Baine was making reservations for one at the Ritz Carlton a week before Valentine’s Day, the reservations were for him. It had become an annual ritual that initially started as a exercise to rebuild his self-esteem after a difficult breakup with his ex-lover Nelson. There was still some progress to be made toward healing himself before Baine would consider getting into another relationship; and though he had become lonely over the past 5 years he was still protective of his freedom. It’s funny how years of bad memories can surge through the mind in mere seconds… that is where Baine was, reliving those painful moments again but each time seemed lighter than the one before. While he was waiting for the concierge to complete his reservations he had drifted off daydreaming while a rather annoying Baroque flourish played in the background. The concierge had put him on hold but had presently picked up again putting an end to the shrill symphonic argument of Gabrielli.
“Mr. Terrant are you still holding?” the concierge asked. Baine provided a blasé confirmation and he felt as if he had been kept waiting far too long. The woman started to close the reservations saying, “Let me just go over your reservation for one at The Ritz Carlton Georgetown location. The reservation includes the Valentine’s Day buffet for one at $75.00; A bottle of champagne at $95.00; complementary open bar; hotel reservations for a single suite with a south facing balcony overlooking the water for $475.00 for one night and the total bill will be for $709.50. Will you be using your Visa Black Card Mr. Terrant? Shall I charge your account now Mr. Terrant to confirm your reservation?”
Baine, agreed almost without thinking… realizing the bill was somewhat less than he had estimated so he offered, “Are you certain of the amount? Only $709.50 sounds great, did I get discount or did you apply some promotion?” The concierge responded, “Yes, we noticed this is your 5th year in a row and so the manager personally took $100 off of the suite which is usually $575.00 per night. So if this price suits you I will go ahead and run the card now.”
There was a brief pause while Baine absorbed what the salesperson had said having been distracted by a tenacious pop-up on the screen of his laptop. He finally pulled his wits together and authorized the sale then waited for the concierge who presently resumed, “Thank you Mr. Terrant, your reservations have been approved your confirmation number, 21420140000012 will be forwarded to your cellphone by text. We look forward to seeing you next Friday. Please notify us at least by Wednesday if you will be using our complementary limousine service and let us know if you have a preferred driver. Goodbye!”
The phone went silent and seconds later a series of electronic beeps followed indicating that the phone connection had been terminated. Baine looked at the screen, shifted to his text just seconds after getting the text alert for the promised confirmation number then shut his phone off before setting it on the desk. Here I go again, he thought, another year alone but I made it… so the least I can do is blow a few bucks to help me forget about my loneliness for a night…
Later that night Baine began to pick out his Valentine’s Day clothes. This year he had got a dark chocolate silk tuxedo made with an oversized retro 1970’s black silk collar. He stroked the smooth nap of a huge brown velvet bowtie he had also had made specifically for this occasion and placed it next to the white ruffled tuxedo shirt with brown stitch. He thought he’d wear the Baltic Amber studs; he loved them because each one contained a rare Pleistocene fossil. He spoke out loud to himself, “If a fossil can last for 2.6 million years then why Nelson couldn’t and I last for just a few years?” A draught of some good whiskey ensued lasting only a few minutes in its handsome antique old fashioned glass. It would have been followed by another if Baine had not come across a letter hiding at the bottom of one of his cravat drawers. He set it atop the desk and glared at it. The stationary had yellowed from the oils of Baines fingers, from frequent handling and you could see just where he always held the envelope to pull the note out because it was distinctly darker than the rest of the paper. Baine set the letter down atop the desk and went to bed without reading it. He has read it perhaps a billion times already… he knew it implicitly… now whenever he thought about it, it made him sleepy.
Friday morning Baine telecommuted and after finishing a few conference calls he set his email and cellphone with his standard out of office greeting. He was done for the week and slipped the cellular into the drawer pulling out his private cellphone and checking to be certain he had set his business line to forward important data via text. Everything was ready, his housekeeper had packed the clothes and other items he had thoughtfully laid out in his dressing room a few days earlier and the limousine was scheduled to pick him up at noon. Baine had chilled an important bottle of champagne and there were some cheeses and caviar chilling in the refrigerator, everything was going to turn out perfectly, the way it had for the past few years. When he turned on his personal cellular phone it rang and whistled and chimed up a veritable storm. The instantaneous prompts flashed across the screen just slow enough for him to catch “Happy Valentine’s Day” and there must have been hundreds of them now in his text log. For a second he wondered how he could have gotten so many Valentine’s wishes and no serious offers to spend a romantic Valentine’s Day. But as fleeting as the messages illuminated his screen his thoughts moved away from that direction and back upon the execution of another perfectly planned Valentine’s Day Celebration spent by himself! How perfect could that be?
