Leaving for Paris, a short story by Fawzy Zablah

Fawzy Zablah

In the fall of 2009, Doofy went out on two very different dates. The first date wasn’t really a date. The girl was a prostitute, but he got more than his money’s worth and ended up spending time with a really nice person.

The date took place at a hotel in Fort Lauderdale that was located some 30 miles from where he lived with his mother in Miami. He first saw the ad on Craigslist and despite his infatuation with the black girl in the ad, (he couldn’t believe that she was really a prostitute because she was just too beautiful) he did not try to contact her. Since he was going through a drought, was still single at 32, and had no real prospects, he continued to frequent the website by telling himself that he was doing it just to look at the photos. But he was lying to himself, because he knew deep down that if he encountered the right girl, with the right price, and the right photograph, he would take a chance.

He ran into the same girl’s ad on two more occasions while searching for other escorts. It almost seemed like she was calling out to him. In the ad, there were three different photos of her. In the first photo she was sitting on a big, overwhelming wicker chair, wearing a short purple dress that showed off her long legs. In the second photo, she was standing in the doorway of a hotel bathroom, wearing a white night gown with a generous view of her cleavage. And in the third photo, she was sitting on a hotel bed with a soft, beaming smile, in a tight “I’m in Miami Bitch” T-shirt and wearing blue jeans that fit her like a glove. That third photo was Doofy’s favorite. He liked it because it made her look like the typical girl next door. He ended up saving all three photos to his hard drive and saved her number to his cell phone. The price was right but he still had to convince himself.

He made up his mind one night while drinking three pitchers of beer, and four shots of tequila with a fellow bag boy at a local bar near his mother’s apartment in South Miami. He didn’t tell his co-worker what he was going to do, but there came a point after the third or fourth shot of tequila when a light bulb lit up above his head. From then on, he was on a mission like a drug addict looking for a fix.

On the short walk home, he called her. Her name was Virginia and the phone rang three times before a smooth, sexy voice answered.

“Hello?”

“Hi.”

“Can I help you?”

“Um, yes, um, I was calling about your ad.”

“Are you looking for a date?”

Doofy sighed heavily as he walked the three blocks to his mother’s apartment. Fear and sex amalgamated in his mind.

“Hello? Are you there?”

“Yes, I’m sorry. Yes, I would like to see you.”

“Are you drunk?”

“I’m a little tipsy but I have to tell you I think you’re the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”

“Thank you so much. I’m so flattered. What’s your name?”

“My name is Yuniesky. Yuniesky Zabala.”

“What?”

“Yuniesky Zabala.”

“What kind of name is that?”

“I’m Cuban but my grandparents on my father’s side are Russian. I was named after my grandfather.”

“Wow, that’s very interesting.”

“Yes, I know. I’m a mutt. Have you ever been with a mutt?”

“Yes, Yuniesky, I’ve been with lot’s of Mutts, you won’t be my first.”

There was a pause, and then he heard her breathing and he pictured her at home in bed.

“It’s kind of late tonight Yuniesky. Would you like to meet tomorrow?”

“Sure. Yes, of course. Definitely.”

“How about in the early evening, say around six or seven?”

“That’s perfect. Where do you stay at?”

“I have a place in Fort Lauderdale where I like to meet clients, it’s right on Commercial Blvd. Call me tomorrow around four to confirm and I’ll give you the details sweetie.”

“Okay, I will.”

“You have a good night now, Yuniesky Zabala, and be safe please.”

“I will. Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you.”

“It was a pleasure meeting you.”

“The pleasure is all mine.”

She giggled like a school girl. “Sweet dreams honey.”

They both hung up at the same time.

Early the next evening Doofy drove to the hotel where the date was to take place. Just parking his car made him nervous. He imagined that she was an undercover police officer and that this was a sting. He stayed in the car fixing his hair, clearing it away from his face; it was dirty blond, long in the front and short at the back, some people said he looked like Kurt Cobain’s long lost retarded brother. He then smelled himself and sprayed more cologne. He inspected his shirt closely.

After 10 minutes and despite his paranoia, Doofy finally got out of his car and walked into the hotel lobby. She was in room 403. When he caught the elevator, a short man in a white suit with a shaved head, thin mustache and aviator sunglasses was already there. The man asked him what floor:

“What floor pappa?”

Doofy said four please.

“There are only three floors pappa.”

