He was sitting there scared. Despite the fake sense of self-confidence his sunglasses gave, he was completely terrified. He was grateful for the glasses and wondered why he hated them – and the people who wore them – before. They were perfect for him, they hid his panic from the staring eyes of the people in the room. The wait was going to be long, he sensed it and he needed all the help to preserve his cool attitude that day. He could not ruin it.
Andrea helped him choose his clothes that day, she has a good taste, he thought. He knew that she loved him, but he also knew that there was no way he could reciprocate that love. He had to be focused and this whole adventure he was about to embark on, required a great deal of devotion, mental toughness and concentration. Love is a distraction and he – more than anyone – knew the dangers of a distraction. He needed to focus, it was not the time to think about Andrea or any other person, he just needed to play it all in his head in these coming minutes before he was called into the other room, he waited for that day for so long, and now that he had his opportunity, he was not going to ruin it, not for Andrea, not for anyone.
But it was so hard to concentrate. He could still smell her seductive perfume as she came closer to him tying his tie. He could still feel her slender body almost touching his, but not quite. What a tease. He did want to kiss her. He didn’t though, not because he was afraid of starting a new chapter in a hopeless story, but because – in his mind – that was all a training, a test for his toughness and focus. If he could manage the seduction of a woman like Andrea, then nothing on earth could break him down, nothing on the other side of that door could threaten his chances.
He looked down at the bag he had with him. Does anyone realise it’s actually empty? It seemed to fit him, Andrea didn’t approve but he felt like he needed a bag that day. It nicely complemented his glasses and the tie, the whole look he had for that important day. And like the sunglasses that hid the doubts in his eyes, the bag made him walk more confidently, as if it balanced his steps that would otherwise be inclined towards the left and he can not be seen as a leftist, not today at least. He smiled at the thought, it was a clever one and he definitely needed some of that intelligence in the other room. But more importantly of course, he needed the self-assured look, the toughness and a slight inclination to the right. He smiled again.
He started thinking about the uncomfortable chair. It must be a test, he thought, a way for them to test his resilience. He wanted to move to the sofa in front, it must be more comfortable, but he can’t show any sign of being hesitant. That’s the only thing they wouldn’t tolerate. He wished if Andrea was there with him right now then dismissed the thought quickly and cursed that seductive perfume.
There was no sound coming from the other room and none coming from the big window facing him. Absolute silence. He started humming some jazz tunes in his head, to entertain himself and ease the pressure. He looked at his watch and he could swear the clock went backwards. That jazz tune was his favourite, the first time he listened to it was with …. Damn … Focus, now, focus.
He started thinking about the other room, he wished if he came earlier to get done with this whole matter. Nothing in life is worse than anticipation. He wondered what was behind the door? how many people? how come people go in and never return back? Do they have a backdoor? Are they wearing sunglasses too? He felt thirsty, and although he was told where he could get some water, he chose to wait. He was afraid that if he got up, then he wouldn’t be able to recollect the confident appearance he worked so hard on building. He didn’t really need the water. Resilience, remember, resilience, he told himself. And anyhow, few more minutes and the wait would be over. Maybe just kill the minutes thinking about that perfume..
He then saw the cord in front of him. It must have been there since he sat down, but he didn’t notice it for some reason. He started rolling the heel of his shoe on the cord, then got his other foot underneath it. He wondered whether he could make a knot around his leg using only his other foot. He started playing with the cord, pushing it with one foot against the other leg. Just a simple knot, he thought, it would be much easier if he could take off those uncomfortable shoes he had today. He kept trying, after all it was a better training for his resilience than letting his mind wander about Andrea and her perfume. He kept trying until he finally managed to get the wire around his leg, and then skilfully getting its tip between his other leg and the other side of the cord to form a knot. Then he used the chair leg to get a grip and assist him with making the knot tighter. And he did it. But then he realised that his two legs were tied, somehow. He didn’t quite understand how he got himself into that situation, knots were not his strongest suite admittedly. He could use his hands to get out of the problem, but now it was a matter of pride, it was no longer a game and he had to do it using only his feet. These were the rules after all. He started shaking his two legs and rubbing them in different directions to ease the knot and have some room for manipulating the cord but the more he shook his legs, the tighter the knot got. He wasn’t about to give up or resign though, resilience is what he’s known for, and more importantly, what would the men in the other room think if he couldn’t get himself out of a simple problem like that. As he was getting more and more consumed by his cord dilemma, the door was finally open and a gentleman called his name, once, twice, thrice … He finally looked up with exasperation, slowly took off his glasses and said: Can’t you see I am busy now?