THE TROUBLE WITH ANGELA
When I first saw Angela, she had come out of the employment office with Mr. Bell, the Personnel Manager. He brought her over to me and said: “Ray, here is the new trainee-secretary you requested for the purchasing department. Meet Angela Wood!”
I shook a warm, moist and slender hand, and said: “Welcome Angela,” moving her away from Bell with a short wave to him “Let me take you to your desk.”
Very quietly, so much so I had to strain a to hear “Thank you, Mr. Robinson, I hope I will
be of use to you.” Her moist lips trembled slightly. She smelled of roses, a new perfume, I guess.
Looking at her I saw a wistful face, a light brown complexion, dark curly hair, sparkling dark eyes in a round face. She wore a brown suit with a matching bag, and a white office shirt sleeve-length, and she had pearly white teeth. I guessed her age around twenty-two, but her application said twenty-five.
She stepped over to the stenographer’s desk we had prepared and as I walked with her,
I noticed her medium height around five foot five, compared to my five-eleven.
“Would you like some coffee?” I asked.
She put down her bag ands replied: “I’d love some tea, Mr. Robinson, but just show me where it is and I’ll help myself.” Self supporting,” I thought, “very good.” She was speaking more confidently now, and I walked her over to the side-table where we kept our tea supplies.
George and Sanjay came over from accounts eager to meet the new arrival, so I introduced them. George’s eye gleamed, as he shook her hands in welcome; clearly, I would have to keep the flies away from the honey. But she cold-shouldered George, for she was having none of the chitchat, and said to me: “Can you start me off sir, tell me what you need done first.”
I appreciated her seriousness and attempted maturity, and now thought she was a “no-nonsense” girl. “Please call me ‘Ray’” I responded, “And, I hope to bring sunshine to our relationship.” I smiled mischievously at her, being rewarded with a bright grin on her face. Thank God, she has a sense of humour, I thought.
I gave her two letters to type, and some documents to file, and she went right at work. My tasks were backed up for two weeks, as my last secretary left unexpectedly. My ex-wife was giving her a hard time for being so friendly to me. Perhaps with good reason, I mused, as we had been quite familiar with each other.
At lunch time I escorted Angela to the lunchroom introducing her to the canteen manager, and other members of staff, and she signed for a salad and a soda. I sat with her and asked about her parents:
“My father used to be the manager of the Railway Corporation, but he is now retired and on a pension. Mom does dress making, particularly wedding clothes, and she is good at it. My brother is still at College doing accounts, and he should be through in two years. I have to take care of my needs, and I have no problem with working.” She talked with a little food in her mouth, which I thought amusing, and I smiled with her.
I left shortly after that to attend a supplier’s meeting, leaving Angela with an assortment of papers to file, a letter to type, and the telephone to answer. When I returned near to closing, I heard her talking on the phone: “No Ma’am I’m not sure when he’ll be back; yes I will give him a message. No, I could not give him that as a message; please do not use that language to me, I just work…”
I took the phone from her guessing who it might be: “Yes, Trudy I just came in…”
“You liar, you were there all along,
“No I was not; I just came in from the box factory.” Definitely that was my ex-wife Trudy.
“Well the money you sent me was not enough, I still have to pay for the plumbing.”
“Just send me an invoice and I will deal with it.” I responded curtly.
“And where did you get that piece of fluff, she sounds young and heavenly; does she have a nice ass?” Trudy said sarcastically.
. “Call me later,” I said hanging up the phone.
Looking at Angela, I could see she was standing up and gotten a deep reddish colour, and was peering intently at the typewriter, though I could not say at what. Yes, she had nice round bottom, and an attractive figure.
“Angie, I’m sorry to drag you into this mess,” I said to her.
“Please no need to apologise sir, but that lady has a problem.” Yes, I thought, and I am the problem.
“A big problem,” I echoed, “But I will deal with her in the future. By the way how are you getting home?”
“Sanjay offered me a drive home Ray, and I accepted, do you think that’s all right?”
“What happened to George? You were getting along famously.”
“He’s just too pushy!” Was her response.
Sanjay is a fast worker I thought, and nodded. “Be on your guard.” I laughingly advised.
“Bye Sir, I will see you tomorrow!” she said.
I thought then she was as green as grass, but with proper training, she would make a first-class secretary.
For the next few weeks we worked liked Trojans, as there was a budget to be prepared and there this year’s stocks to be bought. Then I had a matter of a divorce with Trudy to resolve, and the stress was getting to me.
