The Keys to Success

For the first time in his life, Scott Brown doesn’t know where his keys are. Actually he does know where they are; they’re in his car but he doesn’t know where his car is. He’d left the bar in Buckhead where he and his friends had been hanging out and had just unlocked the door to his car when a guy who couldn’t have been more than sixteen or seventeen years old stuck a gun in his face and said, “Give me your keys!” Scott complied.

Now he is waiting for the police to arrive so he can make a statement and be told that they’ll do all they can to find his vehicle, though Scott is certain he’ll never again see his car in one piece. At least he doesn’t have to wait alone. Becky, a woman he was talking to in the bar came along a few minutes after the carjacking and has remained with Scott to console him.

“You poor thing,” Becky says. “You must have been so scared.”

“I didn’t have time to be scared,” Scott says. “It happened so fast.”

“Well you’re handling it well,” Becky says. “I’d be a mess right now.”

“You’d do fine, I’m sure,” Scott says.

Running into Becky has been the highlight of an otherwise unpromising evening for Scott. He’d spoken to her in the bar but she never gave the impression she was that interested in him. Plus she mentioned a “situation” with her boyfriend who sometimes wanted to see other people. Scott decided he’d done okay as he had spoken to her for nearly twenty minutes before she invoked the boyfriend, so he had considered that a minor success until she showed up in the parking lot and approached him a few minutes after his car had been taken.

Becky Shaunessy lives up to her Irish name with auburn hair and green eyes. She’s dressed for a night on the town, wearing a short dark skirt and a blue halter-style top with two-inch red pumps which accentuate her already tall stature. Scott’s reasonably tall himself with blonde hair and brown eyes. He was happy to meet someone he didn’t have to look down at and in fact it was her height which first attracted him to her. They’d talked about trivial things, where they went to school, where they’d been raised, what they did for a living. It was here where Becky invoked the boyfriend when Scott told her he was an accountant.

“My boyfriend works for H&R Block,” she said. “He’s really busy this time of year.”

“Yes, we’re all busy in March and April,” Scott said. “So you have a boyfriend.”

“Kind of,” Becky replied. “We’re sort of on-again, off-again.”

“Where are you now?” Scott asked.

“Hard to say,” she replied.

They’d spoken for a few more minutes before Scott excused himself to catch up with his friends. He left the bar ten minutes later and had his fateful run-in with the carjacker. Becky arrived about five minutes later. Scott is happy for the company even though he’s pretty sure he won’t get much further with Becky. Since arriving, though, she’s seemed much more interested in him than she was in the bar.

The police arrive and Scott gives them a description of his car, and the carjacker as well as his license number. Becky stands to the side, patiently waiting as Scott gives his statement. The police put out an APB on his car and tell him they’ll do all they can to recover it then they ask him if he has a way to get home. Before Scott can say anything, Becky steps over and says, “I can take him home.”

Once the police have gone, Becky says, “Come on, my car’s over here.”

Scott follows her, saying, “You sure you don’t mind taking me home?”

“Not at all,” Becky says, stopping and rubbing his arm. “It might give us a chance to get to know one another a little better.”

“What about your on-again off-again situation?” Scott asks.

Smiling, Becky says, “It’s always been more off than on. So where do you live?”

Twenty minutes later, they’re entering Scott’s condo in Brookhaven.

“This is a nice place!” Becky says as she looks around.

“It should be,” Scott says. “It costs enough.”

“I know what you mean,” she says. “I refinanced a year ago and my payments are still through the roof.”

“Would you like something to drink?” he says.

“Coke, Pepsi, whatever you have,” she replies.

He gets them set up with drinks then they retire to the couch where they resume their conversation.

“So you said you’re from Atlanta?” Becky says. “I haven’t met many natives since I’ve been here.”

“We’re out there but you have to look carefully for us,” Scott says with a chuckle. “Of course a lot of people who say they’re from Atlanta are actually from the suburbs, like Cobb or Gwinnett.”

“That’s where a lot of my co-workers are from,” Becky says. “Some of them have commutes of an hour or more.”

“I don’t get that,” Scott says. “I can understand wanting to live away from town, but you end up spending so much time on the road it almost doesn’t seem worth it.”

“Well I was lucky to find a place five minutes from where I live,” she says. “I can practically walk to work.”

“Sounds nice,” he says. “So tell me about this boyfriend who you may or may not be with.”

Becky laughs. “It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Craig and I have been dating for about two years, but he’s never wanted to take it to the next level. I’m starting to get tired of waiting.”

“Maybe he’s just afraid of commitment,” Scott says. “Some guys are like that.”

“I don’t think it’s that,” she says. “He’s said he wants to get married someday, I just don’t think he wants to marry me.”

“That would be his loss, then,” Scott says to which Becky smiles.

“What about you?” she says. “Are you seeing anyone?”

“You met me in a bar in Buckhead and you ask if I’m seeing anyone?” he says with a laugh.

“That doesn’t always mean you’re single,” she answers, laughing as well. “Were you seeing anyone recently?”

“My last girlfriend was about six months ago,” he says. “We got along okay, but she was never that committed to the relationship.”

“Well it’s her loss,” Becky says. She props her arm onto the back of the couch and leans her head on her hand facing Scott. He turns so he’s facing her.

He takes a sip of his drink and sets the can onto the coffee table.

“So you say you’re from Massachusetts,” he says. “What brought you down South?”

“I thought I wanted to go to school,” she says. “Georgia State has a good graduate business program and I thought I’d enroll.”

“Changed your mind?” he asks.

“Yeah, I decided I didn’t want to go to school right now,” she says. “After that I just decided to stay because I liked it here.”

“It can be a fun city if you know where to look,” he says.

“You probably know lots of fun places,” she says. “What do you do for fun?”

“Go to movies, catch a play at the Shakespeare Tavern, watch the Braves,” he says.

“I love Shakespeare,” she says. “Maybe I can tag along sometimes.”

“They’re doing Hamlet next month,” he says.

“It’s a date then,” she says.

They talk for nearly half an hour until their conversation is interrupted by the phone ringing.

“Hello?” Scott says when he picks up the phone. “Yes, this is he. Yes, it was taken earlier tonight. You did? That’s great! So when can I pick it up?”

He finishes the call and says excitedly to Becky, “They found my car!”

“Yay!” she says, raising her arms in victory. “Where did they find it?”

“In a neighborhood about ten miles from where it was taken,” he says, “one of the lower rent districts.”

Becky stands and goes to him and gives him a hug. “That’s great. I’m sure you’re relieved.”

“I am,” he says. “Listen, thanks for being there when I needed someone.”

“No problem,” she says. “I’m sure you would have done the same.”

“I would have,” he says. “At least it wasn’t all bad.”

“Yes,” she says. She looks at her watch and says, “Oh, I should go, it’s getting late.”

They exchange telephone numbers and Scott walks her to the door.

“Thanks again for everything,” he says. He opens the door for her. She lingers just inside the door for a few seconds.

“Now you call me so we can see that play next month,” she says.

“I hope I don’t have to wait a month to see you again,” he says.

“Call me,” she says with a smile. “We’ll see what comes up.”

They are standing in the doorway looking at one another. Becky leans in and kisses him on the cheek then says, “See you.”

Scott closes the door and stands there for a few minutes contemplating the evening.

“Turned out to be a good night after all,” he says. “I should have my car stolen more often.”

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