Kat meets Sharon

© Kathryn Baer 2015

© Kathryn Baer 2015

Theme: fictionalize your first encounter with another GMGM author. 

***

The door chimes upon my entrance. Sharon, sitting boldly at the center table, salaciously butters her toast. Second chance meetings often arise in the midst of unexpected surroundings. I pause at the counter of the Café du Monde near Ikebukuro station. Tokyo, of all places. Far from my pre-Katrina memories of NOLA beignets, powdered and steamy, against the hue of dawn.

I’ll have a latte, no sugar.

Fresh from a long-haul love affair with an Indonesian pirate, I left my heart in the Strait of Malacca. His too – I ensured it sank to the bottom of the ocean as we docked at our last port of call. He was an elegant, charismatic swashbuckler. But the monotony of criminal sea life left me murderous. Shortly thereafter, I found respite in this bustling East Asian city, reveling in the tidy neon chaos.

My journey began years earlier as I steadfastly persevered across Europe. Starting as a street performer in Stockwell (London), I quickly realized my miscalculation in a demand for services rendered. I traversed to Lyon to become a sommelier and subsequently bankrupted a reputable winery; the details of which are still under investigation. I then attempted to become a Venetian gondolier, failing only due to a resulting combination of my gender, appalling rowing skills and sub-par Italian.

I eventually found my niche in Dubrovnik as a pickpocketing tour guide by day and haughty gambler by night. Sharon, a burlesque trapeze artist recently escaped from a well-known Ukrainian circus, loitered evenings on a main drag with a shady reputation. I later read in her autobiography that this was only the second chapter of a complicated backstory as a future superhero.

Our paths crossed by happenstance. My illicit gambling comrades set up shop on the street of Sharon’s favored house of ill repute. We, quite literally, collided, as clichés often do. She noticed the vast array of jewelry pour out of my well-stocked thieving bosom and blackmailed me. I like a woman with moxy.

We met for dinner ritualistically each evening, weaving a sexual tapestry of sharp-tongued banter, though we were never lovers. Maybe it was the British accent; I pegged her as witty, cunning, resourceful. Conversations over our shared interests — absurdist fiction, the Delta blues, fortune telling, long-forgotten conspiracy theories and political philosophy — eclipsed real time, as emptied bottles of wine amassed in a lonely corner and Mediterranean stars bedazzled the night sky.

We never intentionally parted ways. While leading a group of Korean tourists, local police seized me on the steps of the ancient city walls citing a number of offensives. I begrudgingly bestowed my microphone and people-wrangling umbrella upon my second-in-command, Imogen, a stocky Australian circumnavigating her gap year. Following a short prison sentence, granted through the grace of administrative incompetency, I set my sights on Asia.

Moments throughout life lunged Sharon to the fore of my memory – as I ate black risotto or sailed topless on the Adriatic. I always wondered if and how our paths would cross again.

And here she is — frozen with embarrassed shock, butter knife in hand — listening as I dramatically monologue our narrative in the midst of a busy café.

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