Lovers On Two Planets

The following is the first few pages of the new novel I’m working on, the working title of which is the same as the title of this post. It’s a noir crime drama set in modern times, but in the style of the detective novels from the 40’s and 50’s. I’ll share more excerpts when the mood strikes me, or if you guys request it.  Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments below. Enjoy.

Lovers On Two Planets

By: Patrick Roe

1

My heart was pregnant the same way Europe is pregnant with history. It was my first European vacation since the engagement, and my first ever if anybody was counting. We had taken a day excursion to Spain, there was a painter I liked who used to live there and I thought it might be fascinating to go dig up his corpse.

I had a camera around my neck, and a ridiculous bright blue scarf to protect myself from the cold. I thought I looked like a tourist, but even the tourists didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I was taking pictures like a fool, and a fool I was. A fool in love.

“Take one of me by those blue doors!” She said excitedly. I did as I was told because my fiance was meant to be photographed. Her name was, and I suppose still is, Marian Swanikov. She was soft and glowing, brown hair raining down upon her petite frame like a summer squall in Hawaii. She looked like a starlet from the golden age of cinema.

“I thought you were European. If I would have known I was just marrying another tourist I would have settled on an American.”

“Go ahead. But you know, and I know, that American girls don’t know what I know.” She said it with a smile that could have killed half of Napoleon’s army.

I began to scoot back. The damn fixed lens on the camera wasn’t giving me the framing I needed, and since I felt like fucking Ansel Adams that day, I decided to scoot back and give myself the award winning shot. I had failed to remember that nobody in Spain believes in hand rails.

Over the bluff I went, and straight into the drink. If I was a luckier man I would have fallen to the left and killed myself on the rocks to save myself the shame. But instead she came to make sure I hadn’t left her the life insurance money, and we shared a good laugh about it.

We decided to get something to eat while the camera was drying out on the restaurant’s back patio. We talked some, but about nothing important. The kind of light, bubbly talk lovers use on vacations. Mostly I just watched the way she moved. The way her honey colored eyes perused over the menu, the way her teeth nibbled her bottom lip as she tried to decide between the paella and the curry chicken. If she noticed me looking at her this way it was all over, I had to be stealthy. Starlets enjoy a glance, not a gawk.

Later on that night I was having a cigarette leaning out of our hotel window, deep in thought. Something had occurred to me for the first time. Something curious, unimportant, but strange.

“Whatchya thinking about baby?” How she could read my mind I’ll never know.

“It’s stupid.”

“I still want to know.”

“Well… I just realized that I’ll never get to be an astronaut.”

She laughed at me. She often laughed at me for the places my mind would wander. Through the giggles she said, “What are you talking about?”

“Well it was always my childhood dream to be an astronaut. I’ve gone on my entire life holding that dream in my back pocket. My mind occasionally wanders to it and I think about how cool it will be when I finally get to become an astronaut. Tonight I realized for the first time that that ship has sailed. I’ve already missed my window of opportunity.”

“I’ve heard about paid flights to outer space. I think by 2020 it’s going to be as common as flying across the Atlantic,” she said, with her French accent that turns “think” into “sink”. The cuteness of it all pulled me right out of my ruined astronaut dreams. “Is that so?” I flicked the cigarette butt out of the window, and made my way over to the bed where she was laying, “People who take AA flights to the moon aren’t astronauts, their just tourists. I don’t want to be a tourist.”

“So if you can’t be one of the first, you don’t want to be one at all?”

“I guess you could put it that way.”

“Well you aren’t the first to be with me. Does it bother you being a tourist on this planet?” She said it with that same smile. There goes the other half of Napoleon’s army.

I said something else, but the only time it isn’t cliche is in the ears of lovers, so I’ll spare everyone the misery. What I will tell you is that we made love. The type lovers have on vacation; the timeless type that connects you with every bygone era that has ever graced the pages of this planet’s Earthen book.

