Chance Meeting at the Mall
It began when I saw her in the upper-level of the Brighton Mall. She placed her paper bag of purchases on the floor next to her cushioned seat. Avoiding her was not an option as the sitting area was in my path to the escalator.
Of course, you would know, she was beautiful as she sat and shook her head to resettle her long lovely raven curls. She was dressed in lovely colors of Ivory and Lavender, a dress sheer and clinging – like, my eyes at that moment.
My mind did its calculations…do I just stop, sit in the chair next to her, begin a conversation. What do I say as an opener? Her left hand was gloved so, married or not, I was ‘flying in the blind’. It was one of those fateful moments in life where one must decide to act or not to act, with the haunting of the latter lingering forever in the mind… I decided to act.
I sat in the chair next to her. There were other chairs in the grouping, but other shoppers were passing, chatting, and I wanted to be close so as not having to increase the decibel level of my voice.
Please, allow me to pause and explain…
First, my name is Lawrence Wallenby, just, Larry, will do, and I’m a trim six-footer who stays in shape by jogging and exercising – which once, in starting out, was a chore, but, now, something I look forward to. I’m told by some of my staff at the Agency that I bear the looks of actor Matthew McConaughey. That’s good, I think, because I like his acting.
I am not a ‘stalker’ who frequents shopping malls for women to meet and harass. I am a responsible male person who owns his own small advertising enterprise, growing by leaps and bounds, I might add. I am a man who some months ago lost his wife to a drunk driver in a head-on collision. Both were killed, and I had my days, weeks, and months to damn the fiddlers of fate who perform these acts so people can grieve and crawl into themselves and become inoperably viable. So, time did not, would not heal the wound of losing Diana, but, at least, it would have the courtesy to allow the ‘devastation’ period to pass – to the point of having needs to fulfill.
May I apologize if this preceding acknowledgement is not enough a prelude to what I’m about to narrate for you. Suffice, Diana is still in a precious vault of my heart, but I’ve come to realize that life does indeed go on and old needs come rushing back in need of fulfilling.
The handsome lady with the raven hair, soft blue eyes, and most luscious lips glanced up at me with an awkward, almost, smile, and then went quickly back to a piece of paper on her lap – presumably, a ‘shopping list’.
“Holiday shopping can be a real ‘bear’, don’t you think?” Without giving her a chance to answer, I pressed forward. “Of course, you do. You’re sitting here, resting, so, obviously, shopping ergo is a ‘bear’ or your choice of animal. I know you are wondering who the ‘nut’ is sitting next to you, and I implore you not to get up and leave with my muttering hanging in the air. Really, I’m not so great at this, but I do honestly and sincerely believe you are the most beautiful lady I’ve seen in my lifetime. Is it okay that we might meet? Please.”
“Wow, you should take a breath between syllables. You’ll pass out, I’m thinking. Sure, why not? We’re in a public arena here, people passing by, and you don’t seem to be carrying weapons of any kind. So, sure, let’s ‘meet’. I’m Diana Bixley.”
“No, no, you can’t be… I mean, your first name – pick another first name!”
“I’m sorry. Now, you’re confusing me. I thought your little rushed ‘pick-up’ line was cute, but…are you some kind of nut?”
“Oh, no, no. I’m so sorry to blunder like this. Your first name, Diana, is a beautiful name, and you should keep it. Of course, she should and will keep it, you idiot. Again, sorry, but I lost my wife to a drunk driver about a year ago, and her name was Diana.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“No, no, don’t be. I’ve gone through the periods of loss and find that I still wish to go on, but I’ve been with no one for that period of time and very likely don’t know how to act properly. May I start again? My name is Larry Wallenby, and, when I saw you, my heart did little ‘flip-flops’ and I had to meet you. Please, is that okay? I mean, that I had to meet you?”
“Relax, Larry, I’m happy to meet you, and I’m sorry about your wife.”
She offered her hand which I swiftly but softly clutched for some two or three seconds before releasing.
“Are you encumbered?” Too fast, too fast, you dummy.
“I beg your pardon.”
“I’m sorry, again, Diana, but I’m such a ‘Klutz’ at this. Are you married, going steady with anyone?”
“You’re fast, Larry, but I suppose that comes from your loss and grief period. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but, no, I’m not married, not going steady with anyone.”
My heart-beat got faster. Now, don’t screw this up, Larry. Take a shot, but slow down the process. You got the answer you wanted. There’s a chance, so don’t screw it up.
“Do you have children, Diana?”
“No, I’m not too big on kids. They annoy me, mostly. I’m sure I did my annoyance bit as a kid. You have kids, Larry?”
“No, no kids. No animals of any kind, although I love Golden Retrievers. You like animals?”
“Not so much. Better than kids, but the ‘clean-up’ and routines would drive me nuts. Your business keep you busy, Larry?”
“As much as I allow it to keep me busy. I’ve got some good people working at the ad agency that keep the load off me. What do you do, Diana?”
“I’m an actress and model, Larry. I’ve done nothing memorable in film that you would remember seeing. Most of my action is in modeling and ‘specialty films’.”
“You enjoy what you do, Diana?”
“Very much so, Larry. You?”
“Yeah. I was drawn to advertising at a young age for some reason, likely because my Dad had a ‘Billboard’ business. I was fascinated enough by it to take all the courses relative to advertising while in the university environment. The business has been good for me. The people who work with me free me up to pursue other interests, like traveling to exotic places. Do you travel a lot in your business, Diana?”
“Too much, actually. I don’t like airport waits and all the security crap one has to go through anymore… I notice you have no packages, Larry. Are you not shopping? Did you just come to the mall to meet me?”
“Well, while that’s a nice thought, I did plan to pick up some items for my sister and my staff, but now it’s not so important. I can put it off ‘til another day. That is, if I can talk you into cocktails and dinner.”
“That sounds wonderful, Larry. And, what would your plans be after our dinner?”
Hey, she’s playing right into my hand. How can I get so lucky? Hell, I’ll lay it out for her.
“Well, to be honest, Diana, I thought we could go to my place, have nightcaps, listen to some romantic music, turn the lights down low, and see where it all would lead us.”
“Larry, you scoundrel! You do work fast. However, I’m afraid I would spoil your plans.”
“I doubt that, Diana. You’re so beautiful, and I’m sure we would get along just fine.”
Oh, she’s getting up, reaching for her shopping bags.
“Thank you, Larry, for the dinner and romance offer, but I will pass and just say, ‘nice meeting you’.”
“But, Diana, I thought…”
“You thought, what, Larry?”
“I thought we were bonding nicely…”
“By bonding, you mean you thought I would jump in the sack with you, correct?”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I thought we were heading toward something really romantic and beautiful.”
“Really?” She stood and for a moment hovered over me.
I stood and faced her.
“Was it something I said, Diana?”
“No, it was something I did not say, Larry…”
“And, what was it you did not say, Diana?”
“Well, if I say it, no longer will it be not said, Larry.”
She started to walk away.
“Diana, please, tell me what was not said.”
She looked back at me, and, with a slight raise of brow and grin, said, “I like to go to bed with women, Larry…nice meeting you.
Damn, it ended where it started!
Flash Fiction by Billy Ray Chitwood – January 21, 2019
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