Friday, April 16, 2021

Caroline and Steven by Graham Crisp

 “Well, Steven, when you said let's go for a walk in the park, I didn’t think for one moment you were going to hit me with this,” Caroline sat back on the wooden bench and placed her hands in her lap. Steven leaned forward avoiding any eye contact. Caroline sighed, and fighting back the tears she carried on, “So how long has this been going on then? A month? Six months? A year?”  

Steven, still staring ahead, dipped his hand into his trouser pocket and pulled out a white envelope. Without turning round, he slid the envelope across to Caroline, whispering hoarsely, “Here read this, it’ll explain everything.”

Caroline turned the envelope over in her hands and then pulled out the contents. She unfolded an A4 sheet of paper. 

There was total silence between the couple as Caroline read the letter, halfway though, she halted for a brief second to wipe away a gathering tear in her left eye. The park was eerily quiet, with just a faint call from an unseen bird, high in the treetops calling out a shrill warning to its fellow creatures.

Caroline read the letter twice, and then she slipped it back into the envelope and returned it to Steven. She put her hand on Steven’s shoulder and gently squeezed it, Steven responded by touching her fingertips with his left hand.

Gathering herself, she asserted, “Well, Steven Wilmer, if you think I’m going to give up, you’ve got another think coming, ‘cos this isn’t over yet,” Caroline grabbed Steven’s shoulders and forced him to turn round and face her. 

They both momentarily stared at each other and then simultaneously collapsed into a deep hug.

After a short embrace, Caroline pulled away, and pursed her lips. Speaking forcibly, she announced, “Look I know someone that can help us both, so tomorrow afternoon make sure that you're available and we’ll go and see them, right?” Steven was about to reply, but Caroline firmly placed her index finger on his lips, “Not now, Steven, you’ll find out more tomorrow, oh and yes, smarten yourself up, you look a mess.”

                    ……………..

Caroline parked the car in the municipal car park next to a modern glass and steel office block. Steven jumped out and dropped three coins into the ticket machine, he shouted over to Caroline, “Will three hours be enough?” Caroline nodded, “Plenty of time,” she called back. 

The pair walked arm in arm into the reception both clutching matching black briefcases. The receptionist told them they needed to be on the tenth floor, second door on the right as they came out of the lift.

                    ……………..

“Ah, Mr and Mrs Wilmer how lovely to see you please do take a seat, I’m Joseph Adamson, I hope I can be of help to you both,” He looked across at Steven, “Mrs Wilmer did outline your issues to me on the ‘phone yesterday, but I thought it more prudent to wait until I have seen you both in person before I start work. I believe you have a letter, perhaps you could let me have sight of it please.”


Steven opened his briefcase and handed the white envelope over to Mr. Adamson.

He placed a pair of horn rimmed spectacles on his nose and began to read. While Mr. Adamson was devouring the contents of the envelope, Steven absentmindedly fiddled with his tie, Caroline, spotting this, glowered at Steven and mouthed a silent, “Stop it.” Steven stopped.

Mr. Adamson looked up, “Hmm, well, this is pretty straightforward, I’m afraid I can’t really do much here to salvage what you’ve got, but there is a way forward, so let’s get to business and we’ll talk through a few options.”

                    ……………..

Caroline strode purposefully into her office and quietly closed the door behind her. Her neat blue suit, perfectly styled hair and carefully applied makeup pronounced just one word – Businesswoman. As she placed her briefcase onto the floor next to her desk, she could hear a muffled voice outside, Caroline called out, “Come in, it’s OK, I’m just making myself a coffee”. 

The door opened and a figure dressed in brown overalls slid in.

“Oh it’s you well you’d better come in, and join me in a cup. We can have our first board meeting.” Caroline was frowning, the tips of her perfectly manicured eyebrows touched together in the base of her forehead. “But before we get into the nitty gritty of how we are going to make a success of this, I’m going to make one thing perfectly clear.” She paused and took a sip from her coffee mug, “I’m doing the finances of this company, you do the workshop stuff, that’s what you’re good at, right?”

She took another sip, “This business is going to be a winner, not like the last one, I’m telling you Steven, I’m not going to repeat that walk in the park we had a couple of months ago.”

Steven put down his mug of coffee and nodded serenely, “Yeah, your dead right, I did rather make a balls up of it last time.”

Caroline perched her bottom on the edge of the desk and looked up out of the window. She flicked an admiring glance at the brand new illuminated sign over the entrance – ‘C & S Wilmer – [Precision Engineers] Ltd.’

© Graham Crisp

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