of my secretary, Penelope.

“One possible waiting, and Jack will be here for the rent at noon. Mail’s here, nothing you’ll want to see though,” she said.

“Good morning to you too, Penelope,” I said as I finished folding my jacket across the back of a side chair. “Good one last night?”

“Don’t you know it,” she laughed. “You?”

“The usual,” was all I said as I turned to the stack of mail, flipping through noting the return addresses. Penelope was right, no good news in there.

“Stuck in a rut, you are,” she said, “You’ve got options you know.”

“I know.”

“You know, I know, we all know. Trick is, what are you going to do about it?”

“Bills first, Pen, then the –“

“balls,” she finished with me, laughing. “So far, you’re having no luck with either.” Then, because Penelope wasn’t the heartless type, she softened her tone and threw me a bone, “Don’t worry though, it’s got to rain sometime.”

For the first time since I entered the office I turned to look directly at her. “Thanks,” I said.

Penelope, all red nails splayed at the sides of her rounded tight skirt, perched upon nearly impossible heels, click-clacked to the door. As if an after-thought, she swiveled what most (who had not seen the motion she could withstand on those heels) would call ‘a dangerous swivel,’ and wordlessly motioned with her head to the large window which looked out into the lobby. This was her way of introducing me to a waiting client. I nodded and Penelope left, shutting the door behind her.

I peered through the large pane of glass quickly, again chagrined that there were still no blinds there affording me the ability to appraise those waiting yet keeping them from being able to catch my eye. No need to worry this time. The waitee was a well-dressed woman who sat, hands folded on her purse, ankles crossed and tucked beneath her skirt, staring straight ahead of her. Seated so she was in complete profile and it was easy to read her raised chin which spoke both of her resignation and determination to wait what she perceived to be a very long time.

Her inflexible attitude and seated position allowed me a generous look. Dark hat pressed upon even darker hair — which while it was not severe in its lift away from the face, was held in place not only by the hat but by elaborate and jeweled combs. One wondered if this was just more of her disciplined nature, or if the necessity was due of a mass of hair — hair as wild and unruly as its shade was deep. The hat matched the suit, the bag, and the heels. The quiet eloquence of her attire spoke of money and it matched the lift of her chin, a bit stubborn in style. Only her jewelry seemed to speak of frivolity — especially the ear-bobs, dangling as they did there at her firm jawline.

To say she was fair was an understatement. Her skin was white, as white as the lace hem which nosed its way beneath the end of her skirt and clung to the side of her stockinged ankle. No, it was whiter yet than her slip. Her skin was the flat white of paint brick. Comparing the whites, skin to slip, was like a scene from a cold winter’s day: Skin the flat white of a white-washed house; slip the sparkling heavy snows at its foundation. And I fancied her skin just as cold to the touch as those brick walls.

Part of me, the part which shouldn’t be thinking of this dame, thought of this as a challenge… Oh, to warm her and to see her flat white skin soften and heat, come to life — just as those white opals, in the combs in her hair, flashed fire in the shadow of her hat. Beneath her fine smooth cool surface there must be life…

I shook my head and felt my face flush. The lady showed no signs of change, of noticing; but beneath my desk top… I lowered my gaze to my desk and sternly advised myself to stop this train of thought. I placed one of the collection letters in front of my gaze. That ought to sober me up.

Slowly I raised my eyes from the paper. Just enough to see through the bottom portion of the window. My eyes returned again to that bit of lace against her dark stocking… Odd that white would be worn with such a dark suit. Was it worn with the intention to be seen? Odder still that the fabric should have more sheen, more depth, more signs of being alive than her skin did.

What would it be like to stand before such amounts of naked flat-white skin?

To distract myself from further pondering her slip, an exercise which would only bring that part of me back to attention, I began to ponder what could bring this sort of woman here. Most who sought my services were either desperate or distraught; she had the look of neither. Could the situation which brought her here be what had wrought such coldness? Or was this coldness and disdain born of wealth and fortune, and she just here to recover more of the same?

My wallet hoped for the latter, for a fee large enough to cover these notices. But another part of me (not usually related to the former part — except that it too should not be thinking of this woman), a part of me I kept colder than white-washed brick in February, wondered if her coldness was as permanent as mine — or if hers knew seasons. No matter really. I was only involved with the situation which brought her here; nothing more, nothing less. Neither her flat white skin, nor her lacy slip hem, were of my concern. Let’s just hope the woman’s cool demeanor meant cold hard cash.

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