Stranger Danger ?
I walked through the huge hall, as my eyes searched for the party’s host, George Morgan. I did find Mrs. Morgan, as she stood conversing with some guests, but not him. I enquired about his whereabouts from her, and got to know that George had to go out due to some work. Well, George Morgan was the person who got the most untimed calls.
George and I had been friends for ages. I thought about the fun we would have had, if I was eating my dinner with George. Mrs. Morgan was busy talking with the people she knew, and the other guests had began making new friends, but I, being an introvert, didn’t want to make any. So, I was stuck alone for sometime, that is, until I met Susan.
She was a young lady of small physique. Probably a little bit older than my nineteen year old son, Jason. An earlier argument with him that day, had put me off about the idea of either sitting or having a conversation with people of young age. Teenagers are so confusing, there is no understanding of their behavior. At least, I don’t have one. I don’t think we have what people say- the ideal father son bond. I didn’t have the slightest idea of what was wrong with Jason that evening, he was just grumping about for no reason, and then, we ended up having an argument.
Susan looked more like the friend of little Alex Morgan, the child whose twelfth birthday was being celebrated on that day. She wore a simple blue dress, no furs and no leathers, unlike most of the female guests that day.
The waiters served the soup. I began aimlessly, taking little interest on what was happening around me. I was just halfway through my soup when she started.
“Hey, listen…..” She began.
I was startled, and definitely not in the mood of talking. Hiding my tiny annoyance, I looked
“I would need you as a witness if something goes wrong.”
What was she talking about? Whatever it was, she looked serious.
Before I could open my mouth to ask her, she interrupted,
“You see that waiter there?” She said, moving her head to point at a waiter standing in one corner of the hall.
“Yes, I do.”
“Great. He is about to steal.”
“What are you talking about?” I looked at her, wide eyed.
“Just wait. He is going to pick the Rolex of the gentleman sitting in front of us.” She tried to explain.
I looked at her doubtfully. Was she even sane?
“I am not joking. His actions are clearly on my side.” She said. “Just wait, and watch.”
The waiter came to serve the drinks, kept the glass, and went away. He was right in front of me. I saw nothing.
“I told you. Didn’t I?” She said again.
“What are you talking about?” I said, troubled.
“I didn’t see anything.”
“Exactly.” She said, with large eyes, as if satisfied by her own thoughts.
I stared at her, trying to understand what she was trying to say.
“Alright. Look at the waiter.” I looked. “Look at the pocket in the back of his pants.”
She was right. He had the watch. I glanced at the hand of the man sitting in front of us. He didn’t.
“What now?” I said, panicking a little. “Should we tell him?”
“No, don’t. It would just spoil everyone’s dinner.” She said. “I will get it back.”
She was definitely out of her mind.
“How would you?”
“Just wait. Keep an eye old man. I want you as my witness.”
Witness? I wasn’t here to be a part of some criminal case. I looked, nonetheless. She called the waiter. It looked like he didn’t want to come, but did, out of his job.
“Can I know who cooked this?” She started.
“Is there a problem with the food, madam?” He said.
“No, no. I liked it.”
“Great, I would…”
“Is he calling you?” She interrupted.
“Who?” He turned around.
“That guy. The waiter. Yeah, he is calling you.” She said, pointing at the group of waiters standing. The hall was filled with guests, and it was hard for him to see.
“Where?” He asked, annoyed.
“Look at those people standing over there. It looks like he called you.”
"I would just go and check.” He said, and walked away.
“What happened.” I said. I felt like I was sitting with a psychopath, who wanted me to be a part of her wild imaginations.
“Look at this.” She said, and showed me the watch while keeping her hand under the table.
“How did you?” I began.
“You believe it now?”
“Yes, yes.” Bewildered, I replied.
“Great, now if something goes wrong, please explain everyone I wasn’t taking the watch.” She said.
Before I could ask about what she was doing, she tossed the watch from under the table. I relaxed my body downwards to see where it went. It was beside the shoe of its owner. The thick carpet had made sure there was no sound.
“What did you do? Would you now tell him about it?”
“No, no. You ask a lot of questions. Just watch how human behavior helps me out.” Saying this, she turned slightly towards the left, and talked out loud enough for the people sitting around us to hear.
“Mrs. Morgan.” She began.
“Yes, my dear Susan?” The lady asked.
“What was the color of watch you said you were going to buy?”
“Olive green. I like it a ….” Before she could speak more, the lady sitting beside her interrupted, asking her about it. Thus, the conversation ended.
“See, all good.” She said.
“Yes, that was amazing.” I said excitedly.
Well, what happened during the conversation was that the man, hearing about a watch, had looked at his. Finding it gone, he looked at his sides, then the carpet. He picked it up, murmured a few things about its heaviness, and went back to talking with the man beside him.
“You, you were just like a tiny Sherlock Holmes out there.”
She smiled, and started having her food again. But then, she turned to look at me, wide eyed. There was a touch of visible confusion on her face.
“Was it appreciation or were you joking about my small height?”
I froze. Even though I had meant to appreciate her strange talent, it was a fact that I had, mistakenly, pointed out that she was small.
“Appreciation, it was an appreciation kid.”
