Velma Goes to Karl

It was late Friday afternoon and Velma was on her way to her friend, Karl’s office.

“What’s the matter, Velma?” Karl asked as soon as he saw her.

“Is it that obvious?” she asked.

“Yes. Now, let’s go to my office and talk.”

“I had to leave work early because I had a meeting. I was on my way home when I called you. Thanks for seeing me.”

“You know that you can stop by any time.”

They went inside his office and even though no one else was there because it was five-thirty, he still closed the door. After she sat down, he said, “Now, tell me what’s wrong.”

“It’s Tadeas.”

“It usually is. What’s wrong this time?”

“I don’t believe in office romances and I don’t believe in dating younger men but that has changed because of him. I think about him all the time and when I’m around him, I have to force myself not to stare at him. I imagine what it would be like to be with him. I want to be more than his boss. I want him in my bed. Have I lost my mind, Karl?”

“No, you haven’t lost your mind. Falling in love may be scary but it doesn’t make a person crazy. You are in love with him, aren’t you?”

She sighed. “Yes.” It was no use denying it.

“What are you going to do about it?”

“What can I do about it? He’s dating another woman and besides, he doesn’t like me.”

“Has he come right out and told you that he doesn’t like you?”

“No, but I can tell that he doesn’t and he thinks I don’t like him either.”

“Well, as it turns out, he’s wrong about that. So, it’s quite possible that you’re wrong about him not liking you.”

“I know for sure that I irritate him.”

“Do you know what I think?”

“What?”

“I think he’s attracted to you. It was obvious that day when you introduced me to him and his friend. I saw the way he was looking at you and I could tell that he didn’t like me. I don’t think he liked seeing us together.”

“Do you know what he had the nerve to ask me?”

“What?”

“If you and I have slept together.”

Karl’s eyebrows rose. “You’re kidding.”

“No, I’m not.”

“He actually asked you that?”

“Yes. He’s always grilling me about Akello and you. He keeps insinuating that I’ve been romantically involved with both of you. He can’t believe that we’re just friends.”

“Maybe he wants to know where he stands.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean he wants to make sure that the field is clear for him. He’s fishing. It’s his way of finding out whether or not he has a chance with you. It sounds like he feels unsure and threatened by your relationship with me. Akello is out of the picture but I’m still here and still a threat.”

“You really think he’s wants to be in a relationship with me?”

“Yes.”

“But, what about the woman’s he’s seeing? He’s taking her to his parents’ gala tomorrow evening. He told me so himself.”

“Tell me what you know about this other woman and his relationship with her.”

She did, concluding that, “He keeps insisting that she isn’t his girlfriend which doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“It may not make sense to you or to me, but to him it does. As far as he’s concerned, she isn’t his girlfriend and from what you’ve told me, it’s obvious that the attraction is one-sided. I think it’s only a matter of time before he stops seeing her. It wouldn’t make sense continuing his relationship with her when you’re the woman he wants to be with.”

“Even if he stops seeing her it probably won’t be because of me but because his parents didn’t approve of her because she’s not blue blooded like them.”

“Tadeas doesn’t strike me as the sort of chap who would let anyone control his life. Why don’t you put him out of his misery and tell him how you feel about him? Tell him that he doesn’t have any competition.”

“I don’t know if I should…”

“What are you afraid of?”

“I don’t know. He’s younger than me and we come from two totally different backgrounds.”

“Believe me, when two people are determined to be together, they won’t let anything or anyone stand in their way. Don’t throw away your chance for happiness. Grab it with both hands. Tell Tadeas how you feel.”

“What if it doesn’t work out? It would be awkward working together.”

“Don’t assume that it won’t work out.”

“But what if it doesn’t?”

“Then, the two of you will have to sort that out. Perhaps, he might decide to leave the company.”

“I would hate for him to leave. I’ve gotten so used to having him around and I’d miss him so much…”

“Velma, you’re already foreseeing the breakup of a relationship which you haven’t even begun. Stop getting ahead of yourself. And stop imagining the worst. Let’s focus on the present. You’re in love with the chap and it’s obvious to me that he’s got feelings for you. That’s why he makes a point of telling you that the other woman isn’t his girlfriend. In other words, she’s no threat to you. It’s important for him to know that I’m not a threat to him.”

“But, I’ve told him many times that you and I are just friends but he doesn’t believe me.”

“I guess it’s hard for some people to imagine that men and women can be just friends.”

“He told me that I’m not the type of woman men can be just be friends with.”

“That’s his way of telling you that he can’t be just friends with you because he’s attracted to you. You’re a very attractive woman, Velma. There was a time when I too would have liked to be more than than your good friend and confidante but, it was clear to me that it wasn’t something that you would have wanted. So, I never said anything.”

“I had no idea. Tadeas told me that Akello wanted to be more than friends but didn’t want to rock the boat.”

“Tadeas was right about both Akello and me.”

“Yes, he was. He believes that I dumped Akello for you.”

“You and I both know that’s not true but have you been giving Akello the cold shoulder?”

“I guess I thought a lot about what Tadeas said and thinking back, there were subtle hints that Akello was attracted me. I guess I didn’t want to admit that I was wrong and that Tadeas was right. I was so sure that he was mistaken but he kept insisting that Akello wanted to be more than friends because he placed his hand on my lower back. As far as he was concerned, that was a sure sign of attraction or romantic interest.”

“Yes. A man touching a woman on the small of her back is generally means that he’s attracted to her. There were times when you and I were together that I was tempted to put my hand there but I didn’t want to freak you out so, I kept my hands to myself.”

“I honestly didn’t think anything of it when Akello put his hand there. I thought he was just being his usual caring self.”

“I think you should reach out to him. He has been a good friend to you all of these years. Don’t throw it all away. Now that you know that I harbored feelings for you as well, are you going to change towards me too?”

“No. Nothing has changed, Karl. You’re still my good friend and confidante.”

“Good. Now, why don’t we grab a bite to eat? I’m starving.”

She smiled. “Sure. My treat?”

“Sure. Let’s hope we don’t run into Tadeas again.”

She looked alarmed. “You think it’s possible that we might?”

“Don’t worry, I’ll take you to a place where there’s no chance that we will run into him and where the food is free.”

“Which place is that?”

“My mother’s kitchen.”

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