Scorpion, the artist showing with me at the Francis Gallery, had called and asked if Max and I were available for dinner on Saturday night.
I was delighted to accept. I really liked and admired Scorpion but all I heard from Max was grousing.
“Oh, Sylviaaaaaaaaa,” he whined. “Do we have to? All those tattoos and ear plugs and piercings – looking at those through dinner will make me queasy.”
“Now, be kind. He’s a nice young man, talented, too. You even said so yourself.”
Max slumped into a chair. “I can just picture his studio: a loft in a seedy part of town, grimy windows, balls of string, kegs of nails, bean bag chairs, us eating bean sprouts and quinoa with chopsticks from a low table – my back hurts just thinking about it……..”
“I can just picture his studio: a loft in a seedy part of town, grimy windows, balls of string, kegs of nails, bean bag chairs …… “
“You are as stuffed as your mushrooms.”
“I’ve always been stuffy.”
I arched my eyebrow. “Oh? I never noticed.”
He went on. “……. smelling of patchouli and pot, squinting at flea market finds by the light of cheap paper lanterns ……”
I rolled my eyes.
“……..sticky surfaces, wine from a box in mismatched glasses or …….. maybe …….. we’ll just pass a joint!”
“We’ll bring a bottle of wine,” I said, sighing.
“Let’s make it two at the very least. I’ll need reinforcements – and what we buy won’t be expensive.”
“I promise. We’ll come up only one notch from boxed wine.”
“Is Mr. Francis invited, too?” he asked.
I made a face and shook my head. “That would make me queasy.”
“Do me a favor, would you?”
“Sure,” I said. Oh, brother.
“If I plead a headache, could we leave early?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t want you in pain, darling.”
Max grumbled all week. By Saturday, I was almost sorry that I had accepted the invitation yet I really liked Scorpion and hoped for a friendship. He was self-assured and that was refreshing in such a young man. He must be self-assured to look the way he did and not apologize for it.
On the night of the dinner, I dressed in a simple blouse, a short strand of pearls and slacks, just in case we did wind up sitting on cushions. Max wore jeans, moccasins and a Hawaiian shirt.
We gave our driver Scorpion’s address and we were off on our adventure. Max frowned. I crossed my fingers. Max was polite but sometimes his remarks have a sarcastic edge.
We drove out of the city and entered a neighborhood we had never seen before. Sprawling modern homes and gracious antique style villas with iron gates and lush gardens flanked either side of wide, palm-lined streets. I checked with the driver if we were in the right neighborhood.
“Si,” he said. “Eso es correcto.”
A few minutes later, we stopped at a façade a block long with a large elaborately carved door.
“Aqui estamos,” he said.
“This can’t be one house,” I said.
“Of course not,” Max said, “it’s probably some sort of commune and he has a studio apartment.”
We rang the bell and a maid in uniform answered.
“Does Senor Scorpion live here?” I asked.
“Yes, this is La Casa de Scorpion” she said. “He’s expecting you. “Entre!”
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