CHAPTER 3– The deal & the stranger
It was raining quite heavily . Even though the morning was cool and breezy , it started getting gloomier by the day, with dark clouds wandering around in the sky, not cluelessly, but, with a motive. Yes, rain was in the weather forecast today. The clouds broke down into hours of rainfall that bathed the streets and drenched people who came unequipped . Amanda sat by the window focussing on the sound of the rain, ‘spack a speck speck’.
Suddenly some Footsteps … she heard it loud and clear . Interrupting her communication with nature herself, she turned to check if Mr. Ross has arrived, and ‘Bingo ! Here he comes’ , she muttered, welcoming him with a smile, and they shook hands before settling down on their seats. Amanda quickly glanced over her shoulders to check if the ‘familiar stranger’ was still staring at her. Of course she was feeling uncomfortable, but, at the same time the familiarity of his appearance was baffling. Trying to concentrate hard on the meeting, she started discussing the job details with Mr. Ross. He was the creative director of Secure ad agency. He started browsing through her previous works, asking questions and praising her creativity, at times. Then he started giving her some information about the advertisement they would be working on together, the brand owner -who is their client and the product. Her responsibility ? She needs to come up with ad concepts or ideas regarding a new vacuum cleaner, Pristine 909 , it’s essential feature being- it can be operated using voice commands. It is about to get launched in a few weeks time.
‘Interesting’, she thought. Finally they discussed the payment figures and both of them agreed to work together by signing the contract. She was feeling optimistic and hence, satisfied to start using her brains productively again. It was an extremely good feeling to unleash the horses of your imaginations and let them reach the remote corners of the universe, which otherwise is not quite possible.
Ohh..she so loves her work. She was so obsessed with creative writing that soon after finishing high school she decided to make a career in it. So she enrolled for the creative writing degree program in Welleby College and yes after graduating , hurdles and obstructions were her friends. But, she moved all the stones on her way and learnt a lot in the process. This was her fourth freelancing contract and her previous works nailed it.
She almost forgot about the man on the next table, she turned to see if he was still there. No, he was gone. Strange . Questions, questions and questions- she got really worried when they started to flow all over her mind. Unless she finds the answers to them, she becomes so unmindful. Right now the questions were- Why would he sit alone on a table for so long, just gazing at her ? He did not seem to have ordered anything to eat, too, all this while. SO, what was his purpose of visiting the restaurant ? Was he stalking her ?
“Amanda, hey, Amanda , u hear me?’, Mr. Ross was waving his hand near her face, trying to get her attention back to ‘now’. An incident of unmindfulness , has happened already. She zoned out thinking too much. “Are you okay?”, asked Mr. Ross. Amanda shrugged and shook her head, saying,”Oh yes! Am absolutely fine. Don’t worry “, she smiled and looked down on the table. Mr. Ross said, “The food is about to get cold, Shall we get started?”
The door opened, and Amanda walked in the dark room, turning on the lights as she entered. ‘Finally back home with a really good news. Can’t wait to share it with my family’, she almost sounded musical. She sank into her recliner, tired and excited at the same time. Closing her eyes for a while , trying to collect her thoughts and calm her mind which was currently booming with ideas, she tried to draw a picture of what the advertisement should look like. Something interesting, something that would push sales for the vacuum cleaner and add on to it’s popularity.
After sometime, she got up from the recliner, went to the bathroom and changed to a comfy night suit. Now she got all the time to jot down her ideas on paper. She sat on the chair next to her study table and started drawing pictures on a bunch of papers clipped together. The picture will tell, ‘ An office employee’s everyday story, how he glances at his untidy home, planning to clean it, but,… no time to operate a cleaner ? No worries, Pristine 909 , is the solution to your problem. Buy one, and see how cleaning becomes fun’. ‘Wow, now that’s a nice tagline’, she said , while scribbling a picture of a man , on the paper.
She dropped her pen in dismay. What or rather who has she drawn ? It’s almost the same man, she saw in the restaurant today. The difference ? The man she drew , had longer hair.
She could picture herself running through drapes of pale, white curtains , moving them aside with her hands, gasping for breath. Beyond the long journey through the curtains, was a green field , and there she could see, the building she has loved so much in the past years – her college . She looked at the street beside her college, her heart pounding as she saw somebody lying down in the middle of the road, and what was that ? …. A pool of blood? She was almost trembling at the sight of it. Ambulance, police cars surrounded the body from all sides. Was he still breathing? Did he meet with an accident? Her curiosity took her to the spot where he laid , bleeding profusely. She peeked at his face, trying hard to see who he was. He had long brown hair , and.. and …, ‘Oh My God!’ , she exclaimed in disbelief. It was the same man. The anonymous, familiar stranger ….