He walked out of the door with a small plate of caviar and a half-finished bottle of champagne and as his head just nearly cleared the roof of the limousine the driver let out an inaudible sigh of relief. As he had requested, a collection of early works of Scott Joplin had been streamed into the limousines club-like sound system. The driver asked him if he wanted to go directly his hotel speaking in a handsome Cote d’Ivoire accent that began to strangely arouse Baines best intentions. At first Baine could not easily formulate any sound from his lips because his mouth was still very briny from the caviar, hence the deep gulp of champagne that presently rendered his thoughts audible as he managed to reply, “Yes, please let’s go take my things to my room now,” then he hesitated, “I didn’t catch your name?” A rather lengthy moment of silence followed before the driver actually responded to Baines request but not, as he had initially thought, because the driver was being rude. The driver resplied, “Jean-Jaques my good friend; Jean-Jaques.” It was clear now that Jean-Jaques had been speaking with someone on his wireless earpiece and had simply not responded immediately because he was embroiled in a heated debacle with whomever was on the other end of his phone call. He went on in a very plaintive and angry voice:
“Je ne sais même pas pourquoi j'ai pris la peine d'essayer de vous aimer Trente, je serais probablement encore plus de chance avec mon iguane. Maintenant, je suis au volant certaine baise riche autour de la Saint Valentin au lieu de siroter du vin dans vos bras. Je suppose que je ferais mieux de juste essayer de faire de l'argent puisque je ne serai pas capable de faire l'amour ... Eh bien au revoir petit garçon! J'espère que vous posez avec Somone qui vous aime comme je le faisais parce que je ne peux plus aimer ... Je vous donne à lui! Au revoir! "
Translation : I don't know why I even bothered to try to love you Trente, I'd probably have better luck with my pet iguana. Now I'm driving some rich fuck around on Valentine's Day instead of sipping wine in your arms. I guess I'd better just try to make money since I won't be able to make love... Well goodbye little boy! I certainly hope you are laying with someone who will love you the way I did because I cannot love you anymore... I give you up to him! Goodbye!"
Of course Baine was perfectly oblivious to what Jean-Jaques had said but alas the human experience is a common one and he realized that his driver was arguing with his lover, whether it was a woman or man he did not know at this time but he did catch the name Trente a couple of times and wondered if his better judgment had run away with him. When Baine got out of the limousine he was certain that he detected a distinct melancholy in Jean-Jaques voice and decided to break protocol and invite him upstairs for a quick drink. To his surprise Jean-Jaques eagerly accepted his offer and in no time the two of them were sitting on a long leather sofa looking out from a floor to ceiling window that ran the entire length of he suite. The window looked out over the Potomac river, Watergate and the Kennedy Center stretched out on the left and the city of Rosslyn rose up like a magnificently lit spur of light on the south shore of the river. Baine was worried that he had perhaps broken some unspoken rule and that house management would be pounding on his door with a huge Ritz Carlton Badge held up in his face. After a couple of hours went by and they had ordered several bottles of champagne he realized this was not going to happen… actually he was surprised that he was having a great time with Jean-Jaques.
Around 2:00 P.M. Baine began to see a change in Jean-Jaques demeanor, something was ticking up in his brain and he feared it would only be a short while before he began to ask him if he was married or where his girlfriend was and even worse he might have to fend off an offer to set him up with a woman to keep him occupied for the night. Jean-Jaques was standing opposite him holding his glass and looking through the effervescence directly at Bain and he said without any hesitation, “So how long ago did you break up with your boyfriend?” Oddly enough the ice had been so instantaneously broken that Blaine responded almost immediately, “It has been nearly 5 years now and although I am no longer in love with him I do not understand how to open that door which was once there to allow another man into my heart.”
Jean-Jaques cleared the distance between them and placed his hand on Blaine’s chest in the area where he imagined his heart to be saying, “It is not that your heart is not open my friend it is only that you have not met anyone who understands how to open it. Your ex either did not care or was incapable of opening up your heart but it does take a bit more. You see once a heart is opened one has to step into it and live there. If both lovers are open in that way they live partially inside of one another and in that way they are able to survive nearly everything because they now reside in two bodies instead of just one.”
The champagne somehow made what Jean-Jaques said seem so clear. Blaine began to feel like a child who was being taught a lesson about love from an elder but he realized that Jean-Jaques was actually quite younger than him. It’s not age, he thought, but it is experience that counts the most and this man had certainly lived a great deal, enough that he was keenly tuned in to Blaine’s temperament. Before he could think anymore Jean-Jaques began to gather his coat and hat and prepared to leave heading to the bathroom disappearing down the broad hallway of the suite. Blaine began to sink into the softness of the couch his eyes fixed on the huge window and all the lights moving around in the city before him. He was strangely contented to just watch it and did not desire to become lost in its cacophony. He had forgot that Jean-Jaques was even there when suddenly he felt two hands trail across his chest from either side and rest just below his pectorals, he felt the warm fresh breath of Jean-Jaques massaging his neck and ear as he spoke to him bidding him thanks for the amazing party. He was almost certain that Jean-Jaques tongue intentionally licked the inside of his earlobe as he was speaking to him and when he began to walk to the door he made a quick crotch check to see if he had been aroused but Jean-Jaques was well composed and showed no visible signs of arousal. “You have been a perfect Valentine… Call me if you need me tonight” he whispered to Blaine before he walked out of the door…
By Bigdaddy Blues…