Doofy looked at the buttons on the elevator. He panicked.

“The third floor then,” he said, looking bewildered.

He got off on the third floor and walked down the hall. He stopped in front of room 303 and called Virginia with his cell phone.

“Hello, Virginia,” he said, as a long lock of his hair fell over his face.

“Hey sweetie, where you at?”

“I’m at the hotel but there’s no fourth floor. Are you sure you didn’t mean room 303?”

Virginia started laughing hysterically.

“Oh my God,” she said, trying to get a word in between laughs, “you’re at the wrong hotel.”

“You said the Lindon. I’m at the Lindon.”

“No, there are two Lindons honey. That’s the regular Lindon. I told you the Lindon Suites. Baby, that’s why I told you to make a left on Commercial.”

“I just heard Lindon and I saw it on the right.”

“Oh my God! This is so funny! You are so cute!”

“But why are there two Lindons so close to each other? That doesn’t make sense.”

“One is the suites and the one where you’re at is just a regular hotel.”

Doofy laughed while his face turned red like an apple, but he was relieved because he felt that no cop would laugh at him like she did. Or maybe they still would but might feel pity for him and let him go. He went back to his car and drove to the correct Lindon hotel. When he finally made it to the fourth floor, he stood in front of the door, breathing deeply.

He knocked on the door and when it opened, a beautiful black girl with hazel eyes and a curvaceous figure was standing before him. She looked exactly like the photos from Craigslist but better. Doofy was a little bit at ease now but her beauty overtook him. She was wearing a purple nightgown.

“Hello,” she said, smiling and letting him in.

“Finally made it. I got freaked out back there for a little bit. No fourth floor. It was like The Twilight Zone.”

Virginia started laughing again. She had a good, hearty laugh that was still girlish with all the right pauses.

“You are so sexy,” Doofy said.

“Thank you,” she said, grabbing his hand, and closing the door.

They went and sat on the bed.

“I’m just bad with directions, and I made sure to leave early. But when you told me the hotel name, I ignored every other piece of information you gave me because I knew where it was. But I didn’t know that there were two of them so close to each other.”

“Yes, there are,” she said, looking into his eyes. “Why don’t you get comfortable?”

“Okay,” Doofy said, unbuttoning his shirt.

He then stood up and took off his shoes and pants. He stood in front of her in blue boxer briefs and black socks looking as pale as the moon.

“Come here you silly-boy,” she said, grabbing his arm and pulling him toward her on the bed.

Virginia kissed him. He lay in the bed with her. She still had her night gown on, and they continued kissing. They stopped for a moment and looked at each other. He smiled and she laughed.

“You are so beautiful,” he said, studying her face.

“Thank you.”

He caressed her left cheek.

“You’re so funny,” she said.

“I try,” he said. “I actually went into the wrong hotel because I knew it would be funny.”

“You wanted to break the ice.”

“Yes, that was the plan.”

He kissed her again deeply and with hunger, and then they both fell into the perennial act of making love. Much later, after they were done and just lying naked and in each other’s arms, they smoked a joint that she found at the bottom of her purse. It was at that point they began to talk about their dreams and their families.

Doofy wanted to move to Paris like the writer Henry Miller. He was thinking of taking French classes at FIU in order to motivate himself toward his goal. He didn’t tell Virginia this, but he believed that he would find the love of his life once he got there. Virginia wanted to save enough money to open a salon in a high traffic area in Mid-town Miami. Her friends were already paying her to do their hair, so why not open up her own business and finally grow up. That’s all she wanted to do, was to be herself, and have her own money without answering to anyone.

When they spoke about family, she told Doofy about her estranged father and how he showed up, on odd numbered years, asking for money. He was a man that she really wanted to hate but couldn’t. And Doofy in turn told her about how he took care of his mother who suffered from a deep depression. He knew that it stemmed from a broken heart but he had no idea how to help her mend it.

They changed the subject when the mood turned sad and instead talked about the funny people they knew and funny situations they had been in. After Doofy finished telling her about doing mushrooms in Miami Beach with his friends Sebastian and Lee, Virginia perked up, naked and beautiful, and recounted a story about a house party she had attended once, where some guy grabbed his girlfriend, who was a tiny girl, and threw her in the trunk of his car because she was nagging him too much. The guy returned to the party where he did a lot of drugs for the rest of the night. When he finally left, he drove away drunk and high with his girlfriend still in the trunk. On the drive home, he crashed violently into a canal off Krome Avenue, where he drowned while his girlfriend survived after being ejected from the trunk of the vehicle. Doofy listened carefully to every word, and when she was done, asked her if he could use it for a future story he wanted to write and she said yeah, of course you can.

