The sun had yet to rise when Hank woke up, jumped out of some bed, pulled on his pants and boots – threw his jacket over his shoulder and left. He thought to write a short letter, an apology? A thank you? He wasn’t really sure – he didn’t really remember anything about the night before – only that her name was Penny. Before he left the apartment he looked back at her and saw her blue eyes through her black hair watching him and she smiled a half smile. He smiled, looked down and then waved.
He walked down the three flights of stairs, got a knowing smile from the doorman, who must have been the doorman from last night because he looked familiar, then walked out onto 73rd St. As he walked he knew that a cup of coffee was required to even think about surviving the next mile or so that he need to walk to get to his apartment. On the corner he saw a diner and took a large cup to go – then began to walk. The street lamps were still lit, the ground was shiny from last nights rain and there was a nice cool humidity-less air. He looked at his watch – 5:31 am, June 15th Friday.
As he was walking he decided to make a detour and head on across to Central Park; he had no where to be until later on that night and did not feel like going home. As he walked he noticed that there was a crowd of people, a couple of police cars and a couple of ambulances parked outside in the middle of the block between and 2nd and 3rd avenues.
“What’s going on?” He asked a lady standing there.
“See for yourself – they are covered now” she said pointing to a mound covered with a black tarp, “but a couple of minutes ago you could have witnessed what looked like a double suicide.”
“There are two people under that?” He asked.
“Yes, an elderly couple I used to see once in a while walking together; never really spoke with them although I could tell the wife was sick.” She said it as if discussing a TV show she just watched.
“Sad…” Hank said as he realized he hadn’t looked away from the couple under cover.
“Yeah, well I need to get to work.” With that she walked away. He just stood there wondering if they had any children who would be looking for them, wondering why they didn’t answer their phone calls. He stood there thinking about the lives they must have led. ..
A Shadow of two people dancing as a crooner sings a song professing his love for his lady. They are slow dancing on a roof somewhere and the shadow is being cast by a full moon over New York City. The crooner is coming out of a small radio and the couple are each from France. They had arrived in New York ten years earlier, separately, with different spouses, to escape the Germans who were now marching through Paris but who back then were just knocking on the doors of France – all set to break them down if not opened. They were both Practicing, if not totally observant Jews. They had worked together in a university and were lovers in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower and the Seine. Their respective spouses were now back in France, unafraid since they were non-observant and did not consider themselves Jewish. Well it seemed that the Germans didn’t make the distinction between practicing Judaism and being born a Jew – they had each been sent to different camps and had not been heard of since. Fifty some years later on – four children, eighteen grandchildren and several great-grandchildren; Beatrice had been told that the cancer that had take away her hair and any strength she still had away two years earlier was back. This time the Doctors were not giving her more than six months. Victor had sat down with her and told her, “Just as in Paris we knew it was our time to leave, so here in New York City, we must accept it is our time to leave, once again.” With that he bought a bottle of wine, a tape recorder with a recording of their favorite songs. They went up to the roof and then as they had back in the forties – left their home for the promise of a better life.
Hank had heard about this from the grandson of Mr and Mrs. Addas – he had gone to make a Shiva call out of curiosity. He ended up with photo albums, stories and evidence of a life full of love.
“They loved to dance,” the grandson, David, explained, “They were in love with each other and never spent more then one or two nights apart. But not out of necessity, more because they wanted to be together – Grandpa used to say ‘apart they were like an ordinary piece of art, together they were a masterpiece.’ They were a model couple and one very difficult to even measure up to. He used to sing to her this song, “la vie en rose*” while they danced. He would say ‘put your heart against mine…’ amazing.”
That evening as he walked back to his apartment he realized that his life was an ordinary piece of art and that what was missing wasn’t another artist but a reason for the colors and the shapes to blossom. He might never paint his masterpiece – but it hit him just what it was that was missing in his life. The music played but did not touch, the colors existed but did not paint a picture and the classes attended but the lessons were never absorbed.
As the sun rose the next morning he noticed a red ray streaming across the sky and he realized he had never before seen that hue – he took that as a sign. Put on some music and decided to sit by his easel. A masterpiece in chains within his heart – time to break free.
“La Vie En Rose”
The magic spell you cast
This is la vie en rose
When you kiss me heaven sighs
And though I close my eyes
I see la vie en rose
When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak
Angels sing from above
Everyday words seems
To turn into love song
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose