Introduction Agency, by Barry O’Farrell
I hate going to the Introduction Agency to get a date.
There is a terrible sense of shame. And failure. It’s a blow to the male ego
too. When I’m out of options, this is desperation. My last resort.
The special occasion? A long weekend in the snowfields for our high-performing department. Our reward for meeting and smashing the annual target. The firm has booked us into a trendy chalet. A skier’s paradise, complete with après ski everything.
It looks terrific on the website.
It always seems to be occasions like this pop up when I don’t have anyone in my life. I just can’t bear to attend yet another company weekend away, going solo. It always feels like I am the butt of everyone’s jokes, their snide remarks and the permanent third wheel.
I pause with one hand on the door handle…take a deep breath…a second deep breath. Pull on the handle which doesn’t open. See the sign which says PUSH. Push the door open and walk in.
Am I blushing?
I place my membership card on the counter. The receptionist takes it silently. She enters my registration number. After a pause she looks up, and using my name greets me formally. I nod in acknowledgement. She holds my gaze, smiles knowingly and then looks down again.
“My screen shows your contact details. Are they current?”
I nod. Where is my voice?
“We have a record of your preferences,” she utters in a confidential tone, leaning forward a
little, “you last used our personal services eighty-seven days ago. Your good credit rating qualifies you for Bronze Level membership. Would you like to upgrade?”
I’m tempted but shake my head. I’m hoping this will be my last time here.
The receptionist gives me a sly wink as she says, “If you change your mind, I would be pleased to arrange a very personalised welcome to Bronze Level for you.”
I shake my head again. I can’t speak and now I am really blushing. My moral compass tells me I deserve to feel embarrassed.
She taps a few more keys. She studies her monitor for a minute, one of the longest minutes of my life.
“We can introduce you to Amber,” she says in her most seductive tone of voice. “Model looks, brunette, elegant. Amber is on recharge as we speak. Amber will be fully charged in approximately 72 minutes and available immediately. Care to wait?”
Barry O’Farrell is an Australian who enjoys writing in his retirement. His stories have appeared in Popshot Quarterly (UK), White Enso (Japan), Your Time Magazine, Seniors Digest and many other periodicals, plus the anthologies FUTUREVISION and MORE SCRIBBLES FROM THE SUBURBS. His stage play THE TAKINGS is shortlisted for ARK FEST, the festival of new one act plays.