The Return Of The Army Of Light – Excerpt – Inspired by Go Visit
Lorraine sat on a bench reading a book under a weeping willow tree. She looked small and fragile, probably not taller than 150 centimetres. She had short wavy grey hair, vivid brown eyes, and high cheekbones.
“Hi, my name is Lucas.” I introduced myself; she put down her book, and looked up.
“Oh yes, Rita’s friend. She emailed me.” She shook my hand, I detected an Australian accent. “Do you email? Isn’t it fantastic technology? Rita wanted me to be on one of those social media things. Are you on any of those? … No? Me neither. At my age, you need to be wise on where you waste your time.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me close to sit next to her. “What part of Latin America are you from dearie?”
After years of living in the United States and New Zealand, I thought I had lost my original accent. I had developed a unique accent and cadence in my pronunciation, which combined with the fairness of my skin made it difficult for people to determine my ethnicity. Lorraine was able to see through that.
“Originally from Panama…”
“Oh, Panama!” She interrupted me before I could finish my sentence. “I was there briefly many years ago after the war. We crossed the Canal on our way to New York City.” She told me with a bit of excitement.
“New York City?”
“Yes, 1946, I was in an all-girls band, I was 23. I was the pianist, we played The Palace.”
“That was my hometown for almost 20 years.”
“Really? They used to sell these thick steaks in Times Square, near The Palace.” She showed me how thick it was using her right hand’s thumb and index finger. “Do you know if they still sell them? I can’t remember the name of the restaurant … anyway, they were so juicy, and they almost melted in your mouth, no need to chew them – that would come handy now, eh?” She elbowed me and chuckled. “For some people here, not me, though.” She clarified. “The steak came with a big baked potato. We always ate there between the shows; well, some of those girls stuffed their faces, the trumpet girl! Could that woman eat, sheesh! One night she ate so much that she couldn’t blow any more, we had to hire a local to replace her for two shows; true story. Do you know if the place is still there? I just can’t remember the name.”
“I wouldn’t know…”
“The desserts, oh lord, they were exquisite. We always went back for cake after the last show of the day…”
“I don’t want to take much of your time.” I was trying to state the purpose of my visit.
“Oh, not at all dear.” She said with a smile. “Time is what I have to … Toffenetti! That’s the place, Toffenetti.” She interrupted herself. “Is it still there?”
“No, that was before my time.”
“Too bad, it was a good restaurant.” She lamented. “Continue, please.”
“I hear you were good friends with Minerva.”
“Oh yes, delightful woman and wholesome human being.” She said with a smile. “She was my best friend in here.”