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October 2018, vol 14 no 3

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Alexis Rotella

Too Much Champagne

As I often do at these crowded gatherings, I take breaks and go out for air. I’ve taken this particular walk several times and know my way back to the hotel, a hotel whose name I can’t remember. But this particular evening I find myself in neighborhoods which don’t feel at all familiar. I try to backtrack, walk up a flight of stone steps, then realize this is not right.

Dusk is about to fall. I enter a one-room restaurant filled with women who all resemble Julia Child. In passable French, I feel free to say I’m lost. And I'm American. My voice trembles as do my hands. I dig into my purse for a slip of paper or a receipt that might prove useful. There’s nothing there but a blank notepad and tube of red lip-gloss. I ask a cook with flour on her nose for a business directory – perhaps if I scan through a list of hotels it might spark a memory. But there is no such book.

One of the women, who used to live in New York, agrees to walk with me in hopes of finding the quiet side street where my colleagues are now having dinner. Instead we find ourselves at a lookout where the sky holds countless stars. The beauty overwhelms but only until I remember I’m lost. The thought of roaming these streets alone is terrifying. My companion, whose name hasn’t yet been revealed, offers to put me up for the night. She says her couch is comfortable. Her face looks kind and she seems sincere. What choice do I have?

Wanted poster
a terrorist
with sanpaku eyes