On the train
Nathan was a smart guy, witty and modest with a dry delivery that could make someone laugh with just a meagre sentence, just a few words. He didn’t go in for story telling really, didn’t big things up and elaborate on the truth, like so many of his peers. He was subtle, and unassuming. The guy at the back of the room who knew all about everyone in it.
He worked in a small business with an old school friend, Dermott, who asked him to join the company a few years back. They had gone their separate ways after school but a chance encounter meant they met again. Meeting in a hotel lobby, both there for different reasons rekindled the great friendship they always had. You know the sort of friend? The one you don’t see for years and when you do, it feels as though you saw them the day before.
Nathan was at a bit of a loose end career wise at the time, and Dermott was looking for someone to work at his small company. Hopefully to be there to watch it grow and be a success. Killawot was the company. They initially provided home Hi-Fi equipment for the audiophile at home, mainly for very rich Arab’s who had nothing else to spend their money on, but the company did well.
Nathan had worked at Killawot for 15 years now, seen it build over the years, from a fledging Small business, with just 10 employees, to a SME with fewer than 250 employees, (as he remembers from his business degree). Close now to the 250 limit Dermott was keen not to expand too quick, too much or too far. And Nathan agreed. Although pressured by shareholders, the company shouldn’t grow any bigger.
His job was centred around the IT infrastructure, and he practically did and managed everything, from the network, to the computers, from the applications, to the servers. He was jack of all, master of none. He was there from the beginning so just had free reign to do what he liked. It worked though, and he was obsessive about the latest technology and keeping the company up to date. Indeed many had accredited his fastidious attention to detail with the company’s expansion, all ready to compete with modern music formats and sounds and enhancements.
He was often teased about his job by friends and girlfriends. Labelled ‘geek’ and ‘boring’. His friends said it just to piss him off. Girlfriends said it because they didn’t know any better. A few weeks of knowing him and they didn’t call him either of those names again. He wasn’t either. He wasn’t the life and soul by any stretch of the imagination, but he had several facets of his character, which would gradually surface over time.
Working with Dermott and in a small business allowed Nathan to stretch his legs, his skill sets and his imagination. Not to mention his confidence. One day he could be wiring up a network port, the next day demonstrating a state of the art hi-fi system to a college. It was great, he loved his job, and it was flexible too.
The meeting had finished early, and after checking in with Dermott and his PA, he was on the way home. He checked the times of the train in the last tea break and was confident if he walked briskly he could make the 15.23 from Waterloo.
As he got to the station he checked he had his ticket, checked the time on the station clock, and looked on the board for his train. 15.20. Probably best to run he thought. As he passed his ticket through the gates, ran along the platform and boarded the train, he remembered he forgot to get Lizzy a present. ‘Shit’ he couldn’t help but scream out loud. An indignant look greeted him from the pinched face, miserable looking man sitting opposite. He would get one in Guildford, he still had time, and there was plenty to choose from. It’s just he wanted to get her something different, something original, and where better than in London. He shook his head at himself and sighed louder than is polite, almost it seemed to draw attention. He didn’t want attention; he was just disappointed in his own defiance in himself. In the way he couldn’t just get off the train and go and get something for Lizzy.
He arranged his ‘man bag’ as his friends called it, checked his notes from the earlier meeting, traded glances with Mr Pinchface (as he called him in his mind) opposite, and settled down to look out the window.
The train was fairly empty, not many people on it at all for a Tuesday afternoon. I guess with it not being peak time, it was to be expected. It was a pleasant and sunny afternoon, and warmer than is usual for a September day. The train stopped at every stop, and although Nathan had taken this journey many times, he loved people watching. His head would flick back and forth as he was transfixed by anything from a cycling paper boy, to a builder chatting while dangling precariously on scaffolding.
As the train got closer to its commuter belt destination and further from London, the roads and traffic seemed less, there seemed more expanses between people and place. There was still the hustle and bustle of children being collected from school, parents driving far too fast in between a plethora of drama classes, football lessons, and music workshops. He saw how everything, every movement was so important to those experiencing it. Every turn of a steering wheel, the whim of a traffic light, all assisting some, and while looked as though they were to conspire and plot against others. That they would be 2 minutes late for that drama class, while the pensioner who hasn’t got to be anywhere in a hurry, gets the green lights.
The train was coming into Stoke D Abernon. A lovely place, very affluent, and near the home of the Chelsea training ground. As the train slowed, Nathan looked at the row of smart terraced houses that backed onto the railway line. All very pretty, and multicoloured except for one, second from the end, that looked in a sort state of disrepair. All the others were immaculate, beautifully painted and well presented, except for this one. He always noticed it, whenever he went past. With an eye for detail, and a curiosity for human behaviour, he always wanted to know more.
And that’s when he saw her…….
Naked, hands pressed firmly against the glass of a full length upstairs window, her upper body thrusting back and forth, either by her own volition or by being propelled. Her blonde long curly hair pulsating left and right, up and down, as she swung her head violently from left to right. He couldn’t see any further into the room.
In that second or two, time froze, Nathan almost did a ‘snapshot’ of the moment in his mind, capturing her tight, slim, mildly tanned body in the afternoon sun, her shapely toned legs, slightly spread unevenly away from each other as she balanced herself. Loads of questions went through his mind.
Did anyone else see? Did she know she was being seen? Will he ever see her again?