One night we were working late, and I said to her “Let’s take a break: If you have no plans we could go over to Rodney Arms for a drink and some baked crab.”
“Wonderful, I would love a break, but I will only have a soda.”
“A glass of wine or a juice wouldn’t do you any harm.” I remarked as she got her bag and cellphone together.
We drove out to Port Henderson by the sea, and found a table in a gazebo on top of the hill, just behind the restaurant. We talked, mostly about my marriage, and the fact Trudy and I had no children, and we were both professionals. So it was not a big deal, that I was staying in an apartment away from my wife.
I’m not sure whether it was the moonlight, the soft wind blowing, the surf gently breaking on the shore, but I held her hand and pulled her to me, kissing her on her lips. Just then, the waiter brought us our order, and we parted, a little embarrassed. We ate baked crab-back, and drank white wine in silence, and I thought about what was next, my heart racing. I was a good fifteen years older than Angela. Could I be getting into trouble again?
I paid the bill, and we walked over to my parked Honda in the semi-darkness, and as we sat in the car I gently pulled her to me and we kissed again and again; until we were both breathless.
I dropped her home at her family’s house, and went away with my mind in confusion. I stopped at a go-go bar for a couple more beers, but the show did not interest me and I went home to my quiet apartment. I had just gotten out of a relationship and here was another one, with a younger woman. Moreover with my secretary, the second time this had happened in my life. Was I serious? Was I just lonely? I would need to stand back from everything.
The following day we were busy, but she kept glancing and me, as I looked at her. We never spoke about personal feelings, but we exchanged glances often.
Trudy called me to raise hell:
“What is your lawyer trying to do? I am supposed to get the house, not half the proceeds of its sale!”
“You didn’t buy it; did you?”
“No but I kept upgrading it, and improving the facilities: It is more mine than yours, I spent more time in it than you.”
“Talk to my lawyer!” I said slamming the phone down. Angela looked at me with concern, and said:
“If you don’t mind Ray, I would think you should try to be more patient; and consider giving up the house, you can always buy another. She won’t give you a hard time after that prize.” Right! I thought, women always stick up for each other.
Work kept me busy for the rest of the day. When we were going home Angela looked up and said: “Are you taking me home?” I thought about it, then to my dismay I said “Ok.”
On her way home she said, “Was last night a mistake? What is going to happen with us?” I thought about this last statement in my confused mind, but did not reply. I stopped at her gate, and as she was leaving to go, her father came to the gate and said:
“Why don’t you come in for a short while, I was just having a beer. Have one with me, let us meet the famous boss that Angela keeps talking about!”
I parked my car and went into this older dignified home, with its large lawn and flowering trees, and as I was invited, sat on the verandah. Shortly, I was drinking a beer with the old man, talking about the state of West Indies Cricket, when Angela brought in some cod-fish fritters, thin and spiced. I ate one immediately, feeling a little relief; realizing that I had no lunch that day. I met her Mom and her teen aged brother, who were very cordial. When we said good night, Angela walked me to the gate; she wanted to kiss me good-night but I was confused and tired, and pecked her on the cheek, hurried to my car, waving good-bye, my mind in disarray.
I stayed home a few nights after that, getting blue all that time.
Then Christmas was coming, and we had to work late and on Saturdays at the office.
Then the Saturday before Christmas, I went to my office with Angela. I thought I would resolve some of my confusion. I called my attorney Hal, and spoke to him quietly.
“Let’s give Trudy the house, but I’d keep the stocks and shares, and the land we bought in the country, and share the costs. I’ll just write off the losses to bad luck.” Hal thought we would get the matter settled in a short while, under those conditions.
Angela looked at me approvingly, and smiled. Later as I drove her home, we bought some chicken and went by a lonely scenic route and parked overlooking the city. When we finished, she looked at me with a strange look in her flashing eyes, and caressed my shoulder and hair. I leaned over and kissed her, again and more, holding her to me, and fondling her with passion. She gasped and said “Not now .Let’s wait a bit:”
But I could not wait, and the inevitable happened, with overpowering emotion.
Four years later, looking back and writing this, I can recall those ardent moments of love, and the many tender times after that incident. Then the occasion came eventually, when I had to look for a new secretary.
“Ray!” A voice came from the kitchen, “Can you look after the baby please, while I finish putting dinner on the table?”
“Coming, Angie,” I. responded, making haste to take my little daughter in my arms, and have dinner with my wife.
(c) Ramesh Sujanani