Fiction penned while drinking a breve latte at West End coffee in Liberty Station’s public market, San Diego.
RHYMES WITH MY
The fact she spoke five languages, including Russian, gave her away but there were other early signs, such as she sat in the coffee house with her back to the wall so she could see comings and goings through the front door. Unlike many in her late 20s peer group, she didn’t have tattoos on her clear skin, which came from Scandinavian DNA that was not used to large amounts of sun. But what stood out like a billboard was the healed scar across the front of her neck.
I never asked about the scar all through our man/woman rituals:
--meeting by chance in first class flying in from London to San Francisco on British Airways;
--drinks at the airport bar before heading off our separate ways (I had a craft beer; she had two fingers of Stoli neat);
--surprising each other by agreeing to meet for dinner at Tosca’s after finding her business card a month later in my laundry;
--surprised again that I agreed to meet her at 1 a.m., (I had a double espresso; she had two fingers of Finlandia vodka in a pilsner tumbler;
--only because the rain storm was intense did she agree to follow me to my flat in North Beach;
--waking the next morning I lay on my side facing her as she slept. It was then I followed with my eyes the jagged scar beneath her chin;
--speaking to me without opening her eyes she offered, “I was in Helsinki near the American Embassy when a stranger, who saw me thrown from the back of a black sedan, rushed over to me and stopped the bleeding until the ambulance came. He saved my life. He was a U.S. Marine stationed at the Embassy. He was walking home...”
--she yawned, climbed out of bed and asked if she could make coffee.
--years later, she still asks if I’d like coffee. I never asked how she came by the neck wound; I decided a good wife deserves a few secrets of her own.