Sitting in a meeting, I felt a tap at my shoulder.

A hushed voice whispered in my ear. “Dude, I just saw Cindy. She’s leaving, man.”

“WHAT?” I whispered loudly. “Where?!? Is she gone?”

“No, she’s downstairs getting a rental car,” came the hurried reply. “If you run, you might just catch her.”

This frantically whispered conversation caused some disruption as heads began to turn. I got up, noisily gathered my things, thanked him, causing more people to look over at me and the main speaker to stop, as I dashed out the door.

I found the nearest stairwell and began taking two steps at a time. The air was musty, and the fluorescent lights needed replacement, and as I got near the bottom, it became really difficult to see. Damnit, I thought, not now! I slowed to avoid breaking my leg, seeking out each step with my foot. That’s all I’d need, I thought, to miss her because I had fallen and busted my leg. At least she’d laugh and tease me about it later. Dear Lord, I’d never hear the end of it. I found the door to the outside and burst out.

It was a cool California night, and the air was relatively clean. I ran into the massive parking lot, scanning each sodium-lit row, watching the distant heads of people looking for their cars, watching for that tell-tale flash of blonde hair. Damn, where the hell is she, I wondered. And where’s she gonna go? She doesn’t know this area. A few older couples looked over at me, as I ran from row to row, seeing a few cars pull out, and becoming really worried she was in one of them.

An acquaintance called out to me. “Hey, Weave, what’s up? What are you looking for?” I ran back to the sidewalk, continuing to look around wildly. “Have you seen Cindy down here?” I panted, breathless. He had, with the same warning: “yeah, just a few minutes ago… she’s around here, but she said she was leaving…you’d better hurry.”

Frantically, I began running from row to row, searching every window, looking for that face I knew so well, listening for an engine starting, or that soft voice of hers. “CINDY!” I shouted, hoping she’d hear me.

But after a few minutes, it was clear that my efforts were becoming futile. She was nowhere to be found. Beaten, I walked back to the sidewalk, continuing to turn and watch as the hope of talking to her drained from me.

A couple of women had begun talking to my acquaintance, and the three had motioned for me to come over.

He introduced me as I continued to scan the parking lot. They were both young, attractive… one was obviously taken with the man, whom she evidently knew. I asked what they did… “oh, not much,” grinned the other woman. “We try to distract men who are looking for other women by convincing them they should come with us over to our place.” She reached out and grabbed my hand. “We’ve got a hot tub, some champagne. I make a killer breakfast… wanna come?” Smiling, she put her arm around me and pulled me closer, while I continued to look back for that shock of blonde hair.

I considered the offer as the sun came beaming through my bedroom windows and woke me up to a 1999 in which I’d never see that head of blonde hair again.

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