When James Met Adrienne

When James Met Adrienne

A Story by Murtuza
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...something wonderful happened

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She had hair of the darkest of browns. Each fibre delicately flowed along her slightly freckled visage but still being sure not to obscure that gleam found deep within those hazel green eyes. The more she brushed them aside, the more they weaved back. Strong, short bursts of jasmine scented the air as she glided through her long locks with peach-glistened nails perfectly carved atop her slender and fragile fingers.

 

All of this was too much of a distraction for poor James to bear.  Paying attention to her sparkling, highly animated conversation and remaining composed enough not to accidentally drop his jaw a second time at her undeniably obvious beauty and charm was a task he seemed he would accomplish with great toil. Somewhere amidst the chatter of his bubbly and expressive acquaintance, he slipped into a bit of nostalgia recalling how on earth he managed to have a date with Adrienne Clifford - Pop Star, youth icon and budding internationally acclaimed Hollywood actress.

 

It all started about a week back or so, if James could accurately remember. He had gone to a party with his friend Gerald, who by most accounts was always aware of the ‘hottest’ happenings and ‘places to be’. All accounts made by Gerald, of course.


 

“T-G-I-F, man!” Gerald had happily spelled to James as they both entered The Expresso Café and Bar, South of Harvey street by 35th and 3rd. “I told you, this is the hottest place to be bro!”
The light ambience and chirpy, young, cool crowd were a welcoming sight. Gerald’s enthusiastic and loud voice could be heard from the far corners of the joint even though the music was on.   

 

“Yeah, I’ll be at the bar getting a beer if you need me,” James responded as he walked towards his destination. His weary tone and tired state worried his closest friend of 4 years. The always joy-emitting, carefree smirk on Gerald’s face now turned into a concerned frown. James had been buried deep in books for 4 days and hadn’t seen the light of day or even the silver of the moon. Finals were coming up in 2 weeks and college wasn’t in its best of phases. Gerald, on the other hand was quite the opposite. Exams weren’t the biggest thing on his list and he planned on enjoying what was left of his college days. Besides, having a rich entrepreneurial father had its advantages for Gerald but the same could not be said of James for his modest background and preoccupied personality gave him little reason to rejoice or celebrate at the moment. But never-the-less, James had to come out of the house some time or the other. And ‘Gerry’ (as James called him) made sure he got a break; even if it meant he needed to drag him out of the house… along with his books.

 

Time passed on at The Expresso and Gerald had wandered off to the lounges to socialize with the girls leaving James to himself at the bar still with his half-drunken glass of beer. He bothered himself to ponder about the Economics of the diminishing marginal utility and whether he should have been of the impression that his beer mug was half empty or half full. He was dreaming about studies night and day. Something had to give. And something did.

 

“May I please have this bench?” a soft yet crisp voice had entered James’s ears. He interrupted his flow of highly concentrated thought to look over to see who was addressing him. It was a woman dressed in a long black dress. Her hair was somewhat wrapped inside a pashmina-like scarf for all James could make of it and she was wearing sunglasses for some odd reason. If anyone had to make out her face, they would be stumped; much like James was. She gestured towards the bar stool beside him. It took him a few seconds to come back from the repositories of his mind but he did eventually and then carefully analyzed the words she had spoken to make sure he understood and could respond to them properly so that he didn’t make the mistake of saying something silly like Yes, the law of Demand states that the need of an asset is inversely proportional to the cost of the asset. Hence-proved. James wasn’t the best at socializing but no, he certainly wasn’t the worst. At least according to him, that is.

 

“S-sure, please do,” he replied. He made sure to pleasantly smile and greet her. She complied and did the same. He somehow felt there to be something shady about her, though. Why was she dressed up so thickly in the night? And why is she trying to hide her face? His inquisitiveness had got him into wonderment and then ponderment. This was reason enough for him to stop boggling about economic theories. He was thinking about approaching her and making conversation since she was sitting alone and didn’t seem like she was expecting company. He made eye-contact with her just as she was about to with him. He was about to mutter a word when she started.

 

“My, this place really does have the best cocktails,” she said, not acknowledging that James was about to mention something just before her.

 

“Why yes, Expresso is the best place for liquor and coffee.” he replied. He thought it okay to have her start off the conversation if he could steer it eventually.

 

“So do you live around here?” she asked

 

“Yeah, just a couple of blocks down the street.”

 

“That’s great, so that means you can come here whenever you want, so lucky!”

