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Monday, 14 July 2008

The Fillmore Variations

By Peter Tibbles

She came over and sat next to me.

"Hi, I'm Angeline."

"I'm Pierre."



"I've never met an Australian before."

"New York?"


"Been in San Francisco long?"

"About a week. I flew out on Friday. You?"

"About eighteen months now."

"Golden Gate Park. You know it?"

"Of course."

"You want to go for a walk there?"

"Hey Ossie"

"That's pronounced Ozzie."

"Oh no, you have green eyes."

"That's a problem?"

"Maybe. My astrologer said beware of green-eyed Virgos. They will break your heart."

"Your what?'

"My astrologer. She said I'd meet the love of my life. But beware of green-eyed Virgos. When's your birthday?"

"September sixteenth."

"A green-eyed Virgo."

"Oh lord."

"Tea?" I asked,


We sat and ordered green tea at the Japanese Tea House. "You think I 'm crazy."

"No I don't."

"Yes. I see the way you look when I mention my astrologer."

I sighed. "I was trained as a scientist. I'm sorry, I think it's bullshit."

"You're going to break my heart, aren't you?"

"You're talking like we were lovers. I only met you three hours ago."

"I knew I'd meet you. I just didn't realise that you and the green-eyed Virgo were going to be the same person."

I shook my head.

"You don't have to do that. Shake your head."

"I do, you know."

"Do you want to come around for dinner tomorrow? she asked.

"Thursday. I thought I'd catch The Dead at The Fillmore, but I can see them any time."

Thursday. "Oh, Pierre, you came."

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Please,” she said, "let's go for a walk."

"Now? What about dinner?"


"I don't know if that's a good idea. Have you been crying?"

"No. Yes. Oh hell, come on."

We walked out. It had started raining. She didn't seem to notice.

"I was nearly ready to kill myself."

"That's a bit melodramatic."

"No. I said, if he doesn't come, I take the rest of those tablets."


"Oh, it's nothing to do with you. Well, it is. No, it's not. I had to get out of New York."

I put my head down. My hair was turning curly in the rain. I couldn't see through my glasses at all.

"So, do you want to get out of this rain?"

"No. I want to keep walking. I want to talk to you."

"Couldn't you do it inside? Over a nice bottle of wine? The one I brought along, for example."


"I had to get out of New York or I'd've died."

"How so?"

"Well I got an apartment on 92nd Street a couple of years ago. Spanish Harlem. I wanted to be an actor. I met this guy at one of the calls. We started dating."

Dating? What's with grown Americans and dating?

"We had fun. Smoked a bit of grass. Dropped some acid."

"You'll fit right in here in San Francisco."

"But it got heavier. He started using speed”


"Yes. He tried to get me in as well. He succeeded. I was awake for days. Then came really down. I had just enough sense to get out of there. Anyway, I rang my friend Mai to ask if I could stay with her."

"Mai? She was the gorgeous person who answered the door?"

"Keep your mind on me, buster."

"Okay, okay. It was just an observation."

“Yeah. Right.”

"Can we go back now? Warm ourselves by Mai's fire?"

"How long have we been gone?"

"About an hour and a half."

"That long?"

"I got some salmon for us", she said, "and some vegetables. Mai, what do I do with salmon?"

"You don't know how to cook salmon?" I asked.

"No. I really don't know how to cook at all."

"Here, let me."

"Do you want to come for lunch at the weekend?"

"I was thinking of getting back to Palo Alto."

"Stay here. Stay with me. I have a double bed."

I raised an eyebrow.

"Just for sleeping."

"Let me get this straight. You invite me to stay with you. To sleep with you. But that's it - sleep with you?"

"That's right."

"That's so bizarre, I might as well accept your offer. Oh, am I cooking?"

"Of course you are."



"Will you marry me?"

"Aren't I the one you have to be wary of?"

"You're trying to weasel out."

"No I'm not." Yes I am. "We're too young."

"I'm 26. You're 26."

"Not for another week, I'm not."

"Oh, mister young guy. Doesn't want to marry an older woman. You don't want to, do you?"


"Will you remember me in Australia?"

"How can I forget you?"

"You know you have to take care of me for the rest of my life."

"How so?"

"You saved my life. The Chinese say that means you have to."

"I'm not Chinese, you're not."

"Mai is. That's close enough."

"You have strange and wondrous thought patterns."

I returned to Australia. Angeline returned to New York.

Some time after we met, she married. Angie wrote, "He's so much like you, you could be twins. How could I not fall in love with him?"

I wonder if a "twin" counts with the Chinese?

[EDITORIAL NOTE: Voting is in progress for the first monthly Storytelling Achievement Award. The introduction is here and there is a new page of Nominees with links to the nominated stories. The poll is in the right sidebar near the top. Please do vote.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Hi Peter,

Good story.

I'm so uncomplicated that I'm not sure I got it but, I LIKED IT!

You really know how to use words wisely. A whole story in short sentences perfectly put together.

Great writing.

Hi baby brother, great story, witten with flair as ever.

I keep thinking of your curly hair & the wet glasses in Golden Gate Park....I'm sure this really happened Pierre!

So real for the time. Did you call your astrologer, read your cards, or cast your E Ching? :)

Hey Mage,
That wasn't me, that was her.
I guess I should have put in more "He said, she said"s

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