The Rest of the Story
by Nick Brady
Marco woke up before his alarm went off and Saturday. He hoped this meant that he was recovering from his jet lag. He made a pass through the bathroom. dressed again in his buckskins and brushed out his hair. He was hungry so decided to splurge on a good breakfast.
The hotel restaurant was as elegant as everything else in this grand hotel. He looked at the menu and then noticed that there was a nice looking breakfast buffet on one side of the large dining room, That looked inviting. He loaded his plate with several sausages, some bacon and several croissants, then waited as a cook dressed in immaculate whites prepared an omelet with cheese.
He found a quiet table and enjoyed his meal. A waiter brought him coffee, orange juice and an assortment of jams and jellies. He chuckled to think of the amount of damage the twins could make of this arrangement.
It was the Saturday of this three day exhibit and would be the big day. Judging by the number of people that showed up the day before, there would be a crowd today. He finished the coffee in the silver carafe and sat back. It surprised him a little that he could sit in this fancy place looking like a drug store Indian and no one batted an eye.
He flashed his exhibitor's pass and walked into the exhibit hall just before ten o'clock. Already there was a small queue of people waiting to get in. Now he drew some looks of interest. Being a novelty was not a bad thing. Passing by the refreshment bar, he brought a coffee to his booth and sat down.
By noon, he had an almost constant stream of visitors looking at his work and asking questions. By the time he was able to finish his coffee, it was cold. Highbottom stopped by looking pleased and asked him if he needed anything. Marco gave the appropriate answer which was no, thank you. Later, Felix checked on him and brought his more coffee. There was no chance to slip away until his bladder finally insisted otherwise.
The exhibit ran a bit later today and it was after seven in the evening before he was able to leave his booth and steal away. He stopped by the bid kiosk and was surprised to see that all but two of his paintings had received bids, several a series of bids, each one higher than the next. A quick tally of what had been bid made raised the hair on the back of his neck. He was doing quite well.
It was dark on the street and much cooler as he walked back to his hotel. He went to his room and changed into jeans and a sweater so as not to be so conspicuous. He took a poplin jacket in case he might need it. There was enough time for a good walk though this interesting place. The streets were alive with people visiting pubs and restaurants, looking in the shops that were still open. Music poured out of little clubs. From one came the lively sound of mandolin and fiddle and on a whim, he went in a found an empty table. It was dark and smokey inside and he was able to sit and listen to the music undisturbed for a little time until he was spotted by a waiter.
"What'll ye have mate?"
Over the din of the music and conversation, Marco said, "I'm sort of hungry. Do you have anything to eat?"
"We have sandwiches," the waiter informed him. "Roast beef is good."
"That sounds good. Does it come with anything?"
"Chips and a pickle."
"Sounds great. And a coke to drink, please."
Having paid for his chair, Marco sat back to enjoy the music and look around. It was a mixed crowd of mostly couples. Youngish men with their ladies and a few older gentlemen sporting rough beards. It could be a pub scene in a BBC mystery. The music was fun. A small band of musicians was playing what Marco assumed was traditional British music. There was a mandolin, a stand up bass, a pretty girls who alternated between playing a fiddle and singing, and a stout gentleman banging away on an old upright piano. They played with enthusiasm. Some patrons were listening, some were talking over the music, all were in good spirits, partly fueled by good English beer. Marco liked this place. It was a nice contrast to his day of confinement in his booth.
The sandwich arrived and it was not a disappointment. It had slices of dark bread piled high with roast beef, a small tub of horseradish, half of a big dill pickle and a basket of fried potato wedges – 'chips'. The coke was in a bottle. The waiter was right. The roast beef was good.
He finished his sandwich. The waiter passed by to clear his table and bring him another coke, and he relaxed and listened to the music. This would be nicer with Marty by his side, but he felt comfortable here and enjoyed himself.
The place became more crowded and by ten o'clock there were people waiting for a table. Marco decided he had all the fun he could stand for one night, waved for a check, paid and left. The streets were still filled with people, undeterred by the light drizzle that was falling.. Probably this place never really shut down. By ten o'clock the streets of downtown Tulsa would be deserted. He congratulated himself for bringing his jacket and started back to his hotel.
