Later, that night, Abe phoned. It was a brief, checking-up type of call.
“So did the girl show?”
“And is she going to audit the class?”
“Great! —Good work, Pal—I knew you could do this.”
I wanted to tell him the truth—tell him I wasn’t sure if I could do this—whatever the hell, this was.
Part of me wanted to run—the common sense part—it was telling me I was in over my head.
But the other part of me wanted to risk death and go back, be with the girl and finish the dream—it kept saying it couldn’t wait until tomorrow night.
And that was the part that made my nerves tingle, and scared the hell right out of me.
I don’t know if you’ve seen the film You’ve Got Mail, but the little shop Meg Ryan owns in the movie was not as charming as Marilyn’s Cosy Book Nook.
Queen Street had the same small town feel to it as New York’s Upper West Side and the bookstore was a true community center—high school kids reading to little children in the store aisles and grade school kids in the basement doing spin art projects.
I waited outside on the street surreptitiously spying on the goings-on and watching Marilyn’s trained cadre of high school volunteers.
The little kids were being shooed out and they seemed honestly reluctant to leave. Amid choruses of, see you tomorrow Ms. Birnam, the older students were herding the younger ones out.
I wisely hung back until they all left, the younger ones babbling excitedly and clutching their painted masterpieces.
As I entered the store, Marilyn had her back to me, absorbed in the task of tidying up.
It was a moment right out of Norman Rockwell—as if time had hopscotched back to the Thirties and delighted in replaying a familiar scene.
Marilyn was beautiful in a soft green Modernist sweater and beige, knife-pleated ankle length skirt. She looked like a Hollywood screen siren. Unforgettable.
Somehow, she sensed me in the room and turned to look at me—I knew then I was hopelessly ensnared by something beyond the male gaze—she drew out my very soul.
Her soft smile was a caress. “You found me,” she whispered.
How prescient and guileless.
“I have,” I replied.
“Well, now that you’re here, you better help me, or we may end up ordering in.”
The sense of déjà vu was overwhelming.
“Are you in there?” she teased.
“Sorry—I was just distracted by everything.”
“Uh huh, I can see that.” She handed me a broom. “Clean-up detail for you.”
I gave her a lop-sided grin, but she didn’t fall for it—she just rolled her eyes and went back to shelving Romeo and Juliet.
A half hour later we were finished. She locked the shop and stood waiting in the doorway. “So, where are we eating? —I’m famished.”
“I made reservations at Sotto Sotto near Yorkville—I hope you like Italian.”
“I love Italian,” she smiled. “Are we driving?”
“We are,” I said, and clicked the car remote.
The black Camaro ZL1 chirped back at me, fog lights blinking.
“You’re kidding,” she said, rolling her eyes.
“Nope—these are my wheels.”
She shook her head.
“Nothing—I just didn’t figure you to drive a car like this.”
I held open the door for her. “Why is everybody always surprised by my car?”
“It doesn’t suit you,” she said simply.
I got in the other side and turned to her. “What style of car would suit me?”
“A classic—something timeless and elegant.”
“So this too racy for me?”
She laughed. “Not too racy—too modern.”
As we drove, I mulled over what she said. She was right, of course—there was a total disconnect between the car and my lifestyle.
I glanced over at her, looking beautiful and out of place in the car I now resented. It was an albatross around my neck—I hated it and wanted rid of it.
Of course the car jockey who took my keys had a totally different response, but I was finished living with vast discrepancies.
I found my dream girl and as far as I was concerned, I could spend the rest of my life transported back to the Thirties.
© 2017 – 2018, John J Geddes. All rights reserved.