The Rosie Project Page 33

\Is that a problem? I don\ drink alcohol.\

\Very wise,\ I said, although I was providing a bad example, with a beer open beside me. \I recommend a Virgin Colada. Virgin Mary. Virgin -\

At this moment, Dr Eva Gold put her arm around Dr Khan. She was obviously affected by alcohol. \Loosen up, Anwar.\

Dr Khan looked back at her, and then at the crowd, who were, in my assessment, also exhibiting the effects of intoxication.

\What the hell,\ he said. \Line up the virgins.\

He put his empty glass on the bar.

I did not leave the golf club until very late. The last guests departed at 2.32 a.m., two hours and two minutes after the scheduled completion time. Rosie, the boss and I had made one hundred and forty-three cocktails. Rosie and the boss also sold some beer of which I did not keep track.

\You guys can go,\ said the boss. \We\ll clean up in the morning.\ He extended his hand to me and I shook it according to custom, although it seemed very late for introductions. \Amghad,\ he said. \Nice work, guys.\

He didn\ shake Rosie\s hand but looked at her and smiled. I noticed that she was looking a little tired. I was still full of energy.

\Got time for a drink?\ said Amghad.

\Excellent idea.\

\You\ve got to be kidding,\ said Rosie. \I\m going. All the stuff\s in your bag. You don\ want a lift, Don?\

I had my cycle, and had only drunk three beers over the course of a long evening. I estimated that my blood alcohol would be well below the legal limit, even after a drink with Amghad. Rosie departed.

\What\s your poison?\ said Amghad.

\Poison?\

\What do you want to drink?\

Of course. But why, why, why can\ people just say what they mean?

\Beer, please.\

Amghad opened two pale ales and we clicked bottles.

\How long have you been doing this?\ he asked.

Though some deception had been necessary for the purposes of the Father Project, I was not comfortable with it.

\This is my first work in the field,\ I said. \Did I make some error?\

Amghad laughed. \Funny guy. Listen,\ he said. \This place here is okay, but it\s mostly steak and beer and mid-range wine. Tonight was a one-off, and mainly because of you.\ He drank some beer, and looked at me without speaking for a while. \I\ve been thinking of opening in the inner west - a little cocktail bar with a bit of flair. New York feel, but something a bit extra behind the bar, if you know what I mean. If you\ e interested -\

He was offering me a job! This was flattering, considering my limited experience, and my immediate irrational thought was that I wished Rosie had been present to witness it.

\I already have a job. Thank you.\

\I\m not talking about a job. I\m talking about a share in a business.\

\No, thank you,\ I said. \I\m sorry. But I think you would find me unsatisfactory.\

\Maybe, but I\m a pretty good judge. Give me a call if you change your mind. I\m in no hurry.\

The following day was Sunday.

Rosie and I arranged to meet at the lab at 3.00 p.m. She was predictably late, and I was already at work. I confirmed that we had obtained samples from all attendees at the reunion, meaning we had now tested all but eleven of the Caucasian males in the class.

Rosie arrived in tight blue jeans and a white shirt and headed for the refrigerator. \No beer until all samples are tested,\ I said.

The work took some time, and I needed to source additional chemicals from the main laboratory.

At 7.06 p.m. Rosie went out for pizza, an unhealthy choice, but I had missed dinner the previous night and calculated that my body would be able to process the extra kilojoules. When she returned, I was testing the fourth-to-last candidate. As we were opening the pizza, my mobile phone rang. I realised immediately who it was.

\You didn\ answer at home,\ said my mother. \I was worried.\ This was a reasonable reaction on her part, as her Sunday phone call is part of my weekly schedule. \Where are you?\

\At work.\

\Are you all right?\

\I\m fine.\

It was embarrassing to have Rosie listen to a personal conversation, and I did everything I could to terminate it quickly, keeping my responses as brief as possible. Rosie started laughing - fortunately not loudly enough for my mother to hear - and making funny faces.

\Your mother?\ she said when I was finally able to hang up.

\Correct. How did you guess?\

\You sound like any sixteen-year-old boy talking to his mum in front of -\ She stopped. My annoyance must have been obvious. \Or me talking to Phil.\

It was interesting that Rosie also found conversation with a parent difficult. My mother is a good person, but very focused on sharing personal information. Rosie picked up a slice of pizza and looked at the computer screen.

\I\m guessing no news.\

\Plenty of news. Five more eliminated, only four to go. Including this one.\ The result had come up while I was on the phone. \Delete Anwar Khan.\

Rosie updated the spreadsheet. \God be praised.\

\World\s most complicated drink order,\ I reminded her. Dr Khan had ordered five different drinks, compensating for his abstinence earlier in the evening. At the end of the night, he had left with his arm around Dr Gold.


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