Marco was not accustomed to the crowded streets of a big city at night and thought of stories of tourists being mugged. That did not interest him. He walked quickly and avoided eye contact. Even at this hour, a uniformed doorman held the door for him as he entered the hotel. He went up to his room and found it spotless and very quiet. He checked for email.
"Marco. Your complaint that your big bed was empty almost tempted me to purchase a ticket to London and help you fill it. Another time we will do a trip like this together. Brian and Lanny came by in time to join us for pizza. Fortunately the boys never get tired of pizza. I think they miss your cooking. Life goes on here but we all miss you. Marty."
Marco put down the laptop and went to the bathroom and showered. Sitting on the elegant sofa in his undershorts, he wrote back.
"Marty. I had a good day. Lots of visitors and some impressive bids on my stuff. This is going very well. Tonight I went for a walk and found a pub with good music. You would have enjoyed it. We have a great life and I miss all of you, but being here makes me wish that you and I could get away for something like this. It would be nice to be kidless and free to travel again, although I wouldn't trade it. The show will close at two tomorrow and I will pack up what is left to go on to Paris. I will have some dead days in Paris before the show starts there next Thursday so I will play tourist to kill the time. It would be a lot more fun if you were here. Give my love to Sam, Ben, Brian and Lanny too. We seem to have adopted another one. I miss you. Love, Marco."
Sunday was surprisingly busy. There were fewer casual visitors, and more dealers and collectors checking the bid kiosk. The tone was more serious. He had brought mostly powwow paintings and those were all accumulating healthy bids. The scenics were drawing less interest although those with buffalo were doing better. This did not surprise Marco, The remaining ten paintings he had sent on to Paris were all of colorful regalia and swirling dancing, He would be OK there, he thought.
Shortly before two, Mr. Highbottom came by for a chat."We are so pleased to have you," he said. "You have been an exciting addition to our show. I think you will be pleased with the results. If you please, we will have a meeting of the exhibitors at four o'clock to conclude our business."
Marco had not checked the bid kiosk recently but he expected he might do better than he had hoped. This was exciting. There was a small flurry of activity in the closing hour of the exhibit, then the bid sheets were removed and the winning bidders were notified. The business end of all this was something of a mystery to Marco but he assumed that Highbottom and his people knew what they were doing. The arrangement as it had been explained to him, was that the exhibit would collect proceeds from the winning bidders, keep twenty percent for the house, and the rest would go to the artists. Not a bad deal.
The hall slowly cleared out and by four o'clock was quiet. Marco went to the exhibitor's lounge, an empty room off to one side of the hall, and waited to see what happened. Mr. Highbottom busied himself with his associates and finally called for attention.
"I am pleased to say that we have had an excellent exhibit this week. The best in several years. I believe those who are established artists will be very pleased and some of our new exhibitors have done remarkably well. As I am sure you realize, not all of the high bidders will make good on their bids. A few were not here today and will be contacted. An even smaller number will turn out not to have sufficient funds and will be rejected. In these cases the next highest bidder will be notified until all the bidders are satisfied. For this reason we will only be able to compensate you with half of your expected proceeds at this time. The remainder will be sorted out and you will be properly compensated by mail as soon as possible. However, I think you will be pleased. If there are no questions, please pass by my associate who will have an envelope for you with a certified check for what is available now. Thank you."
A queue formed for their checks and Marco sat and waited until the line was short. He watched as envelopes were opened and the contents examined. Most were met with smiles, a few with shrugs. Marco went up and retrieved his own. He sat down, took a deep breath and opened it. Inside was what was basically a form letter thanking him for his participation. Attached to it was a cashiers check for £182,000 Pounds. He wasn't sure what that was in dollars, but it was a lot of money. He could deposit it to his joint bank account with Marty from here, and it would show up in US dollars.
