The Door Latch

Reads: 154  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A chance encounter at a train station.

Submitted: June 10, 2013

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 10, 2013

A A A

A A A


His walk to the station was rarely pleasant in heavy rain, but on a Friday night after a week of night shift, there was at least the contentment of a week well worked.  Never mind that he had to be right back to work the next morning, because a Friday always has a good feel even when it doesn't have its typical work week finality.  The heavy summer rain slipped through his umbrella defense and lightly soaked his pants and shoes.  When he finally made it to the station, he thus began the awkward ritual of seeking seating against a backdrop which possessed the full range of human development; from urban poor men who perhaps best approximate the dregs of society, to elite young women so full of life and sexuality that it drips from their every perfect feature and ambivalent conversation.  As he simultaneously avoided eye contact with every urban scum and sought out eye contact awkwardly with every pretty woman, he pondered how it was always difficult for him to decide which opposite end of society's spectrum made him feel more depressed.  On one hand, he didn't have the power to in any way fix the urban plight, while simultaneously had to live in constant fear of their intermittent blow-back which came in the form of muggings, murder, and crime generally.  An unpleasant frustration, to be blunt.  Pretty women were of course a much more pleasant frustration, but the pang of frustration was much more severe.  So as he stalked out a good seat at the station, he noticed an open bench with a young woman occupying half.  It was a standard zero of an interaction, with the woman barely disengaging from her cell phone for the standard slight adjustment of her belongings in anticipation of her 3 seat bench being newly half occupied by a stranger.  Should he say hello?  Will doing so make her more or less uncomfortable?  Is there anything to be gained in saying hello to a pretty twenty-something by a married thirty-something?  These questions fizzle and die, accomplishing nothing, during which time he has managed only to visually inspect her feet.  Oh it was nothing of a fetish, which is the tragic first thought at the mention of a woman's feet.  Instead the less tragic but still melancholy reality is that to look at a woman's feet, gaze into their cuteness, consider your complete lack of value to her, and then continue to say nothing to her is a very low point for a male.  This is the deal men take in being born.  That they will date and bed, if they are lucky, several very attractive and kind women.  And they will mostly have cute feet.  And he will have unlimited access to any and all cute feet of any and all women he is currently bedding.  But he will not want them.  He will instead check out his new neighbor on the bench and her feet and feel unworthy, for this is the deal men sign in being born.  He will look at them and marvel at how he'd be willing to lick those dirty feet for that first time passion with this new girl, and yet thereafter have minimal interest nor motivation to lick them.  And so he did simply check out her feet and feel his requisite yearning, ensuring he did not upset the frustrating harmony between pretty twenty-somethings and married thirty-somethings.  She wore red sandals and red nail polish, and interestingly had a somehow alluring dent in her big toenail.  He presumed in that instant that there was an interesting back-story behind the dent.  He presumed the woman had an interesting back-story herself, of a life spent traveling to this very instant.  He presumed that there might very well be a man in her life bored sick of her body, feet and all, in that instant.  And finally, he presumed that up her jean-covered legs there lay a pleasure center he would certainly not enjoy in this lifetime or any other.  

 
As he completed this standard nightly ritual, a couple walked by them which contained a quite annoying-sounding woman.  As the couple passed from view up to the train platform, he blurted out sarcastically and without really realizing he was talking out loud "SHE'S not annoying."  He looked at his neighbor quickly, almost surprised and simply to confirm that it really was out loud.  She did not immediately respond, but she did look up at him and perhaps noticed him for the first time as a professional and reasonably attractive thirty-something male.  
"Yeah."  It was not the response he expected, but then he had no idea what to expect at any time, particularly given she clearly had a heavy accent.  He assumed it European, but that's clearly a broad stroke given the Europeans colonized the world and with only occasional exceptions, every attractive white woman with an accent who can afford to travel to the USA typically has a European accent.  His intrigue kicked into high gear, he thought perhaps her accent was Eastern European, but didn't have enough time to think it through before she continued "Are you from... here?"  It sounded as though she didn't know where she was, or perhaps simply didn't want to take on a long city name such as Philadelphia.  He was delighted that she seemed interested in him.
"Yes, I work in the city"
"Oh.  Are you taking the 11:19 train?"  
Wait, she's interested in me?  Or does she simply want to make sure she's going the right direction?
"Yes I am.  Wh..where are you from?"
"France."
"So I guess seeing an annoying and loud woman is what you expected then."  He said this in a cutesy way, and despite the slight language barrier, she seems to immediately get the joke that all French think all Americans loud and annoying.
"Yes"  She giggled in a way that only cute twenty-somethings can.  "Can you help me?  I am trying to arrange a cab."  She went on to explain that the cab number she had, the people who picked up seemed unable to understand her.  "Can you call this number for me?"
"Of course."  He called and got put on hold.  This late on a Friday night in heavy rain, cabs are at a premium.  When the cab finally picked up, after several awkward moments between two new acquaintances, he asked questions which the cab arranging team hadn't planned or coordinated for.  Ardmore.  Peace of Pizza.  11:45 pickup.  All details were hastily transferred between them.  She didn't seem to mind telling the stranger these details, and he didn't want to assume anything beyond that she needed help.  The call ended abruptly when the cab dispatch asked to speak directly to the customer who would be riding, and the man stated the issue with the language barrier.  The cab dispatch then hung up.  She seemed upset by this and asked "Do you know how far the Ardmore station is?"
"I live in Ardmore so I will show you."  Her relief was substantial.  "In fact let me call the number I have for cabs."  He did so, transferred the details of her needs, up to the point where the cab asked where she was going.  'Gladwyne'.  She tried to find the details of where she was going but did not do so quickly enough.  After a brief and standard argument with the cab company as to why they wouldn't set up the pickup given all the information provided, the cab company told them to call when they arrived in Ardmore.  
 
They then boarded the train, and he found it cute to have her following him around.  A man loves to be needed, even for trivial things.  But this was far from trivial.  Nobody at her destination could pick her up.  Her cousin, he would find out, didn't have a car and her parents were out of town that evening.  They exchanged names and discussed her weekend on the train, which involved visiting cousins in Philly while in the US on a fashion internship in New York City.  She had endured a too long bus ride from NYC to Philly (six hours), again due to the heavy rain.  The mention of driving led his thoughts to a controversial idea, that of driving her to her destination.  You see, his apartment, where his wife was currently sleeping, was a short walk from the Ardmore station.  He did not know how to bring this up, nor did he know if he really wanted to do it.  For one thing, his keys were not on him so it would require a walk upstairs, which the possibility of an awake wife loomed large.  This was the kind of act that while not cheating, was strongly within the range of 'things you wouldn't want your wife knowing about'.  As the train came to the first stop, she looked outside the window and said "This looks so scary."  He wasn't sure if she meant the weather or west Philadelphia.
 
The rain had not let up as they arrived in Ardmore.  They huddled under Lance's umbrella as they descended the stairs from the platform, only to realize the walkway under the platform was flooded with about two feet of water.  Several drunk people bounded through the tunnel, enjoying the rainwater as only drunk people can.  Though there were other ways around to the pizza store, Lance simply didn't want to let her wait in this weather.  He wasn't sure if this was a kindness deep inside, or a desire to stay with her.  "Listen my apartment is a two minute walk right over there, I can drive you to your cousin's house, but only if you feel comfortable with it."  
"Yes thank you."  
He went on to explain the awkwardness of having to go upstairs to get his keys with his wife asleep.  They shared little laughs about this, the weather, and the circumstances.  
"Ok," he pointed down to the underground garage of his apartment complex, "wait down there and I'll be right down with my car keys."  As he left her and began to hurriedly walk upstairs to his apartment, he pondered what he'd do if his wife was awake.  He certainly couldn't leave Catherine downstairs by herself waiting for him.  Obviously this was a safe place, and she had the number to a cab and could easily find her way back to the station, but it just wouldn't be right.  He'd have to explain the situation to his wife, and likely at least offer to let his wife come with him to show her the harmlessness of the situation.  His over-thinking and over-planning were unwarranted, as he found the apartment dead quite and his wife surely behind the closed bedroom door.  He grabbed his keys and embarked back down to the garage.  There was a long distance between Catherine waiting and where Lance came down the stairs, and this distance gave him a chance to really check her out.  The sharing of umbrellas had clearly gone better for him than her.  Her feet and jeans were fairly wet.  She was clearly a travel worn woman at this point.  But he still could tell there was a cultured and cute girl under it all.  And whether he wanted to admit it or not, he really desired her.  But frustration set in because he knew he would do nothing about that desire.  "It's funny, you're supposed to be nice to people, but once you're married it's really not right to be nice to other girls."
She let out a giggle.  "My cousin can't believe I'm doing this."
"What, riding with a guy you just met?"
"Yeah, she thinks I'm crazy."
"Ok, this is me, let me pull it out because it's too close to the wall for you to get in."  
"Oh wow you have a Porsche."
He handed her his umbrella, and pulled the car out of the stall.  He then let her in.  
"This is cool."  
"Yeah this made a lot more sense when I was single.  Now that I'm married, it's just kinda an old car."  
"My cousin is really gonna think I'm crazy."
"For riding in a Porsche to her house?  Well when we get there you can introduce me and she'll realize it's fairly normal."
"She's only 14."
He felt a moment of panic.  Perhaps he was giving a minor a ride home.  His inability to differentiate accents may very well translate to age as well.  He wasn't sure how to ask, but for whatever reason he wanted to know her age.  
"Wait how old are you?"
"Twenty."  
"Oh ok.  I guess it doesn't matter, but I would have felt pretty weird to be giving a sixteen year old a ride home."  She agreed.
She had written directions on her phone but her navigation skills let them down and they drove well past their turn and into the town.  She kept apologizing for the navigation issues.  They noticed various deluge highlights such as the impassable road to their left which seemed to be a river and not a road.  His fresh air fan shoots each side of the front window, but not down its middle, and she seemed to find it endearing that they had to look out the sides of the front window, like they were just barely above redneck status of having to look out the side windows like they do in movies.  He thought about how on a drive to Montreal, the air conditioner compressor and fresh air fan had both died during the same trip, and he had to at one point take off his shirt to wipe the window so that he could see out.  He had run into a trash can or two, and several fallen branches, and was glad to have made it back alive.  He cursed his old Porsche, the money it had cost him, the sometime endearing but typically frustrating and costly issues, and the lack of its use to a married man.  His wife hated the car.  And he was starting to agree with her.  And it was even in these moments when he'd like to impress a foreign girl, even if for no reason at all other than ego, that his disgust for his vehicle's issues stood in his way.  
 