“Are you a writer?”

“Yes,” he said.

Then they took a shower together and made love for a second time. After that, he got dressed, paid her, and left.

***

The second date that Doofy went on was two weeks later, and it was a real date, meaning that he didn’t have to pay the girl to spend time with him. The girl’s name was Klarissa and she worked as a dental hygienist at a clinic in Homestead. She was short, delicate, pretty and the sound of her voice made Doofy swoon. And even though she claimed to be Filipino, she was really American. He met her through a friend and his wife, who were visiting from Seattle. They were at a club celebrating his friend’s wife’s birthday and Doofy danced with Klarissa the entire night. He kissed her softly and even though it wasn’t a French kiss, it felt magical nevertheless. He got her number and promised to call.

Doofy called her the next day and they made a date for Sunday. When Sunday came, he got lost on the way to her house because he had written the address wrong. As a result, he arrived late and they were supposed to see a movie, but they figured they could catch the next show.

“I’m bad with directions,” Doofy said.

“And I thought I was bad,” Klarissa said.

They sat on her couch. Klarissa was watching the movie Hitch starring Will Smith.

“Have you seen Hitch?”

“I’ve seen like half of it. I’m always catching part of it on cable.”

Doofy didn’t really like Hitch; he thought it was stupid. He felt strange watching it.

He put his arm behind Klarissa on the couch. She grabbed her laptop computer that was on a coffee table and went to the Overstock website.

“I want to show you the painting I’m getting for the living room,” she said.

Doofy’s arm didn’t feel right the way he had it placed; he was uncomfortable and he kept fidgeting.

“You see this painting, it has three canvases. I like the dark colors; it’s very chaotic. The middle canvas is the darkest. I think it would go good with the green of this wall. What do you think?”

Doofy looked at the painting. He was indifferent to it.

“It’s cool,” he said.

What else was he gonna say?

“What do you think of this one? It’s also made up of three separate canvases. It’s a rose. I think it’s okay. But I want something dark. Something that balances out the room.”

Doofy focused hard on the painting. It was a giant red rose with a white background, and he liked it. He liked that it was simple.

He didn’t know what to say, so he just kept staring at it.

“I don’t like it either,” she said.

Klarissa put down the laptop computer and they watched the end of the movie. Doofy didn’t say much. He was going through one of his quiet moods and besides, he just wanted to relax and let things take their natural course. But the truth was that he wasn’t sure about his intentions anymore. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but he also knew that he hadn’t been sure about a lot of things in those days. Doofy was turning thirty-three in December and he was feeling like his life up to that Sunday, on that couch, next to that girl, was a giant question mark. It was a scary feeling to have while sitting next to a pretty girl.

“I guess we should go now,” she said, standing up.

“Yes, let’s go.”

Doofy drove to the movie theater that was in a mall not far from Klarissa’s apartment.

She wanted to watch a romantic comedy starring an ensemble cast of Hollywood celebrities. Doofy thought she was joking with him.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Let’s see it.”

They sat and watched the movie and ate popcorn. He laughed at the wrong moments in the film because he didn’t really know how to react to a film that was so obviously bad. There were a couple of parts where Doofy’s laugh stood out above the rest of the audience and hovered there, like a strange, ironic bat. He laughed during the sad moments in the film for no other reason than that he actually found them funny. And in one part, when a main character runs through security at an airport to catch the love of his life before she gets on the plane, Doofy whispered to Klarissa, if that had been for real, they would have shut down the airport, pummeled Ashton Kutcher down and sent him to Guantanamo. Klarissa didn’t say anything.

After the movie, they went to a pizza restaurant, where Doofy met her roommate who happened to work there as a waitress. The restaurant was getting ready to close and they waited for her roommate to be let out. While they waited, Klarissa told Doofy about the delicious wings they serve at her favorite bar. Doofy smiled but he was really feeling shitty about spending money on such an awful film. It was against his morals.

