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I sing this time of love lost and missed opportunities, of hardship and despair. I sing of myself, as well as of those who have gone before me, and when my first set is over, I am flattered to see tears in the eyes of some.
I look over at Don, and he is clapping as enthusiastically as the rest. He looks so human when he does that.
By the end of my third and final set, the crowd are on their feet. I sometimes suspect that their enjoyment of my music is because of how different it is from what they normally listen to on a daily basis.
When I join Don at his table, he gushes, going on and on about how he enjoyed my performance. While he does not understand Castilla, his native French is close enough to it that he got the gist of most of what I was wailing about.
I melt, disarmed by his beauty and enthusiasm, by his flattery. It was a mistake.
In my defense, I also had two vodka tonics, and my friends like to make their drinks strong. Since they are my friends, however, they make mine stronger still – they dispense with the tonic.
Don asked me about myself, and here I thought: why else would this guy, who is now divorced, offer me a ride?
So I told him.
The look on his face was spectacular. Have you ever watched those cartoons where a light bulb pops up in a character’s head? Or in a balloon next to them?
That’s exactly what I saw. God how could I have been so stupid!?
Flustered, I get up and make my good-byes to my friends and a few others there. They want me to stay longer, but there’s no way I’m doing that. There is no back exit, unfortunately, so the only way out is through the main floor where Don is still sitting.
As I pass him, he still has a floored look on his face. I can’t stand it. He looks up at me, but I avoid his gaze as I practically bulldoze the patrons standing between me and the exit.
I take a deep breath as I hit the street.
I am shaking: furious with myself for my stupidity.
I am usually good at reading people: I usually know what they want, and what they’re thinking, more or less.
The hell am I talking about? If I were that good, then why am I not yet a famous performer, huh? Bloody hell, how could I have been so stupid!?
Crap. It’s him! I walk faster, cursing this part of town for its lack of public transportation. It’s an affluent area, but this particular section is mostly composed of office buildings, so most of those who hang out here at night have their own cars. As such, hardly any buses pass here at this hour.
Great. He’s so upset, he’s switched to his native French. God, please don’t let him be a fairy hawk! They don’t exist here, but this guy is not exactly from here. I walk even faster.
“Dio! Please, stop!”