The old clichés are the best ones; that’s how they got to be clichés.
It was dusk when we emerged from the gare. In the shelter of the overhanging roof in front of the open courtyard, a street musician with a saxophone was leaning against the wall, playing sweet and sad. A lonely saxophone playing in the night is a magical thing, and this kid was good. Honey sweet melody poured out of him, filling up the space around him, driving back the street noises and transforming the garish lights and the tawdry shops into something exotic and exciting. We were arrested by the music, hesitating between the bright lights and the dimness of the coming evening beyond.
Then thunder came down and walked about on the rooftops until it seemed as if the pavement shook. The rain came quickly, and there was an audible, collective gasp from the hundreds of pedestrians on the streets and in the square. Like runners at the opening gun, they sprinted for shelter in the gare, and under the overhanging eaves of surrounding shops. The light was lambent and flawless; every tiny detail was clear in those first moments before the rain haze dulled the details. A hundred thousand droplets danced on the street, as water moved in sheets ahead of the sudden wind.
The thunder sounded again, more distant now, and the hiss of rain played a background harmony for the sax. There were twenty of us waiting in the doorway of the gare. Some had been drawn from within by the excitement. Some had taken shelter; they were shaking the rain from their clothing and wiping sudden moisture from their faces. Raven moved closer still, until we touched from ankle to cheek. Her breath was warm against my breath as we spoke softly. She was trembling with excitement, and something more; so was I.
She put her hand on my cheek and turned my face to hers. She leaned up to kiss me, sliding her fingers around behind my head. Her lips squirmed, her tongue came in, and I felt an electric shock from head to heels. When we broke, she whispered, “I can’t wait.”
Primeval rains were still falling. Across the square, people were sheltered beneath the arches of the Hotel Concorde-St. Lazare. Raven grabbed my hand and we ran. We were wet through in an instant. Her laughter rang out. She kicked the puddled water up in drenching sheets, caught me around the waist and dragged me to a stop in the middle of the square. With the rain driving against our heads we locked together.
In the lobby of the hotel, Raven held center stage. She marched up to the desk and demanded a room. Her cloud of hair had come down around her shoulders in one wet mass. The thin, light material of her tied off blouse had turned to cellophane. The old clerk smiled in appreciation. Two young men in jeans made no pretense of savoire faire. Their heads swiveled right around as Raven passed, and their girlfriends’ faces turned dark with envy.
In the room, she stood back from me, to see me and be seen by me. The rain was beaded on her face, and made twisted runnels on her long, lean legs and her bare arms. Her blouse was wet to absolute transparency – stirring memory. She said, “I was this wet when you first rescued me?”
“But not so much clothed.” She raised her arms and locked her hands behind her head. She said, “Untie me.” more tomorrow