Fortified by the olives, a slice of dry bread and a half bottle of Montepulciano, Richard asked himself why it had been so difficult to swop the peach coloured toilet rolls in the upstairs bathroom for the plain white ones that had been put in the downstairs toilet. It was obviously some kind of mistake but he'd had to force himself to make the change and so get things back to normal. Of course as soon as he thought about that it begged the question, what exactly was normal around here? Suddenly he was noticing little things, little things that pricked at him and grew until they became annoying, like insect bites on a summer's evening. Red hot circles in the flesh. He was seeing too much detail in this plainly imperfect world and the amount of work it would take to correct it all was overwhelming. The patterns on the curtains, the towels, the table clothes all seemed to be both soothing and at the same time infuriating. Why on earth had somebody commissioned and designed that design? Who had manufactured it, distributed it and then bought it? What kind of atmosphere were they trying to create or mood did they mean to provoke?
The experimental drugs that had been administered to Richard were clearly having side effects. He was part of the usual kind of live / placebo trial but based on a new male/female contraceptive pill. One that was effective, non hormonal and as a basic feature should not affect the users mojo or libido, a key selling point. These mood enhancing side effects were not welcome nor as far as Richard was concerned, understood. The brief and the trial literature had not mentioned this at all, though Richard would have admitted he hadn't read or listened to everything. He was home now for a few hours whilst the drug kicked in and as a vital part of the deal had sworn to avoid any sexual contact. It was, at this stage of the project all about feelings and most significantly making the mojo work. He had an app on his iPad with which to record these feelings and complete a set of questions, it was all simple enough but those feelings of agitation and masked purpose wouldn't go away.
He looked up from the screen and saw the furniture. I was all clearly in the wrong place, how had he not noticed before? He stood up a gathered and dragged the chairs, tables and couches into the middle of the room and pulled them this way and that concentrating on the shapes and the spaces. After about fifteen minutes of sweat and toil they were all back, back to where they started, but that was OK. The exercise had been carried out. Now the room, the house all seemed too small. He had to get out, he was hungry. He took a photo of himself with his phone, looked at it, deleted it, put on a jacket and headed out.
In the restaurant he watched her across the table. She was all blond and blue and brown running wet water colours and sparkling within a rainbow-like personal aura. She was squeezing half a fresh lime across a piece of roasted herb chicken. The lime yielded a surprising amount of juice, she stared into the meat as it absorbed the tart mixture of pulp and liquid. She tossed on some salt. Then she dug a fork in the flesh and began to eat. Across the table her bulky looking boyfriend or partner was sawing on a steak. Wine glasses were clinking, dull music played and people moved in and out, platters were carried between them and noises came from the kitchen's when the serving door opened. He couldn't take his eyes of her. She saw him, looked away and looked uncomfortable. The steak was still being eaten. She hung on the fork for a moment and their eyes met properly. For Richard it was an electric second but she just looked down, chewed food and opportunity a little and then he thought he saw that secret, illicit smile flicker across her face. That curious smile you may get just once or twice in a lifetime.
Steak Eater got up from the table and disappeared into the gents. For Richard it was now or never. Like a silently whirring mowing machine he moved between the tables and planked himself in steak eater's chair and grinned at her. Whatever he was giving off was powerful and reciprocated, with just a few words they were up and gone. On his return Steak Eater looked for her for a few moments, questioned a puzzled waiter and returned to his meal and sawed into more steak. He mouthed a “WTF?” to a watching diner across the field of glacier topped tables.
In the taxi, in the alley, in the room, in the inner room, in themselves; they were all over each other. The night was a blur for both. They awoke together in the sack in Richard's quickly rearranged apartment. She was laughing, tired, the world was such a small place, tiny and filled with happenstance and coincidences it seemed. Irony and encounter fell out of every vacant space. She reached into her handbag and pulled out her iPad. The drug test questionnaire wouldn't fill itself in and there was the full closure fee to consider.
“The approach used appears highly effective and is fully reversible, at least in the relative short term. The oral version used and trialled on a discrete group of adults is also preferable to the injected version we've been using on rodents. We're gathering more up to date data at the moment.”