Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Christmas in Luxembourg, Part 4


Patel Brothers was indeed worthy of Mr. Singh’s recommendation. When Jill dropped his name, the younger Mr. Patel nodded sagely and led her to one of the few obtainable bottles of Eagle Rare bourbon in the nation. The purchase made, the bourbon was nestled into a padded box. The box was wrapped in a warm paisley paper that smelt faintly of cardamom. It would stand out among the pile of White Elephant gifts, which was handy since Jill meant to end up with it herself.

Who was Mr. Singh? she wondered. Why was he at the Luxembourg Inn, and why did Mr. Patel breath his name with reverence? What did he do, and where did he do it? How could anyone be so outrageously handsome and yet have such deferential grace? It was almost as if he was…

“A prince!” sighed Jill, and for one moment she forgot that she was 30 years old and that she had not read a fairytale in years. She could almost see Mr. Singh in a cape and a turban, riding in state on an elephant, acknowledging his subjects. Come to that, she had almost seen him like that, in one of Amitra’s Bollywood movies. Maybe he was an actor, scouting out locations for his next film! Did actors scout locations themselves? What kind of Bollywood movie could you shoot in the wilds of Ohio?

These pleasant reveries accompanied her most of the way home. Patel Brothers was out in an opposite direction from downtown, so Jill approached the house from a direction she’d not yet come on this trip. Carefully rounding the sharp curve at the edge of her family’s property so as not to skid in the snow, she passed a huge silver maple tree just outside the gates of the Inn. There was something unfamiliar about this tree she’d known all her life. Once it had been straight as a sentinel, but now it listed strangely away from her. As her lights flashed across the tree, a raccoon on a branch glared at her and dove into a hollow. Jill shivered and pulled up the driveway. The bottle of Eagle Rare seemed more appealing than every, somehow.

Del was leaving the house as Jill came in.

“I’m all set for tonight,” she said. “See, here it is, cheap as it comes, and I even wrapped it in Mom’s newspaper.” She held out a box covered in the weekend section of the Wall Street Journal.

“I don’t think Mom had read that yet,” said Jill.

“She can read it if she picks this present,” said Del, walking over toward the Inn.

Jill inventoried the slim pickings in her suitcase. Everyone was going to be at the party, Reagan had said. The regal Mr. Singh would be there. Heath, blue-collared and rough of hand. And Garrett French, with his hat and his “ergo”. What did one wear to appear with distinction before three very different men? It was an academic question, as there was only one option in this case: a little black dress.
She surveyed herself in the hall mirror as she pulled on her coat. Black dress, plaid scarf, red lipstick — so simple as to be forgettable. And above her head, the dull gleam of white berries. She looked up to find a ball of mistletoe hanging from the ceiling. Pulling Mother’s antique side table underneath it, she climbed up, broke off a sprig, and tucked in her bun.



Jocelyn said...

I'm really most worried about the tree. Please not Dutch Elm Disease or Kauri Dieback or some other awful blight.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Jocelyn, I read an article recently that warned about the ten trees that one should never plant in the yard and silver maple topped the list. Something about being brittle and prone to breaking. And maybe about the roots being bad for drains and pipes. I'm afraid the tree's prospects are poor.