After several wrong turns, they finally located the house they were looking for.  He pulled into the circular driveway and they came to a stop.  
"Thank you so much."
"Sure.  This turned out to be quite a little adventure didn't it."
"Yeah it did.  I can't believe I did this."
"You keep saying that like it was a big deal, but really it wasn't."
"Thank you again, it was nice to meet you."  
"Can I kiss you on the cheek?" 
"Yes of course."  They leaned towards each other in the small car and kissed on one cheek, and he fumbled with the second cheek kiss because he frankly was not expecting it.  He could feel the side of her lips touch the side of his face, but he realized that he simply kissed air to the side of her face.
After the slightly awkward kiss, he wasn't embarrassed and he asked about this.  "I have a question, what am I supposed to be doing during the double cheek kiss?  What I mean is, am I supposed to be trying to turn and kiss your cheek, or just kissing air to the side of your face?"  
She giggled and explained that "it depends on how much you know someone."
"So if I meet a girl for the first time, no kissing her cheek?  But you kissed my cheek.  Don't we know each other the same."
"It depends on how much you like someone also.  I kissed your cheek because you have been so nice to me."
He realized that in talking about this, he was ruining the moment.  He replayed various scenarios from his life where he felt he had ruined the moment, simply talked too much or said the wrong thing, and lost his opportunity with a girl.  It was a painful few moments thinking about this, because he realized he was in the act of ruining a moment and yet wasn't even sure it was a moment he should really be seeking.  What was the right thing to do here?  Clearly they should part ways.  They had shared a cute yet awkward cheek kiss, he was very content in the moment, and he felt good in being a nice man to a woman in need while at the same time having a little adventure.  As he ran these thoughts through his head, they smiled at each other, said goodbye, and she began to reach for the door latch.  He laughed to himself as she struggled to find the door latch.  She turned back to him with a smile on her face "Where is it?"  She asked him in a cute but defeated tone.  You see, most cars have a high door latch release, near the hand rest.  On his car, his untrustworthy old relic, the door latch was an almost hidden flat latch low and closer to the front of the car than any newcomer would imagine.  He recalled being shown this when he first test drove the car eight years previous.  It was an odd feature.  He remembered a time full of potential, having just totaled his previous Porsche, and yet feeling young and in his girl-chasing prime.  He loved the car on first drive.  Something about the raw charisma and energy just didn't exist in other cars he'd driven.  But those days were gone, and he realized why he had chuckled when she struggled finding the latch.  He chuckled because in showing a girl the latch, he had to reach across her body and make contact with the top of her legs.  He had done this many times before.  It was something of a deadly move.  He typically would operate the latch, say something clever like "cool huh", make eye contact, and then riotous kissing would ensue.  He marveled at how the car he'd spent so much time cursing still had one redeeming quality after all.  
 
He reached across, grazed her legs, and operated the door latch.


© Copyright 2019 Lancefire. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Romance Short Stories