AUGUST 15, Chartres, South:

I wake, stretch. I see you in profile, straddling the hotel balcony’s railing, the flying buttresses of the cathedral your backdrop.

On top, you are wearing my shirt, beneath you are naked, studying the map.

I watch you bend your knee, bring your big toe up to grasp the railing behind you. Your heel and buttock, opposing curves, almost touching.

Me: Hey, you.

You, looking, then feigning confusion, pointing at yourself: Me?

Me, grinning: You.

Me: Come over here. I need a kiss.

You swing your leg over the railing. My eyes drift down, between your legs.

You, pulling at the hem of the shirt: Perv.

Your hand sweeps my hair back, brushes sleep from my eyes. You kiss me on either eyelid then on the lips.

You: Good morning.

You, pulling the map aside: We made the papers.

The front page: A photo of Salome’s empty frame. The title: Vol Osé au Musée Gustave Moreau.

Me, sitting up, anxious, returning to the reality of the last days: Shit! Do they have any leads?

You, straight face: Nothing much, just something about the getaway car—a Green Porsche 914.

Me, blanching: What!?

You, kissing me again: Just kidding.

Me, taking a breath, turning toward the half-open closet, and the Louvre tube: Did you hear that Salome? We made the papers. Front page.

You, extending: Salome! Time to call your mom. She’ll be sooo proud.

——

We return to Departmental roads heading south. Two lanes, harvested wheat fields on either side. A moment of living in another time.

The heat is oppressive. Sun directly overhead. Sweat soaks through my shirt.

You read ‘Against the Grain.’ Something about a liquor organ. I barely listen.

You, closing the book: You know, I’m a little disappointed you’re not wearing your driving gloves.

Me, just a smirk of recognition. We are both wilting.

Rows of plane trees, their canopies providing an amalgam of shade and the blinding serrated edge of the sun. A fan’s whir with each one we pass.

We traverse towns, shuttered, silent, seemingly abandoned.

You, pointing to a fountain in a central square, emphatically: S-T-O-P.

Together, half-obsessed: Water.

I dunk my head into the cool, pull up and splash a loose pattern of spray across the fountain’s base. Let out a whoop.

You, no inhibitions, jumping in: I’m going for the full baptism.

Me, admiring the curve of your breasts, your nipples erect: More like a wet t-shirt contest.

Turning your back to me, you raise your skirt, pulling your panties aside, presenting your submerged cunt.

You, looking up at me: So. Are you coming in?

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