Zac strutted down the Harrow Road rather hurriedly, especially since he was “gagging for a drink” as he had informed his friend who was hanging on the other end of his mobile phone. The heels on his chelsea boots did a tap dance, while his West London swagger was attracting quite the attention of some 15-year-old girls stood outside Chicken Cottage tucking into an after-school meal of fried chicken and french fries. The one-time class nerd, with his pre-braces buck-teeth and round-rimmed glasses that hid the magnitude of his crystal blue eyes, had blossomed into a six-foot, skinny-as white guy who could bust some serious moves on the dance floor and had the ladies “in a jam” as he put it.
“Hey,” shouted one of the schoolgirls. “Where are you going, hon?”
“Somewhere you’re not allowed darlin’”, he said as he walked past her.
“You gonna buy me a drink?” said another one of the girls, a short, chubby Ghanaian girl with golden brown eyes. Zac clocked her eyes, astounded by her adult-like beauty while kind of gutted at the same time. “Sweet cheeks, if I’m still single when you’ve reached that ripe age, come and find me,” he said cheekily.
Flattered, the Ghanaian girl giggled then took a slurp from her can of Pepsi. She giggled once again when she saw the look on her classmate’s face whose flirtatious banter had failed to engage the blue-eyed 30-something.
“Seeerious bruv, you picking up ladies on the Paddington Green now?” yelled Zac’s friend on the mobile phone. Paddington Green, ironically not too far from the local police station, was a notorious hangout for prostitutes and drug deals, and all kind of denizens of city sin.
Zac creased up laughing, that kind of Muttley snigger, before squawking: “Nah dude, I’m on the Harrow Road. Those were schoolgirls, 14 or somethin’.”
“Well,” squealed Zac’s friend. “Can’t blame a guy for asking, bruv. They don’t call you snake hips for nada.”
The friends wailed with laughter, bringing some much needed high-vibrational energy into that small pocket of London. “Ok gotta go dude, I’m at the bar now,” Zac said.
Zac bent down and stopped to catch his reflection on the metallic door handle. Before he had a chance to push it open, his colleague Lucy had already pulled it open and landed one of those PR-type kisses on both cheeks. Lucy had been on Zac’s coat tails since he started at the TV production company two years ago. She had a boyfriend, an older guy who worked as a freelance cameraman in factual and documentaries, but that hadn’t stopped her from trying her chances with Zac. She took the “alright darlin” and breakout room jokes to mean he was interested in her. Lucy tried to take that PR kiss a step further and pull a Frenchie instead on Zac that time he caught her in tears outside the office after her pregnancy scare. He pulled away from her with speed and she started to wonder if he was gay.
“Do you want a drink, Luce?” he asked politely. She was a little loose on her stiletto heels and it was still only just gone six o’clock. They were celebrating their boss’ birthday, and most of their colleagues had been in the bar since four o’clock. Zac decided to meet them later as he had a few loose-ends to tie up before he parlayed.
“Sure,” Lucy replied, trying to lean on Zac’s less than muscular body to keep her standing somewhat straight. “I’ll have a glass of Meerlot.”
“You what, meerkat?” he joked.
“No silly, meerlot,” she said, continuing to slur her wines. “Meer, mer, merlot,” she said looking at Zac like she was going to try and kiss his face off once again. He gave Lucy a prop up and told her to go join the work party while he went to the bar to get the drinks in. It was a Tuesday night and the bar was filled mostly with employees from Greener TV. There were cameramen, both young and veterans too, post-production staff, and runners. A couple of freelance scriptwriters had also shown up for Neil’s birthday.
Neil had set up Greener TV in 2014 with his business partner Moira to make TV production more environmentally-friendly. Their emphasis was on local production to cut down on carbon miles. They made some great TV shows – the kind of stuff that was by no means glamorous by production standards but really great stories and interesting characters. Greener TV had also launched the careers of many young film directors, screenwriters and actors, who even when they were making mainstream movies and TV shows would still return to Greener TV to guest direct or act because they were pretty much given full creative carte blanche.
Lucy had started out as a runner for Greener TV four years ago. She initially thought that she could flirt her way to another position, until Neil politely informed her at a Christmas drinks gathering that her “dizzy blonde” persona wasn’t going to fly at Greener TV and neither was trying to “climb him” going to win her a step-up. Zac admired Neil’s terse nature, but his way of handling Lucy was gentler, perhaps. Brusque wasn’t Zac’s style but he was always clear with Lucy and any other females that had mistaken his kind words for something unfathomable.
Zac was the office’s favourite male as far as the ladies were concerned. He was charming with everyone in that office and always seemed to say the right things at the right time. He made the ladies laugh and lifted everyone up when the mood seemed gray. He was always respectful and never once lecchy towards any of the female staff. Granted, he was hands-on on the dancefloor with the ladies because he loved to dance, including the up close-and-personal styles. Lucy appeared to be the only one in the office who had the wrong impression of Zac. “You and me are the same, Zachary,” she whispered into his ear when they’d gone on the afternoon coffee run and he had complimented a barista on her coffee-making skills. Zac didn’t respond to Lucy’s words. Infact he never responded to her perceived ideas of who he was. Truthfully he couldn’t care less. Honestly he didn’t care what anyone thought of him. He was just himself, and if that meant that complimenting females got misconstrued as flirtations, so be it. Not his problem.
