A short story
|I had been in Thailand for a month. I was on business but had brought my girlfriend along anyway. On this particular day it was a glorious day, and I appreciated the gentle breeze and the sight that lay before me as I made my way outside. The sky was an endless blue while the sun was hot in the sky behind me and warmed my olive skin.
I made my way over to a hammock that rested lazily in between two palm trees. How picturesque I thought. I dropped a towel and my book into the hammock and made my way to the bar. It was early but the waiter greeted me with his usual smile and got to work making my usual gin and tonic. He remembered to use Hendricks Gin and cut a rectangle of cucumber to accentuate the flavor of the gin. I walked back toward my hammock and could hear the ice as it moved within the glass. I wondered at the infusion that was taking place within the glass, for a second.
I lay in the hammock after rearranging the towel and suddenly I was hanging in space. I reached into my pocket and took out a leather case. The case resembled a hunting shotgun in that it was made of two tube like compartments. I lifted the lid of the case and could smell the mixture of tobacco, coffee and chocolate. I felt around the edge of the case for a moment while a strange bird caught my attention. Once it had flown by I reached into the case and withdrew a cigar. It was a Romeo y Julieta, Churchill. My favourite cigar. Seven inches in length with a circumference of one inch, I very much looked forward to the hour it would take to smoke.
The cigar had a paper ring wrapped tightly around it, which was used to show off the brand of the cigar. It looked very regal, I thought. 1875. I reached back into my pocket and felt for the coolness of metal, gold to be precise. I took the cigar cutter from my pocket and placed the capped end of the cigar into the circular hole. The blades came together and the cap of the cigar hit my lap. I wiped it onto the floor. Like a scene from a period in French history. I held the steel wind proof lighter in front of the cigar and started up the flame. I instantly smelled the thick smoke filled with the memory of a place once famed for revolution. I made certain the end was lit evenly. I lay back.
I don't know how much time had passed but I was still in the first third of the cigar. I was interrupted. "You like cigars?" I looked up to see a woman's face. She was lying in the hammock next to me. She had a friendly and inquisitive look on her face and for some reason I felt instantly at ease. "Yes" I said, and smiled. She told me that she used to trade cigars, for a while. "I used to sell them to a man who owned a casino in Las Vegas" she said. That was interesting I thought.
She was 41 years old and was on vacation with her husband. They were from Valencia in Spain and had enjoyed their stay very much. She had done a lot of traveling it seemed and she was surprised to find out I was only 24. We talked first about my business trip but moved on to the novel I was reading. We talked at length about the author and what an interesting life he had led. It seemed to me that by the time my cigar had come to an end this lady and I knew an awful lot about each other. I enjoyed meeting someone I never otherwise would have met.
I got up and she was already sitting by her husband on the veranda of their apartment. I waved at them both. They waved back. Her husband looked like an ancient Spaniard. His hair was black and curly and grey. His skin was a dark brown and had a leathery look to it. He reminded me of a character in a spaghetti western I had once watched. I walked to the pool where my girlfriend was sitting. I dived in and felt the instant refreshment of the water. Reborn. Refreshed and revitalized I came slowly to the surface and looked at her. She was a sight. Made up of four quarters, she was part English, Irish and Jamaican while her grandfather was from Guyana in South America. I wondered at the history of the blood in those veins.
I swam up by the side where her legs dangled in and told her about the lady I had met. She joked with the kind of jealousy that all couples play upon from time to time. We laughed and I saw the Spanish lady walking toward me. Now wearing a white beach dress. She was holding a purple tulip. Or what certainly resembled a tulip. She crouched down and introduced herself to my girlfriend. They got on well. After a few minutes of conversation, she stood up to say goodbye and wish us well. She handed me the flower, smiled and left. My girlfriend laughed and so did I. We walked back to the apartment holding hands. I held the tulip to the sun and considered it's mulberry shade. Delicate but alive. Weren't we all?