Jessica walked down the street with long strides, kicking up the dry leaves with every step. Just a few minutes ago, she had left the office for the day and looked forward to meeting her sister Joyce at the new Aftermath Lounge & Bar for a relaxing drink. As she rounded the last corner onto High Street, she all but collided with a short, rotund man, barely keeping her balance.
„Sorry,“ she exclaimed.
„Watch where you‘re going, woman!“ shouted the man, red in the face, with an angry voice. Then he looked at her and did a classic double take. „Is that you, Jessica?“ he asked incredously. „Jessica Snyder! I almost didn‘t recognize you. It‘s Barney, Barney Blunt! I haven‘t seen you in ages! How do you do?“
Jessica had stopped in her tracks when he adressed her so familiarly. Barney Blunt? She couldn‘t place the name nor the face. Who was he?
„I‘m sorry, I don‘t recognize you, Mr. Blunt,“ she replied cautiosly.
„Ow, come on, Jessica! Don‘t you remember? I was always hanging out with Joyce, Mary, John and the others!“ Now he looked expectantly at her.
Suddenly she remembered a rather short and thickset boy, hanging around her sister‘s clique, somewhat younger than they and rather unprepossessing with pimples and stringy hair. He hadn‘t improved much, she thought.
„Ah, yes, now I remember. You were always hanging around Joyce and her friends when we were in highschool.“ That sounded rude, she noticed. „How are you?“ she added, and immediatly whished she hadn‘t. Even back then, she couldn‘t abide him.
He beamed. „Well, I say, I have done rather well lately. You know, flipping houses. There is really money in that, good money. I just bought another house, back there on Maple Way,“ he boasted. Maple Way was an expensive neighborhood only a few blocks from where they were standing.
“Uh, that’s nice. Sorry, I have to go. Nice seeing you!” she tried to end the conversation and get away from him. Suddenly he grabbed her arm. She shrank back and he let go immediately.
“Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you. But I want to invite you for dinner, like, to celebrate… how about tomorrow evening, at Carlisle’s” he stated pompously, naming the most expensive restaurant in town.
Shaking her head, Jessica took a step sideways, trying to pass by him. “No, thank you. I have other plans,” she replied. “Good bye!”
“Wait! What about another day? Jessica, please!” Now he sounded whiny.
“Sorry, no. Like I said, I have other plans,” she repeated. She really did not want to go out with him, but he insisted again. Now his voice had an unpleasant low, nasal tone and his eyes had a cold glint.
“Come on. It’s only dinner. Or are you so high and mighty nowadays that you snub an old friend like this?” Although he hadn’t raised his voice, he sounded downright menacing.
Jessica had gotten angrier with each word. She gritted her teeth. Who did he think he was? Controlling her irritation, she took a deep breath.
“Barney, I’m not going out with you. Please leave me alone. Bye.” She turned and started to walk away.
“Didn’t change at all, like back then. Arrogant bitch. Some day, you will regret this, I swear,” he muttered angrily as he stared after her.
At first, she went by the Aftermath Lounge & Bar, looking back over her shoulder. When she couldn‘t see him any longer, she turned and slipped through the door.
Alex S., Nov. 2nd, 2017