What he wanted
Was the gold, black-lettered pelt
Of the leopard of Ein-Gedi.
– from Ted Hughes, ‘Folktale’
Is this supposed to be his way of making a date with me? Does he think I’m going to jump to his tune? The arrogance! Forget it … Assia crumpled Ted’s note, first carefully extracting the green shiny blade of grass and putting it into the vase on her desk, which always contained a few fresh blooms. Today they were pansies, deep orange and gold.
After all, hadn’t he accepted her challenge, picked up the gauntlet she’d thrown, like casting down dice at a casino? Looking at her name scrawled on the envelope, Mrs. A. Wevill, Head Copywriter, c/- Notleys Ltd., Assia felt a jolt of excitement. The unknown was drawing her towards its secrets, and she knew she could only go forward.
The new cream phone on her desk rang. ‘Yes, Lily” she said into the receiver.
“Mrs Wevill, there’s a Mr. Wall who wants to discuss a new contract with you.”
Mr. Wall? She had no client with that name.
“Put him through please, Lily” she said.
“Did you get my note?” It was unmistakably Ted’s voice on the line.
“Just now,” she replied, then didn’t know what to say.
“So – is the third of July, in the afternoon, a suitable time for me to call? I have an hour or so between appointments in London that day.”
Assia thought quickly. Was she being “fitted in” between his more important appointments? Pride urged her to refuse, if only to play for time. After a pause, she heard herself say, “ Yes, I could get away around three, just for a short time.”
There was a sigh, followed by silence, on the other end of the phone. To break it Assia said
“But why Mr. Wall?”
Ted chuckled, “Oh, it’s my pseudonym. I’m the fly on the wall, wherever you are, don’t you see?”