Love and Other Murders

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Chapter 56

“Nick, what a surprise, what are you doing here?” Coming out from her tutor Nathalie, to her astonishment, feels pleasantly surprised finding Nick waiting by the door.

“What else could I be doing than hoping you’d go with me to see the unforgettable film that we unfortunately missed last time? Luckily we can still see “Gilda” at the “Champollion!” Don’t try to argue with me! There is no time for it if we don’t want to miss the generics.” He grabs her hand and they don’t stop running until they join the long line in front of the cinema.

“It looks bad. If we are lucky we’ll be the last ones to get in. Not seeing “Gilda” with you would break my heart.”

“How did you know when I’ll be seeing again the Professor, Nick?”

“Oh that! Nothing is simpler that to chat up his secretary and, after a luncheon washed down with plenty of wine, make her give me any information about a certain Miss Nova. Unfortunately, I had to wait long before seeing you. It seems the meetings with your Professor are madly irregular. Hurrah! We made it!”

He rushes towards the ticket counter and returns swaying victoriously two tickets before her eyes.

“You see, I was right!” He points to the -position closed- notice that’s just being put on.

The lights dim, the curtain opens; the credits appear on the screen. They enter their promised land of artifact, more real than reality.

He takes her hand and slips it under his T-shirt; his fingers on her wrist mark the simultaneous beats of their hearts. To see Gilda together stirs up intense feelings as if they were playing with a lighted fuse.

-I hate you so much that I am dying on it, Johnny! - Rita Hayworth’s ultimate declaration of love makes them shiver with anticipation of their yet unacknowledged truths.

When the sun goes down Rue des Ecoles becomes a moon-lit cinema set whose houses carry the decayed weight of paradise lost. Spilling out from the Champollion with the other film worshippers they fight their impulse to say we instead of you and I. Falling stars, never hitting the earth, nullify the pertinent answers to indiscrete questions. Theirs is a cinematic love and its extra terrestrial parts are bound to get smashed touching the ground.

They enter a cafe and settle down by the rain spattered window obscuring their future like tears yet to be shed. She holds his hand to her chest as if cuddling a cat. He takes out of his breast pocket a miniature bottle of Champagne that crossed the Atlantic on a first-class Air France flight and pours it into a silver tumbler his grandfather saved from the Reds when fleeing Saint Petersburg haunted by the Revolution. He places the burning candle in front of her obscuring everything else but her face that becomes the only reality that is.

-The past is history, the future a mystery, the present a gift.-

Does it really matter who coined it first? He is in love with her. She is in love with him. This is the only evidence that matters.

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