A story about lovers in a plague stricken fictionalized Virginia city.
|***Before reading, listen to “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles***|
Édouard was getting his teeth cleaned at an open dentist in Richemont when he got a message on his tablet from a young woman, the Milanese model Nicole. She was in town for a photoshoot. He asked her where. She took her time responding.
He went back to his hotel to freshen up for the girl he’d been pursuing for months now. He’d encountered her multiple times, at multiple events, in multiple cities around the world. They were star crossed lovers whose destinies were yet to intertwine.
After getting dressed he noticed a message notification from her. His anger was ignited when the tablet crashed upon opening the message app. He fought the OS with every trick in the book until he threw it across the room. It bounced off a pillow onto the floor. When he picked it up, everything was fixed. The app opened up, allowing the message to be read.
“365 W Martini St. Come after 9. We should be done.”
Édouard’s hotel was on N Langouste Ave, at the top of a hill, which intersected Martini St at the bottom of the hill. It was a clear moonlit night. The city streets were deserted due to a miasma reported to be spreading the plague across the region. In the convenience of it, he mounted his longboard and coasted down an empty Langouste all the way to Martini, arriving seven minutes after la ragazza di Milano had specified.
He strolled into the studio where Nicole was posing for the camera. She was modeling a MamerSass pink and white gown with a furry collar, twenties style. The flashes and lights bounced off her perfect cheekbones and the dress was resplendent by her svelte figure. She noticed him enter the room. The photographer noticed her notice him.
The Photographer dropped the camera and turned to Édouard. “Why are YOU here? This is MY photoshoot!”
“Isn’t it her photo shoot?” Édouard quipped.
“Get out. I will have you arrested for being at MY shoot.”
Édouard ignored the photographer and said to Nicole “You look fantastic, darling. Ay, which way to the Illy?” (referencing where they first met). Steam protruded from the photographer’s ears. He turned back to the photographer and said, “Calm down Ernst. I didn’t bring my camera with me,” as he moved towards Nicole.
Photographer Ernst Ketchum looked at his watch and made a contrived change of attitude. “Okay, well, looks like our time is up for today. Nicole, see you tomorrow at 3:15.” He unscrewed his lens from the camera body and continued to Édouard, “Now, go ahead and leave us so we can clean up…” Ernst continued angrily under his breath, “…I am serious I will have you arrested if you don’t leave right now.”
Édouard almost all the way to Nicole, said to Ernst, “Okay, me and everyone else here, too, for violating quarantine lock down.” Turned completely to Nicole, “Hey babe, this guy doesn’t seem to really want me here, so I’ll catchya on the outside. Aight?”
She smiled and Ernst squealed impatiently.
45 minutes later the photographer and la ragazza emerged from the studio. Ernst went where he was going, and Nicole came to the Langouste junction. Édouard got up from his lamp post and joined her path.
“That guy is an ASSHOLE,” Édouard remarked.
“Mmhmm. Why was he so pissed?” she asked
“He must be familiar with my work. That’s why I’m in town.”
“What’s still open around here?”
“Nothing. This miasma has stranded me in my fancy hotel. They aren’t letting anyone up to the rooms who isn’t staying, but I think we can sneak into the lounge.”
“Alright,” she said.
And so they did. They stayed up talking most of the night, discussing the nature of a perfect kiss. Its properties, its participants, its execution. He took photos of her on his tablet, until it crashed again. They drank a bottle of wine and slept there until morning. None of the staff felt the need to check the closed lounge for trespassers.
***After reading, listen to “A Kiss to Build a Dream On” by Louis Armstrong***