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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lonely Lenore - Part Three

As Lenore entered the small clock shop in the ancient building, she couldn't help wondering how Stephano could listen to those clocks ticking all day long while he worked. Tick-tock, tick-tock - all over the tiny room.  The more she was aware of them, the louder they seemed to get.  Clocks all over the stone walls - covered from floor to ceiling with tick-tocking clocks.

She looked at Stephano as he walked to the farthest wall.  He took a small clock from a shelf on the wall and handed it to Lenore.  It was the most exquisite clock she'd ever seen.  It stood just a little over a foot high and was of a Baroque design.  The gilded alabastrite cast had claw feet that held a little stand where two cherubs stood on each side of the clock's facing.  In the middle of the stand was a shield and two swords.  The cherubs stood as if they were guarding the clock.  And above them and the face of the clock were other ornate flourishes that made the clock so special.  She could tell it was very old. 

She asked Stephano the price of the clock because she had immediately fallen in love with it and wanted to take it home with her.  It would look beautiful above the fireplace in her simple apartment and would be a wonderful reminder of her trip.  Stephano told her a price and she paid him for it.  After he carefully wrapped it up for her, he said, "Excuse me, Lenore.  I have to go upstairs for just a few minutes and I'll be right back down."

As Lenore was waiting for him, a small dark haired boy came into the shop.  He smiled at Lenore and said, "Have you seen the shop owner?"

Lenore answered him, "Why, yes.  He just had to go upstairs for a few minutes.  He said he would be right back down."

The boy walked over to the stairs and took a few steps up.  He stopped and looked at her and said with a wrinkled brow, "My mother is very worried about Palmeria.  She has been so sick."

"Who is Palmeria?" Lenore asked with concern and wondering why the boy wanted the shop owner.

"She is our baby - my little sister.  My mother needs my father to come home soon."

Lenore felt a lump come up in her throat.  "And your father?" Lenore began.  "He is the shop owner?"

"Yes," the boy answered as he took two more steps up.  "My mother wants me to tell him to come home as soon as he can."  The boy continued up the stairs.

Lenore took her wrapped clock and went out the shop door.  How could he do this to her?  She felt he had led her on with all his attentions over lunch, insinuating that he was drawn to her.  Why he probably was this way with many female tourists.  She was glad she found out in time before things got any further.  At this point, it had only been a lunch and a little flirting and attention!  But, how could he do this to his wife and with a sick child at home?

Lenore walked as fast as she could back to Sophia's.  She was ready to pack and go home.  She had seen all the sites she wanted to see and had bought this beautiful clock to take back home with her.  Now, she was ready to go back home and back to work - back to her old routine.  There was solice in doing a routine - a sense of safety and peace.  As soon as she got back to Sophia's she would start to pack so that she could leave tomorrow.  It would be good to be back at home.

A Bad Day - Part Three

It was late afternoon on Wednesday and Joey was determined to get out of the house this weekend and meet some new people.  Being new in town, it would be hard and he wasn't sure where to go.  He was staring out of his third floor office building, looking down the street to see if there were any attractions - some place where he might be able to meet up with a really nice girl.

Just then his boss, Mr. Ripley, knocked lightly on the door jam of his office.  Joey turned around to face the door.

"I thought you might like to look over these reports," Mr. Ripley said as he held out a large stack of papers for Joey's endorsement.  Joey took a few steps across the tan carpet that lay between him and Mr. Ripley.  He  took the papers.  While flipping through the pages he heard Mr. Ripley say, "Do you have any plans this evening, Joey?"

Wondering where this was going, Joey looked up from his papers, past Mr. Ripley's brown-rimmed eyeglasses and directly into his green eyes.  "Um, no, not really.  I was just going to try a new deli for my supper this evening, that's all," Joey replied.

"Well, how would you like to come have dinner with my wife and I this evening?" Mr. Ripley bid with hope in his voice.  "I know you're new to this town and probably don't know many people.  She's a great cook and I know she'd love to have you.  She's making strawberry shortcake for dessert tonight.  After dinner, I thought maybe you'd like to go with us to our Wednesday evening church service.  It's a rather small and quick meeting.  You'd out of there by eight o'clock."

Joey's head was whirling.  He'd love to have a good home-cooked meal.  And homemade strawberry shortcake was too hard to resist.  But, church?  And in the middle of the week?  But that big slice of strawberry shortcake kept coming to his mind.  Large, red berries under an avalanche of fluffly, sweet whipped cream.

"All right.  I'd love to come," Joey smiled with thoughts of shortcake dancing in his mind.

"Great," said Mr. Ripley with anticpation in his voice.  "It might be a way for you to meet some good folks this evening.  One of my best friends will be there this evening.  So, we'll see you at about six o'clock then?"

"I'll be there," Joey said, wondering what a church service would be like in the middle of the week.

Mr. Ripley turned to loudly saunter back to his office.

Joey was excited to meet Mrs. Ripley and her strawberry shortcake.  But, he wasn't sure about the church thing.  He had been to church when he was a young boy.  It was okay, but rather boring and he was always glad when it was over.  He never seemed to understand anything the preacher said when he did go.  But, maybe church in the middle of the week would be a little different than the ones he remembered.  He'd never been to a meeting in the middle of the week.  And meeting some more people would be good.  That's exactly what he'd been wanting to do this week anyway.  So, he checked that off of his To Do list and sat back down at his desk.

He looked down at his large stack of papers and quietly said, "Strawberry shortcake."