When her roommate got off, Doofy drove them to the bar. The bar was a little hole in the wall located in a shopping center not too far from the restaurant. It was dead inside but it felt homely. When they sat at the bar, Klarissa’s roommate sat in between Doofy and Klarissa. They ordered drinks and 30 chicken wings. The girls talked about the movie while he listened.

“You said we were going to see that movie together,” said Klarissa’s roommate. “I can’t believe you sold me out.”

“I forgot,” Klarissa said.

“That’s so wrong. Isn’t it wrong, Yuniesky?”

“Yes,” Doofy said, “That is selling out.”

“You see,” she said.

“Well I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. I’ll go with you.”

“No, you saw it already. I’ll go with Lisa. You already sold me out.”

The bartender brought the drinks and the wings. Everyone ate and drank.

“So what do you think of the wings,” Klarissa said, looking at Doofy from behind her roommate.

“They’re very good. I’ve never had wings with garlic.”

“Yeah,” said the roommate, “but what makes them really good is the way they marinade them over night before they grill them.”

“Oh, okay,” said Doofy savoring the garlic.

After they ate and their plates were to the side, Klarissa saw a guy that she knew and called him over. Her friend looked like Long Duk Dong from the movie Sixteen Candles but with a goatee. Everyone talked and drank some more. Then they followed Long to play darts. It became Doofy and Klarissa’s roommate against Klarissa and Long Duk or Hispanics against Asians. Long Duk had his own darts and Doofy’s team lost four games in a row. They then played pool and Doofy and the roommate lost again. Doofy wasn’t very good at bar games.

After that, Doofy just sat around by the bar watching Klarissa and Long Duk talk and talk and talk. Then everyone ordered Jagger Bombs. Doofy tried to ignore them by watching a strong man competition on the television.

“Is everything okay,” said Klarissa.

“Yes,” said Doofy.

“If you’re ready to leave, let’s leave.”

“No, I’m good.”

An hour later she came back to Doofy.

“What’s up Yuniesky? Are you sure you don’t want to go? We can get a ride.”

“No, I’m having fun.”

“Are you sure?”

“Am I sure of what?”

“Don’t you have a long drive?”

“No, I’m fine.”

They left two hours later. But right before leaving, Klarissa gave Long Duk Dong, or the man that resembled the character from that classic film, her number. Then Doofy dropped them off and Klarissa asked him to please text her when he got home.

“Okay,” Doofy said and drove off.

When Doofy got home, he sent her a text message but she never replied.

***

The following week Doofy was driving around with his best friend Gabriel trying to best explain the date with Klarissa. They had just eaten at their favorite Middle-Eastern restaurant. Gabriel was behind the wheel of his brand new black Mercedes Benz. He had a tooth pick hanging from his mouth and he drove with one hand behind the wheel while simultaneously fixing his hair with the other.

“Rides nice, don’t it,” he said. “And smell that new car smell.”

“It’s a good smell,” Doofy said.

“But yea, like I was saying, that’s just a damn shame,” Gabriel said, while steering on to US1.

“I really don’t care anymore. I wasn’t into her anyway.”

“What did I tell you about these girls? You gotta man up and represent. You can’t be letting them take over the date. You take her where you want to take her. To the restaurant you want. To the nighttime activity you choose. Not the other way around. You gotta lead because that’s what a woman wants. A woman wants a man to take control no matter what. You frustrate me, brotha!”

“How do you think I feel?”

“I can’t imagine how you feel. You’re like the freaking Pope. I don’t even remember the last time you were going steady with a chick. How do you do it, brotha?”

“I wake up, I read, I write, I buy a lot porn. I go to work, I come home, and go to sleep.”

“Then you must really like Manolita. Cause if you’re happy with Manolita, well fuck it!”

They both started laughing while the pink lit streets of South Miami scrolled past them like a film reel.

“No, I want to break it off with Manolita.”

Gabriel spread his right hand wide and put it against Doofy’s face.

“This is what you love brotha.”

“No,” Doofy said. “I want real love.”

“See, that’s your problem. You can’t be talking like that. You can’t be thinking all this lovey-dubey shit with these girls. You gotta be real, but for the moment. And in the first moment, it’s all S-E-X. Love comes after. Listen to me. Have I ever led you astray with my advice? And not for nothing, I grew up with three sisters, I know females and let me tell you, they’re just like us.”

“Well how do you want me to be?”

“I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t be. Don’t be doofy.”

“What the fuck is doofy?”

