Al adjusted a set of small brass rimmed reading glasses on the bridge of his nose to get a better look at the small cedar music box. The skinny brass frames were always slipping down. Lenora always reminded him that bigger plastic frames would hold fast in place but as a stubborn husband (a bit of a fashionista to boot) he was compelled to protest. He liked the smaller shiny brass frames that carried an air of refinement when he wore them.
“Let’s see what we have here,” he said aloud in English. His accent is barely noticeable these days.
He couldn’t remember when his thoughts and dreams had converted from his native French tongue but it was a slow process. Speaking the language of his lovely wife Lenora became a familiar comfort always reminding him of who held his heart.
Of course as a great man once said, “Men often resort to their native tongue in the throes of passion.” A smile crept across Al’s face as a devilish lustful memory crossed his mind. This was quite the common occurrence when distracted by thoughts of Lenora.
Al flipped the tiny metal latch opening the lid of the small brown box. A song started to instantly chime away as the old wound up clockwork began to come to life. That song.
* * *
The caw of a small baby Jay caught Lenora’s ears outside the restaurant kitchen window. Suddenly a loud concussive smash shook the thin window pane ever so slightly startling the Jay causing the little bird to fly off and pester an unsuspecting worm or grasshopper.
Down in a bowl of fresh bread dough lay the perfect impact crater of her fist. The aftermath of the ‘widow-maker’ of a punch she just through down into it made her smile warmly. Lenora wasn’t a large woman or particularly even strong but she could hold her own against Jays and bread.
Staring down at the off white imprint counting all her knuckles made her think of Alerion’s (though most call him Al) small stint of amateur boxing when they both first came back to America together. Alerion was always ready to defend her honor any time and any place. It was part of how they first came to know each other. He was a young French carpenter of nineteen barely able to swing a hammer without smashing his thumb. She was an equally young American cooking student of twenty three studying the art of French Cuisine at the Ferrandi French School of Culinary Arts in Paris.
Alerion had taking a big licking stepping between her and a group of pesky French boys who were shouting at her with intentions that were less than honorable. After they had their way with him she remembered kneeling down next to his curled up body. There was blood all over the pavement and his eyes were practically swollen shut. Somehow he managed to look up at her through the tiny slit of his good eye and smiling a half toothless grin he muttered one word, “booty.”
Disgusted she grunted and stormed off leaving him there. Later she would learn he meant, “Beauty.”
Little did they know that one moment in time was going to be the final snowflake in the avalanche that would carry them on many adventures together before settling in Northern California and building a small Bed & Breakfast off the interstate called Château de Montagne.
She tossed a damp kitchen towel over the bowl of dough to let it rise and went off to see how he was coming along sorting out the Château de Montagne’s lost and found box.
Danny Machal April 28th, 2015