Charisma is an exciting adventure and challenges what you thought you knew about the world
The sudden arrival of Sunday morning seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. Pouring through the thick wooden Venetian blinds, the brightness of the July morning sun blasted upon Liam Yager’s cringing face.
With a flick of the wrist, the spare pillow flew through the air and landed on his head. The lack of oxygen made it a poor defense against the powerful sunbeams, so he eventually gave in. He shuffled up, propping his back on the headboard of the king size sleigh bed with a slight thud. His matted dark hair was off to one side and evidence of dried drool marred his face. His eyes were red which had a lot to do with the night before.
Grimacing at the light, he turned and planted his feet on the heavy white carpet. Cursing his fortune, he forced himself up and stumbled into the master bathroom, bumping his shoulder against the wall and scraping his hip on the corner of the counter. He winced slightly and fumbled for his toothbrush.
In a desperate attempt to remove the hair of the skunk he must have bitten the night before, he brushed, adding toothpaste three times. After several minutes, he abandoned the futile effort, combed his hair, and stepped back into the master bedroom. He stumbled into a pair of Nike track pants, which wasn’t an easy task at six two and a hundred and ninety pounds. He headed for the kitchen.
A coffee maker, already prepared the night before, sat on the counter next to the stainless stove. The built-in clock read eleven thirteen. Liam stopped, pressed the start button and smiled as the coffee maker beeped. His forethought the night before was brilliant.
With the bubbling sound of coffee brewing, Liam shifted his weight against the counter and gazed out the ninth-floor view of Tacoma Washington’s Commencement Bay.
Unsure what was real or merely what he had dreamt, Liam found himself navigating through a haze of memories. He attempted to recall the events of the previous night. Something was obvious, he had no idea how he got home and the keys to his car were absent. Always, no matter how drunk or sober, his keys were always set on the kitchen island. The missing keys could only mean one thing. He must have given the car to someone, probably in exchange for a ride home.
The car’s location didn’t concern him. It was equipped with a GPS system and a simple logging on to a website would reveal its location.
Truly, the real concern was, how did he get into the apartment last night and hopefully it had nothing to do with Catherine next door. She was a serious person with a dry personality. Typically, she wore pleated skirts below the knees and rarely plaid, a mock or turtleneck top along with a cardigan, hair in a bun and thick black horned rim glasses. Her name was Catherine, not Katie or Kate. Most importantly, she was the keeper of his spare key.
Three beeps chimed from the coffee maker signaling the completion of brewing. Liam filled a ceramic mug. Drinking it black, he moved over to the open French doors on the far wall and stepped out to the balcony.
Warm salty air blew up from the bay as people enjoyed the sea walk below. Soaring Seagulls glided effortlessly in the breeze, squawking their usual banter.
Six Aspirin, that’s what saved him. He took them prior to his first drink and thankfully, the fog was lifting already. He’d learned the trick several years ago by accident. Desperately wanting to attend a party while suffering from a bad back, he took six or seven Aspirin. After drinking to an extreme excess, he awoke in the morning with a good back and no hangover. Since then, Aspirin had always preceded Saturday night.
The sudden short buzzing of the front door intercom interrupted the momentary peace. Liam went back to the kitchen and picked up the receiver from the counter. “Hello?”
“Hi! It’s me! I brought your car back!” A female voice explained.
It’s me? That’s not what he was hoping to hear. The female voice didn’t ring any bells, but she certainly seemed to know him. At least well enough to use his car apparently. Liam hit six to let her in the front.
Two minutes later, she was knocking at the apartment door.
“It’s open!” Liam hollered. “I’m in the kitchen.” It dawned on him that the door might not be open. The squeaking hinges confirmed it was unlocked.
A young woman in her mid-twenties, five years his junior, walked around the corner and into the kitchen. She was smiling and her teeth were white and straight. She had a lightly tanned face with big green eyes and long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. Her short bangs covered her forehead.
Liam’s eyes moved down. She was wearing a slightly oversized burgundy tee shirt with the letters WSU on the front in black and white. Her chest filled the extra size completely. The shirt fell just short of her thighs and barely covered her black stretch-pants covered bottom. Little sports socks led into pink and white Nike sneakers. Now he understood how she managed to get his car, she was cute.
The keys dangled in her right hand as she held them up to Liam. “I assume you’re looking for these? I parked on the street out front. I would have put it in the underground, but I didn’t know which spot belonged to you.”
“Thanks,” Liam smiled, taking the keys and setting them on the counter.
“Bet you don’t remember my name,” she said teasingly.
Bubbly would have been too strong a word, but full of life wouldn’t. He bet it was something like Katie, Patti, or Brittney but he merely shrugged because guessing wrong could render permanent damage to an already shaky relationship.
“I would have been very surprised if you did. You were totally bombed last night. I had to look at your identification to get your address,” she laughed.
“So we met last night?” Liam inquired timidly. Being drunk enough to have memory loss, likely meant his behavior wasn’t overly gentlemanly. It couldn’t have been too bad though, because she was here and he didn’t have car keys stuffed up his nose.
“Well, not exactly. I found you at the Mix playing Wii bowling,” she giggled.
“The Mix? Huh, I wonder how I got there, was I with anyone?” The dusty memory vaguely played in his mind but previously, he thought it was just a dream.
“Yes,” she tried to control her laughter. “You were playing with what you called ‘the most seductive woman you ever met’. Ring any bells?”
