He sat having tea in the brown room.
He so wanted to tell this physical dignity poised in front of him what he was going to do, but knew he wouldn’t, so instead these words came out.
I am so sorry, has your husband died?
Sweet boy. I was married once, twice actually, but long gone.
And then he caught the sight of her finger that was not bearing the restriction of a ring. A manacle of possession. Her hands brown and shining as the cream of years nourished the wrinkles in a battle it was forever losing.
She raised her slightness to her feet with a greater agility than he had perceived before, she said she needed to rest and it was so nice to meet him.
They walked, slowly, to the front door across the brown polished floor, she had taken his arm for support again, the daylight from the garden was now dimming, they entered the lobby equally brown; the windows, blinded by white linen curtains, stood either side of the door that anticipated its opening as it had previously witnessed their arrival.
The sounds of a tray being removed behind them betrayed the presence of Manita, quick to clear the slightest obstruction to the order of her life and return the cups, saucers, milk and unused sugar to a kitchen that he could only imagine.
Was it too, brown?
Or 1950s Los Angeles beige with a tint of the dreaded green as if dullness was needed to compensate for the endless sun that now seemed less endless in the threat of a climate changing.
My name is Lomita Nairn.
And her hand hung in the space between them.
He touched her skin, satin or silk, confused in that second as to which was softer, then his name syllabled out of his mouth. Two of them.
She remained impassive demanding explanation by her stare.
Short for Everett. I will love you for Ever my mother used to say, so…
She smiled and said.
Come again. We’ll have dinner. Maybe. That is if you would like. Or— do you prefer to watch a motion picture?
I don’t mind.
Intrigued by the formality of the words— motion picture.
I sometimes watch old ones in the evening. Dinner is optional.
Responded Ever with the consciousness of flattery.
No. Good heavens, no, one I made, not really, but…. that is all.
The but held for a longer moment than a moment and he sensed it, the feeling of something that hadn’t been done for a long time. That sense of nothing in the in between time when something should have happened. But hadn’t, and didn’t. And Lomita, in that indeterminate time, did not know why she had proffered the mention of a motion picture. Of the one film. She was frozen with the mistake.
I would be delighted.
Not sure as he said it why he would be or what about, but he decided he wanted to see her again and talk. Yes, next time talk, not stare. The smell was there again. The perfume and just the cleanliness. The organisation of it all, as a person.
Goodbye Lomita, if I may call you that, or Miss Nairn.
Lomita is fine.
She said and he thanked her for the tea.
The pause stood for a time.
He walked down the circular driveway.
The short distance to the road, he turned right onto Elevado and then left up Doheny. Up the hill to Sunset, passing the almost concealed and decaying precision of an early Frank Lloyd Wright construction, with the singular intention of buying a bottle of Tequila at Gil Turner’s on the corner.
He hoped, and had concern, that she would have made the journey back across the big brown room with safety, Manita escorting her for a rest onto her bed. A large bed he imagined. A California King he supposed, without any evidence to support his supposition; he thought of her fragility in the expanse of bedding.
On his walk east down Sunset, a brown bag in his hand enclosing a bottle of Silver Patron, he realised the only way he could get in touch with her again was by knocking on her door at North Oakhurst Drive. No attempt at the exchange of numbers had been made.
He felt strangely pure passing the bars and clubs, preparing for the night’s energy, the comedy clubs and the book store and the sadness of Tower records with nothing left to sell. And Book Soup on the other side that was still selling, books that is.
He felt he had been in the aura of a spiritual being like a monk, or more appropriately a nun. Although nuns didn't necessarily have that calm and oneness with the universe.
But he had been washed and wanted to bathe in her again and be blessed by her and sit at her feet and tell her all the things he could never tell and sleep in her bed and be read to and she would put out the light and she would kiss him goodnight.
Lomita Nairn was worth a google. No, she deserved more than that.
She deserved to be happy.