That’s all I can remember.
Showing up fifteen minutes early to make sure I didn’t miss you.
Standing in front of La Forchetta alone. Checking my watch. Making small talk with the valets.
Their blue vests, red ties, white shirts, and neatly creased black slacks.
Looking for and seeing a dozen red dresses. You said you’d wear a red dress.
The dress because I could only imagine how great you would look in red.
Watching men open doors for women.
Watching couples huddled together and smiling and laughing loudly as they left.
The smell of the Triumph Tulips that sat on the host’s black lacquered desk. It reminded me of the perfume you wore on days you would mention your mother.
Knowing they were Triumph Tulips only because there was a lady standing next to the door with me who couldn’t stop talking about them.
That she said she was a horticulturalist.
Making a bad joke about the culture of flowers and she laughed so hard that she snorted.
That she had red hair. She wore a brown dress that was a size too big with white shoes a size too small.
Fifteen minutes coming and going.
Pulling out my phone. Staring at it for a moment. Putting it back in my pocket.
Deciding not to call. Trying to seem unaffected.
Popping a Tic-Tac in my mouth and sucking on it nervously.
That it was spearmint.
Crunching it after a few seconds.
Being so excited for that night that I was sure I would leave sweat marks on the blazer I bought only hours before.
The sound of the different engines as they pulled up and drove off in a constant cycle.
Benzs made a low but distinct rumble. Power and class.
Beamers had a higher sound, but still sounded expensive.
Prius’, silent, but screaming at the same time. After the valet saw me laugh at the third Prius, him telling me “Those are the worst ones to park, its like driving a toy.”
The red-haired, oddly dressed horticulturalists date getting to La Forchetta.
His name was Horace.
I laughed in my head that his name was Horace.
He was very tall and very handsome.
I wondered how those two had become an item.
Her opening the door for him
Thirty minutes coming and going.
Pulling out my phone again. Staring at it again. Putting it back in my pocket again.
The host, Gustave by the placard on the black lacquered stand, leaning in close to me and whispering in a thick french accent, “Women love to make the late dramatic entrance, just tell her how beautiful she looks when she arrives. Tell her that if you knew she was going to look that beautiful you would have waited twice as long.”
Him winking and giving me a thumbs up.
Wondering if his French accent was real; especially after the thumbs up.
Watching the men hold open the doors for women.
Couples leaving arm in arm and laughing at their own personal comedies.
A man coming to stand at the front with me. He was waiting for his date as well.
He was short. His head was a ball, almost perfectly spherical.
Thinking that he must have known that because he made it so much worse by wearing perfectly round lensed glasses.
His suit was plaid. Brown and white.
Thinking that I had never seen a plaid suit, but remember hearing something about a plaid suit in Cleveland.
He wore shoes with a mirrored shine, and smelled like Aqua Velva.
Wondering if they even made Aqua Velva anymore.
Thinking that his voice sounded like it came from a broken clarinet. Or a talking goose.
He wore a plaid bow-tie to match his plaid suit. Brown and white.
His name was Horace too.
That was very strange.
Forty five minutes coming and going.
Pulling my phone out again. Staring at it again, but this time hitting send on the number I had keyed in thirty minutes before.
It rang all 8 times then voicemail.
“Hi Judy, it’s Scott. I’m at the resturant and was just wondering if maybe I got the time wrong. We did say 6:30 right? Anyway, I’m worried that we’re going to lose our reservation so call me and let me know whats up, ok? You have the number.”
I tried again. Same thing.
That was the first time I was worried. Had something happened? Had I done or said something that would make you not show up?
Horace had disappeared while I was on the phone.
Starting in at my nails. My teeth cracking through the thick smooth slabs with a satisfying ‘CLICK’.
Stopping. The last thing I wanted was for you to pull up, no matter how late you were, and see me biting my nails.
An hour coming and going.
Calling two more times. Same thing.
Asking the valet for my car and the host asking me to wait for just fifteen more minutes.
Gustave trying to fill my time with talk about the various women he would see come in late to their dates. How they did it on purpose to feel important.
Him asking me if you were beautiful and me just smiling and telling him that you would outshine any of these mere mortals.
Seeing the red dress. The red dress with the black hair.
She turned around. Not you.
Her pulling a Marlboro Red from a silver cigarette case and asking me for a light.
Telling her that I didn’t smoke. Her name was Virginia.
The valet had a light.
Her accent. Eastern Europe, no where specific.
She smoked the cigarette then went inside. The cloud following her like it threatened rain.
Another fifteen minutes passing.
Watching the men hold the doors open for women.
Couples leaving hand in hand, smiles on their faces, and silent laughter in their eyes.
Asking the valet again for my car.
Gustave apologizing and saying, “There’s a good explanation. The heart has it’s reasons. Trust me, monsieur.”
Hearing about the implacable romanticism of the French.
Driving home along Route 47.
The light traffic suddenly turning into severe traffic.
The flashing lights at the center divider. Blue – Red – White – Repeat.
Inching past the lights.
The distorted black Mercedes, wheels pointing skyward, on our side of the divider. A crumpled Tahoe on the other side.
Feeling like I recognized the Mercedes, but not sure why.
Seeing the bright red flares on the asphalt, ghost trails of smoke streaming crimson behind them.
Watching a man putting his coat around the shoulders of a women.
Them holding each other while sobs jolted their joined frames.
The white sheet on the ground.
Stopping the car in the middle of the highway.
The pop of my white knuckles as I gripped the steering wheel so hard that I thought I would tear the leather.
The white sheet on the ground.
The corner of the red dress sticking out from underneath.
That’s all I can remember.
Written from a prompt from Master Class. The prompt was “That’s All I Remember.”