It was over two months since she’d last seen Asra and Kendra was almost positive she was heart-healed. She’d been taking a break from all dating, spending a lot of time with her mother and Fred, going to shows at the Royal, hanging out with Bianca and Devin. Basically she’d been trying to get through it. She’d been physically sick in bed for a week, and then for a month or more she was walking in a kind of grey fog of heartbreak. Only in the last week or so had she begun to feel back to herself, as long as she didn’t think about him. As long as she blocked out every single whiff of Asra she was just fine.
Bianca noticed the change immediately and pounced. “Come out with Devin and I tonight,” she said on the phone.
“I don’t know, I’m a bit tired.”
“Listen, you need to get back up on that horse, no more moping about.”
Kendra could hear something in her voice, something that sounded like a trap. “What’s so important about tonight? Why are you so keen on me going out with you tonight?”
“Nothing, why would you say that?”
“Bi, are you trying to fix me up with someone?”
Bianca sighed into the phone. “Okay. It’s not a fix up, you know him, it’s Mike.”
“The unemployed poop cleaner? The man in love with a penguin? ”
“Yeah, that one. You seemed to have made a real impression on him. He talks about you all of the time.”
“No, he doesn’t. I offended him when we went to the falcon place. I think he thinks I’m insensitive to his issues with birds.”
“Well yes maybe, but when I mentioned you were single again he was very interested. Come on! It’s not like you need to marry him. It’s Mexican night at Clover’s, two for one margaritas and free nachos. If nothing else you get free dinner and a cheap drink. That’s a good night out in my book.”
It was Friday night, and she was a single woman in the middle of one of the most exciting cities in the world. Life was not going to come to her, she needed to go out and meet it. “Yes!” she said slightly too determined, “Yes, I will go out with you and Mike the poop cleaner/ slash bird lover.”
“And Kendra, lose the poop cleaner tagline, I think he’s trying his best to forget that time in his life. And don’t mention the penguin incident. He’s still sensitive and once he gets started talking about it it always ends in tears. It’s not nice for anyone. He’s moved on, sort of. He works at the Madame Tussauds now, no more animal gigs, he’s made a vow.”
“Well that’s a bit better. What does he do at Madame Tussauds?”
“Not sure but you can ask him tonight. See you there.”
Kendra arrived a bit late. She hadn’t been out in months and couldn’t make up her mind what to wear. She wanted to make a splash into her new single, woman-about-town life. In the end, she went with a red straight skirt that showed her curves, a white blouse unbuttoned strategically , and her vintage red leather jacket. Knee high black boots, a dash of fire engine red lipstick and she was ready. Ready to take on London!
Clover’s was already packed but she spotted Bianca and Devin at a back booth. She was pleasantly surprised to see Mike. He’d shaved the long, lank blonde hair nearly off and he seemed to have got a bit more advice on dressing, easy black polo neck and Levi’s, much better Kendra thought. Her new life was already looking up.
When she got to the table the men stood up and Kendra crept into the booth after Mike gave her a dry peck on the cheek. “Good to see you again Kendra,” he said.
Was she imagining it or did he seem more confident? Amazing what a steady job could do for a man.
“You look fantastic,” Mike said after a few minutes of awkward silence.
“You too,” Kendra said. “Bianca said you got a new job.”
“Yeah, I’ve been there about six months, at Madame Tussauds.”
“What do you do there?”
“You know in the place where you walk through the dark and someone touches your shoulder?” Kendra nodded though it had been ages since she went there. “Yeah, well I’m that guy.”
“The whole day?” Kendra couldn’t really imagine that. She’d always thought it was a robot.
“Yeah, but it’s only temporary. The machine is getting fixed. But I might be up for assistant wax mould cleaner. It’s the entry level position but it could be one day I’m making Beyonce and like Johnny Depp all on my own. How cool is that? That’s like art and all.”
“Yes, sure it is.” Kendra smiled. He literally waxed lyrical for a few minutes about all sorts of “really cool” things that happen at Madame Tussauds. It was kind of interesting to hear about the behind the scenes stuff. Kendra was pleased he’d found a job he loved. She was glad she’d decided to come out after all, this wasn’t too bad. It was almost like fun.
They drank too many margaritas and ordered tacos and everyone was getting a bit too happy when suddenly Bianca became quiet. “Oh shit! All the places in London and he has to choose this one, on this night. What the fuck?”
Kendra still laughing about a story Devin had just finished about a 78 year old woman who’d come in for breast implants. She looked around but could see nothing. She didn’t know what Bianca was getting all upset about. “What? What is it Bianca?”
The men were talking together and Bianca lowered her voice. “Kendra don’t freak okay. Just don’t freak. He’s here behind you. I think he saw me.”
“Who? What are you on about?” Kendra said confused.
“Shit! Shit, shit, shitty-shit! He’s coming this way! Get ready, he’s coming.”
“Who?” Kendra asked but before Bianca could answer Asra was standing next to their table. He obviously hadn’t seen Kendra, and was only expecting to greet Bianca and Devin but then he saw her and for a minute he just stood looking at her.