The Silence Of The Mist

Copyrighted © 2006 All Rights Reserved
By B. S. Raven


Disclaimers: Please See Chapter One

Chapter 8 Deja Vu


Wander about Paris this time of year, and the women didn’t need a calendar to remind them of the season: it was fall, time for the annual ritual of "gibier," or the furred and feathered game that captures the French imagination, as well as appetite as soon as the weather turns cool.

Just around the corner from their hotel, a sidewalk bistro proudly displays an entire, full-furred sheep, a not-so-subtle suggestion to come in and sample the mutton stews, grilled meats and well-seasoned patés the cafe offers in fall and winter months. In the summer months, hanging from the roll-out canopy which sometimes covered the outdoor sidewalk of the eatery, would be display brightly feathered partridge, grouse, pheasant and wild duck. The game season generally unravels at a steady, measured pace: beginning in mid-August with the first tender wild duck, which was best roasted simply over an open fire, continuing with pheasant, partridge and wild hare in late September and culminating with the arrival of "gibier a poil," such furred game as wild hare, venison and wild boar in October; however, because of shortages of the wild game, lamb and mutton were the substitute. The foursome made mental notes as they were driven to their hotel the day before, they would certainly have at least one meal at this sidewalk café. Even though it was a little chilly the first day of October, they planned on sitting in the sun and enjoying a savory stew cooked with red wine, shallots, onions and cinnamon.

Paris may not have as much fresh air and natural greenery as Hyde Park and Green Park in London do, and it has relegated to the edges of the city the kinds of skyscrapers that give New York its sense of energy and upward striving, but surely there is no western city as sweeping and spacious. French kings, presidents and prefects have been lavishing largesse on it for centuries, imposing order and logic on the natural setting of two islands in the Seine.

Muriel and Rose had thoroughly scoured every magazine, books and travel guide to Paris months in advance. Everything they read advised them that life there began on the river, and the only way to get to know Paris, was to become familiar with the river. They soon learned, that not only did they find themselves constantly crossing the Seine to get to the Louvre, the Musee d'Orsay, the great squares and shops of the Right Bank, the Eiffel Tower and famous cafes of the Left Bank, but images of it were everywhere: on postcards, in books of photographs and in Impressionist paintings. Even the city's official logo of a sailing ship paid tribute to this river that is Paris's heart and soul, and that courses through it in a grand seven-mile arc.

This being so, the women knew they would cheat themselves if they confined their experience of the Seine to hurried trips across it on their way elsewhere. Muriel and Rose had taken measures to assure they took advantage of the bateaux mouches, the delightful river cruisers that took them quickly past the monuments, in a kind of condensed version of Parisian life, packaged, sanitized and thin before they took to the streets and touring car.

For a more authentic, full-bodied sense of what makes Paris, Muriel and Rose had insisted on walking certain portions of the river. Isabelle, normally in great shape, found that the distance of about four and a half miles from Ile St.-Germain to the Pont d'Austerlitz had taken most of the day and she pouted until Rosie agreed that perhaps four miles might be a little long, and shorter trips might be called for in the next few days.

“Thank the good Lord, she listens to you. My feet are killing me,” Lenora whispered in her aunt’s ear.

“You owe me big time, sweetie,” Isabelle chuckled back.

“What are you two whispering about?” Muriel questioned and handed the tour book to Rose Marie.

The relatives glanced at each other and shrugged their shoulders.

“Ok, out with it, Isabelle. What were you secretly relaying to Lenora? Remember, you both promised to allow Muriel and me to plan our Paris tours.” The teacher took the book and placed one hand on her cocked hip. “I’m waiting,” she said.

“Sweetheart, you have it all wrong,” she turned and faced her lover. “I simply stated there was a surprisingly bucolic feel to the riverscape down here, despite the huge smokestacks in the distance.”

Lenora’s head nodded in agreement. “Yeah, just look down there,” she pointed to the wooded banks with fishermen sitting along them with cane poles. “And down there are scullers and kayakers gliding silently with the current. You don’t see that in Pensacola.”

“You two are full of it,” Muriel wrapped her arm around Rosie’s shoulder and walked off from them. “Just wait until tomorrow when we take the branch of the R.E.R. rail network that hugs the Left Bank and get off at Issy-Plaine, about a ten-minute ride from the center of the city to Pont d'Issy, the first of the 25 bridges we will encounter.” The biologist looked over her shoulder at the two speechless women. “They can begin to practice the Parisian habit of using a bridge as a meditative viewpoint rather than merely a steel or concrete span,” the scientist chuckled.

“That’s a good one, Muriel.” Rose stopped and turned to grin at the still stunned women. “And because there are numerous streets and bridges to negotiate, and because of the ferocity of French driving habits, we’ve been told it is best to begin your walk after the morning rush hour every day.” She stuck out her tongue at the two, while turning. She took Muriel’s hand and the two friends walked down to the bridge steps.

“Me and my big mouth,” Isabelle held up her right ankle and rubbed it several times before catching up to Lenora who had decided to join the two day planners who had stopped on the bridge steps.

They descended the steps and walked out onto the green avenues of the park on the Ile St.-Germain. Children were playing soccer, dog walkers passed by slowly and a juggler practiced his throws. All of this watched over by Jean Dubuffet's huge, playful sculpture "Tour aux Figures." Every now and again a barge slid by and gave a blast of its air horn. In the distance, the Eiffel Tower loomed above the somewhat bare trees.

At Pont de Grenelle, they stopped to view a small-scale copy of the Statue of Liberty which Muriel point out. After a while, they sat under the willows and just talked about the events of the past few days.

Over the next few days, the women strolled in various parts of the city. On the Right Bank, in the oldest existing section of the Palace of the Louvre, the royal residence before it became a museum, Rose Marie pointed to the H carved into the stonework, for Henry II and Henry IV, who in the 16th century began remaking the palace into the vast complex we see today; later there are L's for the various Louis who gave it a neo-classical overlay, N for Napoleon and an overlaid LN for Louis Napoleon, Napoleon III, who completed the north wing a little more than 100 years ago. Muriel and Rose Marie insisted they bribe their way into The Richelieu wing, with a first for the Louvre -- direct natural light for the French and Dutch paintings housed in the new galleries on the second floor. Not only did the women wander slowly through the galleries, they took turns pointing out certain paintings and then would stand in a semi-circle around the selected painting just awing and taking in the beauty of the artist’s displayed works.

Isabelle attempted to buy several of the paintings, but the curator held fast in that none were for sale. Her heart became heavy when she realized that several of the paintings would soon disappear from public display and never been seen again.

At the Louvre, the centerpiece of a chain of public buildings and vistas that begins with Notre Dame, looking like some great galley sailing majestically down the Seine, to the Louvre, on to the stately expanse of the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe, at the top of the renovated Champs-Elysees the four women huffed and puffed from the walking and being out of breath constantly. They posed beside each of the sites and had passersby take their pictures with several cameras they had bought prior to their trip. They would be great mementos of their holiday together, and only Isabelle knew how the photos would be viewed in years to come.

Gilding the lily is standard Paris practice. This past summer, white flowers set in raised banks around the fountains at the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees, the traffic circle at the foot of the avenue, they were told. Tulips in the spring are succeeded by roses and petunias and flowering shrubs for the summer and fall. After Lenora had seen a notebook with drawings of their front yard back in Pensacola, with different beds and budding areas, she had to literally drag Muriel from the various planted areas. She knew what was crossing the biologist’s mind with the different landscapes and she vowed never to participate in any more digging up nicely sod grass.

The Tuileries, occupying the site of a former royal palace adjoining the Louvre that was burned down in the Paris Commune riots of 1870, had become scruffy in recent years. Last winter scores of linden and chestnut trees were replaced, they were informed, and the green lawns and flower gardens at the eastern end have never looked better even if the weather was becoming chilly.

Isabelle mentioned how the axis of the Champs-Elysees began in these gardens, and it long predated Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, the prefect of the Seine from 1853 to 1870 who drew most of the other straight, grand avenues through the medieval warrens of the city. He had a practical end in mind -- to make it harder for rioters to hole up, and easier for the police to get at them. That didn't stop the Paris Commune troubles in 1871, but Haussmann left the beauty of streets like the Boulevard St.-Germain and the Boulevard Raspail. “Most of our famous cities have the same layout or design of street patterns,” Isabelle told her three companions.

“Yes, I believe you’re right, Auntie.” Lenora stood beside her aunt and directed their attention to the Champs-Elysees, its two side lanes choked with cars and its trees in the shedding stage. “Now doesn’t that remind you of Dupont Circle in Washington, D. C. and the twenty minute wait for the cabbie to get to us?”

Muriel noticed a black roadster cut off a line of taxis and laughed. “It’s the same mad dash all over, I guess. I’m surprised they don’t have more accidents with all their maneuvering and weaving back and forth.”

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t drive on Dupont Circle, and thank goodness we talked you out of renting a vehicle, Isabelle. You would have taken us up and down the Elysees until we turned green and were frightened out of our minds.” Rose stated.

“Yes, but it would have been so exciting,” Isabelle grinned like a Cheshire cat.

The three other women did not agree and the grin was met with somber faces.

“Okay, I get the message,” Isabelle murmured and held out her hand to take the tour book Rose had been using.

“It says here that there is an old familiar saying: "Everyone has two countries, his or her own -- and France."

“I believe that, and Hemingway couldn’t relay that to us enough,” Muriel concurred.

