Derek Rive by Aaron McCarthy May01

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Derek Rive by Aaron McCarthy

A black raven perched on the stone, white building while the rain pelted against a ligneous sign which read: “Suzanne Hopper’s Convenience Store”.

The raven turned its head to the left and watched as an azure Volkswagen sped past the city library and came to a halt outside the grey two-football-pitcheslong warehouse which was located to the right of Hopper’s.

Inside the automobile, a lanky man with gelled black hair and a pinstripe suit sat in the driver’s seat drumming his fingers along the steering wheel.

This is it, Derek Rive thought as he stared dismally at his silver ring, If I fail in this job I can kiss Winnie goodbye.

With that cheerful notion planted firmly in his head, Derek prevented the radio from singing any more of Bruno Mars’ “When I was Your Man” and opened the door to his left.

With one glum look at the bird on the convenience store, Derek opened the door leading into Jacob Eep’s Landrover Factory and closed his eyes. There was no turning back from this imminent doom.

Derek stepped inside the warehouse and the raven flew away.

Derek looked instinctively at the giant, Land Rover-sized gate to his left as he entered, before he stepped forward, past the metallic stairs leading to the PR and Board offices on the “second” floor and made his way through a swarm of white uniformclad employees. While only the ceiling’s central spotlights shone, Derek strangely felt that the spotlights were on him as he filed through the employees and came to a rest alongside his friend, the hunched, balding Chace Hara.

       ‘Where’s Wally?’ Derek asked. He glanced around and frowned: the needle was not in the haystack.

       ‘I d’no,’ Chace said, scratching his nose. ‘Prob’ly off skivin’ again. I swear tha’ man’s had more sick days than this country’s had wars!’

      ‘Was that really appropriate?’ a soft voice spoke from behind them.

Derek turned to find the dark-haired Susan Hocker: her hands on her hips and her blue eyes piercing Chace’s soul.

       ‘Was that really appropriate?’ she repeated. ‘Especially after the events at the race two weeks ago?’

Chace glared back at her, folded his arms and opened his mouth to speak when the Land Rover-sized gate started to ascend.Silence descended upon the employees who watched as the gate slowly rose. Outside they could see a landrover.It was bright red, new, with several frame designs. The dark-haired driver beeped the horn and the landrover ROARED.

       ‘Woah,’ Chace said from Derek’s left. ‘Tha’s pre’y awesome! Grea’ design!’

Derek looked at him and grinned.

       ‘Thank you,’ he said trying not to look at Sandra.

She was gently tapping her foot against the stone ground and her eyes were glued to her boyfriend, as though afraid the Land Rover would collapse around him. Indeed as the landrover made its way through the parted swarm and into the middle of the floor, Sandra’s eyes did not waver from the driver. Derek, too, looked at the driver scratching his neck worriedly as the Land Rover came to a halt. Illuminated by the spotlights, the flamed door opened and out stepped a tall man whose hair had been drawn into curtains: the CEO, Jacob Eep. The employees, still surprised by the daring design, applauded this rare opportunity to meet with their boss.

       ‘Thank you,’ Jacob said dusting off his pinstripe suit. ‘Thank you, thank you.’

He grinned and turned to face Derek directly who had gone a sickening white.

       ‘Mr Rive,’ Jacob said narrowing his green eyes. ‘Mr, Mr Rive.’ Derek shuffled his feet uncomfortably, Chace gave him a small sympathetic smile. ‘This design is very, well, radical. Zany. A commercial jeep donned in this way?’

       ‘Yeh … yes,’ Derek mumbled. He looked at the ground, wondering how long it would take him to melt into it.

       ‘This design,’ Jacob continued. ‘This design is genius!’

He began to clap, the employees joined in with him and Derek felt like collapsing with relief.

       ‘There will be another job for you shortly,’ Jacob said. ‘If you’d like to be contracted again?

       ‘Of … of course,’ Derek said faintly. ‘T-thank you.’

Jacob gave a curt nod and addressed the employees as one: ‘There will be a party in celebration. Six o’clock. All welcome.’

With that Jacob winked at his girlfriend, hopped into the landrover and closed the door. Then the landrover drove out through the swarm and into the cold evening air. Derek watched it leave and absent-mindedly touched his silver ring. Things might not be so bad after all …

       ‘I’ll see ye at six then,’ Derek said, nodding at Chace and Sandra.

       ‘Yeah,’ Chace said. ‘Don’t forge’ to bring the Missus.’

Derek grinned and opened his mouth to speak when Sandra sighed over him.

       ‘Do you think it safe?’ she asked without looking either of them in the eye.

       ‘What?’ Derek frowned. ‘To bring the Missus?!’

       ‘No,’ Sandra shook her head glumly. ‘To host a party after – after recent events.’

Derek did not reply; instead he exchanged an amused glance with Chace, bade him farewell and began to make his way through the slowly dissolving crowd.

