Friday evening

Friday evening.

He looked around in the metro. Two guys in front of him were kissing and feeling each other. He looked away. Why did she have to cancel the meeting tonight? What am I going to do now? It’s just 7. Should I go straight home? No. That is not an option! Perhaps I should call Manu. Perhaps we could go have a drink. He picked up his phone and dialed Manu’s number. No answer. He dialed again. Still no answer. Before putting his phone back in his pocked he decided he’d look up the scores of the last football matches. And started tipping on the screen.

Medium height. A receding hairline. A small nose. Lips thick enough to cover his teeth. And a beard; enough to hide his double chin. Deep into his mobile research, punctuated now and then with the rise of a brow or with a play of lips, he did not notice the beautiful woman who got in and was now traveling next to him. She was not from Paris. She held a tourist guide in one of her gloved hands and was watching carefully the succession of stations… He lifted his head for a second. Perhaps to see where he was. And then he saw her. Right there, a few centimeters away from him. He could smell her perfume and he could feel her coat rubbing against his hand. She’s the one! I have to talk to her, he decided. He slid his cellphone back in his pocket and started thinking about the best way to go about it. Tourist guide: she might need help. I can do that. I can be nice and I can talk to her. And, look! It’s Spanish. I can talk Spanish. Not bad! Oh, it’s going to be good! He started thinking about his appearance. Is his jacket straight? He checked his reflection in one of the windows and arranged his hair. He thought about checking his breath. But how could he do this without her noticing him? He looked away and, faking a cough, put his hand before his mouth and attempted to combine coughing and inhaling. Did not really work and wasn’t sure if he’d need a chewing gum or not. Just in case, he slipped his hand in one of the pockets of his jacket and, since he did not find anything there moved to the next pocket and then the next. Where the hell are they? Almost certainly he left them in the pub where he was before. Damn! Damn, damn, damn! Perhaps he does not need them anyway! Another check. Damn! What should he tell her, anyway? How should he start? He’ll ask if she needs help. He’ll get off the metro wherever she’ll get off and he’ll say he knows the area. Where are we anyway? Porte Dorée. Bercy… He realized he has no idea what was around there. Luckily, we’re going toward the city center, he thought. That’s something I know better! Where on earth are those gums? The woman seemed not to pay any attention to his tossing. She was following the stations and was checking now and then with her guide. Aha!, he almost shouted. Aha! Found them!, he thought. These chewing gums! He took out the pack and, surreptitiously, got out a couple of them. Right then, the train halted abruptly and he had to drop the gums and hold onto something. It was either that or falling over the woman next to him. Damn! What now? Calm. Calm. Let’s go over it again. I am going to get out with her and I will ask her if she needs help. As they were pulling in the next station, his phone started ringing. He looked for it and until he checked to see who’s calling and before he had the chance to answer, he realized the perfume of the woman next to him smelled differently as before. Strange. He moved his head a bit so as to get a glimpse at her again. Suddenly he realized the woman next to him was not the same. He looked around, she was nowhere to be seen. Damn! She already got off. His phone kept ringing and he did not know what to do. Should he jump, should he try to get out? Should he answer the phone? Who was calling him anyway? Shit! The train started moving already. Gone! Gone! He put his cell phone to his ear and answered: Oui, maman! Vingt minutes… Je crois…


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