“It’s vaguely there,” Liam said, beginning to blush. He remembered a voluptuous woman, certainly not this girl, who was taller than Liam and he did remember thinking she could carry him over the threshold.
“Well, that two am cougar wasn’t exactly a woman,” she burst out laughing. “It was priceless. I had to save you before you realized she had junk between the legs!”
“How do you know I don’t go for that sort of thing?” Liam turned the tables with a calculated retort.
Suddenly she went quiet, covering her mouth with her hand. “Oh, I’m so sorry. I never even thought.”
“Good because I don’t,” he smiled. “Besides, what were you doing there?” College coeds rarely frequented the Mix. The clientele was more commonly suited to his manwoman.
“Sometimes I help out there on the weekends,” she answered, laughter slowly falling back into place.
“How the heck did I wind up there?”
“I don’t know. Some chick dumped you off, said this is where you belonged. She gave the bartender your keys and left. The rest just happened. I was pretty sure you didn’t know where you were,” she explained.
And, there it was. He knew he had to have upset someone, he just had no idea who the first woman was. Heck, he still didn’t know who this woman was.
“You still haven’t told me your name,” Liam asked.
“Allison, Allison Beck,” she extended her hand, seemingly out of habit.
Liam gently took her hand. It was soft and felt comforting. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Allison Beck. Thanks for saving my butt, literally!” Still holding her hand, he pulled her over to the dining room table and offered her a seat. “Would you care for a cup of coffee?”
“Sure, a double-double would be great,” she chirped.
“That’s two creams and two sugar, right?” He asked, releasing her hand and heading back to the kitchen.
“Of course,” she answered, looking about. “I love your picture over there. Are you religious?”
“Thanks and no. This particular picture survived World War II. It was on display at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Berlin. If you look closely, it has the museum seal pressed into the matting. The name of the piece is in German but translated, it means ‘The Ascension of Moses’. Those are the Archangels delivering the soul of Moses to Heaven while fending off Lucifer.” It was a prized possession, not because of its value, but because his father had passed it on to him.
Allison got up and walked over to the living room wall for a closer examination. “Wow, it really does,” she said, lifting to her toes.
Liam watched her muscles flex. A delightful scene. “It’s not really worth too much. I suppose the frame and matting are worth more than the art itself. For some reason though, it appeals to me,” he said, arriving at the table with two cups of coffee. He placed them down.
Allison spun around, her back arched and her shoulders rolled back. Skipping on her toes, she returned to the table. “It is a beautiful piece,” she said as she sat back down beside Liam; both facing the window view. “Your big couch, is it a Lay-z-boy?”
“You bet. American made lounging luxury.”
“Is American made important?”
“Of course, I mean if you can afford it, you should always buy American,” Liam preached.
“Oh, you mean like the silver five series BMW I drove you home in?”
“Well, the car is a company lease. If you had parked in the underground, you would have seen my F-150 pick-up,” Liam explained.
“Okay, you’re off the hook,” Allison smiled.
She had a beautiful gaze, very photogenic. He wanted to hold her hand again but refrained. “So, I feel like I owe you something for saving me last night,” Liam said.
“Yes, I think you do,” she teased.
“How would you like to come for dinner tonight?” Liam baited.
“I would love to, but judging from the sly look on your face, I’m guessing there’s a catch?”
“It’s at my parents’ place.” It was a catch-22. It would be impossible to miss Sunday dinner again since he was absent for the last three Sundays in a row. His mother had demanded his presence, but he wanted to be with Allison. It would be an awkward conversation, but he was a salesman, he could sell it.
“Already? We just met. Shouldn’t we at least date awhile before I meet your family?” She giggled nervously.
“We’re not like most families. There will probably be more than fifty people there. It’s more of a social gathering than dinner,” Liam said. He considered using the term social soiree, but he figured it for a bad play. He didn’t recall anyone using such a term, ever. He must have recalled it from an old forties black and white film.
“Well I can’t go dressed like this. I’ll have to go home and change first.”
“I don’t know where you live?” Liam asked.
“South Seattle. Sand Point. Down by the University.”
“Yeah, that’s not going to work. It’ll take you an hour each way plus changing time. My parents live in West Linn, Oregon. That’ll be another three hours. It’s almost noon now so we wouldn’t get there before seven. Things start around three there. By seven, it’s only a small crowd and believe me, you don’t want that kind of attention,” Liam said, seriously.
“Hmm, maybe I can have a look at what’s in your closet and I might be able to make something work,” Allison suggested.
“Knock yourself out. The bedrooms down the Hall.”
After what seemed like an eternity, but was really about twenty minutes, Allison emerged from the hallway wearing a white shirt with orange short sleeves. Around her waist, a large black leather belt hung loosely. The shirt looked like a Flyer’s shirt without the logo. Dangling in her right hand, she had another long-sleeved charcoal mock neck shirt.
“I absolutely love orange, so I’m wearing this for the ride, but don’t worry, I’ll switch to the mock neck before we get there. It’s long enough to look like a tunic, but we will need to stop for shoes.”
Liam thought she looked fabulous, but he would have thought the same if she was wearing a potato sack. “Sounds good, I guess I should change too,” he said, heading towards the bedroom.
Five minutes later, Liam re-emerged from the hallway wearing Levi jeans and a black, shimmery v-neck shirt. The short sleeves hugged his powerful biceps and his chest muscles where clearly defined.
“Ready to hit the road?” Liam picked up the keys from the counter, slipped on his black Italian leather shoes and they left holding hands.