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Friday, June 27, 2008

In the Office

I listen patiently as B gives me the details about Ms F's predicament. As B finishes I give her a look, which she interprets correctly.

"Ms F, I told you I'd bring Mr Yildirim to listen to your problem, and I have. But you'll have to give us some time to get back to you."

"I understand," she says. "I expected as much. How soon can you let me know?"

B smiles at her reassuringly. "Soon. I'll call you at the latest tomorrow. Okay?"

Ms F nods, and standing up she extends her hand to me. "You have things to discuss so I'll just say it was a pleasure meeting you Ali."

I stand up, too, take her hand in mine and shake it gently. "The pleasure was all mine Ms F."

"Please you must remember to call me W. Whatever happens, I hope we'll remain friends - good friends."

"I hope so, too."

"Let me show you to the door, Ms F, and how about we get you to sign some of the necessary paperwork while you're here?"

"You don't have my file from before-?"

"Yes," B nods professionally as they walk out of the office together. "But for a new case we open a new file - this way..."

"You know that money isn't an option..."

As I sit back down, B returns hurriedly. I'll be back in one minute she motions to me, sticking out one finger and mouthing the letter "one".

Take your time, I know the procedure I motion back with a nod of my head. She nods thankfully, and closes the door behind her.

Alone, the breathy hum of the air conditioning seems to grow louder, and as I wait I take a look around B's office; for the first time taking complete notice of my surroundings.

I realise it's been quite some time since I was here last, and the renovations have made it seem like a different room than the one I fondly remember.

I had noticed the leather sofa and the size of the office when I had first walked in. She must have knocked down a wall and merged two rooms into one, I think to myself as I stand to take a walk around.

There is also a third window now that I don't remember from before, and the décor has become richer; decked out with mahogany furniture, including a large bookcase, and fitted with a plush dark turquoise carpet dotted here and there with embossed roses and tulips.

And on the wall above her desk, somewhat out of synch with the rest of the room, hangs a little framed saying I'd given her as a handmade gift when she had first opened her office.

A sudden surge of pride runs through me for an instant, not just at B's success and her taste, but for her unpretentiousness, too. The pride gives way to a little thorn of guilt; I should have come and seen my friend's new office earlier, should have shared the joy of her new office with her, I think, but I had been away.

I had upped and disappeared, gone to fight for causes of those more needy, leaving friends and family behind. They had waited patiently for my return, and had greeted me back with open hearts and arms, and had accepted my changes.

"I'm back," B calls out as she makes a swift entrance into her office.

I smile at her.

"Now what's that look for?"

"Something crooked in my smile?"

"You were thinking about something as I came in. What?"

"I was just saying to myself what a beautiful office you have now, and it's a pity I didn't see it earlier."

"Well you're here now. Do you remember-" she stretches out her arms.

"-Yes, I do!" I laugh, understanding. "You were a terrible pupil!"

"Oh sush, we had fun. Teaching me to tango-"

"All over my feet..."

"After office hours, closing up, lighting some scented candles, eating dinner on the floor, then music and left, right, one step, two step-"

"-Just how though I can't fathom now. Your office was so small then, we barely had enough room. I still have bruise marks from your old desk. It's a beautiful room now, but it was cosier then," I say, with some fondness in my voice I'm unable to conceal.

"A lot of moments to post in your blog, if it had been around then. They were good times, Ali."

"They sure were B. They sure were."

We look at each other.

"Hey!" B screams, breaking the momentary silence. "I've just had a great idea!"

"Yes?"

"How about we do that again for all times sake!?"

"I am not going to teach you the Tango."

"No. I mean let's have dinner here tonight, like the old times. I'll order in, I might even have some candles somewhere, like we used to do."

"It's a bit short notice."

"Oh, live a little! Remember, we used to do that too!"

I can't refuse the look in her eye. So many different looks, meaning so many things, but all coined with just a word.

"Make it Italian and you've got a deal. You still got a shower in the offices? I can grab my bag from the car, I've got a change of clothes."

She gives me an exasperated look. "I still can't believe you came in shorts!"

"How was I supposed to know? I'm not a mind reader. You just said come and come now. I was on the beach."

Nodding she picks up the phone to order dinner. "Thanks for coming by the way."

"You made it sound as though I had no choice. You know it's a very simple case, and it's a divorce case. I never took one of those even when I was still active. I don't know why you called me."

"She asked for you. If you were in Cyprus she wanted you, she wanted the best."

I laugh. "Oh please, I'm hardly that. Stop adding your own cute touches. Who recommended me?" B tells me, and I shake my head. "He should have known better."

B makes the order over the phone, listing all my favourite dishes without asking, and gives a time for delivery. After putting the receiver back on its cradle, she nods her head at me.

"Listen, you coming here and listening, being here today was more than enough, and I'm not going to tell you how much she's willing to pay, because I know that don't mean shit to you."

I look at her. To have someone love you is a beautiful thing, but I realise to have someone really know you means much more. "No, I'm not going to accept, and you know I wouldn't accept even out of favour to you if it's something I really don't want to do. Our friendship is not based on that. But I'll call her. I'll persuade her. I'll say that I can't do a better job than you, but I'll be an adviser or something and give her my number. At least I can help you, so she can call and bug me now and again, too."

She rushes over and gives me a hug. "You always find a third way to please everybody. That's what I really love about you!"

"No need to scream in my ear, though B. Y'know if I ever become deaf, you'll be partly responsible. You're always in my ear."

She looks at me, gives me a look I can only half read. "You're going to make this into a "Letters to B" post aren't you?"

"I hadn't thought of it," I answer truthfully. "But don't worry if I do, I won't give out any real names. I did read client confidentiality at law school, and know how to get around it. I'll call her Ms F or something."

"And what about her first name, though you say it so sweetly. How about W?"

"Lucky you didn't tell her about my blog as you boast to anyone else you meet missy. She might read what you just said."

"Aha! You see! I was right! I knew this was a blog moment!" She puts on a fake American accent, "I got ya number!"

"You gave me the idea," I smile, walking over to her bookcase to take a look at her books. "Anything new?" I ask.

"No, but something old and very blue," she replies mysteriously.

"Meaning?"

She walks over and opens the bookcase. Taking out a large, thin, well-thumbed paperback she hands it to me. It's my own book, Little Miss.

I grimace at the lines she's left down its spine. "B you've killed the book," I say.

"It's well ready buddy. That's the way they're meant to look."

"Tch. Come and look at my library sometime."

"I have already. They look like they've never been touched."

"And I've read every one of them. But why and when did you get this? Soppy romance isn't your taste."

"I bought it when you went away. I-I missed you and I wanted - oh I don't know. I thought if I had the book you wrote there'd be some type of connection. I thought it would be crap, I hate romance. But," she takes the book back and hits me with it, "don't call it soppy! It's my one guilty pleasure!"

"Liar," I smile. "You have many guilty pleasures."

I see from her facial expressions that an idea is forming in her mind. "Ali..."

"Oh no," I shake my head, as she bites her top lip mischievously while reaching for her pen. "Don't be silly, now."

"Why not?"

"Stop it. I won't sign it. You're making a big deal, it's embarrassing. I wish I had never gone near the bookcase."

"Sign the fucking thing or you won't leave this office - alive anyway."

I take the pen and the book. "Now, when you put it so nicely, how can a man refuse? What do you want it to say?"

"How about... To my one and only inspiration?"

"Surely you mean "my one and only frustration"?"

"As you wish... as long as you put "sweet" just before it."

With a smile I write it down, for sometimes you just have to do as you're told.

Main Index | Part one | End of part two | Part three | Part four

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