A delivery man gets an offer for an extra payment just for talking.
The young man pulled into the parking lot of the condominium. It was a sight to behold, despite how dark it is outside. He put it out of his mind and walked inside the lobby. The small lobby area was a grand example of shining opulence. Far more classy than what a fancy apartment complex deserves. In any case, he hurries along to the elevators, eager to finish his job and get some well-needed rest. On the way up, his eyes wander around the glass cage and land on the view before him.
"Getting high enough to see where I work from here..." He looks on in wonder at the horizon. The city's bright lights were beautiful from this distance, and the building was so far out that the stars were visible for once. The delivery man stays entranced by the sight until the ding from the elevator pulls him back. He remembers why he's there and rushes out.
He knocks on the only door that has a light on since he was never given a room number. Luckily, he would be getting another successful delivery as he heard the lock on the door turn. It slightly opens and all he can see is someone staring back at him. Their gaze drifts down to the bag of Chinese food he's holding.
"Uh... You ordered something from the Hunan Restuarant right?" He prods, unsure if he has the right person.
"Yeah. I did." A feminine voice answers. "Here." She hands him a crisp 20.
Satisfied with the bill, he wishes the woman a good night and turns on his heel. All that's on his mind now is getting home and into bed. At least, it was until the woman called him back. He turns again, curious to see what she wants.
"So... A bit of an odd request but can I ask you to come inside and talk for a little while? I just... need to get some things off my mind. I can pay you for your time."
The lady was leaning out of her door and the weary man was able to get a better look at her. There's makeup streaked down her pale face. She's wearing nothing else but a robe and house slippers. However, what caught his attention the most was the one hundred dollar bill between her fingers. Any thoughts about going to sleep have left his mind and any reservations about the possibility of being murdered have been thrown to the wayside. An extra hundred just for talking is easy money.
"Sure. I can do that but I won't be able to stay long."
He enters her unit and feels at ease but sad. A short look around doesn't let him see much with no light. The feeling lingers in the air but he can't place it and sits next to the woman. Together, they stare out of the floor-to-ceiling window. It almost feels like an eternity before she speaks up.
"I guess I should tell you my name first... I'm Mila."
"I'm Vela. Heh, look at that. Our names rhyme!" He chuckles.
She manages an almost silent giggle before letting out a heavy sigh.
"I'm sorry. It's a little hard for me to start talking about things. It took a lot of courage to even ask you to come in here." She holds her head in her hands.
"Well... I'm fine with staring out the window for now. It's such a nice view."
"You're an odd guy if you like staring out at something like this."
"I'm not used to it. Like, at all. I wish I could have a view that looks this good! The window in my apartment is facing a wall, for Christ's sake."
That gets something out of her. A laugh. A short one, but still a laugh nonetheless.
"Your place is huge in comparison to my place too!" He continues. "My apartment is about the same size as that kitchen and has two side rooms for the bathroom and the bedroom. That's it! Right now, I feel like I'm a peasant who was invited to the king's table."
The young man's struggle to hide his admiration seems to have cheered the somber woman up, if just a little bit.
"Anyway... You must be in some pretty dire straits if you're asking a delivery driver to chat with you."
"...This might sound weird but... I'm having a sort of... midlife crisis? Yeah, that sounds closest to what it is." She explains, putting a finger to her chin.
"You don't look or sound anywhere close to thirty though." The food courier ran a hand through his brown hair. Her words didn't make sense.
"You don't have to be so blunt!" She snaps. "But... you're right." Her posture slumps and her arms go around her knees. She takes a deep breath before continuing. "Do you think I'm... pretty or cute? Desirable even? Some guys my age like older women so I was wondering..."
"I can't... really see you all that well. Let turn on my phone's flash-"
"Don't." She grips his arm. That feeling of self-preservation is starting to kick in and just for a moment, he wonders if this may have been a bad idea. He regains his composure.
"Look, Mila. I don't know you. Well, I've known you for about ten minutes, but that's beside the point! You paid me to talk to you for a bit so I might as well try to do a good job."
He pauses, scared of what came out of his mouth. Even if he was getting paid to do this, it was still in a stranger's home. He felt the grip on his arm slacken and he slipped away. The silence that filled the living room was deafening and it made Vela feel like he had a lump in his throat. His gaze stayed focused on the bright horizon of the town, not wanting to look at the woman. At least, he didn't until he saw light to his left.
"You're right." She sighed. "How do I look?"
The lump in his throat was no more. Instead, he felt like he couldn't breathe. He saw a pair of gray-blue eyes looking back at him, waiting for a response. Straight, black hair created a curtain that framed her soft face and a pair of plump lips. Her pale, milky skin made everything else about her shine in the low light. After his brain started working again, he gave figured out what to say.
"I look bad, don't I?" She asks, taking his silence as negative.
"Not at all! You're one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen!" He accidentally raises his voice. "No one I've seen in the last 5 years could even compare!"
Her eyes flash with appreciation and her face flushes pink. "R-really? You're serious? I mean... all the guys I've gone out with have said some similar stuff. But I can't ever seem to get more than a few weeks of contact out of them." She sulks. "Even worse was the guy who cheated on me after a month."
He sits for a moment, stunned. How could anyone stop talking to such a woman? Much less, go out with another person at the same time. The very idea boggles his mind.
"I've been in a couple of relationships and based on that, I think the problem is either personality or commitment."
She tilts her head as if asking for Vela to elaborate.
"How can I put this?" He thinks for a minute. "Ah! Think of it like this. You go out on a date with a guy and hit it off but as you get to know him, he turns out to be a very mundane or controlling person. On the other hand, commitment is a problem for a lot of people and some aren't meant to be in exclusive relationships. They're polygamous."
The young man continues to ramble while the Asian woman gives him her full attention. After a few minutes, she finally decides to stop him.
"So, you mean to say that it's not really my fault that I can't hold a relationship?"
"Not entirely, but from what I understand, it's barely your fault." He takes his cap off. "I've been told a lot of things. I'm not mature enough. I don't bring enough to the table. I'm too laid back. I'm too controlling... I've been told that I'm so many things that I can't even begin to tell where the problem lies." His forlorn gaze towards the city's skyline is unwavering.
Mila is a little surprised to see a sad side to the goofy delivery driver. Vela turns and sees the odd expression on her face.
"Sorry." He chuckles. "Here we are. Supposed to be talking about your issue and here I am, making it about myself." Frustration and embarrassment paint his face as he starts to grimace.
"No, no! It's fine. I enjoyed listening for a moment. It was-" His phone begins to ring. He groans before answering.
"Where are you?! If you hadn't picked up your phone, I would've thought that you died!" A woman comes through on the other end of the phone, loud enough that his first reaction to jerk away.
"All the other drivers went home already and I was this close to going out to look for you myself!"
"Lucy! I'm fine. I just lost track of time listening to music while cruising around. I'll be back in a bit." He hangs up and stands. "Got too into our conversation there. A bit more than I was expecting, to be honest."
"I'm glad that you did. It did help, even if it didn't seem like it. Here." The promised treasure. A hundred bucks. As much as he wants that green paper, something feels off.
"You can keep it. Doesn't feel right to take that from you after everything we talked about. Actually... I want something else instead."
"Oh? What would that be?" She already seems to know what he's going to ask.
"Can I get a date with you?"