episode 01 | The golden bathroom

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First Transmission | The Heart |

| PART ONE |


Vice City, 2008

Laurent & Carlo

 ____________


 You won't see me with a cocktail in my hands very often.

In fact, I usually say I don't drink alcohol.

But today.


Today I have many reasons to drink. 

Not just because the barman is extremely handsome.

And not only because my mother suggested it, a few minutes ago.

*** 

As the phone rang, I knew it was her. Third time this day.

"Bonjour, Catherine."

"Bonjour, mon trésor. How is everything going?"

"I'm still waiting for him, if that's your question."

"He hasn't arrived yet!?!" She gasps, quite dramatically. "Honey, I don't know if this was such a good idea after all. You might get hurt again..." I can distinctly hear her pacing, on the other side of the line. "Oh, why does that man always have to lose track of time?" 

"Since he is already twenty years late, I don't mind waiting for some twenty minutes or even a couple hours more. Maybe his flight is delayed, who knows?" I reply, letting out a deep breath, trying to let go of my anger, and frustration. "You'd love this restaurant, Catherine. So fancy. The views over the ocean are breathtaking!" Though I know she would enjoy the fine Lalique crystal glasses and shiny Christofle silverware best. "Anyway, I have arrived early because I want to settle down, relax and calm my feelings."

"Drop that meditative crap, darling. You sound awfully like him. Have a drink, instead. Like me!" She laughs cheerfully at her own suggestion.

"Only if you promise me you won't drink tonight, Catherine!" And contrary to her cheerfulness, I sound very serious.

"But I'm going on a date tonight! How can I not drink?" Again, she laughs.

It was no joke. Since the death of her second steady partner — the first being my father — Catherine has been drinking, and getting drunk just too often. Nothing major, like it requires rehab, but it still is disheartening to see my mother deal with her suffering so unwisely.

"Aren't you in Russia promoting your latest novel, Catherine? Are you dating some Russian?!" After thirty three years of coexistence, the speed at which my mother attracts men into her bed still astounds and disconcerts me. Especially if I recall she is fifty eight years old already... or is that a prejudice? 

"Exactly, mon cher. You should see the bathroom I'm standing in!" That explains why her high heels reverberate so loud. "So golden and olden! Makes me feel like Katherina the czarina, ha-ha! And yes, my date is a writer who's been compared to Dostoyevsky. Don't you think I really need my drinks?" She laughs even louder. Too loud for her usual standards of sophistication and finesse, indicating she has drunk already. "And you know I know how to drink."

"It's more like you know how to get drunk..." I mouth, quite unskillfully. 

"That's so rude of you, Laurent!" 

"I'm sorry. I'm nervous, I think you can understand why!" She isn't really angry at me, but I nevertheless apologize. "So, you're really not coming for the vernissage... That would be a great support—"

"Mon trésor, no emotional blackmail now, not over the oceans... I mean, the phone! Not when we are continents apart!" Catherine sounds more bored than annoyed. "You know perfectly well why I won't go, and it's been the same reason why I've never ever visited you in Vice City!" 

"But Catherine... one day you'll have to overcome your fear!" My mother has always been terrified of flying. It makes everything so much more difficult and time consuming for her. "Maybe when they give you the Nobel Prize you'll fly to Nor—"

"There are very comfortable trains and ferries instead, darling!" Catherine isn't in a playful mood and just dismisses it. '"There's no reason why I'm supposed to overcome my fear, nor do anything I don't want to. Still, I'm sorry I won't be there for the opening."

"Then... enjoy your Russian date!" Instead of your own son, I think, but won't say it; our conversation has become tense, which is a sign to hang up and avoid quarreling. "Au revoir, Catherine."

"Au revoirmon cher! Like I said, have another drink. One for me." Catherine giggles. "And don't leave me without news or I'll call you again!"

***

With both my mother's threaten and suggestion in mind, I walk up to the bar, where the attractive bartender shines like a promise of pleasurable relief. He looks like an angel and is named after an archangel.

"Can I please have another gin tonic, Gabriel? And I'll be moving to the lounge area." He firmly grabs the gin bottle with one hand while, in contrast, taking the glass in the other with a gracious, swirling movement. I gasp, hopefully not too loud, noticing how manly strong and skilled his hands are. "When my guest arrives—"

"I'll show him the way, don't worry sir." Why is it that everybody keeps interrupting me today? Nevertheless, his smile is beautiful, and it actually calms me down more than arouses my desire. He adds, "If there is anything else I can do for you, sir, I'll be—"

My turn to interrupt him. "Please, call me Laurent."

*** 

Laurent D'Allegro.

Born of an Italian father and a French mother. Prematurely, on the island of Punaouilo in the Pacific Ocean, in my unpardonable haste interrupting my mother's first holidays in many years — and her burgeoning academic career at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, too.

After such an inadequate start, how could she ever love me?

***

I had this funny idea.

That I would die at the age of thirty three.

Like Jesus Christ. 

I was so sure! 

Since I haven't died — not yet — I've decided to heal old wounds before heading into the uncertain future. 

The rest of my life, the bonus part, is starting here.

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