(The Adventures of Chartan , a serial saga about the male ego, appears every Sunday. Last week: Chartan encounters Elisa again—this time she is one of three women he is driving to Berkeley.)
After Chartan reached the freeway, he turned on the passenger video monitor. Elisa was facing the front of the vehicle with the two women seated across from her. As if she knew he was watching, Elisa suddenly shifted her focus from the newspaper on her lap to the tiny camera over the door. She was looking up, not out the window. She smiled and ran her tongue across her upper lip. Chartan turned off the monitor.
“Driver, do you coffee, the 72-bean kind?”
Chartan’s turned red. Her question clearly was posed to let him know that Elisa was Elisa, not some look-alike stranger.
“There is coffee the wet bar area, but it isn’t 72-bean—I have a thermos of it up front. Would you like a cup?”
Chartan pulled the limo onto the shoulder and stopped. He quickly filled a cup with his home-brewed coffee—some of the coffee spilled on the seat.. He opened the glass portal that connected him with the passengers.
“Here we go, ma’am.”
“It’s Elisa,” she said firmly.
When she took the cup, he quickly closed the window.
His pulse was up. She was trying to control him. Why did he fear her? The sexual attraction to her no longer existed for him, or so he told himself. Chartan yanked on his collar—his neck was moist with sweat. He reached for his thermos and another cup of his famous brew.
He gently eased back onto the freeway—he was still 20 minutes ahead of schedule. He stared straight ahead and created the vision of the river bed by his apartment. He did not need to see Gina in the kitchen to sense her presence.
To be continued next Sunday…