“Speaking of Hemingway,” Isabelle said, “Our little tour book says, ‘For the Lost Generation after World War I, these words rang particularly true. Lured by favorable exchange rates, free-flowing alcohol, and a booming artistic scene, many American writers, composers, and painters moved to Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, Ernest Hemingway among them. Hemingway arrived in Paris with his first wife, Hadley, in December 1921 and made for the Rive Gauche -- the Hôtel Jacob et d'Angleterre, to be exact. To celebrate their arrival the couple went to the Café de la Paix for a meal they nearly couldn't afford.” Isabelle finished and passed the book back to Rose.

“Didn’t Ernest tell us much of The Sun Also Rises, his first serious novel, was written at nearby café, La Closerie des Lilas? And didn’t he state these were the years in which he forged his writing style, paring his sentences down to the pith?” The mariner asked Muriel.

“Believe he did, and was quite proud that this was where he dumped his first wife and married his mistress,” the marine biologist shook her head in disapproval. “Guess that first baby boy couldn’t keep him homebound,” she stated and stretched her arms to relieve her shoulders.

“Is that why you insisted on us staying at the Regent’s Garden instead of Hotel Ritz?” Lenora asked her partner.

“No, Rosie and I decided on the Hotel Regent’s Garden because it’s just a stone's throw from the Arc de Triomphe and the legendary Champs Elysées.”

“Besides, who wouldn’t succumb to the refined charm of a hotel full of character. From our rooms, we are lulled by the singing of the birds before opening your shutters onto the tranquility and the colors of the winter garden.” Rose Marie added.

“And you have to admit, the vast sitting area has the most comfortable sofas.” Isabelle nodded her head.

“I agree, but I love that true fireplace in our bedroom as well as the sitting area,” Muriel said, and looked down both sides of the street so they could cross. On the other side of the street, and in the edge of the concave, they found a bench and sat down.

In front of them was a beguiling cross-section of daily Parisian life: stylish women with small dogs; taut and straining middle-aged male business men; a group of soignee women doing a dignified version of the jitterbug trot as they crossed the grassed area, their faces perfectly composed beneath their perfect makeup; pairs of elderly men who came to discuss the sculptures; solitary young men perched on the parapets, some with portable chess boards and cigar boxes containing the pieces, some with books; groups of students from the nearby University of Paris in their identifying uniform of scholarly black; off-duty policemen, kepis in hand, and, always, the lovers, managing somehow to stumble along while completely entwined.

“Phew,” Lenora pulled one foot up on the bench and began to rub her ankle. “Do we have to do the Bastille this afternoon?”

“I bet the only folks storming the Bastille these days are opera-goers that couldn’t get seats at the Opera, and young Parisians bent on painting the town rouge,” Isabelle interjected.

When the mother and the grandmother descend into the park to put the children on the teeter-totter and the swings of the adjacent playground, that was the foursome’s signal that the afternoon was waning and that they should finish their walk with a leisurely stroll through the rest of the park to the Jardin des Plantes at the Pont d'Austerlitz. So, after watching the locals for almost an additional hour, the foursome broke down and took a taxi back to their hotel for a long, much needed rest before they attended the Oberkampf later that night after dinner.

*****


Two of the maids had told Rosie and Muriel they had to attend a colorfully run bistro called Le Petit Rarguery so the foursome decided to try out the eatery then attend the local nightspots for some jazz. After walking by the Rarquery, they continued on walking as they weren’t hungry enough and wanted to sample the smells of several bistros before dining.

Paris of the 1930's popularized the culinary age of Lyons and its classic bistro fare. The era of mom-and-pop restaurants where homey dishes and trencherman-size portions were de rigueur. Other changing specialties, due to the poultry shortage, include rabbit stuffed with eggplant; roast tuna with a Nicoise ratatouille; a brandade, or creamy puree, of fresh cod, and a fresh fig tart.

Every chef has his own way of dealing with game. Some prefer long marinades, with a touch of vinegar to help break down tough fibers, and a few drops of oil to soften the meat, while others select simple grills, allowing the rich meat to stand on its own, delivering all its dense flavor.

Natural accompaniments such as fragrant and meaty wild mushrooms, girolle known as chanterelles and cepes, or boletus were in abundance,; as were crab apples, chestnuts, celery root, whose crisp bitterness helps soothe the palate, bitter greens, which was an ideal counterpoint to the game's richness, and the haunting, musky flavors of quince.

They entered the selected establishment and stood for a moment taking in the scene. The decor was clean, flashy and welcoming, with walls the color of a Provencal sunset, and a huge open kitchen sporting sparkling white tile walls and a giant gas-fired spit along one wall. Most importantly, the place felt right, with a solid, well-heeled, genuinely Parisian clientele. The menu reflected a well-stocked pantry, no doubt obtained from the black market, and included an agreeable selection of first-course and dessert "small tastes," priced at one-half to one-third of full-sized portions.

The young female co-owner and chef Colette St.-Sulpice, had made a signature of her cold, cream of potato soup dotted with fresh Provencal black truffles. Grilled vegetables -- eggplant, zucchini and red pepper -- arrived with a beautifully fresh salad of mache, or lamb's lettuce, carefully dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. Colette could roast a chicken about as well as anyone, pairing the crispy, moist, meaty bird with whole cloves of garlic and expertly roasted baby potatoes. Both chicken and the white fish known as John Dory were frequently cooked on the open flame spit opposite the big old fashion gas stove. Then the food was allowed to rest before being served, arriving at their table lukewarm. The foursome had been told about this particular bistro by one of the maids and they were not disappointed with the food or service.

“Best way to eat it,” Isabelle assured Rose Marie, who promptly set her plate of fish over in front of Muriel and motioned for Lenora to pass her chicken over to her.

“Not on your life, sweetie.” Lenora’s arms surrounded her plate in a protective fashion.

Isabelle looked warmly at her partner. “Don’t fret, my love, for I have ordered chicken and fish for all of us. Yours will…..ah, here it comes now.” Her hand went out signal the waiter to bring his plates to Rose’s place.

“It took all I could do to eat that rabbit last night,” Rosie complained.

Lenora smiled with sheer devilment sparkling in her eyes. “You sure it wasn’t ….meow…meow, you were having?”

The teacher’s eyes narrowed.

Muriel looked at her and laughed. "Don’t let her taunt you, Rosie. I’m sure the black market is supplying this wonderful chicken we're eating tonight, and I have it on our consigner’s authority, rabbits are being supplied from many nearby farm and not the cat rumors that seemed to have sprung up here in Paris.”

“I don’t think they’ll have shortages of real food until ….,” Isabelle stopped. She was going to say the War, but thought better.

Rose Marie nodded her head, waiting, “Until?” she finally asked.

‘Until the black market can’t get it from other sources,” Muriel pitched in.

“Sure, the black market,” The mariner clarify with a smile of devilment. “But sweetie, have you noticed how many kitties are running around the streets and alleyways since we’ve been here?”

Muriel ribbed Lenora hard, causing her partner to gasp. The elbow was a warning not to proceed with the cat for dinner suggestion any further. Lenora hung her head slightly, but the sound of muffled snickers could still be heard. A second elbow brought on a “Ouch,” and the young Mariner stop snickering and jabbed her folk into the chicken as she picked up the knife.

“She’s pulling your leg, darling. Don’t pay any attention to her,” Isabelle soothed, rubbing Rose Marie’s back gently

“Don’t fret, Rosie, you’ll see exactly what we’re eating when we go to Les Halles the city's main market tomorrow.”

“Okay, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have carried the kitty business so far. Come on everyone, forget about it and dig into this wonderful chicken,” Lenora announced as if that justified everything.

Because of her teasing, it was decided that Lenora would fit the bill for the dining, and the jazz club fees if any was required.

“It was worth it to see Rosie’s face,” she mused and lifted her purse from the floor next to her foot.

*****


Princes of the Paris night will tell you that the real happening scene had retreated northeast, to the edges of the 11th arrondissement and beyond. Oberkampf has been the nocturnal center of things for a few years now, but the areas around are catching up quickly. But tonight, the women had an appetite for an antidote to the fashionable bar scene that had paradoxically turned the gritty Oberkampf into a trendy nightlife area.

The streets between boulevard Voltaire and boulevard de Ménilmontant, particularly rue Oberkampf, rue St-Maur, and rue Jean-Pierre-Timbaud, crackled with energy, none more than rue Oberkampf . The bars and restaurants here had taken their cue from Café Charbon, a converted turn-of-the-20th-century dance hall ostentatiously proud of its huge mirrors, smoke-stained ceilings, and dance space. Café Mercerie, across from Café Charbon, took its name -- and painted sign -- from the draper's shop that used to be there. The first wave of bars and boutiques hereabouts looked like they had been thrown together by impoverished art students during a particularly drunken weekend.

But rue Oberkampf's neighboring streets still had their edges intact and were home to many hot haunts. Les Couleurs was a hangout most reminiscent of the original Oberkampf vibe. Cava Cava Café was a dimly lit salsa spot with live music any night during the week, and if jazz was on your menu, then you were on the right street. At Le Balajo, the old music hall, people still danced the fox trot and then went to any of a dozen places to turn their attention to the jazz and the beat generation.

Jazz is, and always will be, a changing art form; and thus, throughout its history, it has been made to fulfill the larger social purposes of many different and varied masters. It has, at various times, been a good time at the Friday night dance hall; an expression of ethnic pride; a vehicle for social protest; or a spark for a countercultural revolution. The foursome felt right at home listening to the jazz and vowed to visit New Orleans as soon as they returned to the States.

