Last week, I gave you all the freedom to determine a bit of who David is, as you would be meeting him in today’s installment. Your assignment was to give me three adjectives. Marcy Kennedy’s choice of patronizing, allergic, and funny got a “I second that”, so I went with her suggestion. Now, whether or not David is intentionally funny or not remains to be seen.
Also, sorry that this is going up a bit late in the day. I managed to do something to my lower back that makes sitting, standing, walking, and laying flat near excruciating. Basically, I have to spend my time laying on my side or sitting very slouched on the couch. My iPad keeps me connected, but I have a creative block when it comes to typing on that screen, so I had to whip this story up this morning, when the back was feeling slightly less inflamed.
I’m off to find an ice pack. Enjoy.
“Ugh, I can’t wait for this winter to be over with. David is parking the car. You know how he is about valets.” Meera grabbed her chair, tossing her coat over the back and removing the batik scarf fashionably protecting her hair. “Good to see you again, Eli.”
“Pleasure to see you as well.”
“I love the outfit. New?” I was eyeing the deep red blouse she was wearing. Long and gauzy, cinched with a tiny bronze belt to match the hardware on her favorite boots.
“Not really. I cleaned one of the closets yesterday and found a couple of things I forgot about. You are welcome to borrow it anytime.” Meera turned her gaze to Eli, giving him a wide smile. “Kate looks amazing in red.”
“Whatever,” I shrugged. Maybe red was a good color for me, but I couldn’t pull off outfits the way Meera did. Men fell all over themselves when she was around. Perfectly caramel skin, emerald eyes, thick chestnut hair; she was exotic and elegant and everything I was not.
Eli nodded politely. “I’m sure she does.”
“So,” Meera continued, “I mentioned to Kate that David historically has ignored calls from headhunters. So, he thinks this dinner is just dinner with ‘Kate and her new friend’. I figure the whole ‘what do you do?’ conversations will just happen organically and we can see how things go from there. No hard sell, got it?”
Eli gave a slight smile at Meera’s order. “Of course.”
I watched the front door of the restaurant swing wide. It was David, his silver hair serving as a beacon announcing his presence. He wasn’t much older than Meera, but his prematurely gray hair gave him a heir of authority that served him well. “Here he comes.”
Meera and Eli stood and I followed suit.
“Sorry about that. I had to park a block up from here.” He leaned in next to Meera for a quick kiss. The contrast of his fair features against Meera’s made them a striking couple. He gave me a nod, then extended his hand to Eli. “You must be Kate’s friend. Good to meet you.”
Eli gave his hand a firm shake. “Likewise.”
As we sat, I jumped in. “I’ve heard great things about this place, David. They are rumored to have the best vegan menu in the city.”
David took a quick look around at the restaurant. “Looks like you managed to find one that doesn’t look like some hippy commune either. Kudos, Kate.”
Meera elbowed him, laughing. “Sorry, Eli. You should know that David is nothing if not particular.”
“And is there anything wrong with that? A man should have standards. Just because I prefer to eat in a way that respects my body doesn’t mean I have to deal with waiters who haven’t showered in a week.”
“Bathing is a desirable quality.” Eli agreed, giving me a quick grin.
“This menu looks amazing,” Meera chimed in.
“Really?” I muttered, quickly adding. “Sorry.”
“Your poor taste buds have been tainted by years of eating poison, essentially. Did you know, Eli, that Kate used to actually eat the stuff they sold at that little ice rink? I get nausesous just thinking about it.”
“Well, excuse me if I don’t want to eat…” I looked down at the menu, “’smoky charred Kale’ for every meal. And seriously, why does this place have a burger section on the menu? That’s just false advertising.”
“You like my quinoa patties,” Meera reminded me.
“Yes, but I don’t call them burgers.”
David lifted his glass of water, as if he was going to wash away his disgust with my diet, and took a sip. He paused, glass still in hand and spit the water back in the glass.
“Where’s the waiter?” He looked around and waved someone over to the table.
“Sorry, are you ready to order?”
“No, no. This water, what is it?”
“It’s bottled water, sir.”
“No, what kind? Brand?”
The waiter paused. “Umm, Mountain Winds, I believe?”
David calmly set his glass down on the table. “Could you take these glasses away and bring us all some sparkling water?”
