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First Flights: a virtual chapbook of poetry and prose

The Bellboy

Alison Neal

The long black limousine pulled up, and he opened the door. He was just a bellboy. And she? Well she was just passing through. She was here for business not pleasure.

           "I've been waiting for you," he said, and she froze. It was over in an instant. It was just a misplaced word that meant too much. He should have said we. He was just a bellboy, who wore a blue suit with red stripes. He'd been told to expect her. She didn't see the danger signs or hear the alarm bells ringing in her head. He was there to serve her, and that he did.

           Walking back from the office one night, she'd seen him watching her, he should have been loading luggage on a tourist bus, but he'd stood still and stared. There was something elegant about him, something proud in his manner. What secrets could a bellboy possibly possess that could make him stand so erect? She'd only meant to stay for two weeks, but she ended up stretching it out. One long succession of management meetings, her life had been empty before now.

           She tried to concentrate on his mismatched teeth but slowly she slid, drowning in the dark pools of his eyes. She found herself starting to dress for him. She'd never done this before. She wondered if she wasn't losing her grip on reality, surely there was more to her than this. It had, after all, only been one ill-spoken word, hadn't it?

           There was something comfortingly claustrophobic about Lambton Quay in rush hour, but she found herself looking for him in the crowd. They laughed at the black suits getting wet in the rain. He offered to show her the city sights. He ingrained in her mind, the image of old red buses against the green backgrounds of grass. He told her that the small amount of sandy shore in the inner city would be infested with people on any given summer's day. She was better to take an overcast stroll down Oriental Parade. That way at least, half the city wouldn't see her when they drove by. Even better, he said, is to catch a train to the coast and walk the long golden sands. But it was in the back of his old Fiat Uno, that he'd filled the space and she'd lost sight of in her existence.

           They sat and watched the sun go down and were still there to see the world wake up. She showed him that esoteric part of her that nobody was permitted to see. He invited her into his world, playing guitar and showing her his dreams. They spent nights wandering the glistening black of rain swept streets, and dressed as cheap vampires, they'd drink too much wine. He showed her the windy heights of Karori, the track taken to look out over the ocean. They delighted in catching a coffee in a little café he knew, at three o'clock in the morning, she'd never seen so many taxi drivers in the same place. He gave her a million small memories and more. She wondered how she could help him, but knew he would never accept.

           She made up her mind that it was time to leave and she left. He wasn't there to see her go. Looking out the window of her small plane, she said a silent prayer. She thought one day she wanted to come back here, but she was unsure whether she'd fallen in love with the person or the place. Her thoughts were all entwined. She couldn't decide whether there was something there for her or not. Was it good fortune and good luck that had brought them together or was it just her imagination and one misplaced word he never knew he'd spoken. She wondered if it wasn't to late to change her mind. He'd only been a bellboy, in a blue suit with red stripes, but he'd taught her how to take flight.

About the Author (click here) © 2003 Alison Neal, all rights reserved
 appears here by permission

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Author Notes

           This piece depicts a first flight of a different kind.

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