The group paid an exorbitant price for stage side seats to hear Stephane Grappelli, Eugene Vees, Emmanuel Soudieux, Django Reinhardt, and Joseph Reinhardt play. The group became the first Europeans to make a significant impact on the jazz world. Reinhardt, a gypsy born in a caravan in Belgium, was raised listening and playing the rhythmically propulsive music of Eastern Europe, while Frenchman Grappelli got the jazz bug listening to American violinist Eddie South. The volatile pairing made for tense, aggressive, and always beautifully swinging music. By using the devices of a jazz musician to build intensity, the group designs their passages to evoke the same subjective response from their audience that a swing performer would evoke from an audience.

The women were among the last to leave, but the beat of the music would stay with them for days.

*****


The women did not leave their hotel until mid-afternoon for a brief stroll down some triangle, side streets, which Rose and Muriel had organized the afternoon’s expedition excitedly several days before.

The liveliest mix fits in a small triangle between the Rue de la Roquette and the Rue de Charonne. Draw a circle here, starting on the corner of the Rue de la Roquette and enter the Rue de Lappe. The window of No. 6, Chez Teil, displayed products from the Auvergne: sausages, cheeses, cassoulets, wines. Its outsized breads and hams would barely fit into a shopping bag. The bistro Les Sans-Culottes was worth peering into if only for its antique wooden furniture and bar. Take a peek at the fraying Bar a Nenette before it is renovated. The medley continues on the Rue de Charonne with its array of galleries, upholsterers and framers. The little antique shops are without pretense.

“This was a very pleasant afternoon, wouldn’t you say, everyone?” Isabelle asked.

All agreed as they continued down the street, but were abruptly stopped by Rosie who directed them to a side street which she had located on her tour map.

“Want to try something not planned?” she asked the group.

Each nodded and they started down the poorly kept avenue. They went over the many interesting sights they had seen and discussed their favorite as they continued down the street. Their walk became slower and the group became noticeably quieter and each couple walked closer to the other. It was evident that this area didn’t have the favorability or liveliness of the other areas they had attended.

The rising anti-Semitism, which the French government did best to deny, was extremely evident as the foursome walked down another side street and passed a building they decided must be a school. Despite its almost block-length size there was no sign or name on the building, certainly no Hebrew letters or Jewish words of any kind to identify it as if it were a secret government installation or private institute. Rose Marie stepped upon the steps and read a small sign on the right of the entryway door. You would have no idea what it was except for a simple “College” written on an insignificant plaque, the words somewhat blotted out with black ink.

Shaking her head in disapproval, Rose descended the steps. “Hope we don’t have as much difficulty finding the Laboratory De’Cluron. I must speak with Professor Dejean and see if I can’t get him to come work at one of the Research Labs back in the States.” She stopped when she reached the sidewalk and turned back to the building. “I wonder what kind of college it is?”

“Or was!” Muriel declared matter-of-factly. “We saw no one enter this building as we came from the other end of the street. There seems to be no lights visible from any window, and look up there,” she pointed to the roof. “There is no visible smoke coming from the stacks. It’s just too cold to not have at least a token fire.”

“Sad,” Rosie said regretfully.

“Yes, but I hear it’s stressed more in Berlin, “ Isabelle added.

“Good grief, let us get out of here and back to happier places,” Muriel’s body shivered as she held the opposite side of the map and located their correct position. “We can cut across here,” her finger ran over the paper, “and then we can grab a cab here, hopefully,” she tapped the map with her finger.

Rose gulped and agreed. “The sooner the better I say.”

The foursome did double time until a Rue de Lappe street sign appeared.

“No more side trips, please, Rosie,” Lenora requested.

All being of the same mind, they hailed a taxi to take them back to their hotel.

*****


For more than fifteen years Annette Toutoune, nicknamed Turtoise , also called La reine de Maison, or Queen, has operated one of Paris's more popular lesbian clubs. She has changed with the times, and her current reincarnation -- with a steep $100 Francs admission price. A cozy decor in the agreeably crowded entertainment, and a Mediterranean-inspired decor -- is her most successful. The new red and green decor, with soft candlelight in the evenings, creates a quiet, romantic setting, and the small wine list included the excellent Cotes du Ventoux rose, and La Vieille Ferme,

The quartet watched in awe as the circular rostrum moved slowly around on the platform as the couple on lighted the stage performed a pleasuring routine that would have aroused the most frigid of women. They finished off three bottles of wine before the first three performances were over and the lights rose to a low glimmer.

After each set consisting of three performances, several courses of the dinner would follow. Served exquisitely by erotically clad servers, the entire meal would last over three hours. First, came the main course of tender roasted quail, which Lenora and Isabelle subsequently decided were actually home grown pidgins and were stuffed with tapenade and served with rounds of polenta; a steak of fresh cabillaud on a bed of eggplant puree; with the wine glasses constantly being refilled.

After a second round of exhilarating acts, the four women were breathing quite heavily as hands under the tablecloths were active almost to the point of climax. None of the fifty to sixty patrons spoke as they were treated to warm braised baby artichokes and daurade with a zucchini flan.

The final series of acts were definitely the highlights of the show and by the time the platform went dark, and the wall lights came on again, the patrons were on their feet, cheering and clapping with approval and appreciation. After the standing ovation and several encore bows of the performers, several servers stood nearby with the final course of the dinner with a refreshing dessert, consisting of a salad of clementines, which was like a tangerine, but more intensely flavored, which was paired with passion fruit sorbet, followed by cherry clafoutis if you were still hungry.

As soon as the plates were removed, all the performers made their way around the tables, flirting with the patrons and enticing them to join them on the dance floor. A sultry, scantly clad redhead swooned over Muriel, who finally allowed herself to be pulled gently to the dance floor. Rose Marie shook her head strongly as a beautifully blonde attempted to get her to dance. Isabelle turned her voluminous temptress down to remain at the table with her wide eyed partner. Lenora finally gave in on a second effort by a brunette and headed to the dance floor.

The seductive dancing continued, but after about half an hour, Lenora and Muriel, damp from some steamy dancing, drank a glass of water each, before they motioned to the server they needed more. After awhile, Rose noticed that many of the patrons were slowly disappearing up a winding staircase with the entertainer of their choice.

“Where are they going, Isabelle?” The teacher nodded towards the staircase.

The three women sitting with Rose glanced at each other before they burst out laughing. Finally, Isabelle leaned over and whispered in her lover’s ear.

"Eeeeeee!!!" The teacher shrieked.

Isabelle grinned, leaned back over and continued whispering in Rosie’s ear.

“What?" Rose Marie gulped in surprise. “You have to be joking!” She blushed as she stared at her companion then glanced over at Muriel and Lenora, who were shaking their heads in agreement.

“But, they’re complete strangers,” the teacher declared.

“Honey, this is Paris, the City of Lights and Love.” Isabelle cooed.

“Strangers?” Rosie questioned again.

“Yes, and when they come down from their time of pleasure, they’ll leave with the individual they came with…or perhaps, they will go home by themselves, but never with one of the entertainers,” Isabelle stated calmly. “You pay for the services upstairs, sweetheart, but it ends there.”

The teacher shuck her head in disbelief. “There is no way I’ll ever understand some cultures.” Her hands nervously straightened the straps on her gown once again.

“Different strokes for different folks. If you think this is something, you need to be prepared for our next trip when we go to Sweden,” Lenora dead-panned and motioned for the head waiter, a buxom, tall, but gorgeous woman dress in a full tuxedo, the only woman on the staff beside La reine de Maison who was fully clothed. Lenora was willing to wager that even the kitchen staff might be scantly clad, but she wasn’t about to ask to see that area. She laid a considerable sum of Francs on the table. “This is for you, the kitchen and serving staff. Not only were the performances superb, the food and service was outstanding. We’ve already taken care of the performers before we returned to the table.”

“Thank you,” the woman said. “We hope you will join us again, soon.” She smiled.

“You can be assured we will come back,” Isabelle rose and helped Rose Marie on with her wrap.

“You ladies didn’t wish to use the services available upstairs?” The tuxedo clad woman asked as she picked up the money.

“We’re all what you might consider very committed to our partners,” Muriel responded and stood.

“Yes, extremely committed,” Isabelle placed her arm around Rosie’s waist.

The woman laughed and started to assist Muriel with her wrap before she caught the glimpse Lenora gave her. “Excuse me,” she handed the wrap to Lenora and walked back to her station.

“It’s a good thing we are only going to be here three weeks because I feel as if I have gained ten pounds in the three days we’ve been here.

They all nodded in agreement.

The women ended their night on a high note, as they would be leaving for Berlin early the next morning.

They would always remember Paris. As Hemingway said, ‘There is never any ending to Paris." And hopefully, one day they would return.

*****


Chapter 9


Rose Marie studied the brochure she had obtained from the Paris tour company that had arranged their stay in Berlin and for tickets to several theater performances the women wanted to attend.

Berlin lies in northeastern Germany. The Spree River snakes through the city, and the Havel River runs near its western border. Forests and lakes are predominant features of the landscape, making up close to 25% of the city's total area, she read, and then flipped through the pages until she found Berlin.

The city is divided into districts called Bezirke. The oldest district is called Mitte, and it stretches from the Brandenburg Gate to Alexanderplatz. Unter den Linden, Friedrichstrasse, Museumsinsel and other historical sights are located there. Encircling Mitte, in clockwise fashion, are the districts of Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Tiergarten and Wedding. Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf and Schöneberg, to the west of Mitte, are also considered part of central Berlin.

“So many districts. And I can’t even pronounce most of them. Look Isabelle, they even have a diagram, and its more confusing than the burroughs of New York,” Rose Marie shared the thin pamphlet with her lover.

