He absolutely hated meetings. They never seemed to have much point to them, but each week he would find himself in two or three which always descended into a beverage sampling, back slapping jamboree, as too many of his colleagues for his liking spent most of their time on golf courses and in restaurants rather than actually doing any work. They earned more money than they could spend.
For Philip Drake, a public sector accountant for a large housing association, these meetings were unnecessary because usually nothing ever resulted from them, but still, he was not in a high enough position to refuse to attend, but he didn’t mind the odd jaunt or indulgence in certain meetings, especially with people he knew. He was guilty of that, guilty of enjoying it sometimes, but there was work to be done. The initial purpose of the meetings was to talk about the matters at hand, but most of the time, no-one felt like discussing them, but did so reluctantly.
Philip, it seemed, was becoming a rare commodity within his business circles. He was work focused, and when the job was done, he could relax. Yet, nothing was ever completed, just added to and modified, which meant more meetings, and more money spent. Sometimes he thought of giving it all up, but in the end, his conscience would remind him that the perks of the job weren’t that bad after all.
Despite his colleague’s love of excess, together with their aversion to work, he couldn’t give it up. Today there was a meeting in one of the cities branches with several external auditors to discuss cash flow and expenditure, and he was late.
In his brand new BMW Coupe, he sped along a country lane, knowing that it was a shortcut that would take him to the outskirts of the city. From there, it was only a ten minute drive to the meeting, but he still had around twenty minutes of driving through countryside for the meeting that started in fifteen minutes, so he floored the accelerator, not really sure why he was nervous about being late. No-one would probably miss him. He had, however, set his own standards high, and it would not look good to the auditors to be late. He had thought of phoning in to say that he couldn’t make it, but couldn’t think of a good enough excuse to use. He had never used an excuse before, and was not about to start doing so.
Philip was 48 years old, wore white and cream suits, and sported a white beard of around one inch in length. He had receding hair and wore a choker with a small polished seashell.
He also sported that most abhorrent thing that all information regarding how to go about a job interview warned against. A tattoo. A tattoo that could not be covered except partially by sunglasses, but they were not practical. Twenty-eight years ago he had a tear, tattooed to the side of his right eye, and age had not worn it well. It was slightly blurred, and a shade lighter than what it used to be, but it was still distinctively a tear. Two years after it had been etched, he had regretted it. It was one of those moments where it seemed like a good idea at the time, as he was in a ‘rocker’ phase, wearing leather jackets and sporting long hair.
However, college and education took over, and he literally got down to business, cut his hair, hung up his jacket, sold his motorbike, and even a few years afterwards would look at photographs of himself in all his gear, sometimes holding a guitar, sometimes with a cannabis joint, and he would shake his head in embarrassment. Did I really look like that? he would say. What was I thinking?
He had thought of getting the tattoo removed, but abhorred the idea of a laser going anywhere near his eye, so it stayed, and it was only his credentials and the fact that he knew somebody in the business, that made people overlook it. They had found their prejudices to be wrong, and that appearances are not always an instant judge of character.
As he drove, the windscreen became speckled with fine rain, but it wasn’t enough to use the wipers. Further up ahead, he saw a rainbow arching into the clouds, and wished he could just pull up and relax in the serenity, instead of speeding along with a worried mind. After a few moments the road curved around to the left and he found himself surrounded by a kaleidoscopic array of colour. He realised that this was the rainbow’s end. It exists, he thought, it actually exists. He slowed down, and looked around. No pot of gold, he wondered. Its probably been nicked. Typical. He then realised that the car was no longer driving on the road, and that he was in fact, going up. The car, as did he, slowly vaporised as they travelled up the rainbow.
Then suddenly he was back driving again, as he was, towards the city. He frowned. Not really sure what happened. He was still speeding along the curved road when he realised that something was wrong. He was on the passenger side of the car, and he discovered he was left handed. The steering wheel was in front, as normal as it would be, and he also realised that the road was now curving to the right. He felt as though he was driving in the opposite direction to where he was heading.
Everything appeared reversed. A car emerged from around the corner ahead of him, a familiar looking car, with a familiar looking driver. As he stared in shock at himself, he swerved to the right to avoid a collision, but his other self, in the mirrored, parallel world, did the same, swerving to the left. The vehicles smashed into each other, metal crushing into metal, glass smashing into glass. Both tears beside Phillip’s eyes struck each other, and flesh crushed into flesh. Like a tear, or rain drop, both cars, and both Philip’s evaporated, along with the rainbow.