Have we met before?

 “Have we met before?”

I turned to face my inquisitor. She was, quite frankly, gorgeous. Even sitting on the bar stool I could tell she was tall. She wore a smart black business suit, set off by blood- red shoes that you felt she could click together and whisk herself back to Kansas. Her face was beautifully made up. Here was a woman that took pride in her appearance, and with every justification.

She smiled, then clapped her hand to her mouth.

“Oh my, doesn’t that sound like the cheesiest pick-up line? I’m sorry, but it’s just your face is familiar. I’m sure we’ve met.”

“No,” I said. “Trust me on this. If we had met, I would have remembered.”

She laughed, an easy, unforced action. “Oh, I see I don’t have the monopoly on cheesy pick-up lines.”

“Cheesy? That was one of my best.”

“Your best? Really? Oh dear.”

“Frank,” I said, holding out my hand.

“Bobbi,” she replied, shaking my hand. It was a confident grip, as though she had worked her career amongst men who thought you could tell everything about a person by their handshake.

“So, Bobbi, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?”

She laughed again. It was the most natural and wonderful sound in the world. Men would go to war over such a laugh.

“You know, I think you were right. Your other cheesy pick-up line was your best,” she said. “I’m here for the fashion show.”

“You’re a model?”

“Ha! Okay, that was quite cute. I hereby promote that cheesy pick-up line to your best. I’d work on that if I were you.”

“No, really.”

“Really? I’m a marketing events organiser. Try not to look bored.”

“No, no. Organising events for marketing. Really? Wow, that’s, that’s something.”

“You really have to work harder on faking sincerity, you know? Chicks go for that.”

“You’ve had my best three pick-up lines. Now you want sincerity? What else? Blood?”

She took a sip from her drink.

“Okay, I organise shows, exhibitions, parties, promotions, all the hype that distracts a customer while a business lifts money out of his wallet. I’m organising a couple of soirees for the fashion fascists and their hangers-on. But I’ve got a couple of hours to kill. No-one would dream of going to a party before ten, Darling. There, so now you know all there is to know about my work.”

“Cool. So, you could introduce me to some models later?”

She laughed again, and my heart soared. “Oh, trust me. A blow-up doll would be more rewarding than one of those air-heads.”

“Yes, but even blow-up dolls get a bit monotonous after a while.”

“Ha! You’re really selling yourself, you know? Three cheesy pick-up lines and a blow-up doll. Wow, life in the fast lane. So tell me, Frank, of all the bars in all the world, what brought you to this one?”

“Work. I’m a travelling salesman. Yes, I am that cliched.”

“What do you travel in?”

“Sports gear.”

“Isn’t that a bit draughty in the winter?”

“We do skiwear as well. Do you want a brochure?”

“Let me guess. They’re in your room?”

“No, in my car. Oh, damn. Leaving them in my room would have been so much better. I’ll have to remember that next time I chat up a beautiful marketing events organiser.”

“You know what I heard there? ‘Blah blah blah beautiful blah blah blah.’ Good job. You’re getting better at this. Just try not to mention other women, fashion models and blow-up dolls.”

“Wait, slow down. I’ll make notes.”

She laughed again. Is there a more erotic sound than a beautiful woman laughing at your jokes?

“So, going back to cheesy pick-up lines, where do I know you from?” she said.

I shrugged. “Seriously? If we’ve met before I shall go shoot myself for not getting to know you then. I don’t get to attend many soirees, so it’s unlikely we met at work. Where do you live?”

“Boston.”

“Well, I’ve never been there, so I think you must be confusing me with some other incredibly handsome athlete.”

“Oh, so you play sports as well as sell sports gear? Which ones?”

“A bit of everything. Back in university, though, it was basketball. I played for my college.”

“Really? Which one?”

“King’s College.”

She slammed her hand down on the bar, causing me to jump.

“That’s where I know you from! You were on the college basketball team.”

“You were at King’s?”

“I was two years below you. I saw you play. Wait wait wait. Frank, Frank. Something Italian, right? Frank Vermicelli?”

“Frank Pucini. Vermicelli is a pasta.”

“Frank Pucini, right. Hey, we even shared the same bus to some of the away games.”

“No way. How could I not recognise you? You were one of the cheerleaders?”

Something was wrong. I could tell from the sudden change in her face. What had I said? Joking about blow-up dolls and other women was okay, but suggesting she might have been a cheerleader wasn’t?

“No,” she said, smiling, but not with her eyes. “I guess I looked a little different then.”

A weight problem? Acne? The world’s worst hairstyle? Whatever it was, it was enough to stop her being a cheerleader back then.

“Okay. Well, however you looked then, it couldn’t possibly be better than how you look now. So how come you were on the coach?”

“I was on the second team. Didn’t make the first team until after you’d left, but I was in the reserves for a couple of your games.”

My mind hit a brick wall. I was cognisant of all the facts and what they meant, but my brain refused to make that final leap.

“Reserves?” I said, as though maybe I’d misheard. Sure, ‘I was in the reserves’ sounds a lot like ‘I used to go to support my brother who was in the reserves.’

“Yeah,” she said, all trace of the repartee we’d been enjoying gone from her voice.

“So you were – ?”

“Back then, I was just plain Bob. No reason for you to recognise me, I guess.”

I stared at her, trying to remove the make-up and shorten the hair. She raised an eyebrow.

“Sorry,” I said. “I was just trying to recall you. I guess the first team were a bit tight. I don’t remember a Bob in the reserves, but then we were elitist pricks back then. We didn’t mix much with you guys. Oh, wait. Did you play small forward?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, I sort of remember. Your name, anyway. Your face, well, sorry, but I can’t see you looking anything but -.” I waved my hand in her general direction. My brain had short-circuited. My memory was accepting ‘guy’ but my eyes were screaming ‘girl’. “Yeah, I remember your name being mentioned as possible first team material. So you made it, after I left.”

“Yes.” She picked up her glass and drained it. “Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, um, well, I suppose I’d better check out the party preparations, count the vol-aux-vents again.”

She stood up. My mind was still shouting ‘guy’ at me, but the way she looked as she smoothed her dress over her rump…. She treated me to another sad smile.

“Nice to have met you again, Frank.”

“Yeah, you too.”

She turned and made her way towards the door. Every man’s eyes followed her.

“Hey, Bobbi,” I called, on impulse.

She turned, eyebrows raised in enquiry.

“So, are you going to introduce me to some models later?”

She laughed again, that delicious, easy laugh. Then she jerked her head in an invitation to follow her, and I didn’t care anymore.

   


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About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

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