The city doesn't have just one center where its sights and entertainment can be found. Breitscheidplatz, with the Memorial Church, is generally thought of as the main western center. The zoo and Zoo station, the boulevard Kurfurstendamm and the Europa Center are all nearby. Alexanderplatz or Alex is an important transportation hub and the main eastern center, while Potsdamer Platzremains the city's high-profile entertainment, retail and office center.

“Geographically speaking, Rosie, Berlin is in central Europe. As the crow flies, the German capital is closer to Warsaw than it is to either Paris or London. It's also closer to Prague than it is to Frankfurt or Munich,” Lenora stated, and then looked back out the window. “You’re missing some of the nicest scenery of the Black Forest, you guys. I never get tired of making this trip, for each time, the forest takes on a different look.

All three women moved to look out the large window. The train slowed down as it rounded a bend and started up a narrow incline.

“I see why you arranged this round about train ride, instead of the direct route to Berlin,” Isabelle smiled at her niece.

“That is certainly beautiful,” Rosie said.

“It’s breath taking.” Muriel whispered as she leaned over her partner’s shoulder.

“How many times have you been to Germany, Lenora?” Rose Marie asked.

Three-no four trips counting this one. Aunt Isabelle wanted me to know something about my heritage, so we made many trips to Europe.”

Muriel looked down at her lover. “I didn’t know you were of German descent. Why didn’t you say something?”

Lenora turned up her head, “Just never crossed my mind.”

“Uh-huh,” Muriel interjected.

“Okay, Miss Teacher, why don’t you read some of that pamphlet to us?”

“Are you really interested in history, Isabelle?” Rose Marie asked.

“I’m interested in anything you do, or read, or see, or feel, or….,” Isabelle answered, then winked.

“Oh, you,” Rosie blushed.

Muriel turned from the window and sat down on the coach seat next to Lenora. “Come on, Rosie, I know little about Germany, except for those news reels Isabelle subjected us to watch, and I would appreciate a little background information.”

“Yeah, me too,” Lenora stretched and placed her arm around Muriel’s shoulder.

“Go on, Honey, just hit some of the highlights,” Isabelle urged.

“Okay, just a couple of paragraphs that I thought were informative,” Rose Marie reached for her pile of pamphlets and flipped through several of them before she found the one she was looking for.

Isabelle stood and handed the picnic basket down to Lenora so they could have a snack while Rosie read to them.

“It says that Berlin actually began as two trading settlements, Cölln and Berlin, in the mid-1200s. It took almost 500 years before the two towns were officially merged into one city, which retained the name Berlin. However, Berlin's rise to prominence began in the mid-1400s when Hohenzollern princes, the rulers of surrounding Brandenburg, named it their official residence. Its importance and size grew, and in 1701, it became the Kingdom of Prussia's capital.” She stopped and accepted the unwrapped sandwich that Isabelle handed her. “Thanks,” she smiled at her lover.

She took a bite of the snack, chewed briefly prior to wiping her mouth with the cloth napkin. “Prussia's power and Berlin's prestige grew significantly during the reign of Friedrich II, in the mid-1700s. Many of the prominent buildings on the eastern end of Unter den Linden were built during that time. Although Prussia gained its strength through military might, Berlin, meanwhile, became a center for the Enlightenment. Large communities of Huguenots and Jews made Berlin their home.”

“Isn’t that when the social change began?” Muriel questioned.

Rose took another bite, and flipped through a different pamphlet, “Hummm…I saw that someplace,” she muttered and fingered through several more booklets. “Oh yes, here it is,” she turned the page of the new pamphlet. “Initially, political and social change came about slowly. A revolt by the middle class took place in Berlin in March 1848, but the monarchy was able to hold on to power. In 1871, the various German principalities united to form imperial Germany. After being named the imperial capital, and spurred on by industrialization, Berlin went through one of its biggest boom periods. Its population and area doubled repeatedly, reaching 2 million around 1900 and 4 million by 1920.”

Muriel handed her a canteen to help wash the sandwich down. After a few swallows, she continued, “After World War I, which caused little physical damage to the city, Berlin saw dramatic political and social change. While followers of the left and right staged bloody battles in the streets and inflation and unemployment soared, Berlin experienced a vibrant cultural scene in the 1920s.”

“Yeah! Then all the artistic license came to an end in 1933, when Hitler was named chancellor and the Nazi party established its dictatorship.” Lenora tossed her napkin back into the basket and turned to look out the window again.

“Are you angry about something, Lenora?” asked Rose Marie.

Lenora’s head snapped around, “Well, I’m not angry with any of you, but I certainly don’t like the crap that has transpired since that painter came to power,” she spoke angrily.

“Can’t say as I blame you, but we can’t do anything about the situation,” Isabelle interjected. “Why don’t we just take in the scenery for a while and finish our brunch?”

“Okay with me,” Rosie placed the pamphlet down with the others and returned them to her knapsack before she picked up the canteen.

*****


They decided to attend a revue show at Bar Jeder Vernunft that evening and arrived early enough to have a glass of white wine before the performance.

The cabaret itself, including the entrance way, was arranged floor show style so that tables of the customers, basically all facing the small stage, would be enmeshed with the action in the club scenes. Some scenes had been staged to occur in the audience, and during the pre-play period and intermission, actors worked the room in character and costume.

The four women ordered another magnum of champagne and glanced around the room at the activity. The room was completely full of patrons, who were drinking and jovial until the first half of the performance. Then, the atmosphere changed and the majority of cabaret goers no longer clanked their champagne glasses or enjoyed the floor show.

The company performed endearingly the choreography inspired by the famous Berlin choreographer, Franz Lester, also known for his choreography of two of the best movies out in 1936. Now not only was his dancing in revival, it was edgier. The four women were excited by the dancing. None of them realized when the performance became less than good-humored and cheery. They sat somewhat reluctantly through the second act, but immediately made there way to the exit just as the curtain came down.

They were silent on the ride from the district to the elegant hotel they were staying. The doorman opened the door of the taxi almost before it stopped and assisted the four charming guests from the vehicle. The silence continued as the lift took them to the top floor and the stately suites.

Lenora opened the door and stepped aside for her companions to enter the room.

“As musicals go this one was on the darker side for my taste. But it remained a treat for its witty songs, high energy dancing, indelible characters, and for the fact that we,” Rose Marie’s hand encompassed the group, “the audience was induced to become part of the action.”

“I agree,” said Isabelle.

“The activities at the club were not typical or similar to what we experienced in Paris.” Muriel tossed her wrap on the divan in the sitting room of the exclusive suite they shared. “Did any of you get the feeling that the performance served as an allegory for the chaotic world outside, and the rise of Nazism?” she asked, sitting to the side of her wrap.

“I thought all the characters portrayed gallantly all their current personal problems, and contended with the changing politics of pre-Hitler Berlin.” Lenora kicked off her shoes and squeezed between Muriel and the arm of the divan.

Each shook their heads in agreement. Not only had they felt the changing politics of the fashionable old city, but had become alarmed with the general political condition of Germany.

"I was moved," Rose Marie said, “and I think the majority of the audience was also. Although, I felt a tinge of apprehension in the crowd.”

“That was terror, Rosie, plain fear of what is happening not only here, but all over Europe,” Muriel laid her head on Lenora’s shoulder.

Isabelle having sat down next to Rose Marie on the opposite divan thought for a moment as her handbag dropped to the floor. "What the entire production was exposing is the evil coming.” She bent down to pick up the handbag. “The musical wasn’t judging, just told the story as the composer wrote it. But it’s frightening how close to the truth the story line came. I wouldn’t give you a five pound Frank for the lives of anyone in the cast, or the production team.” She placed the bag on the end table.

“Think you’re right, Aunt Isabelle,” Lenora agreed.

“Well it certainly wasn’t sexy and fun and Fosse-esque as the Can-Can show we saw our last night in Paris,” Muriel stirred. “I’m exhausted,” she stood and extended her hand to her lover. “We have that early appointment with Dr. Freuliur tomorrow, and a long drive to get to the coast, so Lenora and I need to call it a night.”

Lenora accepted the hand and swooped up her shoes with the other.

“Is that the Dr. Freuliur you’ve been discussing navigational instrumentation, etc. with?” asked Rose Marie.

“Yes.” Muriel responded. “Lenora is going to make him such a good offer to relocate to the States with his family before it’s too late.”

“Before it’s too late?” Rose Marie asked puzzlingly.

“He’s Jewish, honey. A couple of years ago Adolf Hitler began to implement the policies concerning race that the National Socialist party had promised since the very beginning.”

“Oh, my God,” her hand went to her mouth. “You insisted I read Mein Kampf before we left Paris, but I really didn’t understand the majority of his writings, and I certainly didn’t believe or approve of his unbelievable doctrines.”

“Do you remember in Mein Kampf where Hitler wrote, ‘I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work’?” Isabelle asked her partner.

Rose Marie acknowledged the reference, but still looked somewhat puzzled.

“Well, the extermination of the Jews is the Nazi’s primary goal.”

“Oh, goodness,” the teacher moaned.

Lorena thought this would be the ideal time to begin Rose Marie’s indoctrination of the second primary objective. “Rosie, we viewed dozens of news reels Isabelle obtained prior to our trip, and as. I recall in the Proclamation to the German Nation that Hitler made in 1933, where he said, ‘The National Government regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life,’ made it very clear that after the Jews, Hitler’s desire for the eradication of homosexuality from German life was his second goal.”

