FICTION: A quiet man - Part One

By Drum Digital
22 February 2017

Silas stood in his daughter’s bedroom. He stared down at the newspaper cutting. The bold letters of the newspaper advert blurred in front of his eyes. And his hand shook...

BY Kedia Ditsala

Silas stood in his daughter’s bedroom. He stared down at the newspaper cutting. The bold letters of the newspaper advert blurred in front of his eyes. And his hand shook.

What did his daughter, Gaone, want with a job offer like this? How could she even consider it?

Yes, Silas knew, Gaone had been struggling to find work for six months. And yes, she was frustrated and down-hearted. She’d been to so many interviews that come to nothing.

But surely Gaone realised what this particular advert was all about? Surely she wasn’t this desperate? The words on the page seemed to stab into Silas’s very heart.

If only his beloved wife, Lydia, were still alive, he thought.

Lydia would have been able to explain to Gaone that this wasn’t the way forward. She would have been able to give Gaone the faith to carry on with her job search, without resorting to adverts like this. Lydia always knew the right words to say. She always knew how to guide Gaone on the right path with gentle words and sound reasoning. She always knew the right things to say.

But me now – I am a man of few words. A quiet man, thought Silas. I wouldn’t know how to warn Gaone about this dreadful, insulting advert.

Just then, Gaone walked into her bedroom. She saw at once what her father was holding in his hand. She took it from him, and put her hands on her hips.

“Dad!” said Gaone. “Please don’t look through my private stuff. I don’t want you to, okay? Anyhow, I need to get dressed for my interview now.”

Being a quiet man, a man of few words, Silas muttered an embarrassed “Sorry”.

Then he left the bedroom, closing the door softly behind him. Silas went to sit in his favourite chair, overlooking the garden. He felt so helpless, so inadequate and unable to protect his daughter from that world beyond their garden fence.

THE WORDS of the newspaper advert hammered inside his head: GIRLS, GIRLS! WE NEED GIRLS! Phone for an interview at the Black-Eyed Susie Club!”

But then he had an idea. It was a sudden ray of hope. And when Gaone came to stand beside him, dressed in her black interview suit, he blurted out his idea.

“Gaone, listen, why don’t you take a course at college and get some qualifications? Then you can find a good decent job. I think I’ll be able to afford that.”

This wasn’t really true. Lydia’s long illness had just about wiped Silas out financially – as well as emotionally. Outstanding medical bills were still arriving in his post, though he kept these hidden from his daughter.

Perhaps, thought Silas, perhaps he could sell his car, get to work by bus? Anything as long as it saved his daughter from this Black-Eyed Susie Club that needed GIRLS, GIRLS!

But Gaone put her hands on her hips – her favourite posture.

“No, Dad! I’ve had enough of studying. It’s time I got out there and earned a living and stopped sponging off you.”

Silas sighed as he watched Gaone march down the path in her smart black suit, off towards her interview. Once again, he had failed. Once again, he hadn’t found the right words to say.

“Wish me luck, Dad!” Gaone called over her shoulder at the front gate.

But Silas didn’t wish her luck. Instead he prayed silently that she would return from this interview the way she had returned from all the other interviews so far: In a foul mood, flinging her bag angrily on the sofa, yelling, “Those stupid people! They didn’t want me!”

But his heart quaked. What if she came back from this interview, excited and happy and yelling that she’d made it?

Perhaps, thought Silas, he should check out this Black-Eyed Susie Club. Perhaps he was mistaken and it wasn’t a bad place after all? Perhaps he was worrying for nothing? Perhaps they just needed girls as waitresses or something?

He went back to Gaone’s room and found the neatly-folded advert where she’d hidden it now in her bottom drawer. He dialed the number given.

A throaty female voice answered.

“Black-Eyed Susie Club, how can I help you?”

Silas struggled to answer. He was even worse over the phone than he was speaking face to face.

“I – um – I – need –,” he stuttered.

“It’s alright, sir,” the throaty voice soothed. “Is this your first time? You don’t need to feel embarrassed. You just tell me what you want: Tall or short? Blonde or brunette? Young or mature? French maid, nurse, nanny, schoolteacher? Or something a little more exotic? We have all types of girls here. Just waiting to give you a good time. And you don’t need to tell us your name. It’s all strictly confidential at the Black-Eyed Susie Club . . .”

Silas rang off with a trembling hand. He sat staring out at the garden that Lydia had planted before she got sick. But the flowers were faded now. And he wished for the thousandth time that day, that his dear wife was still with them, that she was here still with the right words to guide their headstrong daughter.

To be continued . . .

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