Damon Earling

Ring! Ring!

The café bell tolls, as the door is spread ajar. A lonely man steps inside.

The café is his favorite place to be on a Sunday afternoon. There’s something about the atmosphere that he quite liked. Perhaps it was the rustling around and chatter that served as white noise in an otherwise chaotic life. It also could have been the infectious creativity bug that flew around and bit its victims one by one, as they worked on their passion projects.

Damon Earling was a middle-aged man, who like all others enjoyed peace after a long week at the office. The office life wasn’t particularly favored in his mind and he often fantasized for his way out.

Being an IT technician of London’s biggest tech company, NeuTech Industries, was a miserable undertaking. Four painful years he spent in college, forced by his parents to follow their footsteps in the working force. Dreaded, he was when his father “pulled a couple strings” and landed him his current position in techs fabulous new prison. Promotion after promotion he received. None of which he ever applied for.

Damon felt misery from the second he scanned his key card, and rode up the elevator, until the time he exited the monstrous glass tower.

Sunday afternoons in Mother Mary’s Tea Emporium were very cherished to him. Damon always ordered the same thing, a black tea, no sugar, and always sat at the same rickety table just below the heating unit. It gave him a perfect vision of the front door and allowed him to take a break for the toilets as discreetly as possible.

Today of all days was different. Damon’s, somewhat private suite, was surrounded by a party of giggling females. Laughing at jokes that weren’t even funny. He knew he was behind the times but these jokes were, pathetic.

Damon laid out a red leather-bound notebook, along with a black fountain pen and proceeded to scribble. Damon scribbled about ideas that floated into his head, about books he wanted to read and anything that really caught his fancy. He was writing about visiting Dublin which he had only done once as a young boy on holiday with his parents. He was saving a month’s worth of holiday time off at work so he could take a trip this autumn.

Damon thought about the places in Dublin he wanted to see: the pubs, the architecture, the green hills. They all caught his fancy in such an elegant way. A way in which he longed to satisfy.

All was well in the headspace of Damon when he was interrupted.

One of the females let out a laugh so loud, that he mistook her for a roaming city cow. Shaking his head in disapproval he carried on reimagining the places he went to with his family and cherishing the moments, but damn, he was distracted again.

The woman let out another laugh and the entire teahouse gazed at her. Damon couldn’t take any more of these rude interruptions.

“Ma’am mind keeping it down? Some of us want peace this Sunday.” He said.

The lady turned around, looked directly into Damon’s eyes, and said, “Oh piss off you twat!”

Damon choked on his tongue.

How could someone be so rude? He was astonished to find that this “person” had a husband.

Surely no one would want to marry her, she was, well, obnoxious and impolite. Above all other things, she was un-lady-like.

Damon scribbling paused to eavesdrop on their conversation.

He found out rather quickly that the rude woman’s name was Summer, and she talked a lot about her husband Ben, who was a swine.

“He comes home late every night and smells of… other women,” Summer said. “I’ve tried to just ask him where he goes but he always finds a decent excuse. I just don’t trust that twat anymore.”

“Sounds like you need to hire someone to watch him. You know like a private investigator or something. I hired one for my husband when he was missing my phone calls around lunchtime every day. Found out he was selling drugs to his co-workers,” another woman said.

“Didn’t you talk to him about it Poppy?” Summer asked.

“Well, no I haven’t found the courage to ask him. I mean we make good money doing it. He always buys me new designer handbags and shoes. I’m not sure I’m ready for that to stop. If he finds out that I know, he’ll be furious,” Poppy said while sipping her tea.

“Makes sense. Your husband is not completely a pig, but mine is! He needs to be caught red-handed. I think it’s his secretary, Jessica. She always answering the phone with joy in her voice like she’s happy to do it. No one is that happy to answer a bloody phone call. She’s guilty. I know it.”

Damon was still listening intently. As much as Summer pissed him off with her impolite attitude, he enjoyed hearing the gossip.

“So what do you do when you find out? Rumor has it that Rachael and her husband Humphrey had a nasty divorce. They had to split the kids and all the money. Almost led Rachael to tears, but we both know she’s too cold to cry,” Poppy said.

“Maybe it isn’t what you think,” said a third woman, named Isla. “Perhaps you are overthinking this entire matter. He’s always been a good husband it seems.”

“Oh for the life of me, how could this all be just a misunderstanding? He smells like another woman! How’s that even possible?” Summer said.

“Does he take the tube?” asked Isla. “When I do, sometimes I smell like old used socks. It’s quite a cesspool in there sometimes.”

“Isla could be right. Men aren’t even smart enough to have an affair. Their brains can’t process such complex things,” Poppy said with a chuckle.

Damon laughed in his head. He wasn’t condoning Summer’s husband’s behavior, but bewildered by what Poppy said. What wasn’t considered too complex for a man’s brain?

Damon took another sip of his tea and pondered. He hadn’t much interest in their conversation any longer. Instead, he thought about the complexity of the male brain vs the female brain. He had always been taught they were equal, but if others indeed thought differently, was he wrong?

Summer, Poppy, and Isla stood up and pushed in their chairs.

“Ben keeps saying there will be massive layoffs at his company. Perhaps that secretary will be one of them. I hope so,” said Summer.

“Layoffs? At NeuTech? Thought business was good,” Isla said.

“Not good enough it seems.”

Damon’s ears perked up. He wondered if he was to be one of the layoffs.

Nothing would have excited him more.

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