“Is everything all right, darling? It doesn’t seem to be so. Tell your daddy, sweetheart! There’s nothing he can’t understand!”
They sit at the Drugstore by the window, Magda delighting in the bustle of the Champs, Norton in her bosom straining her pale blue mohair sweater to bursting.
“Why are you asking, Frank, have I changed?” She asks dreading Norton’s confirmation of the calamity that the mirror has been heralding her since some time; the tell tale wrinkles around her fatigued eyes, two deep lines around her mouth and more disasters she sees standing naked in front of the tall bathroom mirror: sinking boobs, thickening hips, bulging belly, heavy bum.
“You look fatigued, Magda, as if you haven’t been sleeping well for some time. What’s wrong, tell me, darling?”
“It’s my mother, Frank, I feel guilty having left her behind in Budapest. In case there is any excuse, it is my studies that I’d hate to interrupt what I should do if I was a good daughter. I’ve got severe financial problems to top it. I need money, lots of money to pay for the best clinic in Budapest and so I am moonlighting as waitress to cover the sky-high hospital bills… No, Frank, I can’t take money from you!” She holds back his hand reaching after the wallet.
“No decent girl would accept money from a man other than her husband!” She cries out righteously.
He watches her thoughtfully weighing the meaning of her message. Making Magda to his spouse has never entered his mind. Of course he enjoys her presence; she is a nice kid with lots to offer but having her in his bed night after night is not his idea of fun. And then again, he isn’t a fool to take another risk after his calamitous divorce. He consults his wrist watch ostentatiously and gets up.
“Sorry, Magda, I have a meeting that I can’t miss. I’ll give you a ring the first moment I can get away from the stress of my office work, so long, Magda!” He puts discretely a hundred euros banknote under her napkin and leaves on a fatherly kiss upon her brow.
Shocked by his backstabbing lack of interest Magda feels like throwing the money after his disappearing figure. How can he treat her so lowly? Has this bastard found another appetizer during her short absence? Has she made a horrendous faux pas letting the wedding bells sound too soon? Dealing with something as thorny as marriage there is no place for error. What the hell! Let him go! He certainly isn’t her only pawn! On the other hand Norton is the only one to offer her respectability; that is if he is willing to marry her which, evidently, he isn’t!
She waves the waiter and orders a double whiskey. She sips at it pensively considering her next move. Suddenly the chair by her side is pulled out. What a cheek to sit down without asking her permission! She flashes the intruder a glare.
“I knew one day my princess will come and we’ll continue what we had no time to finish!”
She examines the gate-crasher trying to remember where to put him.
“Should I know you?” She asks tentatively probing in her subconscious for the buried treasures Eros has brought her way.
“Wait, let me guess!”
Unruly black hair, pitch-dark smoldering eyes, a body-builder’s figure…
“I’ve got it! Shakespeare &Company, right?”
All that remains to do is to put a name to this gorgeous flesh and bones.
“I am Magda, you are…?”
“John!” He adds flashing his perfect teeth in a tooth-paste ad smile.
“Your John, just for the asking!”
He moves nearer, his heat sweeping through their bodies and her not so silly worries about an assured future burn down in a blood curling desire.
“Your place or mine?” He asks coolly.
“Yours!” She sighs out reaching after him.
He collects the Norton’s banknote, pays the bill, pockets the change and hails a cab.