He was a third generation mime with a green belt in Judo and nothing to lose. She was a tone-deaf florist whose only crime was arson. They seemed to be made for each other. They met at the engagement party of a young toothpaste magnate and his bride-to-be, whose proxy for the evening was a half-melted, red and white birthday candle. It was fitting they should meet there, as that’s where they both were at the time. He saw her from across the room; everyone did; she was enormous. Walking over to her with all the class of a leopard print beanbag, he grabbed her attention and delivered a pick-up line so crude not a single word of it is fit for print. She couldn’t resist him; he wore that suit too well: three piece, double-breasted, and tailor made from the finest Egyptian Lycra. They left the party together and walked along the beach. His gaze pierced her soul and gave her shivers; a discarded syringe pierced his foot and gave him hepatitis. At the water’s edge they danced in the moonlight. Soft, damp sand flicked about in time to their high-energy Charleston. The magical night drew to an early close; her halfway house had a ten o’clock curfew. He waited with her for the taxi to arrive, and then wished her a lovestruck adieu. She smiled even though she didn’t understand French. As he watched the rear lights of the car disappear into the night, now sparkling with gentle rain, he felt happiness he had never known. He would never know it again. The next day war broke out and he was drafted, not into the military but the NBA. The powers that be thought it would be good for morale—apparently the troops loved watching him play basketball. Meanwhile, she waited for him to call. The only call she received was from her superior officer, informing her she was now activated and was to assassinate a foreign diplomat. It seemed their love affair—like youth, or beauty, or mayonnaise—was never meant to last. For a while they both mourned the loss of what might have been, but in time they learned to treasure that night—a brief, beautiful gift.
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