The Aging Lothario hangs out in the coffee bar, surrounded by older men he tolerates as the young women flitting in and out with their seventies sunglasses, stacked shoes, and short shorts ignore him. They stand at the bar flipping long locks of hair over their shoulders, intent on talking over each other in their need to be the center of attention.
He listens to his companions with half an ear and finally concedes he will not catch an inviting glance. His Saturday afternoon has been wasted listening to tired old jokes, tales of aches and pains, and the subtle currying of favor. He makes bland excuses; the wife will be home soon, he promised to pick up something for dinner, the dogs need a run.
The older men watch his departure, a glimmer of envy at his blond hair free of any hint of gray, his tan nicely bronzed but not too dark, his parting smile dazzlingly white. Their conversation immediately turns to the question of where he’s really going and who he plans to meet. They laugh, then sigh with remembered thoughts of their youth before the talk turns to a friend in the hospital.
The Aging Lothario walks down the block, stops on the corner and stares across the street at a row of shops. He jangles the change in his pocket. Finally, he steps off the curb and crosses the street.
The door to the shop at the end of the row has a coded lock. He keys in the numbers and enters the space. Workmen had been there earlier so he had kept to the far side of street as he made his way to the coffee shop. Now, he has the place to himself and no one the wiser.
He glances over the new shelving and a large, waist high table in the center of the room. It is very modern with a white acrylic surface. Drop clothes and a ladder occupy the area to the left of the fireplace.
He stands just inside the doorway debating what to do next. He had hoped she would be there, checking on the progress, deciding where to place her displays.
A restless, dissatisfied feeling settles over him. He checks the time on the Very Expensive Watch his wife had given him several years ago. The Very Expensive Watch paid for with the Very Rich Wife’s money. The Very Rich Wife whose money comes from the Very, Very Rich Father-in-Law. The same Very, Very Rich Father-in-Law who is the Aging Lothario’s overlord.
The Aging Lothario knows he’s on thin ice with the Very, Very Rich Father-in-Law. All that bother about the last Nymph has caused the lone eye of the Ogre, aka, The Very, Very Rich Father-in-Law, to turn in his direction.
He shouldn’t be here. He tempted Fate with the last Nymph. He should have rented the space to a clock maker or a used book seller or anything other than the svelte, tanned, blond streaked Nymph of a manicurist. The necessity to send her on her way cut deep. The anger still simmers just below the surface. There will be retribution. He is sly that way, the Aging Lothario.
This time he will have to be more careful. He glances out the glass of the door of the shop, checking the street. He really shouldn’t be here. There’s no reason for it, no way to justify it. But the New Nymph is so tempting with the streaked blond hair and long, tan legs. If only he’d found her here.
The Aging Lothario takes a turn around the space, checking the progress in the bathroom and the little cubby of a private office. She’ll be ready to open soon. He’ll come to the grand opening. That will be justifiable, he decides. Part of his job, really, checking on the Ogre’s business, making sure his investment is paying off.
The door of the shop opens and the New Nymph walks in followed by another young woman. She’s surprised to see him there as is her companion. She makes the introductions. This is the partner, the older member of the company, but only slightly so.
The New Nymphs exchange a side-eye glance. It isn’t lost on the Aging Lothario. He feels the heat in his face. He mutters about inspecting the work and is suddenly bereft of the golden tongue that he uses to charm and persuade. He makes his excuses and departs, afraid to look back as the door closes behind him.
He considers returning to the coffee shop. Lydia is due to take the late afternoon shift. But in the end, he heads toward his car, his shoulders slightly slumped in defeat, the lines around his eyes and mouth deepening with his disappointment, aging him further. The Ogre will be watching him closely now and all for naught. He has squandered his carrot. The New Nymphs signed a two year lease.
Still, he might have been mistaken. The glance between the Nymphs might have been innocent. He has probably read more into it than was there. His shoulders straightened a bit and he whistles softly as he unlocks the Mercedes that the Very Rich Wife’s money bought.