We did it once, and then we did it again just in case.

2

The time came for us to depart. They were doing an extra security check before we could board the flight; they had a Middle Eastern employee calling out the names, as if to reassure us that this wasn’t some sort of racial profiling.

While we were waiting for our names to be called I decided to go grab us a snack from one of the airport food stands. Some Texan woman in front of me butchered the word “Bonjour” before proceeding with her order. It occurred to me that this could be a sign. The extra security check, the extra time to change our minds. We didn’t have to leave. As long as you’re not on that plane backing away from the gate there’s nobody stopping you.

I stared at the menu as I thought about the French countryside and how I’ve never seen skies in that shade of blue. The ancient Roman aqueduct in Montpellier, the golden statues above the Paris Opera House, the breathtaking cathedral in a little town that no God fearing American has ever even heard of.

I thought the food stand clerk said,“Thinking about leaving sir?” Turns out what all she really said was,“What are you thinking about having sir?”

Before I could answer her they called my name over the loudspeaker, “TERRANCE CROI, PLEASE COME UP TO THE FRONT DESK. TERRANCE CROI.”

They always pronounce it wrong. I decided to have a word with them about it.

“It’s Croi, it rhymes with boy.”

“Sounds Middle Eastern in origin.”

He eyed me suspiciously, as if my mother had committed a crime for giving up her maiden name, “Actually it’s Celtic for… Look, I’m having thoughts of ditching this flight for good but if I do that then I’ll lose a lot of money, my job, and my girlfriend will be mad at me so if we can just get this thing moving before I change my mind I would really appreciate it.”

I realized immediately that I had made a mistake. He submitted me to a security check. Luckily the next guy had the sense to give me a pat on the back and send me on my way. He must have sensed my urge to escape.

I’d be lying if I said it was easy to say goodbye. Every atom in my body was telling me to stay, and that’s all I wanted to do. I got stuck with the one French girl with an itch for America. She couldn’t wait to be back in L.A., and I couldn’t wait to convince her otherwise. Either way, we boarded when they called our group. Little did I know, getting on that plane wasn’t just a bad idea. It would end up being the single worst mistake I ever made in my life.

3

The flight itself wasn’t a complete disaster, especially if you compare it to to Hurricane Katrina. As it turns out I got the one bum seat without a tray table. Those bastards wouldn’t serve me food unless I moved seats. After a lot of bad noise, we agreed that as long as they served me the food while I was sitting in the other seat I was no longer an insurance liability. I told them thanks a lot, and to be sure and have somebody notify me when they die so I can attend the funeral.

Somewhere in between the animated movie with the talking animals and the 300th incarnation of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Marian had some sort of vision. If I didn’t love her so much for her visions, I probably would have hated her for them.

“Terrance.”

“Yeah.”

“I’ve got a bad feeling.”

“About what?”

“I don’t know.”

“You think you forgot something?”

“No, it’s not that kind of bad feeling.”

Now I was starting to get worried. It took some courage to build up to the next question, but it had to be asked. “Is it about the marriage?”

I cringed as the words left my lips, like they were coated in bile and would have been better left in my stomach. Luckily her face lightened and my heart began to unclench.

“Of course not. That’s the only thing I’m sure of these days.”

“So you feel this way, but there’s nothing you can think of as to what’s causing it?”

“Nothing.”

“Well then I wouldn’t worry about it. Anxiety is just a defense mechanism left over from the cavemen. When they actually had saber tooth tigers and wolves the size of VW Beetles to worry about. Sometimes when everything is going good, it gets triggered just in case. By instinct. You know what I mean?”

She smiled, “No, but somehow hearing you ramble on makes me feel better about it.”

She grabbed my hand, rested her head on my shoulder and that was the end of that. Or so I thought, until I realized that I was feeling the same thing she was feeling. Staring at my broken tray table, I couldn’t help but feeling like I was ignoring the signs. She was right, something was wrong, and we were about to find out the hard way.

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