Midnight. All was quiet. The street was dark except for an occasional street lamp, as were most of the houses. There was no one about, except for the solitary figure of a man, walking his dog.
The car came around the corner a little too fast. Dale, head bent against the slight drizzle, with Trixie on her lead, watched in trepidation as, almost in slow motion, it spun a full 360 degrees on the wet road. The rear wheel hit the kerb with a thump. There was a crack as something snapped. The car rocked, then settled at a slight lean, the wheel at an angle.
“Stay,” Dale ordered Trixie, dropped her lead and ran to the car. The driver’s window was open. He bent down. The girl in the driver’s seat who looked at him, seemed remarkably calm as she turned off the engine.
‘Shit indeed,’ he thought.
“Shit, shit, shit!”
“Are you alright?” he asked.
She looked at him.
“Do I look alright?”
The voice was calm and measured.
“Actually, you do. But you might not be on the inside.”
“Is that your dog?” she said, pointing at Trixie, patiently sitting on the pavement in the slight drizzle.
“Yes,” he said.
“Come on girl,” he called.
Lead trailing, she bounded over.
“Isn’t she gorgeous!” she exclaimed.
‘And so are you,’ he thought silently.
Small, almost elfin, she could be Audrey Hepburn, he thought, but with boobs, he couldn’t help noticing.
She opened the door, undid her seatbelt and got out.
‘Definitely Audrey Hepburn’, he decided.
“You wouldn’t be Audrey Hepburn, reincarnated would you?” he asked.
“Of course I am,” came the swift response.
She bent over and patted Trixie, who nuzzled her, on the head.
“Alright, let’s go,” she said, picking up her lead.
Dale looked at her in bewilderment.
“Back to your place of course. I’m getting rather wet standing out here.”
“Oh, ok,” he agreed, pulled off his jacket and draped it over her shoulders, covering the rather skimpy black dress she was wearing.
“Thank you, kind Sir. Grab my bag, will you? It’s on the passenger seat.”
Bemused, he did as he was told.
“What about the car keys?”
“Leave them. The car’s not going anywhere,” she said.
“And it’s not mine anyway,” she added.
Startled, he exclaimed, “It isn’t?”
“No, boyfriend’s. Ex-boyfriend now, I suppose,” she reflected.
He handed her her bag and pointed up the street.
“So,” she said, “I’m Olivia,” as they set off, Trixie walking placidly alongside her.
“Not Audrey then.”
“She’s my alter ego. And you are?”
“As in Dale Evans, Roy Rogers’ wife?”
He looked at her in amusement.
“No, as in Dale Carnegie, ‘How to win friends and influence people.’
Mum read it. Liked the name.”
“And did it help her?”
“Maybe. She persuaded dad to let her have me. He didn’t want kids.”
“How do you know that?”
“He told me, shortly before he took off.”
“Oh, how awful.”
She touched his arm.
“Not really. He wasn’t around much anyway. We didn’t miss him,” he said almost indifferently.
“I’m the youngest. I’ve got two sisters and a brother,” she said.
“Dad always wanted a boy. Was he pissed when Hayden turned out to be gay. Is it much further? My feet hurt,” she said unexpectedly.
“Not far now,” he said.
“How do you walk in those things anyway?”
She ignored him and asked instead,” Why are you and Trixie walking in the rain?”
“It wasn’t raining when we left, and she wanted to go.”
“She told you that did she?”
“Yes,” he said firmly.
“What are you, Doctor Doolittle?”
He laughed then said, “Here we are,” opened a gate, and led her up a short path to the front porch of a modest-looking timber house. The porch light was on, and he picked up an old towel lying on a chair and wrapped it around Trixie.
“Stay,” he told her
He unlocked the door and led Olivia inside.
“Need the bathroom?” he asked her.
She nodded and handed him his jacket.
“There are towels in there if you need them,” he said, pointing at a door.
She went off. He hung his jacket on a hook on the hall stand and went back to Trixie and dried her off. He led her through the house, and out onto the back verandah where she promptly curled up in her basket. He retreated to his bedroom and went into the en-suite, stripped off his damp clothes, dropped them in a laundry basket, donned track pants, top and slippers and went into the kitchen. He turned on the kettle.
Olivia padded into the kitchen, holding her shoes, and bag, wearing a bathrobe that had been hanging behind the bathroom door. She placed her stuff on the floor.
