Kelvin tried to rub the sleep from his eyes as he pulled the car to a stop behind a shiny white BMW at the stop light. He knew it was no avail since he was fresh off a double shift of his third shift. His eyes were blood shot and his hair standing at all ends. He smelled like wood and the busy city streets he had been working on. Kelvin rubbed the back of his neck to try and loosen the muscles there. He was less than 10 minutes from home and his bed where he can look forward to at four hours of shut eye before he had to go to yet another job. Kelvin glanced at the street lights and then around at the busy shopping center that was clearing out after dinner time.
The light turned green and the BMW's backlight flipped off and the vehicle started to inch forward. Kelvin sighed heavily, exhaustion beating at his skull, and released his own brakes. His car crawled behind the BMW for a moment before the car ahead sped up and so did he. Suddenly, the white BMW jolted to a stop and Kelvin rushed to stop his own beaten up Corolla. Kelvin felt the impact and heard the crunch of the cars ring in his ears and braced himself on his wheel. Eventually, his heart rate and breathing calmed enough for him to realize that he had involved himself in an accident. Kelvin put the car in park and reached for his hazard lights shakily as he cursed to himself, praying the other party was okay. Kelvin emerged from his car and rushed ahead to the meet the man in a suit that was leaving the BMW.
"Are you alright, sir?" Kelvin asked as he reached the man, who was inspecting the damage on his car.
The man looked at Kelvin with disgust and straightened his jacket. "No, I am not. Look at my car."
Kelvin did. There was a small dent in the back of the BMW and a few scratches in the white paint. Kelvin's car, though, had suffered the brunt of the impact and the front had folded and warped severely.
Kelvin explained, "I'm so sorry. You suddenly braked and I tried to brake as quickly as possible."
"I don't need your sorry. How are you going to pay for this?" The man interrupted as he inspected Kelvin up and down.
Kelvin should be offended by the man's insinuation that Kelvin wouldn't be able to pay for the damages to his imported car. But the last couple of years has taught Kelvin that his pride didn't matter. The fact was that Kelvin struggled to make ends meet as it is and his minimum insurance would probably do nothing to help Kelvin with this situation. As a matter of fact, even if they somehow did help pay for this, his rates would increase to a point that Kelvin would have to take on another job.
Kelvin bowed his head. "I'm sorry. I really didn't mean to hit you. I'm sure we can figure something out. If you didn't brake so suddenly-"
The man brushed Kelvin off and reached inside his blazer. "I'm calling the cops. I don't have time to do charity for someone like you. I'm going to be late for my meeting and you're costing me money."
Kelvin clenched his jaw. A thousand thoughts ran through his mind. He wanted to protest and wanted to scream. He felt drained and hopeless. He had been trying to keep his mind off his situation for so long as he pushed himself hour to hour, keeping a shred of hope that one day he would crawl out of the bottom of the ladder of life. This man was clearly above him financially and every moment he was standing there with him was considered a waste. To him, Kelvin was a waste. And maybe Kelvin was, but Kelvin also wanted to scream that he was also living, existing and trying. Still, he said nothing else. He just watched the man start to dial police and the cars around him continue to move along and the people coming in and out of businesses and restaurants enjoying themselves.
"Mr. Winston," a female voice said from the sidewalk on Kelvin's right. Kelvin and the man both turned to identify the source of the voice.
The streetlights illuminated a tiny woman coming around the parked vehicles to us. Her hair was waist-length and slicked back revealing a flawless face with delicate features. Her skin was nice and tanned as if she just stepped off the beach in Fiji and she was wearing a perfectly fitted white suit and matching heels. Long diamond earrings winked in the light as she moved, and she offered Kelvin a small smile as their eyes met. The sound of her shoes stopped as she reached the man. Kelvin noted that even in her heels, she was still several inches shorter than the man that Kelvin stood over.