He sat and thought about this. If this was roughly half of what he would eventually receive, this was a lot of money, and the Paris show was yet to come. Marco felt a bit light headed. This was more money than he ever hoped to have. He looked at the check again, half expecting to see that he had misread it, but the numbers stayed the same. He wasn't sure what he would do with all this money, but imagined that they would think of something. A nice trip with Marty came to mind. After a few minutes he went to his hotel room to pack and get ready for his flight to Paris the next morning, The first thing he did was email Marty.
"Marty. The show is officially over and we settled up on the proceeds. I did very well. - much better than I expected as a matter of fact. I was paid in English pounds for half of my proceeds and the other half will be sent later. I'm not sure what it is in dollars, but it will show up in our bank account soon and you can check on it. Next week is the Paris show and I will get something from that. Eunice's buckskins may have helped.. I think I will celebrate with a nice dinner. Wish you were here to be with me. Love to all. Marco."
Marco sat for a few minutes and realized he was perspiring. He had not yet worn the suit he had brought, but decided that he might dress up a little. He showered and changed, putting on his one good suit and wished that Marty was here to tie his necktie. He finally got it right and went down to the hotel restaurant. This seemed like a good time to splurge on a nice dinner.
Down in the elegant restaurant he waited to be seated and then looked at the menu. He ordered a shrimp cocktail and poached salmon with asparagus with a nice house salad. It came, he ate, and it was very good. He tried to just be happy for himself and not think about the fact that he was enjoying this nice meal alone. He smiled when he thought about Marty checking their bank account. He went from the restaurant to sit in the huge lobby and reflected on the next stage of this trip in Paris. If he did half as well there, he was about to become a wealthy man. He felt a little giddy. He thought about taking a long walk, but then decided to return to his room.
He undressed, sat in front of the television and looked for something to watch. He found that British TV was as inane as most of the shows at home, and switched it off. He was suddenly bored and his thoughts went to Ian. It would be so nice to have someone to share this moment of triumph. If not Ian, then someone whom he could surely meet in one of the pubs here on the West End. There were many possibilities.
Shaking this thought out of his head, he simply got into bed with a box of tissues, focused on Marty and took the situation in hand before drifting on to sleep.
Brian and Lanny had gone to mooch dinner from Marty and the twins to find that pizza was once again on the menu. Pizza was always good. Back in their little house they talked about the news they had received from Marty.
"It sounds like Marco is making a killing over there," Lanny said.
"Maybe we should try our hand at painting."
"I think that takes talent."
"Oh right. I forgot abut that," Brian chuckled. "At any rate, I'm really happy for Marco. He is a starving artist no more."
"He was never really starving, you know," Lanny said.
"No, but he wasn't getting the recognition he deserved. If he comes back from a successful trip to Europe, he will have more prestige."
"And a lot more money."
"True. But I don't think that Marco is all that motivated by the money," Lanny observed. "I imagine that it's the recognition that's really important."
"Lot's of money is nice recognition," Brian pointed out.
"Well, I'm happy for him. He's a very talented guy and has been really great to me. He made me feel like part of the family."
"You are, you know. You're part of mine for sure."
"I just hope that things work out for us like they have for Marco and Marty," Lanny said.
"I do too. Marco was telling me that there is no reason a gay couple can't make a go of things if they love each other. There will always be some asshole who wants to make trouble, but that might be true for anybody," Brian said. "I think we can make it if you can put up with me."
"Or if you can put up with me. I guess it's a two way street. We have plenty of time, I guess."
"All the time in the world. Let's just try to get through school. I don't feel under any pressure. For now, we can just be roommates. Lots of guys live together while they are in college."
"That's right," Lanny agreed. "I guess if this doesn't work out, we can just be friends."
"You don't sound very convinced it will work."
"It's not that. Maybe I don't want to get my hopes too high. You're the only guy I've ever, you know, been with."
"Are you thinking you want to be with somebody else just to be sure?" Brian asked.
"No. I'm not saying that at all. Maybe I am suffering from the 'this is too good to be true' syndrome."
"Is that really a syndrome?"
Lanny laughed. "I don't think so. Maybe you could research that after you get to be a doctor."
"OK. I'll put that on my to-do list. You ready for bed?"
"Always," Lanny grinned.
