Eyes of the beholders
Sunlight floods the room. The glass doors fold out onto the deck and the brilliant blue sea rolls out to the horizon. On the promenade below children shriek and lick their ice-creams while parents wait for granny to catch up.
Palms in pots guard the corners. Tall glasses sparkle on crisp linen and wicker chairs beckon invitingly. Two tables are already occupied when they walk in.
They are dressed casually. Bermuda pants and a navy blue shirt hang loosely from his large frame, revealing sturdy arms and legs. She wears jeans and a navy top. A busty waitress greets them warmly and he responds readily while taking in her figure.
She seats them at a window table and Josephine places her baseball cap next to her. His matching cap with the legend “Kennedy Space Centre” remains firmly on his head, pulled low down over reflecting sunglasses.
They make light conversation while the waitress brings an ice bucket containing a bottle of wine and three beers. He immediately pours himself a beer, avoiding looking at his companion.
It is damn awkward, not being able to remember how last night ended. What bad luck, unexpectedly finding himself back in his old hometown. Unwanted memories cloud his mind like stale smoke.
Josephine pushes her sunglasses on top of her head. Diamante letters trace “Dior” on the wide black frame. Her short hair gelled in trendy tufts is expensively streaked in an array of tints. Long earrings brush her neck and lipstick applied too carefully shines prominently.
The menus lie unopened between them while he opens another beer. He smiles at something she says, but is still not looking at her. He glances again at the waitress, shifting uneasily in his chair.
Other tables are filling up and noise from the adjoining casino clatters through the door every time it opens.
Marco arrives in a swirl of ebullience, his chef’s tunic bearing witness to the activity behind closed doors. Leon watches his progress as he moves between the tables greeting patrons. Does he imagine it or is there a slight hesitation when Marco spots him?
Did people ever guess why he left town so suddenly? Acid wells in his throat as he remembers the old man’s seething anger.
The voluptuous waitress removes the last beer bottle and pours him a glass of wine as well. Josephine takes a careful sip. Pucker lines show around her mouth and there is no escaping the fall of flabby skin under her chin.
Perhaps she shouldn’t have insisted on spending a couple of nights in this town after the plane was forced to land here. Did Leon show a hint of reluctance? But so far he has accommodated her every whim. He really is an obliging companion.
Marco passes their table and Leon detains him with a large arm sporting an expensive watch. With great show the two men swap wisecracks. Leon removes his sunglasses at last, but the baseball cap stays in place.
“For you, sir, definitely the quail! I never parcook it, it is always freshly done. Deboned and served today with a nice jus of red wine.” With a hearty “Have I ever served you a bad meal?” Marco walks off.
Leon replaces his wraparound shades, but not before Josephine notices his eyes following the bosomy waitress taking an order from the big group next to them.
Was the boob job a mistake? Her fingers trace the scars under her bra. The young ones may have fuller figures, but their wallets are much thinner, she reflects wryly.
Her husband’s taunts still rankle. Despite nature’s ample promise she was unable to provide him with an heir to his dynastic fortune. He parted with a large chunk of it to buy the divorce that would enable him to try again. She wasted no time in ridding herself of the objects of his disappointment.
Marco’s friendliness appears genuine enough, Leon thinks. Maybe the gossip didn’t reach his ears. What if he had called the old man’s bluff, would he have reported him to the police? The company dropped the investigation on condition he never set foot here again.
What really hurt was that Lauren married that new upstart so soon after he left. And then the baby’s arrival shortly afterwards. Was that the real reason for the bugger’s venom? Did he know his daughter was expecting a child fathered by a potential jailbird?
Again he does some mental calculations. By now Lauren’s daughter should be about the same age as their waitress. The same stunning figure. Can it be..?
He drains his glass as another bottle of wine arrives. Leon mumbles something, gets up and walks around to take a seat on the other side, his back to the room and the disturbing presence of the waitress.
Josephine laughs and leans over to run her fingers through his hair. “Poor darling, never mind last night. I know, you’ve got a headache!”