Henry Carter and the Observer
By Michael Huffam
It was fifteen past 6, which made Sandra a half-hour late to see Henry at the Aroma Café. It was late afternoon and the sun was fading down in the trees, where barely any light was coming through. Henry was checking his phone since a minute ago, and no messages from Sandra of being late.
Henry and Sandra have been dating since they were in the midst of college, and hit it off since their first full conversation they had. Their first date, first kiss, and the first time they said "I love you" was the greatest moments he has had in a long time. He took something out of his jacket breast pocket, a small black box. He opened it, and what was revealed was a diamond ring, shining an orange ray with little of the sunlight left shining on it. He talked to his father about this decision and he told Henry "The Only way you know is when you're ready is when you want to be totally selfless, never thinking about yourself but of her"
Henry always had thought of her, in every way possible.
He slightly put his head up, and saw Sandra walking through inside the door. Frantic, he quickly closed the box and put it back in his breast pocket. He signaled her and Sandra saw it, where her eyes lifted from some kind of trance. He began to walk over to her. He kissed and hugged her, then looked into her eyes, and something didn't see right when he looked into them. They were not the same bright glow he used to see everyday. He raised his eyebrow. "Is something the matter Sandra?"
Just then Henry could feel Sandra's spirits dropped down. Her arms felt weak, and he could sense something was wrong. "I need to tell you something Henry…"
"What is it? Is something wrong?" he asked. He motioned Sandra to sit down at the nearest table. They both sit down, and Henry tried to grab her hand for comfort, but she pulled her hand back. Henry didn't like this at all.
"I'm so sorry Henry…" Sandra began. She had her head down, her voice gloomy. "I know we have been together for years, but these last few months haven't been what it usually has. You been so fixated on this book you've been writing, having to give up your job because of it and well, you haven't been the same."
"What are you trying to say here Sandra?" said Henry, his voice anxious.
"To the point, I see. Fine I'll just drop the bombshell then. I've been seeing another man Henry. One that can support me and make sure we can work out also financially. I can no longer be you with Henry, Goodbye"
That was all she said to Henry, and then she walked right out of the Café and entered in the passenger seat of a high priced car, where a man with slicked back hair wearing also a high priced suit. The Car drove off, leaving Henry in the Café, holding onto his chest, where the black box was.
It was now twilight, and Henry was walking down the streets of the city, sulking grimly. He could not believe what had just happened. The woman he had fell in love with, couldn't live a life with him with just love. She needed someone who had more than one suit and an expensive car, living in a penthouse condo. She needed someone with money.
I am going to have money, thought Henry. I just need to finish my novel, and I'll have enough money to have two condos.
As many times Henry thought about that scenario, he knew it was slim to none chance his novel will be a New York Times Bestseller. You needed a book with great characters, thrilling conflicts, and great moral. All he wrote so far was a man down on his luck met the love of his life. That would be a great bestseller, if he just got a good plot to go with their love, then he would be in business.
But now he knew how the man in his novel felt, down on his luck with nothing he had to live for. He had no future, no love, and soon no place to live. Henry is ready to just go back home and work for his father's auto shop.
"Hello there, kind gentleman," said a voice from behind Henry.
Henry turned around and saw a man in a brown trench coat over a black suit, wearing a black bowler hat with a white band going around it. He looked a little younger than his father, but still older than Henry. His facial features were round, his cheeks and chin, with a small stubby nose. He wore a faded brown mustache, almost hiding his upper lip. He also had a very long black cane with the head the shape of a lion. Henry had never seen such a character, one with such a strange vibe.
"Hello, do I know you?" Henry asked.
"No, not yet that is. You my good man, look like a man down on his luck." he said with such formality.
Henry gave a crooked frown, and said, "You can say that. Women problems. I think you can fill in the rest."
The man raised his head and nodded "Yes, yes, the women you loved, the one you were about to propose to left you for a man that can support her. Correct?"
Henry's face lit up, but in surprise. "How did you know about that? Who are you?"
The man raised his hand to calm Henry down. "Now, now, my good man. You don't have to worry. They call me by many names, but the one I am known best for is The Observer. I have been watching you Henry Carter, and I'm offering to give you another chance at what you just lost."
Henry turned his head in confusion. Who is this man? What did mean by giving him another chance at what he just lost?
"What are you talking about?" he asked, in an undetermined tone.
The Observer smiled and said, "Come with me kind sir, and I'll explain everything" and he walked into the Alley he was standing behind.
Henry was a little cautious at following the man into the alleyway, but if he was talking about what Henry thought he was, he felt taking the risk. He followed the man in the alleyway, walking in a fast pace to catch up with the man. He caught up with him, and slowed down to see where he was. The alley was much longer than Henry expected it would be, for the fact of the two buildings weren't that big. What caught Henry by surprise was the lights in the Alley were turning on when they approached them.
