Upwardly mobile, that’s us. Just a couple of yuppies.”
“Us,” I said. “I passed my state department tests, too. It’s just a matter of time until they call me in. Until then, my plans were to deliver the Wahini to Will and then wander around Europe on the cheap.”
Raven shook her head. “You two are incredible.”
Will pulled out his wallet and counted out some bills. He handed them to Raven and said, “Lovely as you are, I recognize sailcloth when I see it sewn into a dress. Why don’t you go get some clothing while your passport is being processed. Then I would like to take the two of you out on the town after work. Deal?”
“Deal,” Raven grinned. “Thank you.”
Outside, I got my jackknife back from the guard and we headed back down toward la Canebiere. Raven was counting her francs. She said, “You didn’t tell me your friend was such a hunk.”
“Would you have?”
“No. He gave me six hundred francs. How much real money is that?”
(Aside: 1989 was before the Euro.)
“About a hundred dollars.”
“What? How many clothes can I buy for that?”
“You could buy three or four outfits like I’m wearing. Not counting shoes. But counting socks.”
She gave me a sideways appraisal and said, “I can believe that.”
# # #
Will mentioned bouillabaisse and we both said, “No!”, so he took us for couscous at a tiny restaurant on Longue des Capucins. It wasn’t fancy; they wouldn’t have let us into a fancy place. I was still in levis and khaki. Raven wore a pair of stone washed jeans one size smaller than her skin, a short, sleeveless lavender blouse that stopped two inches above her belt line, with a matching sash threaded through her belt loops and trailing down her left leg, and sandals. She had received eight francs in change at the boutique, and considered herself a thrifty shopper. By her standards, no doubt she was.
Will had a hard time not staring; I didn’t even try to restrain myself.
As the sun went down, Will herded us to a safer part of town. We spent the rest of the night at the Ascenseur listening to a hot Brazilian trio, while Will gave Raven a seminar on French wines. I abstained. When we walked Will back to his apartment, he and Raven were both swaying slightly, and I felt like a designated driver.
The next morning, we slept in. By the time we walked to the consulate, the fishermen were packing up their unsold fish at the market and the early June sunlight was beginning to build up to a hot day. Will was busy, and we did not want to disturb him, so we picked up Raven’s new passport and left again. There was no word from Sacramento.
Supporting Raven was going to be a strain on my thin budget if her money didn’t come soon, but that was not my real worry. When her money came, she would be free to go. She might fly back to America, or she might wander around Europe for a while. She had talked about her options, without making any decision.
I did not want to lose her. Yet I might. I don’t think she felt much more for me than gratitude and affection. She was lovely and loving, but she was still a stranger. And I felt – what? If it wasn’t love, it was getting close. No one I had ever known had affected me as deeply as she did. If she left now, I would be losing something precious. more tomorrow