A Novel in Three Partsby Tom Grimes
In the cab neither Chantal nor I spoke until I could see Columbus Circle and the gray frizz of the park’s leafless winter trees through the cab’s windshield.
“I do want you to marry me,” I said.
“T, you’re not even divorced yet.”
“A technicality. Minor in the extreme.”
Chantal exhaled, and watched the Central Park South’s door- manned townhouse entrances with their stately blue and evergreen awnings pass by. Ahead, the pale walls of the Plaza streamed toward us, the white tassels and black coats of horse-drawn carriage drivers flapping in the wind. “I hardly know you,” she said.
“I’m the boy you wanted to throw a lifeline to two nights ago. Remember?”
She shook her head, a morning-after gesture of regret. “People say things at night they wouldn’t necessarily say in daylight.”
“Or without three glasses of wine in them.”
“I wasn’t drunk. But you don’t know what you’re asking us to get into.”
As the cab pulled up at the Plaza, I recognized the doorman from the other evening when Ivan and I, looking like criminals, tried to fake our way into booking a room. He smiled at Chantal, his expression friendly and admiring as he followed her around the cab to the foot of the hotel’s steps. I caught the momentary hitch in his “Evening, sir,” when he saw me.
“Evening,” I said. He climbed the carpeted stairs toward the lobby beside me.
“No luggage, sir?”
“No,” I said. I held up the Gucci bag as if there were barely a thing in it. “Just having some drinks and doing some business.”
“Glad to hear that, sir.”
“I bet you are,” I said.
As we crossed the lobby Chantal and I drew stares from other guests. Then we walked into the bar and saw Ivan sitting in the center of the Oak Room banquette, his champagne flute glistening. He looked astonishingly cool and collected until I noticed his fingers nervously drumming the table. I decided to let the news of his grandmother’s death wait so he could be the person he believed he was a little while longer.