Authors: Kim Brogan
His American Fling
She saw him at the very last second, his dark brown hair flying back, his face screwed up in anticipation. There was nothing he or she could do; he was too close and too fast to avoid it. A botched scream left her lips, metal scraped the pavement, and bodies went flying. The tourists, enjoying a beautiful cloudless day on King Street, turned around to see a long-legged man sprawled in the road. A few feet away was a petite blonde woman lying in the pavement, trying to pick herself up.
The tall cyclist with cold, clear blue
eyes looked at the bicycle, now pulled over to the side thanks to one of the Japanese tourists who graciously moved it out of the street. The frame of the wheel was bent almost at a 45 degree angle.
"Bloody hell! You damn Yanks." Walking over to the gutter two feet away from his bike, he pointed angrily down at the pavement and yelled at the blonde, now sitting up, her legs in front of her, "We even write, “Look this Way,” on the asphalt for you damn Yanks, and yet,
probably due to a crisis in your educational system that prevents you from learning proper English, you still look the wrong way when crossing the street. For God’s sake, learn to read!" He bent over to inspect his bicycle, "Oh, bloody hell, my bike’s in tatters."
The woman tried to stand, but she couldn’t push herself up with her left arm. Noticing she was having trouble, the bicyclist, dressed in a tailored black suit with florescent bicycle clips around his pant legs, walked over and extended his long, thin fingers down to her.
She looked up contritely, grabbed his hand and let him pull her up. He noticed she was very light and her hand seemed as small as a child’s. The look she gave him made him feel sheepish for yelling at her. Forehead knitted, lips pursed tightly together, her mouth turned slightly down at the corners making her look both sad and worried. Giving her the once over, he decided she wasn’t strikingly beautiful, but she was quite pretty, probably in her late twenties. Nonetheless, he could tell, not just from her stupidity for having looked the wrong way, but also by the trendy, but worn, Nikes on her feet and the large black “UCLA” across the front of her maroon hoodie, that she was American.
"You’re favoring your right arm. Let me
take a look at it." He pulled her over towards the curb as the crowd that had gathered started to disperse.
A policeman strolled up to them, "What do we have here?" He took out a notebook and pencil, staring down into the woman’s eyes. Without any inflection the policeman sighed and asked, "Did you look the wrong way?"
The American didn’t bother with a verbal response; she just nodded, looking rather glum and nervous. She slowly picked off a few pieces of gravel from her hoodie, t-shirt and blue jeans.
The bicyclist rotated her left shoulder, "Ow! Ow!" She yelped.
He gave her a look of exasperation, "For God’s sake stop whinging."
"Whinging?" she asked.
"Moaning, crying out in pain." he translated.
Her expression changed from one of contrition to one of defiance, "It hurts! I’m not whinging. There’s something wrong with it. I think I need to see a doctor." She pulled the arm out of his hands.
"Don’t be daft, I am a doctor."
The policeman cleared his throat to get their attention. "Miss, I need your name."
"Address?" The policeman stood
nonplused, waiting for her to respond.
"Here or in California?"
"I’m at the Cambridge Kings Bed & Breakfast for now, but I’m checking out tomorrow."
The policeman turned to the doctor, "Name?"
"Professor Campbell Adair, 149 Park Terrace, Cambridge."
The policeman shifted his weight, looked around, obviously bored, "Professor, do you wish for me to write her a ticket?"
Maggie let out a startled breath, but didn’t say anything, realizing that it had been her fault for looking the wrong way and stepping off the curb into his path. But she hadn’t realized she might be facing a possible fine or criminal charges. Nervous, she watched as Campbell looked at his bike and thought about it.
Starting to get angry, she growled, "Dude, come on, it’s not like I intentionally set out this morning to ruin your day!” When he made no comment, Maggie offered, “I promise to pay for your bike. I’m
Campbell turned to her, seeing how worried she was, he tried to control his anger and frustration. "I should bloody well make you pay for your stupidity, but I don’t have time to go to court." He turned back to the policeman,
"No, it’s fine officer." He dismissed the policeman and glared at Maggie. "But you’re coming with me to pay for the damage to my bike."
She swallowed hard. "Yes, of course."
The policeman closed his book and tipped his hat. "Well, I’ll be off then. Ta."
Maggie turned back to Campbell. "I thought you said you were a doctor?"
He nodded. "I am."
"Then why aren’t you Dr. Adair?"
He rolled his eyes at her and sniped, "Americans. Are you always this stupid or are you making a special effort today? In Britain, we have a hierarchy in medicine. A General Practitioner is ‘Dr. X,’ a surgeon, is ‘Mr. X,’ and when someone has reached the pinnacle of his specialty and is asked to teach, he is a ‘Professor.’ Hence, Professor Adair."
"Oh. Well, doctor..."
I’m sorry—Professor. I would love to accompany you to the bike shop, but I’m going to be late for a job interview. I was headed back to the hotel to change when this happened." The backpack she grabbed and started rummaging through was old and dirty as was the wallet she pulled out. Looking through it, she sighed at how little money she had left. "How much do you think it’s going to cost?"
"Bugger all.” He clenched his teeth in frustration, his blue eyes blazing. “I take it that you’re looking for a job because that’s all you have, right?"