After he got the boys to bed, Marty read Marco's last email. Curious about the deposit, he checked their bank balance and whistled. "Holy cow!" he said out loud. Marco had deposited nearly $225,000 dollars into their account. If that was only half and he had another show next week that would buy a hell of a nice dinner. He was so happy for Marco. The money was great, and Marco must be thrilled to death.
He guessed that Marco would not see his reply until the next morning, but quickly sent a reply.
"Marco. What fantastic news! It's a good thing that I encouraged you to take those art classes back in the day. I always knew that you had a great talent, and now you have proven it to the world. I am very excited for you and expect a fine dinner on your return. I will pass along to the boys that things are going well, but it will be for you to give them the details. If Paris works out half as well as London, you will never again have to question that you are a tremendous success. Congratulations! Please take care of yourself and enjoy your time in the 'City of Lights'. Someday (hopefully soon) we will go there together and you can show me around. I miss you terribly and love you very much. Marty."
He closed his computer and sat back to try and absorb Marco's good fortune, knowing that it was not luck, but talent, determination and hard work that had brought Marco to this point. With this under his belt, there was no telling where he would go. He was still a young man and had an amazing future ahead of him. Marty smiled to himself as he realized that he might become the minor contributor to the family fortune.
As he reflected on this, he wondered what this might do to the dynamics of the family. They had always managed to live comfortably, even before his mother had blessed them in her will, and before Marco started to sell some paintings. Now they were about to become quite wealthy. Did this mean a fancy house and lavish lifestyle? It was almost like winning the lottery, an event that spelled disaster for some families. Would this be a blessing or a curse? What would this do to Sam, Ben and Brian. He and Marco would have a lot to talk about on his return. Would this change Marco? He tried to imagine Marco as arrogant and pretentious and could not. If there was a solid bedrock to their family, it was Marco, God bless him. Marty thought they would be OK, but this was going to be interesting.
His business completed in London, Marco called Felix on Monday morning for a ride to the airport, then went to the front desk to find Felix already waiting for him.
"Good morning, Felix. I just need to check out and I'll be right with you."
"There is no need, sir. You are already checked out. May I have your cases?"
"Wait, I put some meals on my tab. I need to take care of those."
"It has been covered, sir. Mr. Highbottom gave me strict instructions. You are our honored guest."
"Uh, well thank you. I guess I'm ready to go then."
The black Range Rover was waiting outside. Once at the airport, Felix took Marco's tickets and hustled him to the counter to check onto his flight and then escorted him to security.. Shaking his hand, Felix wished him safe travel and was gone. Marco hoped that he would be as well treated in Paris.
By the time he went through the very thorough security check he still had an hour to wait on his flight. He amused himself by people watching. The variety of people in London Heathrow was amazing. All nationalities were represented. In this place, not even his buckskins would look out of place. He thought of the old music group The Village People. He could be the Indian Chief, he supposed. He was boarded at eleven and took his seat in coach. The hotel had been comped by the art show. The air travel was on him and he had tried to be frugal. If he were to bring Marty here for a holiday, he thought it might be nice to go first class.
It was not a long flight from London to Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris. He deplaned with his carry-on and cleared the secure area. He was relieved to see a young man holding a sign with his name on it.
He stepped up and said, "Hello. I'm Marco. I think you are looking for me."
"If you are here for the Art Show then I would be. I'm Henry Wallace."
The accent was American and Marco shook his hand. Henry took his bag and led him to baggage claim.
"You don't sound French," Marco observed.
"No," Henry laughed. "I'm originally from Omaha. I came here as a student and stuck around. You are from Tulsa?"
"Yes I am. What are you doing in Paris?"
"I aspire to be a writer, although I haven't been all that successful at it. But I get by, and it gives me an excuse to live here. Paris is a fantastic city for artists. Is this your first time here?"
"Yes. My first time in Europe. I'm having a great time."
"Excuse me," Henry said when they came to baggage claim. "Let me have your coupons and I'll get your bags. How many?"
"Just one," Marco said, "But it's heavy."
Henry disappeared and returned quickly with his suitcase. "Does this look right?"
