Palace Players I:
From where we were sitting you could only see a sliver of the sea between the steep downhill road and the old building that stood at the bottom. It went from there to the horizon.
“You are amazing. You swam all that way and you didn’t even get your hair wet.”
“Thank you,” She replied, “Weren’t we racing though?”
“We were. You only won because I had to battle those sharks.”
“No.” She said, poofing up her hair with her fingers. “This is Spain.”
Later, upstairs around some bar we couldn’t really afford, a query was raised by one of my friends as to who the most beautiful person in the world was. We had somehow spent last evening around outrageous celebrity. Maybe that made us feel like we had credibility to decide who the most beautiful person in the world was. After twenty minutes of discussion everyone had mostly agreed that she, the girl from the strange party, the popular actress, was hands-down the most beautiful person in the world. I sipped my Hofbräu and contemplated this for a moment. My pride wanted to jump me like a recess bully to puff me up and elevate my perception of my “game.” I quelled that pride by reminding it that, actually, I had only been with the woman once and we had just been swimming.
There was no long evening of wining and dining in the costal city. We hadn’t slow danced the last song as the bars were shutting down. We didn’t split a cab and go home together, wherever her home actually was. I didn’t even know where she went after the beach. In fact, save for the conversation about swimming most of the night was fuzzy in my memory.
“I can’t believe you talked to her man,” a friend of mine said. “Please tell me you got some kind of number.” I smiled. From my right front jeans pocket I produced the note she gave me and placed it on the bar, sliding it over so my friends could verify its authenticity.
She had said goodbye and got up to leave when I impulsively grabbed her arm. Like something practiced in a movie of hers, she stopped and whipped her head around to look me in the eye. Her smile was calm and almost crafty, like she was hoping I would stop her. ”Yes?” she said, her accent making the “s” sound like a “z.” I asked her to wait while I tore a page from my journal and scribbled my name and number on it; smeary ball-point honesty. Folding it twice I set it in her hand, begging her with my eyes to look it over even just once. The note she gave me in return was written in pink on a receipt from her purse. It only said “-rematch-” and had her first name with a heart after it. I pitied my friends who could only see the note. To me it was evidence of where I had been and that, even for a moment, I was there with the most beautiful creature in the whole world.
“Well that sucks,” Said a friend. “It doesn’t have a number on it.”
Immediately someone told him to shut the hell up.
Palace Players II: Some Peculiar Fix, The Two of Us
Palace Players III: Turn Out the Lights as We Planned
Palace Players IV: You’ve Got to Get Back Up Yourself
Palace Players V: And What Got Made Was Broken Too
The sister series to this one, written by my dear friend H, can be read at areasonabledistance.wordpress.com.