Paul entered the living room. He was angry and embarrassed. There was this woman in the other room who seemed obsessed with him. He had to escape from her. He liked her, there was no doubt about it. But he did not expect a friendly interlude to blossom into something more permanent.
She probably did not understand his strange behaviour. They had a good time together in this strange, the twentieth century dominating city. They were two people thrown by fate into a new environment and they explored the city together after a chance encounter on the Underground. Now that he had stormed out of the room she considered her options.
She decided – and followed him.
Paul had no time to think. When the woman, he could not remember having ever even heard her name reached him he said to her on impulse,
“I can’t stay in this city and have to return home. I live in a far away country.” He knew it must have sounded silly.
“Let me guess, you are from Vietnam?”, the woman asked – smiling. Her head, framed by a mass of blond curls, was slightly shaking. She was unsure why he would try to make excuses. Her sparkling blues eyes were fixed on him and she smiled, expecting something. Paul was afraid he could not deny this woman anything. He raked his brain for a way to escape.
There was a way. Paul woke up! The dream, forgotten in a flash, went back into the ocean of subconsciousness, where it had come from.
The sun was up already throwing a pattern, through a gap in the curtain, on the wall. He looked at the alarm clock and decided that it was time to get up too. He got ready quickly and went for breakfast. The reason for him being in Melbourne was an appointment with his solicitor to finalise his divorce. The appointment was early so he could get back to Sydney in the early evening. No use staying in the city that brought him so much unhappiness. He actually liked Melbourne more than Sydney but felt spurned by the Victorian city.
His appointment went smoothly and he was soon on the street again.
As he had some time to kill, before he would take the shuttle bus to the airport, he decided to go to Young & Jackson to say ‘Hello” to Chloe and to have a cool beer. He liked the traditional pub in the heart of the city. He took a seat beside a window to observe the activities on the steps to Flinders Street Station.
Chloe, as usual, in her naked and graceful pose looked out onto an Arcadian landscape probably wondering what life had in store for her. Not much, as it turned out for the model who posed for the painting.
An ambulance had arrived in front of the famous steps to the station and the medics were attending to a homeless person who had collapsed. Some people had gathered observing of what was being done to the luckless man. Others hurried on. They had seen it all before.
By the time Paul had finished his beer and walked across the road past the steps of the station all had taken on an air of normality. People who were there now were unaware of the human drama that went on only minutes before. Police officers were checking the identities of some young men. A new scene in the never ending kaleidoscope of the city.
Paul kept walking over the bridge across the Yarra where he saw the MCG to his left, another Melbourne landmark. He soon reached the steps down to the South Gate precinct. Paul liked it here as he could observe the hype the people created by just being themselves. River cruise boats were plying the river. The cityscape on the other side just looked spectacular.
At a Swiss café he ordered an espresso and sat down. Besides the café an escalator took people to the next level. Before his coffee had arrived he saw a woman getting on the escalator. Somehow she looked familiar and then he was struck by her likeness to the woman in his dream of last night, which he now remembered.. Not only that, he thought it was this woman!
He jumped up. His espresso was forgotten instantly. He rushed onto the escalator and with a few steps he reached the top. The women turned a corner into one of the side corridors purposeful striding to her destination.
For a moment Paul was wondering about what he was doing. A middle aged man, probably going through a mid-life crisis, was chasing after a strange, mysterious woman like a teenager on the prowl. Hasn’t he enough women trouble already?
When he reached the corridor she had disappeared behind one of the many doors. It seemed to him he was having another bad dream. He lifted his arms and slapped his sides in resignation. Slowly he returned to the café and found his espresso waiting for him on the table.
Later, on the plane, he was still thinking of this strange incidents. Wasn’t life a series of unlikely incidents that often made no sense at all. Very much like a dream.