The breeze crossing over the river was hot and the sprinkler system was cooling the patrons at Bar 9. Conference drinks for those in suits. 

It was crowded. Conferences are a great time for bed-hopping – like adolescents who have just discovered their hormones, or so Dean thought.

He could see the young woman from Sales and the chap from PR leaning close. It made him annoyed. They were in relationships already, weren’t they? Maybe he had no idea. For all his morality he’d never landed a life-time partner.

“Scoping, Dean?”

“Scoping?” He found his boss, Cynthia, frustratingly obtuse at times. Was she talking shop?

“Checking out the talent.”

“Huh, huh, not me. Past that.”

“What you’re telling me you want to retire?”

Of course that’s what she’d say. Wants her mate on the other project to come across, but I’m blocking plans.

“What’s all this expectation of male hyper sexuality in a feminist world Cynthia? I’m not a predator you know.”

“You talking feminism. It’s an anathema to you!”

“Not quite,” concerned he said too much.

Soon after that he said the necessary farewells.

“Bit early, mate,” said Josh, the IT manager.

“Just need a break after a full day of leadership and future directions. Did you get that one on mindful management?”

“Still they’re shouting drinks.”

“Nah. Quiet one in the room for me. Catch up tomorrow.”

He slowly lumbered down the pathway to the Hilton.

The company certainly treated their executives well – and worked them hard too. No partner had wanted to share his hours – work and expected leisure-bonding activities. Usually piss-ups rather than extreme sports or trust exercises in his organisation.

It happened in less than a moment. A police chase and he’d just started to cross the pedestrian crossing when the runaway car plowed into him and he bounced on the bonnet and over onto the ground, blocking the police car which stopped screeching sideways as the other car sped away.

Dean was unaware of the call to the ambulance and a growing crowd of people.

A few days later he opened his eyes and realised he was in a hospital room wondering what had happened. Without emotion he noticed his left leg was in traction, his right arm in plaster, felt bandages round his head. The nurse came in and saw he was conscious.

“How are you feeling?” She asked with a friendly smile.

“Bit strange.”

“You would. You’ve been in an induced coma to help your recovery. The doctor will see you soon. Just ring the buzzer if you need anything. I’ll just put it within your reach. Is there anyone you’d like to contact?”

“My boss will want to know when I go back to work.”

“Oh, that won’t be for a while!” She laughed at her joke, and she chortled as she exited the room.

Dean assessed the situation and decided he could see it as an enforced holiday. He hadn’t had one in years. The last holiday he ended up having to help finalise a report. His girlfriend had seen red and threw in the towel.

Right now he suddenly wanted to hear his dead mother reminisce, as she did, about life on the farm, the hardships, the independence, the stark beauty.

Josh strode into the room.

“Wow, you’re awake. Look a bit of a mess for all your snoozing.”

“Yeah, not a pretty site.”

“Cynthia will have you doing your job remote no doubt.”

“I’m not sure, she might have her match in the nurse I saw earlier. She seems to have a cavalier attitude to danger.”

“Well, is there anything you want? Do you need me to pick anything up from your place? No starving cat?”

“No cat. I’d like a book of poems. In the desk drawer.”

“Poetry! Who’d have thought!”

“It was mum’s,” he felt he owed the incongruence some explanation. “While you’re there a few things to freshen up, doesn’t look like I can wear much beside a hospital gown.”

“Of course. Are you ok – apart from the obvious?”

“Yeah, just feeling the hit to my noggin’.”

As time passed Dean daydreamed of the outdoors, especially feeling suffocated in a constantly air conditioned environment, no natural breeze.

“Hello, Cynthia. Thanks for coming and looking in on me.”

“Hi, Dean. Look at you! Not nice! Been a while.”

“They’re happy. Should be fit in another month.”

“But we don’t want to rush anything. Don’t feel pressured.”

“Well there is something I’ve been thinking about.”

“What’s that, Dean?”

“I’m thinking of early retirement.”

“No not really? You seem to love your job.” She was being diplomatic. “Glued” seemed a more appropriate term she thought. “What are your plans?”

“Buy a small caravan and join the grey nomads.”

“Not so much grey there yet!”

Dean appreciated her effort, as half-hearted as it was.

“No, this is something I want to do. If you leave things they may never happen.”

“You are too old for a mid-life crisis,” she said wickedly.

“I suppose so.”

Their eyes locked in guarded mutual understanding.

Dean surveyed the land, and the road promised endless adventure.

“Hi, Josh.”

“Is that you Dean?”

“Just to say bye”

“Cynthia said something about caravanning. So, it’s true.”

“Very.”

“Wish I could join you.”

“No you don’t.”

“No, but…”

“But me no buts.”

“We can’t all do what you’re doing. Family.”

“I could have died. It changes your perspective.”

“Yeah. I understand that. Look, keep in touch.”

“Sure will.”

Maybe he will as they had once shared the bond of servitude and Dean could be the promise of freedom.

This is for the Daily Word Prompt 18 “Breeze”, 21 February 2017, Henrietta Watson.

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