The Streetscape

“Elizabeth Taylor.”

She spoke with such certainty, not missing a beat on the uneven brick sidewalk or contracting a single muscle in her face that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Her gaze remained single-mindedly pointed forward, helping her weave in and out of the yuppie families making their way back to their Kia Not-Minivans-But-Really-Who-Are-You-Trying-To-Kid? SUV crossovers.

She was trying to make something of nothing and he knew it.

“Hmph?”

He half-choked between mouthfuls of chicken club, his head jutting back and forth like a nervous pigeon as he attempted to find something – anything – that would help him gain his footing in the conversation. He stayed a step-and-a-half behind her at all times to follow her trail through the mid-morning crowds. That and he loved to watch her walk.

“That hotel. It’s Elizabeth Taylor.”

“Right. Yeah. Of course it is.”

She stopped dead with an eye roll and sigh she learned from an Off-Broadway something or other. She grabbed him just above the elbow on both arms, narrowly missing wayward sandwich carnage, and pointed him toward the old building that stood about nine stories tall – regal, yet tired.

She was never as annoyed by his existence as she made herself out to be. But don’t tell him that.

“See?”

She knew he didn’t.

“You can tell it was stunning once upon a time. Like…take your breath away stunning.”

She let her eyes follow the three wide steps up to the vintage looking bellboy in between the two gold-trimmed, revolving doors. What used to sparkle was starting to look more and more like copper.

She thumbed the ring on her finger ever so slightly. No one noticed.

“I bet you all the socialites, or whatever they were called back then, flocked to that lobby after an evening of dancing and illegal scotch.”

She started to light up, visibly taken by the quick glimpses of marble and velvet interior that she could catch in between street traffic. To be fair, she would love any setting worthy of a tawdry affair. While to her it would always be purely theoretical, she assumed that that would be the best kind of infidelity.

“But now…”

She looked away, unable to look the subject of her scrutiny in the eye.

“…you can just tell it’s still riding on it’s reputation from better days. I can’t tell if it’s out of respect, tradition or nostalgia.”

She was walking again. Quickly.

Brushing debris from the front of his coat – popping a bigger piece or two back in his mouth, of course – he caught the eye of the bellboy. He gave a quick nod and tight-lipped smile before jogging a few steps to catch up to her again.

He was always struggling to keep up with her and he loved it. But don’t tell her that.

He knew there was nothing left to say.

“Elizabeth Taylor, huh?”

She glanced back at him – annoyed – and kept walking.

He stopped for a half step, slapping his palm to his face and mouthing a curse word with a half smile, and jogged to resume his post.

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