“I remember seeing that, but as I said, I don’t understand his views.” She looked bewildered then said slowly, “No, that’s not correct. It wasn’t that I couldn’t understand; it was that I didn’t want to understand or believe that anyone would have such a bizarre wicked outlook or vision. The entire idea is ludicrous.”

“Nevertheless, as soon as Hitler came to power, repression towards Jews and homosexuals escalated. In 1933, one of Hitler's first acts was the closing of all homosexual bars, cabarets and even the Institute for Sexual Science itself that Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld founded. The famous photograph of the book burnings of 1933, not only included books by Jewish authors, but it also included the entirety of the Institute's research papers and books,” Isabelle declared.

“It is well documented that Hitler's racist philosophy began harassing Jews from the outset in 1933. It is also well documented that Nazism was anti-homosexual before Hitler ordered Roehm and his SA to be slaughtered a couple of years ago.” Muriel added as she leaned against Lenora, who had lodged herself against the doorway.

“Earlier this year, didn’t they reorganize several smaller bureaus that had been in effect since 1933? And didn’t Hitler order the destruction of Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute because it was attempting to repeal the anti-sodomy laws of the Weimar Republic?” Lenora asked, even though she remembered her history quite well.

“That’s right, Lenora. But remember the book burnings by the youths in the town square was not only an anti-Jewish event as much as a way of destroying Hirschfeld's Institute's documents. Remember, Hirschfeld was arrested for being a homosexual and not for being a Jew.” Muriel countered, and watched Rose’s face turn bright red in embarrassment and frustration. She realized this entire conversation was for Rose Marie’s enlightenment, as they already had the previous life’s experience and education. They had to be careful what they said to her.

Finally, the young teacher managed, “Why can’t people just accept other people for who they are and not get so concerned about who they choose to love?”

“That is a doctrine that will still be questioned a hundred years from now!” Lenora frowned.

“Yes, but why?!” Rose Marie grimaced.

“Well, for one thing, in mid 1934, Hitler showed the world that he could kill homosexuals, send them to prisons or concentration camps. All this while terrorizing the rest of the German people with a sense of moral dignity. Don’t even speculate what would happen to the four of us if our orientation became known while we were here,” Muriel stated, a shiver raced down her body.

“My goodness, no!” Rose frowned.

“It’s a dangerous and socially unacceptable idea, sweetheart. Again people are not concerned with the value of expressing the truth about one's sexual orientation, or the value of love in a deep relationship. The socially accepted value is either to keep things in the closet and lie about one's orientation, be celibate, or to use another for sexual gratification and then recant or step out of the closet for the entire world to see.” Isabelle stated firmly. “We are in danger here, Ladies, regardless of our being Americans, or visitors. We need to be very careful the next few days and just view the sites, see the gentleman in question, Lenora, and let us get out of Germany as soon as we can.” Sighing, she leaned back on the couch and closed her eyes.

“We see eye to eye on that,” Muriel agreed.

Lenora muttered agreement as well.

“Do you think we can come back here when times are a little less hectic?” Rose Marie asked.

Isabelle opened her eyes and gazed lovingly at her partner. She did not want to cause Rose any sadness or anguish on this trip, so, she simply nodded affirmatively.

“Another trip is worth consideration,” Muriel uttered before leaning over to whisper in her lover’s ear. “Time for bed, we have a long drive tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Lenora smiled at her aunt and halfway waved as Muriel drew her through the doorway and closed it gently behind her.

“I agree,” Isabelle stated firmly and rose, pulling her partner up beside her. “It’s time for us to retire also.”

“I’m tired enough, but I don’t think I can sleep,” Rose Marie yawned.

“Who said anything about sleeping?” Isabelle chuckled wickedly before she pulled the teacher slowly towards the open doorway of the other bedroom.

“Oh, you,” was all Rosie said, but her steps became quicker.

*****


Lenora and Muriel left in the arranged car just after sunrise.

Rose and Isabelle slept in and ordered breakfast to be sent to their rooms. They ate leisurely and showered together before heading off to see several points of interest the teacher had outlined as must see places.

The women visited The Reichstag and its dome and the Brandenburg Gate. They stood outside the Charlottenburg’s Palace but were told there was no longer any public admittance to the Palace. Feeling a little discouraged with their attempt to tour the Palace, Rose decided that The Pergamon Museum with its famous altar and the Gemäldegalerie with many Old Masters were breathtaking substitutes for not being allowed access to the Palace. They saved the Alte Nationalgalerie with is 19th-century paintings and sculpture as their last site before an early afternoon lunch.

The couple enjoyed a memorable meal of elderberry soup with cream, and lamb chops at Offenbach Stuben before they strolled down Unter den Linden and ended up window shopping along the Friedrichstrasse. The sidewalks and streets were crowed with brown shirts. The women were stopped many times and asked to show their papers. After the third command for their papers in less than a block, Isabelle’s temper began to flare. At a gentle tugging and urging from Rose Marie, they hailed a taxi and returned to the hotel. After a long, afternoon nap they decided to have a beer in the garden at Cafe am Neuen See while waiting for Lenora and Muriel to return.

That evening, the group had cocktails at Newton Bar then drifted over to the Sage Club to see the dancing to the rhythms of jazz, before they returned to the hotel dining room for a late supper. They discussed the day’s events, and all decided they would cut their visit short and leave as soon as arrangements could be made for themselves and the Fruliur family arrived.

*****


Lenora’s morning started early. She arranged for four private cars with six compartments on the Express from Berlin to Paris, and passage on the Clipper for fifteen people. The flying boat had to bump several passengers, but gave them tickets for Friday’s departure. She had paid eight times the normal cost for the tickets, but she wanted to get the Fruliur family and her own party out of Europe and safely back in the States.

She would make further arrangements while in New York for permanent visas for the family and would talk to them about filing papers to become American citizens on the long train ride from there to New Orleans. The hiring of private teachers for all of them, not only to teach them English, but for the naturalization exams had been discussed with Rose Marie, who would contact several of her acquaintances for the tutorage of the family.

Dr. Frederick Fruliur and eleven member of his immediate family had jumped at the chance to leave the hostile situation. The family had sold some belongs prior to Lenora’s arriving in an effort to obtain the necessary funds to slip from the country unnoticed. Two of the houses had been sold to long time friends that weren’t Jewish, but the good researcher and inventor’s family shipyard was abandoned completely. Actually, there wasn’t much left of the original structure, as the new regime had confiscated the docks, warehouses, and all the equipment and instrumentation as well as the material stored in the yard.

Fruliur had been relieved of his responsibilities in the actual shipyard, but had been allowed to maintain a small laboratory to continue his experimental navigational equipment fabrication under strict military supervision. He was so relieved when Lenora and Muriel showed up at his home during his short lunch break, as he realized that the interment of his entire family was already in the works. He had been warned just two days before by a long time friend that his name and that of his family would be on the list by the end of the week.

They had packed only one small suitcase each, slipping out after midnight and made their way to the hotel for a quick meal and then directly to the train station and the compartments. Wisely, Fruliur had maintained his passport and those of his relatives and through lifelong contact, even though he didn’t question the authenticity, the necessary travel permits several weeks prior to Lenora’s telephone call to him about her visit.

Lenora and Isabelle stood on the platform of the private car and watched the countryside go by. They would soon be at the Belgium border and finally breathe a sigh of relief.

"There are the border signs,” she pointed. “We should be stopping soon, to allow the Belgium authorities aboard,” the mariner said to her aunt.

“I won’t breathe freely until we are in Paris,” Isabelle spoke softly and turned to her niece. “We have to be on guard every minute Lenora. These are condemned people.”

"I know. And I won’t breathe freely until we are standing on USA soil again.” Lenora leaned back against the coach and rubbed the areas on her forehead above the eyes with her finger tips. “Maybe our fellow country men will stop being the mild-hearted and gentle Christians and take heed to what is happening to the afflicted Jews and other races and do something about it…but you and I know the history, six million of them will die, and Lord knows how many more before this regime ends.” She rubbed her head once more and opens the compartment door.

“By my word, Lenora, I am far too simple a minded person to be able to ridicule such a satanic breed. But, I wish I could express or somehow show opposition to what is happening."

“Yeah, we can only do so much without being discovered and having to deal with the time thing.”

*****


Chapter 10


It wasn’t difficult for the four women to get back into a daily routine after their trip to Europe. Each had their own interest and activities, and their evenings were often spent together, either attending the opera, dining out, or staying home for intimate gatherings. When they wanted to spend time alone, the couples would go their separate ways and do what they felt comfortable in doing.

Lenora and Muriel would put on their floppy shorts, with balloon shirts and head down the beach, where you could not find whiter sand or clearer waters than the shoreline of Pensacola. The couple would walk for miles on the beaches with pails, which were soon filled with various shells that Muriel would categorize and place inside glass displays that Lenora would make for them in her garage. Other times, they would sit on the porch not finding a quieter more beautiful sunset any where they had ever been. There were lots of things to do around the area. A two day trip to Apalachicola bay and oystering rated high with the diving couple and Wakulla Springs was a weekend haunt of theirs. The only disappointment with the Hotel at the springs was all the rooms, even the exclusive suites had only single beds. The wildlife viewing was spectacular as it came just by going out the door of the hotel either at the bay or inland at the springs, and even more amazing when the couple would take a canoe trip down one of the many rivers that weaved in and around the panhandle of the state.

At the St. Joe State Park, another haunt of the two women, the sheltered cove became a favorite sight. Overhead the seagulls screeched. At the water’s edge, where the couple dangled their feet in the cove, dozens of inch-long fish sensuously nibbled at the flesh on all of their toes. Muriel would laugh and do a gig in the water, but would come back to Lenora’s side and allow the small fish to nibble again. But when the crabs started towards them, they quickly left the water and continued down the beach in their quest for unusual shells.

