Teaser 176: The Beauty Who Makes Light Paintings Pale in Comparison

Now I had another item to add to my growing “take stock of where I am in my life” list. I was going to be working on the list and setting priorities on the flight back. I had quite a bit already backlogged to accomplish in the next three months, and the only sex I was contemplating during the whole time would include just one partner. Multiple sex partners were making me dizzy.

I was very happy to be back where I belonged. I belonged in Germany, for now at least. When I walked out of the plane into the terminal, there she was. You couldn't miss her, even with a cursory look around. She stood out like a sole Caravaggio amid a roomful of Kincade light paintings. No one could possibly miss her.

There was Heinz next to her, too, smiling wide, a happy man. I was happy to see him. I was growing to love the crazy taxi driver almost like a brother, so much so I had considered on the flight over the ocean I should schedule a night some time soon and invite Heinz and his whole family. He knew so much about me and I hardly knew anything about him.

I walked up to Lena, the beauty who makes light paintings pale in comparison, and decided I wouldn't lift her like last time. Instead, I dropped my bags deliberately at my side and slipped my arms around her and kissed her for several minutes. I made Lena break. “Gregory! You won't stop for anything will you? Even in public!” Lena complained, smiling wide and open.

“Especially in public, Lena. I want everyone to know. Now they do.”

“You two should be married,” Heinz teased. “That belongs behind closed doors.”

Lena laughed. “You make me so happy,” she gushed. “You came back like you promised and you make me feel you missed me. Did you miss me?”

I moved closer so I could put my mouth close to her ear. “Sleepless nights, Lena. I have them because I haven't seen you in days, felt you in days, loved you in days.”

Lena kissed me quickly and moved toward the baggage area. “Come, my love,” she said, and nodded to Heinz, “let's get your luggage and go home.”

Back to Hügelsheim and I did the same as last time, right to the Schekters' front door, though Matty opened the door this time. Her smile was so genuine and surprised I couldn't keep my mouth from opening wide as well. “My dear, lovely Matilde,” I said as she stood and stared at me smiling, “you asked me when we would walk along the river again. Remember?”

“Yes, Gregory, of course,” she replied, her smile even bigger.

Wilhelm had come to the door to see who it was and it gave me my opportunity. “Let's all sit in your delightful living room, enjoy some appetizers or snacks, whatever you have to serve quickly, and let's all take a walk along the river, everyone carrying their glass, and I'll carry the bottle of wine and enjoy ourselves and this wondrous day and not care what anyone says.” I looked to Matty deviously. “Do this for me, my dear housekeeper, you and your wonderful husband. I have really missed you, please.” Since I wasn't drunk or stoned—my eyes gave that away—Matty was captive. Two seconds later we were invited into her living room for refreshments.

I didn't have to tell Heinz anything. He simply brought my bags and the bottle of wine inside the door and I handed him several hundred marks. He took the notes gratefully. “I would like to walk along the Rhine and drink wine at my leisure, too, some day.”

Before I walked into the living room I slapped his shoulder. “You and I and your whole family, Heinz, will experience it soon. I promise you.”

Matty whipped up some finger sandwiches in no time and we all sat in their living room, drinking wine and munching—mostly me since I was starving—her little culinary designs. Suddenly, Matty announced, “I can make more in no time, Gregory. Willy, find your sneakers and the basket and blanket, and we'll take a walk to the river and sit down for some drink and food and watch the river traffic.” Immediately, she stood up to disappear into the kitchen and prepare more food. Wilhelm found his sneakers and the basket and the blanket and fifteen minutes later we were all walking toward the river, Lena's arm around mine as I carried the blanket, and Matty's arm around Wilhelm's arm as he carried the basket.

We walked to the reserve area on the river bank where it rose close to a hundred feet above the river, leveled, built many years ago, I set the blanket down, and we all spread it and sat down. We had brought two bottles of wine, glasses and food, and we were soon enjoying all of it, enjoying the warm day with a cool breeze from the river. I talked about Africa and meeting the students from Mali. My German hosts were not enthused hearing about Africa. They knew once I left for the big continent south I may never see them again. “I don't see how you can accomplish all you hope to do in Africa in such a short time, Gregory,” Matty implored. “Perhaps, you could do it in stages, and come back here between them and visit with us. You're not in a hurry to leave us, are you?” She smiled warmly but she really meant to ask this question.

“It is a dream of mine, Matty, to live in many places in this world, to live there, not tour. I consider the entire planet my home, not just a small slice of it, and the human beings who live on it, wherever they are, they are my cousins. They are my family. I want to re-establish our relationship for we have forgotten how intricately we are bound together. I'm not getting any younger and I'm still reasonably healthy and able to get around easily. How long it will last is anyone's guess, but I'm not taking chances. I want to see, to live in India, China if I can get in, Japan, Australia and South America, while I can still move my two legs with my own power. So, you see, my charming and beautiful hostess,” I nodded to Wilhelm, “I still have much to do, but if I can get around, I know a charming older couple who live near the Rhine river, in an area quaintly called Bavaria, and I'll bet they'd like nothing more than to be surprised when they open the door to find me standing with a smile, a little older, perhaps my hair white as snow, but still with the same little boy smile.”

And with a slightly older woman hanging on your arm.”

I turned to Lena smiling. “With the name Magdalena. I love how that name sounds.” Lena leaned to me and slipped her arm around my neck.

“Well, I certainly would enjoy it,” Matty commented. “Willy?”

“I'll send my relatives to some hotel should they be upstairs when you arrive, Herr Hess,” he said, straight-faced, until he looked at Matty and the two laughed.

- Just Desserts, Segment Twenty-TwoEnter Africa” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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