By Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Some Enchanted Evening
Now, hard core, “Thou shalt not” type Christians are probably elated with this story so far, but they will not like the rest of the story . . . but this is what really happened.
Discrete symbolic references to adult intimacy, but no vulgarities.
I responded, “So Jesus told you to worry about somebody else, rather always thinking of yourself? “She said, “Oui, you are right.”
We had resumed watching the video (with Vivi both smiling and continuing to fidget) when there was a knock on the door. It was Sara. “Richard, are you lovebirds decent?” Vivi quickly slid her ashtray under the bed.
I answered, “Whether or not Vivi and I are decent would be highly controversial tonight. We’re just sitting here, watching a National Geo film. Come on in.”
Sara smiled, “Vivi, I am glad you found my ashtrays. This old house gets cold in the winter, when it’s just me and Bob here. I like to sit by the wood stove and read here. <Vivi was highly relieved.> Ambassador Andreani left over an hour ago. He said to tell you that he was happy that you had finally found a man, who was kind to you. He said that if you needed a way to get to the hotel, to call his security team. It will take them about 45 minutes to reach our house, because of the bad roads.”
“Richard, it’s about 11:30. I just called your house. No one was there, but the call relayed to another number. A man answered. It is interesting that <un-wife’s name> was in arm’s reach of the phone. She said that after you left, she was invited to a Christmas Party, north of Winchester. The roads are really bad up there so she might not be able to get home until late Sunday afternoon. She said that the dogs are in the house and have plenty of food and water. She said that she had left a telephone message at the farmhouse, but had not brought our telephone number with her. Tomorrow’s Shenandoah Valley Tour of Homes has been called off. I told <un-wife’s name> that we did not think it was safe for Richard to drive home and had invited him to stay in our home. She said that was fine. She said to tell Richard that he could stay in Alexandria as long as he wished.”
“Richard, didn’t I tell you that she didn’t accompany you to our party, because she wanted to be somewhere else?”
“Vivi, before you make any decisions, I want to show you two photos. Bob has been taking Polaroid photos all night and giving them to our guests.” Sara sat next to where Vivi was sitting on the floor and put her left arm around her like she was her daughter. She handed the first photo to Vivi.
“Vivi honey, this is you just before Richard is about to take your coat off. Look at your sad face. You look like you are standing on a gallows, waiting to be executed. Richard, you don’t look so sad, but more like stern as if doing a soldier’s duty. ”
Sara had no clue how close to reality, her comment had been. I glanced at Vivi. Her face grimaced and she was fighting back tears as she remembered that exactly 24 hours earlier, she had been standing on a chair with a noose around her neck.
When Sara and I were alone a few minutes later, I asked her if she noticed the bruises on Vivi’s neck. She said yes. I then told her that Vivi got those bruises last night and so please don’t mention a gallows again. Sara got the message and could only say, “Poor girl. I will do everything I can to help her.”
But getting back to the present, Sara stooped over and told Vivi, “Vivi, this is you and Richard, when y’all were talking with George Stuart. Look at both of your faces. They are so happy, so radiant. Vivi, you even look like there is a halo over your head.”
“Now, Bob and I have never done anything like this, but this is a special situation. We feel like it is our Christian duty to bring you and Richard together . . . so that both of you can escape your miserable lives. Vivi and Richard, it is our honor to invite y’all to stay together tonight in our home and be our guests for a brunch tomorrow at the Old Indigo Hotel in Downtown Alexandria. Its restaurant dates from the early 1800s. We will let you sleep late.” (Translation: You can also have a Sunday morning delight.)
We were stunned. Two self-proclaimed Christians were openly encouraging us to commit adultery in their home and used their religious faith as justification. That was not the answer to one’s prayers that one is taught to expect from God. I was thoroughly amused that Sara assumed Vivi to be a virtuous woman with high personal standards, who would require heavy persuasion in order to do something that is normally considered quite immoral. I intended for that assumption to be maintained.
Actually, the reason that we were silent was that both Vivi and I were flabbergasted. We were being encouraged to do something that deep inside, both of us had longing to do since sitting down together to watch “Realm of the Alligator.”
