Friday, October 8, 2010

Skins, Sticky and Seared - Part III

Read Part I here

Read Part II here

They were at a dimly lit wine bar in the City’s gay district. It was Thursday when the bar owner took a weekly risk by having a live music group perform without a license. That night a Spanish guitar quartet occupied one end of the bar filling the room with soft strumming. It was a long, narrow room – warm, brown leather couches lined one wall that had been painted deep burgundy. The facing wall was covered by wooden barrels and racks holding dozens of dark hued bottles. The bar prided itself on its (truly rather impressive) collection of moderately priced yet good tasting red wine from all over the world. They had picked the couch closest to the band and over the last hour had been making their way through a bottle of a Portuguese red – one that didn’t fall into the category of port. Veronica was leaning forward – chin cupped in her hands – entranced by the music. Kabir twirled her curls in his fingers. It was only their fourth date but he felt a connection with her, one as beautiful as the one between his fingers and her curls. And as tenuous. Slippery. The thought sent a frisson of panic through him that made him tighten his hold. Veronica felt a soft tug on her hair and let herself fall back slowly to the backrest – her head coming to rest in the crook of his arm. Kabir felt choked up and had to clear his throat before he could speak. “Do you want to go back to my place for a coffee or a night-cap?”, he said. She turned the her brilliant green-eyed gaze towards him. He could see a spark of mischief in her eyes that fanned the embers of his own desire. She smiled.

They were at a tango-jazz fusion performance in the intimate basement space of the local jazz school. The room held maybe forty other patrons. As Veronica got up to get some more wine for her and coffee for him, the Argentine singer introduced her next song – dedicating it to those who’d been hurt in love – so they might find the courage, she said to “always, always, always say yes again, the next time love comes back into their lives”. Kabir felt his senses freeze with only her words filtering through. It felt like she was speaking directly to him. As Volonte started singing, he blinked back into full consciousness. “Listen.” He whispered. “Download.” The iSkin and its vast music library in the cloud would obey. And deliver. It always did. He turned in his seat to look at Veronica. She was standing with her back to him at the makeshift bar that had been housed in one of the school’s glassed-in administrative offices. Just then she turned around as well and her face lit up when she saw that he was looking at her. She gestured with her hands – placing one palm a short distance above the other and then raising it higher. Twice. There was just enough light in the bar area for him to make out that she wanted to know what size coffee he wanted. He replayed her gesture but with his right hand placed as high as he could above the left one. Very large. He was hoping it would be a long night. She laughed as he’d hoped she would. He liked seeing - and making - her laugh. The entire scene was bathed in colours from the red end of the spectrum; textured, bordered and hemmed in with shadows. Volonte’s sultry, soft voice filled the room. “Almodovar should’ve been here with his crew.”, thought Kabir. “Or maybe he already was.” The anemic light from the two incandescent bulbs above the bar counter played on Veronica’s shoulder-length, brown curls giving them a caramel glow that seemed to warm his very soul.

They were asleep in Kabir’s bed, their bodies wrapped around each other in a perfect fit. The iSkin music alarm piped up precisely at seven. Kabir groaned at the song. This was positively cruel! This was supposed to be a make-or-break work week for him. He could barely think of making it to Tuesday, let alone Friday.

A month ago, Veronica had asked to add her voice to his iSkin’s voice control. And since then she’d ever so often change the wake-up song on his Skin when he wasn’t watching. It was usually a funny or sweet surprise. She’d picked Maroon 5’s ‘Wake Up Call’ once. Pink Floyd’s ‘Coming back to life’ another time. And his favourite – Kelly Clarkson’s ‘My Life Would Suck Without You’. She’d picked “I Can’t Wait for the Weekend to Begin” as the song to begin that Monday with. He flipped around to give her a mock annoyed look. She’d woken up at the same time, since they’d taken to wearing one earphone each from his Skin each night, that they might share a morning alarm. “Good morning darling.” , She smiled mischievously. “Grrr!” was his only answer.

He rented a fourth floor walk-up in an old Victorian in one of the City’s oldest neighbourhoods. The master bedroom was right below the building’s sloping roof. It had a large terrace leading off from the room's four French-windows that provided a colourful vista of the roofs, chimneys and pediments of the neighbourhood’s majestic homes– many painted in psychedelic colours – purple and gold; hot pink bordered with lime green. Veronica rented her own apartment in one of the neighbourhoods by the sea, where some mornings she said, she was woken up not by the Skin’s music alarm but by the raucous sounds of parrots on her window-sill. But she’d said that sloping roofs had always been a fascination for her and so Kabir’s apartment had quickly become their default pad for stay-overs. Perhaps, he’d thought, it might not be too much longer before he could ask her to move in permanently.

He stood a couple of feet from the terrace railing ingesting his first fix of caffeine for the day. The wrought iron railing was practically a period piece from a decade where aesthetics sometimes over-rode safety and so were only three feet high. He’d always felt it wasn’t high enough for someone with his 6’ frame. Showered and dressed, he wanted to savour the last moments of quiet in the cool, stillness of the City’s morning, before he had to head out to the day’s craziness. Veronica stepped out, still wearing her negligee. A short purple, silk, thing that ended way above her knees. He loved its contrast with her porcelain legs. She hugged him from behind and kissed his ear. Then, as was her wont, intrepidly stepped to the railing to look down.

“Oh look!”, She cried.

“What is it?”, Kabir asked coming to stand by her. He looked down to see what she was pointing at – a cherry tree in the backyard, that he didn’t remember seeing - seemed to have exploded into colour while he was busy not seeing it. Veronica turned to him, her eyes shining with happiness. No, it was more than that. There was an energy in them he couldn’t quite describe. “Isn’t it beautiful?!”

“Yes it is.” He agreed.

“I think you should give work a miss today. Stay with me!”, She said, clasping his shoulder with both her hands. “It’s a beautiful day. The cherry trees are in blossom and it’s our five and a quarter month anniversary.”

“Yeah, right”, he laughed at the mere thought. Then turned to look at her to make sure she was joking, “Darling, the final design concepts are due today for the next generation devices. You know. I told you, remember? I’ve finally made a break-through. You inspired me.” He paused. “And now I finally have something fantastic for show everyone. I’ve kept it from the whole team because I wanted to build it up. It’s going to be huge.”

She pouted. “I know. But..”

Kabir interrupted her, “Darling, I’d have to have a really good excuse for calling in sick today.”

“Well…”, Veronica smiled coquettishly at him. He loved that look on her. And in that instant he knew, he loved her. “That could be arranged.”

Then, moving one hand to the small of his back and sliding her other hand down to the wrist of his free hand, she ripped off the iSkin that he’d wrapped on there, twisted his hand behind him, and shoved him with all her might.

By the time he let go of the coffee mug in his other hand, he was already too far over the edge to use it to grab hold of the railing.

Read the Conclusion


dd said...

Why is this a conclusion if its to be continued??

Anonymous said...

You write like william gibson

Anonymous said...

Very seductive reading. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

The material for iSkin is here. I think it will be 2020 when you will have the first iSkin.. lets see if its apple or someone else. Samsung is pioneering the flexible touchscreen..., which should be up in 2 to 3 years time

Umayr said...

I admire that attention to the details of everyday objects. All the same, there is a risk that it may drown an evocation of passion or feeling (love e.g.) that comes in spite of the world of prosaic activity. A poetic resonance, perhaps. So, in my reading, the musings on iSkin in Part I are only vindicated in Part III where "she ripped off the iSkin that he’d wrapped on there..."

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