"That's it, thanks. Where are we going?"
"They have you in the Saint Germain. It's in a good location and not far from the exhibit space. The Louvre is not much that farther as are a number of other famous places. I think you'll like it." Henry was a amiable guy and put Marco at ease. Outside the terminal, Henry set Marco's bags down on the curb and told him to wait. He trotted across the street and disappeared into a vast parking lot. In a few minutes he returned driving a venerable Citroen and came to a stop next to where Marco was waiting. He hopped out, stuck Marco's bags in the trunk and opened the passenger door for him.
"Jump in," he said. "I'm afraid you will have to settle for my car. They didn't spring for a limo."
"Do you do this all the time?" Marco asked.
"Among other things," Henry laughed. " I really don't have a regular job. There are so many things to do here that I go from thing to thing. My greatest asset is that I speak both English and French and like to work with tourists. That keeps me pretty busy."
"I just appreciate not being called 'sir' all the time. I'm not that formal."
"I was told that you had a successful exhibition in London. Did that go well for you?"
"It did, thank you. The one here doesn't start until Thursday, actually Friday, but I can go in Thursday to check things out.
"I see. That gives you some time. Any plans?"
"None in particular. This is a beautiful city and there are a lot of things to see. I imagine I will do a lot of walking and find some tours. I'll play at being a tourist, I suppose," Marco told him.
"Do you know anyone here you could visit?"
"Married with kids. Happily married," Marco emphasized. He had a good feeling about Henry but wanted to quickly draw his boundaries
"There are a lot of things to do here married or single. It sucks to be by yourself for four days though. What do you like to do? Museums? Theater? Sports? Bar-hopping?"
"I guess I'm kind of a homebody. I have a little studio where I paint, then come home and fix dinner for my kids."
"What does your wife do?"
"My partner is a computer programmer, a director over a bunch of programmers, really." Marco kept it generic but Henry gave him a knowing glance.
"Cool," Henry said.
"How about you?" Marco asked.
"Single. I have a steady girlfriend, but I've managed to escape marriage so far."
"I guess. I've been here for five years and we've been living together for three, but marriage seems awkward."
"Well, I'm really here on an extended student visa and she has family here. Her family doesn't much approve of me."
"Is she a local girl?"
"Native of Paris. She's a real sweetheart, but we're sort of coasting," Henry said and shrugged.
"So I take it you speak the language quite well," Marco said.
"Like a native, I'm told. I originally came here to study French and stayed. I got a degree, and now I'm pretending to write and work on a master's. Really, I just like it here.
"Why don't you immigrate here permanently?"
"I like to be flexible I guess. I don't want to give up my US citizenship."
"Would you have to do that?"
"Right. There are exceptions, but I don't have a French parent. Here we are," Henry said abruptly and pulled to the curb in front of an old five story hotel. "Let me get you checked in. You never know about reservations here."
"At this hotel?"
"In Paris," Henry grinned and carried his bags inside.
The desk manager took Marco's name, clicked on his computer and nodded. "Ah, Monsieur Montgomery." He said something that Marco didn't understand then rang a bell for the bellman, handed him a packet of keys and jabbered to him in French.
"He'll show you to your room," Henry explained. "Uh, want me to wait?"
"No. I guess I'm good," Marco said.
"What are you going to do after you check out your room?"
"Nothing. I mean, take a walk I guess."
Henry smiled. "You're a nice guy to talk to. I hate to dump you and leave. Could I take you somewhere?"
"I don't think you contracted for that," Marco said. "I wouldn't want to put you out."
"I've got nothing to do until five o'clock," Henry shrugged. "I could drive you around a little to help you get your bearings."
Marco thought a minute and sized up the situation. No alarm bells rang. "Sure. Why not? I'd appreciate that."
"I'll wait here. Don't tip him more than two Euros," Henry said quietly. "If he looks insulted, don't worry about it."
Marco followed the bellman up the elevator to his room, handed him two Euros, and said, "Merci."
The bellman, sighed and left with no comment.