 

James chuckled. “Not really, I’ve got college to worry about in the morning. So I don’t come here as much as I’d like to. Just sometimes to unwind.”

 

“I see. So what degree are you pursuing in college? I haven’t attended college yet. But I did want to become an architect when I was in high school,” she said, trying to relate to James.

 

“Business Administration, Masters. I’m looking forward to being a Chartered Accountant,” he said, with great emphasis on the words since those were the very words that constantly rang in his head every single day, reminding him of his goal and of how he needed to study to achieve it.

 

“That sounds really office-y! I just can’t imagine myself doing brainy work. I get all confused with numbers and decimals and accounts and stuff. I’m more of an artsy type,” she replied and then giggled a bit. James was taken by surprise by her sudden change in voice from being slightly calm and composed to being quick and up-tempo. It all somehow reminded him of someone. He wasn’t really sure of that but there was something vaguely familiar about her voice that urged him to ponder more. He was suddenly reminded of the question he wanted to ask her regarding her wardrobe. He didn’t realize how the short conversation brought out much life from the lady.

 

“So--”

 

“Is that your friend there who’s walking towards us?” she again interrupted. James looked to where she was pointing to find a tipsy Gerald approaching. It was his signal that they needed to return home.

 

“Bro! Like, we need to get back to the pad. I might just fall over if I’m not too careful,” Gerald said as he took his final steps to reach James. He was too inebriated to notice the woman seated on the next bench but he could be excused for it since he was trying his best just to balance himself on the ground by clasping onto James’s shoulder.

 

“Alright, Gerry, whatever you say. Why don’t you go grab your coat and I’ll meet you at the door?” James said to his excessively spirited friend.

 

“Sounds like a…. a plan, man,” Gerald responded and tried to navigate himself towards the coats hanger. James kept an eye on him to make sure he didn’t trip himself.

 

“Your friend seems nice,” The still-unidentified-seemingly-young-and-energetic-yet-familiar-woman said. She giggled and then looked at James as if expecting a final word before he would leave her company.

 

“Yeah, he’s quite a guy,” James replied. He quickly changed gears and then asked the much anticipated query that had been teasing his ever so curious mind but had evaded him since now. “I wanted to ask you this before, but if you don’t mind my curiosity, why are you so thickly dressed? I bet you can’t see too well with those sunglasses on in the dim light here,”

 

“Oh yeah, I’ll show you why. But first, let’s make a date to meet again. Same time next week? I’d love to get to know you more,” she said. This time, she spoke with a resounding confidence and personality in her voice. It made James nervous because no girl would actually ask him anything like this. He wanted to say yes, but then paused for a while but eventually…

 

“Sure, it’s a date,” he said, making it sound as normal as possible. This would be his official first date. He didn’t know what he was getting in to. To James, this girl was a random stranger whom he’d just met and he didn’t even know her name. Neither did she, but she knew much more about him than he would have wanted to know about her. In the 20 years of his life, he had never been this unsure of any decision. But he decided to ‘wing it’ as Gerry would put it. “I’m James, by the way,” he added, just to make sure she didn’t seem it odd not to know his name.

 

“Nice to meet you, James, I’m--”

 

*THUD*

 

Gerald had tripped himself on the stools on his way to the coats. James regretted being distracted from keeping him in his sight. The café-cum-bar was now empty. There were only 6 people inside including Gerald, James and his acquaintance, the bartender and two others who were seated in the far end of the bar. He quickly rushed to Gerald and dusted him off. He helped pick Gerald up and put one of his arms around his shoulders to prevent any further situation similar to this. James’s best friend was now in a semi-slumber. All he could do now was hold on and make sure he was watching his legs.

 

“Off we go, Gerry,” James said as he went ahead to the front door. His new and still mysterious acquaintance giggled all the while.

 

James looked over Gerry’s shoulder to see his now official date and gesture a farewell. She looked at him and smiled. She removed her scarf and took off her shades and waved. She bobbed her index finger to remind James of the upcoming rendezvous he had with her.


There it was. That brown shiny hair and those freckles. James dropped his jaw down and it fell on Gerry’s shoulder so hard, it woke him from the snooze he was having.

 

“No wonder she did it. She’s Adrienne Clifford!” James proclaimed to himself. Adrienne giggled again at James’s expression and waved at him. He waved back and then smiled to her a smile that hinted a certain kind of attained understanding. She gently nodded and was soon out of sight.

 

“Wha- di- you say, bro?” Gerald said, the smell of alcohol ceasing to stay in his mouth any longer.

