Byron was more than pleased when Madison agreed to his request. He wanted to see her again. For numerous reasons. So many questions needed to be answered. Was there truly some spark left between them? Might this spark flicker and ignite into something lasting? How much had life mingling among the modern day apes altered Madison? Was she a better person for working in such a public environment? Had constant exposure to the humanoid virus contaminated her beyond repair? Had the years been kind to her? He had of course seen her picture in her magazine, a trashy rag filled with the most insipid tripe imaginable save for his works, but seeing her up close, that would be the true test. Ton of makeup could not hide age lines, body or facial work in person. He could only hope for the best.
“Yes!” He exclaimed. “Just like old times! I can’t tell you how wonderful it will be see you Madison. I can have my housekeeper pick you up. Or I will.”
After a brief pause he added. “In a Taxi.” Another pause to reconsider and then. “Or the bus.” Byron did not drive and taxis were so expensive. If he could get off cheap, he would. Even if it meant dealing with bus riding louts for the 18 miles from the airport to his home.
He paused, hearing a sound in the next room. His housekeeper, Melissa had dropped something. And more surprisingly, she made a noise. The slender blond had popped in while he was writing and in typical fashion was soundlessly skittering about the house as if she were levitating instead of walking. Byron had normal hearing but he could never tell where she was unless she was in his sight. Even on the hardwood floor of his living room her tread was unheard.
This wraithlike ability of Melissa’s had a most unsettling effect on Byron. He liked to be in control. When something was beyond his ability to reason out or master it gnawed at him. It pained him like a canker. Melissa’s preternatural silence within the walls of his home ranked high on his list of annoyances.
More than once she ‘inadvertantly’ startled him by quietly entering a room he inhabited. One time he nearly fell out of his chair in surprise when she asked him a question and he was unaware of her presence. Other times he felt his heart skip a beat when she suddenly materialized before him. It was a typical subconscious external manifestation of the feline qualities so deeply interwoven into the female genetic code, he chauvinistically concluded. In simple terms, she moved like a cat.
Byron suspected she privately realized her talent on some mental level and enjoyed it. He was going to have to suggest she announce herself before entering a room. Otherwise, he was going to end up keeling over from a heart attack one day from one of her hushed entrances. Maybe that was the plan? She was figured prominently in his will.
Who was the damn fool that said women were the weaker sex? What rot. Women had their own set of instinctive powers that put them on more that equal footing with any male primate. Even those that evolved above the norm like Byron.
But that was not entirely fair. Melissa was no primate. He never would have hired her if she were one of THEM. She was far better than the common rabble that stalked the streets like mentally decayed extras from a Romero movie. Melissa was rather intelligent. The type of raw, unrefined, cleverness one sometimes finds among the working classes.
He screened over a hundred candidates for the job. He had worked up a detailed list of questions designed to find a candidate he could tolerate. The only two applicants answered them all to his satisfaction. One was a silver haired woman in her 70s who looked as if she had been placed in her grave and dug her way out. The other was Melissa, or Mel as she stated her friends and family had unfortunately dubbed her. He always used her full first name. Nicknames were a farce. The inability of human gorillas to grasp the whole. One his lowbrow past employers proved this fact when he began referring to Byron has “Ron”. The dunking stool and stock were too good for that Troglodyte.
Melissa for her part never made him regret selecting her. She did her job well and offered some surprising and occasionally witty commentary to their discussions. He liked her, which was a shining endorsement from Byron. At times he even mulled over the idea of them together. But she was a servant and not physically his type. Granted, she peaked his romantic interest at times but Byron had a definite preference for shapely women. Even those full figured were passable. But skinny? As his father said, “skinny women were like chewing on a bone”. Crass, but somehow it seemed logical to Byron.
“Hang on a moment, Madison.” Byron said and turned the phone away from his face. He just had to discover what miracle had broken his housekeepers usual silence.
“Melissa? Is everything alright in there?” He asked, genuinely concerned.