In a Black and White Movie
Danny Maddox did not believe in heaven, he believed that when he died everything would go dark and remain that way. He couldn’t remember anything before he was born and he reasoned death would be much the same. Of course he didn’t expect to be run down by a truck in St Petersburg, Florida at age 25. Although the iPhone addicted nerd had certainly come close a couple of times before.
On this occasion he was just reading a message from Michelle Dante, a girl who worked with him at Shelby’s Electronics Store. He’d wanted to ask her out since she joined the staff some six weeks earlier but the time never seemed right. In the end he decided to text her to ask if she’d like to meet him for a drink.
His cell phone rang just as he was about to step into the street, he was so excited when he saw it was a text from her he just didn’t look to see if anything was coming. He didn’t read more than a couple words before he was sent spinning down the asphalt and into a car coming from the opposite direction.
Danny woke up much as if he’d awakened from his sleep, except he was not in bed, he was sitting on a seat directly across from a store that bore the name of Matuschek and Company. It didn’t make any sense because that was the name of fictitious store in one of his favorite old movies, The Shop Around the Corner. But even the location was the same, there was a sign right up there on the wall that said Balta Street.
He wondered what the fuck was happening to him. Very confused he looked around and noticed that all the passersby were dressed exactly like the people in the movie that took place in 1930s Budapest. After taking several deep breaths he crossed the street and peered into the window of the store, it was exactly like the one he knew so well from the black and white movie.
Danny was a classic movie buff as was his father. He watched it every Christmas with his family, it was a tradition. He’d grown to love it and knew every character and even some of the dialogue; this led him to believe that he might be reliving some of it – in a dream. However, it didn’t feel like a dream, it felt very, very real.
Crossing the street he pressed his nose against the window, it was exactly how he remembered it, the cases, the ornaments and even the musical cigar boxes, which had been a bone of contention between Alfred and Mr. Matuschek.
Not knowing quite what to expect but he slowly opened the door and entered the store. Flora, the gaunt looking middle-aged woman at the cash register, greeted him,
“Hello Mr. Maddox, Bailey will be out in a moment, she’s just putting her coat on.”
He hadn’t got a clue who Bailey was. The only girl he ever knew with that name was a gorgeous and somewhat aloof high school cheerleader. He had the hots for her and her friend Olivia Mitchell but they were both way out of his league.
As Danny stood there nervously waiting, Pirovitch from the movie gave him a nod and a smile from behind the glove counter. It was extremely weird.
When Bailey came out of the locker room at the back of the store and walked towards him he couldn’t believe his eyes, it was her, the long legged cheerleader, the very same girl who’d given him the brush off more times than he cared to remember. She gave him a quick kiss on the lips, grabbed on to his arm and pulled him towards the door,
“Let’s go – you promised to buy me dinner and I’m starving.”
Flora gave them a little wave as the door closed behind them and Bailey snuggled up to him in the cold evening air as they walked down the street. He didn’t know what to say to her but she kept talking anyway, about the sales she’d made that day and how that creepy Mr. Vadas kept hitting on her.
Danny was a little freaked out when they arrived at the Café Nizza, the restaurant where Alfred arranged to meet Klara in the movie. He opened the door for her and as he anticipated the same fussy little waiter showed them to their table.
Bailey kept on talking about this and that, while he tried to get his head around what was happening to him. There were many troubling aspects to his present situation and he was beginning to see a pattern emerging. The menu for example wasn’t in Hungarian and the dishes were mostly American. And it wasn’t really a menu at all, it was more like a list of his favorite foods.
He ordered something but he felt so tense he had to force it down, however, he did manage to fortify himself with a Cognac or two. When they left the café he had no idea where he was going but she put her arm in his and leaning affectionately against his shoulder, she enlightened him.
“You can stay at my place tonight,” she said, “my roommate is away visiting her mother in Tatabanya, so we’ll be all alone. Won’t that be great?”
Danny felt very confused as they walked along the street. Vintage cars where driving past them along with people in equally vintage clothing. It was all so confusing but when he looked at this beautiful woman by his side, who he would probably be fucking before the night was out, he thought that maybe he was the luckiest guy in the world, assuming that this was the world.
Copyright 2016 Cristiano Caffieri