Chapter 2: Annika

 “We’ve got a live one, yes from Annika, she’s our best referrer.” Martin Springafalt looked up surprised to see me walking back in. He set his iPhone face down on the desk.

“Um, you have an Annika who works for you? Is that my Annika, I mean that’s a rare enough name.  You know.” I asked. I was nervous, pausing too long before adding the “you know” but my Annika, how could he know her?

“Oh no,” he smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “That’s Anita. What else can I do for you?”

“Well I had just gotten to my car and noticed that the binder says there is an exclusionary period of three months.” His mouth smiled again. “What’s that about?” I asked.

“In case you’re related to a vampire or have a good friend who is a vampire and you’re both trying to buck the system . . . it prevents fraudulent collusion, that’s all it is.”

“What! What do you take me for?” I asked but he just continued to smile like nothing was amiss.

“Mr. Lyssna, it’s sort of like the suicide exclusion on page 7 of the policy and two paragraphs down on he binder’s page 2.” He said.

“But I’m high risk.” I protested.

“Exactly why you should go home and forget about the binder and in 90 days you’ll be covered. If you don’t start the policy today, then your 90 days won’t start until that later date when you do start it. You know I once bought a dental insurance policy with a 90 day exclusion and was angry that I couldn’t get in for a cleaning for 3 months, just like you. On the 95th day, do you know what happened, bam, broken molar. I was sure glad I had that policy.” Leaning back he smiled a relaxed smile and put his hands behind his head and interlaced his fingers. Was he trying to fly away? Teeth cleaning? Really? Does that work on everyone? I guess it probably did because it was working on me. But I was starting to think that Mr. Springafalt was no more than a used vampire insurance salesman.

“Where do you work?” he asked me.

“Conway Ritter Financial Systems downtown office. I’m uh, an accountant there. Annika works the hospital across the street. She manages the cafeteria, that’s where we um, met, in the cafeteria at the hospital, across the street.”

“That’s nice, and if you’re truly concerned,” That’s nice I thought, if I’m truly concerned with my next dental cleaning. Nope, I’m more concerned with my next hematectomy, you know, dialysis by vampire without the infusion of cleaned blood again. He continued “then spend a lot more time at work. A well lit public building downtown is not the kind of place that vampires are going to haunt, even for your blood type.”

“You seem to know an, an awful lot about vampires.” I said to him. I remember specifically looking him in the eyes while saying it. That he knew more than the general public and it seemed to me that he also knew more than the average vampire insurance salesman.

Smiling again but with a sense of utter peace in his eyes, he said, “well, I do take my continuing education very seriously. But I do have a new appointment arriving soon so if there’s anything else?” Mr. Springafalt stared at me hard waiting for me to leave.

“Referred by Anita?” I asked, I could feel my heart racing. I was still sure that he’d said Annika but the door was creaking shut when I was walking in, my own foot falls could have masked the sound.

“Yes, that’s right Ms Chavez, that agent is our best referrer.” He sighed and confessed that he had some errands to run before his new appointment arrived. So, I left with my binder that immediately covered accidental death and property damage, and my 90 day exclusion and my high risk factors for vampire attacks.

I drove around the sleepy village of La Mesa looking for a Starbucks. Maybe if I joined the coffee achievers I’d feel revved up and calmed down. Of course if I changed my mind they do have great hot coco and they do also have garlic bagels.

Finding a restaurant called Dansk at the base of Helix Mountain, I parked. It had an inviting outside dining area covered with trees near the sidewalk. On the sign read, Scandinavian Breakfast. That sounded good so I parked and went inside. Once seated I noticed the Starbucks was located across the street. Okay so I’d sacrificed good coffee for what was clearly and even greater plate of Swedish pancakes and sausage. Somewhere in heaven surely there was a lonely angel leaning over a cloud and soaking up the aromas from this little cottage restaurant among the La Mesa woods.

I ordered a coco. I didn’t feel like achieving much except to eat breakfast for lunch and to try to sweep away the uneasy feeling that I’d just been had for 102 dollars and 51 cents.

As I sipped the not so bad coco and waited for my meal, tall tanned and Thor-som walked up to Starbucks and flicked a cigarette into the street. I leaned back in my chair to put a tree trunk in between us.

As I peaked around the tree, he was looking into the windows and pulling out his iPhone to check messages. Annika walked up to him and putting her hand on his shoulder they kissed each others’ cheeks French-style and walked into the Starbucks.

My head felt like I’d just punched in an I-V of espresso. So there it was, Annika wearing full scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck was his star referrer. I had just thought that everyone in a hospital wore scrubs but . . . a stethoscope? Since when do you put one of those up to a dishwasher?

She’s like a really specialized ambulance chaser. Sifting the high risk blood types and sending them to the used vampire insurance salesman, I wondered how much of a commission he paid her. I wondered if he was her boyfriend, husband or cousin.

Kissing on the cheeks isn’t normal in La Mesa, not even among the foreigners but she was sort of foreign after all, 2nd generation Swedish immigrants, right? Still I didn’t guess they kissed French. His name was as Scandinavian as my breakfast, so what was it then? Husband, boyfriend or cousin? Could I really get that lucky?

Clearly I was a mark and not a fiancé. So why was she hiring a wedding chapel, caterers and a string quartet? Maybe she did want to marry me. Perhaps she didn’t hire anyone and only said that she did.

Well I had no idea, but after spending $102.51 I couldn’t afford to miss breakfast I had already ordered and was going to have to pay for. I thought I’d just finish first and then jaunt on over and just walk up and sit down with them. Say nothing and see what they did. That was my plan.

Of course, it didn’t work out that way.

More Later . . .

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