Marco left his bags on the bed, took a quick pee, washed his face and hands and looked in the mirror. Not too disheveled. Besides, Henry wouldn't care. He wondered if this was smart, but the thought of wandering around in a strange city made him less comfortable then driving around with Henry. He returned to the lobby and found Henry were he left him.
"You ready?" Henry asked.
"I think so. I have no idea where I am."
"Let me drive you around and give the nickle tour," Henry grinned. "There are a lot of famous things in this area. This is the First Arrondissement, that means district, or neighborhood, really. Your exhibition is at the International which is just north of your hotel a few blocks. I'll drive you by there. Here it is. Now lets loop back back down by your hotel, OK."
Henry drove through the Paris traffic with the skill of a rally car driver, and as calmly as if a drive through the countryside. "Now if you angle down this way you will come to The Louvre. You will definitely want to spend a lot of time there." He drove around the Louvre, avoiding a flock of school children who swarmed across the wide street.
"Just down and west is the beginning of the Champs-Élysées, considered the most beautiful avenue in the world. It runs west about a mile and a quarter until it arrives at the Arc de Triomphe. We can drive there if you like."
"Yes, please," Marco was delighted with this.
They drove slowly along passing great green spaces and many walkers. To Marco it was a long lovely park. Half way down was an tall spire that reminded Marco of the Washington monument. "That's the Obelisk of Luxor," Henry said. It's over three thousand years old and has been here for almost two centuries."
As they continued down the broad avenue the began to pass apartments and buildings, and the great arch grew in the distance. By the time they drew close, Marco could see that it was enormous.
"This is a very famous place," Henry told him. " This and the Eiffel Tower are two of the most easily recognized structures in the world."
"I guess that's true. Even I can recognize them."
"Almost everybody can. And if we turn south here we can see the Eiffel Tower. See down there? It's right on the river. You can see that from all over Paris and the surrounding area."
"This is cool, thanks."
"No problem," Henry smiled. "Now if you want to take a nice walk, you'll know where to go. It's only a couple of miles from your hotel to the tower. If you get over there, take a boat tour down the Seine and back. You get a great view of a lot of famous places from the river, and they'll tell you all about them."
Marco was very pleased. "I really appreciate this Henry. Can I do something for you? I could buy you dinner or something."
"No, that's OK. I've enjoyed talking with you. I get tired of speaking French sometimes. Besides, this didn't take any time. I have to meet my girl in a little while. At least now you kind of know where you are now, right?"
Henry liked to talk and kept up a running commentary of the sights they passed all the way to Marco's hotel. He stopped in front, smiled and handed Marco a card. "I'm supposed to take you back to the airport on Monday, so call me when you're ready. And call me if there is anything else I can do for you. You're OK, guy."
Marco hesitated, "Listen. I really appreciate this. I can probably amuse myself during the day, but I'm sort of uncomfortable walking around at night. How about if I take you and our girl friend to dinner some evening? I've got nothing to do until Thursday,"
Henry grinned. "That might work. Let me check and see what my sweetie is doing and I'll call your hotel and leave you a note, OK?"
"I'll look forward to it," Marco smiled and shook his hand.
Henry grinned again and drove away.
Marco went up to his room and unpacked, hanging his suit and buckskins in the closet. He decided he was hungry and went down to the lobby. He thought about walking out to find someplace to eat and realized that the hotel had a restaurant. After his success at the London show he could not pretend to be short on funds, so looked inside. The people in the restaurant were not all that dressed up although he couldn't tell if anybody else was wearing jeans.
On a whim, he went out on the street and only walked a block before he found a small men's shop. He went inside and started looking around. A young man walked up to him and asked very politely, "Puis-je vous aider monsieur?"
Marco hesitated and started to reach for his French phrase book, then just slapped at his jeans and looked around hopefully.
The man laughed ans said in accented English, "May I help you? Some trousers, perhaps?"
Relieved, Marco replied, "Yes. Something a little nicer than these."
He was led to a rack of dress slacks. The clerk pulled a yellow tape measure from his pocket and wrapped it around Marco's waist at a point a bit higher than the waistband of his Wrangler jeans. Several of the appropriate size were held up for his inspection. Marco liked the looks of a dark gray pair and held them up to himself. They were rather long.