“You have a doofy style. Now don’t take this the wrong way, but my wife says that sometimes, you come off a little doofy. You need to let your goatee grow out, and get a decent hair cut. You gotta be willing to change if you want a chance with these girls B.”

“Your wife said I’m doofy?”

“Yeah, she said you’re doofy and Sebastian dresses gay. That’s why the both of you are always having these chick problems. I mean, you don’t have to pay it no mind. It don’t mean nothing. Then again, that’s a woman giving her honest opinion and maybe you should think about it. You need to change a little B.”

“I’m still trying to figure out what doofy means,” said Doofy.

“Doofy is a combination of Goofy and Duffus. Goofy and Duffus equal Doofy.”

“That’s kind of messed up. I’m not even good enough to be just Goofy? I gotta be Doofy? I gotta be a combination?”

“Women know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong with changing your style a little bit, to a little less Doofy.”

So Doofy sat there, deflated, contemplating the word Doofy.

***

When he went to sleep that night, he had a dream in which the earth shone yellow like the autumn leaves in Central Park. The dream continued in the same manner with the yellow earth spinning for some time, until the vibrant yellows pealed off like the skin of a grapefruit unveiling a vibrant scene set at the Champ de Mars with the Eiffel Tower soaring tall, stabbing the sky like if it was an alien rocket that just landed. He was there, sitting on a park bench, wearing a luxurious blue, two-piece suit, and to his genuine surprise, he looked happy. To his right there was a sea of green grass shining like Irish hills; to his left guitarists with black berets performed acoustic versions of French pop songs for lovers. He watched those same lovers stroll past him, holding hands and kissing. He saw himself enjoy the cool, endearing wind as it caressed his face. In the distance, there was a young woman in a pink blouse, denim jacket, and a short skirt heading towards him with loud determination. She was so beautiful that she seemed to be gliding. Then he saw himself stand up to take a deep breath from the wistful European air. The girl heading towards him had long black hair like a gipsy, and her eyes sparkled like two blue stars exhausting themselves in outer space.

The closer she got, the faster she walked, until she jumped on him, hugging him tight, while kissing him in the mouth passionately. With her long, white, delicate arms around him, he began to feel his whole spirit revive.

“I am Morgane,” she said softly, by his ear.

“We finally meet,” he said.

“Yes,” she said, smiling and looking at his face.

“I’m Doofy. It’s nice to meet you.”

Excusez-moi?

“I mean, I’m Yuniesky.”

“I’m sorry, I must go, I have made a mistake.”

“No, wait,” he said, while trying to hold on to her arm, but she got away.

The girl ran fast and he was left alone except for a guitarist gravitating towards him, almost creeping, and finally standing next to him. The street performer was playing a giant, red acoustic guitar and even though he strummed an upbeat tune, there was no smile on his face. Yuniesky wanted to dunk his head in the sound hole of the guitar. And as he saw himself make a move towards the guitarist, at the very moment he was stooping his head to put it in the sound hole, he awoke on his bed, at his mother’s apartment where the morning was gray and there was a strange noise coming from the other side of his bedroom door. Yuniesky sat up listening, trying to discern the sound. It sounded like someone wheezing. He got up from the bed slowly, opened the door and saw his mother in her pajamas sitting down hunched at the kitchen table trying to breathe. She was huffing and puffing in short breaths.

Yuniesky rubbed his eyes and asked her what was wrong.

“I can’t breathe,” she said.

“What do you mean, you can’t breathe?”

“I was up all night. I just couldn’t breathe.”

“Get dressed, I’m taking you to the hospital,” Yuniesky said, and grabbed a t-shirt that was strewn on a chair in his bedroom and went looking for pants.

When they were both ready, they got in his car and headed in the general direction of the nearest hospital. Yuniesky was aware that it wasn’t the best hospital, but it was the closest one. When he got to a red light, he grabbed his cell phone and called his job and told them that he wasn’t feeling very well and wasn’t coming in.

As he ended the call, his mother sat in the passenger seat looking as pale as a tiny ghost. Her hands were on her chest and she was staring straight ahead.

When the traffic light turned green, Yuniesky stepped on the gas.

“Don’t worry,” he said, and grabbed one of his mother’s hands. “We should be at the hospital soon.”

THE END

December 13, 2015 11:30 am

Older Conceptions »
::the open end:: Copyright © 2016 All Rights Reserved.