“I’ve got you an extra coffee, in a take-away cup, because I knew you were going to be late, and I’m thoughtful like that . . .”
I watched for her reaction. The word confusion was written across Alexandra’s face. I winced, inside – this was going to be a tough one.
“But . . . but I’m not late!” she protested, looking at her watch and beginning to look irritated as she flounced into the chair.
I watched her wrestle with the conflicting emotions; I had removed the normal beginning of our Monday morning from her safe grasp, and, though she had come to expect the novel, she didn’t expect the completely unknown . . .
“Arguing won’t do you any good,” I said. “It’s important that you recognise that, although I do my best to look after everyone in my care, I make the rules; and expect those who are going to help me to do it with their fullest consideration!”
Her mouth had dropped open. “You make the . . .”
Nine, ten, I was waiting for the explosion . . . “Why you pompous, jumped up . . .” And then she saw the smile. “Bastard . . .” she added, sipping her coffee and thinking, deeply, about the nearly heated exchange. I could see her fighting to get her breathing under control.
She took several minutes to consider her next words. “Yes I do . . .”
“You do?” I asked, genuinely curious.
“I know someone just like that.”
The chameleon had changed in front of her, dropping the acting and embracing the moment – one of considerable triumph on her part.
“He or she?” I asked.
“Chief clerk of our chambers, actually.” her eyes narrowed as she summoned up his inner image. “Little sod, he is, but very capable – it’s what keeps him there; but you’re either on his team or you’re the enemy!”
“Pretty much – he’s a great believer in absolutes.” she said. “He seems to think that he epitomises the perfect figure for the organisation.” she smiled at a memory which obviously contradicted that . . . “But here’s the thing – he gets angry with himself, as though he’s constantly failing to meet his internal picture of how wonderful he should be!”
She drank some more coffee, then added, “But it’s seldom his fault; just another example of how his vision is misunderstood. And then he returns to work, and usually works around the clock to beat himself up for not being infallible . . . “
“I’m so glad. You have the perfect Two . . .”
Her eyes were still locked in their internal gaze, remembering the picture of her sometime adversary.
“The perfect, Two,” I said softly, again, leaning towards her, conspiratorially.
She snapped out of her reverie. “The Two! Oh yes, I’d forgotten that we were up to the Two!”
“Let’s call him Will Faul.” I said. She laughed at the name.
“Okay, Will Faul it is, so what do I do with him?”
“We’ll come to the remedials when we know them all a bit better.” I said. For now, just study the people you meet and see how many of them fit into this profile.
“What’s at the heart of a Two?” she asked. “Can’t you give me a keyword, or something?”
She was looking at her watch. I knew our time was almost up and wanted to give her something in return for the rough ride.
“Okay,” I said, draining my own drink. “It’s all about image.”
“Image,” she said wistfully, already working on the ramifications of the answer. “And that’s all I get?”
“That’s all you need,” I smiled. “For now.”
She smiled back, her composure had returned. “Bloody good job we did all that prep or you’d be driving back wearing coffee!”
“Brought my mac,” I said, tapping the summer raincoat behind my chair and beaming with a huge grin that spilled over into laughter.
“It’s all about trust, isn’t it?” she said, returning my smile.
I didn’t reply immediately. I just stood up, nodding, threw the mac over my shoulder, and bent down to kiss the top of her head. “Yes,” I whispered. “And that you know it, so soon, is beautiful . . .”
Nine Deadly Sins with Coffee is usually published on Thursdays.
All images and text ©International copyright, The Silent Eye School of Consciousness, 2015.