A Stranger Like You

A Stranger Like You by Elizabeth Brundage

Book: A Stranger Like You by Elizabeth Brundage Read Free Book Online
Authors: Elizabeth Brundage
Tags: Fiction, Suspense, Thrillers
you understand that she is a woman who is at once magnificently beautiful and yet accustomed to being ignored. Her dark hair frames her face, her black eyes, her full lips. “¿Sí?”
    “I’ve come about the car? Is it still for sale?”
    She shakes her head, “No es un buen momento,” and gestures to the old man, who is slumped in a wheelchair in the living room, gazing out the window at the boulevard. “Su esposa murió recientemente.”
    “Let her in,” he says.
    “Ella quiere información sobre el automóvil.”
    “Déjala entrar.”
    The woman shakes her head again, as though she is disappointed, but lets you in, waving her dishtowel after you like a bullfighter. The house is grand and yet there is something sad and forgotten about it. For a moment you just stand there, taking it in. You guess that it was built in the twenties. The ceilings are impossibly high, painted with cherubs like the Sistine Chapel. As you stand there under a crystal chandelier you feel a sudden chill, as if someone is running their fingers through your hair.
    “Please.” The woman ushers you into the living room. “¿Señor?”
    The old man does not turn, only waves you near with his withered hand. The room is large, cluttered with beautiful old things. The large picture window is framed in green and yellow glass, filling the room with colored shadows. Blocks of light scatter the room as if you are inside a kaleidoscope. The corners of the window are cloudy with condensation, blurring the monstrous trees outside. The effect is like an old dream you cannot fully remember, one that supplied a revelation at the time that you could not fully grasp. The rain falls hard, you can hear it running through the gutters, and it occurs to you that the house is weeping.
    “Please,” the woman shows you to the couch, a green velvet loveseat that is like the beard of an ogre, with horsehairs poking through the cushions.
    The old man turns and reaches out for your hand. His is cold and thin.
    “My wife,” he says, shaking his head. He takes out a handkerchief and blots his eyes.
    “Maybe I should go,” you say.
    The housekeeper scolds, “¡Quizás es demasiado pronto!”
    “No, it’s not too soon. Make us some tea, my dear Flora.”
    Again, the man shows you his sad eyes. “She loved the car. It was a birthday present. I bought it for her fortieth birthday.”
    “I’m so sorry.”
    He nods appreciatively. “She was spectacular.” He hands you a photograph. “I saw her once; that was all it took. I knew.”
    You study the photograph of the man’s wife. “She was very beautiful.”
    “Have you ever had that feeling?”
    “What feeling?”
    “When you are completely certain about something. It’s like you have finally been roused from sleep.”
    “I don’t know,” you admit. “Yes, I think so.” If you are certain about anything, it is your own inability to find love—true love—and the idea that there is a person out there who might recognize something in you that he finds undeniably essential seems like a ridiculous dream.
    “We are all sleeping,” the man says. “Sleeping through life.”
    “I know. You’re right, it’s true.”
    “And then we die.” He looks at you and nods. “And there’s nothing left.”
    Dust, you think. You sit for a moment listening to the rain. Flora brings the tea on a tray, the cups trembling on their saucers. She sets the tray down on a coffee table. To be polite, you drink the tea, but really what you’d like is a glass of vodka. The tea is sweet. It tastes of lavender honey.
    The old man sips his tea then asks what you do for a living.
    “I’m in the film business. I’m a producer.”
    “Ah,” he laughs. “That’s a good profession.”
    “It’s a good car for you, then.”
    “I thought it might be.”
    “People will be impressed.”
    “I’m not trying to impress anyone.”
    You shake your head. “I don’t care what people think.”
    The man looks

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