Oil and Water. Home and Business. Some things just arenât made to mix. Maybe you should consider again the contract you agreed to? Your time is running out. Do something soon or your wife will know you really donât care about her.
I spin around quickly and scan the parking lot again. This time I take in the nearby surface streets. Looking for anything out of place. Two gardeners, Mexicans, at work on the landscape surrounding the parking lot, a mechanical engineer, canât remember his name, been here a couple of years, is getting out of a blue Volvo sedan on my right, a young man and a woman having an animated conversation on the sidewalk across the street. A crow starts cawing loudly somewhere to my left.
This is a business district. What is a couple doing on the sidewalk? I struggle to keep my pace beneath a run as I move in the straightest path toward them. My hands form into fists and I crumple the note. The hell with being coy. I start to run, keeping my eyes locked on them.
Theyâre facing each other, hands on their hips, bent forward at the waist. Two roosters squaring off for a showdown. Iâm still too far away to make out what theyâre saying, but their mouths are moving rapidly. When the distance between us nears fifty feet the woman turns her head in my direction. The man follows her lead and twists his upper body toward me, hands remaining on his hips. I recognize him as one of our marketing types.
As I approach to within twenty feet, he speaks, âCan I help you?â
âHow long you been here?â
The manâs face contorts, âAlmost two years.â
âNot with CommGear you dumb ass.â I come to a stop with just under five feet between us and point violently at the sidewalk he is standing on, âHere! How long you been here!â
The woman, blonde with a blue dress cut too short for this neighborhood, moves closer to the man. Sweat has caused her make-up to smear into an odd-looking mask. Her entire body is taut. The roosters are both facing me fully now as we each wait for the first act of aggression.
Wrong bogey. Before they can answer, I reverse course and sprint back across the street. The gardeners have stopped their work and now huddle together. I veer in their direction, not reducing my speed. As I near them they stare at me and take a couple of steps back. One of them mutters a word in Spanish I donât recognize.
The younger of the pair, bigger than his partner by over a foot, is holding a rake. He turns it over in his hand so the business end is up and facing me. The other man grabs his arm and steps forward. He begins to speak rapidly in Spanish. With every other word he seems to pick up his pace. Itâs been over two decades since my last conversational Spanish class. If he asked me where to buy a blue plate or when the library closes, I might be able to understand him. I turn again toward my building. As I head off I hear the voice of the other man. Many of his words I do know and they werenât learned in a classroom.