After about a year and a half back with Bob, I moved on again, and soon found myself in Dallas, working for an old associate from my first civilian job after leaving the Navy. He had an engineering company, and wanted to start a service division, so he asked me to come get it off the ground. After a few months with him, we landed a large design-build contract in Indianapolis. I rented a hotel suite not far from the job site, and just before the middle of October, I arrived to start our contractors on the job.
The project was originally intended to go about two months, but ultimately lasted about three and a half, thanks to a combination of irresponsible vendors and a Teamster strike.
In the time I was staying at that hotel, I got to know a number of the staff well, and still have a couple of friends there. But until the week after New Years, I had never had the opportunity to meet the General Manager.
Her name was Anne, and she was gorgeous! Although she had been in the States for seven or eight years, her English accent was still prominent. I was thoroughly captivated, although she was all business, and seemed uninterested.
A couple of nights later, another guest and I, along with a couple of the staff, went downtown to have a drink and go dancing. I was pleasantly surprised when Anne joined us at the club.
Recently divorced, I wasn’t seeing anyone in particular, and this young lady was a lot of fun to be around. We all had a few drinks, and several dances, and before we broke up for the night, I asked Anne to dinner the next night. When she accepted, I was pleasantly surprised for the second time.
The next night, Anne and I met at the hotel, and talked about where to go, what to do. Since she knew Indy a lot better than I, I asked her to pick the restaurant. She suggested a little Italian place in the center of downtown, which turned out to be great! After dinner, we decided to hit a club nearby, and have a couple of drinks.
Since it was Saturday night, we weren’t the only ones out for a good time, and the clubs were crowded. We never did find one that had more than standing room only, but managed to have several drinks, although we never did find enough free floor-space to dance. After three or four different spots, she suggested we try another place she knew, close enough that we could walk a few blocks, and avoid a parking problem.
Indianapolis is a nice Midwestern city that has made a great effort to preserve that “Hometown America” atmosphere in its downtown area. Horse-drawn carriages, mounted police patrols, gas-lamp streetlights…all added to a pleasant walk. At one point, I asked if she was interested in taking a carriage, but she declined, saying it was too bloody cold to stop walking. As we were walking along the main square, surrounded by Christmas shoppers, we saw a policewoman tie her horse off to a parking meter, and rush into a business. This seemed too good to be true.
“Come on,” I said, pulling her over to the waiting animal, “you’re about to see a part of Indianapolis you haven’t seen before. She protested a bit, looking around nervously, when I jumped into the saddle and offered her the stirrup, but finally laughed and let me pull her up behind me. We took off down the street, and trotted into a nearby alley. About halfway down the block, another alley intersected that one, and I turned uptown. We crossed the streets carefully, trying to stay in the alleyways as much as possible, painfully aware of the noise we were making.
It’s amazing how much attention a couple on horseback can attract on the street at night, particularly if the horse’s saddle blanket is adorned with the emblem of the Indianapolis Police Department. We waved cheerily, and a lot of folks laughed and waved back at us. Finally, after three or four blocks, we decided that since the horse’s hooves made such a racket, we were probably on borrowed time, so we dismounted in the junction of the alley and a street, hitched the horse to a signpost, and casually walked away down the street. Turning the corner, we saw several mounted patrolmen and patrol entering and exiting the alleys, apparently looking for their “horse-thief”. We shortly saw them all head past us, toward where we had left their wayward animal waiting.
We decided that was a good time to duck into a bar and have another drink.
Anne was normally a very tame, laid-back person, but that night, I learned that she had a little wild streak in her, as well. It was the start of a series of very good times!