Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 (currently viewing), Part 5
On my way back, I bumped into my good friend Maxime Marceaux, and as soon as I did, I went crashing in the opposite direction, nearly colliding with the mailman. Maxime is an extremely large man.
“Jesuis desole mon amie.” He chortled loudly as he grasped my shoulders with chunky hands and stopped the streets from spinning.
“No worries Max,” I replied, “maybe you should just start carrying a siren around to warn people you’re nearby.”
He chuckled heartily; it sounded like a horse race.
“Monsieur, how can one miss me?” He boomed through flexed arms.
“You’re right, I just accidentally mistook you for an earthquake.”
“Mon ami Americain,” he harrumphed, “you think you are so funny.” His marbled silver eyes twinkled with tears braving to peep out and observe the world. Both he and Fleur had inherited their mother’s eyes. Thank God Max had inherited his father’s Y-chromosome though.
“Yes, and let’s hope your biceps agree with me.”
That punched the funny bone. Max loved any joke that had to do with the bulkiness of his muscles. He paused a moment and I watched his features widen, his stomach fill with air, and he howled with laughter. The tears now raced to get away from the brutish cacophony that exploded from my dear friend. The dogs in Moscow must have been whining in complaint of the noise.
“Come here you little man.” He laughed and squeezed me playfully and softly. I felt all the bones in my body shatter and drop in a fractured jumble around my feet. Word on the street was that Max put every chiropractor from London to Rome out of business.
Sometimes it paid to have a friend who could swallow the Eiffel Tower in one gulp. Sometimes it didn’t. But regardless, he was good sport and better company, especially in a fight, but not so much in wine tasting. The last (and also first) time I went wine tasting with Max, he swallowed six corks and an entire grape vine.
“Max,” I squealed, “I need to stay alive long enough to get back and submit my story to Lagardere.”
He released his vice grip and I collapsed in a jelly-like manner to the floor and attempted to put my bones back together.
“Monsieur,” his eyes grew to the size of éclairs, “you have finished?”
“Yes Max, you are now looking at the next international best-selling author,” I shakily attempted to regain my footing, “or what you’ve left intact of him.”
“Mon ami Americain,” he shouted, “we must celebrate. Vin, biere, cigare. They are on me.”
“I’d love to Max, but I promised Odette I would work on our wedding plans tonight.”
“Monsieur, monsieur,” he tutted and shook his head, “You are in Paris. Even if you planned your wedding to go wrong, it would still end up parfait.”
There was no sense in arguing with a man who was right in his own mind. Much less a French man who was right in his own mind. Much less Max, who was always right in his own mind. And so we agreed to meet at Fleur’s Café at nine-thirty that evening. With a slap on the back from Max, we parted ways. I went flying a block and a half down all the way to my front steps.