Dang if’n I ain’t gone and writ a gol-durned romance this morning! This is blowing me away: I just never know what’s going to come out.
Charlie was away for lunch yesterday, so I “treated” myself to a steak, and you’d think I’d eaten an entire cow instead of a relatively small piece of one. I don’t know how lions do it. Being all-but-vegetarian has ruined my digestion.
Ah, well, life is full of these lessons and sorrows.
ANYWAY, here is today’s story:
April in Paris
by Marian Allen
The waitress, her voice husky from the Galois I’d seen her smoking earlier, said, “Madame? S’il vous plait?”
I tore myself from watching Paris pass on the other side of the cafe’s railing and looked at her. A man stood behind her.
She said, still in French, of course, “There are no more tables. May I seat the gentleman with you?”
He was squat, with receding black hair, his complexion a dusky pinkish-brown, pudgy jowls clean-shaven but dark with the heavy beard beneath the skin. He flashed me a grin when his darting eyes swept past me.
I didn’t really fancy it, but I didn’t want to put the waitress to the trouble of asking someone else. “D’accord,” I said, and was glad I had when she offered us each a white wine on the house for sharing a table.
When she had gone to fetch them, my table companion spoke to me for the first time: “Thanks. Uh, mairsee.”
A fellow American. I was tempted to continue to speak French – good French – just to enjoy his pitiful attempts at it.
He busted me, though: “Oh, you’re American.”
I raised an eyebrow. “How could you tell?”
“Your watch. American off-brand, lower mid-price range, only sold in the States, nothing you’d buy for a souvenir or get as a gift.”
I made a note to buy a new watch in the morning.
“You seem to know a lot about watches.”
At least speaking to him made his eyes rest on me instead of trying to check all of his surroundings at once.
“I’m part of the costume team at Prime Studios. I’m a detail man. We’re here on location.”
The waitress brought the small plate of bread, cheese, and fruit I’d ordered.
“Mairsee,” he said, pulling out his wallet. “I’ll get it.” He pointed to the plate, tapped the table, and pointed to himself.
The waitress told him the price for two, I translated, and he paid.
“I appreciate you letting me sit here,” he said. “God! It’s good to talk to somebody outside of work! How long you been over here?”
“A month.” An entire month of a precious three, gone. But two, two, two lovely months left to savor.
“A month? And you aren’t crazy yet? How can you stand it?”
“How can I stand Paris?”
“Everything is so … foreign.”
I took a sip of wine so I wouldn’t have to respond to that.
He lifted his own glass. “At least the booze is good.”
When the waitress brought my table-mate’s food, I locked gazes with her and asked her to package the rest of my order to take away. She apologized, and I assured her I didn’t blame her, and that I would be back many times more during my stay. She carried my plate off to await me as I left.
“What was that all about?” he asked, as if he had a right to know.
“I was expecting a call, and the waitress told me it had just come. I’ll need to take this with me and hope I can finish it later.”
“Oh. Where are you staying? Maybe we can get together while we’re both in town. Americans in Paris, yeah?”
I considered telling him I was leaving, but the heart of Paris is surprisingly small, and the odds were good our paths would cross again.
“Forgive me,” I said, “but I don’t know you. I prefer not to say.”
“Oh, right, right, sure. Smart girl. Lady. Woman. Person.” His eyes flicked about again. The fingers of one hand drummed on the table. Those of the other arranged and rearranged the silverware.
I suddenly thought of Lenore, my Parisian landlady’s sister, who had spent a year studying in California and had never stopped talking about it.
“You need a guide,” I said. “Someone fluent in French and English, who knows Paris but longs for America.”
He almost relaxed, just contemplating it. “Yeah, I do!”
“Is there a number where you can be reached?”
He pulled out a business card, pulled out a cell phone to check the number, and wrote it on the back of the card. “They gave us these when we got to the set,” he said. “Had to leave our real phones at home.”
Their “real” phones. I took the card. Lenore would love him.
Such is Paris.
~ * ~
MY PROMPT TODAY: Place, time, time of year, weather 1 loves, 1 hates
Christine CampbellMay 24, 2013 at 8:30am
Wonderful! You should write lots more like this: you do it so well. Love it!
Marian AllenMay 24, 2013 at 8:35am
Thank you, Christine. That’s high praise, coming from you. I’ve become another cicampbell addict!
JaneMay 24, 2013 at 8:31am
I love your twisty way of thinking, friend. Well done.
Marian AllenMay 24, 2013 at 8:41am
Heh! The part of the American man was played by Rick Hoffman.
christine.campbell.7967May 24, 2013 at 9:16am
@Marian Allen –
Thank you, Marian. Can’t tell you how encouraging you are to me. Can’t thank you enough. X
Marian AllenMay 24, 2013 at 9:29am
Holly JahangiriMay 24, 2013 at 2:54pm
There really is someone for everyone, isn’t there? You found a kind way to end this, and to make three people happy. (As my mother would say, “At least they won’t ruin two houses.”)
Marian AllenMay 24, 2013 at 3:52pm
Considering all the women with naturally curly hair who use straighteners, I figure there has to be ONE Parisian who hates Paris, right?
Kiril KundurazieffMay 25, 2013 at 12:38am
An amusing little tale, 😀
Nikita has his Day 24 up!
Jen ChristophersonMay 25, 2013 at 11:06am
Wow! You can really bring someone into a story! That was great! I don’t like romances, they tend to get a bit too sexy for my taste, but I do like this! I like reading about friendships and connections of the heart. This seems to fit that bill just wonderfully! Thank you!
Marian AllenMay 25, 2013 at 12:45pm
Jen, I don’t like sexy junk in literature, either. “Friendships and connections of the heart” — that’s about how I like my romances, too. I certainly have no objections to characters (or people!) having sex, I just don’t want to watch.
I followed your link and saw you’re doing a huge blog-hop, but I don’t know what this particular one IS. Help a gal out?
Jen ChristophersonMay 25, 2013 at 5:27pm
I followed the links and just joined in. I am supposed to add my name somewhere to be added to the list, but I simply have not found where to do that. Then, you go to the blogs listed, read their writing, and leave comments. Apparently, that is it. I, of course, am doing my best but my personal life has taken over the last few days and now I am far behind my “schedule”! LOL
TerryMay 25, 2013 at 4:41pm
I just found your blog. I love the latest story and will be back to read more. You are inspiring me!
Terry and Matilda
Marian AllenMay 25, 2013 at 4:52pm
I’m so pleased to meet you, Tillie, and your other furbabies! Do you know Kiril, Nikita, and Elvira?