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lonely Lenore - Part Two

It was noon and Lenore was exhausted from touring.  She felt like she had been walking all day.  Not only that, but she was famished.  She remembered the little sidewalk cafe where she had eaten dinner the first day of her arrival.  It was close, the food was good and so she decided to have lunch there.

As she sat down, she remembered a man had bumped into her as she was leaving.  He was a nice looking man.  She had hoped this trip would help her overcome her loneliness, but it only seemed to accentuate it.  She had no business dreaming of some Italian stranger that bumped into her by chance.  Certainly he wouldn't be thinking of her the way she was thinking of him just now.

A waiter came to her side.  "Are you ready to order, Madame?" the waiter asked, with pencil in hand at the ready.  Lenore blushed.  She was holding the menu, but hadn't really given it much thought.

"Could I have just a few more minutes, please?" she asked the waiter, trying not to blush.

"Of course," he replied.  "I'll be back shortly."  With that, he turned and walked over to a table nearby.

Lenore looked the menu over and decided on the pasta dish of the day.  It came with a salad, beverage and a little gelato all for one price.  She looked up and her eyes met the waiter's.  He came over and took her order. 

As she handed him her menu, her eyes met with another pair of eyes.  It was him - the strange man that had bumped into her the last time she was here.  He was smiling at her and gave her a nod with his head.  Nervously, she smiled back.  And then, then he got up and came over to her table.  She hardly knew what to do as she saw him move towards her.

Standing over her, the handsome man said, "Would you mind terribly if I joined you while we have lunch?  I hate to eat alone."  He pointed to a corner off behind her left shoulder.

"Of course.  Please sit down.  I hate eating alone, as well."  Lenore's words seemed to fumble out of her mouth as she spoke.  She wondered if her hair looked windblown or if she needed more lipstick.  Her hand brushed a sprig of hair away from her face.

"Allow me to introduce myself," he said with his deep brown eyes gazing deeply into hers.  "My name is Stephano.  I own a little clock shop just around the corner.  I come here most days for my lunch, as do a lot of tourists.  I don't usually talk with the tourists, but I could not resist meeting you."

Lenore and Stephano sat and talked over lunch for about an hour.  She told him about Minnesota and the small shipping company for which she worked.  She told him she was a secretary and that when she returned she would be working for a new boss.  She told him all sorts of things and Stephano greedily took in every word she spoke.  He thought she was beautiful.

As they were finishing the last of their gelato, Stephano asked, "Would you like to come and look at my shop?  I have a lot of different clocks there and some of them are quite interesting.  It's not far - just around that corner."

Lenore agreed and as they both walked side by side on that small sidewalk in Venice, Lenore wondered what she was doing going off with a stranger so far from home.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Bad Day - Part Two

It had been six months since Joey had come home from his business trip only to learn that his wife had left him for another man.  Their divorce had finalized a couple of weeks ago and Joey had moved on with his life.  As a matter of fact, Joey had moved - moved to a different state.

When Joey had found out that his marriage had ended, he decided to make a clean breast of things and move away - get a different job - start over.  It seemed that everywhere he went he would be reminded of her.  He'd pass the grocery store and remember that they had always gone together.  He'd go to the drug store and remember the perfume he bought for her one Saturday afternoon.  Everyday on his way to work, he would pass their favorite restaurant - the one where he proposed to her and they had celebrated a few anniversaries.

So, Joey moved.  He moved to Minnesota and got an office job at a small shipping company there.  He liked his new job.  He liked his boss and he was hoping he was going to like his newly assigned secretary.  He had learned that she was vacationing somewhere in Europe - Italy, wasn't it?

Joey looked around his new office and then walked over to the window to look out the third story.  His boss walked in and stood in the doorway.

"Good morning, Joey," Mr. Ripley loudly welcomed.  "We're glad to have you on here.  I think you're going to like working here.  We're small, but that makes us more like family.  Your secretary should be getting back on Monday.  Is there, uh, anything I can do for you until then?  Do you need a temp?"

Joey turned around to face Mr. Ripley.  Mr. Ripley was a middle-aged man with a balding head and round belly stuffed into a brown suit with a white shirt and orange and brown striped tie.  The tie caught Joey's eye.  He tried not to stare.

"No," Joey replied.  "I think I'll be okay without a secretary for the first week.  It will give me a chance to get to know the place better."

"Well, I'm just down the hall, if you need anything.  Don't hesitate to ask,"  Mr. Ripley blurted out as he turned to go towards his office.

It was five o'clock and Joey was tired and ready to go back to his small apartment.  He took the bus home, walked up the three flights of stairs and took his shoes off as soon as he entered the apartment.  His feet hurt and he was hungry.

He went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard.  Not much.  Soup.  He saw a can of soup.  He'd eat that now and if he got hungry again later, he'd go down to the deli and get a sandwich.  He reached in the bread box and pulled out a couple of slices of bread planning to butter them well.

He sat down at the table and looked at his small meal and felt a wave of loneliness come over him.  He thought of his ex-wife and the nice meals she would fix for them.  Then, he remembered the pain from her adultery and decided not to think of her.  But, he still felt lonely.  Maybe he should start dating.  Maybe getting out once in awhile would help with the loneliness.  It would be good to meet new people and get out of the tiny apartment now and then.

So, that's what he decided he would do.  He'd start dating.  Why not?  Everything else was new.  His job, his apartment - even the state he lived in.  Joey decided he'd look around for a nice girl to ask out.  No more lonely nights with a can of soup for Joey!