Chase Chandler swiped the virtual cards left, right and up, during his insufferable search for female company, on kindling.com. The super like option had recently been added to the original like and dislike choices. Chase occasionally had the urge to swipe straight down, to super dislike. He’d mentioned that in a questionnaire. For some mysterious reason, the app designers ignored his suggestion.
It was those whose passions were limited to eating, drinking, fucking, sleeping and shopping, that Chase wished to slam with a super dislike. The way they gazed adoringly at their own butts, boobs and abs, in nightclub restroom selfies, appalled him. In his bitter eyes they were as uninspiring as toxic waste dumps in school playgrounds. “Surely bird attractant gardens, sunset painted beaches and forest valley vistas are worthier backdrops than toilet cubicles” he mused.
Minimum height specifiers made Chase’s blood simmer too. His dip from one hundred and seventy five centimetres short, to one hundred and sixty centimetres short, after someone stole his fish tank platform boots, intensified his fury. The fish within the soles looked remarkably real. Those boots were one of a kind, Chase cherished them more than the 1974 Lamborghini Countach, he’d inherited from his grandfather. Not even stilts could have made him feel as tall as those wonders of the fashion world.
Everyone who has met Chase, via the smorgasbord of single delights known as kindling.com, either considers him too intense, too sedate, too educated, too uneducated, a workaholic, too lazy, too adventurous or too boring. Chase Chandler and boring in the same sentence? That’s like the serene firebombing of hospitals, or oil painting classes for blind cave dwellers, twenty thousand leagues under the sea, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s as contradictory as the sluggishness of warp speed yoga. Nobody has persisted long enough to solve the inscrutable riddle that is Chase Chandler. Most women don’t persevere long enough to discover there’s a riddle to solve.
Stella Mckenzie, Chase’s twenty year old work mate, at Nature Restoration International, couldn’t understand why Chase so rarely meets his kindling.com matches. She relied on a database to jog her memory, when potential partners invited her to everything from Fleetwood Mac concerts to Caribbean cruises. One woman swiped right on Chase’s profile per week. Stella was blessed with a match a minute and that was just during the early hours of Monday morning. Whether it was voluptuous good looks, genius, a thrill seeking spirit, stamina or awe inspiring empathy that suitors sought, they found it in Stella Mckenzie. Chase was in awe of her too, but the age gap was a whopping seventeen years. He didn’t quite have the lungs or the balance to keep up with her insatiable appetite for acrobatic love making, sightseeing and every conceivable combination of the two.
In the next eight years, Chase went on dozens of first dates, half a dozen second dates and one third date. During that time, Stella experienced six lengthy casual relationships, three short lived engagements and finally one marriage, which was showing no signs of wear and tear after eighteen months. Chase could no longer bring himself to believe there was a woman in the world who found him more attractive than bleeding eyeballs or more intriguing than watching varnish dry, while listening to elevator music. He’d had enough.
Late, one Saturday night, he jogged the short distance from his home to Corpse Creek and performed a graceful swan dive from the bridge railing, towards the concrete cycling path below. There was no time to contemplate his mistake, as he struck a deep river pool palms first. The slender rock ledges, that would have obliterated him, had finally been dislodged and sunk to the bottom, just hours earlier. Chase barely had time to think the words “I’m alive” as he desperately thrust his way to the surface.
There was someone else on the bridge, peering down at the concrete cycling track. They climbed on to the railing. Chase accelerated across the path and leapt up the steps, to the top of the gorge, four at a time. He could only hope the figure he’d seen silhouetted on top pf the railing would still be there when he arrived.
“It’s not worth jumping. Stay still while I come and get you down from there” he pleaded with the petite young woman.
“Why is it not worth jumping” she asked. Her voice was harsh and lifeless but her hesitation bred hope.
“How about we discuss why in the nearest café” Chase offered. He’d brought his wallet with him, to make identifying his broken body easier. He’d been too focussed on self annihilation to consider the affect that discovering his torn flesh, smashed skeleton and splattered brains might have had on an inexperienced police officer.
“Please, err on the side of leaning back towards me.” Chase sounded as calm as the lapping of harbour waves.
“I’ve got you” he confirmed.
Lonnie and her saviour’s cafe conversation continued until long after dawn. Chase was surprised to learn she was twenty nine. The discovery that her interest in him extended beyond gratitude surprised him more than news reports of the Lochness Monster being shipped to Sea World would have.
It wasn’t until Chase and Lonnie were living together, that he discovered the fish tank platform boots, in her wardrobe, along with her Sasquatch slippers.