Martin Ogilvy has one task to fulfill: fix everyone else’s problems. As a financial adviser, he gets paid to keep his clients in the black. But when it comes to his personal life, he’s always in the red until he meets the attractive, spirited and tenacious Shawn. From the onset, Martin senses they’ve met somewhere before, although it’s an impossibility due to their age difference. However, the more time they spend together, the more Martin wonders if what he feels is real or déjà vu.
Dog-tired after nine hours of calculating numbers, Martin shuffled into the front foyer, removing his shoes. The spot where his grandmother’s antique credenza normally stood was empty. That’s odd, he thought and wandered into the central living area. Every stick of furniture he’d owned, all the framed art, even bric-a-brac had vanished. He dropped his briefcase, and it hit the hardwood with a hollow echo.
Once he’d absorbed the initial shock, Martin rushed through the room past a lopsided pile of CDs into a spacious European style kitchen. The kitchen was also devoid of furnishings. His first thought was robbery. But a piece of paper on the counter, white foolscap curled at the bottom, drew his attention. He lifted the mug and read the scrawl of handwriting—remnants of a relationship that had, without forewarning, clearly ended. In seconds, he crumpled the note and whipped it like a baseball. However, it didn’t go near as far as his frustration required, and instead landed in the dust on the bare floor.
He had been robbed, but the theft was committed purely out of spite—the person behind it motivated by their angst—it was a chain reaction that proved his inability to maintain a healthy relationship or, perhaps, his inability to find a suitable partner. Either way, he’d lost once again.
He muttered, furiously tapping the screen on his phone then put it to his ear. Moments later, a man answered. “Ian, it’s me.”
“Hey, Martin. It’s good to hear from you. What’s up?”
“Can we move the meeting to tomorrow instead of next week?” He started to search the rest of the house, flinging doors open, moving brusquely from one vacant room to the next, his anger flaring more with each step.
“I don’t see why not, if you’re ready.”
“That’s great, I appreciate it Ian.” He pushed on the master bedroom door, drew to a pause, and frowned—even his bedroom suite, a handcrafted import from Italy, was gone. The only evidence that the pricey furniture had existed were tiny circular indents in the carpet. And all his clothing and personal items had been dumped into a corner.
“What’s the second question?” Ian asked a bit louder, “Marty, are you still there?”
“Sorry. I know it will seem like a strange request…but I need somewhere to stay for a few nights.”
“No problem. I’ve got a futon in the spare room. Has something happened?”
“Thanks. I’ll explain when I get there.”
“Okay. See you shortly.”
He pressed a fist to the bathroom doorjamb—only his toothbrush remained, balanced perfectly on the edge of the porcelain sink as if on purpose. Fuck! He almost threw the phone into the tub, but on second thought, decided to make another call.
“Come on, pick up.” He scraped his fingers over his scalp, front to back, spinning in circles like a dog chasing its tail.
The line continued to ring, then just as he was about to hang up it clicked.
“Yep,” said Dwayne.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done to me?” He caught the lack of remorse in his now ex-lover’s low deadpan voice, and it infuriated him even more. He desperately wanted to reach through the line. Just this once, God, let me throttle the thieving prick.
“Oh, it’s you.” Dwayne sighed as if it were a strain just to talk. “I know I put a dent in your wallet.”
“Put a dent, that’s an understatement—you wiped me out, Dwayne!”
“I guess you still don’t get it, even though I said it like a thousand times… Anyway, I’ll say it again. I’m sick of playing second fiddle to your past.”
“That doesn’t even make sense!” He pinched the bridge of his nose, trying to stay calm. “I told you I love you. I gave you everything. What more do you want?”
“You kept the pictures. You were crying for him in the middle of the night.”
“And I told you: how can I know what I’m doing in my sleep? Huh?”
“Martin, do me a favour. Don’t call me until you’ve sorted that shit out.”
“Excellent,” he sniped. “What about my furniture?”
“Well, we’ll just call it compensation for my broken heart.”
The line clicked.
Dwayne had his youth and good looks—it wouldn’t take him long to find another sugar daddy if he didn’t already have one. Martin grimaced. The sparseness of his surroundings had siphoned him dry of emotion. He hated to think he could be so shallow, but he was angrier over the loss of his furniture than his lover. Great. My grandmother’s credenza.
Photos were strewn near his feet, and a small shoebox lay on its side with a crushed lid, as if someone had trampled it. He crouched and touched the pictures, swishing them apart—there were images of people and places—friends and family he hadn’t thought of in years. Then he ran his fingertip down a faded photograph of himself seated beside a young boy. The boy was all freckles, beaming from ear to ear, his soft reddish-brown hair, windblown. He could still hear the child’s giddy laughter, a fragment of a happier time he wished he could return to.