Alice tucked herself under the low awning and shook off the rain from her sweater. Heavy drops suddenly began falling seconds before. Alice grimaced. She had run out the door earlier that morning without an umbrella or jacket. She wasn’t in the habit of carrying either, even though she did live in one of the rainiest parts of the world. Thunder rattled the building. The loud clap made Alice jump. Rain poured in sheets making it almost impossible to see across the now deserted street. A man with his brief case covering his head ran under the awning almost running Alice over. He bumped into her roughly before realizing that she was there.
“Oh sorry.” He said. The man was younger than Alice first thought; late thirties maybe around her age. Alice ran him through her mental check list – metro-sexual with manicured nails and freshly facialled face. High maintenance. He wore a sharp suit. Expensive. Polished shoes. Alice wanted to throw up. She raised an eyebrow as he tried to shake off the water, without drowning her. His elbow came dangerously close to her face. The flash of a gold cuff link made Alice step aside just in time.
“Oh sorry again.” He said again, blushing. “Quite the sudden storm eh?” The man nodded to thick curtain of rain. His powers of observation were astounding. Water was pouring off the awning as though a faucet had been turned on. Alice wasn’t in the mood to make small talk. She smiled thinly when the man extended his hand to her.
“Paul Stanley” he said. Alice hesitated before reaching to take his hand. She didn’t like to touch people she didn’t know. It was an old phobia of hers – especially hands. She dreaded the exchange of germs. Years of paranoia over the spread of flu and any other unseen virus made Alice retreat. She dreaded the limp, damp handshake of a nervous man most of all.
“Christina” she said reluctantly extending her hand. She was surprised that his hand was firm and remarkably strong. She looked at him curiously.
“Nice to meet you Christina. You look familiar. Have we met before?” Paul asked in a rush. He was breathless, almost panting. He looked around for a place to put his briefcase but finding no where dry he tucked it under one arm. Alice shook her head.
“No I don’t think so.” She said. Paul squinted at her, looking more closely. Alice tried not to fidget. She was glad that she didn’t give her actual name. He did seem familiar but she had no idea why. Alice didn’t want to know.
“I am sure we have.” he said. “I can’t place where though. Do you go to Edge at all?” His eyes fluttered around the small space they were standing in. He looked at his watch, then took out his cell phone and swiped his finger across the screen. He pressed something and looked back at Alice. Alice half smiled when he asked if she went to Edge. It was a high end club and the last place that she would be caught dead in.
“No. I have never been. Not much into clubbing myself.” She said.
“Well, it’s not exactly clubbing to go to Edge. It’s an experience.” Paul said. Alice rolled her eyes and groaned inwardly. She leaned against the wall not realizing that water was streaming down through the cracks where the awning met the brickwall and shop window.
“Damn” she said, jumping away from the cold water. The ice cold rain dribble down her neck under her black t-shirt. Paul chuckled, watching her with wide blue eyes. Alice shot him a look but said nothing.
“What do you do?” Paul asked. Alice bit her tongue. She wanted to stick something sharp into her eye socket.
“I’m a writer.” She said. She shoved her hands into her jeans’ pockets and looked down the street through the rain.
“Really?” Paul asked. “What do you write?” He took a step closer to Alice. Alice stood her ground. Another clap of thunder rumbled down the street making the concrete shiver.
“I …” Alice began when his cell phone went off. Don’t stop believing by Journey screamed in the space between them. Paul held up one finger to her and answered.
“Hey, how are you?” he said into the sleek black plastic wafer held to his ear. Paul was standing so close to her that Alice could hear the woman’s voice clearly.
“Where are you?” the woman asked. Alice turned and looked down the street. The rain seemed to be letting up. There were large puddles lining the sidewalk and a small torrent of water hurtled itself down the street passed where they stood.
“I got caught in a rainstorm. I’ll be there in ten.” he said. Alice stepped out from under the awning. The rain had fully stopped. She started walking down the street.
“Christina” Paul called after her. Alice didn’t turn around. He called her again.
“Christina” he shouted. Alice stopped and turned around. He waved and ran up to her. He stuck his hand out to her. She saw his card wedged between his fingers.
“Sorry about that. Here’s my card. Maybe we will meet again sometime, but just in case, you know where I am.” he said. Alice nodded.
“Thanks.” she said and walked away. Alice didn’t look back to see if he was watching her. She knew that he was.