A Baltic Shoreline, summer 1926: Had she not been wise and worldly beyond her years then perhaps she would never have recognised the pathfinders Gethsemane kiss. To be haggled over as a prospective concubine to a well-placed coolie trader within the most public of public places that was the Imperial Gardens without The Forbidden City had scant appeal. Even more disquieting the actuality of becoming a mere seductive chattel to the aged merchants sickly wants.
No time to lose and lost in the moment she hurriedly vanished amid the jam packed lively throng of Emperor’s confederates bartering this and that for that and this.
Only a twinkling previous she had been smoking a Turkish cigarette Marlene Dietrich style upon a Baltic shoreline, nibbling upon a pickled herring and sharing alternate sips of mead from a Viking drinking horn with the one who claimed to voyage through time itself. At first she had doubted the fellow; presumed he had dreamt up the consummate come on. Not now though! Her rather bothersome episode in the Orient had put pay to that.
“You scared the living daylights out of me you know…why send me to bloody Ming dynasty China with the click of your fingers…I very nearly got sold into slavery…bastard!”
“Well you’re back safe and sound in your very own ‘here and now’…another sip of mead?”
“Stuff your mead…so you really are a time-traveller then?”
“Need I answer?”
“Anyway let bygones be bygones I just wanted to prove a point, allay any doubts that may have remained. I’m thinking we might travel together on to Zanzibar…I know the Sultan ever so well, nice chap if one stays on the right side of him…Stone Town is at its glorious best in spring and I’ll treat you to a little something in the bazaar. How about it?”
“Are we talking backwards or forward in time here?”
“Backward my dear, backward…early 19th Century”
“I think not…I’d rather live my own life than keep tabs on yours”
“Tell you what then, if you ever change your mind simply slip these admittedly rather well-worn yet nevertheless absolutely wizard shoes on and you can join me any time any place in an instant…I’ll be off then, been a joy knowing you young Meta”
She never did try on the shoes…shoes that would stay quarantined within an old trunk in a loft in a land several oceans adrift craving liberation…that is until one fine day 90 years later when having a rummage of exploration someone else stumbled upon them…
Le Café Arrosé, Montmartre, Paris, New Year’s Eve 1921: Having dodged the drunken revellers out on the swarming boulevard an unusually reticent bohemian lass wearing scruffy footwear and an ‘out of place’ faux fur coat makes her apprehensive ‘where the fuck am I’ entrance. A dapper waiter gives her an all too knowing nod of approval, makes note that she wishes for something chilled that sparkles over absinthe. She politely refuses his bizarre offer of a Turkish cigarette. Regardless he leads her to a table and the unimaginably devil-may-care clique of Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, her self-effacing fancy, Alice B Toklas, F Scott Fitzgerald and, notwithstanding the night is yet young, an as ever worse for drink Zelda…routinely spouting bush fire profanities her husband’s way.