Ran stood outside the hotel door, right at peep-hole height. Kaan opened the door, in a cashmere sweater and jeans, “You’re early.”
“Didn’t want you to brood,” Ran said, “Ferment in your own brine.”
“Was I interrupting anything?” Kaan asked.
“No,” Ran answered, “Alli went up to her parents’ house this afternoon. I was left with nothing to do, on a rainy evening.”
Kaan waved Ran in and closed the door, “She didn’t take you?”
“Well, we did just meet,” Ran said, taking in the room, glancing at the chefs on the television set.
Kaan opened the ice bucket and fixed them both two fingers of Fireball whiskey. They sat on the couch.
“How is Beth?” Ran wondered.
“She’s fine,” Kaan said, “She likes the cabin, and Maine. I admit, I’m shocked.”
“Yes, she was always more of a city girl,” Ran said, sipping her whiskey, “She studied literature in NYU. We were in the same Creative Writing classes together. We were the brat pack, with our first books published right out of college.”
“Wow, I wouldn’t have guessed,” Kaan said, impressed.
“You wouldn’t have put it past her, would you?” Ran grinned.
“No, no, I’m not that mean,” Kaan laughed.
Ran drank the rest of her whiskey and got up, “Come on, let’s get out of here.”
Kaan also stood up, “Yes, let’s. I’ve festered in here long enough.”
Out on the city streets, a light drizzle was falling. They caught a cab going Downtown, to Labyrinth.
It was Leather Night at the club. The place was packed with party-goers in black leather jackets and black leather police caps. Kaan and Ran were in the minority, wearing gray and navy-blue blazers, respectively.
At the bar, they ordered margaritas. Ran chewed on her slice of lime. On the stage, a chain-link fence and metal posts had been erected around an octagon. Two amateur female MMA fighters were going at it in a cage fight. The mosh pit of spectators roared their various notes of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
“Alli’s been through a great deal,” Kaan began, “Are you going to do right by her?”
“Of course! I would, but -” Ran cut herself off.
“What?” Kaan asked, sitting up.
Ran turned to her, “She’s stuck on someone else.”
“Who?” Kaan demanded, and then closed her eyes, “Oh.”
“We look alike apparently,” Ran said, “She is with me, but her mind – her spirit – is obviously elsewhere.”
Kaan fidgeted, “Well, they were together in high school. First loves and all.”
“So, I’m the repeat,” Ran said, “I don’t know whether to be perturbed or flattered.”
“It is possible to hold two competing ideas in your mind, at the same time,” Kaan shrugged, taking a sip of her drink.
“Like her!” Ran said, spreading her hands wide, “Why do I feel like the cuckold here?”
Kaan gave her a look, “I don’t think you should.”
A swift kick to the face brought one of the contenders down. She did not get up. The other fighter stood over the fallen foe in victory, for a moment, before being pushed out of the way by the ref.
“Do you think that some of them throw fights, for gangs or whatever?” Ran said, facing the cage on her stool.
“Sure,” Kaan said, “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Ran looked back at Kaan, “Do you think people throw relationships too?”
The corners of Kaan’s smirk turned down a few notches, “C’mon Ran. I imagined you to be a tougher soul than this.”
Ran looked back at the scene in the ring. The cadre of the two fighters were yelling at each other, as paramedics pulled the flattened fighter off the mat. The crowd in the pit ate it up, screaming for more.
Saint-Saens – Samson et Dalila, “Mon cœur s’ouvre à ta voix”