Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Cat in Florence

We took the night train from Vienna to Florence. Jenny wanted to see the frescoes by Domenico Ghirlandaio at the church of Santa Maria Novella. According to Jenny’s grandfather, Jenny was related to Ghirlandaio, whose real surname was Bigordi, the same as Jenny’s grandfather, Vincenzo.

We left the Sudbhanhof at 1945 Thursday, right on time. This was Austria still, not Italy. We put our things in the compartments below the beds in the sleeper car we’d booked. A waiter in full livery; white shirt, black bow tie, vest, came in to ask if we wanted anything and we ordered a light meal, which we had with a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that I’d purchased in the Vienna International Center commissary. Both Jenny and I worked at an international agency at the Center. We had met about a year before on a group ski trip, started dating, and eventually moved into a small flat together.

I can’t imagine why Jenny wanted to be with me. She was ten years younger, at least as smart, and gorgeous, with green, slightly slanted eyes, lush, auburn hair, and a lithe figure. As for me, well according to my friends, my best feature was a good sense of humor. Jenny said she found me “interesting.” Of course she found her work on algae growth due to agricultural runoff interesting, as well, so maybe “interesting’ could mean anything.

We had a sleeper compartment, consisting of bunk-type beds, a sink -- the toilet was down the corridor -- and very little legroom. Jenny loved it. She liked to snuggle and I couldn’t escape as I did at the flat when she was just too warm next to me.

After we ate we settled into our bunks to read. Before long Jenny scooted in next to me. I put my arm around her shoulder and kept reading, but Jenny started stroking the inside of my thigh and my book suddenly seemed a lot less interesting.

We made love and fell asleep, woke, made love again, shuffled down the car to the loo, and then crawled into our bunks to get some sleep before we arrived in Florence. I was only dimly conscious of Jenny crawling in next to me and snuggling the curve of her warm body against my back. The clickety-clack and swaying of the train was soporific, to say nothing of the bottle of wine we’d finished off. I slept like the dead.

When I woke up, Jenny had turned into a cat. Literally. A cat. How do I know that this cat purring besides me was Jenny? That’s what I’m about to tell you.

Chapter 2

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