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, May 10, 2006

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 32

Boatbuilding and another party

The time that I wrote this is now so distantly in the past that I now look at what I’ve written and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” I’ve actually forgotten some of my own plot twists. I suppose that, if I ever were to rework this into a literary masterpiece, I could draw on the experiences of people I know now that I didn’t know then, about such things as having a boat custom-built.

Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 32

The next day was cloudy; a weather front was moving in, replacing the summer sunshine that we had experienced for all of our honeymoon so far. Despite all of the windows and skylights, our attic apartment remained gloomy. Pierre’s face was pale and creased from the previous night’s activities, and he was tired to the bone – deeper than that, tired in the soul – so we decided to stay in and rest that morning. I put some of Pierre’s favorite jazz on the stereo, and we sat together in the living room, sipping tea, not talking. There was nothing to talk about – effectively, we had both been at the meeting the previous night. I realized that Pierre was probably tired because he’d been working magic, desperately shielding himself from being caught. “I guess it’s your turn to rest and my turn to watch,” I said, reaching out to touch his cheek. He took my hand and squeezed it.

By noon, Pierre’s face had regained its color, and he was feeling much better. “I need to talk to Alois,” he said. “Let’s go look at our boat.”

We drove out to the boat shop, where Alois welcomed us into the factory floor. “We have only just begun work on your boat,” he said. He led us to an area where workers were laying fiberglass sheets into a mold. “We have designed it to be resistant to sinking by putting in some bulkheads so that if there’s a breach of the hull, only part of the boat will fill with water. There are also some additional safety features that I put in after dark, when most of the workers have left – even though the hull is not finished yet, I’ve already added protections against magical attacks. Normally, you wouldn’t see such protections on a boat, only on something stationary like a building. But I know you’re going to need more than most people do, so the protection is being cast into the fiberglass.”

I could see that this hull was a long, sleek one, like the one Alois had showed Pierre a few days ago. “It looks beautiful,” I said, “even if there isn’t much to see so far.”

“Here, let me show you the plans,” Alois said, going over to the table where he had showed Pierre the plans before. “I’ve already made some changes from the preliminary design, but it’s early enough in the process that if you have some ideas, I could probably put them in.” I exchanged winks with Pierre – I had already given my input; Alois just didn’t know it. The boat was to be a ketch – that is, it would have a second mast aft of the main mast for an additional sail. The idea was to make it easier for two people to sail the boat without help; there would be three sails instead of just two, so each sail could be smaller and easier to handle. Below decks, there would be a main salon in the middle of the boat, and a stateroom at either end. Normally, each stateroom would sleep two people, but for racing, when the boat would have a larger crew, there would be berths that folded out of the walls, and the settees in the salon would also convert into bunk beds. The boat would have a well equipped galley – Alois always included some premium French cookware with every boat he built – and, of course, wine racks. The salon was to be like a small but comfortable living room; it would even have a lightweight entertainment center with a stereo, DVD player, and flat-panel TV. All of the electronic navigational equipment was to be the latest state of the art, enhanced by magic. Another magic item was a hanging locker for wet gear that had a quick-dry feature. Things on a boat could easily get damp and stay damp, making life on board less than pleasant.

After looking at boat plans, we went to the factory office, which had magic protections. Pierre told Alois what he had learned the previous night about how the Others were operating. “I imagine they’re doing the same thing in major cities all over the place,” Pierre said. “We’ll want to get word out so that all of the wizards will be looking for groups that are trying to sow seeds of resentment. At some point, when the Others get more powerful, they’re presumably going to trigger riots simultaneously. We want to find out how widespread they’re planning to be – just Paris, just France, all of Europe, all over the world?”

“I’ll get word to the Inner Council,” Alois said.

We returned to the flat, and Pierre and I worked on some more dance steps. We wanted to have some dances worked out smoothly enough to make a good appearance at that night’s soirée. The music and the activity seemed to lift his mood a great deal; after a couple of hours, we were smiling and laughing together. The tango was especially exhilarating – the close body movements, bending and turning around each other, accented by the physical togetherness that we felt, gave the experience of an electrical charge that zinged through both of our bodies. “Let’s save some of this for tonight,” I said, laughing.

“Yes,” Pierre said, kissing me. “Let’s just have fun tonight and take the evening off work. Let’s just make a spectacle of ourselves – you can wear the diamonds again.”

“It’s a pity my hair is such a mess. I’d love to look more refined for these fancy occasions.”