"Please to try them on," he was asked and shown to a small booth.
They fit like his suit pants and were OK in the waist, but too long in the leg.
He came back in his jeans and told the clerk, "They're too long."
"Yes, yes," He said and ran the tape from the crotch to Marco's ankle bone and selected another pair. "Try these."
Marco went back and tried these on, finding them to fit very nicely.
Leaving them on he returned to the clerk and asked, "How about a nice shirt to go with these?"
The clerk gave Marco a practiced eye and stepped over to another rack, selecting a long sleeved shirt of a light gray. "Perhaps this one?"
The material was nice and felt soft. Marco disappeared into the booth and slipped it on. It fit fine. The clerk knew his stuff. He tucked it into the slacks and looked in the mirror. Not bad.
Smiling a little, Marco asked, "Would you have a jacket that would look good with this?"
Returning his smile, the clerk led Marco over to a rack of sport coats for his examination. He looked at the sizes and selected three. One black, one navy, and the other in a shade of gray just darker than the shirt. Marco had a dark blue suit, and thought black was for funerals. He picked up the gray one and slipped it on. It looked nice but was a bit narrow across his shoulders.
He looked up to see that the clerk was smiling. "That is the right one for you, I think," he said and took it to be exchanged for the next larger size. This one was perfect. Marco looked in the mirror and first buttoned it, then opened it and slipped his hands in his pockets. He liked the way he looked.
He turned to the clerk and spread his arms, "What do you think?"
The clerk's smile broadened. "I think you look very handsome. I wish I could fit all my patrons so well."
He looked down at Marco's feet. He was wearing a favorite pair of brown moccasins. "Perhaps some shoes?"
Marco looked down at his feet and shook his head. "No. I don't think so. I like these. They're very comfortable."
"Of course. They do suit you - with your hair. I can see you are American. Are you a Native American, an American Indian?"
"Yes I am," Marco said, a little surprised. "I am Seminole."
"I see. Will there be anything else?"
No, that's all. Will you take a Visa?"
"Of course. Shall I wrap these for you?"
Marco smiled. "No. I think I'll wear them out. Can you wrap the clothes I wore in here?"
The clerk took his card, swiped it and wrapped Marco's jeans and sweater. Handing them back to him, he smiled warmly. It was a pleasure to serve you," he said. "Yours are a handsome people." He turned and began to put things back on hangers.
Not knowing what to say, Marco left with his package and returned to the hotel. This time he went straight into the restaurant and asked to be seated. He looked at the menu and pointed at something. The waiter nodded and left without comment. Marco wondered what was coming.
He was pleased when he was served a grilled lamb chop with small roasted potatoes and mushrooms. It looked most edible. He was relieved. He finished his dinner and signed the tab, then went up to his room.
He looked at himself in the mirror and was rather pleased with what he saw. If he was to be famous, he should spruce up a bit. Hanging up his new clothes, he sat on the bed in his undershorts , found Marty's email and smiled. He thought a minute then replied.
"Marty. I've had very interesting first day in Paris. I was met at the airport by a guy named Henry from Omaha. He turned out to be a really nice guy and after he took me to the hotel he gave me a quick tour of this part of Paris. I think Brian and Lanny have been to most of these places and it is a beautiful city. He brought me back later in the afternoon and I decided to go shopping. If you can believe it, I bought new slacks, shirt and a sport jacket. I think you will like it. I have really nothing to do until Thursday and plan to explore some of the places that Henry pointed out to me. You would like Henry. He is as down to earth as an old shoe. It was good to speak American with someone. I may invite him and his girlfriend for dinner some night this week. I wish we could make it a foursome. If you see Brian or Lanny, tell them I am retracing their steps. This hotel is very nice but not as swanky as the one in London. For that reason I think I like it better. The bed is not quite so large, so might not feel quite as lonely. This is all great Marty, but I miss you so very much. Nothing is the same without you. I will be home in a week. Give my love to the boys. I love you, Marco"
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