Harwood wished he could say every day of his retirement was an adventure. Truth was, as autumn slowly rolled in, every day ended up being pretty much the same, the wildest thing that happened was Harwood’s washing machine breaking down forcing him to invite Mr. Plumber over again.
Harwood wished he could embrace the monotony, find peace in it, make the best of it. He failed miserably.
Defeated by the bleak weather and the confines of his own home Harwood decided to head to town once again. He armed himself with his guitar and ended up in the warmest, and driest place in Twinbrook, the Red Rendezvous of course.
There was always music at the town’s most popular hangout but tonight Harwood turned off the stereo blasting the same playlist of decade old pop hits it did every night. He stopped right next to it, dropped his guitar case on the floor and started playing. He closed his eyes like he always did, for those first few riffs. He needed the music to come to him, to start flowing through his veins.
By the time he had opened his eyes a crowd had gathered to watch him perform. He didn’t focus too much on his viewers, it was supposed to be about him and his music but he didn’t fail to notice a young woman standing there, one he had not noticed before. She had long blond hair and once their eyes met she smiled, Harwood smiled back at her. She was attractive enough for him to wish to know her name but he couldn’t stop, not when there were still songs to be played.
And so he played. A lot of people came forward and threw money in the guitar case in front of him. The blonde came to him twice, both time as he was playing a love song. Harwood still didn’t stop. He couldn’t. The music was in him, flowing through his veins, giving him life and energy… Another man came to the blond woman and started flirting with her. Harwood still had not stopped.
“Play something darker guitar boy.” A strong, authoritative voice yelled from somewhere in the corner. The owner was a silver haired woman with sunglasses that covered most of her face but there was something in her voice that got Harwood to switch the tune he was playing.
Eventually he stopped and counted over a hundred simoleans in his case and he was high on the music, and excitement. He bought two drinks, he chose the one named “Winning streak” and pushed his way through the crowd to reach the blond woman that had watched him earlier.
“A drink for my biggest fan.” He said handing the woman a glass. She giggled.
“Oh my, thank you so much guitar man.” Harwood laughed.
“It is actually Harwood. Harwood Clay.”
“Well Harwood, I am Rosalie Galo.” She said smiling. Harwood smiled back. His mirth was not long lasting though. The woman giggled way too much for his taste and was utterly incapable for any intelligent conversation so Harwood abandoned his efforts wishing instead he had bought a drink for the dangerous looking admirer from the corner.
But Harwood wasn’t dismayed. He kept coming to Red Rendezvous and playing there and so he he met a lot of people, he met Gwayne, a freelance writer for the local paper, a fishing enthusiast and a mother of two, he met Anna Lisa Riddle, the old lady who was looking at him funny his first night here. She explained she knew everyone in Twinbrook and he was an enigma to her. He met DeAndre Wolfe a local rock star who complimented his music but the most interesting of all was Dilly Pidgin.
He noticed her the same way as he did Rosalie, she was watching him play and he came up to her afterwards striking a conversation. Dilly however proved more interesting than Rosalie, not only because she was the daughter of Milly Pidgin whom Harwood had met at the very same place, his best friend Juan’s ex. Dilly spoke very eloquently and hadn’t giggled uncontrollably at all so Harwood decided to buy her a drink. He didn’t know it’s name but it was pinkish and looked romantic. He was on his way with their third round when his phone rang. It was pretty late already and Harwood couldn’t guess who could it be. He placed the drinks on the table and excused himself to Dilly when he saw the caller id and went numb.
It was as if she knew that he had not thought about her for days, that he was finally getting over her. He sighed. “Good evening Pattina. To what do I owe the pleasure?” He said trying to keep his voice calm, not an easy thing to do with his heart hammering in his chest and a thousand different emotions swirling through his whole body.
“Evening Harwood.” The woman on the other end spoke. “Am I interrupting something?” She asked and Harwood assumed she could hear the music blasting all around him, the stereo was back on again, and maybe she even recognized the songs from their faithful date. This was it. The decisive second. He could say yes and hang up and it would be over… He would be free to start over, find another way to fill the void in his heart, rid himself of feelings that tied him to this married woman. But then he would never know what she came to say that day Juan chased her off, or why she had called tonight, at this odd hour.
“No.” He said.
“Okay good. My husband is on call tonight. He won’t be home until the early afternoon tomorrow. I was hoping you would come over. To talk.” She added. Harwood’s mind reminded him once and again he should say no. She was married. But maybe it was the pinkish drinks in his system, maybe it was something else…
“Text me the address and I’ll find a cab.” He said instead. He excused himself to Dilly, telling her the first white lie that came to his mind and went outside to catch a cab.
It shouldn’t have surprised him, yet somehow it did when the driver took him to the small island at the other end of the bay, the one where all the rich people lived. The house he found himself in front was a big, two story house, with a garage, he saw Pattina’s SUV parked in the front but there was no sign of the fancy red car she drove to his house the other day, that one must have belonged to her husband.
