Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

Viola

Friday, January 10th, 2014

I saw her on the plane. A beauty bound for somewhere, a destination that, although we share, she seems to have clouded in my mind.

The stewardess offers her a hot, moist towel. With great care, she washes her hands. Her fingers delicately caress each other before she relinquishes the fortunate cloth. Distracted, I’ve neglected my own cleaning. I am fixated on the black clad shoulder, gently draped in blond hair and peeking out into the aisle.

The stewardess waits impatiently to collect my yet unutilized towel. Almost no worse for wear, I surrender the damp cloth.

I turn the volume up slightly on the CD in an effort to relieve my mind from pondering this unknown beauty, this nameless, faceless, shoulder and straight blonde hair.

She sits most certainly unaware of the attention I dote on her. Should I be unable to temper my imagination, I can take solace in that I have another six and a half hours to ponder her unmolested by all but my own musings.

I can invent her story.

Is she flying off to a place unknown to meet the love of her life?

Is it warmth that beckons?

Pleasure?

Tragedy?

I think not the last, for she seems not distraught.

A book has her attentions now. I should be as fortunate to fall under her gaze. It’s thick, the book. A text? A classic? Dostoevsky? For certain not a trashy romance novel. Not indeed. She is too smart. Perchance Hemingway — The Great American in Paris?

Which of course, I now remember is our shared destination. A tiny miracle. Before we’ve even met, we already share something in common.

Now they’ve arrived with drinks. Does she desire a glass of wine perhaps? I can’t say. The stewardess and her damned cart seem to have taken up permanent residence between us, forever destined to obscure my view. I am deprived.

The gin I drank at the airport lounge seems to have lost its magic. Perhaps we should get reacquainted when the seemingly immovable obstruction that bears liquid nectar should by chance migrate this direction.

What a moppet! I sit as the Alchemist’s dreamer content to avoid disappointment. The damned cart is passed now. Again spirited, and again free to observe, from relative safety, the intriguing blonde. She again occupies the entirety of my conscious mind.

What is there for her in Paris?

Vacation? Friends? Home? A family?

If she’s French, what could I, the belligerent American, have to offer her? Do French women admire American cinema? Would she appreciate my barrage of inane movie references?

Is she from New York, my home’s cultural rival? If so, does she embody the mysterious energy that comes from a city where people walk? She would certainly poses a lively soul – not one sucked into the smoggy abyss of home.

Son of a bitch!

François, the smug, sunglass sporting Frog in the row ahead of her’s has just rudely intruded upon our moment. He offers her a pillow! She accepts. Nice work Pierre.

Shit! Dead batteries. Now it is Musica y Mas or nada en todo! Gracias American Airlines.

Her book just lost the battle to fatigue. She pulls the almost uselessly thin red airline blanket around her waist and up under her arms. Situating for sleep has left her tender shoulder hidden from view. Now only the soft crown of blonde remains uncovered.

Soon, I am sure sleep will earn a victory here, back in 40B.

Will that delicate shoulder join me in my dreams? If so, will the rest of her likewise oblige? Victory postponed. Her light is back on again! Something seems to have grabbed her attention. Is it still the book? Her manicured fingers move over something unseen.

Crack. Smack. Bushwhacked.

I am Michael’s trapped, stunned, tortured prey.

Her mystery haunts my thoughts. I hunt for her story in the recesses of my mind. She burdens my soul. She has captured my imagination.

It is the book that still owns her focus.

Difficult turbulence. Should it continue, I will be left crippled, only able to scratch incoherent makings on the page. Damn the pilot. No doubt another Frog. There must be an altitude which wouldn’t dare interfere with my ramblings.

Damn it. Pierre is again mobile. Pierre, François, Rene, Jean Renalut. That damnable Frog who’s name I can only guess at, and then hate myself over every wasted second pondering that smug French face.

He looked at her as he passed through the aisle. Did she notice his poorly hidden stare? What does he hide behind those dark shades? It’s night. On an airplane. High in the dark night sky. You goddamn French Corey Hart impersonator! Thank God, he’s seated again. How dare François interfere!

Damn French and their romantic tendencies. You turn me petulant, Pierre!

