Being inspired, maybe – 60
A picture paints ... well, as many words as you like. For instance:
And, then, the words:
The letter came as a surprise.
It was short and to the point.
"There is a ticket enclosed. Pack light, and be prepared to travel at short notice. Your next instruction will be at your destination."
It was a game, not one I particularly liked, by Suzanne had this wry sense of humour that I allowed her to indulge in. But, Her family were wealthy, and apparently, my family needed their investment, and my wishes and even hopes and desires were lost in translation.
But I thought after the last time we had agreed by to do this any more, but meet in a more conventional manner.
"You look annoyed, Michael," my father said.
I may be an executive in the company hierarchy with responsibility only to the managing director, and autonomy that others in the same position would find useful, but that autonomy didn't run to going off unannounced for what could be several days.
"She's at it again,"
I'd told him what I thought about it the last time, and he agreed something should be done about it, but if I was a betting man, I'd bet he's done nothing about it. He said he would, but he'd said it before.
His expectation was that I would marry her and that would stop the nonsense. I wasn't sure it would, but then I would have to be madly in love with her, which I was not.
In fact, I was not sure what I felt towards her. At the moment it was an annoyance.
He didn't sound surprised. "Where to this time?"
"Hong Kong to start, anyone's guess where it will end."
You could never tell with her. Last time we started in Singapore and ended up in Vienna."
"Humour her. I suspect she's bored and as I keep telling Joe she needs a job to occupy her mind."
Joe, her father, had a very poor opinion about women in business, and as long as he was alive, she would be at a loose end. I had suggested she seek a job somewhere else, she had remarkable academic qualifications, but it hadn't progressed.
I shrugged. "You can tell Bill he's going to have to cover for me this time, he wasn't very happy the last time."
And that was putting it mildly. He didn't see the need for her family's fin a nice, nor the necessity for me to replicant after her.
I had thought he was jealous, and maybe he was once when she passed him over as being too stuffy but was glad in the end she had given recent history. The last time was going to be the last time, he said.
"You let me worry about your brother. When do you leave?"
"Now. I'll keep you in the loop."
A shake of his head and I was dismissed.
I travel light as a matter of practice. My role in the company took me to a lot of places, but never longer than getting there, getting the business done, and getting out. There was no time, nor did I particularly want to, allocated for relaxing and taking in the sights.
Hong Kong was not one of those destinations, but it, like Singapore was a staging point, and I very rarely stayed there, but I had in the past stayed twice for an extra day, but only because the plane had difficulties.
Not one for being a tourist, I never bothered, on either occasion, to go out to see the sights. As far as I was aware there wasn't any.
At the airport, arriving in the morning I was not sure what to expect, but as I merged onto the concourse there was a lady holding a sign with my name on it.
"Mr James?" A woman behind the man holding the card came forward.
"Come this way please."
The man had peeled away towards an electric people mover, and as she directed me to a seat behind the drive, both he and the woman got in the front.
VIP treatment. "Do you know which hotel I'll be staying at?"
"The Peninsula, of course." She seemed surprised that I would think it was anywhere else. I should have guessed. They were the only hotel that met you at the plane gate.
I told her I didn't have to go to the baggage belt, all I needed was in my carry on, which made it easier. In a matter of minutes, I was through immigration and customs and on my way to the hotel pick up point. On the other side of customs, she handed me to another man, who directed me to a waiting car.
A green Rolls Royce.
I had to say I was impressed. If I had the money, I would buy one, but the problem was, where could I drive it? The joy in owning one of these would be in being driven around in it. Silence, except for the classical music playing softly in the background, and utter comfort.
The trip to the hotel passed uneventfully and gave me time to switch off after the flight. Traveling first class has its upside, but it was still eight or nine hours on a plane.
At the hotel, I was hard at the car by a personal check-in manager and taken to the room directly. There was not going to be the 'you can't check in till three' rule applied. The money I guess opened a lot of doors.
Then, just before she closed the door behind her she gave me another envelope, one that was almost exactly the same as I'd received at home.
No rest for the wicked.
© Charles Heath 2019