CHAPTER FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-FOUR
“My father’s best friend asked him to help me,” Sissy said in French, in an attempt to be vague.
“Your father’s best friend?” the man asked in French.
Sissy nodded and hoped it would drop. The man assessed her again.
“So you are learning French and Russian,” the man said. “Do you study anything else?”
“Ballet,” Sissy said with a shrug. “It’s kind of my passion.”
“Kind of?” the man asked.
“Well …” Sissy said. “I would tell you that it’s my life but you are a stranger and you might think I’m really good when I’m just a student.”
Thinking, the man looked at her and blinked for what felt like hours.
“I know where I’ve seen you,” the man said.
“Where?” Sissy asked.
“At ballet parties in parks around America,” the man said. “I’d swear I’ve seen you there.”
“I’ve been to those outdoors parties,” Sissy said. “They were my boyfriend’s idea when our family was in New York for this big funeral thing. My sister’s boyfriend got a new camera and set everything up. We’ve been doing them ever since. It’s fun.”
“You’re Sissy Delgado,” the man said.
“I am,” Sissy nodded. “Does that matter?”
“Your father’s friend is O’Malley,” the man said.
“So?” Sissy asked adding a shrug.
“So …” the man said. He thought for a moment before looking at her again and laughing. “I expect ballerinas to be so proud, so full of themselves, so …”
“I’m just me,” Sissy said. “Like I said, I’m not really a ballerina yet. Just a student.”
“Well, just me,” the man said. “Do you play cards?”
“I can’t play poker but I can play gin,” Sissy said.
“Gin it is, then,” the man said with a large smile.
He took out a deck and for the next few hours they played gin rummy and laughed. The man was oddly funny, bright, with a sharp wit. He had sharp eyes and an easy smile. He was exactly what Sissy’s anxiety needed. The man was escorted off the plane when the plane landed but before they reached the dock.
Sissy woke Jammy up from his nap. He yawned and stretched. Noticing they were at the terminal, he stood up to get their travel bags. Jammy was tall and very thin with spindly arms that easily reached over her.
“Did you rest?” Jammy asked.
They were near the front of the plane, but needed to wait for those ahead of them to leave before they could follow.
“Too nervous,” Sissy said. “I played cards with this funny Frenchman.”
“Funny Frenchman?” Jammy asked.
“He was sitting across the aisle from me,” Sissy said. “He was really fun. We had a great time.”
“Did you get his name?” Jammy asked.
“He never said it,” Sissy said. “I’ve been around Alex’s house enough to know that when someone doesn’t give their name, there’s a reason for that. It’s best not to ask.”
Jammy nodded. As they were leaving the plane, Jammy pulled the flight attendant aside. Sissy waited just to the side. A few minutes later, they were walking toward the terminal.
“Who was he?” Sissy asked.
Jammy said the man’s name. Sissy shrugged and kept walking.
“He’s on the board of the Paris Opera Ballet,” Jammy said. “Ran the school for almost fifteen years. What did you say to him?”
“Whatever,” Sissy said.
“Did you speak English?” Jammy asked.
“French,” Sissy said. “Mari’s been helping me with my French.”
“Good,” Jammy said.
“Why is that good?” Sissy asked.
“One of their reservations about you was that you don’t speak French,” Jammy said. “You wouldn’t be able to keep up with school if you don’t speak French.”
“Oh …” Sissy said.
“Exactly,” Jammy said. “You either eliminated their biggest hesitation or made it that much worse.”
Nodding, Sissy followed Jammy through the airport.
Denver Cereal continues tomorrow…
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