I have a new client. I am not going to reveal his name, which is Steve. Steve’s a Clooney. He lives in a gorgeous custom-built house way up in the mountains that I can only reach because last year I bought a kick-ass Jeep.
I think the Jeep is part of the reason Steve hired me. I included it in my response to his cry for help on craigslist. “I specialize in messes.” I told him. “I have total confidence in my ability to help you. Also, I have a Jeep.”
That was in November of last year. And then three months later I got an invitation to work for him, without our ever having met. He liked my nerve. I liked his back. Sometimes, that’s the way things go.
The first time I drove up to Steve’s house, I considered the possibility that he might kill me (a man I knew nothing about had lured me to an isolated location miles from civilization). So I told him almost as soon as he opened the door that a lot of my close and powerful friends (of which I have none) knew my exact whereabouts (not true).
“If you’ve got ax-murdering on your mind, I just want to warn you: bad idea.”
Steve looked surprised, then injured.
Steve’s such a sweetheart—I know that now.
I also know that he doesn’t really need me to work for him. Steve’s idea of a mess is gleefully circling the globe trying to find the best rivers to run, and forgetting to pay a few bills along the way. As the unfortunate spectator of some real shit storms, I can tell you: this is not one. I’ve told Steve this several times. But he just shakes his head and says that we will get to the real fires soon. I don’t believe him. But if I can turn a profit as a result of his adamancy, so be it.
“How was the drive?” he asked last week.
There was fresh snow. I skidded out on a couple of the hairpin turns, and told him so.
“That shouldn’t be happening,” he said, picking up the car keys I had just set down. “Let’s go see what you’re doing wrong.”
“Steve, I thought we were going to take a look at some of the paperwork for…”
“Pronto!” he hollered, already halfway down the spiral staircase.
Turns out I was braking as I went into the turn, when what I needed to do was accelerate.
Apparently, this is why Steve hired me.
At first I thought that, as a bachelor, Steve needed someone to play wife. Scold him, straighten things up a bit, add some feminine flair to his life. But the truth is, he treats me more like a daughter than anything. This is funny, because I have long needed a father. I just never thought to look on craigslist.
Steve cooks for me; he listens to my woes; he even brought me warm bourbon when he heard me sniffle.
In return, I renewed the policy on his motorcycle, and then neglected to pay it.
“Don’t worry,” he tells me. “The pieces will fall into place.”
I was up on Monday, and he served omelets and made me tell him again about how I axed my last relationship (he loves this story). We were reclined opposite each other in his plush leather chairs and he was wearing his ripped-beyond-repair jeans and his buffalo-skin slippers, which were resting on the seat next to my butt.
My stockinged feet were tucked beneath me, warm plate on my lap. It was snowing outside, and there was a fire going in the fireplace.
“Is this what you meant when you said we’d get to the real fires soon?” I asked.
Steve laughed, towel-whipped me with his napkin.
“For a stupid girl, you can be pretty smart,” he said.
And then we looked for something to fax.