1.5 Mr. Troubleseeker

A couple of days later, Charles organized a store opening party, not very grand but only a modest get together of his close family friends and relatives. Out of nowhere, a horde of people barged into his store. Apparently word had gotten out that ‘the owner of this new store on the corner of Magnolia Promenade’ was giving away free pieces of furniture to the first 50 people who’d walk in. Soon the place turned into a madhouse; people kept pushing and pulling each other’s hair and clothes because they wanted to enter in before the others and be one of the 50 ‘lucky’ people. When the situation got out of control, Charles was left with no option but to call the police. And the officer who turned up was the one who had arrested him at the nightclub. AWKWARD!

A week after the store opening fiasco, while Charles was shutting his store, he heard a distant cry for help. When he ran in the direction of the voice, he spotted a man drowning in the river just a few blocks away from his store. Apparently the man was fishing and lost his balance after which he fell. By the time the police arrived Charles had already saved the man. It was her again, standing there with her walkie-talkie. “Everything’s fine here Carl. No one’s hurt”, she spoke into the device. When everything was settled, the officer walked over to Charles.

“Thanks” she said. He turned around, startled.  “Oh… you’re welcome” he replied, smiling sheepishly. He’d been avoiding her ever since the nightclub scene. But she kept popping up every now and then. It was starting to get awkward.

She began walking back to the police car but stopped and turned,

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The following weeks, the two kept bumping into each other several times, at the movies, at the café, at the gym. What annoyed Charles the most was the way she behaved around him, never saying a word when they ran into each other, not even smiling. She behaved as if he did not exist. He had decided he’d talk to her the next time they’d meet, but every time he saw her, he’d get tongue-tied.  There was something about her- the sternness of every word she spoke, the skeptical eyes with which she looked at him- that made him fumble. There was no way he could talk to her, contact her, he didn’t even know her name! But he was becoming mysteriously curious and developing this strange urge to know more about her…

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