He slid behind the massive wooden desk and turned on the banker's light, making the room slightly less dark and gloomy. He sat down and put his feet up on the desk, the wooden office chair that was nearly forty years his senior creaking in protest as he tilted it all the way back. Chloe sat down in another wooden chair, one without wheels, but featuring a thick cushion on the seat.
“So what did you want to talk about?” she asked as the muted music switched to an even more aggressive beat.
Jacques smiled and raised his hand, “Give it a moment.”
Chloe frowned, thinking that the music was loud enough that it might disturb the neighbours. “Where did you get this? It doesn't seem like your style of music.”
“I used to have a girlfriend who was really into dance aerobics, so I decided to do something nice for her. I burned a bunch of CDs from some house mixes a friend of mine made back in the late 80ies.”
“What happened to her?” Chloe interrupted.
“The girlfriend? We broke up; she was way too educated for me.”
“Yes, she had an MBA in applied scatology from the Université du Québec à Montréal. She insisted on practicing on me.”
“Tabarnak, she could spread bullshit like nobody else.”
Chloe grinned, and Jacques continued. “They were on broadcast-quality beta tape, and the sound was good, but we broke up before I ever got around to giving them to her.”
“And you kept them?” she asked, incredulously.
“Waste not, want not,” he said with a smile. “Besides, you never know when something like that might come in handy.”
“Like, oh, when you really want to torture someone who's bugging your apartment?”
“Oh that's not why I brought it here,” he said, dropping his feet to the floor and tilting his head as if listening for something.
After a few long seconds, Chloe spoke up. “Well?”
“Are you going to tell me why you're abusing my eardrums, Mr. Packrat?”
Chloe looked up at him as he walked around the desk and towards the door. As she stood to join him, he held a finger to his lips and slowly opened the door.
The sound of Laura Branigan, bemoaning her life among the creatures of the night, assaulted them as sound instantly filled the room. The hall below was still rather gloomy, winter clouds preventing much sunlight from entering through the ancient windows. The area near the stereo, however, was well lit by four halogen lights that Jacques had installed to create a circle of light on the ground. Peeking through the bars of the handrail, they saw Tanita in the centre of it, waving her arms and moving in time to the beat. Chloe moved to get closer to the railing but Jacques held her back with his arm, touching his lips with his finger again, and keeping her in the darkness of the landing.
As they watched, Tanita began swinging her arms up from her sides and then out to the front as she stomped her hooves, appearing, from their perch above her, as if she was swimming backwards. She swung her body around in time to the music, completely unaware of her audience, closing her eyes and singing aloud about losing her self-control. As she swung her head, her hair flailed like a peacock's feathers, appearing from above like an enormous mahogany collar. Her legs moved in unison, first the left side, then the right, impacting the wooden floor loudly in time with the music and moving her back just a few inches each time. After a few minutes, they could see the perspiration flying from her as she swung in time to beat. Finally Jacques motioned Chloe back into his office and closed the door.
“She's pretty good,” Chloe admitted, tilting her head towards the source of the music. “And she's managed not to bash into anything.”
“Do you agree that she's getting exercise?” he asked.
Jacques held up his hand and said, “If she's getting exercise and enjoying herself, why not just let her be? Sometimes the easiest way to sell an idea is to let the buyer convince themselves...”
Chloe just glanced at him, shrugged, and said, “You're a strange man, Jacques.”
She slipped back onto the landing and sat down to watch, fascinated, as Tanita gyrated her way around the big hall, dancing sideways and then spinning slowly in a circle as the singer sang about being spun around like a record. Jacques sat down beside her and watched Chloe, his eyes twinkling like a skinny Santa Claus.
“She's pretty good,” she whispered as a big grin spread across her face.