” ‘Scuse me, which exit to come out at the Stateman’s House?”
“6” said the Metro official who had been prompted with the question.
Betty was good with monosyllabic answers. It was pure courtesy that she had framed a full question to ask in the first place, had she known the guy she would have run with a two word question and a hinting tone- “Statesman’s House?”
Gratefully, Betty nodded and started walking towards Exit 6, smiling as she heard the quick shuffle of his feet behind her as he realised the dialogue was over and caught up.
“So, Statesman’s House?” asked her diligently inquisitive tail.
“An important newspaper once, a landmark building now.” she answered with the smile full in her words.
Betty liked how she said Important. She had a way of rounding the Ort that made her feel British, made her feel a master with her words. Words… they empowered her. But she hated how she had totally, utterly, completely wasted a word in her response. A landmark is a stand-alone word. She shouldn’t have said “building”. Of course it was a building, in fact any structure would have done. Grunt. She had decapitated the charm of the word ‘landmark’.
The strangely charming voice of her companion brought her back to the real world, as Betty dodged yet another street vendor, this time consciously.
“Geez, how many are there!” he wasn’t used to the streets as she was. He wasn’t used to the country.
“It’s a back lane. And that-” she said, walking on and pointing to a magnificent building of red stone “- is one of the culprits for my intense fascination with this place. The Statesman’s House.”
“Wow. Looks good. So what’s in it now?”
“Don’t know. Never been in. There was a bookstore on the ground floor once.”
Books… all those books with all those words that-
“You’ve never been in? Wha- am I ever going to understand you?”
Betty giggled. “Not if you’re going to walk that slow, mister.”
Jay shook his head and hurried to catch up with this little crazyness he had of a guide, and thought of the day all those months back he had met her online.
“Hey look, I didn’t do nothing, don’t you blame it on me!”
“I’m not, you idiot.”
“Then what are you calling me an idiot for.”
“Cause you are wasting my time, that’s why. Just patch me in through to your stupid boss.”
“I told you, he’s out. Lady, you need to understand how to talk to a Customer Service-“
“Customer Service? Is that you? Well, I am not a customer. Not anymore. I’m giving up your stupid shitty service today and I don’t want to hear from this good for nothing company after that. And just so we’re clear, you never did provide any service, Mr. Customer Frigging Service.”
The line went dead and the customer service helper frowned. First day at the job and already the messenger was taking burns. This was going to be a hell of a job, but Nate needed it, so he better talk more authoritatively with the next angry caller.
The phone rang again. Nate spent a moment looking at the red light flash at the base of the phone, not entirely willingly to listen to another complaint already but determined to really start with his new job.
“Airphone Customer Service, How may I help you?”
Nathan of the Airphone telecom company believed more in God than he had in the past few years, primarily because he realised he would need divine intervention to survive this job as his first two calls were from angry, shrieking customers. Correction, one ex-customer and one slowly going down the same line.
Ten hours and a billion complaint calls later, Nate flopped lifeless on the couch at his flat, and thought of sleep, only sleep. He checked his phone what time it was; 7.30. Well, that would be a new record, to go to sleep that early. He could call Elizabeth over for a while. He called her, hoping to have in a few seconds the first pleasant conversation of his day.
“Hello,” said a voice so gruffly male that Nate checked the number on his screen. Yep, that was Elizabeth’s number, but that was definitely not her voice.
“Who is this?” Nate wasted no time establishing credentials, he wanted to know right away who was picking his friend, almost-girlfriend’s phone.
But before he got any response, he heard scuffle at the other end, and Betty’s voice in the background, obviously talking to the guy who had answered.
“Who said you could answer my phone!” Betty was saying, but Nate could feel the the smile in her fake angry outburst. Nate wasn’t very happy about that.
“Nate! Hi, whatsup.”
“Umm nothing really, was just wondering if you’d like to come over. But it’s fine if you have company.” It wasn’t fine. He was almost screaming inside, get rid of the dude and come to me!
“No, it’s okay. Actually, what if I bring him too. He’s Jay, remember I told you about a guy from Africa who was coming over?”
Jay… she hadn’t told him the name. So, what was the deal with this guy… Nate thought the best way to find out was invite him over too.
“Yeah sure. See you both soon. And hey, bring the Polaroid. Too long since we had pictures.”
The line was dead before Nate even heard Betty’s response. But he had gotten used to that in the day. Now Nate had more pressing matters on hand.
Just who was this Jay and what was he doing to his chances with Betty. He was about to find out.
#Note to reader; the post title reads BJN, which are the initials of the three characters in this story. Should this post receive a fairly good response, then stories that follow in this series will contain the same code BJN in the title. So, it’s up to you if you want to read more. I’ll keep ’em coming.