Heat of the Night Pt. 01

Şubat 1, 2021 0 Yazar: admin

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This is one of those stories directly inspired by two things, the version of In the Heat of the Night sung by Pat Benatar and the heady culture of the 1980s. It’s one of those laid back stories that might or might not be true, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. It’s set in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.

Author’s note. The RTA or Road Traffic Authority is the old name for Vicroads, which is similar to the DVLA in the UK or DMV in the USA.

***

Lisa stepped over to the dressing table in her bedroom to finish tying the pussybow on her white blouse as Benatar’s soaring vocals drifted down the hall. In the Heat of the Night was a song she’d initially ignored but when her sister gave her the album as a birthday present she warmed to it and just lately it had become something of her own personal anthem. Lisa fastened the three, satin-covered collar buttons and then tied the off-white lace tie into a wide bow.

She stood for a moment or two as she examined the new blouse. It was a good fit, she’d made it herself last weekend and today was the first day she’d decided to wear it to work. Two wide pleats with black edging adorned the bodice, complementing a third pleat that covered the buttons, the cuffs were held together with two silk-covered buttons. She turned to look at the side profile and arched her back, pushing her breasts out further and ran her hands over the tan, A-line skirt and for a moment contemplated the buttoned tartan skirt hanging in the wardrobe. The skirt she had on fell below her knees and was fashioned from a polyester-wool blend, now that summer was over and they were heading towards winter, warmer clothes were coming out of her wardrobe the skirt was also one of her creations.

“Well, here goes nothing,” she sighed and picking up the watch, slipped it over her wrist and then gathered up her handbag and black jacket.

The half cup of coffee was tepid by the time she returned to the kitchen and she poured it out as she mentally went through her routine. A day at work, then detour via Eastland to pick up some food and then sewing supplies. She contemplated calling her mother because there was a planned family dinner this Sunday but then changed her mind and stepped out onto the front porch. The corroded brass chimes clanked in the cold wind and she glanced up at the blue sky, and on second thoughts she went back inside to retrieve a warmer jacket in preparation for Melbourne’s notorious ‘four seasons in one day’ climate.

It was only when she opened the driver’s side door of her second hand Toyota Corolla that she realised her mistake. The courtesy light hadn’t come on and she had a flashback to the night before when she’d been fishing around in the glovebox for the cover of the Pat Benatar album. She’d turned the light on because the glovebox light didn’t work. Sure enough when she turned the ignition key, the engine just ticked rapidly. She tried once more and then thumped the wheel in frustration.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck, why me?” Lisa stared out the window.

Thumping the wheel however was not going to smooth things over at work and so she went back inside and called work. There were some people who started earlier and she was hoping it wasn’t Creepy Tim but instead it was Jane and she breathed a sigh of relief. Jane listened patiently to her tale of woe and then came up with a solution.

“Siobhan is starting an hour after you and she’s just down the road from you. Would you like me to give her a call and get her to pick you up?”

“Oh,” she bit her lip as she pictured the dark-haired Irishwoman who’d recently started work in the office, “okay, I mean, would she mind?”

“Of course not, I’m her boss too. If it’s not okay I’ll call you right back. We’ll adjust your hours when you get here.”

Lisa had some time to think as she made herself a fresh cup of coffee. Siobhan had caught the eye of just about every red-blooded man at the RTA, regardless of their marital status. She was born and raised in Northern Ireland and like many, had emigrated as the Troubles became ever more bloody and the conflict more entrenched.

She’d left a family behind in the Protestant north and had a loathing of all things pertaining to sectarianism. Her most noticeable asset was her face with a firm jawline and green eyes that sometimes looked grey, her jet black hair fell to her shoulderblades and most days she wore it loose. At five feet nine she was taller than average and it was perhaps due to her height that she could put away more alcohol than many of her male colleagues.

However the most startling feature was not her looks or her immaculate dress sense but her sexual orientation. Siobhan made no secret of the fact that she preferred women and while she could drink with a man all night, if he so much as made the wrong move towards her he’d wind up wearing a bottle in the face. So far no man had attempted to test her on that account.

Her sexual orientation had made her both a figure of fun and someone to admire because while those kinds casino şirketleri of people certainly existed, very few dared come out for fear of ridicule, the fear of being held back for promotion or both. Lisa had had little to do with her because Siobhan worked in the back office with middle management whilst she worked in records.

