Sharon O'Connor, Contributor
John Redding stepped out of his office nervously. He was on his way to his boss's office. Mr Magnus only saw his subordinates when they were given a new assignment or when he was going to blast them. John knew he wasn't due for an assignment, so he was sure as hell going to be blasted.
He stopped at the secretary's desk so she could sound his arrival. The first thing he noticed on stepping into the office was that Mr Magnus was smiling to himself. He looked up, "Redding, I have a proposition to make to you. We have a post vacant and we would like you to fill it. However, all the men who have had that post were married. It sort of enhanced their status. We would like you to think about it. Till then, keep up the good work."
John took that as his dismissal and stepped out of the office. He was on cloud nine. He passed the secretary without even acknowledging her. He never expected this position until at least another four years, after all, he was only 30 and his company was noted for not having any men under 35 in any of the top posts.
Then when he remembered the conditions, elation turned to anger. 'Those wretches.' He came back to earth with a bump and thought sourly, "I need to get married."
There were two women in John's life at the moment. Catherine Blake and Tina Smith. As he sat eating his dinner of corned beef and rice, he thought of them and grinned. He looked at his dinner ruefully and thought maybe a wife wouldn't be so bad after all.
Catherine and Tina were as much alike as a limo was like a sports car. He was very certain that neither of them knew about each other. He took great care about things of that nature.
He pictured Catherine. Tall, slim and very sophisticated. He was only four years her senior. He'd never seen her lose her cool about anything. He liked that. He also liked the way she always kept her long black hair in a bun. It accentuated her high cheekbones and beautiful dark brown eyes, which suited her cool dark brown skin to perfection.
Then, Tina. Now she was something else. Twenty years old and the wildest thing he'd ever met. Now she was what you called rosy. Five feet, two inches with a 35-23-35 figure. Mmm.
Which one should he marry? He liked spending time with them both, and he enjoyed going to bed with them both.
As John prepared for bed, he racked his brain for ways in which one outdid the other. He could think of none. Finally, he decided he would have to test them.
In his new post, he would be expected to entertain a lot. Therefore, his wife would have to be an excellent hostess. He expected he would have children, so she would have to be a good mother too.
He would have two dinner parties asking each girl to be hostess at one, and then he would give them each a puppy. He noticed that women with pets were usually best with children. Feeling pleased with himself, he fell asleep.
John bid the last of his guests farewell. Catherine had been an excellent hostess. They chatted for a while about the party before he took her home. He parked his Benz outside the gate and walked her up the driveway to her door.
"Catherine, you were such a hit tonight. What about my giving you a puppy to show my appreciation."
Catherine laughed, "A puppy, John what on earth would I do with a puppy, and any way, I wouldn't have time to look after it."
She turned to kiss him goodnight and whispered, "If you really want to show your appreciation, why not give me that diamond ring I was admiring in Jewellerama last Saturday." She opened the door, "Make sure you call me tomorrow."
John turned and made his way thoughtfully to his car. One thing he had to say about Catherine, she knew how to get what she wanted. So much for her being a good mother. She was right, she wouldn't have time, and she'd be more interested in her career than motherhood. The thought of cool Catherine changing a baby's diaper made him laugh.
She said she'd be sleeping the whole day tomorrow. So he could take Tina to Ochi. He'd promised her. She liked going to the beach now and again to renew her tan.
John lay on the sand watching Tina 'calypsoing' on the beach. Some Americans were having a beach party and had asked them to join in. She really knew how to shake. Tina wore a skimpy neon pink, two-piece swimsuit. It showed off her golden tan and revealed more than it concealed. Several men were giving her admiring glances. John saw this and felt pleased that she was his. She certainly looked adorable, laughing gaily, eyes flashing and short curly brown hair bouncing.
He had given her a puppy earlier on when he had gone to pick her up. She had squeaked with delight and had thanked him by smothering him with kisses. Yes, she would be good with children. She certainly looked like the mother of fertility. The dinner party he would be having for her would be next Saturday. He should remember to call Catherine when he got home.
The party turned out to be a near disaster. In her nervous state, Tina had served the cheese sauce on Mrs Magnus' lap instead of on the table. She had then proceeded to apologise and attempt to wipe the dress, succeeding only in spreading the mess and completely ruining it. A special creation from Sensation. Being very good natured, Mrs Magnus had handled the situation remarkably well and left early with her husband. John had wondered if he was still up for the promotion.
So much for his plan. They both lost. He'd just have to take them to see his parents and, whichever one they chose, he'd marry.
Mr and Mrs Redding were a pleasant couple. They both loved their son very much and doted on him. All three were relaxing in the living room and having a conversation.
"Mother, I'm thinking of getting married," he announced.
Mrs Redding looked up from her crochet, startled, then she smiled.
"But it's about time. I was beginning to think that I would never get the chance to arrange a wedding.Who is it? Any one of those two lovely young ladies you brought home? Any one you choose will be just fine. I liked them both very much."
During all this, Mr Redding had looked up only once from his paper to say gruffly, "It's about time."
Well, dead end again, thought John. I'll have to do something drastic. John lay in his bed that night, contemplating his next move. Suppose he told them that he had a contagious disease, maybe a very bad cold. Nobody liked catching a cold, so the one that took the risk to visit him was the one he would marry.
John applied for two days' sick leave, the first since he had started to work there eight years ago. At the start of the first day at home, John got a call from Catherine." John, Dahling, I got your message saying you were ill. I'm so sorry I won't be able to visit you, but I'm going to a conference in MoBay for the next four days. I hope you'll be better by the time I get back. Take care."
"What a cold-hearted little b****," he thought, "After I spent my money on that diamond ring for her!"
He sauntered into the kitchen to make himself some cold cereal. Then sat down at the table to have it, reading his paper.
Before he could start, the phone rang. It was Tina.
"Hello, Johnny, darling, I got your message saying you were ill, and guess what. I have a touch of the flu myself, so we can keep each other company in our misery." She giggled. "I'll be right over."
"Tina, wait. Suppose you weren't sick, would you still come over?"
"Of course not, Johnny, who wants to catch a nasty cold if they can help it? Bye, bye."
John put down the phone. Beside the phone, on the table was a paper pad and pencil. He wrote both their names down on it. Eeni, Meni, Myni, Mo ...