Maggie nodded and looked up into Campbell’s eyes. She realized they were even more beautiful and blue because of the incredibly long brown eyelashes that ringed them. He was very handsome, but she had a feeling he knew that. Everything about him told her he had an ego the size of Texas.
"Here, take my card. I’ll get it repaired and give you the bill later. You can ring for me at Addenbrookes, in the Infectious Disease Department."
Maggie took the card, looked at it, "Professor C.J. Adair, Infectious Diseases, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambs 0123-394-44."
"You trust me?"
Campbell sighed and nodded at the same time, "I do. It seems Americans tend to have this thing about money. Most of them would never think of dodging out on a debt they owed in a foreign country."
"I promise I’ll pay you back. I need to run; but, thank you for not throwing me in jail."
She smiled sweetly and took off holding her left elbow with her right hand.
Campbell watched her jog off at a quick pace down the path towards the market. He shook his head and smirked as she disappeared. The one thing he hated about Cambridge was the damn holidaymakers in the summer. The streets were full of either tourists or so-called, "language students," from Europe. The rich European parents of bored teens seemed to think Cambridge was the perfect place to park their children for the summer under the guise of learning English. There were days Campbell would walk down King’s Parade and not hear a single word of English, among the German, Italian and French teenagers.
He picked up his bike and examined the damage. There were some scrapes and a bent rim, but all-in-all he didn’t think it was too bad. Campbell had intended to buy a new bike anyway. The only efficient way to get around the center of Cambridge was by bike. Cambridge had become so clogged with traffic that parts of the city center had been cordoned off to vehicles, but not bikes. He walked his broken cycle down to the bicycle shop.
The clerk took a look at the frame and
shook his head in mock despair while secretly grateful for the business. "Tsk, tsk. Your bike sure took a wallop. Did you hit a wall?"
"Almost as hard—an American," Campbell replied.
"They’re all gits, aren’t they?"
"Most of them. How much to repair it?"
"I’d say forty quid."
"Bloody hell! I guess I’ll have a look at new bikes."
Campbell settled on a new bike with a discount for trading in the old one. The Americans were always looking for used bikes during the summer and the bike shop could easily make money off his old one, even after the cost of fixing it. As Campbell rode off on the new bike, he thought about the afternoon’s events and had to shake his head, it hadn’t been boring.
Campbell rode his bike to Addenbrookes Hospital the next day and was locking it up in the bike rack when Henry Pendleton came jogging up to him.
Henry took a good look at the bike. "Hello Campbell, new bike?"
"Yes, my last one had a disastrous affair with an American who didn’t look both ways before crossing Kings Parade."
"Ouch!" He chuckled. They turned to walk inside the hospital. "We’re going out Friday. The Baron of Beef." Henry looked up at his friend for a response.
"Nine-ish?" Campbell asked.
"Bril, I may be late. I’ll just be getting back from London. Seminar."
They continued to talk as they walked into the main concourse past the emergency ward on their left. Campbell and Henry turned right to take the bank of elevators to the upper floors but turned when they heard feet running up behind him.
A winded voice yelled, "Dr. Adair, Dr. Adair!"
Campbell and Henry stopped. Turning around they saw a blonde running towards them, her left arm in a cast.
He rolled his eyes and in a perfect Oxbridge accent said, "Professor,
She stopped a few feet from him, "Oh. Sorry. Professor Adair." She pulled her old backpack from her left shoulder and put it on the ground. Trying to unzip it, the American was having a hard time with her freshly plastered arm. She picked the backpack up and pushed it into his arms, "Hold this so I can
Campbell stepped backwards, having been taken off balance when she shoved the backpack into his arms. His forehead lifted and his eyes flashed open in surprise. Once he realized what she was trying to do, he unzipped it for her. She rummaged through the bag while he held it, quickly looking up to give him a smile. He wasn’t sure if he was supposed to smile back or not. It didn’t matter since she turned her attention back to the bag.
Campbell glanced over at Henry, who was clearly amused. "Henry, this is Miss McGee, the woman who caused the unfortunate accident with my bicycle yesterday."
Before Henry could say anything, she pulled her hand out with twenty pounds. "Here you are, for yesterday. If I owe you more, I’ll be happy to pay you weekly."
Henry chuckled. "She’s paying you for hitting her? Damn, I’ve got to get a job like that."
Campbell took the twenty pounds and gave Henry a look to shut him up. "This is plenty. I bought a new bike anyway. I wanted one." He handed the bag back to Maggie, "Your arm?"
Oh, blimey. I am sorry. I didn’t think it was that bad." He felt ashamed for yelling at her when she complained of pain.
"Oh, no biggie. It’s a clean fracture. The shoulder has something torn, so they want me to wear this for four weeks. More of an inconvenience. I truly am sorry about walking out in front of you."
He shook his head, "Please, enough. I hope your arm heals quickly. Well, good luck Miss McGee. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Britain." He gave a curt smile and turned to the elevator.
"Thank you." Maggie said.
Henry smiled broadly over his shoulder at Maggie, and she smiled back. He nodded a pleasant farewell to her as he and Campbell entered the elevator. The elevator doors closed. "I see why you ran into her. Damn good luck wasn’t it?" Henry smiled.