Mr. Tichy brings us home after a most successful fitting. Lost in my sinister premonitions, I hardly listen to my grandmother’s cheerful chat and respond to her questions about the luncheon, that dear Egon treated me to so generously, with the detachment of an answering machine. Egon’s intention to marry me bears all the hallmarks of a total disaster; for both of us.
At home, we find two magnificent bouquets of long-stemmed hothouse roses, reminding us, once more, of Egon excellent manners. On grandmother’s remark what a lucky girl I am, I am released to my room to study.
With Egon’s proposal stuck in my throat, I don’t feel like chewing on it alone and decide to call Beda and spit it out. As luck would have it, Beda answers as fast as if he were sitting right by the phone. ‘Of course he has time for me! Why won’t I come over? His father is out on a story. His mother accompanies him.’
“Thanks, Beda. I’m on my way.”
I kiss him on the lips. A genuine thing. Not just a knavish pick.
“I’m so happy to be with you, Beda!” I declare with a deep eye-to eye glance.
“So am I! To what do I owe the honour of your visit? Are you in the mood for music? Mind you, I’m not as blunt as to put it on your being “in the mood for love”.”
“Oh, Beda! I do adore you! Well, you can have it both ways. But first things first.”
“Does it mean you suggest to be ushered into my bachelor’s den, girl?” He grins opening the door for me.
I sink upon his bed.
“A drink, Beda! Make it a big one!”
“Why not a whole bottle then?” He takes it out from under the bed and hands it to me. Gin fills my stomach with the familiar warmth. I pass the bottle on Beda.
“You’d better sit down. I’ll tell you something that might knock you out.” I shift along to make room for him and snuggle up to him. He closes his eyes and buries his face in my hair.
“I’ll spare you the sordid details and whirl you at once into the heart of the storm: Egon proposed to me! Can you believe it?”
“That’s hardly a surprise for me, girl! The old sport is raving mad with love. Is he ready to kiss his money good-bye and buy himself free from his ravishing spouse or does he intend to get rid of her brutally? I’d opt for the second solution. He’ll need a lot of cash to keep you amused and isn’t that naive as to count on his natural resources.”
I stare at Beda flabbergasted. “Are you suggesting Egon will murder Zita in order to marry me? You can’t be serious!”
“Of course I am deadly serious. Oh girl! You’re still am extremely unsophisticated lady! As much as I try, I don’t see how I could get you out of this bloody mess. That manly serial kisser won’t stop short of nothing to put his dirty paws on you!”
“How about never seeing him again?”
“You may give it a try but I wouldn’t count on it. He’d only get desperate and start the ball rolling. The only way out is I’d get rid of Herr von Zwettler before he’d have time to eliminate his old lady. Would such a proof of love be convincing enough to make you accept my advances?”
“Stop it, Beda! You aren’t funny! Go and play for me.” I push him away and crouch on the bed, nursing the bottle, taking long sips of it, hoping to wake up from a nightmare.
“There was a Chinese poet who got drowned courting the reflection of the moon in the river.” Beda says dreamily, loosing himself from his dependence on me, impeccably courteous and sublime. Something must be deadly wrong with me when, being loved by him I care about anybody else.
“Diamond bracelets Woolworth doesn’t sell, baby,” Beda hums and I feel Egon’s ring burning a scarlet mark on my finger, even if it had remained on it just a split second.
“I can’t give you anything but love,” Beda finishes our jam session.
I call him to me. We cuddle up safely and warmly and even amorously until it is time to set up for “The Flaming Heart”.