Take A Seat

Jack darts after the passing tram, his large fisherman’s coat flailing wildly behind him. The oval, wooden toggles rattle musically. As the metal cage reaches the first hill, Jack speeds up, desperate to catch it in time before it begins its downward descent. The blustery sea breeze whips against his face, making him feel alive. The apprehension in his gut to make it in time is outweighed by the rush of adrenaline pumping in his body. Jack loves the chase. The strong beats of his racing heart, the heavy crunch of his workman boots. The tram’s nose tips forward and Jack forces himself on, ignoring the screams of protest from his aching thighs. A group of dockers stand huddled on the rear balcony of the tram, beckoning him on with energetic hand gestures. The tram slides down the hill, the dockers and the rear balcony gradually dipping out of sight. Jack grits his teeth and makes one final push, diving from the hill’s top, arms outstretched. He slams up against the back panel of the balcony and holds on for dear life, his heavy boots scraping along the ground beneath him. The dockers stare at him in disbelief for a moment before rushing forwards to assist him. With tender ribs and stinging hands, Jack stumbles inside the tram, receiving several hearty slaps on his back from the dockers.

Charmaine jabs the typewriter keys vigorously, her eyebrows furrowed in a deep frown. A loud foghorn rattles the cheap window frame and she glances outside, as a monstrosity of a ship sails past. Deep inside, their lies a deep desire for the window to explode into a thousand pieces and cover the waiting room floor with shattered glass. To her dismay the window remains intact and so Charmaine returns her attention to the typewriter. Usually, she would have no trouble focusing on her duties but today for some unknown reason, she is extremely distracted and irritable. Even the sound of her fingers tapping nosily on the keys grates on Charmaine’s ears. Losing interest in the paper in front of her, Charmaine glances around and puffs out her cheeks. She is in the process of debating whether or not to sneak off and make herself a coffee, when the doors burst open and a tall, imposing man enters. He has a messy tangle of curly black hair, surrounding an extremely red face. His eyes are wild and intense, casting a scrutinous stare at the taken aback Charmaine.

‘Can I help you?’ Charmaine queries, pushing back her chair and getting to her feet.

The wild man ignores her and storms towards the frosted double doors, which lead into the copywriting room. Charmaine sidles in front of him, barring his access.

‘Move out of my way.’ The wild man roars.

‘If you need to speak to someone, I am more then happy to help you with your inquiry.’ Charmaine informs him with an even smile.

‘How dare you talk to me like that? Do you know who I am?’ The wild man growls, puffing out his chest under his fisherman’s coat.

‘I don’t give a damn who you are. Now take a seat or I will have to ask you to leave.’ Charmaine replies hotly.

The wild man shoots her the daggers. Charmaine remains on the spot, one hand adamantly placed on her hip.

‘Take a seat.’ She commands, her patience growing thin.

The wild man huffs loudly, overwhelming Charmaine with his whiskey-drenched breath. She wrinkles her nose in disgust. The two stare stubbornly at one another, both of them refusing to budge. Eventually, the wild man relents and laughs, shaking his head ever so slightly.

‘Fine, whatever.’

He moves over to one of the chairs and sits down heavily, slapping the armrests in frustration. Satisfied with putting the rude man in his place, Charmaine returns to her desk and pulls her chair up to the typewriter. The wild man taps his foot impatiently, his heavy boot echoing across the hollow, marble floor. Charmaine removes the half finished document before her and replaces it with a fresh new page.

‘First things first, what is your name?’

The wild man leans forward in his chair and raises his eyebrow in alarm.

‘You are joking?’

Charmaine regards him with a blank expression. The wild man sighs and sits back, scratching his beard irritably.

‘Jack London.’

Charmaine types the first two letters and then pauses.

‘Ah. Now I feel silly.’

‘I suppose you thought I was a crazed docker making a complaint?’ Jack remarks in a highly satirical manner.

‘One often gets that impression when a bearded, boot cladded stranger barges through the doors.’

Jack raises his eyebrows for a second time, only instead of outrage they betray curious intrigue.

‘Bit of a firecracker aren’t you?’

Charmaine’s lip curls into the slightest of smiles. Established author or not, she isn’t letting him off the hook that easily.

‘I assume you’re here in regards to your most recent novel?’ Charmaine inquires, changing the subject.

‘No, I came here to apply for a job as a junior copywriter.’ Jack answers sarcastically.

‘I will take that as a yes then.’ Charmaine continues, concealing a half grin.

Jack heaves himself out of the chair and curls his hands into tight fists.

‘Look I did not come here to be insulted and laughed at.’

‘No, you simply came here to stamp your feet like a stubborn toddler.’ Charmaine replies hotly.

Furious, Jack dashes forward and lashes out with his arm, sending the typewriter flying off the desk and crashing onto the marble floor. Charmaine delivers a harsh slap, stinging Jack’s right cheek.

‘Go ahead.’ She yells, as he grabs her roughly by the shoulders.

They stare wild-eyed at one another, both of them flushed and breathing heavily.

‘Forget it.’ Jack grumbles and loosens his hold.

Charmaine watches him storm angrily out of the doors, a stray hair dangling in front of her eye. She takes several deep breaths and shakes out her trembling hands. A little calmer, Charmaine goes to retrieve the felled typewriter. She is in the process of collecting the broken sections of the typewriter when the doors open behind her and heavy footsteps draw closer.

‘I’ll pay for the typewriter.’

Charmaine glances behind her at Jack, looking rather sheepish.

‘You’re damn straight you are.’

Jack crouches down next to her and helps replace the damaged typewriter on the desk. They stand back, glancing awkwardly at one another, a strained silence between them.

‘…so, you wanna get a cup of coffee?’ Jack eventually says in a surprisingly civil tone.

Charmaine stares at him in disbelief, unable to fathom the eccentric author before her.

‘Yeah, sure.’ She shrugs and grabs her coat.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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