[ Chapter 1.1 is here. ]
Cismigiu lake sparkled with sun light and reflected the blue sky above. The trees swayed gently with a breeze. Lovers pedaled small boats. In the distance, Peacocks whooped and black swans honked. Small birds chirped.
A group of pretty girls in short skirts passed by.
“K-9. Who’s here?”
“Do you want to know who’s in Cismigiu Park? Sector 1? Bucharest? Or do you need more options?” asked K-9.
John selected “Cismigiu Park” with a glance.
“83 People have mobile or other wireless devices. 1 Family Member. 3 Friends. 20 People are a friend of your friends. 38 people who are a friend of your friend’s friend,” answered K-9.
“Small world,” John thought to himself as he looked at strangers who were actually more related to him than he could imagine.
“I’ll give you a kiss for one Euro,” offered a high school hottie with a big, bright smile.
John selected “Film It” with a glance.
“Kisses are for free. Or they’re not kisses!” replied John, laughing. He kept on walking.
This will make good blog, he thought to himself.
“What is a kiss? What is a purchased kiss?! Everyone knows what a kiss is. But a purchased kiss – that seems to be a tragic irony. The two seem as different as apples and oranges. One embodies intimacy. The other… fraud.
A kiss that can be purchased can only seem a counterfeit. Because it is a paradox. The real thing cannot be purchased, sued for, nor contracted – contrary to the unexamined opinions of aging men (of some means and so-called generosity). And young ladies who make use of their beauty and charm.
Can a kiss freely given (in a manner of speaking) be considered a gift or, perhaps, a generosity?
And if not singularly, then within the mutual exchange of gifts between, for example, kissing lovers?
So it seems that every true kiss seeks a desiring kiss in return. And something more. To be sure, a kiss that goes off well wants not to end with a kiss.
Does it matter where the kiss is placed -on the hand, cheek, forehead, lips or elsewhere?
Every kiss asks, gently and softly or forcefully in passion. But it asks!
And, how much more delighting, when it begs for, pleads for, and takes what it wants.
Like a kiss, the purchased kiss seeks something more. It too, asks, begs, pleads and takes…”
The girl caught up with John, slipped her arm in his. “Who are you talking with?”
“The world,” John replied.
“That’s silly!” she shouted.
“But I have a better idea,” she began.
“I don’t have a boyfriend. Will you be my boyfriend?” she asked.
John laughed and continued walking.
“I’m beautiful, no?! And I’ll be famous. You’ll see. You’ll wish you that you had been my boyfriend!”
John laughed warmly.
“Last chance!” she pleaded.
“I’m in love, silly. Her name is Cristina. But I’d like to know your name.
Maybe, we can be friends.” John replied.
“Gabriela,” she answered.
Old men dressed in their Sunday best tipped their hat and winked at him from the benches. They smelled like plum brandy.
“Are you hungry, Gabi?” John asked.
Gabi nodded her head affirmatively.
John stopped in front of The Library – a bar and café in the park. Mint Royale’s Singing in the rain was playing on the speakers. He pulled out a One Hundred Euro bill from his pocket. That’s all he had on him. He slid it into her hand.
“OMG! God bless you!” shouted Gabi and threw her arms around him.
“God will watch over you all the days of your life. You’ve been tested by God and you were found merciful, generous and kind. “
She stepped back and poked John in the chest.
Gene Kelley’s voice echoed in the remix: “I’m ready for love…”
“You will receive mercy, kindness, and Spirit as your reward,” she blurted.
He turned Gabi around so she was facing the lake and gave her a gentle push forward.
Gabi turned her head to him and spoke again.
“The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
“Wait and see, John!” she added hastily and disappeared down the path.
“Ok. Filming stopped,” replied K-9.
How did she guess his name? John wondered.
Gypsies know unknown things, but she didn’t look like a gypsy. But John knew unknown things too. Every now and then. It wasn’t something he could turn on or off. It wasn’t an unfair advantage.
“Stop what?” asked a curious 70 year old woman. She was standing in a long line for the spring. She was holding two used five-gallon bottles in each hand. The bottles still had the branded label for sunflower oil.
“Give a grandmother a cigarette,” she said.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t smoke,” John replied.
“It’s like we’re back to the 80s,” she told him. “But even then, we didn’t stand in line for water. Milk, bread, and everything. But not water! At least, no one is cutting the card! Oh – thank God for that!”
