He called for help. The alley was dimly lit from the strip club’s neon lights, and steam rose from the underground vents. On the main street his calls for help were dulled to a whisper as restaurants’ and clubs’ doors opened letting out sporadic music and chatter. On any other night these would have been familiar, if not pleasant sounds to him. As his blurred vision absorbed the light dancing upon the bloodied pavement, specks of mica in the street sparkled with his pain. In this alley he felt once again that pang of hopelessness.
Just before losing consciousness he called out again, and this time he heard soft feet land beside him. He feared it was the men who had left him here to die. Then a tender, powerful female voice spoke: “Are you ok?”
She scooped him up, reminding him of his mother holding him after he had fallen. This woman dressed in dark athletic clothes with long hair and a mask covering her lower face carried him along dark streets. She kept to the shadows and entered into a modest but well-decorated apartment block and went up several flights of stairs to open a wide oak door, laying him down on a large sofa in a sitting room adjoining to an open kitchen, large windows looking out upon the cityscape.
He woke up later that night, her glasses reflected an Orwell novel. She noticed him wake, asking if he was ok. His head spun with darting fire, he closed his eyes again yet wanted to know who this woman was who had rescued him. He began asking, she answered. She asked, he answered. She listened, and in her listening he knew he could tell her. So he did. He told her everything.
Her voice moved around as she walked into the adjoining kitchen to find a chopping board, garlic, onions, some kind of meat. He heard the pan sizzling with butter. His story rose with the aromas, how from a young age he had fallen and he had done things and hurt many people. His tears welled up and poured out as he heard her cooking, listening. She added herbs he thought he once knew yet they smelled exotic. When the blend of flavours and spice was complete she simply said, “It’s ready,” and brought it to him with two plates and two glasses of water. They ate, he opened his eyes and saw her, and she saw him.
Seduction of the senses. Love from first bite.
Flavours mix together with emotions. He sensed home, a place to be, a place to stay as long as humanly possible. She had saved him earlier but what was happening now seemed otherwordly. An inner sense of safety grew as the morning sunrise caught the top of the highest skyscrapers. This felt like a dream beyond his most vivid hope of what life could be about. It was like goodness was contained in the food and the person, the woman in front of him.
Later he described that time like the essence of happy memories bottled up into a sweet music. It was like a healing salve, a potion just being in her presence. There was music gently flowing, something like blues.
As he finished his last mouthful, she told him of her life. The food and syllables brought crisp memories of a time before all of this. His memories took him beside the morning azul spread across the Aegean sea, where he grew up amidst cousins and relatives. She listened, then he fell asleep again.
He awoke and the apartment was empty, it must have been after midday judging by the direction of the light.
There was a note: Go to 13th and Sycamore St, ask for Eve at The Mediterranean Grill and you can start afresh there.