Cast of characters

 

 

 

Fred

 

 

 

Mrs Won

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Time check: Twenty-three minutes to meeting time.

 

 

 

Fred made his way up to street level but shunned another cab; instead, briskly walking back to Riverside, a handful of blocks away.

 

 

 

 

The bright yet heatless sun beat down and his anxiety abated.

 

 

 

In fact, a rush of confidence vibrated up his spinal column and into the back of his brain. Tingle! He was overcome with a flash of optimism:

 

 

 

 

The meeting would go well, he felt. The light of reason would prevail.

 

 

 

* Will Fred’s optimism prove to be true? *

 

 

 

The building was dead quiet and void of activity when he got to the lobby.

 

 

 

“Where is everybody?” he asked the secretary. “Where are all the housewives?”

 

 

 

The secretary waved him off and looked for something on her desk.

 

 

 

Fred: “Is Mr Go still here?”

 

 

 

She waved him off again.

 

 

 

“Excuse me, I’ve got a meeting,” and he headed for the stairs.

 

 

 

“Oh, just a minute,” the secretary said urgently. “Somebody telephone for you and leave message. It was man – maybe … foreigner?”

 

 

 

She handed him a folded note. “I hope you can understand my writing. My English – very terrible.”

 

 

 

 

She giggled and held a cupped-hand in front of her mouth.

 

 

 

Hey Freddie! No meeting today. See you next time. Cheers, Damion Lee.

 

 

 

Fred did a double take of the last few words, then squinted and re-read the note in disbelief. Wait a minute – ‘Mr Lee’ – Drinky Poo – is Damion?

 

 

 

He stood there stunned and staring at the note, shaking his head and then chuckling. This is unbelievable. Damion Lee is charging me with assault?

 

 

 

I’m almost glad he didn’t have the audacity to show up today. Don’t know what I would have done. Who does that guy think he is?

 

 

 

Fred did an about face and headed back to the exit.

 

 

 

 

“Oh, thanks,” he called back to the secretary, holding the note up between his first two fingers. He then discretely crumpled it up and discarded it.

 

 

 

This was a load off his mind for now, but he was more bewildered and even angry than relieved.

 

 

 

 

Knowing now that Damion was the central character, the whole incident took on a different hue.

 

 

 

Ironically, it heightened the intrigue surrounding Damion. Who the hell was this guy? What was he all about?

 

 

 

Fred didn’t hear anything back about the meeting for the rest of the week and it naturally started to fade in his mind.

 

 

 

 

Whenever thoughts of it did occur, he just chuckled – at himself.

 

 

 

Damion had pushed his buttons and jerked his chain. Played him like a fiddle.

 

 

 

Fred was starting to get a read on Damion – the man created value for himself by building up drama, and then letting you down.

 

 

 

 

Yet he kept credibility because he retained the option of striking any time he chose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early the following Monday morning.

 

 

 

Fred wasn’t sure of the time. He’d tossed and turned all night and knocked over his little alarm clock.

 

 

 

 

It was face down on the floor near his head and he couldn’t see the display.

 

 

 

Still dark outside, a chilly breeze blew in through his slightly cracked window.

 

 

 

 

He could hear muffled, animated voices and figured out that Mrs Won and – surprisingly – Hot Sauce were scurrying around the apartment.

 

 

 

Hot Sauce hadn’t set foot here for weeks.

 

 

 

There was an extra buzz in the air; a nervous tension; urgency.

 

 

 

 

Fred was still groggy but figured it was about 6 a.m. so he got up and staggered to the kitchen where he usually sat down and had a cup of tea. Won was there.

 

 

 

“Ah, you got up very early today,” she said, not looking at him.

 

 

 

He looked up at the kitchen clock and saw it was only 4 a.m.

 

 

 

“Today,” she said, “I must go somewhere special with other housewives. Fred, can you join us?”

 

 

 

* Where are they going and why does she want him to join? *

 

 

 

*

 

 

 

Tomorrow: Fred is given the chance to mend his relationship with Mrs Won.