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M – Part seventeen…



Collapsed on my sectional sofa, with just a very soft music for an ambiance, we toast to the beginning of my well-earned vacation. We get the yapping started, and talk about all and nothing, smoking like two chimneys. The lights are dimmed, the wine is good and the music is soothing. We chat about the office’s gossip. (Maude was off today, and missed the wasabi incident)

Then we drift off, and go more into confidences. It is nice, because we’re pretty much alike. Both of us look like open books to other people, because we are sociable and discuss easily anything of an unimportant matter… At the office, everybody knows about the absolute lack of decoration in my apartment, and everybody is aware of Margrethe (Maude’s cat) full medical record. But we have in common a private garden (no, of course we don’t share the same one, we each grow our own… ) that we guard fiercely. People having access to them are very few. (Not Fiou… few!) But since we all have a need to confide from time to time, it seems that over time, and a glass of wine, we gave each other a mutual right of passage. I think we both get a lot out of it.

– Ok, who is it??
Brutal comeback to earth. I had my head in the clouds for just a few seconds, and apparently Maude has asked me the same question three times without any reaction, while I was staring straight at her. I wave, meaning it is nothing but she will not let go.

– If it isn’t a man, it’s a stroke! So either you spit it up, or I’m off to get the car!!

I burst in laughter, take a sip of wine, telling myself that the bottle most certainly contains a truth serum, since I barely hesitate before surrendering, and answering her question.

– I think I might have met someone!

– Might? Might as in you dreamt of someone and you hope to meet him someday, or might as in you HAVE met someone??

I start laughing again. Maude is not the kind of person to beat about the bush, especially if there is anything spicy at stake. I tell her about yesterday, and she can’t keep herself from mocking me when I explain how clumsy I’ve been (again).

She puts on a very serious look when she learns Gabriel invited me for lunch, and I can see she records, analyzes and files all the information I feed her. At the end of the storytelling, she looks confused.

– One little question here… Why didn’t you go?

It isn’t a question, it is criticism. I try to explain that I had to come back for work, that it was stupid to hope for more than a meal, that he was probably married anyway…

– OooOOoOOooK! First! I soooooooo would have let Renée go through the trouble of replacing me if this guy is one tenth as charming as you are describing him. Second, in three years, I have never seen you get excited over any member of the male community, so I think it would have been interesting to investigate a tad more. Come on Maryse… “playing doctor”, “can I light your fire?”… You really think he wasn’t trying to send out any message?!? And third, letting a chance like that pass you by evoking a probably imaginary wife… I pity you Maryse!!

Maude is joking, but I can see that she is as disappointed for me as I am for myself. I try to make up for it by telling her there are always women on his pictures… Oops, I realize what I just said a split second too late.

– His pictures?? Which pictures?? You’ve been talking about Gabriel for about an hour now, telling me how incredibly handsome he is, how elegant, feline and classy… Blabbing about his eyes, his arms, his butt…. And you have pictures??? Why the hell didn’t you tell me before?

I feel a little guilty, but I would have preferred to keep Maude far from Gabriel’s Facebook page for now. Because I know her. She is well capable of coming up with twisted plans and I am not sure I am ready to follow her. She has more guts than I do, and she is less clumsy when it is time to take chances. I really hoped she could forget Gabriel’s name before she got a chance to make researches back to her apartment… even if, for that matter, I had to get her soooo drunk she’d had a blackout.

Lost in my thoughts, and a little numbed by the alcohol, I see her heading towards my guestroom and entering it. I understand that she understood, and I am too late to stop her from opening my laptop which doesn’t require a password (too lazy to protect my very few files).

– Is that him?

I sense a hint of pure excitement in her voice. In the darkness of the guestroom, Gabriel and Duc’s picture thrones full screen on the computer, and I think to myself that he gets even more seducing day after day. Or maybe it’s the wine, or maybe the bit of pride to feel from Maude’s reaction that she agrees on my taste for men… I simply confirm, nodding in the darkness.

– God dammit! (It is a good “God dammit”… an expression and she “God dammits” good and bad things all the same) Why did you keep that from me?? You thought I’d go wild and tell you “yeah, you’re right, you should let it go and forget about him” to go chase him in your back?? Way to go girl, it was worth waiting all these years… Wow!

I feel bad having kept from Maude the fact that I had consulted Gabriel’s page. So I brief her, and we sit at my computer to browse through the different pictures as I have already done yesterday and this afternoon.

When Maude directs the mouse over to the “South” file, I tell her what kept me from opening it to this moment… She grins my way, tells me to take a sip to make the bad feeling go away. I refuse again, and she sends me back to the living room and asks me to give her a few minutes to get an eyeful. She promises to join me really quick. I abdicate, and I return to crash on my sofa.

I doze off a bit, rocked by the music, and I don’t notice right away that I can hear some tapping coming from the room… What is she… A the precise moment I realize I’m being sabotaged, she comes out of the guestroom with a radiant smile on and her empty glass in her hand.

– You won’t believe it! (-why am I scared right now??-) Your dude is plain perfect… He’s a night owl… and him and I are now Facebook friends! TA-DAAAAA!! (And she takes a bow… a little shaky, but a bow anyway)

Ta-daaa alright! That’s Maude all over… She isn’t much on the subtle side. She is clever and finds a way to get pretty much everything she has her eyes on. For her, life is just a series of challenges, and she just embarked me on a trip I hadn’t planned.

– Arrrghhh! He’s going to think I’m a stalker using her friends to get stay in touch… I don’t feel this one, Maude! You should write back and tell him you made a mistake…

– No-freakin’-way!! Trust me, give me the time you’ll be in Cuba to think about something, if I am not sure about my plan a 100%, I won’t do anything before you come back, I promise!

– You promise?

– Cross on my heart!

– Deal!

We shake hands, but I still have some doubts. Does she just want to try to get information from him? Is she going on a mission to match us somehow…? Arghh!! I can’t believe I’ll have to wait two weeks to find out… It better be worth it!


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