2013/10/23

Welcome to Gay Paree: A Short Story





Closing the cockpit curtain the Stewardess walked promptly over to the intercom a present smile on her face as she picked up the microphone and brought it to her mouth. “Please buckle your seatbelts Ladies and Gentlemen” the Stewardess announced using the microphone at the head of the plane. “We’ll be arriving in Paris, France and landing shortly”

For Lois Symone this month long vacation to Paris was the trip of a lifetime. Since she was a child growing up in the French Quarter or New Orleans Paris was the ultimate destination. It had to be one of the most romantic places in the world, there was so much to see, so much history and culture and of course the fashion. She could remember as a little girl her Mama telling her about all her adventures there before she came to America and it was all she could dream about since.

Sighing Lois closed her eyes to keep from looking out the windows as the plane began its decent not wanting to ruin her first look at her beloved ‘Gay Paree’. She had no desire to enjoy that moment on a tiny charter plane no she wanted to experience the city the way it was meant to be. Her eyes clenched so tightly together that they hurt but the smile she wore on her face grew even wider when she felt bump that indicated the plane landed on the runway and rather roughly to be honest she thought to herself as her right hand went up to her suddenly fluttering heart and the gasps of the other passengers echoed throughout the plane. But none of that mattered she was in Paris and ready for adventure, the flight over she’d dreamed of what this moment would be like, the sights, the smells, and the people. She was practically bouncing in her seat a whole lifetime of dreaming coming down to one moment, she was finally coming home to Paris.

As the plane eased to a slow halt she opened her eyes with a shuddering breath, a sudden case of nerves coming on so strong it was overwhelming. Reaching for her purse under her chair she took out her engraved gold cigarette case and gold lighter that her Papa brought for her for the occasion. Opening her case she took out one of the Embassy brand King sized cigarettes and brought it to her lips with shaking fingers quickly lighting it then taking a deep relaxing inhale. The Stewardess’s voice coming through the microphone once more had Lois quickly putting it out a few exhales later as she scrabbled to put everything back into her purse and sit back in her seat to see her clearly making sure to take in every word.

“Ladies and Gentleman may I have your attention please!” the young Stewardess spoke into the mic loudly to be heard over the chatter then waited while the ten passengers riding the Stratocruiser Flagship charter plane settled down. “We have now arrived at our destination and are about to leave the plane. I would ask you all to be patient and form a single file line and ask that you be careful coming down the rollaway steps. On behalf of Stratocruiser Flagship Pan-American I would like to thank you all for choosing us to fly with and we hope that we have made your time with us pleasant. Bienvenue รก Paris: Welcome to Paris merci” hanging up the small microphone she walked to the plane’s exit and opened the door and stepped out smiling at everyone’s cheers and claps.

 


Shielding her eyes from the blaring afternoon sun Lois slipped out of her seat and into the isle thanking the gentleman behind her for letting her go ahead. Smoothing down the creases in her day suit from the long twelve hour flight along the way as inch by inch she made her way to the exit of the plane. Taking a deep breath she stepped through looking at the stewardess standing on the first step ready to help everyone down the rollaway steps to the hard runway below, “thank you so much” Lois said to the nice woman smiling warmly.

Smiling back “thank you Miss” the Stewardess said back. “Be careful as you go down the steps and someone will be there at the bottom with your luggage…have a good vacation” with that she turned to the next customer.

Nodding Lois continued down the steps squinting from the bright sun of the afternoon, unable to keep in the silly grin she smiled ear to ear as she made her way carefully down the steps. She couldn’t believe it after a full year of saving she was in Paris, France…and by herself for that matter, all her other friends had only gone on their honeymoons or with their parents. Paris this place, she’d dreamed about it since she was a child. As her feet finally touched the ground for the first time she felt as if she could have cried. Lois experienced that rare overwhelming sensation one goes through when discovering a second home, she followed the porter with her luggage across the airport runway towards the exit gate feeling as if she were in a dream.

“Okay Mademoiselle here’s a taxi for you” the Porter loaded her bags into the trunk his accent making his voice sound musically pleasant.

Excited beyond belief Lois got in the taxi that would take her to the bed and breakfast in the heart of Paris that she’d arranged to stay at. She listened avidly as the two Frenchmen spoke to one another in their native tongue, the beauty of their words seemed to flow over her even though she wasn’t completely fluent and couldn’t comprehend all of the conversation. The beauty of the French language was truly something to behold.

Finally the driver ran around to his door and got in and with a final nod to the porter they were off. The only thing keeping Lois from literally bouncing in her seat was chapter five of Mrs. Lillian Reid’s Personality and Etiquette Book, which clearly stated that a lady will remain calm and subdued at all times. But as they pulled through the gates and onto the road she could feel her excitement mounting.

 

***

 

She relished the drive through the country, and her eyes drunk in every site. Lois watched mesmerized as the soothing of the country gave way to the easy bustle of the city. It was all so different from New Orleans with her bright lights of Bourbon St. and the busy people rushing off to wherever. With her face plastered to the window she watched a woman cross the street in a black tweed Channel suit and a couture half hat  placed expertly on her head and marveled at the effortless elegance she possessed, something apparent on in the Parisians. Twisting her neck to look over at the driver “excuse me Monsieur, can I fold the window down?” she asked him excited even at that prospect, she’d never been in a car with a roll down window before. She hadn’t even been here an hour and she was already getting her much needed adventures.

With a nod her driver gave his permission still not turning around.

Lois’s head readily turned left and right as she leaned out the window taking in every site as they drove through the streets of Paris her excitement as innocent as a child’s as she took in every nuance of her introduction to ‘Gay Paree’. She was ready to taste it all, breathe it in, this was the start of her adventure and she was thrumming with energy.

Taking a deep inhale took her first deep breath of the city air but promptly released it in a fit of coughs absolutely stunned by the foul stench that assaulted her senses. “What in God’s name is that awful smell?” she asked her Cajun accent thickening with her rise in emotions, pinching her nose she moved away from the window forgetting in her shock that she could simply roll it up.

Laughing heartily “that Mademoiselle is the smell of ‘Gay Paree” he told her finally glancing back as he took a deep breath of his own as if each layer of scents held a different meaning for him.

***



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