The knock at the door startled her and she ambled through to the front door. Siobhan was standing on the front porch wearing a black trouser suit and white blouse that was open to her cleavage, she took off her sunglasses and offered up her best smile.

“Hello, you’re Lisa?”

“Yeah, sorry, I didn’t hear you pull up.”

“My fault, I’ve got a very quiet car, are you ready?”

“I’ll just get my bag, um, you can come in if you want.”

“Okay,” Siobhan stepped over the threshold as Lisa retreated to the kitchen to fetch her bag.

Siobhan paused by the pictures hanging on the wall that showed Lisa’s family, one was a family shot of her father, mother and two sisters, the others were individual shots but there was a blank space where a picture had hung.

“Who’s the disgraced relative?” Siobhan asked as Lisa came back through with her bag.

“Huh?” Lisa stared at the spot.

“Oh, I had a picture of my boyfriend there but now that we’ve broken up I took it down.”

“Quite right,” she nodded, “so where is he now, on the dartboard?”

“Oh it’s in one of my drawers in a photo album,” she moved past her.

“How long ago was this?” Siobhan followed her, “sorry if I’m being nosey, it’s an Irish thing we always want to know who you’re related to and who you’re fucking, just in case we’re fucking them too,” she reached the door.

“Sorry, that was uncalled for.”

Lisa restrained a grin as she closed the door and locked it.

“On the contrary, it’s actually quite… funny.”

“Well it’d certainly be funny if I was bedding him.”

“I’ve heard that about you,” she nodded, “I’m really glad you were able to come by and pick me up for work, the public transport here is a joke.”

“It surely is but it’s better than negotiating checkpoints, give me Melbourne transport any day over that shite back home. So, what’s up with your car?”

“A flat battery,” she replied, “I guess I’ll have to call dad and get him to charge it up for me.”

“You can call from work,” she shrugged, “just step into my office and I’ll turn my head while you make a personal call.”

“Oh that’s all right.”

“Of course it’s all right,” she stepped out onto the street, “it’s my feckin’ phone and rules were made to be broken, it’s why they’re called rules.”

Lisa didn’t reply to that and it wasn’t until they were in the car that Siobhan spoke again.

“Where did you buy that blouse?”

“I um, made it,” she looked down at it.

“Wow,” she studied her, “you are a dark horse,” she started the engine, “I don’t suppose you do clothes for other people by any chance?”

“I have in the past, just not lately.”

“Well you might just have a customer,” she disengaged the parking brake and flicked the gear lever, “I’d pay money too, but we’ll talk about that in some other sixty seconds.”

The conversation moved onto other subjects, such as her homeland and whilst Lisa tried to steer away from the Troubles, Siobhan was not so inhibited.

“You’ve got two sides squabbling over a feckin’ lane. If you’re goin’ ta fight at least fight for a land of milk and honey not some pissin’ lane. It’s all shite, and until both sides back down and decide to at least stop shooting each other it’s goin’ ta go on and on until everyone is dead.”

“I never knew what to think of it,” Lisa fingered one of her ties.

“There’s a lot of talk and all,” she pulled into the carpark, “but the thing that always annoyed me was these rich Irish Americans who’ve never been back to Ireland for a hundred years all talking about the glory of the revolution and sending money to the IRA. If the revolution is so feckin’ fantastic then why not emigrate to Ireland and take up arms. Talk is cheap and there’s a lot of cheap talk on both sides of the divide,” she eased into a blank parking space.

“But I have to thank the Troubles for one thing at least.”

“What’s that?”

“It was the first time I acknowledged that I was attracted to women.”

“Oh,” Lisa glanced at her, “um, who was she?”

“Well she wasn’t an IRA fighter,” she came to a stop, “she was a policewoman, so she was on the other side but while my brothers were slagging her off I was taking something off in my mind,” she grinned and turned the engine off.

“Admittedly it never happened between us, I mean she was so much older than me and we were supposed to be enemies but not long after that I discovered other girls who felt the same way,” she slid the keys out of the ignition.

“So it was unrequited love,” Lisa replied, “have you ever tried to get in contact with her?”

“Alas she married a man, so while PC Docherty might have broken my heart at casino firmaları least I can thank her for turning on my light,” she leaned on the steering wheel and studied her.

“You’re different to the others.”

