Smoke in the Lobby – Maxwell Chandler

We were in her hotel room because my tiny place had been made even smaller by the still drying paintings. Even though she was going home at the end of the week and there were parts of Vienna that she still wished to see, I stubbornly remained too sick to go out for more than a quick meal nearby.

While using her full bathroom mirror which allowed for a better shave than that of my small circle, as I smoothed my left cheek I once again told myself that I really was sick but that I could make far more of an effort, this debating continuing onto my right cheek.

A beautiful day, the windows stretched out their wings wide, reaching towards the Stadt park. We drank vermouth and sodas lying atop the covers while listening to bop.

We fell asleep. I awoke before her, the sun still shining. The perfect moment and I knew that she was truly going home soon.  20160706_090958

I put on my most unwrinkled shirt. We ran all over the city and when her legs became tired we barnstormed with a crazy Serbian taxi driver. I loaded her up with chocolates and kirsch for her journey home. Sneaking into the opera house to see the Rodin bust of Mahler, my wet shoes squeaked but still didn’t give us away.

Now she is gone. I must find a new framer since Marc ran away with a student from Algiers, at least temporarily.
I find myself going back to all the places we had been; as if there were a chance of glimpsing at least her shadow and then by stepping on it she would be unable to leave. I play our records over and over but I would have anyways.

I am sitting in the Stadt park sketching. A few benches down from me a girl stands, thighs holding her bicycle as she throws something in the trash. Her figure is made to seem plump by her sky blue capris and white ankle socks. I notice her brown mole above the corner of her right lip which slowly twitches in concentration.

As I turn to a clean page and settle she is already off. I do some detailed studies of acanthus and some poppies. I want to enjoy the weather but now indirectly so I stop at a café on my way home.

At the counter is the girl from the park whom I now find myself standing beside. She is taller than I, which had earlier been camouflaged by the bicycle.

I think of a passage from Don Quixote. The Don had told his man Sancho to go by himself to see the Don’s raison d’ etre, Dulcimina. In doing so, Sancho would then come to understand the reason for the arduous mission that the Don and he were on.

Sancho went and not being beset by passion or delusions as was his master reported back a far less superior picture including the descriptive phase:

“A horsey scent.”

Of course she had been out in the sun riding a bicycle. Two people together do not always produce roses either but it was made more tolerable by the activity which went into creating the bouquet.

I came out of my musing to sip my coffee. The girl was gone, replaced by a man with a camera around his neck carefully unfolding a map.

Finis

 

 

Not for use without permission. maxwellachandler@aol.com

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