Sara waited a few seconds for a response that did not come. “Richard, you have no choice in the matter. Our car blocks your pickup. You can’t leave unless we move our car and we are not going to do that tonight! Several people have already been killed tonight on on Interstate 66, where it goes through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Vivi, I imagine you have to think about it. Whatever you decide, is fine with us.”
Sara continued, “Richard, you are needed up front for a while. Many of the guests are about to leave, because the snow is getting so bad. Bob has a bad knee, so could you get the coats upstairs for the women? Several ladies specifically asked if you could be the one to put on their coats.” <She winked at me.>
Then Sara turned to Vivi. “Vivi, Liz has already left. I need a co-hostess to say goodbye to the guests. Several remarked to me that they regretted not being able to chat with you. They did not realize that you were a celebrity in France. It would be nice, if you could introduce yourself to the guests and chat with them. If you have any concerns about our offer for tonight, we can discretely discuss them.”
(Translation: Almost all the guests initially assumed that Vivi was a classy, high priced prostitute, who was a paid escort for the ambassador . . . which was actually pretty close the real situation that no one at the party, but me, knew.)
Sara thanked us both for the assistance. Vivi asked if she needed any help cleaning up. Sara that the caterer would do most of that, but that she needed to decide on her plans for the night. We went back to the Guest Room.
We said prayers for each other
I told Vivi that I had silently prayed for a way to protect her all night. I feared that if she went back to the hotel alone, she would kill herself. I was willing to sleep on the floor of the hotel room just to be close by. She giggled and slapped me on the behind, “Richard, you would NOT be sleeping on the floor.”
“Now I must confess something, mon cher Bon homme Richard. I prayed to God for something so naughty, I thought he would not answer. I told God that if we could be together for at least this one night, I would change my life. I would become a good mother, who would not leave my daughter alone much of the time and I would become the good woman that you deserve . . . but only for you. God has answered our prayers, oui?
I was now getting a little nervous. “Vivi, I did not expect this at all. I did not bring any protection.”
Vivi giggled again, “Richard, remember originally I was supposed to seduce you tonight to get your Shenandoah Chevre secrets. Instead you seduced my soul and my heart will be your prisoner for all eternity. Don’t worry about being unprepared. That tells me that you are not a playboy. Besides, some day I would love to give you children, whether or not we ever marry. It won’t happen tonight, but maybe latter?”
I added, almost trying to persuade her to change her mind, “Also, I have learned nothing about the ways of love in my 16 years of marriage. All I know is from my first time with a Cuban girl from Miami, when I was 20. I cannot remember when I was with my un-wife . . . only that it was like being with a dead body. Remember I was drugged when with the French hippie girls. The other women were more inexperienced than me. You will have to teach me, since you are more experienced.”
Vivi smiled wickedly, “Richard, I will love teaching you, but I am really not worried about that.”
With a weak smile, I told her, “Okay, I will go tell Sara that we have accepted her offer.” Sara and Bob had already gone upstairs for the night.
When I returned to the Guest Room, the ceiling light was turned off. It was one of those moments and images that will be embedded in my mind as long as I live. No one, nowhere, can take away that beautiful memory.
Vivi was standing in front of the wood stove in a red negligée, silhouetted by the two lanterns over the mantle. The floodlights on the eaves illuminated heavy snow coming down. Vivi looked so happy, so beautiful. Her face was glowing. She seemed like a 18 year old jeune femme, alone with her first love. She beckoned me with her right arm, “Richard, mon amor, viens me voir. ” Then as the big grandfather clock in the entry hall struck midnight, she said:
I slowly walked to her. She kissed me on the cheeks and forehead, then began gently unbuttoning my shirt. As she did this, she whispered, “Oh merci Mon Dieu!”
Puzzled, I asked her why she was thanking God. She responded that she had feared that because I had big muscles I would have a hairy chest like the Arab prince. This might make her tense up, because of the horrible Saturday night in Switzerland, two weeks before. I laughed and told her that American Indians don’t have body hair, but are usually very good athletes.
Then she said, “Now I have another reason to love you other than your big, kissable lips.” She began singing “One Enchanted Evening” with the voice of an angel. The rest of the night could best be envisioned as a girl and boy, laughing, singing and playing, as they danced along a mountain stream.