Artie is sitting at the bar area of his favorite restaurant Ciro's. He wasn’t sure if he wanted a table or was comfortable just to sit here. Comfort is what he was seeking and his prenatal environment involved some form of pasta and wine.
A fresh face comes in and sits a few seats down, close to the window. His face is a more of a silhouette. Most of the details are obscured by the outside light. Artie notices that he is wearing a bowler that he does not remove. The best he can make out is that he has fair features. Artie thinks, wouldn’t want to be him in prison. He laughs to himself on that one, “What a pervert you are. Oh well. I think I’ll stay here and observe.”
At that same time the stranger turns to Artie, smiles a slight smile and says matter of factly, “I’m getting paid $42,000 to find a guy to marry this Ugly-Beautiful girl. I’m a matchmaker.”
“YOU’RE A WHAT? What are you talking about? Why are you telling me?” Artie looks and then asks, “Have you seen her?”
“Matchmaker, I told you, you seem to be interested in me. You are staring, and No.”
“So how can you even state that Ugly or beautiful? How can you even do your job?”
“I’ve been told.”
“Told what? Do you believe everything you're told? Did you see her with your own two eyes?” This guy has got to be pulling my leg.
Well, she’s 5’7 and 130 lbs…
That’s all? What do you mean that’s all? And you expect someone just to pick up and go with you to where/ When? And …. based upon that scanty information?
“Yes I do,” the stranger says straight-faced. “This is my task.”
“You’re for real?” Artie asks “May I have another glass of wine and one for my friend here too. What will it be?”
Yes I am. And whatever you’re having.”
Artie decides to change the subject a bit. “What about the groom? This has got to be good he thinks.
What about him?
“Yeah exactly,” says Artie.
"He’s got to be nice."
"Nice, what does that mean?"
"I’ll know it when I see it."
Okay nice. Artie figures he’s not going to get too much clarity from him on this question. “What else?”
"A job, He has to have a job."
"Does it matter what type of job?"
"Yes and no. I, we don’t want a hit man."
Artie is incredulous. “Let me get this right. Your job is to find a guy, this groom for a 5 foot 7 inch, 130 pound, Ugly-Beautiful girl you’ve never seen, and getting paid $42,000…”
"Okay plus expenses. And you can’t define or describe anything else?"
"You’re about right."
"You’re crackers you know that?"
"No I’m not. Are you married?"
"Have a job?"
"I’m not a hit man. I own a business and write."
"Want to get married?"
"Well, yes, some day."
"Have I got a girl for you."
"You can’t even describe her, or show me a picture."
"I didn’t say THAT exactly."
"You said you’ve never seen her."
"I haven’t seen her, my face to her face, in life."
"Oh?" Curiosity piqued.
"Yes. I even have a picture."
"Of her? Recent?"
"I think so. I can’t show you. It’s in my contract."
"You think so? You can’t show me. Is this a joke?"
“No, really it’s my contract. Here it is.” And the Matchmaker whips out a thick pile of legal looking papers and stuffs it back in his jacket. "My contract that is. You interested?"
Artie thinks, “What else have I got to do. It’s going to be a long evening. This could be fun.” Artie looks at Ciro, the restaurant owner, and nods toward the guy in the hat.
Ciro who has been watching and listening to this whole thing, gives Artie a shrug, meaning he’s never seen him before.
"Okay tell me more."
"Well, she’s 5 foot seven and 130 pounds."
"So you’ve said. She’s about average or better. And not a slob."
"Better, and no, She’s not a slob. Most definitely."
"Okay what else?"
"I’m getting paid."
"I know that. Tell me more."
"You know, how’d you know I’d be curious?"
"I wasn’t, I didn’t. Since you engaged me, I followed through. And I was supposed to make sure."
"Sure of what? And may I make it clear, YOU engaged me in conversation first. I just looked at you and your hat. You started it."
"Curiosity, important quality they said."
"You never mentioned them."
