“What is in that crazy cabinet with all the drawers and doors?” she asked aloud as she jumped up and moved toward it.
She opened one little drawer; a little pot with the label ‘Honey Dust’ another was filled with feathers, behind a little door; silk neck ties, a larger drawer; light oil with a stand and candle to warm it, one even contained a monin pepper chocolate sauce, a small thermos with hot chai tea, a little bucket of ice. Each drawer a small challenge for the romantically imaginative.
And for the next several hours the two embraced in the joyful expression of their love, concocting ways to use every item found in the cabinet of hearts, eventually falling into a deep sleep, in the midst of this magical room.
When Rebecca awoke the next morning the sun was shining through the windows high in the wall above the cabinet. The French doors were still open.
“Are you awake?” she whispered.
“Yes,” John replied.
The two had breakfast at the little table, then coffee, then showered and dressed.
“What’s next?” John inquired.
“The bridge, there’s a tradition, we can walk there.”
They headed out the French doors and past the pond and cabana to a path that led to the esplanade, a beautiful pathway along the river Mures. Within a few minutes they had reached ‘Pod de Iubire Vesnica’ – The love bridge. A fence along the bridge’s sidewalk was covered in padlocks left by lovers who would put their initials on a padlock and snap it to the fence and then in a symbolic gesture of their enduring love, throw the key in the river.
Rebecca dug out the lock from her bag. “Now I know why the woman had me put our initials on this.”
John smiled and put the lock on the fence and stood up facing Rebecca, she smiled back and threw the key into the river.
The two started the return walk back to the hotel Deja-Vu when John’s phone rang. It was Mayor Vlaiscu.
“Umm yes, ok, that’s good then! OK we’ll meet you there, ok good then,” John answered.
Rebecca had continued getting their things together for checking out, but had recalled one of the little drawers she could not open last night, her curiosity peeked and decided to give a good hard pull – and broke the drawer face off revealing a little rock of some kind, she held it in her hand while examining it when it suddenly started to glow like the asteroid! She dropped the rock on the floor and jumped back.
Just then John reveals the Mayors phone conversation.
“The asteroid has stopped glowing, it’s just a rock now, no special powers. He thanked us profusely, wants to meets us at the Mysterious inn to give us the bank draft. He somehow thinks we had something to do with it?!”
“And you didn’t see any need to tell him it had nothing to do with us? Oh and I think I know what was giving this room it’s magic – a small piece of the asteroid was in the cabinet!”
John seemed to ignore the rock in the cabinet discovery, focusing on the conversation with the mayor instead.
“Tell him what? How do you know poking it with a ten foot pole wasn’t just the thing that de-activates it? Think of it like hockey; last one to touch the puck gets credited with goal.”
“We’ll have to leave the country.”
“Ok, so say one hour to check out and drive back to Savadisla, then half an hour to chat with the mayor, grab the cheque. Then it’s another half an hour to the airport in Cluj Napoca.”
“I’ll start working on tickets to any friendly country leaving around 6pm. Our contract with Beckanthal is done – we’ve been week to week for months now, so the timing is perfect.”
John and Rebecca work up a ruse to tell the mayor, but when they return to Savadisla, John asks Rebecca to wait for him while he talks to the Mayor privately. They say their goodbyes to Matai and Oana, and take the company truck to the airport. The two made it to the airport just in time and board the plane, and once seated John finally has a chance to ask;
“So where are we going?”
“Nawlins,” she answered, mimicking a New Orleans southern accent. “Nawlins” she said again, amused with the sound of it.
“New Orleans? That project doesn’t start for several weeks.”
“I thought it would be okay as we have some extra cash, it seems.”
“Uhh, actually when I met with the Mayor I kind of worked out a different deal.”
“What kind of deal?” a grinning Rebecca asked, already second guessing.
“I couldn’t take the 200,000.00 Euros knowing we didn’t actually do anything, and I did see what happened to the little rock at the Deja-Vu, it started to glow again. I told the Mayor to keep the money, if the asteroid doesn’t start glowing again in the next 12 months we get the money. Otherwise, if it starts glowing again, give us a call and we’ll see what we can do to help, so I hope you’re not disappointed in me.” John explained.
“Well, I am not disappointed, in fact, I was struggling to understand how a man whose integrity is the cornerstone of his success is suddenly going to grab the cash and make a run for it! It just made no sense to me, so I’m proud of you as always.”
“So why didn’t you try to stop me, or at least question me about it?”
“I don’t think you need me telling you what to do, you’ll figure it out. And if you don’t I’ll do my best to help. Besides it 92 degrees in New Orleans today. And we can go to the Ogden and Emeril’s and Destrahan and Frenchman St.” Rebecca was obviously thrilled to be returning to New Orleans especially under better circumstances.
“Remember the Tattoos?” John asked.
“They broke my heart…they broke everyone’s heart.”
“I know, everybody would just try to turn off their emotions so they could do the work of getting that city running again. Well, I know this trip is going to be a lot more fun.”
John and Rebecca had volunteered their services and expertise to help put New Orleans back together after the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina. The Tattoos they refer to were the markings on each home that were made by the various organizations that inspected the homes. An ‘X’ was spray painted on a wall, then in one quadrant the inspecting organization, NG- National Guard, RC- Red Cross, etc. another quadrant would be for hazards such as gas or electrical, the structural condition of the home went in the third quadrant, the last of the four quadrants was the number of dead, if any.
When the two first arrived with a bus load of others, they were orientated then sent to work, driving past hundreds of homes with these tattoos, with numbers in the fourth quadrant, 1,3,2,1,0,3,4,2, the more tattoos with numbers everyone saw, the more everyone started to well up. By the time they reached their destination there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.