They probably have motion sensors, he thought. The Observer stopped, right in front of a wooden door, with markings on it that looked like it was from the Victorian era. The Observer tapped on the door with his cane, twice on top and twice on the bottom. The door opened, and the Observer stepped aside and said, "After you my dear boy."
Henry nodded to thank him and entered through the door. Inside was a light gray room being illuminated by an unknown light, with two doors at the end of the room, with a chair in the middle.
"Please sit down, Henry." said The Observer. Henry did what he was asked and sat down on the chair, which creaked when he sat down. The Observer walked past him a few feet away two doors, standing between them. He stood there with his cane holding him up, giving Henry an intriguing look. He then raised his head and told Henry "Mr. Carter, I am a being who has been watching you for a long time now. I've seen how many times a chance of love has crossed your path and it has rejected you time and time again. From your first crush of Sally Parton…"
How did he know about her? I haven't seen her since 6th grade, was going through Henry's thoughts, but The Observer continued.
"…to today with Sandra being with another man, one that can satisfy her needs. But here I stand to you for a chance I guarantee will end wonderfully. I, my good man, am giving you at another chance at true love."
Henry's eyes lighten up, his heart skipping a beat. How could this man do it? How can he give him another chance at love? Henry didn't understand this at all.
The Observer smiled, as if he knows what Henry is thinking and feeling; excitement and doubt.
"Behind these doors are two wonderful, beautiful women, both who will fall in love with you during some time. All you have to do is choose one of the two and you will live a wonderful life, with her by your side. Now all you have to do is nod and I'll show you your first option. So what will it be, Mr. Carter?"
Henry was in a hypnotic state from the words that just came into his head. This man will give him the chance at eternal love. No more girls breaking his heart for selfish reasons, no more trying to be someone else to get their attention, just love on day one.
Henry then got away from his thoughts and back into the gray room, and nodded. The Observer smiled brightly, his cheeks rosy.
"Very well then, Henry, meet Anna Beth, the woman behind door number 1…" he said, and leaned over to the door on the left and opened it. As the door opened, a wind gusted over him, a warm crisp wind with a scent of honeysuckle. Henry closed his eyes as the wind came to him. Once the gust of wind stopped he opened his eyes, and in front of him was a woman in a white laced dress. Her facial features are beauty beyond words. Her blond hair was as bright as her dress, with dazzling blue eyes, dark and radiant of color in. She had a perfectly slimed body, fitting inside the dress wonderfully. Like being controlled by a puppeteer, he rose from his chair, and met eye to eye with the woman next to him. She smiled at him, with perfectly white teeth shining at him.
"Hi, I'm Henry," was all he could say. He's never seen such a beautiful woman. Her eyes glistened and she said "Hello Henry, I'm Anna Beth. It's so nice to meet you." Her voice was bubbly, very optimistic.
"So why don't you tell me about yourself, Henry. You seem such an interesting man." She said tilting her head in curiosity.
Henry let out a deep sigh and said "Uh, okay… I went to college right here in the city, lived in a small city a few towns away, I love watching classic black and white movies, big fan of Frank Sinatra, prefer wine over beer really, and—"
"You drink? That's so bad for your body Henry! All that Alcohol destroying your body, such a bad beverage…" she said, cutting him off.
"Well there's nothing wrong having a drink to let loose, don't you think? Wine was such a reliever for me after midterms in high school."
Anna Beth's eyes widen in shock, mouth pried opened. "You did underage drinking, Henry? What a wrong thing to do!"
Henry's shoulders rose, giving out a nervous laugh and said "Well at some point everyone has done something wrong and stupid in their life. Surely you have done something wrong or stupid in your life?"
Anna Beth slightly shook her head and said "Oh dear lord no! Always followed my parents' rules and orders, did everything by the book at school and my life, never drank, smoke or did drugs. Heck I never got a parking ticket!" and ended with a high pitched laugh. Henry laughed back, not knowing why he did.
"Well it was wonderful talking to you, Henry! I hope you will pick me, for I will be the smart choice." She said with a wink, and gave him a kiss on the cheek, and went back to the door in a mix between of skipping and walking. She went inside the white light, and the Observer closed the door. He looked over to Henry and asked "Well? What do you think?"
Henry tilted his head and straighten it, letting out a deep sigh and said "She quite a beautiful women, that's for sure!"
The Observer chuckled, but stopped and stuck out a finger and said "Ah, ah, ah! There is still one more option for you, Henry! Meet the girl behind door number two, Roxanne,"
The Observer leaned to the door on the right and opened it, revealing only a room covered in pitch black shadows, and he could hear high heels clicking closer and closer. Then a women entered the room through the shadows, her beauty speechless as Anna Beth's, but in a totally different aspect. She wore a black satin dress, the straps hanging over her shoulders. She had charcoal black hair, waving down in swirls. Her facials features had such promiscuous look, making her irresistible. She had dark brown eyes, having a small sparkle inside them. Her body was shaped like an hourglass, filled with fantastic curves. She trotted over to Henry, inches away from him, and gave him a crooked smile, tracing a finger over his chest.
