The PlayerÔÇÖs Circle 2
Once again Lorraine stood before him, curious, worried, excited, nervous all in one wrinkled gaze. Patrick blinked again and saw a much angrier, yet prettier face staring back at him. The bright summer’s afternoon sun reflected against her forehead, but stubborn determination was etched across the rest of her face.
“Excuse me, you could clearly see I was about to park here,” she said.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there,” Patrick lied. “I’m sure this isn’t the last spot in the entire area. Look, there’s a good spot right there!” He pointed to one just a few meters where Lorraine’s Polo was.
The Lorraine clenched her jaws then sniffed. “If I wanted to park there, don’t you think I would have just gone there instead?”
“Yeah, but I don’t get the fuss,” Patrick indulged her. Usually, he would have just walked away without another thought being spared to such a pesky person. He was rich, he was handsome. He did not need some woman nagging in his ear about parking space with so many around. But he entertained her. There was something about this woman that intrigued him. He wanted to find out what. “Why this one specifically?”
Lorraine’s nostrils flared. She had the posture of an older sister doing all she could to keep herself from smacking her younger brother over the head for his rotten attitude. “Not that I have to tell you anything, but I have trouble reversing out. I can reverse into this spot cause it’s wide, but the rest aren’t. So could you please—”
“Say no more,” Patrick said, removing his keys from his pocket. He got into his Mercedes and reversed out and allowed her to enter the spot. When she got out of her car and thanked him. “I can do much better than giving you the spot though. Your driving instructor has clearly failed you.” He went in his breast pocket and removed a business card. “Call me on this number, I’ll help you learn how to probably do it. You won’t have a parking problem again.”
She took the card without a smile. In fact, other than when she thanked him, her face remained bland and all together unimpressed. She watched Patrick walk away towards the stairs that led from the parking lot and into the mall.
Three days passed. Patrick heard nothing from the girl he met at the parking lot of the mall and by the second day, he was already starting to forget her. He was seated by the computer the following day going through his phone list, looking at names he could potentially use in his new challenge. He admitted to himself this one was a bit of a test. Even for him. He was scrolling past the ‘J’ section when the phone rang. It was not a number he had saved.
“Hi,” came the voice on the other end. A woman.
“Hello,” said Patrick. “Who is this?”
“I’m usually not one to do this,” said the woman. “But you gave me your card a few days ago regarding parking lessons. I want to take you up on your offer.”
Time flashed. Lorraine was getting the hang of it. She could navigate narrow spaces in reverse. Her eyes sparkled. And for a brief moment Patrick got lost in the wonder of them. She pulled her handbrake up and put the car in neutral then bit her lip with a smile.
Patrick smiled. He leaned in and kissed her. She did not resist.
As time flashed again, the two strolled slowly across the mall, hand in hand like two teenagers. As Lorraine rested her head on Patrick’s shoulder, a teenage couple walked past them. Patrick looked at another couple seated in a restaurant. The man smiled and nodded at him. Patrick recognised the face. It was Greg, the leader of his fraternity. His nod said it all. He was making good strides, but he was also getting distracted. He would fail. As much of a player as Patrick thought he was, Greg knew this task was just too difficult.
Patrick looked down at Lorraine. She smiled at him, and as always her eyes sparkled. But so did Wendy’s. And in the end, she ripped his heart out and stomped on it. Lorraine will eventually do the same, Patrick thought. Wendy. Yes, that was all he needed to get back on track. He smiled back to her and then his eyes glanced over gold rings in the display window opposite them. Everything was going according to plan.
Time flashed again. He was on his knees. They were on a boat just off the Walvis Bay beach. Her hands were over her mouth. A tear leaked from eye, and then she said yes and hugged and kissed him. Another tear leaked, time flashed. Another tear leaked. Lorraine was standing over a coffin giving one last look at the icy body that lay stiff in the wooden casket. Another tear leaked. Patrick walked up to her and wrapped his arm around her, she buried her face into his chest and began to weep. She was so strong, but this would break anyone. Patrick looked down, the eyes that below stared into the void, but even in death the resemblance was uncanny. Lorraine looked so much like her mother.
Time flashed. The wedding was postponed to give her time to grief and in those moments she needed him the most. He spent countless nights over at her house. She would just clasp her hands around his waist and lay there without saying a word, sometimes sobbing, sometimes silent. Patrick would stroke her hair gently. She was strong. She would never get over her mother’s death, but she would learn to live with it. And she did. The sparkle in her eyes returned again. Patrick’s heart skipped when it finally did. Did he love her? What about the task?
The priest raised an eyebrow at Patrick. He was waiting. Lorraine was still smiling, but the sparkle was dying from her eyes. Fear was taking over.
Patrick looked at the congregation again. His eyes met Greg’s. He smiled, turned back to Lorraine, and made his decision.