I am expecting a shiny, silver E-Class Mercedes Benz, or a glistening, black Audi S5. Something with prestige, something that says: “I have arrived”.
Instead, he shows up in a scratched and weather-worn Hyundai Elantra, the muffler swinging loose and the left mirror held together with duct tape. Though, it is silver.
“My car’s in the shop,” he says. “Had to borrow this from a mate.”
I perch myself as far forward on the ink-stained passenger seat as I can, my high-heel black leather boots buried deep in the fast-food wrappers littering the floor.
Merchant banker his profile had said.
“Sorry, not quite the chariot I was hoping to pick you up in,” he says. “You’re gonna love the restaurant though, promise. My mate Santos will look after us. Nothin’ but the best.”
I say nothing, clench my fists and look straight ahead.
The moment I enter the Greek Taverna I am overcome by a sweet and pungent perfume emanating from a voluptuous woman seated in a corner by the door. Everything about her is big, her full lips, her equally large partner sitting opposite and her shrill, piercing laugh.
Santos grips my date by the shoulders and kisses him on both cheeks in warm welcome.
“Hello my friend, who is your lovely date tonight?”
Tonight? Did I imagine that intonation?
“This way, this way,” says Santos, “We have a beautiful table for the beautiful couple.”
Couple? I shudder again.
I fight the flight response, sigh inwardly and hope that at the very least the food might salvage something from what I am dreading is a swipe right disaster.
I consider the menu.
“Let me order,” he says. “I know what’s good. You’re gonna love it. Nothin’ but the best.”
I offer a half smile but say nothing. Santos brings a carafe of red wine. I pour a glass and gulp it down.
Fluorescent light beats down on us. It gives my date a pale, pasty complexion and highlights the stains on his shirt. I pour another glass.
The food arrives, an enormous platter that looks like a deconstructed souvlaki.
“Eat it with your fingers,” he says. “It’s the best way.”
I pick at the plate while he gorges, fat dribbling down his chin. When he is done, he burps loudly and wipes his mouth with his sleeve.
Then I feel it. His cold and greasy hand on my knee, working its way up my thigh.
The hand. The fluoro light. That piercing laugh in the background. The fatty meat and red wine curdle in my stomach.
I leap up from the table, steady myself, then swipe left, right across his face. A satisfying slap and then the click of my heels as I leave the merchant wanker, Santos, pungent perfume and the dilapidated Elantra behind.
I’ll hold out for nothin’ but the best.