Copyright© 2010 by Texrep
My week gradually eased as the paperwork mountain slowly melted away. I did work late most evenings, but by Thursday I had caught up sufficiently to be able to leave at a reasonable time. Aubrey had condescendingly thanked me for running that errand, and then informed me that I shouldn't have accepted coffee.
"My wife is too hospitable at times. You had plenty of work to do here. You should have come straight back." I wanted to point out that I was doing him a favour, and it was his selfishness that had me leave all this work in the first place. The bloated unctuous sod is a complete arsehole. He went off to practice his superior attitude elsewhere. Thankfully I got back to work.
I occupied a somewhat unenviable position in this business. I had no defined job description. Bob Sellick referred to me on occasion as his General Manager, at other times Production Manager, and even Administration Manager. Yet my contract of employment contained none of those terms. This was Bob's way. By not defining an employee's position, it meant that there could be no standard pay structure, or employee benefits. Despite this lack of structure he was generous to those who worked hard for him, and indeed I had received some very good bonuses over the years. He allowed me a company car on the rather tenuous excuse that I may have to visit customers or suppliers from time to time. He understood when I had to take time off to care for my father. Bob and my dad were old friends, and I suppose I got this job on the back of that friendship. However, whatever the reason then, I was here now because of the integrity and hard work I gave him.
So why did I let Aubrey treat me this way? Theoretically he had no authority over me, he was a self-employed agent. It was a habit of years. When I came to work at Sunrooms, Aubrey was already the number one Salesman, and I was the newbie. Being Aubrey he immediately made me aware of his importance to the company, and being the raw recruit I fell into line. No matter how I progressed, our relationship never changed, a situation unknowingly reinforced by Bob Sellick, who thought the sun, moon and stars shone out of Aubrey's fundamental orifice. I could cope, just, with this. But after meeting her, I wondered how the hell Aubrey managed to marry a woman like Eve! He was wealthy without doubt, but Eve did not appear to be a woman who would marry for money.
Then a strange thing happened. Eve phoned me at work. It would appear that after a lot of pressure Aubrey had booked two seats for the ballet at the Hippodrome in Birmingham. It was the Royal Ballet and they were doing 'The Nutcracker'. Now it seemed that Aubrey had second thoughts and was refusing to go.
"John, I know I am presuming on our acquaintance, but do you think you could escort me? I would love to see the ballet, and Aubrey says he won't mind." Of course I agreed. Eve asked if I could be at their house by six, the next Saturday, everything was arranged. I did wonder about Aubrey's attitude but the man himself cleared that up the next day when he came into my office. He was practising his 'we're all friends together' attitude.
"John, thank you for stepping into the breach this Saturday. I can't stand that pansy stuff, but my wife loves it, and obviously you like it as well. You don't have to drive in, I have organised a Limousine with driver. He will collect you from outside when the show is over as well." I noted his reference to that pansy stuff, and his relating me to it. Whatever, I was looking forward to an evening of ballet accompanied by a lovely lady.
Aubrey was nowhere to be seen when I arrived at 'Sycamores'. As it was the ballet I was suited, my best suit, Tie and polished black shoes. I parked in front of the double garage, and rang the doorbell. Eve opened the door and I was again taken aback by her appearance. Hair and make-up were immaculate, and her dress appeared to be worth more than my monthly salary, although to be honest I wasn't too knowledgeable about Ladies couture. It was black of course, and fitted her slim figure perfectly. There were diamonds in her ears, and diamonds hung around her neck in a gold necklace that again hung to a point just between her breasts. I did know a little about Gems. The jewellery was probably worth more than my annual salary. She smiled genuinely in welcome.
"It's so nice to see you, John and looking so handsome. Thank you for helping me tonight. Aubrey has decided to go off to London for some Fenestra conference." Fenestra was the trade organisation for the double glazing industry in the UK. I smiled at her, how could anyone not smile when presented with this vision of womanhood?
"I am happy to be able to step in, Eve. From what I have heard it is a good production, and please allow me to say you look so stunning you may well attract more attention than the performers." A look of pleasure suffused Eve's face.
"Oh I do allow compliments John, rarity gives them an added pleasure." Just at that moment the Limousine arrived. It was a Mercedes 'S' class! The driver opened the door, and Eve, pausing only to wrap a white Pashmina, a real Pashmina, shawl round her shoulders got in the back of the car with an ease born of practice. I followed her.
The production was good, and I probably would have enjoyed it anyway but it was enhanced by this beautiful woman sitting at my side. We were sitting at the front of the stalls, the best seats in the house, thanks to Aubrey. My usual place was towards the rear of the circle, the price plan was better there for my budget. The driver and limousine was waiting for us right outside the front doors, ignoring the black cab drivers who felt they had been ousted from their rightful place. Eve didn't seem at all surprised at this; it was obviously something she was used to. We hadn't talked too much in the theatre, but once in the car she bubbled with the excitement of it all. The music, the dancing and the occasion had all melded together to provide an enchanting evening. We arrived back at her house.
"Will you come in for coffee or a drink, John?" I was a little uncertain. But deciding that as I was doing Aubrey a favour, escorting Eve was a favour? It would not be inappropriate to go in for a coffee.
"A coffee would be good, thank you Eve." I left just after eleven-thirty with a chaste peck on the cheek from Eve.
On Monday I sat at my desk and leafed through the Fenestra monthly journal. Funnily there was no mention of a seminar that weekend. I shrugged my shoulders and put it aside. Eve may have misheard. Life returned to its usual humdrum, of paperwork, problems, and Aubrey's put-downs. The Ballet had been enjoyable, but in my mind I understood that it was a one-off. A fleeting glimpse of the good life with a beautiful woman at your side. My work carried on as usual, the highlights being occasional trips to Concerts. I went to the Symphony Hall one evening. It was a programme of John Barry's music. Some classical bigots maintain that music written for the movies cannot be described as proper Classical music. I differ. Just listen to his haunting, evocative themes for 'Dances with Wolves' or 'Midnight Cowboy' and you will change your mind. Music is only classical because of its timeless appeal, Barry's music has that in spades. As I sat there allowing the music to transport me, a thought crept insidiously into my head. Eve Chatsworth would have loved this!
Three months later Eve phoned again.
"John, Aubrey has another sales seminar next weekend. I just wondered if there was a concert happening that Saturday, and if so would you be prepared to escort me once more. It would be my treat of course." Under normal circumstances I would have jumped at the opportunity. Normal would mean that Eve was not married to anyone let alone Aubrey. Much as her company, in a platonic sense, had been delightful, I could not see Aubrey viewing a second outing with quite the same equanimity.