 

“Nothing, Gerry. Let’s get you to bed now,” James said as he continued walking towards their block, all the while imagining how his date would go with Adrienne next Friday.

 

 

 James brought himself back from his day-dreaming about that night. In-fact, he felt it quite humorous and ironic since imagining a date with Adrienne Clifford would actually be qualified as being day-dreaming. But here he was doing just that. He came back to the one-sided conversation. Back to those same bar-stools, back to having a half-drunk container of beverage, this time it was coffee. Back to being at the Expresso Café and Bar. Adrienne was being her distinctively characteristic and expressive self. She didn’t need to hold back since now James knew who she really was. She knew he could keep it a secret. She knew he would understand that just because she was famous, it did not mean she wasn’t a normal person who wanted to come to bars and talk with strangers and even have a date, even though doing the latter would be a tad uncharacteristic for few.

 

She even noticed him intently listening to her rambling. She was sure that at some point, he veered away and began to seemingly gaze into her hair. But she was fine with it. She knew this was normal. She knew that James was trying his best to be polite and… normal. She knew he was genuine. They continued talking but still like before, there was more talk from her than him.

 

“So what about the first time you fell in love?” Adrienne randomly brought about the topic.

 

“Um, I haven’t really found someone yet,” James replied rather hesitantly since he wasn’t very acute in the field of ‘Love’. “What about you? I’m sure you must have had many people fall for you, right?”

 

“Hah. No, not really. There just never seemed to be any time for me to wait for anyone with work and shows and what-not. How would anyone want to fall in love with a person like that?” she answered. Her eyes grew deeper into James’s. He was as engrossed into her words as her eyes. There was silence for a while as they gazed at each other. It was as if they were speaking with their eyes. And with Adrienne’s expressions, it seemed like she dominated this conversation as well.

 

“You must have definitely been kissed though. Everyone is kissed at least once by now,” she said and renewed the vocal conversation. The girl of 20 years somehow said it with a mischievous grin of a girl of 12.

 

“Unfortunately, I haven’t Adi,”James responded, looking rather shameful that he had to say such a thing. His eyes searched for an alternate view but dropped to his coffee mug. It wasn’t that James never had crushes before. He wasn’t very familiar with the concept of love, especially if it came from someone other than his mother. He was yet to tread those waters and didn’t seem confident enough to set sail on them just yet. James felt that a person like Adrienne would have already had experiences with regard to affection and infatuation being the person she was… right?

 

James’s lips pursed. His black hair, which, a week ago had been messy and wild and all over his scalp, was now neat, combed and waved to the side. His blue eyes circled around the coffee mug in haste. He tried to think up something to soothe the awkward silence. He adjusted his spectacles a bit. The frame always had a habit of slipping down too low. He thought it was his turn to be a little mischievous now.

 

“Well, I would assume you’ve got quite the experience in the kissing department now don’t you?” James grinned. He felt content that he could now speak this casually with her. Even Adrienne felt a bit of relief to have him open up to her. “So when did you have your first kiss?”

 

Adrienne looked up at him and grinned. As she looked at him, her gaze drew farther down towards the entrance to find one of her body guards waving at her and then pointing towards his wrist-watch to show her that her time was up and that her presence was needed at other places. James looked at the stout and bulky man suited in black and felt like he needed to gulp. Adrienne showed her index finger at the man as if to say, ‘one minute, let me wrap this up.’

 

The silence still lingered since James had asked her the question. She sweetly smiled at him and stood up, as did James. She reached for a pen from her bag and on a napkin, jotted down a private phone number, which only James could be privileged enough to know and handed it to him. James walked her to the entrance, knowing that maybe he might not really get to know the answer. Maybe he wouldn’t really want to know the answer. He gave Adrienne a glimpse as the two walked towards the doors. They both halted at the entrance and turned to each other to say their goodbyes. Only, none of them really said anything. They just smiled.

 

As they were in their world of smiles, Adrienne reached out towards James and gave him a soft, gentle kiss, much to his surprise and his delight.

 

“Just then,” Adrienne said, answering the much anticipated question once and for all.

 

 

© 2012 Murtuza


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Added on June 6, 2012
Last Updated on June 8, 2012
Tags: Cafe, Romance, Adrienne, James

Author

Murtuza
Murtuza

Chennai, India



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Hi all :) I love to write - be it poems, articles, stories and the like. Whatever I write mostly comes up from the spur of the moment and I don't really start off with a basic idea. I just write ba.. more..

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