Is he aware of the heat of my gaze on the tender backs of her hands? On her golden blonde locks? On her elusive shoulder?

He is jealous! Does he know her? Is it I who intrudes?

No! He is a buffoon!

She’d not be in his company, the sunglass clad fool. He belongs on Sunset at Le Dome rather there here in the midst of our burgeoning love.

It seems a shame that just three rows prevent us from sharing more than fleeting mental infatuation.

Could she be travelling alone?

Is it possible that no one waits for her arrival at De Gaulle? Perhaps someone expects her eminent return to JFK.

“… for she will be my heroine for all time. And her name will be… Viola.”

Each moment she occupies my mind is both an eternity and an instant. For until I know the real woman, she is as intangible of the furthest reaches of the Universe. She is as elusive as a moment already passed.

How appropriate, “Lady Luck” has joined my consciousness via Musica y Mas by way of the soundtrack to Guy’s and Dolls.

This lady is not only my luck, but the instrument that makes this flight pass without the usual airline induced discomfort. Like Robert Alda’s lady, does she blow on the dice of other men’s thoughts? Pierre would like to think so.

The fine airline cuisine is now being ferried down the aisle. Will it be the same dreadfully dry chicken that accompanied us on the originating flight from St. Thomas? Its odor seems to confirm that fowl thought.

Why do they deliver the beverage so far in advance of the meal? Shouldn’t we be afforded the luxury of at least being able to wash down dreadful mouthfuls?

Long before the next gin arrives, the meal will have long outlived its usefulness.

There goes her book. Quickly the light follows. It seems she will elect to pass on the meal. Probably for the best.

I sat down at the start of this flight with the hope of finding some plot for a one act play. Unknowingly, perhaps even unwillingly, she has become my muse. Is it in fact possible that she has materialized as the inspiration I demand? Has she bestowed upon me a creative directive, compelling these very words to flow?

I was off Europe like my inspiration, one E.H., to write. And before I cross into EU airspace, I’ve already constructed an elaborate plot. Is this the foundation for my first stage play?

Sacrebleu!

She has arisen. She is headed this way. To the ladies, no doubt. This is the moment. I will get my first full glimpse of her. Will her actual beauty match the glorious machinations of my mind?

She is stunning.

While I am happily rewarded in my first full sighting, I am nevertheless disappointed, as her eyes remained focused ahead. Her gaze never drifted, ever so slightly in my direction, so our eyes could meet.

Maybe her intuition somehow made her aware of the attentions I’ve been lavishing upon her. Was she burdened with the absurdity of living up to the superhuman expectations in my damned thoughts.

My cursed, wretched mind is both an ally and my greatest enemy. Why must I over think every blessed thing? Why do I craft elaborate and unattainable dramas in the grey wrinkles of my tortured head?

Is she upset with me for forcing her into my ethereal world nestled in lonely thoughts — In a lonely world — Solitarily occupied by my imagination? Is it fair to drag her, or anyone, into my unstable existence?

She’s cold. A trip to the overhead bin produces a coat that she quickly adorns.

I’ve seen all of her now. Not the corporeal entirety. But the well dressed, and eminently beautiful version of her that she shares with the public. She is as beautiful as any creature I could invent in the perfection of thought.

Had she been entirely a fictional figment of gin soaked thought, she couldn’t be more beautiful.

She has regal cheekbones, seemingly perfect stone carved lines. And the most perfect chin. It protrudes just enough to give definition and balance to her exquisite face. In this intellectually stymied alcohol fueled state, I am unable to discern the color of her eyes.

The gnat-like frenzy that the stewardesses continue to exude has now successfully gathered the remains of the meal. Refuse acquired, they return to the recesses of the plane to deposit them.

Lights around the cabin now dim, and in many cases, cease to propel any light at all as the cabin is prepared for the over night journey.

We are barely two hours into our voyage.

She is well equipped for travel. She snuggles against an inflatable pillow. It seems sleep is poised to overwhelm her.

As she drifts off, I realize that fatigue is my companion as well. She will most likely be driven from my mind as consciousness fades. I hope she finds her way to my dreams.

Exhausted, I must surrender my pen and my mind, if only for the briefest of moments.

“You’re so fucking special.” – Radiohead

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