“No problem,” Pierre said, going over to the telephone. After a brief conversation, he handed me a slip of paper on which he had written a name and address. “Monsieur Richard is the best hairdresser in this part of the city; he’s done work with a lot of my, um, previous friends. He was glad to do me a favor and squeeze you in – he’s expecting you now.”

I spent the next two hours getting made over. The hairstyle wasn’t too different from my original style, but it had an artistic wave to it that made it look more sophisticated. I also got a manicure, and M. Richard’s assistant showed me how to make up my face for more glamour, but without losing the freshness. I returned home with my new look and a bag of beauty supplies.

After supper, I put on the midnight blue dress. It was satin, strapless, skin-tight down to just below the hips, and then flaring out into a full circle to give plenty of range of motion for dancing. “Wow,” Pierre said upon seeing me fully dressed and made up. “You’d be turning heads even without the diamonds!”

“That’s the idea,” I said. “We want to make as big a splash as possible.”

The evening started off as a spectacular success. Now accustomed both to the high-heeled shoes and the enchantment produced by the diamond jewelry, I entered the room with confidence, and Pierre took joy in being my escort. I was able to fend off the admirers without offending any of them, and I was able to be more animated and witty than I had been at the cocktail party, since my attention wasn’t divided this time.

The dancing went well, too. Pierre danced with me much of the time, but he did allow Mike, Nigel, and Luke each to have a dance with me, as well as some of the other men. Then the band struck up a tango, and it was our moment. We were intertwined in the rhythm of the music, pressed close together, hips bending in unison, the electric charge running between us so strong that I almost imagined it would be visible to those around us. Sway, twirl, come together, dip, almost as one body, so in tune with each other that the rest of the room seemed to fade away; I became vaguely aware that the other dancers had left the dance floor clear for us as we continued our intense dance. Both our bodies were becoming sharply aroused, raising tingling sparks at every point of contact. As the music ended, we finished the dance in a tight embrace, out of breath, sweating, smelling of each other’s scents as well as the perspiration, kissing deeply and passionately. As we returned to consciousness of the rest of the room, I realized that there was a crowd applauding – aside from a few couples in the crowd that were engaging in their own embraces.

Then, in the crowd, I saw Stephane. He was visible only for the slightest moment, and then he disappeared. Suddenly, I was filled with ice, and the magic of the moment disappeared. What was he doing here? The hot sweat on my body turned cold, and I shivered.

Pierre sensed my sudden chill immediately. “What is it?” he whispered.

“I saw Stephane,” I whispered back. “He’s here.”

Pierre froze, too. “At least he doesn’t know you know him,” he said. “But I’ve got a bad feeling.”

“Could he have figured out who I am?”

“I don’t think so … He would have been able to detect some magic on account of the necklace, but we’re both well guarded, so he wouldn’t be able to tell about our powers. He probably suspects now that we are wizards, just not which one you are.”

“I hope it stays that way.”

“So do I,” Pierre replied. “Unfortunately, it’s not going to forever. And I don’t know how long it will.”

Because of the impression we had made on the dance floor, we couldn’t slip out of the party unobtrusively; we were surrounded by admirers. It soon became clear that, while Pierre had been so close to me on the dance floor, the effects of the necklace applied to him, too. He had a flock of female admirers nearly as big as my male fan club. I supposed the society pages of the next day’s newspapers were going to be full of news of the newest beautiful couple in town. Well, at least we had done a good job of getting ourselves noticed and categorized as fun-loving hedonists.

We stayed at the party a while longer, socializing with people, but keeping an eye out in case Stephane showed up again. He never did, but we remained uneasy. As soon as we politely could, we took our leave and caught a taxi home.


Blogger Tillerman said...

Geeze - I was starting to like this couple because they seemed like real sailors. But then they go and buy a boat with wine racks, DVD player and flat screen TV!

Wed May 10, 06:54:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Fred said...

Geeze - (thanks tillerman, I would have said... shit, but meaning it positive) OK, Geeze, this will be a hack of a boat! Love those ideas. And the couple is OK. Doing the right things in between "..." Keep your phantasie flowing.

Wed May 10, 07:54:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Pat said...

It was a French boat; they didn't have a choice about the wine rack. Besides, we've chartered a Beneteau with a wine rack concealed in the middle of the salon table; it makes a great secure place to store things.

Wed May 10, 01:32:00 PM MDT  

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