To Beautiful Words

Chapter Four - Smoke and Dark Wine

“With a voice to make Sinatra weep, he was the most beautiful thing she’d ever found. In fluid movements and sweeping gestures, he waltzed around the stage ever so gracefully, trailing the cord from his right hand, crooning into the mic in his left. In his looks, he was handsome enough, but he couldn't be described as anything but lovely as he sang, so full of wistful longing and melancholy as he was. His voice was soft and low and his words were mournful.

Eyes, deep and so, so sad, found hers across the room, catching her movement as she picked up her drink. That slow voice settled in her chest like the long draw of bourbon that burned down her throat.

“As the world went down, and we were going around, I said this is where we say goodbye.”

It was the last note, and the song was ended simply and short, the music fading long before his voice.

From her seat at the bar, Kate observed him. As the small crowd gave a smattering of applause, he went about fitting the microphone back into the stand, tucking his hair behind his ears. He took a drink from a glass of red wine by the base of the mic and shed his leather jacket, leaving him in a rumpled white dress shirt. Deft fingers undid the knot of his tie and slid it from under his collar in one long pull. Putting it with his jacket a few feet back, he turned back to the bar room with the neck of his guitar in hand.

Kate knew from word of mouth that he was decent on a six-string, though nothing exceptional. That was to be expected when you were left-handed, and that was what made him good. “


The book thumped closed softly in his hand and he rested it on his knee. The cover faced up, sunlight half obscuring the upper section that proclaimed the book a “ New York Times Bestseller.”

At the bottom, the author’s name. Florence Grave. On the back, a picture showing a fair-skinned woman with a strong jaw and narrow eyes and a pretty mouth. She wore a cream-colored french blouse in the shot, the very same she wore now.

Sitting on the stone picnic table, feet on the bench, Gideon slid his arm to let the hand holding the book hang between his legs. It was his left, the dominant one. In the right he rested his cheek with his elbow on his thigh. A little ways away, Florence was in a booth, turning a piece of dark blue pottery over in her hands. When she handed it to the seller, she glanced around as she went to pay and her eyes swept over him. He nodded ever so slightly as they did. She paused.

She said something quick to the vendor and started towards him, eyes on his until she was near enough to see the book.

Smiling, he asked, looking up from under the brim of his hat, “Caught your eye did I?”

For a moment that dragged on, she just stood before him. The late-day sun backlit her red hair, framing it in gold and turning the edges of her shirt see-through. Even without any kind of heel, she was remarkably tall. It put her high above him in his seated position.

“It seems I’ve caught yours as well.” She took a place beside him, letting their legs knock together as if they were old friends.

“Yes, you have.” He flipped the book back over, showing the tan and ebony cover trimmed in red.

“I loved the book”

“I love your music”

Gideon continued smiling, breathing in the cold autumn air and the peace. For two famous people, they were going remarkably unnoticed at a bustling town fair.

“It wasn’t a smoke-hazed bar room.” He said, idly thumbing the pages. She leaned against his shoulder, just a bit.

“No. It was here, twenty years ago. I was nineteen and writing short stories.”

“And I was a nobody singing other people's songs for tips.” A grin appeared, baring white teeth that were a little crooked.

“Now we’re both somebodies.”

In a brazen move, Gideon turned towards Florence and brought his hand to her face, curling his guitar sting calloused fingers in her wind tousled hair. Her eyes brightened as he spoke.

“The things we owe to beautiful words.”

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