Looking out the window of the floating restaurant at a small gaggle of geese swimming and feeding, she was startled by his noiseless approach. She wondered why rich people were so weird, needing silent waiters? Where she’d come from it wasn’t very wise to allow for others to sneak up on you. Living on the streets, a teenage castaway misfit, had been rough and toughened her. Still, it was irritating this young man, simply doing his job, had so easily unnerved her.
Forcing herself to smile, expecting him to offer her a desert menu, she noticed a martini with an olive garnish on his serving tray. In a soft voice he said, “Excuse me miss, that gentleman has sent this to you.” She looked in the direction he indicated and felt the blood in her veins turn icy cold. Trying hard to suppress a shiver, she stammered, “That man is no gentleman and I won’t trust a drink from him.” The waiter gave her a startled look and said, “The drink is safe miss. I watched the bartender pour it.” She shook her head and through clenched teeth said, “He is more than capable of paying off a bartender to do his dirty work.” She could not stop herself from shooting the man on the other side of the restaurant her sternest glare saying, “If looks could kill…”
The man who had sent the drink stood suddenly, the chair flipping over behind him. His face reddened as he snarled loudly, “Bitch.” Other patrons in the restaurant began to murmur excitedly. It wasn’t every day they witnessed such a rich and well known artist lose it in a public. He stormed over to the retreating server and took the martini glass from his tray. In his true character, previously known only to her and a few unfortunate others, he threw the drink in her direction and snarled, “You could have had me. Instead you chose that loser. Look at him with a younger girl. He didn’t need you, and now you have nothing and nobody.”
The bitterness and rage of his words threw the patrons in the restaurant into frenzied chatter. Cell phones were capturing the scene in pictures and videos. She knew he’d never be able to purchase them all to keep the scene out of the media. She could see a panicked look on his face betray he’d became aware of his folly. Relieved, she knew his fan club would finally see the monster. For so many years he had painted himself as kindly and wise, the words in the songs he’d published were simply part of his false image and it had pained her to hear him on the radio. Each time she’d switched the stations to avoid the horrific memories his voice would induce.
Suddenly, and beyond her immediate comprehension, she felt as though a wave of peace and protection was pouring over her. In this new comfort zone she turned to look in the direction the monster was pointing to and saw a man with a younger girl, a girl late teens or early twenties. The restaurant became as silent as an empty church as she started to speak. She turned to the monster and said, in a voice filled with compassionate resonance, “He wanted children and I couldn’t give him any. He’s happy and that is all that ever mattered to me.”
She sat back down in her chair, suddenly desiring to see the desert menu. She sipped from her glass of iced tea and let her mind wander to wonderful times. Times when he’d been her one and only true love. Times he’d loved her with equal passion and tenderness. Times when sex was pure, joyful and simply another way of expressing the depth of their love for each other. The monster had not been able to steal away her memories. His torture had not been strong enough to break her. Through it all she’d clung to the memories of true love and the strength of those memories kept her alive.
Looking up in hopes of locating her waiter she noticed all eyes looking at something else capturing their attention. Curious she turned to see her love had slumped to the floor, tears flowing from his downcast eyes. She stood and walked to him, to then kneel down while gently consoling, “If you’re going to puddle, I won’t let you do it alone.” His young companion, still sitting in her chair, her hand on his shoulder simultaneously said, “Dad do you know this woman?”
He raised his head in response to the two voices and looking into the eyes of his long lost love answered her, “Yes my child, she is my true love.” To her he said, “You did that for me? All this time I’ve thought you fell in love with someone else.” She looked from him to his daughter and said, “You needed children to complete your life.” The young girl looked at her, an impish smile playing at the corners of her mouth and said, “I think maybe everything is perfect now.”
She didn’t understand the girls words until he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into an embrace that caused her to helplessly sway, overcome by his touch of love. He said, “Her mother and I never loved one another, we are great friends. She knew I could never love any other woman after you. I wanted children and she gave them to me. She’s a good woman and a great mom. Now she’s gone to find her own true love. We’d come here to chat about how to deal with the fallout, the media and all.” She smiled and said, “True love is always a good story to tell.”
As they both rose the patrons and staff of the restaurant bust into wild applause. Cheers of congratulations rose. Many faces were mopping away happy tears they’d helplessly cried. One onlooker silently slinked away from the crowd, spotting his retreat she knew he’d not finished with her. He’d be back, some how, some way, having in his arsenal a newly devised weapon in hopes to further torture her. She didn’t care, she was safe now and her true love, now knowing the truth would protect her from the monster.
© Zora Zebic 2016
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