Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Take-away goodness - We hear from Gloria

(This is the on-going, episodic fiction about Gloria and Mr. Apotienne, aka The Reading Man.  It began on April 22 and today's is, I believe, the 21st installment.  Give or take.)

Of course there was no reading that day, not aloud, not for the undiluted pleasure of it.  No, there was no reading.  It would have been all wrong.  Mr. Apotienne already felt like a minor sideshow attraction, a specimen, when he sat down with the four women.  He was determined to go no further into performing-seal territory if he could help it.  He imagined one Sherlock facing four Moriartys.  Holmes could do this, he thought, and so can I.
When the attempted, though seemingly benign grilling was over, when Mr. Apotienne had escaped into the sky and sea and air followed by just a whiff of roses from the cottage climbers, he carried a packet of leftovers in one of his deep pockets.  He could play the role of affable, not-exactly-brilliant man-person as well as anyone but the doing of it took a toll.  It made him wary, triggered his instincts for self-preservation, squelched his appetite and, in general, spoiled his favorite part of the day.  As he gallantly though gently insisted on paying the bill for all of them, to thank the women for including him - though everyone knew exactly what was really going on - he remained at the table a few moments after the others left.

He expressed silent, passionate gratitude that he had never been one to sweat under pressure, that he had learned to control his facial muscles - other than smiles which simply burst forth - and that he may have managed to hold on to some fraying fibers of privacy.  When Fiona brought his change - oh, her tip was generous that day - she handed him one of the shop's recognizable paper bags which held a portion of shirred eggs wrapped in foil, warm but not runny, a biodegradable fork, one cellophane pouch of orange peel/pecan shortbread cookies and another with a fist-sized bunch of red grapes.  Next to it she placed a take-away paper cup of what he knew was Earl Grey tea with milk and a hint of Belinda's honey.  "A bit of picnic for later," Fiona said.  Gloria did not appear, which surprised him not at all.

As his steps took him from the shop, he looked along the coast and saw the rock on which he would sit to enjoy his bit of picnic, to ponder the events of the day thus far and to let the ocean, the wind, the gulls' cries and his own long-cultivated capacity for stillness bring him back to himself.  When he arrived at the rocky perch and opened his treats, he found a slip of paper on which had been written, "For remarkable sang-froid.  Please enjoy.  (signed) G."  He thought he might be the happiest man in the world.


Lisa H said...

what a fabulous segment!

One of my favorite things is to plant notes in unexpected places....I always feel like I'm re-connecting to the old magic.....

Erin in Morro Bay said...

Gloria understands! Reading People are very often not wanting to mix with a group - we want to read in lovely solitude, and if not at "our" table" then a rock by the coast with a delicious picnic will fill the bill and very nicely too!

Marylinn Kelly said...

Lisa - Thank you. All magic is old, don't you think? xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - Especially not this group, given a polite choice. Being left to as much quiet as suits us is such a gift. xo