"Mr. Winston," she repeated and held her hand out to the man. "I am Vienna Lam of Sapphire Cosmetics. Very nice to meet you."
The look of recognition was instantaneous on the man's face. "Director Lam. It is so nice to meet you. I thought I would see you inside."
Kelvin felt invisible but he was fascinated watching the previously haughty man almost bow to the tiny creature in white. She smiled at him but the smile did not reach her eyes. They shook hands and she instantly drew back and dropped her hands. Mr. Winston had forgotten that was going to call the cops evidently.
"I was on my way inside when I happened to witness your unfortunate accident," she said, glancing at the cars. "It seemed that if you weren't trying to answer my text message saying that I was on my way inside, you wouldn't have braked so suddenly and caused the collision with this gentleman." Her eyes landed back onto Kelvin and Kelvin's heart started to speed like it had done earlier in the collision. Her eyes were round and dark, framed my long lashes and a careful application of iridescent copper on the eyelids. "The accident is my fault. And you know that my biggest pet peeve if inconveniencing other people for one's own mistakes." She flashed her white teeth at Kelvin but he felt like her words were more pointed at Mr. Winston, who was growing increasingly uncomfortable.
Ms. Lam lifted her clutch and dug inside to pull out a card. With a snap of the clutch's clasp that seemed to ring heavy between them, she came to stand in front of Kelvin. She offered him the card and he stared down at it and noticed her bright teal nails. "Sorry for the late introductions. I am the Vienna Lam. I apologize for the damage to your car. Please contact my assistant in the morning so that we can arrange to help you get it fixed as soon as possible or get you a replacement. Again, I am sorry that my rushing to a business meeting caused you to waste your time."
Vienna was throwing the man's words and attitude back at him. Kelvin was sure that this woman was even higher on the ladder than Mr. Winston was, and she was showing him that she disapproved of him. Kelvin wasn't stupid. He knew it had nothing to do with him at all but she had no idea that she was offering a hand to a drowning man. Kelvin took the card, careful not to touch her small hands with his dirtied and callused ones.
"Thank you," Kelvin said. "And no, I apologize for delaying you. I will definitely get in contact with you. Do you need a copy of my driver's license and insurance for your records?
She shook her head. "No because none of this was your fault. But for your ease of mind, if you cannot get in contact with my assistant, call the number on the back of the card. That is my personal number. Does that sound adequare, Mr…."
"Yes. Please call me Kelvin," Kelvin quickly said.
"Alright. Mr. Kelvin." Vienna smiled, holding out her hand for his. Hesitantly, Kelvin dwarfed her delicate fingers in his and shook her hand gently before pulling away, wondering if she noticed the dirt under his fingers or the callused-feel of his skin against her soft palms. If she did, she did not falter. "It was very nice to meet you despite the unfortunate circumstances. I hope that you have a better evening."
She turned away from him to Mr. Winston. "Mr. Winston, I will be inside. Please meet me at the table after you park your car." She gracefully walked back to the sidewalk and away from them toward a fancy looking restaurant.
Kelvin stood there looking at the angel in a white suit disappear for several minutes, still clutching her card in his left hand. Mr. Winston murmured something to himself and got back into his car and drove away. Kelvin didn't hear him. Kelvin didn't care. He wanted to know who that woman was. Not just what gave her so much power over Mr. Winston or why she seemed to ooze confidence from every cell in her body, but because the part of him that always loved to foster hope where there was none wanted to hope that she would turn around smile at him again. When she was gone and so was Mr. Winston, Kelvin read the gold writing on a sapphire-colored card.
Managing Director and CEO
Just as she said. Her business contact was on the card and her personal number was on the back. Kelvin ran a finger across the writing of her name. He would contact her assistant in the morning, but he knew that he would never have to use the number on the back. Vienna seemed to be demanding and he assumed that it meant her staff would never want to inconvenience her with small tasks like this. Their lives only crossed by unfortunate circumstances, like she said.