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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pretty Brown Eyes by Rekha Ambardar

Through the glass of the waiting area Nick Burns watched the agile orange-clad staff of the Jiffy Car Wash pamper his new silver Subaru. One aisle over, another crew were fussing over a small beige sedan, probably belonging to the young woman sitting a short distance from him, reading a magazine.

She looked up from her magazine.

“Is that your car?” Nick asked.


“Nice model.”

“Thank you. Just hope they get done soon, then I can go buy lunch.”

“Is your office close by?”

“Downtown. The office equipment store.”

“That’s close to where I am. At the insurance agency.”

Just then a fat man barreled in between them and picked up a magazine and stood thumbing through it, forcing Nick to can the conversation for the moment.

When the man finally moved, Nick looked for the young woman, but she had vanished.

His car was ready too, so he got up and went to pay for the car wash.

After lunch, when Nick wanted to fax some documents to a client, he realized that their office fax machine was on the blink. They needed a new machine, and fast.

He went next door to the office equipment store. The girl at the front desk looked up. “May I help you?”

“I’d like to talk to one of your employees about purchasing a fax machine.”

“I’ll see if someone’s available.”

“Actually, I just met one of your co-workers, a young lady with big brown eyes.” Pretty brown eyes. He flushed. How lame it sounded.

An amused look crossed the girl’s face. “That would be Cindy. I’ll get her.”

Moments later, Cindy appeared.

“It’s you,” she said.

“We didn’t get properly introduced. I’m Nick Wade. Our office needs a new fax machine and I came right over, hoping you might be able to recommend one.”

“I’d be glad to,” she said. “By the way, I’m Cindy Torrence.”

“Nice to meet you,” Nick said. “We’re short-staffed today. Our administrative assistant is off, and this purchase can’t be postponed.”

Cindy showed him the models they had in stock, and helped him choose one. Then she wrote up an invoice.

“How did you know my name to ask for me?” she said.

“I didn’t. I just asked for the lady with the big brown eyes,” Nick said. “Sorry if I made it sound corny.”

“It’s flattering actually.” Cindy handed him the invoice. “Do you want the machine delivered?”

“No, I’ll take it.”

Back at the office Nick set up the fax machine and then got to work. No more excuses for seeing Cindy. This was it.

Three days later, he spotted Cindy coming out to their common employees’ parking lot at the back of the building. She saw him too, waved, and walked over.

“I’ve been meaning to call you,” she said. “My younger brother’s getting a new car and I promised to help him with insurance. Do you carry auto insurance?”

“Sure do.”

“Could you talk to him about his options?”

“You bet.”

“Thanks. I’ll send him right over tomorrow.”

The next day, Nick helped Cindy’s brother, Casey, choose the right auto insurance for his money and needs. He went away happy.

Cindy called to thank him. “You saved me a lot of time looking for the right policy for Casey.”

“I remember when I got my first car and insurance was my biggest expense,” Nick said. “I worked two jobs to keep my car, but it was worth it.”

“Casey’s close to working two and a half jobs and he doesn’t seem to mind,” Cindy said, laughing. “He knows responsibility all right.”

“Now that we’ve got a lot of business out of the way, how about dinner tomorrow?” Nick said. It was the easiest thing to say. He felt as if he’d known Cindy for a very long time, as if they were old friends.

“I’d love that, but I have a meeting I promised to go to,” Cindy said. “I’d like a raincheck on that.”

“You got it.”

“I have an idea,” Cindy said. “If you don’t already have plans, how about lunch al fresco today?”

“Lunch al what?”

“Al fresco. Outdoors,” Cindy explained with a chuckle. “Get hot dogs and a drink and sit outside on a park bench where we can talk.”

“That’s even better,” Nick said. “Do you realize all our conversation has been about work? Not that I’m complaining.”

“Me neither. It’s been the nicest work-related conversation I’ve ever had.”

It was time to take it to the next level, and he was looking forward to that. And so, obviously, was Cindy. Nick grinned to himself as he hung up.

About the Author: Rekha Ambardar has published over eighty short stories, articles, and essays in print and electronic magazines, including The Writer’s Journal, ByLine, The Indian Express, Writing, Her mysteries have been published in Futures, Nefarious, The Gumshoe Review, Orchard Mystery Press, Shots in the Dark and other anthologies. She is a regular contributor to The World and I Online, a subsidiary of The Washington Times, and has published articles on topics of current interest and concern.