Thursday, March 12, 2009


We liked to sit and talk. Madame DuChamp would reflect over a cup of tea. If we were in her sunroom I would sit on the sunshine sofa next to her with my feet tucked under me. She would draw the beloved and time-worn quilt over our knees and slip into the past. I followed when I could. Sometimes her smile and silence hinted of reflection upon an intimate memory. Now a days I sit in my own reflection room and think of the stories I have told and lived. There are times when I wish I could enter the Memory World and extend those long gone days. But it cannot be. And such as it is, there are more stories to tell.

Grab a seat...

Pull up a chair...

Curl up on the sofa...
I'd like you to meet Madeline Sutton.

Across the street piano music arrested her attention. Sad, plaintive notes escaped the enclosed shop and slinked its way to her feet. McMillain's Coffee Shoppe in trendy brown and cream. She adjusted the weight of the groceries in her hands. The music beckoned. It was meant to be heard. She crossed the street at the next light and pulled open the mahogany door.

The interior was dark cherry, the appearance of a gentleman's club. The aroma of percolating coffee beans permeated the air. A fireplace cuddled a merry fire that danced upon a new visitor's arrival. Velvet sofas and worn leather settees lined the long narrow shop. Past the ordering counter and the corridor of plush seats and packed bookshelves was a tight circular space, roomy enough for a modest stage. More sofas and chairs squeezed against the room surrounding a heavy-set blonde playing a Yamaha.

A tall cafe mocha, please. No cream.

She paid for her order and waited obligingly for it. The music the woman played was a watery piece. The keys tinkled tunes of the watery depths. The song of a Triton mounring his love. Or was it a sea princess' song of hope for her returned love? She took her cup and proceeded closer towards the music. It drew her, unveiling the stage of her imagination. She found a seat on the plaisley sofa, wegding her groceries between the sofa and the wall. She leaned back and sipped her coffee. The crowd offered a polite applause at the end of the song. The blonde quickly struck up a tune that painted the golden and red landscape of Tuscany. The poppies bobbing in hills of golden wheat. Two lovers meet at the fountain in the piazza. The girl was too young and could not away with him. He had nothing to offer but his heart. Poverty and love made romance forbidding but more delicious.

She did not notice the gentleman who came to sit next to her. Her thoughts were miles away, intertwined in love's melancholy story.

"Have you heard this song before?" His question shattered her painted thoughts. Gone were the Estrucian hills and towering cypresses. Dissolved was the kiss that was to be enjoyed.

Is he speaking to me? She turned to face her sofa companion. Yes, he was. "No," she shook her head.

"You are American."

She nodded. He spoke with an European accent, decidedly not British. He wore a black turtle neck with a tweed sport coat and dark trousers. He smelled expensive and of soft leather.

He nodded his head towards the performer. "It is a Romanian love song. A very old one."

A trill in the score reminded her of birds chirping on a branch near the bedroom window while morning sunlight peered through.

"It is the fashion now a-days to resurrect old folksongs and lend it a modern twist."

She smiled, sensing that was the adequate response to give.

"May I buy you tea?"

"Thank you," she replied, lifting her cup. "I've already purchased a coffee."

He nodded. His eyes where gray, the color of winter sky. His hair was black, almost unnaturally so. He rested his hands on his crossed leg. "Ah, now this song that she is playing is an ancient Welsh melody."

She had not noticed the change in songs until he mentioned it. She brought her focus back to the lady behind the keyboard. The melody hinted of Celtic influence. She could see a red-headed girl standing upon a dark gray granite-like rock jutting off the coast line. The sea before her roared in angry waves. Her alabaster complexion shone against the drench of rain. A boat that she could no longer see carried the one she loed.

She took a long sip of coffee. Sleep danced upon the edge of her senes.

"Let me buy you tea. Coffee will dehydrate you."

She vaguely heard him speak. Was it the beverage in her hand or the heady cloud of music that dimmed her senses and carried her off to far away lands? If only her laptop was within reach.

He patted her knee. "I shall get you a pot of brewed tea." He arose with his hand casually placed on her knee. As he left, so did she. She skirted aorund to the front door and slipped into the outer world.

She unloaded her grocieries and turned on the hot water to fill the claw-footed tub. Sleepiness deterred her from enjoying the hot suddsy water. She stepped out of the tub after a few minutes and pulled on her p.j.'s. When she turned off the lights, the bedside clock glared 11:46 PM in red lights.

A pounding at the door stole her from fields of lavender. She was eating a biscuit slathered in honey when the intrusion disrupted her. The darkness momentarily disoriented her. The clock regitered 12:29 AM. Two police men stood on the steps.

[Excerpt from "A Boy Named Joseph"]


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