by H.St Vincent Beechey
I was overjoyed to discover that Bonnie was interested in computers. She listened attentively as I described the new features I had found. ‘Look,’ I said, pointing my mouse arrow at a tool button, ‘This is real plug and play. Watch now while the program searches for my new modem. Look, Look, it has found it. Now it’s configuring itself!’ In my excitement, I grabbed Bonnie in a bear hug. Bonnie hugged me back. I was looking over her shoulder at the brilliantly coloured screen. I released her. ‘Turn round’ I said, ‘You are missing the best bit.’
We were having a wonderful day, or at least I was. As for Bonnie, well… We had spent the morning, after the appearance of the “new” Bonnie, in buying and setting up the wonderful state of the art notebook computer. I hadn’t been as happy for years. A new toy, and better still, someone to share it with.
I was still coming to terms with the fact that Bonnie wasn’t now the empty-headed do-gooder who had been dragging me ’round the world. She was really quite intelligent under that professional veneer-she was also a woman.
How I had managed to miss that last fact over the past weeks, I failed to understand. Maybe I was too busy protecting my privacy. Be that as it may, I was very conscious of her as she stood behind me with her hand resting on my shoulder as I busily explored the feast of programs now available to me.
Yes, her hand was actually resting on my shoulder and I hadn’t shrugged it off. How strange, I thought, normally I can’t stand people touching me. My old family motto had been “If someone invades your Personal Space, back off. Failing that, hit ’em first and ask questions afterwards!” Somehow, I didn’t mind Bonnie’s touch. In fa,ct it seemed rather nice.
Then Bonnie made an odd remark. ‘This reminds me of the story about the man who asked a girl up to see his Etchings.’
‘He showed her his etchings.’
‘I don’t get it!’
‘Neither did she.’
At the time I shrugged it off. It was only later that… I may even have actually shrugged, for suddenly Bonnie’s warm hand was no longer on my shoulder.
‘Well, I think I’ll be off now. Things to do.’ She said.
‘Okay,’ I was engrossed in what I was doing. ‘See you later,’ but when I looked up, she had gone.
I had the best of intentions. Why not I asked myself. After all, I was a millionaire. Overcoming my natural stinginess, I succumbed to impulse and ran down to the Duty-Free shop. There I bought a modest, but still very functional, notebook computer for Bonnie. If she wants bells and whistles we can always upgrade it later I thought, as I got them to gift wrap it in blue paper. Somehow, in my mind, blue was her colour. Am I getting sentimental? I asked myself. I thought with glee of Bonnie’s reaction. Watch and Computer in one day! She’ll think all her Christmases have come at once! It will be real fun teaching her to use it.
I took it round to her room at once, but she was out. I went back to my suite to see if she had returned but found only a team of chambermaids trying to catch up on the duties we had frustrated by our presence there for best part of the day. Disconsolately I wandered ’round the hotel still carrying my gift for Bonnie.
It was in the glitzy “Modern” bar that I found her, surrounded by half a dozen men. It seems I was not the only one to have noticed the new Bonnie. I had never frequented the Modern, preferring the more staid Residents’ Lounge, and I felt ill at ease with the black and chrome decor. The weird metal stools at the bar looked uncomfortable to my eyes (or more importantly, to my backside!) but Bonnie seemed quite happy perched up there. The men, blond Ski Instructors and suave Tourist Guides, seemed absorbed as Bonnie gaily prattled on. I turned to leave but she caught sight of me.
‘Charlie! Come and meet my friends.” She turned to them and said: “This is Charlie, my employer, sort of.’
I was forced to join the group. Being continentals, they insisted, of course, on shaking hands with me while barking out their names. Wolfgang this and Helmut that, with an Enrico and Jean-Paul thrown in for good measure.
‘And this is Kurt,’ Bonnie fluttered her eyelashes at a blond, blue-eyed giant who was standing next to her stool in a proprietorial way.
If you want Kurt, you shall have Curt! I thought. And I said: ‘I was just looking for you to give you this.’ I shoved my gift-wrapped package into her hands.’Please excuse me gentlemen’ and I turned to leave. Over my shoulder I called to Bonnie:
‘I shall be dining in my room tonight, alone, Miss Doone. Please feel free to enjoy your evening.’
I left. Back in my room, when I felt secure enough in my solitude to think things through, I admitted to myself that I had botched the whole day.
But I had started out with such Good Intentions.
© Copyright H.St V.Beechey 1996