Kelvin didn’t believe his luck when three months earlier, at the Pine Creek Fair, Kathleen had danced with him. Frank was drunk, only getting drunker and probably for a dig at Kelvin, had asked Kathleen to dance with him. Kelvin didn’t mind – at least he got to be close to possibly the most beautiful woman in all of Pine Creek. Frank and Kelvin had gone through school together, and they had always been poles apart- studious to rebellious, quiet to raucous, law abiding to criminally inclined, responsible to spontaneous- the list goes on. It was at the dance that he’d first smelt Kathleen’s perfume, his nose close enough to the nape of her neck as they danced to Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”. He smelt hints of citrus and jasmine that gave him a heady, almost dizzy euphoria.
Much to Kelvin’s surprise, days after the fair, Kathleen approached him at the diner where he was seated alone, and slipped him a note written on a napkin. It read “Loved our dance, meet me Saturday 21:00 at the boathouse, near the oak tree”. And so their clandestine, non-consummated affair began. He’d counted down the minutes till that first rendezvous. In the three months, they hadn’t even shared a kiss, but it was hugely satisfying for Kelvin to be in the orbit of such a beauty, considering his last relationship, if it could be called that, was fourteen years earlier and had only lasted a handful of months. Kathleen had told him he’d reminded her of her father, but didn’t go into any further detail. He’d wondered what that meant was he the intellectual, quite type? He’d mused, while up late at night running their conversations through his mind over and over just to feel what he’d felt in her presence.
Now here they were, Frank dead and Kathleen at Kelvin’s place of employment, just across from him as he assessed her claim for Frank’s life insurance. Like the rest of Pine Creek, he’d been shocked when Frank went missing and was genuinely saddened when the search was called off and Frank was assumed dead. He was sad because he felt for Kathleen, who was torn between him and Frank, as she’d told Kelvin. With Frank gone, Kelvin couldn’t also help feeling pleased that there was now nothing in the way of him and Kathleen, though obviously they’d have to wait for an appropriate length of time to go public with their relationship. Kathleen had spoken to Kelvin discreetly at Frank’s wake and promised that things between them could now take their natural course. She even made mention of potentially buying a house on the lake, seeing as she’d a recipient of a bit of money through Frank’s life insurance.
It made Kelvin nervous to see Kathleen sitting there. He could smell her perfume wafting in through the small gap in the window of his booth that divided them, a welcome change to the smell of *Wite-Out and carbon copy paper that normally filled Hanson Merchant Insurance Co. Even with the scratched surface of the booth’s window, her beauty was on full display, making Kelvin cough as he tends to when he is nervous. Shuffling through her papers, his mind raced, with thoughts of what the future would hold, including thoughts that made his cheeks flush with embarrassment and a little shame too, seeing as Kathleen was only freshly widowed. Eileen, sitting just behind him, exacerbated his nervousness. She was busy typing letters to clients but he feared that she might pick up on something between him and Kathleen as women tend to.
In his eagerness to end his great discomfort, as nice as it was to see Kathleen, he rushed though the claim, ticking boxes, marking his initials and rubber stamping the papers before stapling the appropriate sections and inserting the file into Eileen’s in-tray, ready to start the process of payment to Kathleen.
Relieved that he had finished processing her claim, he allowed himself to smile at Kathleen as he called out “excuse me ma’am.” Her perfume consumed him and he felt the familiar giddiness he has in her presence as she approached his booth. Not giving away a thing, drawing on her past as an actress, he thought, Kathleen asked “Is everything okay, can I go now?” to which he informed her that her claim had been successful, although betrayed by his stutter which meant he had to say it a few times.
Draw from a previous story you’ve written. This time, shake things up and shine the limelight on one of your secondary characters (prompt from The Daily Post writing challenge on sidekicks/partner’s in crime). Based on this previously published story.
*Interesting fact: I did a little internet research, to decide whether or not to use the term “Tipp-Ex” then came across the Wikipedia page on Wite-Out which revealed that an insurance company clerk was behind the invention of Wite-Out! Also, totally unrelated and unintended, the timing of release of Frankie Valli’s song and Wite-Out fitted- the kind of coincidences that make me smile : )
Note, here is another related story, previously published, giving Frank’s story.