by LJ Frank
The Time Zone changed twice by the time the jet landed. The taxi pulled in front of the hotel where my colleague asked me to meet her. I arrived just in time for Happy Hour. Drinks were half-priced. The bar in which she text me retained an urban industrial architectural appeal. Leather covered swivel chairs on castors, a fireplace, reddish brick walls and dim low hanging pendant lights from steel beams warmed the place. A jazz pianist played the keys on a Baby Grand Steinway in a corner near a tall window overlooking an exterior garden.
Lesley stood up from a small round wood table and motioned to me. Her hair color was different since the last time we met. She was also taller than I remembered. She was wearing four-inch high heels. I walked over and after kissing each other’s cheeks we sat down. A waiter appeared and we ordered some red wine and bruschetta and updated each other on our current situations.
Lesley’s eyes then widened when she spoke, “You know, this past Monday I felt like I’d stepped into another reality. Then the following day everything seemed to move from one reality to another, back and forth between the real and surreal. I’m experienced enough to know that appearances are deceptive. By mid-week I wanted to change my attitude so I went to my hairstylist and had my hair colored from blond to brunette with highlights.”
“You’re naturally alluring.”
“Thanks.” She winked at me. “There are certain experiences I like to, you know, give texture to and then grasp that experience, as if I were holding a tube of oil paint after removing the cap and then by squeezing it I allow the colorful liquid to squirt and splash onto the canvas of life.”
“I suppose so. Which oddly reminds me, Richard, my ex, and I met here at this very hotel for one night prior to our divorce. The bar in which we are sitting is new.”
“I selected another hotel but it’s under repair after a water main break and…” her voice trailed off.
“Excuse me ma’am,” a waiter interrupted our conversation.
“Yes?” Lesley asked in a polite voice.
“Your husband asked me to deliver this note and flower before leaving the hotel,” he then handed her a piece of paper and the long stem rose and walked away.
“I didn’t know you married again.”
“I didn’t either. I’ve been divorced for over five years.”
“Jesus!” Lesley exclaimed upon reading. “This note makes this week all the more strange. It’s Richard’s handwriting. I wonder…”
“What is it?”
“I’m not sure.” She said and then handed me the note.
The note read, “My Dearest Lesley. Everything is all set. I’ve retrieved the money from the safety deposit box & the reservations have been made for the intimate gathering. Everyone knows what to wear given your provocative preferences. A small plane is fueled and ready to go in the morning as preplanned. No one has a clue as to the ultimate destination except you and the crew. Richard.”
“I don’t know what to say. I’ve not been in contact with Richard. Unless.”
Lesley looked over towards the waiter who glanced in our direction. She motioned to him.
Upon reaching our table she asked, “Do you know if I’m the only Lesley in the bar?”
At that juncture a tall blond in a leather dress and 4-inch high heels walking by our table looked over at us and said, “My name is Lesley.”
“Do you know a Richard?” My colleague asked.
“Not yet.” She replied.