"Hey there handsome, I'm Roxanne. But you can call me Roxy. What can I call you?" she said. Her voice was a little deeper than Anna Beth's high voice, but just as hypnotic.
"You can call me Henry, just Henry…Roxy." He said.
"Well 'Just Henry', do you like to have fun?" she said, her finger still tracing over his chest.
"Well, I like to read a good mystery novel, listen to some Nat King Cole occasionally, and— that's my stomach you're pressing," said Henry, whose breaths were going fast and short.
"I'm sorry, it's just so flat! Feels a little muscular, you work out 'Just Henry'?" she asked, her voice lingering at the end.
"Just healthy smoothies and 3 mile jog every other day, really…" said Henry who was getting nervous when Roxy was laying her perfect fingers over to his arms.
"You must lift weights too, your biceps are hard as a rock" said Roxy, sounding satisfied.
"Thank you, Roxanne… You don't look bad yourself."
"Thanks handsome. Well I gotta go back in my room now, but I hope you pick me…" she was saying and leaned over to Henry's ear and continued saying "For we can have some fun later on…" and pecked his ear with her lips. This made Henry jump a little. She then trotted back into her room of dark shadows, the door closing by itself.
The Observer laid his arms out, his eyebrows sticking up, asking "So my dear boy, what door will you go in? The door on the left where sweet Anna Beth waits behind; or the door on the right, where the unpredictable Roxanne is in? Which one will it be?"
Henry then straightens his stance, his eyes full of determination. He knew which door he will choose, and has no regrets of continuing with his acts.
"I know which door I will choose, Mr. Observer. The door I choose is this one," he said, turning around to the exit door, walking to it.
"You choose to leave? Why would you do such a thing?" said the Observer, astounded with eyes wide.
Henry turned back to the Observer, smiling. "You said you're giving me another chance at love, but I cannot choose either woman. Anna Beth, as beautiful as she is, she is a perfect woman. That's the problem; being around a perfect woman will make me feel flawed, and the love will soon die. Everyone must make mistakes at some point.
"As for Roxanne, she would be too much of a guilty pleasure. Such a gorgeous woman she is, almost drawing you to her beauty. But I couldn't fall in love with her, for she just wants lust. You must want the person spiritually to be in love with them. So if those are the choices, I'm going to take the third door."
The Observer's eyes slowly went back to it's normal size, no longer wide and gave him a calm smile and said "Very well then, Mr. Carter. I can respect your choice. You may leave."
Henry nodded, gave him a wave goodbye and opened the door, leaving the light gray room.
He returned to the café, taking a sip of his late night mocha espresso. Henry thought of current event that just happened to him. Many men would give their left arm for just a kiss by those women, but he chose to decline for even holding one of their hands. But he saw for they would be for him in the long run emotionally; not financially or physically, that they wouldn't satisfy his needs for love.
Just then he felt a hot sting on his hand. He let out a yelp and waved his hand to cool off.
"Oh my, I'm so sorry! God I'm such a klutz!" said a woman next to him, cleaning up the brown liquid on the table.
"It's ok, it was an—" he said and then looked at the woman, and lost his words. It was a woman around his age, with auburn hair running down from a headband that covered most of her head, pale skin brightening the lightly dimmed room, her emerald eyes staring down at him.
"—accident" he finished, and wiped the coffee off him.
"Man, I'm sorry, I don't know how to control myself when I conduct to an invisible orchestra" she said with a chuckle.
"That's okay," said Henry. "Can I get you another Coffee?"
She smiled and said "Of course! I'm Amanda, and you're…?"
He took out his hand and said "Henry. Henry Carter."
"Nice to meet you Henry. So you always give people coffee when they spill it on you?"
Just then Henry and Amanda had a conversation that lasted for hours, a long enough one that didn't ended until the coffee shop closed down. They talked about all kinds of things. They're lives in college, the concerts they went to, the crazy parking ticket encounters, etc.
As they got out of coffee shop, Henry noticed it was very late, with Amanda looking concerned, tucking her coat for warmth.
"You need someone to walk you home, Amanda? I don't want a lady going down the streets alone." he asked, giving a crooked smile.
She smiled back, pulling her hair back and said "That would be nice having someone watching my back," and took his arm. Henry walked down the streets with Amanda, gazing upon the dim lights of the city. A wind then brushed over his cheek, and he turned his head to where the gust was headed. Just then he saw The Observer across the street from them, grinning at him waving his bowler hat at Henry.
I guess you can find love in the most strangest places at the most random times, Mr. Carter, said a voice inside Henry's head, a chipper old man's voice he heard not long ago. He smiled at the Observer and nodded to him, giving him a goodbye motion. The Observer smiled back and out back his bowler hat, turning away and walking into the dark alley, leaving the newly formed romance of the two alone in the streets. Amanda had her head pressed onto Henry's shoulder, who can smell the sweet lavender scent in her hair. The two walked through the city, feeling weightless, ready for a new adventure to start. Together.