Back at the hotel the next morning, she woke up to see me juggling oranges, which no doubt made her wonder if she was still asleep. It didn’t last long, as my arms got tired and I kept hearing that annoying circus music in my head. Besides, it was more fun watching her yawn and reach for her hair. “The Magic Braid,” I sighed happily as she began getting her do ready for the long day. Waiting for her to finish with that, my next step was to toss her the sunblock. “Butter up, Whitey.”
Smiling, she did so, for once not annoyed as I took some photos of her creaming herself, so to speak.
After breakfast I immediately took her to another place I knew she would like.
“This is the museum, right?”
“Yep. See that statue? I impressed my high school teachers big-time by mentioning it was a perfect example of gestalt.”
Looking at the semi-abstract carving of what she figured was a man, a woman, and a child, she noticed how their arms were not just intertwined, but actually connected to each other, making for one flowing statue. “The whole greater than the sum of its parts? Hope your psych professor was one of them.”
“He was indeed, but it embarrassed him.”
“Because he’d just told everyone else how badly I was doing in his class.”
The Royal British Columbia Museum, or some similar grandiose-sounding name, was a world-class, world-famous institute across a side street from the Empress Hotel, and across another side street from the big government building that looked like a parliament in Europe or something. But not even the stern visage of the Queen Victoria statue could detract from the modern lines of the museum. Unlike its equally famous cousin at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, these guys weren’t just into the anthropology, but more the history of the area, though of course when you went as far back as the Native Americans, or “First People,” as they were called in Canada, the two disciplines had a way of intermeshing.
As always wanting to be different, she hit the gift shop first, claiming she liked to see the postcards, so she wouldn’t miss anything she liked. I didn’t buy it for one second, especially when she bought a rather large pair of dice that instead of numbers had the possibilities as: love, sex, pub, TV, read, disco.
“Disco girl,” I muttered.
She merely smiled, and certainly didn’t complain.
Though she was surprised when, after an hour, I claimed this was a quick survey of the highlights, since we didn’t have all day. “So I can’t go back for another lobster?”
“Not today, but I’m sure you’ll be back here.”
“We’ll be back here.” She thrust out her chin for emphasis as she softly threatened me.
“Wherever you go, Iago,” I agreed.
She brightened, as she usually did when Shakespeare was in da house.
Leading her back outside, I was not surprised when she quickly proclaimed her fave exhibit had been the HMS Discovery mockup, at least till she got to Thunderbird Park. Having seen the totem poles in Pioneer Square in Seattle, she found these even more impressive, as well as fun.
After posing for the requisite photo beside the totem pole, and claiming she didn’t like being made to feel short, she walked back over to me, moving like model on a runway, then grimacing when I kept shooting.
“Okay, back to the hotel,” I pronounced. “Next stop. . . well, after Seattle, Goa!”
Squealing, she jumped me from behind and planted a big buss on my right cheek, then pretended I was kidding when I shrieked in back pain. . .
“When we come back here, can we also go to Vancouver?” she tried to change the subject after carrying my bag onto the boat.
Since the pain had mostly gone, I figured I’d save my revenge for later. “Sure.”
“Tell me about it.”
“Most beautiful city in the world. Maybe if you go with me I’ll finally finish circumnavigating Stanley Park.”
“That almost sounds like fun.” But her frowny grimace belied that. “Big city?”
“Pretty huge. Airport in Richmond in the south, the local Beverly Hills or Malibu all the way north up the coast, plenty of stuff to the east. . .”
“How come you know it so well?”
“Usta spent my summers there as a kid.”
“And do they know you there as well as they seem to in Victoria?”
“You mean blondes at McDonald’s?”
“No!” She breathed through her teeth for a few seconds as she got her annoyance back under control. “My temper might keep me from being an honorary Canadian.”
“Ha! That’s like getting your degree in one semester!”
Wince, but not long enough for me to get a photo of it, for as the boat slipped out of its berth and headed west to get out of the harbor, she shut her eyes in terror as a float plane came in for a landing in front of us. I stayed quiet, not knowing why she was acting this way; planes landed on water all the time, after all.
“Is he okay?”
“Pilot okay? Plane okay?”
“Okay.” Opening her eyes, she nonetheless checked for herself. Though the plane had long since coasted to its dock, she was satisfied with seeing no wreckage, then instantly yelped, “Hey! You never told me the ending to your Blarney Stone story!”
“Why said who to what now?”
“Nice! But remember one of the first times we met, I told you I’d just been to Ireland, and you were telling me the story of your visit to the Blarney Stone when we were interrupted.”
“By an autograph seeker, as I recall.”
“By a little girl who had the same name as me, remember that?”
“Yeah, too bad she didn’t look anything like you.”
“That may work out well for her, but finish the story!”
“I don’t remember where I left off.”
“You told me about the blonde babe tour guide being hit on by the American jerk, and how she told him to fuck off.”
“She never used those words, she’s a nice lady, unlike–”
“So what happened then?”
“Hmph. It was raining too hard for us to go up to the stone, so he told her ‘If I kiss you, it’ll be like I got to kiss the stone.’”
She looked surprised. “Quite smooth, considering the way you drew his character.”
“Just wait, Yvonne will become your hero when you find out what she said.”
“I will when I’m sure there won’t be any interruptions.”
She almost promised not to, until she realized keeping quiet was better.
And indeed it worked. “She told him, ‘Well, I’ve never actually kissed the Blarney Stone, but I have sat on it.’”
“Kiss my ass!” she whooped, then looked around in embarrassment as she realized just how loudly she’d said that. “Let’s get our own asses topside, now that this thing is finally in motion.”
On the stairs I told her, “So that night at the hotel, I ran into Yvonne in the hallway as we went down to dinner–”
“Wait! There’s more to the story?”