“Crossdresser are you?” she asked.
The bathrobe was pink.
He smiled slightly.
“Ex-girlfriend. Want some coffee or tea?”
“Don’t suppose you’ve got any green tea?”
“Of course,” he said, opened a cupboard and took down a small box.
She said,“Wow,” and perched on a barstool.
“A man after my own heart.”
“Ex-girlfriend left them behind,” he explained.
“Have you had many of those?”
“A few over the years,” he said as he turned on the kettle.
“Fussy are we?”
“You’re very inquisitive,” he said mildly.
“What can I tell you,” she shrugged.
“I’m a woman. We’re inquisitive creatures.”
“Yes, that has been my experience,” he admitted.
“So, back to my question.”
He looked at her thoughtfully, then said abruptly,
“Won’t your boyfriend, sorry, ex-boyfriend, be looking for you or his car? It’s an Audi.”
“Is it?” she said indifferently.
“Anyway, not for a while. When I left him, he was drunk, passed out.”
“But when he wakes up?”
“I don’t really care. He’s a bit of a prick.”
“Had many of those?”
She looked at him in amusement.
“Dale, is that a loaded question?”
He coloured, suddenly realising what he had said.
She laughed at the look on his face. The kettle boiled saving him from further embarrassment.
He busied himself making the tea, green for her and an ordinary one for himself.
“Let’s go into the lounge,” he suggested.
Olivia curled up in an armchair, tucking her feet up under her. He handed her her tea, and sat down in another chair.
“Nice place,” Olivia commented.
“I like it,” he said.
“Been here long?”
At her raised eyebrows, he explained, ”This was my Mum’s house. I bought it from her. She’s in an over fifties village.”
“What’s with all the books?” she said, gesturing at a large shelf against one wall, laden with books.
“Haven’t you heard of the digital age?”
He smiled self deprecatingly.
“What does that mean?”
“I’m a lecturer at uni. Arts and literature.”
“Ah,” she said.
“The bookish professor. And have you had it off with many of your students? You’re good looking enough, except for the slippers, of course.”
“Why thank you,” he laughed.
“And no, more than my job’s worth.”
“You must have been tempted.”
“Of course, I’m only human.”
“So you’re not gay.”
“No, I’m not. Now, what about you? What happened between you and the boyfriend, sorry ex-boyfriend. Why’d you run out on him?”
She was silent for a moment, then sighed and said almost sadly, “I really have a knack for picking pricks.”
She continued, “We’ve been going out for about six months. He’s some financial whiz kid in the finance sector. We went out to celebrate, some big windfall. He and his mates probably screwed over another poor investor. Anyway, we got a taxi back to his place. I don’t drink but he really was quite drunk I suppose, which was why he said what he said.”
“Which was? he prompted.
She sighed again, then continued, “He said his boss, who’s a loathsome piece of shit, told him he was into threesomes. He was quite taken with me and wondered if I’d be interested. Even drunk, I can’t believe Steve would even tell me that, let alone propose it.”
Horrified, Dale said, “He asked you if you’d be interested?”
She nodded, tears pooling in her eyes.
“As if I was some piece of meat to be shared between them.”
“I’m so sorry, Olivia. Sometimes I’m rather ashamed of males as a species.”
She put down her cup, got up, came over and curled up on his lap.
“Just hold me please,” she whispered, tears running down her face.
He complied, putting his arms protectively around her. She cried silently as he held her, occasionally stroking her hair. After a while, she was silent. He still held her, wondering what to do, then realised that she had fallen asleep. He struggled up and carried her into the spare bedroom. He laid her down and pulled a blanket over her. She looked small and vulnerable.
He left her, leaving the door ajar and the hall light on, in case she woke in the night.
He walked out onto the back verandah. The rain clouds had cleared away and he caught a glimpse of stars up in the night sky. He knelt down and ruffled the hair on Trixie’s head. She opened one eye as if to say, ‘why are you bothering me?’ and went back to her doggy dreamland. It was almost two am, but he was wide awake, understandable under the circumstances, he thought. What an interesting night. Audrey Hepburn, his favourite actress of all time, was asleep under his roof. Of course, he was no George Peppard, and this wasn’t Tiffany’s but he might still, with any luck, have breakfast with Audrey, and if fates so ordained, maybe more.