In Zac’s 31 years, he had one serious relationship when he was 24. It lasted four years, but the whole time he was with her, he always had a sense she wasn’t the one. He was surprised it had even lasted as long as it did. He had been pretty much single since then. Sure he had a few women and a whole lot more who wanted to get their claws into him just like Lucy did, but Zac got shot of them as quickly as he could say “see ya”. There was just no interest in them whatsoever.
Zac made his way to the bar – as he did, he noticed a young lady sat on a stool reading a book. He’d never seen anyone read a book at Zap Bar before, that was most certainly a first. He chatted to the barlady and friend Jodie as she poured Merlot into a wine glass and pulled a pint of Stella for Zac. He couldn’t help but strike up a conversation with the book-reading lady as he etched closer in her direction.
“Hi, bookworm, I’m Zac,” he said.
The young lady failed to look up, until Jodie stood in front of her at the bar and said: “Gurl, This charming young male over here is wondering if you would like a drink.”
“Excuse me,” the young female said, looking up from her book.
“Oh, thanks for the translation Jode,” said Zac. “Just wondering what you are reading….and sure, would you like a drink?”
The young female was starting to look a bit flushed and embarrassed.
“This is Zac,” Jodie said pouring her customer a double serving of Captain Morgan rum into a glass.
“Oh, thank you,” replied the female. “I…er I mean thanks for the offer of the drink, but I am fine thank you.”
“Sorry gurl, but I’ve already made you a Cuba Libre,” Jodie remarked, presenting the lady with the drink on a cardboard placemat. “He’s one of the good guys,” Jodie whispered under her breath to her customer.
“By the way, what’s your name?” asked Jodie.
“Delight,” she said.
“Serious,” said Jodie in her dramatic-without-drama kind-of-way that she was ever so good at. “Your folks named you Delight, that’s frickin’ awesome gurl. Positive vibrations, highly blessed gurl.”
“I’ve kind of gotten prepared for all sorts of jokes when people ask my name,” Delight replied, opening up a little as she relaxed her butt cheeks, a bodily part that Zac seemed to have engrossed himself into its side profile while fairy godmother Jodie worked the breaking of ice and the introductions.
“Delight,” he said. “Delighted to meet you.”
Jodie burst out laughing, quickly followed by Delight too.
“Jeez…Zac, only you can pull off those cheesy one-liners,” Jodie said.
Zac’s smile suddenly dropped. Someone was tugging at his hips. It was Lucy.
“I can’t leave you for a second without you talking to some girl,” she said, giving Delight the once over with her idiotic glances.
“Oh I like your hair,” said Lucy. “Is it relaxed?”
“Excuse me,” said Delight.
“Here luv take your chardonnay,” Jodie said now losing patience with Lucy’s ignorance.
Lucy put her hands on her tiny waist signalling her irritation at Jodie’s response. ”I wanted a Merlot, not chardonnay,” she whined. Jodie was now looking at Lucy like she was going to be her goddamn dinner at any given moment. “Zip-it gurl, it is a Merlot,” Jodie said, while gesturing at Lucy to shoo with her hand. Lucy of course had no comeback to Jodie’s bullets of facial and vocal expressions. With her curt words, it was no surprise then that Jodie and Neil had history. Jodie and Neil’s older brother, Simon, had run a bar together in Ayia Napa years ago. Before the party scene started to simmer down there, they returned to west London and set up shop, not far from their humble beginnings in North Acton where Jodie and Simon had gone to secondary school together.
Diffusing the situation and changing the subject, Zac turned to Delight and asked her once again: “So what are you reading?”
“Oh,” she said. “Just a science fiction book.”
Zac’s heart started to race and pace.
“Imagine that,” said Jodie. “You know, this nerd over here is a writer – all that Beam Me Up Scotty and feel da force-type malarkey.”
Zac had a boyish grin on his face and his dimples were starting to show. Delight looked at him in slight awe. “Oh wow, that’s so cool?” replied Delight.
“Is it now?” said Jodie. Jodie’s matchmaking skills were on fine form, but they were to come to an end as a gaggle of people started to stream into the bar. “Talk to you sci-fi love birds later.”
Zac glanced over at Delight. For once in his life he appeared to be lost for words. He took a long swig on his pint whilst still staring at Delight. She took a sip of her rum and coke. It was some moments before they resumed conversation again, in between those stares, those sips and those swigs. They were clearly both extremely comfortable in one another’s company and energy.
Then suddenly Delight found her voice again. “Hey,” she said. “I don’t usually do this but my friend stood me up tonight, and I have two tickets to this sci-fi secret cinema double-bill at Electric Cinema. Would you…um…like to be my plus one?”
“Hell YEAH,” Zac replied enthusiastically as if he had met the lady of his dreams.
© Rosa Medea, 2021
Disclaimer: Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.