Paula’s phone rang for quite a while, but it didn’t worry me. Being a beautiful blonde from Finland, ringing phones didn’t strike her as a justifiable reason to hurry, and I doubt many callers disconnected before she answered.
I’d always felt a powerful attraction for her. Well, I mean — duh. I’m even pretty sure it might be reciprocated, but somehow she’s never given me the opportunity to make a move.
Our first meeting had occurred about six months earlier, when she came to my apartment door to canvas for a local political candidate. She stood in the hallway for a few minutes while I told her I had no interest in politics. She said that was all right, we could talk about other things and proceeded to invite herself in. We talked for about an hour, and when she left, she stopped to write her phone number on a pad, because she said that as a newcomer, she’d enjoy having someone show her around the city.
Two days later I called to see if I could drop by that afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn’t specify a particular time, and when I arrived she came to the door fresh out of the shower wearing nothing but a towel.
The same thing happened a few days later, when again I’d failed to tell her exactly when I’d be arriving.
Wanting to give her fair warning for my third visit, I called to let her know I’d be over within the hour, but Paula seemed to be one of those people who simply can’t manage her time, and once again I was greeted at the door by this blonde in a bath towel. I guess she could tell I felt bad about it because she tried to allay my discomfort by leading me over to a large, stuffed chair in the living room where she proceeded to sit on my lap while we talked. About ten minutes later she decided she really should finish getting ready. Unwilling to interrupt our conversation, she invited me into the bedroom while she dressed.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “Dude! She was naked except for a bath towel!” Sure, sure, but you don’t understand.
As I said, Paula is Finnish, and the Finns are very casual when it comes to their bodies. She’d told me so herself the first time we met — in fact, she kind of kept stressing it. She therefore probably treated nudity and near nudity as naturally as North American women would treat being dressed. So making an overt pass at her when, for instance, she was talking to me in her bedroom while wearing nothing but panties (pale pink) and stretching to reach something in the top shelf of her closet (where she seemed to keep an inordinate amount of stuff) would make me look like some kind of pervert, unable to handle a bit of female flesh without immediately thinking of sex. So I’ve been biding my time until I could find a more opportune moment.
Months had passed, but that moment still hadn’t presented itself.
Her phone abruptly stopped ringing. “Hello, Robert,” she said. “You calling about our date this morning?”
“Yes,” I said, wondering if she was wearing a towel. “We should to be set up by ten, just to be safe. Shall I drop by and pick up you and your bike, or would you rather ride it over to my office?” Like me, Paula lives only a short distance from the Reid Anderson Building.
“Oh, why don’t you come by? We could have a coffee before we leave.”
“Um,” I hesitated. This sting operation I had planned for Mr. Robinson depended upon some very close timing, and the last thing I wanted was to get to her apartment and find she was just coming out of the shower. I had discovered a curious pattern to her behaviour, however. If I went up to her apartment, she was almost invariably in the early stages of getting dressed, but if we arranged to meet outside, she was punctual and fully clothed. “How about if I ring your buzzer and you come down? We’re on a bit of a tight schedule here.”
“All right,” she said, although I could hear a pout in her voice. “But you won’t be able to check out that dress I’ll be wearing to see if it’s appropriate.”
We’d already gone over her wardrobe for this job because, like the timing, a lot was riding on it. I wanted her looking pretty and vulnerable. Her suggestion of tight shorts and a form-fitting t-shirt was certainly pretty enough, but I’d vetoed it in favour of a light, patterned summer dress that brought out more of her vulnerability.
“The summer dress is fine,” I said.
“Yes, but I just bought another one that might work better,” she insisted. “I could model them both for you. If you came into the bedroom with me while I changed from one to the other it wouldn’t take more than a moment.”
“No. No, the one we decided on will do perfectly. I’ll be by in about half an hour.”
After a quick farewell to Kim I locked up the office and went down to my van around the corner. It was wonderfully nondescript — just another piece of street furniture. When needed, I even had magnetic signs I could attach to make it look like an electrical, computer or pest control van.
Of course, the best thing about the van was that it actually ran almost 100% of the time
On that day, for instance, it only took three tries before it finally rattled to life so I could drive the six blocks to Paula’s apartment building. To my relief she was already outside and looking absolutely gorgeous, especially since she just happened to be standing in a way that made the breeze mould the light fabric against the front of her body while flaring out the short skirt at the back.
I climbed out to open the back of the van and told her she looked beautiful, put the bike in the back of the van and began securing it so it wouldn’t slide around while I drove. This operation was hampered somewhat because she suddenly became curious how the fasteners worked and was pressed against me in the small space while I was trying to work the straps.
It was now 9:48 and I had to get to a residential area about 20 minutes away, so I made my way through the traffic as fast as possible. Meanwhile, Paula kept up a running conversation all on her own, telling me that the dress I’d picked out was perfect after all, and she’d decided not to wear anything underneath it because it made her body “feel all tingly.” The lack of under-apparel had been maddeningly evident when she was standing in the body-caressing breeze, but I didn’t say anything.
Damned Scandinavian women — they have no idea the effect they have on men.
As we approached Mr. Stanton’s house we passed the mailman a couple of blocks away. This was good. We had to have everything set up before he reached our target.
The plan itself was simple. After watching Mr. Stanton for a week or so, I knew he came to the door within five minutes of his mail delivery. It would have been nice if he’d had the decency to at least step outside without his crutches, but no — even in the semi-privacy of his own front porch he always had them tucked under his arms.
Today, however, I hoped to put him off guard. Just as he was picking up his mail, Paula would ride by on her bike and take a spill right in front of him. The man who could resist rushing to her aid simply hadn’t been born, and I was counting on Mr. Stanton to forget about his leg injury (that no doctor could confirm), throw aside his crutches and rush to the aid of the wounded beauty.
As I was getting her bike from the back of the van we saw the mail man come around the corner. Only a few minutes to go. The van was facing Mr. Stanton’s house, a very short distance down the street. From the driver’s seat I had a perfect view of his front porch and yard. Paula sat on her bike beside the van, invisible from the house, and we waited.
The mail man delivered a few envelopes and walked on.
Almost immediately the door opened, Mr. Stanton hobbled out and reached into the mail box. I banged on the side of the van to signal Paula.
Paula took off on her bike, called out a cheery “Hello!” to him, and took the spill like a pro. She landed with her already short skirt hiked far up the thigh facing him (and mostly away from my camera, damn it). Flinging her hair over her opposite shoulder she reached forward on the ground to grab her knee while uttering an almost musical cry of pain.
Mr. Stanton threw his crutches down and began to run toward her. As he did so, I took photos — three frames per shot, one shot every second.
How I longed for a cigar in my mouth at that moment. It would have been the perfect prop while I muttered, “I love it when a plan comes together.”
There are notes to this chapter, which can be found by hovering over the “Story Notes: No spoilers” tab at the top of the page.
Warning — Read the chapter first, otherwise the notes may be an inadvertent spoiler.
This is my fifth entry in the February writing challenge, “30 Minus 2 Days of Writing: III” (or 30M2DoW) issued by We Work for Cheese, the rules for which, such as they are, I am completely ignoring — except the attempt to post each day during the month.