“Oh, oh, I see.” She said.
“How did you meet George?” I asked. She was definitely not a friend of Alex Morgan.
“Oh, Mr. George Morgan. Well, he has been teaching me about writing. He says I have got good imagining skills, but they would not shine until I get proper tips. You know, he started a club for people who wish to learn about writing.
“Yeah, the Blue pen club.”
She paused, and placed the spoon back without eating.
“Are you, John Berg?” She asked.
Wait. How did she know it?
“Yes. I am. How did you know it?”
“Oh, It was just a small guess. I am Susan Marinova. Actually, Mr. Morgan talks about you every now and then. He said that you are a talented writer and his best friend. He told us that you teach good, but you are an introvert, so you don’t like teaching many. Everyone was talking, except for you. You didn't make many eye contacts either. You look like an introvert.”
“So introverts have got an appearance huh?”
“No, it’s the behavior. My father is similar, I could relate.”
She hadn’t finished her soup yet. She just sat moving her spoon in the bowl. I thought she hated it.
“You don’t like it?” I asked.
“No, no, it is good. You know, what they say, the perfect balance of spices. Like that. But it just reminds of the time my mother had tried to put me on a diet.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Well, I wasn’t interested in reducing my food intake, I revolted. I threw the soup in the sink. She saw me, and then what? I got smacked so hard that I hit my head on the same sink. End of the story.” She said.
I laughed at her narration.
“Are you writing something right now?” She started again after sometime.
“No, I am not.”
“Oh, like a break?”
“Yes. Are you writing something?” I asked.
“I wasn’t. But I probably will. Today’s party is going to give me a lot of characters and a lot of stories.” She said, finally returning the bowl of her soup to the approaching waiter.
“Like, look at that bearded man in the suit.” She said, signing to a man standing near a painting.
“Yeah, what’s with him?”
“He is the half character.”
“Now look at that lady talking to Mrs. Morgan. She has got a fur coat and a leather bag. She is going to be the rest.”
“Wait, they are completely different. How are you going to make up a character with them?”
“Yes.” She said excitedly. “Smash.” She clapped her hands. Everybody looked. There was an awkward silence. She smiled at them apologetically, they returned to their talking. She whispered, “Smash, and then you get a huge guy, tall, who is an animal dealer, rich, and probably too mean. You have a new character.”
“You are wild.” I said, surprised.
“But that’s good, isn’t it?” She said.
“Yeah, your character has got potential. George was right, you do have nice imagination.”
She giggled. I shivered, imagining how her parents would have controlled her in her childhood. She was restless, a lot, lot more than the normal amount.
However, I did not fail in noticing her innocence and friendly character, and yes, I of course was not going to question about her imagination. She could bring up good ideas, and I was happy for her that she could learn from George.
“Would you give me tips about writing?” She said again, as we began eating.
“What tips?” I said.
“Sometimes, while doing a project, I feel like stopping. You know, like throwing it in the trash.”
“What does George has to say about it?” I asked.
“Well, he says it happens sometimes. Says I should take a break when I feel like that.” She replied.
“Yeah, he is right.”
“No he is not.” She got gloomy.
“I don’t think I could do that. I can’t waste my time.”
“It is just like a holiday. You can.”
“My father wouldn’t like it.”
“Why wouldn’t he?”
“Because, he thinks I can’t.”
“He says he hates it when I write, he says it’s not a lucrative profession. But I know the truth, he doesn’t want me to feel sad if my book is not successful.”
“I understand, parents care. But, why don’t you tell him not to worry?”
“Do you think I didn’t? I did. But he just won’t listen.”
“It’s alright, parents worry. You should just focus on you motive.”
“Would you have not worried if your child made plans for an occupation that you have no idea about?”
Then, it struck me. That’s what I was doing wrong. Jason was stressed out because of me. I tried to protect him so much, that I ended up closing the doors of everything he loved. He wanted to be a lawyer, he had said. I thought he would have made a good engineer, well, making things was his hobby. But I missed, it was his hobby, not his dream.
“Yes. Yes I would have.” I said, still troubled about the thought that came over me.
“See, everyone’s the same. They want us to be happy, but are too scared to let us do something on our own. They are scared for us. I am not complaining, I am just saying. I just want him to give me some time, and by that, I mean really, some time. I know I would make things work out. He doesn’t have to worry. I would not fail him.”
Every word she said, appeared as if Jason was complaining out to me.
I stopped her in between.
“Listen, kid. Whatever you said to me, just say that all to him.”
“Who? My dad? He would never listen.”
“I don’t know. I have said him about how it is not a bad job.”
“That’s where you are going wrong. He knows it could be successful, don’t tell him that. I want you to tell him that you know he is worried.”
“I never thought it that way.”
“Neither did I.” I said.
The celebration ended, and were going to leave after thanking our host. George had not returned yet, and I was sure he would meet his son with puffed cheeks. But, they would make it work. As I walked out, I saw Susan again. She excitedly walked towards me.
“Thank you Mr. Berg. I am sure after I explain him calmly, he would understand. I hope to meet you sometime again.”
“Yes. Thank you too.”
“For letting me know how my son felt.”