After our moments of tenderness, Milan’s delicate, forlorn smile makes me shudder. Fragile, handle with care! Milan’s love poses me problems. Beda is fulfilled by his music. His career and philandering answer Leo’s main demands. I am the only reason of Milan’s life, though I try, rather vainly, to rank second to his dance.
Gently, after a long, soothing kiss, I probe the dangerous ground.
“Have you ever thought about living abroad, Milan? I’d hate to stay all my life rooted in Prague.”
“Anything you wish, babe. Where shall we go?”
“Far away where everything is new. But then, wouldn’t you miss your job at Mirak’s? How about your plans of becoming his partner?”
“Oh that! Just pipedreams! How come you want to travel, all of a sudden? Is it because Beda is going to New York? Do you need him that badly, babe?”
“Of course I don’t! Don’t be silly! You know what, let’s get up and go to Kampa Island. It’s so rare for you to have a free evening. I’d like to do something exciting, like going to a nightclub.”
Arms interlocked, fingers interwoven, we stand by the old mill-wheel. Like all other felons, lovers are driven back to the place of their first transgression.
“Is there anything I can do to cheer you up, babe? ANYTHING! I really mean it! It breaks my heart to see you so sad. By the way, Beda is still in town. I saw him swaying to and fro about your place, undoubtedly hoping for a chance encounter. Shall I give him a ring and make a date for you?”
“Don’t dare doing that! I miss Beda’s music more than him. The jam sessions at “The Flaming Heart”! When you are at Mirak’s, I feel lonely.”
I snuggle up in Milan’s arms and kiss him.
“Do you, babe?” A happy smile lights up Milan’s face: I miss him. I need him. Therefore he is!
“You should have told me straight away. I’ll find a way to quit Mirak on the quiet. I’ll try to find something else to be with you whenever you are free. Something quite undemanding, a cleaning job or whatever else.”
“You can’t do that! I know how much dance means to you.”
“Nonsense! There’s nothing beyond you! Dance is just a way to earn my living. My only gift by nature. As you know I’m not much of a scholar.”
“Well, money won’t be a problem. Once I get a regular income it will be more than enough for both of us.”
The frenzy of Milan’s refusal alarms me. The problem proves more knotty than I imagined. I give Milan a big hug and probe further.
“Why not? Aren’t we as good as married? Married people share their money, don’t they? Don’t be as old-fashioned and small-minded as to presume a man has to earn not only his own living but provide for his wife. My grandfather never did. And he and my grandmother are the happiest couple under the sun.”
“It isn’t quite the same. Your grandfather has his own, independent income, hasn’t he? By the way, how will you get to your money so promptly?”
“Leave that to me and stop fretting. Don’t spoil our evening, Milan, please!” I block all further discussion by a kiss, an old trick, which makes Milan open to anything I ask for.
“Oh, babe! You’d make a cripple climb walls!“ Milan responds with ardour,
“I vaguely remember Bessie mentioned a new hip nightclub just around the corner, “The Pink Flamingo”. The problem is it seems to be a rather dressy place and I don’t wear a tie.”
We walk through the sinewy streets we discovered together. They are the belt of our love, the zone where we shall always be together. The lovers’ chain that we shall keep even if love was broken.
“Careful, babe! These steps are treacherous.” Milan’s hold tightens while we submerge into the smoky dimness of “The Pink Flamingo” sultry with the perspiration of the tightly dancing couples. Men are dressed up with studied elegance. Women wear low-cut clinging gowns. Among them Leo and Bessie holding each other in a rapacious embrace. I have never noticed how much Leo resembles his father. Self-centred. Self-indulging. Reckless. Poor creature that will fall with him in love!
“Let’s go away, Milan, please! It’s so despicably common and the music is awful!” With a tactful smile, Milan leads me to the exit. Has he taken me here on purpose so that I would catch Leo and Bessie red handed? I doubt it. Milan is aware that I know and don’t mind and this is just another proof to prove him that my marriage doesn’t count.
We stop for a moment by the railing to listen to the soothing murmur of the river. I pillow my head on Milan’s chest wishing we could stay like that forever, two fossilised lovers confined in the amber of their love.
“It breaks my heart to see you so sad, babe. You can be assured that Leo doesn’t care for Bessie; she is just a fling for him and nothing but a carnal attraction on both sides. And then, Bessie is such a snob and a social climber, showing off with a doctor who happens to be a “von” to cap it is a thrill for her.”
“Stop being absurd, Milan! I’m delighted that Leo and Bessie are good friends, or whatever. I’m worried about something else. Tell me, Milan, will you love me forever? Whatever may happen, whatever I do?”
He stares at me stunned by my doubts.
“How can you ask me such a question, babe? Don’t you feel how much I love you? Nothing and nobody, not even you, can change it. Whatever may happen. Whatever you do. My love is stronger than you. Stronger than me. Even if I die my love will stay with you like the light of an extinct star protecting you from the darkness.”
Milan’s love sweeps me off my feet like an avalanche and carries me along in its shielding layers. How can I stand being loved with this desperate devotion?
“I’m so very tired. Do you mind taking me home?”
“Of course not, babe. We’ll make the dancing up next week when I’ve found out about a really nice night club.”
We hail a taxi by the Charles Bridge and take leave on a kiss and with a promise to meet in our dreams tonight.
Heavy and dark, my dream turns into nightmare. Count von Dracula is leading his bride down the aisles; a blood-stained bride her lover’s ripped heart pulsing in her fist.