"Where are you from?"
"You would not know of it."
"Come on. Try me."
"No, it is, do you say, 'infamous'? "
"No, we say, 'unfamous.' 'Infamous' means it's bad."
"Ah, yes. This is different."
"So, tell me. I might know it."
"It is the very small island."
"The name. What's the name?"
"It is in the Carribean."
"The. . .name?"
"It is called. . .the St. Ivo."
"St. Ivo? Oh, St. Ivo. Yes. Yes. Yes," he said, lightly tapping
the stark wood countertop with the edge of the booklet, in time with each
repeated word. "You're right. I don't know it."
She laughed in a way that made him happy he didn't lie. It was a full-mouthed
laugh, like how people breathe when they're asleep. Natural. Relaxed and
"Of course you do not know. It is my fabrication."
He stood dumb for a moment, waiting for her meaning to reveal itself.
She made the name up.
And then, he laughed. Not as naturally as her. Not like breathing asleep.
More like being chased into a corner, caught and tickled by his father.
And while he laughed and she smiled on his laughter, he found himself
repeating her pronunciation of "fabrication," feeling the shape
of her French accent in his memory.
Years ago, that accent would have intrigued him. He would have been hooked
by its beauty and perhaps viewed it as a sign of confirmation for all
the French theory he'd been reading. But, now it made him a bit leary,
which he suspected was a Pavlovian truth.
His laughing quieted and there was a moment of silent staring.
They looked at each other amidst the space. Shapes within the place.
Her distinctive head built the clean, architectural modernity of her cool
little Beverly Blvd. shop. The space evolved around her.
Interior design is best when it's as intimate as fashion. People put on
buildings as clearly as they put on a Diane Karin dress.
The glowing matt blackness of her skin reaching high up her face into
the subtle, soft texture of her close-cropped hair which blurred the hard
edge into the panels of blond birch cabinettry that rose up the wall behind
her. Her ringless black fingers, lined by creases filled with even darker
shadows, weightlessly touched the bare counter.
He liked her mouth. He thought is was ornate, which he usually didn't
"So, you're a liar."
"Yes, you suppose so."
"Well, didn't you lie?"
"But, only to you."
This was not what he had planned. He had planned to be playful. But, he
felt a small tangle of anger tying itself into a knot. And it was interesting
to observe. It had a shape and sensitivity. He thought, and it responded.
"Where are you from?"
"You would not know it."
"Just tell me."
"It is a small town..."
"...in the Rocky Mountains."
"What's the name?"
"Honestly, or is this your fabrication?"
He liked a purse she had in the window display.
Two large sheets of thick glass with a purple leather purse squeezed flat
It seemed more like a display of a moment than of a product, and that's
what got him to come inside.
It touched his aesthetic of photography.
"I like your display. Can I see that bag?"
"Thank you. My brother, he does the window. I will tell him you like
it. This bag is here."
The bag looked different in her hands: uncrushed, outside the moment,
and back within the flow of Time. Useful. Not as interesting, but he knew
he couldn't expect the same thing.
It still had an electricity about it, but he suspected that was because
he hadn't bought it yet. It made him cautious. It made him consider his
"It's funny how different it is."
"Yes, it's dangerous. I tell my brother, people want to buy the window
bag and then not to buy the one to sell. This is one's perception, no?"
"Yes. It's a nice bag, but the display has something different."
"The old story," she said, with a tone of playful exhaustion,
"Would you like I should call a priest?"
She smiled as he lightly laughed and took the bag from her. He examined
it and touched its surfaces.
"Are there any other colors?"
"Green and gold."
"Can I see a gold one?"
He opened the bag, removing the newspaper used to fill out the insides.
She returned with the gold bag as he was putting the paper back inside.
He took the gold one from her but knew straight off that it wasn't right.
"Too gold," he said, with the dismissive authority that only
a customer can use.
"I agree. The purple is more, how do you say. . . 'muted,' but still
A good, improvised insight on her point. Probing. Dazzling. It gave the
bag back something it had lost after the window display. He exchanged
the gold for the purple.
"Yes. And I like the sound the clasp makes."
She held the gold bag with both hands. She nodded rather blankly, looking
at him. He thought she perhaps didn't understand, or that he may have
ventured into a level too esoteric. But, as she stood watching him think
himself into the purple bag, she opened and closed the gold bag twice,
making the sound.
He thought about asking to see the green one, but knew his experience
with green bags in the past. No reason to even see it.
Then she asked,
"Would you like and see the green?"
"No thanks, my friend hates green. I've had bad experiences with
"I see. Would you like I should call a priest?" she jokingly
said again, breaking the tension in the moment when a shopper is weighing
his rights to make a purchase.
He laughed again and said,
"For confession or last rights?"
"Perhaps it is for the communion."
Now the bag had surpassed the window. It had become a moment itself. It
had become an event.
They moved to the counter together, him carrying the purple bag at first
but passing it to her on their way. She handed him a small booklet of
designs, beliefs and products published by the bag's brand.
"What's your name?"