“In what way?” Lisa’s eyes widened.

“You’re not the first person I’ve told that story to, but you are the first person who asked if I’d ever thought of getting in contact with her.”

“It just seemed, natural,” she smoothed out her skirt.

“You’re right, it is perfectly natural,” she leaned back against the seat, “but sometimes I feel like I’m on a catwalk when I walk in there,” she glanced at the rear view mirror, “they expect me to act a certain way and talk the talk. They probably think I wear leather knickers under my clothes, I can assure you that it’s either cotton or silk.”

“Silk for me,” Lisa replied and then instantly regretted it and released the seatbelt.

“Just so you know,” she recovered a moment later.

“Aye, me too,” Siobhan chuckled, “well, let’s go and make it look like we’re working today, and remember what I said about coming into my office. No need to knock, the door’s always open and it’s not like I can draw the curtains.”

Nevertheless, Lisa still felt strange just walking into her office, let alone thinking about it and she was so distracted she didn’t realise that Siobhan had a male co-worker in there until she was almost at the door but by then it was too late to turn back. The corridor had glass-fronted offices all the way along it but Siobhan’s was one of the few that had a row of filing cabinets along one of the walls, thus she didn’t see Kevin until she came past the cabinets. To make it worse, Siobhan noticed her at the same time and motioned for her to keep coming.

“You’re five minutes early,” Siobhan greeted her and before she could reply, “Lisa is here to talk about the personal assistant position.”

“Oh, right,” Kevin whirled to face her, “well, I’ll leave you girls to it, get back to me once you’ve got something in writing.”

He rose at the same time and Lisa couldn’t help noticing the bulge between his legs but stepped aside to let him leave and closed the door behind her.

“The phone’s right there,” Siobhan rose from behind the desk, “I’ll be getting some files out, so make it quick.”

It was the quickest phone call she’d ever made to her father. Of course he could drop the battery charger around but when she asked if he could run her up to Eastland that night Siobhan had just come back to her seat.

“I’ll take you up there if you like,” she cleared her throat.

“Hang on, dad,” she looked up, “are you sure?”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t sure,” she arranged the papers on the desk, “besides, I have to do some shopping anyway.”

“Oh, okay, um, my parents live in Ringwood, maybe we could stop by and pick up the charger? I’ll give you petrol money.”

“Don’t worry about the money,” she replied, “and sure, we can do that.”

Lisa returned to the phone call and changed the arrangement but when her father asked about Siobhan she hesitated momentarily.

“She’s just a girlfriend… from work.”

“No worries,” he replied, “we’ll keep some dinner for you both.”

“I’m not sure if she wants to but I’ll certainly ask.”

She farewelled him and put the phone down.

“Thanks for that,” she glanced at the papers on the desk, “he’s um, invited you to stay for dinner but please don’t feel like you have to say yes.”

“Yes,” Siobhan pushed some stapled papers across the desk to her, “I’ll stay for dinner, here, fill this out later and we’ll see if they’ll approve the personal assistant position.”

Their eyes met.

“That’s of course, if you want to apply? If not just tell me and I can shred the application later.”

“Yes,” Lisa swallowed, “I thought it was just a joke.”

“It was to cover for you being in here while Kevin was here but it’s a real position. You wouldn’t be my personal assistant, you’d be answering to several people here, it’s all typing and filing, pretty mundane stuff but we do need extra staff and before we advertise externally we need to at least offer the job internally.”

Still it sounded a little like a half-baked excuse for her being in the office, but even so two of her co-workers did sound encouraging when they saw her put the papers into her handbag.

“You should go for it,” Donna commented, “God knows it’s a step up from having the guys here mentally undressing you. I mean the guys back there will do the same thing but at least they earn more money.”

The rest of the day passed without incident, indeed it seemed to go slower than normal but because she was working an extra hour, Siobhan had her assigned some duties that would be hers if she got the job. It actually seemed ridiculously easy compared to a her normal routine.

“So, what do you think?” Siobhan asked as they reached her car.

“It seems almost too easy.”

“Oh it gets harder, I just let you dip your toes in the shallow güvenilir casino end tonight,” she opened the back door and drop her handbag on the seat, “if you want to hang up your jacket there’s a hook in the sill,” she pulled the jacket off her shoulders and hung it from a hook.

