City Lounge: Paris (Book Two, Chapter Four: Happy Place)

Chapter Four: Happy Place:

I met up with Simone in Place d’Acadie after work. To be honest, I have never been to this plaza before. You would think for after a year, I would have seen more of Paris. I guess I don’t get out as much as I need to. Maybe I might do that now that I am single(ish?) again.

Simone looked up when she saw me running towards her. She folded her arms across her chest.

“You’re late,” she said. I chuckled and rubbed the back of my head.

“Sorry about that,” I said. “The meeting ran a bit over time.” Simone turned to leave.

“Shall we get going?” she asked. My face lit up like an excited puppy.

“Yes!” I said. That Indigo Queen began walking down the cobblestone street. I ran to catch up with her.

“So where are we going today?” I asked. Simone giggled.

“To my favorite place,” she said. I smiled and raised my eyebrow.

“You’re not going to tell me what that is, are you?” I asked.

“Nope!”

“How did I know? Will I have to guess as we walk?”

“No.”

“No?”

Simone glanced over her shoulder at me. “Why don’t you just come along and see?” It’s so strange. We’re not in a bedroom, but she’s already starting to cast her spell on me. I only nodded with a goofy smile on my face. Okay! I will follow you, my queen.

Simone led me down to this small shop at the end of the plaza. The inside looked empty with the lights turned off. I tried to look through the big front windows.

“Uh… are they even open?” I asked. Simone walked up to the door and pushed it open. She looked around as she stuck her head inside.

“Ello,” she whispered. “It’s me.” That Indigo queen walked inside. I followed behind with puzzled look on my face. A dim purple light brightened up the other side of the store.  I tried to see through the building smoke around us. Everything was made of glass. I didn’t think that sitar music would reach Paris. Simone looked around.

“Hello?” she asked. “It’s me again, Aldo. I’ve brought my friend like I promised.” The bead curtains behind the glass counter clacked as they swung open. A short man with grey hair and big glasses came into the store. I looked him up and down as he did the same to me.

“He’s weird,” we said in unison. I looked around the dimly purple store.

“What is this place?” I asked. The old man smiled as he held out his arms.

“Welcome to the Unicorn Kingdom!” he said, almost shouting in song. I blinked with a puzzled look on my face.

“Huh?” I asked. Simone turned to me, patting me on the head like a dog.

“Welcome, Alice,” she said. “You have made it down my rabbit hole.” I took another look around the shop. It was then I noticed among the glass mystical creatures, insects, animals, and musical instruments that I realized exactly what the rest of the glass pieces were.

“Wait, is this…?” I began to ask. Simone put her finger to my lips.

“Not exactly,” she said. Then the Indigo Queen walked up to the counter. I focused on the indigo braids in her ponytail swaying back and forth as she moved. The old guy pushed up his glasses.

“Would you like the usual today?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” Simone said.

“Coming up,” he said. I watched the old man as he turned to a coffee brewer behind him. He opened the top and put in a bag of dried leaves and a handful of coffee beans. He poured in a pot of water and closed the lid. Simone held me back when I opened my mouth.

“Watch closely and you’ll see it,” she said. The old man pressed a small black button on the coffee machine. The grinding and spinning noises filled the shop.

“Don’t forget the music!” Simone shouted over the machine.

“Of course I won’t,” he said. As the grinding grew louder, he walked over to the record player and switched out the albums. The old man tapped his wrist as he looked at the clock over his head. Simone squeezed my hand.

“This is going to be worth the trip,” she whispered. I had no choice but to agree with her for now. The old man turned back to the machine when it clicked, stopping the grinding.

“Two cups, please?” Simone asked.

“You got it,” the old man said. He danced over to a wooden china cabinet that looked out of place in the store. With two black porcelain tea cups in his hands, the old man danced over to the coffee machine. His movements made me think of Michael Jackson and Christopher Walken mixed together. He hummed as he set the cup under the machine and hit another button. The “coffee” poured out like a small waterfall into the first cup. Simone closed her eyes and took in the aroma.

“Uh… I don’t drink coffee that often,” I whispered.

“Just try this,” she said. “You might like it.” The Indigo Queen reached into her bag as she walked up to the counter. She took out a handful of Euro coins and set them on the counter.

“Thank you,” the old man said. He handed her the filled-up cups. He danced over to the record player and put the needle on the record. “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles took over where the silence had been. Simone took in a deep sniff of her drink before she headed me the other cup.

“Take in the smell before drinking it,” she said. I took the cup and took a sniff of the coffee. The bitterness hit the back of my throat. I winced and peeked over at Simone. She sipped on her drink like it was milk. Okay then…

I drank my coffee down in one shot.

Bright puffy clouds hit my eyes as my head started flying away. I looked down at my empty cup. What did I just drink? It tastes like…

“Will?” I heard Simone ask. “Are you alright?” Her voice sounded so distant in my ears. John Lennon singing “When I awoke…” was when everything heightened. The last thing I could remember was everything spinning and bright colors.

Then it all went black.

So, I lit a fire. Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood?

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