He flipped though the listings and was beginning to think he’d have to wait when he came across one he had met nearly a year ago and had forgotten. Melody. Such a pretty name. He licked his lips, emptied his mind and punched in the number.
“Hello Melody. You’ve probably forgotten me by now. It’s Harold. We met awhile back at a party at – “
“Oh hi Harold. I though you had decided not to call. What changed your mind?”
“I’ve been really busy Melody. I really did mean to call sooner. How’s life treating you?”
“Okay I guess. It’s good to hear your voice.”
Swell, he thought. I’m still in with a chance.
“It’s good to hear yours too. I’d love to catch up. Got any plans for Saturday?”
When he hung up he was wearing a self-satisfied grin. This calls for a visit to the collection, he decided. He headed for the bookcase and got out his key and kissed it. When he was done he sat back down, waves of emotion overwhelming him.
His mind raced back in time to the beginning. He could see her face in front of him as though she were right there in the room. He tried to push it all away but now it wouldn’t go. He could hear the words in his ears. The laughter. The taunts. He picked up a wine glass and hurled it across the room. The loud crash broke the spell and he sat forward with his face in his hands. He was sobbing. The shame was almost more than he could bear.
He got another glass and poured himself some wine. Then another and another. At last he felt drowsy enough to sleep and fell into a deep but disturbed slumber. The next morning he went off to work feeling a bit the worse for wear.
Friday after work he went out and bought some new clothes. He needed to make a fresh start. He chose a pale grey cashmere sweater and some charcoal wool gabardine slacks. Saturday afternoon he laid out what he intended to wear to dinner and shined his shoes. His rituals not only soothed him, they bolstered his confidence.
He arrived at her apartment at 7:30 and was about to knock when the door opened.
“Hi Melody, it’s – “
The words caught in his throat. He stared at her dumbstruck, then caught himself and regained his composure.
“so good to see you again.”
“Good to see you too Harold. You look great.”
He walked past her and squeezed his eyes shut forcing himself to maintain control. How could he have forgotten what she looked like? This must be why he hadn’t called her after their first meeting. The resemblance to Karen was uncanny.
He turned to face her again and smiled.
“I’ve made a reservation at a great Italian place out on Melrose. I think you’ll like it.”
“Sounds great. Do we have time for a glass of wine first?”
They drank and conversed and as the minutes passed he kept hoping he could overcome his shock, but he was having trouble looking her in the eye. He was used to being in control and this surprise development was unnerving.
They went to dinner and though he put on his best game face and made the right moves he didn’t feel in control of the situation. When he dropped her off that evening he wanted to make a clean getaway but she kept saying what a great time she’d had and he found himself asking to see her again. She agreed and that was that.
Arriving at home he was still distracted. For the first time in longer than he could remember he didn’t know what to do.
Tommorow, Part 7