       ‘Derek, wait!’ Sandra called.

Derek ignored her, passed the stairs, opened the door and left the warehouse. Then he got into the car, turned on the radio, listened to Take That singing “Greatest Day”, strapped on his seatbelt and turned on the engine. As he drove back up past the library, Derek remained peacefully oblivious to the arrival of a second raven, one who, like its secret lover, decided to perch upon the roof of Sandra Hopper’s.

Half an hour later the azure automobile pulled up outside a detached home on Elm Street. Derek turned off the radio, looked around and got out – entering through the pointed pillars which read: “Wit’s End”.

As he strolled around the circular green in the middle of the gravelled driveway, Derek noticed a dove – a dove – fly off a branch of the lone tree and flutter off into the blue lagoon. Then Derek walked up the balustrade steps and gently opened the flower-embroidered glass door, entering a blue carpeted hallway.

       ‘Honey,’ Derek called as he closed the door behind him. ‘Honey, I’m home!’

He stepped past the totem pole-esque hat stand, looked dismally at the picture of their son which Winnie had refused (despite persistent pleas) to remove and entered the kitchen.

       ‘Yes … yes,’ a sleek blonde woman who had missed her husband last night, said through the house phone, leaning back against the mahogany counter top, looking out at the garden.

       ‘Hi,’ Derek grinned quietly and his wife turned to face him.

       ‘I … I have to go,’ she said. ‘Thank you for your time.’

She hung up and Derek raised an eyebrow.

       ‘Who was that?’ he asked.

       ‘The … the bank,’ Winnifred stuttered.

She made her way elegantly over towards Derek and raised her bare fingers to the back of his head.

       ‘How was work?’ she asked silkily.

       ‘Fine,’ Derek said looking into her light green eyes. He raised his hand to her hair and slowly brought them down her back.

       ‘How are you?’ he asked, but Winnifred said nothing. Instead they joined in a passionate kiss. Derek closed his eyes before Winnifred and let his tongue enter the inside of Winnifred’s mouth. Then something dawned on him …

       ‘Where’s your ring?’ he asked, quickly breaking the embrace.

       ‘Oh,’ Winnifred blinked, looking slightly disappointed that their occasion had been disturbed. ‘In the bathroom … I was having a shower and I forgot …’

She walked sheepishly out of the room and rounded the corner to venture towards the bathroom while Derek put on the kettle. A moment later Winnifred had returned. Derek looked instantly at her fingers but they were stillbare.

       ‘Where’s it?’ he asked and she sighed.

       ‘I … I dunno,’ she said quietly. ‘I can’t seem to find it.’

      ‘I’ll help,’ Derek decided immediately and followed his wife to the lavatory. Inside they checked around the bath, on the windowsill, even in the hot-press but no ring could be found.

       ‘I’m … I’m so sorry,’ Winnifred said letting out some almost life-like tears. ‘I … I …’

       ‘It’s okay,’ Derek said. He cupped her face in his hands and planted yet another kiss on her seemingly immaculate lips.

       ‘It’ll turn up,’ he said. ‘It always does.’

       ‘Yes,’ Winnifred said meekly. ‘How was work?’

       ‘It was great,’ Derek said nodding. ‘They loved it and everybody’s going to have a party to celebrate. You’re coming too!’

Winnifred smiled. ‘That’s great sweetheart.’

With that the two left the bathroom together and went to the kitchen where they descended into their Windsor Chairs at the oak, round table: cups of tea in one hand and scones in the other.

This is nice, Derek thought, We should do it more often. He looked at his wife who seemed to be lost in thought and hoped, beyond hope, that she had not followed in his footsteps.

A few hours later the Volkswagen was once again bustling down the road, the rain pelting against it while Derek and his wife sat silently inside. The two ravens, now sitting in unison upon the roof, squawked as the car stopped and both doors opened. Winnifred was the first out of the car, dressed in a regal white gown ordained by large black polka dots. She, on principle, took her husband’s hand as they walked towards the door of the warehouse. Derek was in the same pinstripe suit but his hair had a fresh wad of gel applied to it.

       ‘Ready?’ he asked wiggling his eyebrows suggestively at Winnifred.

       ‘Yes,’ Winnifred said.

She placed her hand on the door and gently pushed it open. The two ravens watched with palpable interest as Derek and the lady stepped inside the warehouse which now had all spotlights turned on.

       ‘No thank you,’ Winnifred said softly as a contracted young waiter offered them the tray of wine glasses. Winnifred conducted herself with extraordinary grace as she and her husband made their way over to a hunched balding man wearing a rather impressive tuxedo.

        ‘Hi,’ Derek grinned as they reached the area where he was standing.

       ‘Goo’ evenin’,’ Chace said. He took Winnifred’s hand in his and kissed the back of it. ‘And you ma’am.’

       ‘Thank you,’ Winnifred smiled. ‘Where is your …’ Derek stared at her, hoping that she would shut up. ‘Wife?’

