Malcolm had, at last, made it up the hill alongside the Anglican Cathedral and was on the long straight road behind. Ahead his car and sanctuary was at the furthest end of the road. The few times Malcolm went to the city he parked his battered Volkswagen behind the cathedral. He usually found a spot there and it was still totally free; unlike the extravagant fees demanded nearer the shopping centre. But he only parked here when he was well and truly alone. It was a bit of a walk to the main city centre shops and passengers did not always appreciate his ingenuity or economy.
It had been a frustrating trip. Of all possible vices the one Malcolm hated most was shopping. And city centre shops on a Saturday were the worst iniquity of them all. Today was no exception and he trekked back to his car disgruntled and empty handed. So the necessity of some birthday present for his father had suddenly arrived; he only remembered this detail because of the constant nagging by his mother and only pride stopped him giving in to her offer to provide the necessary. The pride however would have to be swallowed as Malcolm was still empty handed as well as being fed up and totally disgruntled. Leaving everything to the day before the monumental day was not his best inspiration. Nor was having no idea of what his father might like; everything had seemed either tacky, useless or far too expensive – and often all three.
The side of the road opposite the back of the cathedral was dominated by once flourishing Georgian houses. Here they were clumped together ensconced in the tiniest of gardens, all due to the demands on city centre real estate. Once they had been the proud status symbols of the city's merchants. Now they were broken up into student flats and serviced the nearby university.
Standing, all alone, on a corner ahead was the prettiest girl Malcolm had ever seen, deliciously cute in a simple light blue print dress. As he walked he stared, almost stumbled, and again stared ahead intently. As he got closer the features of her small angelic face enchanted; the most beautiful face he had ever seen and clasped within short cropped black hair. The notion of 'love at first sight' was for trashy fiction. But... this was a unique and new experience. As he approached her incredible beauty only became more adorably enhanced.
Malcolm looked on and it almost appeared as if she stepped towards him. A delicious shudder of the most delightful electricity shot down his spine. He had never been in a situation remotely like this before. He was completely dumb struck. She would have to break the silence. The beautiful face looked up.
“Business?” she said quietly.
Another shudder ran through him, only this time of disappointment. Turning away, and without saying a word, he walked briskly onwards towards his car. He did not look back, he should have looked back.
Back safely among the cheep plastic and tin Malcolm composed himself. He regretted not having the courage to accept the offer. But was also pleased he didn't.
Then the thought crossed his mind: how amazingly convenient, two vices so very close together, the cathedral and 'business'.