“You remind me of my son. He’s owns the internets. When he was younger, he was handsome and intelligent like you. Now he drives a beautiful BMW. It was very expensive. It cost half a million Euros!”
The woman paused, checked her pockets for cigarettes and found none.
“I haven’t seen him since Easter. He’s so busy. He works so hard. When he came at Easter, he couldn’t stay more than half an hour. But I made him a big pot of pork knuckles and beans so that he could take home.
It’s his favorite. Ever since he was a child. He really loves his mother’s ciolan cu fasole.”
“I sold an ancient icon of Mary and the baby Jesus. It came from my grandfather. It must have been more than one hundred years old! It was precious.
How many tears I poured on that icon over the years! Silly me. Thank God that I could buy everything I needed to prepare that Easter meal. For once, a prayer was answered quickly!”
A man walking by was smoking a cigarette. She asked him for one. He replied that it was his last cigarette. She turned back to John.
“Oh… my boy, he works so hard. Who will make him pork knuckles and beans when I’m gone?” she said as tears fell down her cheek.
“His stupid wife… doesn’t know how to cook. She doesn’t know how to clean. She doesn’t even know how to raise my grandson. Her parents take care of him. At their apartment!
She’s ugly, lazy and stupid. She’s to blame. My grandson has cerebral palsy. But he’s so brave, my Robert.
My Robert says he has super powers and that’s why he’s the way he is. He says to me, ‘Don’t worry grandma, I’m going to fix the water so you don’t have to go and get it from the park.’
God bless my Robert!
My son’s name is Orlando. If you need to do something on the internet, he can help you. He’s very knowledgeable and respected. I’m so proud of him. He’s a somebody. Orlando made his mother proud.”
John smiled, thanked her, and continued down the cobblestone path in search of Hachi.
Hachi was there at one of the springs that feed the duck and swan pond. He was soaking his head in the fountain spit from the mouth of a copper frog. It was a hot summer day. And hot summer days are hard on chow chows.
Some people were taking pictures of Hachi with their mobile phones. John waited for them to finish.
When the picture taking was over, John hooked the end of the leash to Hachi’s collar and walked toward an exit.
“K-9. Film it.”
“What’s his name?” asked a seven year old girl.
“Ohhh- Mister Hachi is FAMOUS!” She gushed with amazement. “He’s got a blog!”
“Do you want to pet Mister Hachi?”
“Will Mister Hachi bite me?” she asked shyly.
“Only if you’re a bad girl.”
“I’m a very, very, very… good girl,” she answered with enthusiasm.
John told Hachi to sit. Hachi sat and made some begging sounds. Uh-uh-uh. The girl pet Hachi. She was thrilled.
“I love you, Mister Hachi,” she told Hachi and kissed him on the nose.
Hachi gave three gentle barks in reply.
She quickly hugged Hachi and let him go.
“I love you, Mister Hachi,” she told Hachi again.
“I love you and I love your blue tongue!” she giggled.
“You’re going to be famous too,” John told the girl.
“How’s that?” she asked.
“You’re going to be on Mister Hachi’s blog.”
“Really?” she asked.
“What’s your name?”
“Alexandra Niculescu. Stirbei Voda. Sector 1. Bucharest!”
“Mommy, Mommy, I’m going to be famous,” squealed Alexandra as she ran off to find her mother and tell her everything that happened.
“K-9. Stop. Upload film to Mister Hachi’s blog.”
“Ok. Filming stopped. Film loaded and live.”
John and Hachi continued to the exit at the North West corner of the park.
A forty something women grabbed him by the arm as he passed the gates. “Can you pay our entrance?”
She had a five year old boy with her.
“My son hasn’t been to the park all summer. He misses the playground so much.”
John fished in his pocket. There was nothing to give.
“Sorry,” he said as he showed his empty, open palm.
But a thought occurred to him.
He dug into another pocket and produced two entrance receipts. One was for today; the other, yesterday.
She smiled and took the receipts. She put today’s receipt on top of yesterday’s receipt.
When she got to the woman collecting the entrance tax, she handed her receipts over, saying that she had just run home as she forgot to turn the fire off on the soup.
The tax collector nodded with a knowing smile and let the woman and her son pass.
John and Hachi were already home by the time the little boy was swinging in a swing.
“Please, please, please. I want to go higher, Mommy. Higher!”
Singing in the Rain, Mint Royale Remix
The next chapter section (1.6) is [here]. Enjoy!
Your feedback (comment) means much to me.
22 April 2011
Copyright 2011 by Stan Faryna. All Rights Reserved.