"You never asked."
"Okay tell me about them."
"Sorry, not allowed, except to say they pay."
"Okay, I have a mystery girl Five foot seven, 130 pounds, ugly and or beautiful, obviously not skinny and not fat. With parents who pay. Have I got that right?"
"What am I missing?"
"A ring. I have that too. It’s a nice one. See look."
"Well yes it is. What type of stone?”
"Alexandrite, 5 carats, and worth a fortune."
"I’ll bet. How would I even know?"
"For the bride?"
"No the groom, the bride gets a matching one, see."
"Ugly-Beautiful? Hmmmm. I’ll bite, when and where does this wedding take place?"
"At her family estate whenever I locate Mr. Right."
“Estate?” Artie aware that everything has to be specific questions. “Define estate.”
"What do you mean, I’ll see."
Artie is enjoying this give and take game, but not sure if he’s the mouse or cat, or if he’s even in the game. Shit, he’s not even sure he wants to play. He looks up at the screen. Boring talking heads, bla bla bla, killing, murder, lies. Yuch
"Let’s say I go along with this and you. And say at the first sight, I realize that the ugly is beyond description and I can’t deal with it."
"Too late, you’re committed."
"You should be committed for taking this job on."
"$42,000 up front cash plus expenses. I couldn’t turn it down. You coming?"
"Am I coming?"
"You’re not married ? You don’t have a current lady friend do you?"
"I never said I did or didn’t."
"You wouldn’t go this far if you did, right? Didn’t see a ring."
"Yeah, you got me there."
"So are you or are you not coming?"
"What the hell. I must be nuts. Where’s your vehicle?"
The matchmaker points to a Black vehicle that’s a bit too distant to make out clearly. It’s expensive that much he can tell and it’s European. Artie leaves cash and a large tip on the bar.
"It’s over there. Come on I’ll arrange for your things to be picked up. Give me your address and keys and your finger."
Artie gives him the finger. "How about this one?"
"Any will do," ignoring the gesture.
As he pricks Artie's finger he looks at some type of instrument. “GOOD, you’re okay. Let’s go.”
"Hey this is a Bentley."
"You’re observant, another good sign."
"No theirs. I get to use it as I see fit, no questions. It’s part of the business package."
"I have no idea."
"What do the papers state?"
"I don’t know. They are in this envelope and it’s sealed. I’m to give it to any officials that stop us. I never have been, so I have no idea."
"Never stopped, how long have you been at this?"
"Can’t or won’t. You take a lot on faith."
"Don’t we all?"
"What do you mean by that?"
"Think about it."
"Well yes, 130 lbs, 5’7”, paying you $42K, driving a Bentley, 5 carat Alexandrite, estate, sounds fishy but at the same time square enough to hedge my bet."
"Hedge a bet?"
"Well yes, I either win big or lose. Here I go."
"Ah, yes, I get it. Very good, committed to action."
"I still think you should be committed for taking this job."
"You said that already. And that means what about you for coming?"
"Yes I did. And I should have my head examined for going along with a stranger that shows me a ring claiming to be 5 carat Alexandrite, to meet a ugly beautiful girl, her parents and,…" He looks at him, with a perfect stranger.
"And you already committed."
"You’re in the car and we’re on the way."
"I didn’t even realize we were moving. Who’s driving?"
“Sir, I have him. We’ll be there shortly”
"Who is this sir?"
"Her father. You don’t seem to be scared or nervous. You’ll meet him soon. BE POLITE and proper."
"Just be polite and proper. I don’t know who you are talking about. This is crazy."
"It doesn’t matter. He’s your new father-in-law."
"Or might be."
"Oh no, YOU ARE committed."
"I should be."
"Oh no YOU ARE."
"What do you exactly mean by that?"
"Take a look out the window."
"Oh? I’ve been talking to you, oh shit!"
"No profanity, please it’s upsetting."
"WHERE ARE WE?"