Rose Marie and Isabelle preferred the beach at San Destin, only a forty-five minute ride from their home. They thought the beach there to be wonderful and the only place to go. It had a clean sandy bottom and great clean salty water. It was known that some gulf coast beach could be muddy but Destin was not. It also had no rocks, just shells and sand. Isabelle grew up on the Gulf in Florida and never had a problem with an occasionally soft bottom; however Rose Marie was a Maine native and liked her bottoms hard. Their home on the Point at Pensacola Bay, had a nice beach, but sometimes mud would collect behind the sand bar. Isabelle never noticed but Rose did and would talk her partner into outings at Destin…no mud, no soft bottoms. The home had some niceties however. It was certainly the nicest, especially after the remodeling done the year before with a nice sea wall and rock barriers gulf side. The water was not rough and for some other homeowners, it might seem a bit too quiet. They seldom had harsh surf, except during infrequent hurricanes. There was also little current and the water was relatively shallow. At high tide they usually found water over their heads within a hundred feet or so of the beach, but at low tide they could often wade out much farther, but even at low tide the water was swimable depth, about chest deep on both women. So they swam, and swam often, in summer. Isabelle usually swam first thing in the morning, and several times during the day. Rose Marie always took a dip just before going to bed at night, and often swam with her partner during the day. The beaches often consumed their time. But often, Isabelle would insist on arranging surprise plans for fishing trips and river expeditions that Rose would squeal with delight at the unexpected excursions.

Rose and Isabelle would fret when the weather didn’t cooperate with their plans. Then, when there was a break in the inclement weather, it was a perfect day for a lazy, wonderful, relaxing stroll, where all five of their senses were engaged and heightened, and there was no hurry in their actions, no expectation or judgment in their approach to the day. Just enjoying the pleasure of their strolls and being together. Isabelle would take off work early most days so she could spend time with Rose and they would both smile as the simplest of things. Life was good.

The foursome found themselves hooked on the jazz from their visit to Paris and every couple of weeks they would pile into Muriel’s Packard and drive the short trip to New Orleans for a weekend, just to listen to jazz. They always stayed at the eclectic New

Orleans Plaza on Canal Street. The swank hotel was built in the late 1920's and was an intimate and cozy place that stood out because of its history. In the early 1930's, the showroom was a gathering place for the jazz players of the time, and made a little more exciting by being a frequent visited spot of the gangsters of the era. Besides the hotel having a supper club where musicians met, it had a wonderful fashionable, rooftop bar-restaurant that has exquisite grilled food and the best of the views. The privileged location of the hotel, in the heart of Old New Orleans, made it an excellent place to explore this beautiful area of the city.

*****


The women didn’t know the way jazz influenced the “beat” writers of the thirties. The music was the music of revolt. The Bebop era arrived in answer to the bland ballads and lush orchestras of the swing years and the four became hooked, on the sound and the tempo.

As the music was consciously different, the hipsters who followed it strived to be different; they deliberately set themselves apart from the mainstream by their use of drugs, their eccentric clothing, and their creation of a "hip" language that used words such as "cat," "dig," "flip," "gone," and "groove." No matter much the foursome loved and jumped to the music and were considered jazz enthusiastic, they refrained from becoming a part of the hipster subculture and language use.

Jazz was the music of motion; as the main characters crisscrossed the country in their mad exploits, performing, their one and noble function of the time - move. Perhaps the moving mad music heard in the background was what hooked the foursome. It didn’t matter the reason, for that sound of the night which hop had come to represent, they just enjoyed the fast, upbeat, peppy playing of the jazz musicians. Although they all objected to parts of the crowd that flaunted the use of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin, Rose frequently verbalized her disgust with the seedy nigh clubs and the hipsters, who by their attitude, clothing and drug use, set themselves apart as being a bit on the dark side and bop rebellion. She stated it was largely the hipsters who created the notion of a "bop revolution" in jazz, and it was largely them, not the musicians, who created the wild nightlife that surrounded bop.

Referring to bop as dark may also, subconsciously or consciously, have been due to the black musicians who played it and the black nightclubs the group frequented when they went to hear it. For the Beats, the world of the Negro, the term they used at the time, was a wild, strange one; yet, they felt a kinship with blacks due to what they felt was a common ‘beatness’, a common rejection by mainstream society.

At one point, Muriel really made her position when she said, “I walked with every muscle aching, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night. We have been shaped only by what we know of this movement--the wild scenes and ‘kicks’ we experienced in black jazz clubs at night.”

“You might be right, Muriel, but have you considered that the black people might view that opinion as vastly one-dimensional?” Lenora asked.

“What do you mean?” The scientist raised one eyebrow.

“Sounds like you’re saying we only care cares about black society insofar as it can offer us kicks that mainstream white society cannot.” Isabelle interjected.

A stunned Muriel sat up straight. “Absolutely not. That wasn’t what I meant at all.” She leaned over the table and touched the banker’s shoulder, seeking her full attention. “I’d never compare blacks to that of 19th century American romantic racialists and neither would I use them as symbols of those entities that I may feel are tragically lacking in white civilization, namely the existential joy, wisdom, and nobility that comes from a history of suffering and victimization.”

“Are you saying because of their perception bop crown has labeled jazz and the folks that perform it as "mad" and "wild”, instead of the natural “alive” feeling of the men who play it, listen to it, and live it?”

“Exactly.” Muriel rested against the back of her seat. “The symbols of Jazz are namely the existential joy, wisdom, and nobility that comes from times gone by of beat and heat, and how many white musicians have the soul of an old fashioned jazz player?”

“Aunt Isabelle, the music and feeling is like…well almost an insane hunger to devour the entire body of human experience,” Lenora interjected.

“Yes, precisely,” Muriel added.

The conversation ended as the piano hit a chord and the women turned to face the stage and the musicians just as the saxophone whaled in, followed by a sharp trumpet and drums. The group settled down to an enjoyable evening of motion and movement, jazz at its finest.

The couples did not want for other forms of evening life either. When they tired of the jazz, they would go swimming or wading at night. In the summer the bioluminescence was indescribable and the foursome never forgot the sight and talked of it and the jazz mood from visit to visit. They would often pick a dark spot, on a moonless night and go in at least waist deep. It wasn’t dangerous and in the summer the water was plenty warm. They frequently walked the beach at night, took a lantern and looked for ghost crabs. The sea creatures wouldn't bother the women, but seeing them was fun. If they were looking for a wild night in a particular beach bar, it was only a few minutes from the hotel, and sometimes just a quick walk down the beach.

Muriel and Rose Marie were belles at all times. During the day, they wore women’s’ convertible suit, a jacket, short skirt, and blouse. The jacket could be shed for more formal attire at night. Isabelle had insisted while they were in Paris they shipped one hundred pair of silk stockings each to their Pensacola homes. In the evening, Rose would deck out in exquisite A line evening dresses, with side metal zipper, and hand beaded on waist, bodice and sleeves. There was an attached belt in the back with a jewel neckline which fell just below the knees. Rosie insisted on having five buttons at the back of her neck. Muriel went for the snaps and hooks and an evening gown that often floated. She preferred the former look, the empire-waist gown with ties at the back, and often boasted large puffy sleeves. Bows were another of her preferences. When these two entered a room, all heads turned toward them.

When they had to dress in the evening, Isabelle and Lenora would wear simple straight lined satin attire, but during the day sport suits, leather jackets, and middy slacks were their basic wear. All four of them would wear beach pajamas, and tennis dresses during the day and often floppy pajamas type breaches and blouses would be adorned for their nightly beach visits.

As they sat at a sidewalk café for a social drink, they would be dumb founded at the length women would go to give the illusion they had on silk stockings with their prominent seams, they would draw a line up the backs of their legs with eyeliner.

“Isabelle, I want to thank you for your foresight in shipping four hundred pairs of silk stocking home. I never realized there would be a shortage of such a necessary item.” Rosie expressed gratitude to her partner.

“I don’t think our Coco Channel gowns would look right without them,” Muriel added her appreciation.

“Honey, you and Rosie could make a potato sack look great with or without stockings,” Lenora beamed.

“I agree with you, Lenora, they are definitely the two most attractive women in New Orleans, or any other place for that matter.” The banker adjusted her beret to an angle, and smoothed the lapel of business suit.

Lenora was the only one to wear trousers most of the time, and would often have on a leather jacket if she didn’t wear one of her twenty blazers. The other three would often wear their Christian Dior new look of feminine dresses with long, full skirts, and tight waists. Comfortable, low-heeled shoes were forsaken for pumps. . Hair was curled high on the head in front, and worn to the shoulders in the back, or was worn shoulder length and wavy and make-up during the day was socially acceptable. Lenora continued with her bob haircut and limited her footwear to boots, flat shoes, slip on styles, lace-ups and occasionally she would wear buckled loafers Channel had designed especially for her.

Muriel and Rosie were showered with jewelry by their partners. It was nothing for them to find a new broach, a dress clip, or a diamond necklace on their pillows or delivered on a silver platter at meal time.

During this particular time in the 1930’s, accessories were deemed required items. You demanded one for summer wear because for you it was just a must have item, like a must see movie today. The blazers descended from coats worn by tennis and rowing teams of the Universities in England. These blazers were worn with linen or cotton slacks and shorts and the four women were always dressed properly when they were out in public.

Becoming acquainted with three other women from the nightclub scene they would often spend a late night at a local wine bar, which made the wine, maybe not the oldest or the best, but a well-entrenched one in the Louisiana wine scene.

