Her plane was early. She never could adjust anyway to the 8 a.m. flight from New York that arrived for lunch in L.A. It always seemed that she was a time-traveler trying to buy up hours. And now that she arrived even earlier she felt unsettled.She arrived at the Peninsula, dropped her bag and rushed to the rooftop. She ordered Tonic FluTea just in case, and leaned back in her chair. It had just been raining in New York and she brazenly allowed the sun to bake her face forgetting the skin doctor’s admonition. How could anything that felt so good cause cancer? Warm was good. Cold was cancer
He sat next to her. “Do you mind?” he said. “I’m waiting for someone, my boss to be exact,” she said.
“Can I sit here ‘til then?” he asked.
“I guess,” she answered. “Why not?”
HE: “I noticed you in the lobby.”
SHE: “Noticed what?”
HE: “That you were beautiful.”
SHE: “I’m hardly beautiful and, anyway, I’m old enough to be your mother.”
HE: “I like my mother.”
SHE: (laughing) “Oedipus or incest? Take your pick.”
SHE: “I’m waiting for my boss; so don’t be silly.”
HE: “Like what?”
SHE: “Like flirting with me.”
HE: “I’m not flirting with you. I’m telling you what I saw that was beautiful and it was you.”
Chills in the hot sun; so odd; goose bumps. And, so they chatted about this and that. Pizza and Shakespeare. Green tea versus coffee. Ambien and Sonata. Sleep and sleepless. Now and never. He was a writer. She worked in television. He was divorced twice; no kids. She was married; one kid. He was 44.
“Oh my God,” she said. “Change your seat.”
They laughed so loudly they disturbed a famous agent; hateful, but famous. Famous because hateful. And, she smiled at him, this young blind Lothario. “I like your smile,” he said. “Veneers,” she quipped. “They cost a fortune.”
Time passed. Time always passes. Tempus fugit.
Her boss called to change lunch ‘til tomorrow. She could have taken a later plane. It was 4. It was 5. It was 8 in real time — travel. Her nose burned.
“My nose is burning,” she said. “I’ve got to go. I’ve got to go. I’m moist, well-buttered, and baked. So, Romeo,” she said, “I’m on New York time.” “What room are you in?” he asked. “Oh, please little boy.”
“What room big girl?” “Truthfully,” she said, “I don’t know. They give you this plastic key and you’re supposed to remember. I never do. Darling, my room is my business. Frankly, you’d be disappointed anyway. But it’s been flattering to talk to you; engaging; even joyful.”
“Joyful, you sound like Santa Claus.”
“Mrs. Claus,” she said, “she’s my age”.
“I’m in room 552,” he said. “Five-five-two, Madame Beautiful.” “Prince Charming, don’t expect a call; though you are a darling young thing and I’m charmed to the ‘nth’.”
He brushed by her. It appeared to her slow-motion. She’d used that technique in her films – to make a point. She felt the cooling air move. Her body blushed or was it the remaining heat from the fading sun?
At the front desk she handed her rectangular plastic key to the arched plucked eye-browed concierge with a jacket labeled JacquesJasper.
“Ah, Ms. Dawson, how lovely to have you back at the Peninsula.” “Yes, JacquesJasper; lovely to be here. Jacques or is it Jasper?“JacquesJasper, Madame Dawson, I use both.” “JacquesJasper, could you please tell me my room number? With these plastic things I always forget.” “Yes, Ms. Dawson and how lovely you look tonight. Your room number is 553. Five-five-three, a beautiful room recently renovated. Have a lovely evening and enjoy your stay.” “Thank you, Jasper. I mean. Jacque. Sorry. JasperJacques. Silly me, sorry, JacquesJasper.”
And she entered the elevator – alone — and smiled to herself as she circled the “5” button several times round with her perfectly polished index finger.