Her silhouetted form swayed and gyred before me. Long, dark hair, which was like liquid and silk, leaked from her scalp down passed the length of her spine. The subtle parting between her lower and upper lip was detectable even in the dimness of the room. A caliginous crimson glow painted the four walls from head to toe.
The preamble to Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Invitation‘ surged through the atmosphere, gently finding a comfortable descent onto my skin – each note, each melody oozing its way through my veins.
I simply watched her. The tasteful undulating of her hips ingested my focus, holding me fast in bewitchment. With her arms raised loosely above her head, her fingers pointed to the ground, and her head tilted towards her left shoulder, she continued wavering to the chiming of the song like a supple flame, dancing in a still, dark room.
A few feet behind her, an array of six lime-green lava lamps sat on a protrusion of the wall (the way books may rest on a bookshelf nailed to a wall), three on either side of the shadowy figure before me. The bright blobs of wax emanated an alluring glow, but still did not seize my gawk in the same manner the figure before me did.
From through the window, the keenness of his surveillance was that of a sentinel keeping watch through the night in enemy encampment. What he was watching for, though, was no enemy troop or military vehicle from the opposition. He was watching for her.
He’d arranged with a private (and expensive) taxi service that she be picked up at 9pm sharp. Something dark that looks good, he’d said when asked what type of vehicle he wanted her to be picked up in. Opulent, but subtle.
Once he recognised her stepping out of the black 1975 Opel Manta that pulled up beside the restaurant, his heart began thumping at the wall of his chest. Rapid and unsteady.
He tried not recall the lines he’d spent all morning (as well as the evening prior to it) reciting in preparation to fill any awkward gaps in their dialogue.
Just let it flow. Yes, let it flow, he murmured under his breath, dabbing his mouth with a napkin. He watched as the neatly dressed chauffeur closed the door behind her, and gave a slight nod before she headed for the entrance.
The restaurant lighting was dim. The ambiance, vibrant and consistent. A blanket of soft conversation stretched throughout, and gapes of awe daubed most of the faces of those present as they watched the quartet on stage perform a live rendition of Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Blue Moon‘.
He pulled out the seat for her as she removed her furry camel jacket. Beneath that, a skin-tight halter dress in a slyly darker shade of the same colour groped her frame down to her shins. Black, suede, cross-strap scarpin heels at her feet, and a light brown fur scarf rested loosely around her neck.
“You look great. Amazing, actually.” he began. She thanked him, and they exchanged pleasantries for some moments.
“This place,” she said, “is very nice, I must say. Quite fitting to my taste.”
“You think so? I was really hoping you’d like it,” he said as he gave the room another once over. “I visit here every now ‘n’ then, but I’ve never actually invited someone here for dinner before.”
She averts her gaze from the stage to his eyes. “So I should feel special, right?”
Waiters sifted professionally like cordial ghosts from table to table. The sound of glasses being placed and retrieved onto and from tables rang softly in the air, as well as the clanging of knives and forks against plates. The quartet reformed and then performed a rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s ‘Stone Flower’.
A tall, slim-bodied waiter approached their table politely with two menus in his hand. Placing a menu each before them, he said, “Good evening, welcome, and I hope you’re enjoying your visit at Blues Ária so far. This is the menu for tonight. Inside, you’ll see a list of our soft drinks, warm beverages and alcoholic drinks. May I please take your order for the drinks first?”
Smiling competently, the waiter poised his pen to his small pad and waited for the two to respond. Elsa asked for a glass of water. “No ice, please,” she added.
“One water, no ice,” he repeats. “And anything for you, sir?”
“How about your finest Cabernet Sauvignon,” he said to the waiter, then – looking to Elsa – said, “You like wine?”
With her chin propped on the palm of her right hand, she said, “Yeah [small nod]. I like wine.”
The waiter echoed the order for Cabernet Sauvignon and told them he’d be back in a brief moment with their drinks, and also to place the orders for appetizers.
The pair talked for a little while about work as they surveyed the menus.
“You work with children? What’s that like?”
“Only like the most amazing thing in the world. Kids, I believe, have this life more… Well, I won’t say figured out, but they are definitely more in touch with the world and the essence of life than we grown-up. Of course, they’re still in their primitive and essential stages of cognition. But the fundamentals of the essence of life are sincerity and passion. Although their minds haven’t yet grasped the concepts of being sincere and passionate, they still exude them in the purest form almost one-hundred percent of the time. Because sincerity and passion aren’t things that should be thought out or planned or contemplated. They should just happen.
As grown-ups, we don’t only ruin ourselves, but the entire meaning of life when we get wrapped up with so-called politics, pragmatics, social correctness, and being a normal human being, whatever that even is.” Her stare went awry and caught onto something apparently more dazzling to the eyes as she closed this sentence. An attractive dress, perhaps.
Gazpacho soup with toasted garlic bread. She opted for black bean choziro soup.