When they entered the place, after looking from the outside at the beautiful 1930's shop window, the bar was buzzy and lots of locals and tourists were enjoying the wines at the counter. The venue was quite narrow, with the counter on the left and a dozen tables in the back. Rowdy Willi's was also known for its fine food. The group would sit at the far end of the counter, drinking wine as they enjoyed the atmosphere while looking at framed posters on the wall. Each of them had been created by a different artist each year for over twenty years. Two years later, three of them would be at this very bar, drinking wine and listening to Jazz when England declared war on Germany.

*****


Their routine continued for about eight months after their return from Europe. Then, almost immediately, Isabelle and Rose Marie started spending more and more time alone at home. When Lenora and Muriel would try and convince their fiends to go out with them or do some activity, Isabelle would give some logical explanation, but definitely decline attending all functions.

“Do you suppose we are being slighted for some reason?” Muriel finally asked. “Have we done something to offend or hurt either of them?”

“I can’t think of anything,” Lenora answered. “It has been weeks now since we have spent any time with them, and they haven’t even come to dinner once.” She stood up and tossed the book she had been reading to the swing. “I’ve had all of this I can stand, and I’m about to get to the bottom of whatever is the problem,” her hand reached down to help Muriel up. “Come on, get a sweater, and we’ll just go over there and face them.”

“Do you think that is a good idea?” Muriel posed. “Didn’t Isabelle say…oh, never mind, you are going to go regardless of our being invited or not.”

“You got that right,” the mariner jerked her leather jacket from the back of the kitchen door and scooped her keys off the counter. “I’ll drive,” she opened the kitchen door and stepped aside for Muriel to pass.

“I’m still not sure this is a good idea,” the marine-biologist stepped by her partner and pulled on her sweater before going to the other side of Lenora’s truck.

“Get in, please. What are they going to do, slam the door in our faces?”

Muriel pulled the door shut. “That’s a very good possibility.”

“Well, they will have to refuse to open the door then, because I’m tired of this crap.” She slammed the gear into reverse and squealed the tires as the truck backed out of the garage.

Ten minutes later, Lenora banged the door knocker sharply three times and stood back. The couple looked at each other when they heard no movement coming from inside.

“I know they’re home because the garage door is open and I could see both Aunt Isabelle’s and Rosie’s cars.” Her hand clutched the knocker once again and was about to knock when the door opened.

“Uh…Hi Aunt Isabelle, we’re here and we aren’t leaving until you tell us what is wrong, or what’s going on?” Lenora literally pushed her way past her aunt and stood to one side of the foyer.

Isabelle sighed, and motioned for Muriel to enter. “Come on to the library, and do be quiet as Rose is taking a nap,” snapped the banker, in frustration.

Lenora squared her shoulders, motioned for Muriel to proceed ahead of her and huffed after her partner and aunt.

Isabelle stood by the fireplace and crossed her arms in annoyance. "Not that I owe either of you an explanation, but as family, I suppose you should know," she stated flatly.

“You’re darn tooting we should know,” snarled Lenora as she draped her arm around Muriel on the sofa. “Uh…know what?”

The banker took a deep breath and tightened her fingers around the fireplace poker, jabbed the logs several times before she returned the poker to the stand and turned to face her niece. “Rose Marie is ill.”

Muriel and Lenora felt numb. Perhaps it was the way Isabelle hung her head, or the sadness in her voice.

Finally, Lenora cleared her throat, “How ill, Aunt Isabelle, and can we do anything to help?”

“Oh, my,” Muriel was up off the couch and to the bankers side. “What aren’t you telling us?” The scientist placed her arm around Isabelle’s shoulders, who was in her arms instantly and broke down in constant sobs.

Lenora joined the two women at the fireplace and hugged them both. “Let it out. Go ahead and let it out, Aunt Isabelle.” She comforted her relative. “Take your time, darling. We’re here for you and Rosie.”

Within seconds, Muriel joined in with soft sobs, for deep in her being, she knew Isabelle was not only feeling sad, but felt the numbness and scared emotion as well. Something really terrible was frightening the banker and the feeling was beginning to saturate her too.

“What…?” Lenora asked softly before she started sniffling herself. She realized there was a crisis, but still unsure as to the extent, so the logical thing seemed to be to cry with her partner and aunt.

Eventually the tears subsided and Isabelle went to the desk drawer and pulled out three handkerchiefs. Giving one to niece and her partner, she dried her eyes. “She is dying,” she said softly.

“OH, NO!” both women said in unison.

Isabelle went and sat on the sofa, where she was joined by the two shocked women.

"Does Rosie know?" "

Not yet," Isabelle responded determinedly.

The three sat there for a long time before anything else was said.

Lenora felt a cold anger building inside. It just wasn’t fair, Rosie was too young, and her aunt loved her beyond words. It just wasn’t fair. “This is just unbelievable and so unfair,” snarled the mariner as she reached over and brushed her aunt’s cheek with her lips. “Aunt Isabelle, I’m …I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you, Lenora,” sighed Isabelle.

“Me too, sweetie, I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do?” Muriel asked.

The banker turned to her, “Yes. You can direct all the marine institutes’ research in the course of a cure for various cancers in this millennium.”

Suddenly it became clear why Isabelle had planned and maneuvered their lives and the trip for them in their other life. A cure for the dreaded disease was a major goal of her life’s work.

Muriel nodded and hugged her benefactor. "You know I'm always here for you Isabelle, both as a scientist and a friend. Trust me when I say, all research will take on a very determined objective from this day forth."

“Thank you, darling.” Isabelle managed a weak smile.

“How long?” Lenora muttered the words while holding her aunt’s hand.

“The doctors aren’t sure.” Sad eyes turned to face her niece. “But I know she won’t make it to Christmas.”

“That’s the reason for her loss of appetite and the fatigue she was displaying a couple months ago, isn’t it?” Muriel asked.

“Yes, and the headaches, and the two bone fractures within days of each other.”

“If we were….oh, hell, this time warp wouldn’t help either,” Lenora was frustrated.

“No, it would be the same if we were in a different time. Her life could be extended, but the results would be the same. I want her to have quality of life, not quantity of life.” The banker stood and walked back to the fireplace. “The rate of spread varies greatly with each individual and with cell type. However, growth is typically seen over months rather than days or years, but in her case, it’s…” She didn’t finish.

“How…?” Lenora moved over on the sofa closer to her partner.

Muriel took her hand. “From my training, the cells are abnormal and divide without control or order. These cells can invade and destroy the tissue around them, break away from a malignance and can enter the bloodstream or other systems without warning.” She patted her lover’s hand. “This process is called metastasizing and is how the disease spreads from the original growth to form new growths in other parts of the body, and eventually destroys all the good, healthy cells.”

The banker took the poker from the rack and pushed a log back onto the grate before she turned to face the women again. “I’ve had three trips back in time, and the statistics are always basically the same. These statistics tell us that the disease development is a multi-factorial process, meaning many different factors contribute to developing the disease, and there just has to be a cure out there somewhere. I believe it is in the ocean, and I want you two to find it.” She stamped her foot and began to sniffle again.

Lenora stood and rushed to her aunt. “I promise every ship, every resource I have, will assist in Muriel’s research,” came the determined reply.

Muriel stood too, and joined her loved ones. “You have my solemn vow on that also, Isabelle.”

“Thanks, the both of you, thanks," came the shaky reply. "Lenora, Muriel?"

“Yes,” they responded together.

“Promise you won’t tell her, I don’t want her to know.”

After considering the request, Lenora responded, “If you think that is best, then we will respect your wishes.” The mariner hugged her aunt.

“Quality of life, is my wish for her. I want her to be happy with the time she has, so, perhaps you two can come over and we could do some things at home that wouldn’t tax her too much.”

“We’d be happy to do what ever we can.” Muriel hugged the woman again. “I just don’t know how I will not break down in front of her though.”

“Same goes for me. I get all tear eyed just thinking about it….damn, it’s just so unfair.” Lenora said anxiously.

They talked for almost an hour until they heard Rosie bump into the table in the hallway. All three rushed out to find their friend leaning against the wall.

“Thought I would surprise all of you, but my legs just don’t want to hold me up,” the sickly woman said as she started to slide down the wall. Both Isabelle and Lenora were at her side before she slid three inches and together they helped her to the grand sitting room and an oversize chair.

“Hey, I have a great idea,” Muriel kneeled before the chair. “Why don’t we have a nice lap lunch here in the house…you know, a picnic and spread out a cloth on the floor and pig out.”

“Yeah, that sounds like…”

“I don’t know if Rosie has the stamina for that right now. She has been a little under the weather,” Isabelle said.

“Nonsense, sweetheart. We haven’t seen them in weeks, and I really want to spend a little time with them. After all, Isabelle, Muriel and I haven’t had come up with any interesting trips for us to take after Christmas.” It was a plea that the banker couldn’t deny.

“Okay, but I don’t want you to over exert yourself…and Muriel, I am not going to some forsaken place in the Amazon like you two were talking about while in New Orleans our last visit.” The banker attempted to make light of the situation.

“Now ladies, would Rosie and I plan a trip that you two wouldn’t agree on?”

“YES!” Lenora and Isabelle answered together.

Rosie and Muriel both chuckled lightly. “Well, you took us on for better or worse, and that includes any trips we might conjure up. Right Rosie?”

“You’re absolutely correct, my friend. If you will go into the library and in the right hand lower drawer of my desk, you’ll find an envelope full of bulletins I’ve been collecting.” Rosie explained.

