Plight of the Caribou©
(Part 3 – January 21, 2013)
“Hey Max, there’s a customer out here to see you.”
“Okay, be right there Tracey,” Max sighed. She wasn’t expecting anyone today but that didn’t matter. Every once in a while a customer would drop by without calling with a question about their financing. As Max forced herself towards the showroom, she thought of her evasive maneuvers the past week. It wasn’t easy avoiding Moira’s party train. Avoiding Moira and Chase also meant avoiding Shar and Adrianna. She wasn’t in the mood for Shar. She loved her friend but every time she peaked through her blinds Shar was with Chase. She wished for the gift of invisibility and her wish was granted. And it sucked.
“Hey Tracey. Where is the customer?”
“Right over there,” Tracey pointed to the lounge. “How on earth did I miss him the last time he was here?”
“You didn’t Tracey. Calm down,” she laughed. Max knew Tracey prided herself on spotting all the hot guys that came into the showroom.
Chase heard a faint sound of someone…sweet and kind and he knew it was Max. It took some time to derail Moira’s daily action plan for him but this morning he decided to put his foot down. Moira wasn’t aware of it but she was successfully aiding Max’s efforts not to see him. And he wanted to see her. He was able to wheedle as much as he could out of Shar during their outings, hoping she could shed some light on their elusive friend. After his third day of questioning, Shar wasn’t offended that he was asking so many questions about Max.
“You like her, don’t you?” Shar smiled wickedly one day when they were dining at a restaurant on the Santa Monica pier.
Chase laughed and replied, “Why do I suddenly feel like I am back in high school?”
Shar sipped her iced tea. “No, actually it’s kind of sweet. I wish was that young and innocent again. You liked someone in high school but pretended you didn’t and avoided them, all the while you are pining away for them. I haven’t liked someone enough to work myself into a terror of emotions in a long time.”
“I don’t know why she is avoiding me.”
“Why don’t you just ask her? I’m sure the bossy gene runs in your family.” Shar quipped.
“I know my sister has you thinking our whole family is as assertive as she is but her personality is an anomaly.”
“If it makes you feel any better, Max likes you too.”
“You think so?”
“She wouldn’t have disappointed Moira unless she absolutely had to. She’s always there for us and never says no. If she wiggled out of dinner with you that first night I have the feeling she was trying to avoid having a feeling. And that’s what Max does. Avoid feelings at all costs.”
“Bad break up?” He said without hesitation.
“No.” Shar said gently. “More like bad life experiences. She doesn’t let many people in.”
“So, any advice?”
“Find out what you did to hurt her feelings and fix it.”
“But I don’t recall…”
Shar shook her head. “You did something. You may have thought it was inconsequential but you did something.”
Now he was in a Mercedes dealership getting ready to make an ass out of himself.
“Hi Maxine.” He breathed slowly.
“So this is where you work?” He said nervously.
“Yeah,” she smiled. “Are you looking for a new car?”
“No, I’m looking for the woman whose been avoiding me.”
“I have not. I’ve been—”
“Before you lie and say busy, I should remind you that Moira keeps close tabs on all of her friends.”
“Damn nosey Moira.”
“Yeah, my sister’s been nosey all her life and for once this will benefit me,” He smiled. “What happened?”
Maxine had a choice before her. She could play it cool and give some glib remark about being a busy woman or she could be honest with him. Chase looked like he sincerely wanted an answer and God knows what he had to do to escape Moira’s clutches for the afternoon.
She took a deep breath and released it. “A woman answered your IM and said you were busy. I think it confused me and I got a little jealous. Which is silly right? We hardly know each other? And just because I was beginning to feel a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily felt the same way too. Then I felt silly for feeling that way. I’ve run through a gambit of emotions since talking to you that first night and I frankly don’t know why.”
“The same reason I’ve been tied up in knots since you stopped speaking to me, I suppose.”
“This is insane. I’m a grown up,” she breathed.
“I’d like to believe I am a grown up too. But I know I am just a kid at heart,” he grinned. “I would like to take you to dinner tonight. Just the two of us. I promise I will tie Moira to a chair and sneak out of the house if I have to.”
Maxine went into her mental rolodex. “Tonight’s not good,” she breathed.
“Max.” Chase sighed.
“I volunteered for a walkathon. I am assembling the supplies for the runner’s stations. I am afraid it may take all night.”
“Oh,” he said with relief in his voice. “Maybe I can come and help?”
“Sure,” Maxine smiled. “The more the merrier. I will pick you up after work.”
“Cool,” he beamed.
Missed Parts 1 & 2? Check it out here: https://rhondalaurel.com/short-stories/plight-of-the-caribou/