"Somewhere, I’m not exactly sure."
"How fast are we going?"
"Not sure of that either."
Okay changing the subject, “What’s her name? I do need to know that. I can’t just call her MS X or Mystery wife.”
"I am not allowed to state that yet."
“This is very strange. I’m in a fog about so much.”
“Yes we both are,” says the Matchmaker. He is looking forward through the front window and hitting some codes into the instrument he holds. The Driver nods.
Artie decides to ask another question, “Her Mother?”
“A fine lady.”
“Tell me about her.”
”Can’t say. It’s in my contract.”
“Well who signed it? What does the signature read?”
"BY THE POWER INVESTED IN ME and $42,000 cash."
"And that’s all you have?"
"I have this Bentley."
"It looks a lot like a Bentley but it’s something else entirely that’s for sure. This is the thickest fog I’ve ever been in. It’s like soup."
"It will clear up soon. Trust me."
"I guess I have to."
"Yes I guess you do. Another good characteristic, TRUST." He picks up an instrument and makes a mark. "I’ll add you haven’t panicked."
"I’ve been instructed not to, ever. And besides I’ve gone too far for that. Here I am, where ever that may be."
"I’m not sure at this point either."
"You said that. Ask the driver..."
"Not allowed. He just drives."
"And you just…"
"This has got to be a dream. It’s too crazy."
"He has an imagination, Very Good. You’ll need it I think."
"That’s the first time you stated something like that."
"Not true, I’m not sure of our specific location or of our specific velocity."
"You admitted to that earlier. You’re sure you’re not sure?"
"Yes I am."
"You are what, which?"
"Sure about not being sure."
"When will we be there?"
"Am I dreaming?"
"No. But if you think about it, all reality is observed by the mind. So in a strange interpretation, yes and no."
"You’re rarely definite with any of your answers."
"When I am able, I am."
"Just who are you?"
"Who or what?"
"Both, I guess."
"Quark-based stardust matter just like you."
"Not allowed to say. Ah the fog is lifting. We’re almost there."
"Where we are going of course."
Artie looks at his watch. “It stopped moving.”
"Oh It’s moving alright but not…"
"Sorry I’m not allowed to say. I slipped."
"So you’re not the perfect gofer."
He looks at Artie. “I never ever made claim to that.”
The Bentley now approaches a beautiful estate.
"No, this is not it."
"No? Then where is it?"
"It’s the only building I can see. What else is around here?"
"It’s part of our M based estate. An entry point one would claim."
"You’ll understand soon enough."
The Driver stops in front of the long steps. A butler appears and opens the door, “Sir, This way please. I will show you to your rooms. You goods will arrive shortly. However, happily, you won’t be requiring most of them."
Another butler appears and opens the Matchmaker's door only after Artie steps out. He whispers something.
“So Everything else has been taken care of.” The Matchmaker inquires, or states as a question.
"What is Everything?" Artie interrupts and asks the matchmaker.
“Most Everything,” the Butler says, looking at both of them.
Artie continues oblivious and getting concerned, “And the girl, when do I get to meet Ms Ugly-Beautiful?”
“You have.” Says the Matchmaker
"I have? When? Where? What the f…."
"NO profanity I told you, please."
”You have and I pick you.” The matchmaker states the fact, in a matter of fact tone
“What! you’re a guy.”
“Take another look!”
“I’m not into guys. What have I got myself…..?" Artie is losing it and ranting.
The Bowler comes off. The suit jacket comes off,
“Oh my you're beautiful.” Her long jet black hair falls past her shoulders. Green eyes that he never noticed, are sparkling like supernovas. What else comes off, he wonders.
"Yes I am. Come, meet Daddy and Mother."
"Where are we? Who are you?" Artie is totally smitten. And he doen’t even know her name.
“I’ll tell you later and does it Really Matter?” Laughing at her own internal pun.
The fuzzy outlined multi-moons circle over head. It is a beautiful day.