“Sigh. So much for not interrupting.”
Wincing, she thought about running up the stairs, but knew she wanted to hear the rest of the tale. Trying to actually look sincere with this smile, she purred, “Sorry, darling,” only to roll her eyes when I laughed.
“I told her what a great line that had been, she said thanks, we had dinner together, ended up back in her room–”
Now out in the heavy wind, she felt okay with howling, “Too much information!”
“And yet another interruption. A stupid one at that, since you’re always asking about all the girls I slept with.”
The hand went to her forehead–with quite a bit of force–before she could stop it. “Could this day get any worse?” she asked a passing island, then decided it could and went with her contrite look, which she actually didn’t have a lot of practice with. “So what happened after you fucked her?”
“The guy had been badmouthing her all through dinner, claiming she must be a lesbian for not wanting to be with him.” I waited to see what she’d say to that, but this time she somehow managed to keep quiet, to her own amusement. “Finally I told him, ‘That doesn’t prove she’s a lesbian, it proves she has great taste.’”
She smiled brightly and rubbed my arm, but that was all I was getting right now; apparently she was finally serious about not interrupting.
“So the next morning I’m coming out of her hotel room, putting on my shirt, when I run into the guy, who’s totally shocked by this turn of events. Which made it easy for me to say, ‘Told ya she had taste. . .’”
“Yes!” she crowed, now that she was sure the story was over, then leaned against me for a cheeky kiss. “You are so my friggin’ hero!” But she couldn’t help adding, “Did you ever see her again?”
“Sure.” Knowing I was being naughty but unable to help himself, I went with, “Saw her at a Shakespeare symposium. Guess she has a lot of time to read between tours.” And sex, as I recalled, but saved that one for later, not wanting to give her any ideas. “She’s firmly in the camp that thinks Bacon wrote Shakespeare.”
“Damn! Just when I was liking her!”
“Hmmm?” Once again I felt bad for stringing her along, but she might as well get used to it, I mused. Besides, my back was still achy.
“I can’t stand those people who say it was Bacon that really wrote Shakespeare.” She made a face that he was sure she’d been practicing since she was about two.
“Yeah, they’re pretty crazy.”
“Everyone knows it was Marlowe that wrote Shakespeare.”
“No! Go away!”
“No! I didn’t mean that.” Unable to stop herself, she went with contrite again.
“Typical woman. I need to go downstairs anyway.”
“I’ll try not to be bored.” This time she tried gloomy, even as she realized I’d never buy it, considering how well I knew her.
“Here.” Pulling it out of my pocket, I passed over the electronic chess game.
“Awesome! See ya later!”
Knowing that was coming, I yawned and moved from the railing, going southward so as to enter the main sitting room from behind, hoping to catch someone in the act. I didn’t, so I took the opportunity to hit the restroom before going back up top.
There she still was, leaning over the railing much like she had at the observatory, one foot up, leaning on forearms. She seemed to be intent on whatever was in her hands, which figured to be the chess game, so I was able to come right up to her, stand behind her a little to the side, and lean forward to lick her ear.
The loud yelp was certainly satisfying, though I was thankful for her great hands, otherwise the next person using the chess game would have been a mermaid, if it still worked while waterlogged.
Once she’d stopped shuddering and calmed down, she leaned her head onto my shoulder and tried lovey-dovey, though I assumed she was wiping her ear.
“What are you grinning at?”
“You’ll never be an honorary Canadian with that suspicious look, mister!”
“I already am,” I grinned, “and you’re talking your way out of a recommendation.”
“Too late! You promised!”
She laughed and told me to go away, so I did.
Having seen how bright the light was coming in on my last trip inside–the cabin was well-lit, but still looked murky in comparison–I now slipped quickly through the side of the door, then stood just inside it, behind the empty bar, reasonably certain it would take more than a quickly glance to be spotted.
And that’s when I saw him, one of the stewards, rummaging through what was obviously a woman’s purse on the left side of the wide cabin. Since the guy was facing away, and using the light from the window to see what he was stealing, his vision would be too off to spot me, but on the other hand I had to adjust my camera quite a bit to get more than a silhouette of the suspect, and without the flash going off. Hopefully the man’s features, other than his face, would be enough to identify him later.
Staying at my post as long as it took, I was momentarily startled when the steward straightened up and turned to come toward me. I bowed my head down to pretend to be looking at the camera’s display, then twisted it sideways in hopes of catching a shot of the guy as he walked by. . .
Once again topside, I moved in behind her and hugged her from behind, placing my chin on her shoulder. There was no yelp this time, not even a little bit of surprise; the smile told me she instantly knew who it was. We stayed like that till the announcement that the ship was close to docking, no surprise to us as we’d recognized the surroundings and then the Space Needle from far away.
We were the first ones off, but instead of letting her skip off to grab a taxi or such, I pulled her to the side and told her to wait. She’d noticed the police gathered around the embarkation zone, but hadn’t made much of it, and now was even more surprised when I didn’t go meet the cops, just sat on the railing next to her.
Finally all the passengers were off and it was time for the crew to come out and the cleaning people to go in. At this point the police, equally as bored as she’d been the last few minutes, perked up and moved forward, easily spotting their target and quickly snapping cuffs on the surprised man.
The almost-equally surprised blonde stared, then looked at me, seeing me grinning at her reaction. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Shrug. “I heard somewhere that you like surprises.”
Turning back to the action, feeling like she had to show me I couldn’t get away with things like that. . . except she couldn’t think of anything to teach me a lesson, so she settled for watching the proceedings with a huge sense of pride, like she’d solved the case all by herself.
Unintentionally quoting a cartoon, I smirked, “I think we cweated some havoc. . .”