The waiter took the glasses away without a question. Smart waiter.
David looked up and shook his head, explaining. “I’m allergic to Mountain Winds.”
“To the water?” Eli asked.
“They use awful chemicals in their bottling plant. Leeches from the plastic into your water.”
“Oh? I hadn’t heard about that,” Eli replied, a genuinely interested look on his face. I figured his time wining and dining clients perfected the ability to look that way even in the face of pure boredom.
“You won’t find anything in any report. But I can tell. I get an instant migraine if I have more than a sip of the stuff.”
“Glad you caught it so quickly, then. Places should be clear about what product they are serving before they bring it to the table.”
“Exactly,” David agreed.
Meera took out a bottle of hand sanitizer and handed it to David as she spoke, “Well, I know what I am ordering. Should we get some wine for the table?”
“Yes,” I said, a little too emphatically.
“As long as they have a sulfite-free selection, of course,” David added.
Eli pushed back from the table suddenly and stood. “I am so sorry, but I need to take a call. It won’t be more than five minutes. Kate can order for me.”
“What do you want?”
“It all looks great,” he said with a smirk. “Surprise me.”
David spoke, without looking up from his menu. “I like him, Kate. Not at all who I pictured you with.”
“Uh, thanks, David.”
“I’m glad you like it. My Satan is delicious,” I said unconvincingly.
“Seitan, Kate,” David corrected.
“So, Eli, what do you do?” David asked in between forkfuls of green and brown.
“I’m a consultant.”
“That’s a bit vague.”
“I identify a company’s weaknesses and provide solutions. My work covers a variety of areas but, for the moment, I am looking for executive level talent for a large corporation.”
David paused, mid-chew. “Really? What company?”
“Ah, sorry, mate. Non-disclosure and all that. When a company is seeking out a new CEO, that’s the sort of thing that can cause chaos among shareholders. You understand.”
“Oh, of course.”
“What is it you do? I think Kate mentioned you were in the tech arena?”
“Yes. I’m the CFO of a software company. We have our hands in everything at the moment, from productivity solutions to video games.”
“That sounds exciting.”
David shrugged and cleared his throat. “The company is doing very well, so I can’t complain. We’re actually close to a couple of new game launches, which is why I am in town. Our games division is based here.”
“Kate’s played some of their games,” Meera added.
“Oh?” Eli looked over, taking a sip of his sparkling water. “I didn’t know you were a gamer, Kate.”
“I wouldn’t call myself that.”
More like, that girl who didn’t leave the house for a week post-breakup because shooting things in an imaginary world seemed like a much better idea.
“Well, I love a good game,” Eli continued.
“You should come by.” David cleared his throat again, rubbing his jaw just below the ear. “I can give you a tour of the operation. I’ll have my assistant call yours and set something up.”
David cleared his throat again, this time rubbing the area below his ear more aggressively. He looked down at his plate and leaned away from it. “Is that a caper?”
Meera looked over, moving the food on his plate around with a fork. “Oh dear.”
“Did I not tell them specifically, ‘no capers’?”
Meera started sifting through her oversized bag. “David, I don’t have anything with me.”
Eli leaned forward. “Is everything okay?”
Meera sighed. “David is allergic to capers.”
I sat back, used to David’s varied reactions to, well, everything. Eli showed more concern. “Do we need to get you to the hospital?”
Meera and David were putting their coats on, David spoke between throat clearing sounds. “No, I just need my medication, which it would appear is back at Meera’s.”
David opened his wallet and Eli put his hand out. “I’ve got it. Go take care of yourself.”
“Thank you. We’ll have to do this again so I can reciprocate.”
Eli nodded. “No worries. Go. Get home.”
Meera mouthed sorry as she ushered David towards the door, grunting and coughing along the way.
“That went well,” Eli smiled.
“Well, I not only have time to chat with him at his place of business, we have tentative dinner plans again.”
“I guess you’re right. That worked out perfectly. You should thank the kitchen for the capers.”
“Amazing how things can fall into place.” Eli grinned as he opened his wallet and threw a handful of bills on the table. “And now, let’s go get a burger.”
Next week, which character would you like to see again? Kate will obviously be there, but who would you like me to guarantee will be a part of the installment?
I’ll also be trying to do another character interview (fingers crossed the back is better), so go ahead and get your votes in.