by LJ Frank
“Shanghai was in the distant past,” I whispered to myself.
I then looked up from the table where I was sitting near a garden typing on my laptop to notice someone approaching me. She was slender and tall. Her height was accentuated by her high heels. Her head was shaved and she wore black lipstick. Her dress matched her lipstick. She smiled. ”The café is quite crowded. May I sit at this table with you?” She asked in a mellifluous voice.
“Of course. Please.” I said, partially standing up. She shook her head to indicate there was no need for the courtesy. I couldn’t help but wonder if we had met before. I was certain we had but where? Shanghai? Tokyo? Hong Kong? New York City? Or San Francisco? My mind raced.
I recognized the voice. She was quite attractive with smooth, olive skin, long narrow fingers and dark brown eyes and a gentle smile. Her shaved head somehow enhanced her natural beauty. She wore no jewelry save a fine small pearl necklace.
“Do you recall twelve years ago?” She asked, eyeing me in my black business suit and black tee shirt.
“Please forgive me…you remind me of…well, a woman I remember who was taller than me in bare feet. My preference.”
She laughed. “I do look different.” She said as a way of saving any embarrassment. “Much has happened. We met in Shanghai informally near the consulate where I worked. You were a consultant. We had dinner and a few days later spent a three-day weekend together. Now our paths cross again at this visually provocative airport.”
“The Changi Airport is a visual feast.” Slowly recalling our time together I blurted .“I never really thought I’d see you again…and to meet by accident here of all places.”
“It’s Meirong. My name that is.” She said.
I nodded, my cheeks flush, as my mind began celebrating our time together when she had long black hair. “It was a speechless experience. Well, not exactly.” I grinned.
“Thank you. There is a reason for the shaved head but not now. Perhaps later.”
“You’re very striking with hair or without.”
“You’re naturally kind in a world of increasing rudeness amid the pursuit of power.”
“There are too many careless struggles for influence in the world today. I try to be kind to myself in hopes that it serves to help me to be kind to others.”
“Confucius may appreciate your goal.” Meirong said. “Perhaps to paraphrase him, we should grieve not the man or woman who does not know us, but rather grieve that we do not know the man or woman.”
I nodded in agreement. “As I remember you were giving a talk about peace.”
“Peace is much harder to collectively agree on than war that tends to manipulate and solidify conflicted people into a collective patriotic fervor.”
“Hmm. Unfortunately war can potentially be a profitable business. The end result though becomes more devastating in human life with each war. We lose a piece of our humanity as war is a prostitution of our humanity.”
“The richness of opportunity through peace is easy to talk about.” She noted.
I gazed in to her eyes. “You knew I’d be here.”
“I have a good memory. You told me how much you enjoyed certain places as they become a form of retreat in your travels when you’re in Asia. You are able to mask your identity in the crowd as a writer and an observer.”
“I like gardens. Guess it doesn’t always work. And I must be…predictable. In this case I’m glad.”
“I knew your cellular phone number. I looked up your business on the Internet, spoke with some people who you did business with and traced your route and here I am.”
“Remarkable.” I said, at which point I received a text message on my phone from my business partner. I looked up at Meirona with a questioning look. “Forgive me.”
“No problem. I’ve watched you for some time now. I like what I see.”
“I’m at a loss. I mean…”
“Are you sure you want to know?”