       ‘Oh,’ Chace said uncomfortably. ‘She … she’s a’ home. Not been the same since Scarle’s suicide.’ He took a glass off one of the waiters: thankful for the distraction.

       ‘Oh,’ Winnifred said quietly. ‘I am very sorry for your loss.’

       ‘How many models will you be making, do you reckon?’ Derek asked and Chace almost choked on his drink.

       ‘Excuse me,’ he said clearing his throat. ‘I thin’ maybe a few million.’

Winnifred smiled at them and gracefully began to waft towards the exit.

       ‘Where you -‘ Derek began.

       ‘I am going to get you a surprise,’ Winnifred continued in her fake, soft voice. ‘From the convenience store.’ She said the last two words in a rather painful manner: she didn’t want people to know that she went shopping in convenience stores.

       ‘Cool,’ Derek said. ‘Don’t be long.’ He grinned at Winnifred as she left the building and then he turned back to Chace.

       ‘When are they coming?’ he asked looking around.

       ‘Soon,’ Chace said looking at his golden watch. ‘They should be here by now. Imagine the look on Sandra’s face when she fin’s out tha’ there’ll be more dragon Land Rovers!’

Chace put on a shocked expression and Derek laughed, just as the gate once again began to ascend. It rose fully and in came a landrover. However this time the Victor didn’t drive that far, merely stopping on the threshold.

Derek watched as the doors opened: out got Jacob, now donned in a silver popstar-like suit and then out stepped Sandra. Her bushy black hair had been recently washed and the sun from outside illuminated it, including the white lily on top. She wore a flowing white gown and Derek had to admit it: Jacob had caught quite the catch.

Sandra beamed and took Jacob’s hand as they waded through the awestruck party members and stepped onto the metallic stairs which were now festooned with large golden balloons.

       ‘Good evening,’ Jacob said, looking out among the others. ‘Thank you all for coming. Shortly one lucky employee will be the lucky owner of the first ever Victor.’ He gently waved towards the Land Rover which was still being illuminated by both the sunlight, and the spotlights.

       ‘However,’ Jacob said. ‘Beforehand -‘ He kneeled down in front of Sandra and only the sound of birds outside could be heard as Jacob took out a sparkling little box. ‘Sandra Hocker will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?’

An employer, Geraint Aybo, dropped his glass but not one eye looked at this affair: they were all staring at Sandra’s face. It had become noticeably paler. She opened her mouth to speak but then she fainted down the stairs, caught by a bulky man with seven scars and two earrings.

       ‘T – thank you,’ Sandra said getting off him. She looked at Jacob and a tear rolled down her cheek. This tear, unlike the ones Winnifred was well-practiced at, were genuine. ‘Of course!’

All heads turned to Jacob who collapsed onto his knees: blubbering like a baby.

       ‘T – tha – thank you … I – I love you.’

He cried and, remembering where he was, Jacob rushed upstairs.

       ‘I can’ believe she sai’ yes,’ Chace whispered and Derek nodded: Sandra was at the end of the stairs, talking away and looking quite pale.

       ‘I can believe she fain’ed though,’ Chace grinned. ‘Typical Sandra!’

Derek nodded again but said nothing: Jacob had returned and he carried a top hat.

       ‘The owner of the first Victor,’ he said putting his hand inside the hat. He extracted a crumpled bit of paper and slowly unfolded it. ‘Wallace Anting!’

Chace smirked and Derek grinned: Wally.

       ‘He isn’t here,’ Sandra said quietly and Jacob flung the page away.

      ‘In that case,’ he grinned and put his hand back into the top hat. He extracted another page, unfolded it and read the name. ‘Derek Rive!’ Chace blinked: him? He wasn’t even a “proper” employee! Chace applauded but Derek could sense the jealousy in his eyes and Jacob came down the steps. He made his way through the employees and stopped in front of Derek. He put his hand into his pocket and withdrew a silver key.

       ‘Take it for a drive,’ Jacob said and handed Derek the key.

       ‘Thank you,’ Derek said and without so much as a look at his friends, he went over to the Land Rover and got in. Of course he was used to the interior by now but still this didn’t make the chair any less comfortable. He strapped on the scaly seatbelt and pulled on the diamond-topped gearstick. With that he reversed out of the gate.

       ‘Well done,’ a voice said from behind him.

Derek looked around him nervously and out from behind a box jumped a man donning a backwards blue cap, a greasy shirt and a ragged pair of jeans.

       ‘Wally!’ Derek cried rounding the corner. However he did not look where he was going and as the two ravens squawked, Derek heard a loud THUD! He stopped the Land Rover and got out: behind the vehicle lay a bleeding woman and a sandy-haired young man.

       ‘You monster!’ the guy shouted. ‘That was my girlfriend!’

Derek spat at him and sunk down beside his wife: the woman who had finally cheated on him, shortly after hiding the ring inside a bottle of shampoo.