He stood outside for a while looking at the impressive mansion, he should have guessed they were rich, Pattina’s husband was a doctor and she was a CEO of something, it said so on the business card she gave him the day they first met. Yet somehow the thought had never crossed his mind.
He paid the driver and was still standing admiring the house when he heard the door opening, instinct told him to hide and he crouched besides and impressive bush close to the front door. His instinct was right it turned out because the woman exiting the house was indeed not Pattina. She was around the same height though, thin with short brown hair sticking out of the hat she wore. She had an apron on and some kind of an uniform, from a restaurant probably. If Harwood had to guess this must have been Pattina’s young adult daughter she mentioned on their first, and only date.
The young woman yelled something Harwood didn’t quite catch to however it was outside then closed the door behind her and went to the car without even casting a glance in Harwood’s direction. When she got away Harwood got up slowly, feeling the strain in his legs from an uncomfortable position he was in.
He picked a few of the most beautiful flowers from the bush he used as a hiding place and headed to the door. Pattina however beat him to it.
“Harwood? It is you. I thought I heard someone lurking around.” She said leaving the house to meet him. “You didn’t run into Julianne didn’t you?” Harwood said nothing, he just presented her with the bouquet he hastily put together. “Oh wow. Harwood.” Pattina said taking the flowers from his hand.
“It wouldn’t be very gentleman-like if I had shown up empty handed.” Harwood said smiling. “You do have a beautiful garden.” He said casting a look around. He figured they had a gardener to take care of things like that but a compliment was a compliment.
“Oh, yes. That is Nick’s domain however.” Pattina said smiling slightly. “The rest of the house is mine.”
“I see.” Harwood said smiling. “It is very beautiful.” He added. “I was admiring it while waiting for your daughter to leave.”
“It ought to be.” She said chuckling softly. “What would people say if an architect lived in some crappy house.”
“Oh, you are an architect?” Harwood asked curiously. Pattina’s occupation never came up in their earlier conversations. She nodded her eyes still fixed on the house in front of them.
“Used to be.” She said with sad longing. “My husband convinced me to move towards the administration sector, that is where the money is he said. ” She turned to Harwood to smile but her eyes were still sad. “He was right of course, we have all this now, and I am a CEO of the same firm I started in.” She sighed. “I do miss it of course…” They were silent for a moment and Harwood wondered how he would feel if someone got him to stop sculpting, maybe he would grow to resent that person too, maybe he would seek to hurt them by inviting a stranger to their home while they were away…
“Lets go inside.” Pattina said softly breaking away his thoughts. “We don’t want the neighbors to see…” Harwood walked inside after her admiring the beautiful, richly decorated house.
“I am sorry, I would need to use the bathroom…” Harwood said softly, feeling the effect of all those drinks he had at the Red kicking in.
“Oh yes, sure, down those stairs…” Pattina gestured. Harwood went in that direction and found himself in a large kitchen, the largest one he had ever seen, it looked like it belonged to a restaurant, not a family home. It had four fridges, three stoves and a bunch of counters. It made Harwood wonder if the Knacks had help living here with them. Then he saw the bathroom doors and ran towards them to finally relieve his bladder.
Once he was done he headed back to find Pattina but she was not on the ground floor so he headed up the stairs once more. Climbing upstairs he saw that one of the doors were open and there was light coming out of it so that was where he went. He pushed open the door and saw a fireplace surrounded by two bookshelves, two comfortable looking chairs, and then there was Pattina….
She was standing besides a gloriously looking king sized bed. She had her long hair up in a bun again and she was wearing nothing but a short, lacy black nightgown. Harwood’s heart started beating faster at the sight of here there. She was so beautiful and so close… His voice deserted him and he walked straight towards her.
“I was wrong Harwood.” She said when he came close. Her voice was soft, and her eyes sparkled. Harwood felt like he was in a dream. “I was wrong to leave that night at your place… I was wrong to push you away… That is what I came to say that day at your house, before your friend chased me away.” She took a deep breath. “Please forgive me, and please stay with me here, tonight.” Her soft hand touched Harwod’s and he couldn’t tear his eyes from her. It hurt him to say the words he was about to say because what he really wanted was to stay… He wanted nothing more than to hold Pattina close, to kiss her again as he did that night at Juan’s place.
“Does that mean you are leaving Nick?”A surprised look passed over Pattina’s face.
“Nick is my husband… We have a daughter…. I can’t just leave Nick like that. ” She muttered out pulling her hand back. “But Nick is not here now, let’s not talk about Nick. Tonight is about the two of us.” She moved another step closer pressing her body against Harwood’s. He stepped back.
“You said you are not looking for an affair… That day after our date…. Well I think I am not either. I want something more… Something meaningful…” Pattina let out a sound that was definitely not approving and then she spoke in a cold voice.
“I see. Well you can show yourself out Harwood.” Harwood felt his whole body go cold. He still wasn’t sure if he did the right thing but the cold stare Pattina gave him told him everything, there was no going back… Whatever it was that existed between them was broken.