Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 5

The romance thickens.
Yes, it’s Tuesday night, or Wednesday morning, depending what time zone or shift you’re on, so it’s time for another episode of the Wizards.
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 5
On the way back to my apartment, we stopped by Pierre’s condo, so he could pick up some of his things to take to my place. While we were there, he took a quick shower to wash off the salt spray, and I took a quick look around the place. It was a one-bedroom unit, more than twice as big overall as mine, and much newer. The dominant feature of the combined living-dining room was a wall of windows facing the bay, giving a stunning view from the second-floor apartment, if a bit cluttered by all of the boats docked in the foreground. The décor looked like something out of a designer magazine, nice but lacking character, in earth tones of beige and brown, and the furniture was simple but elegant, including a chrome-and-glass dining set and a chrome-and-leather sofa in dark brown. I settled into it, enjoying the softness of the leather and the cushions that had just enough give to be comfortable. The smell of the leather was warm and relaxing, like a sunny day in autumn – no wonder Pierre had found my yard-sale treasure so noxious.
The water stopped running in the bathroom, and Pierre yelled through the door, “Oh, I forgot to tell you, there’s beer in the fridge. Help yourself.”
“Sure thing. Thanks.” As I got up off the sofa, I realized that I was thoroughly exhausted. My muscles were so spent, I could barely stand up, and I was aching all over. The kitchenette was just off the dining room end of the living-dining room, and it, like the rest of the apartment, was modern and efficient, if lacking in character. The counters were granite, the cabinets were whitewashed oak, the appliances were shiny stainless steel with premium brand names, and everything looked as if it had never been used. The refrigerator contained skim milk, diet soda, some restaurant take-out boxes, a half-full bottle of chardonnay, and a few bottles of premium microbrews. I selected an IPA and found a bottle opener in an otherwise empty drawer next to the fridge to pop the top.
Pierre came out of the bathroom dressed in a white t-shirt and dark blue slacks, toweling his hair. “You want a turn in there?” he asked, nodding toward the bathroom. “I’ve got a lot of different kinds of shampoo and soap and stuff, if you need anything.”
I wondered how many other women might have used that shower, and that shampoo and soap and stuff. “No, thanks. I’ll wait until we get to my place.”
Pierre went to the fridge and got himself a diet soda. “Might as well rest here a bit,” he said. “Enjoy the view.”
Indeed it was quite a view, not as spectacular as that from a high-rise might have been, but pleasing even so, I realized as I settled back onto the sofa. The lingering glow of the just-set sun still lit the sky in shades of orange, pink and purple, reflected in the water, which had taken on a smooth sheen as the wind died down. The masts of the dozens of boats in the marina were silhouetted against the glowing sky, and the inevitable pockets of debris that tended to collect in the corners faded from view. The windows were well insulated, but not so thoroughly as to eliminate the cry of the seagulls, circling overhead in hopes of a handout from some yachtsman at the end of the day.
I became aware that Pierre had seated himself beside me. “With a show like that, who needs television?” he asked. I looked around; sure enough, there wasn’t a television anywhere in sight. “Actually,” he continued, “I do have one, but it’s in the bedroom, and, well, I just don’t use it much.”
“I see.”
We sat and watched the daylight fade, as lights began to come on along the piers of the marina and across the bay. The apartment became dark, but somehow it seemed right, that no light was needed. We remained silent, and again, that seemed right. Funny, I thought, I don’t think I’ve ever heard Pierre stop talking for more than a few seconds, and here he hasn’t said a word in 20 minutes.
I finished my beer, Pierre finished his soda, and finally he got up, turned on a light, and drew the heavy beige drapes across the wall of windows. “Well, I suppose we ought to get you a chance to freshen up,” he said. He ducked into the bedroom for a moment and came out carrying a medium-sized duffel bag. “Let’s go,” he said, ushering me out and then punching a code on the alarm-system keypad by the door before shutting it gently.