“It’s funny, we used to dream about living in a warm country but when you have to work in it, it’s a different matter entirely,” she pulled her hair behind her and tied it with a band.

“I’m kind of used to it, I dream about waking up to the snow.”

“Thank God I don’t have to do that here,” Siobhan slid behind the wheel, “gritters, gridlock and you never seem to get warm.”

“Okay, I’ll do it,” Lisa replied.

Siobhan didn’t answer straight away as she fastened her seatbelt and put the key into the ignition.

“Do what?” Siobhan started the engine, “get naked, get drunk or apply for the job?”

Lisa caught her breath and then let it out in a rush.

“The third one, the first two sound nice but I’ve done them more than once.”

“Good choice,” she disengaged the handbrake and shifted into reverse, “so, tell me, why do you want to apply for the job?”

Lisa didn’t reply at first and when she did it came out as a mumble.

“Because it sounds good.”

“You’ll need to do better than that,” Siobhan replied, “Kevin might look like a good fuck but he’s married, even though he’s officially separated. He’s supposed to be going out with Karen but he’s fucking everything in sight, behind her back. If you want the job take a word of advice and project yourself, you have a voice and an opinion that’s worth just as much as some guy’s opinion. This is about putting yourself out there. The fault of women is not that they’re not good enough for the job, we undersell ourselves,” she slowed at the exit to Burwood Highway.

“A man walks into a job knowing he’s right for the job and even if he’s missing a few vital things he’ll bullshit his arse off to convince the interviewer that he’s the man they’re looking for, it’s all bluff and bluster. A woman on the other hand tries hard not to seem too confident because men don’t like confident women, she doesn’t want to seem arrogant or proud, she’s well aware of her own shortcomings and usually admits to them as well. Women undersell themselves all the feckin’ time, men oversell themselves, so between here and Eastland, you tell me why you think you’d be the best person for the job.”

Lisa closed her eyes as Siobhan accelerated and as the car picked up speed she let it out.

“Because I’m tired of working where I am, I want to move up the ladder and learn more about the back office environment. I’m willing to learn, I apply myself to the task at hand, and don’t stop until I’m satisfied that the job is complete. I know my way around a computer as well, but I’m prepared to do any extra courses to come up to standard.”

She stared straight ahead as Siobhan changed lanes and headed to the U-turn lane in the median strip, the other woman didn’t reply until she was ready to edge out into the lines of cars coming from the city.

“Okay, now that sounded better. To be honest the computer stuff is pretty mundane, there isn’t an awful lot of training involved there, it’s all on the job but we’ll fill this application out tonight and I’ll hand it in tomorrow.”

“Okay, thanks,” she glanced at her, “I just told the truth.”

“Point taken,” she indicated and then nudged the wheel, “but I’ll give you a few more tips tonight that will have the interviewer sitting up with interest.”

***

Lisa’s parents lived in Ringwood North, not far from Eastland with their other two daughters, Maxine and Vera, both younger than Lisa. Their father, Brian, ran a local hardware store whilst their mother, Elspeth taught part time at the local school.

“We love the Irish,” Elspeth gushed, “my mother was from Limerick, but my father was from the north, Londonderry?”

“A marriage of north and south then,” Siobhan grinned, “it wouldn’t be the first time, I’ve got family in Scotland and Manchester. If a Catholic wants to marry a Protestant you go over to the mainland to settle down, otherwise you’ll wind up hated by both sides.”

“It’s such a shame to see the news on the telly,” her mother sighed.

Thankfully, that wasn’t the only topic of conversation although Siobhan artfully skirted around the inevitable, “have you got a boyfriend?”

That left them time to fill in the application form but when Siobhan casually mentioned that Lisa was going to make her a blouse, Elspeth decided to fetch her pattern book while Lisa measured her up in her old bedroom.

“I lost my virginity in this room,” she looked around.

“Who was he? Or is that a secret you’ll take to the grave?”

“Tommy,” she replied, “it was, messy,” she glanced at the door, “um, I’ll let you strip down.”

“It’s okay,” she rested a hand on the second button of her blouse, “we’re both women and I’m not that prudish, besides,” she undid the button, “you’re only going to have to come back in when I’m down to me bra and knickers,” she undid another button.

“Fair point,” she sat on the bed and then flopped onto her back and stared at the ceiling while the other woman unbuttoned her blouse.

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