Muriel stood. “You two might as well go fix the picnic.” She turned to go to the library, but stopped and looked over her shoulder. “Don’t even think about peanut and jam sandwiches. We want pastrami and mustard on those marvelous wheat rolls, right Rosie?”

“Yes, and a plate of sliced cheeses and olives,” she snickered.

Lenora and Isabelle looked at each other knowing they would comply with any wishes their partners made.

“I suppose you want wine?” The banker asked.

“No, we want lemonade with the lunch.” Rosie responded.

“You’re making that, Aunt Isabelle,” Lenora punched her relative gently in the shoulder.

“Hey, don't punch me, you little pip squeak" grumbled Isabelle. “

Come on grumpy, I’ll even brave the elements and get the picnic basket from the garage.”

“You know it’s in the panty,” the younger woman snipped as she followed her niece from the room.

Muriel returned with the brochures and spread them out on the floor where Rosie joined her. She picked up first one bulletin then another before the sickly woman spoke. “I know how ill I am Muriel, and I know my time is short, but I don’t want her to worry any more then she already is, so please explain to Lenora that I appreciate you both going along with Isabelle in attempting to make my time here….”

The scientist leaned over and hugged her friend. “What ever you want Rosie. How do you know?” “

We’ve been to dozen of doctors, and I’ve read some medical journals. Besides, I overhead two physicians discussing the outcome with Isabelle on a couple of occasions.”

Muriel only nodded. “Can we do anything?”

“Be there for her afterwards. I don’t want her alone. When enough time has gone by, do encourage her to find someone to spend her life with and be happy.” The teacher’s pleading eyes spoke volumes. “Can you do that for me?”

Muriel gulped several times. “We’ll do our best, but I don’t think we will be very convincing about her finding someone else.” “

In time,” she patted her hand, “Time heals all things, and you will know when the time is right.”

“Okay, I’ll try.”

“Good. Now let us find some dreadfully, horrible place to get them in an uproar about,” she picked up a brochure on the jungles of New Guinea and the Amazon jungle.. They snickered wickedly.

*****


The women believed every life was unique. The choices they made to celebrate that life was also unique, but they knew that Rose Marie would have wanted the simple service they had at the graveside that rainy morning in early December. Gentle rolling lawns with quiet walkways, picturesque statues and well-maintained landscaping contribute to the solemn beauty of her final resting place. Dating back to the mid-1890s, it was one of the oldest cemeteries in the area. Not only would the grave be visited by the trio often, with an occasional picnic beside the stone to celebrate the missed loved one, but Isabelle had insured that it would be immaculately maintained for years to come.

It’s often hard to know just what to say when you know someone who’s grieving. It wasn’t only Isabelle who was grieving, but all three of them. They never attempted to say words to cheer each other up. It was perfectly normal and natural for them to feel sad, angry, numb, scared, and lonely and down in the dumps. They often talked and shared their feelings and memories. They cried together and separately, and would drag out the photo albums frequently, especially the one of the trip to Paris, and smile at one snapshot or the other. Rosie’s name was mentioned often, and they were talk about the circumstances of her death. A plan of research was established for the institutes and a new Rose Marie Taborn wing was dedicated strictly for research. This all helped the reality of the loss to sink in which was an important part of their grieving process.

There is a universal need to express grief, which can be met in different ways, depending on the persons involved, and their beliefs, circumstances and culture. The trio understood that grief was not a sign of weakness or poor coping skills. It was a healthy normal part of the healing process and they helped each other to heal.

It seemed unbelievable, but they learned to readjust to their loss. This didn’t mean that their grief was cured or that they would ever forget Rosie. Even in the months and years to come, there were still occasions when they felt sad about her passing.

*****


A fiasco had to be addressed when the vent to the new dryer they had installed just after Christmas went out. The installers, unbeknown to either of the women had decided to end the vent underneath the laundry room rather to the actual out-of-doors. In order to allow the moisture to escape they had simply left open the space between the top of the foundation and the floor of the back deck. The problem was that not only did moisture escape, but cold air came in. During their first winter in their bayside home, the improper ventilation had caused water in the drainpipe from the washer to freeze solid.

One morning when Muriel did a load of wash and the machine pumped water into the drain, it went down as far as the ice block and then came up in an impressive gray geyser and flooded the laundry room. Because of the cold air beneath the room, the puddle froze solid on the floor. The floor sagged in the middle because of it and when it turned warm, it would mean replacing all the joists in the laundry room and kitchen. But for now, Lenora had several of her shipyard workers at the house and spent the better part of a day in the crawlspace beneath the laundry room extending the dryer vent further and upward so that it now popped up in an out-of-the-way corner of the deck like a periscope. They filled in the area between the joists with insulation and backed that up with remnant carpet between the joist, and for good measure, over the entire wall of the foundation wall through the vent passes. This entire process would be repeated with the replacement of the joist in warmer weather.

Early the next autumn, Lenora had to again spend some time under the house. Muriel refused to even hold the light for her under the crawl space. “I’ll go under the sea with you and swim with all kinds of marine life, but I’m not crawling into some dark under-space for some giant rodent to make lunch out of any part of my body.”

“Well, could you at least stand outside while I check out why the floor keeps getting so cold and hold the end of this rope so I can get an idea at to the distance under here?”

The scientist reluctantly agreed and reached for the coil of rope.

“Just tie these pieces of twine around the rope when I call out to you,” Lenora said then squatted to crawl under the house.

Some animal had chewed a hole through the insulation that covered a large hole in the dry-laid stone foundation at some time in the past. It was also obvious that the neighborhood cat or cats were making regular trips into the crawlspace. When Lenora merely replaced the insulation and put a few stones there to hold it up, the animals simply pushed them aside. So, she had to rebuild the wall to entirely fill in the hole. Again, Muriel refused to crawl under the house.

A few months passed with the women busy with their work, especially since the War effort had taken over the ship yard, and the marine research institutes were now testing navy diving equipment and various other military research programs.

Hurricane season came, but Muriel, having never been through a hurricane, didn’t pay it much attention. One Friday morning, the sky went dark like a sudden memory of a night without any moor, and a cold wind roared out of the gulf in a fury over the research Institute that she immediately dismissed all the employees and headed to the dock to help Lenora with whatever chore needed to be done. Lenora asked her to motor the sailboat as closely as possible behind the barge and up into the bay closer to the house so it could be tied up to their new pier and weather the storm.

After the boats were secure, they set about fastening the storm shutters into place before they dug out the candles and lanterns and filled them. Isabelle had taken the train to Atlanta the day before and called, asking them to get someone to close up her shutters as well. Lenora told her they would have to do it as she had closed the shipyard shortly after the morning shift reported to work.

“So, that’s the reason you had me to put that kerosene burner in the garage and fill those two crates with various canned goods,” Muriel stated as she fastened Isabelle’s last shutter.

“Yep. You only lived in Florida for a year before our time travel and never experienced on of our typical hurricanes. Pretty sure we are going to get hit badly, and the power and water will be the first things that go.” The mariner picked up the tool box and headed for her truck.

“You sure our house is secure enough? Should we try and outrun it to someplace in Alabama…say Birmingham, or even go over to Atlanta?”

“The time for that would have been yesterday, I’m afraid this one just blew in without warning and from memory, our house has stood through three pretty harsh canes,” Lenora carefully placed the tool box behind the seat and got in.

“I suppose you’re right, but I sure would feel better if we were with Isabelle.”

“Me too, but we’ll be okay. I’ve been through several.”

“Are we going to have to sleep on the floor in the hallway?” The scientist rolled up the window and turned towards her partner.

“Depends on if we get a direct hit or not, or which side of the eye we end up being on.” She looked both ways before she pulled onto the highway and headed home.

The winds picked up through the morning and pretty soon things were flying around outside their house, including the newly installed trellis in the garden. Then several trees toppled over. The trees crashed down across power lines and at one-thirty in the afternoon the power went out in Pensacola. It would stay down all weekend and not be back on until the following Tuesday. They went out to check out the boats several times later on Friday afternoon. They noticed many shrimper and fishing craft were tied up further down the channel and were bobbing harshly in the stirring tide. The yearly regional music festival called the Dance Flurry had to shut down earlier that morning, even before it had gotten started good. Several of the booths could be seen bobbing about the channel before they did a deep six and sank.

The gas stove was still working and they had penne with mushrooms and a nice salad by candle light. They had lots of candles on hand, and a kerosene lamp and a battery-powered lantern and several flashlights. Lucky them, for with the stove burners all lit, they were perfectly comfortable at the table as a damp coolness has settled over the house.

“I’ve made us a bed in the hallway,” Lenora said after dinner. “Let us blow out the candles and use the lantern and we’ll snuggle for a while before we try and get some sleep.”

“Didn’t the battery radio say the hurricane would be hitting Mobile about midnight and not us?” Muriel asked as she blew out the candle beside her plate.

“Yes, but that puts us the wrong side of the eye, and we will get strong wind, even if it is only a category two storm.”

“Well, you can depend on me snuggling really close all night,” the scientist snuffed out the last candle and extended her hand to her partner.

“Snuggling is good, but I bet we can do a little more than snuggle, don’t you?” Her eyebrows wiggled up and down.

“And be all nude and sweaty when the storm blows off the roof?” Muriel asked.

“We’ll be finished long before midnight, darling and we can put our clothes back on.”

“We normally go longer than three hours, Lenora, but I can’t think of a better way to pass the time.” She smiled, then leaned over and captured her partner’s lips in a searing kiss.



*****


Part 5, Chapter 11 (Conclusion)

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