The walk to my apartment was uneventful, if a bit painful. The rest at Pierre’s place had been just enough for my overworked muscles to stiffen up a bit. I wondered whether maybe I should have taken a shower there – if the rest of the apartment was any clue, he probably had one of those fancy showers with multiple heads and fine-tuned massage settings. Oh, well. Besides, I wanted my own humble tub-shower, with the permanent ring left by a previous tenant, with my own cheap shampoo and soap rather than a boutique selection maintained by a ladies’ man. We walked on, although I found myself leaning on Pierre more and more as we continued, to relieve my tired leg muscles.
When we got to my apartment, Pierre insisted on taking a walk around the outside of the building before going in, to check for security problems, I assumed. I wondered what sort of activity he might be able to sense – if he could tune in to the aura of a place to tell whether the Others might have been around. He didn’t find anything amiss, so we went inside and up to my apartment. I was in and out of the shower in minutes, and came out to find Pierre staring into the refrigerator in bafflement. “How do you eat all of that stuff and still end up so scrawny?” he asked me, gesturing toward the whole milk, real butter, eggs, chocolate syrup, full-fat cottage cheese, delicatessen cold cuts, bleu cheese dressing, and other calorie-laden foods.
“Metabolism,” I replied. “Or, at least, so I’m told. Just sitting there doing nothing, I burn twice as many calories as most people. Not that I can stand doing nothing, anyway.”
“Speaking of calories, I’m hungry. We skipped lunch today, in case you don’t remember. Let’s go get some supper.”
“Ugh, I’m just too tired to go out. I’ll just whip something up here.”
“Oh, please, don’t put yourself out. I’ll treat.”
“No, it’s my pleasure. You’re my first ever dinner guest. Besides, it’s nothing fancy, just macaroni and cheese. I make it all the time when I’m by myself.”
“Now I know I want to go out to eat.”
“This isn’t the violently orange stuff from a box. You’ll like it.” I pulled a saucepan off the draining rack, filled it two-thirds with water, added a dollop of olive oil and a dash of salt, and put it on to boil. Next, I took a loaf of French bread out of the pantry cabinet, broke off a half-dozen slices, buttered them, sprinkled on some garlic powder, wrapped them in foil and put them into the oven to heat. Then I got out some sharp Cheddar cheese and grated a double handful worth. When the water boiled, I poured in some pasta shells. Then, in a small saucepan, I melted some butter for a roux. I added flour to make a paste and cooked it until it had the beginning of a toasty taste, and then added evaporated milk. When that mixture thickened, I turned off the heat, added the cheese and a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and stirred until the cheese melted. By then, the pasta was cooked, soft but still with just a bit of firmness; I drained off the water, mixed in the cheese sauce, got the bread out of the oven, and presto, we had a meal.
“Now, I’m impressed,” Pierre said, as he sat down at my ancient dinette table with warped, chipped, green linoleum for a top. I handed him a plate of steaming pasta and a glass of fumé blanc, a white wine with a slightly smoky flavor that could stand up to the sharp Cheddar in the sauce. He took a bite of the macaroni. “Mmmm,” he said through a mouthful of pasta, “that’s what I call comfort food. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything like this before.”
“Secret family recipe,” I commented, concentrating on my own plate. I hadn’t realized it up to this point, but I was ravenous. Pierre, too, was focused on his food – he was silent for an extended period, for the second time in a single day.
By the time we were done sponging up the last of the cheese sauce from our plates with the garlic bread, I could barely keep my eyes open. In the bathroom, I slipped into the oversize t-shirt that I use as a nightgown, and then I crawled into my bed. I was asleep even before Pierre got finished arranging sheets and a blanket on the sofa for his bed.

3 Comments:

Blogger Ed Herndon said...

Sorry you went to sleep so quiclky... I think Pierre had more on his mind...

Will ere find out Tomorrow???

Thu Nov 10, 11:24:00 PM MST  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

It's a novel, so I can't let things happen too fast. Things have to develop between Pierre and Sarah. And we're going to find out more about them, too. Wait for it ... waaaaiiit for it ...

Hey, Dickens' readers had to wait a month for a new episode. I'm putting out a new one every week.

Fri Nov 11, 01:07:00 AM MST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I knew Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens was a friend of mine
Senator you're no Charles Dickens

Fri Nov 11, 09:17:00 PM MST  

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