The Many Portraits of Life (A Novel)
(Copyright 2009, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)
Chapter Three, Part Four – Melanie & Keith
“A chance meeting of hearts, in a moment of time unlike any other as seconds tick by without notice – an event long prepared beforehand, now finally arrived. Prearranged perhaps, but not pre-announced to the players involved in this unscripted and unrehearsed dance of passion and theater. A long traveled, rose petal path of tender moments, marked by serendipity for the occasion of intersecting paths and the rendezvous of hearts – joining for a moment…or for a lifetime. How often do such moments occur over the span of a lifetime of heartbeats, yet remain unrecognized by the players – resulting in friendships and soul mates failing to connect and fulfill their promised destinies because of the mundane distractions of the day?
Each moment in time has the potential to change the world because of the choices it represents for the living – and for the future – where every choice leads the world down a different path of scenarios and outcomes. Only in retrospect, does one see the pattern created by billions of hearts making individual choices that set into motion the future of our world. Yet when viewed from afar, a picture of a single event between hearts comes into clear and concise focus – an awkward crossing of arms while reaching for vine-ripened tomatoes in the grocery store, an accidental touch and polite apology leading to a glance between eyes, before recognizing in each other the potential of a lifetime of shared heartbeats.
Considering the possibility of such events happening daily in the lives of everyone around us, why not treat every moment and heartbeat as the opportunity it presents, alert to the blessings and potential that each and every moment may hold for our lives? For the pulse of the present moment is all we have during the span of a lifetime, as the echoes of recent heartbeats fade away into distant memory – the cycle repeating itself over a lifetime of such moments. One never knows when the tide of future heartbeats will cease to rise, leaving only the echoes of heartbeats on the distant shoreline of the past – memories of a time when love and passion ebbed and flowed with the vibrancy of life itself.
A lifetime lived in the presence of each and every cherished moment, no matter the length as measured by time, allows us to pause to inhale the scent of perfume, take in the fragrance of a single rose, enjoy the beauty of a sunset, hear laughter carried in the wind, listen to the crispness of leaves underfoot, partake in the exchange of smiles, see the essence of another heart, drink in the depth of a gaze and taste the sweetness, clarity, purity and emotion revealed in the eyes of the one who loves us!” – Mark D. Jones
(Note: While this quote is similar to the one I used in Chapter Two, Part Four, it was reworked independently and provides a slightly different flavor than the version I drafted before. This is one of my favorite quotes in this story so far and I was happy to rephrase it – even if it was by accident!)
“OK, Melanie, we’re about to find out if this fairy tale ends up in an enchanted castle or under a toad stool, and if it all goes poof on us, I’ll feel like the world’s biggest fool for following you down yet another cobblestone lane of illusions and vanishing dreams – all in the name of friendship!”
The airbridge was full of a steady stream of deplaning passengers after their arrival at San Francisco International Airport, as Melanie and Brenda maneuvered their way through the flow of humanity into the open concourse. “Well, Brenda, I believe in happy endings and living happily ever after – besides, didn’t Keith arrange for our First Class tickets and use of Virgin America’s Clubhouse VIP lounge? He said his driver would meet us after deplaning and take us to the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, so I take his word on that. So far, he’s delivered – in spades! Let’s see what other cards he has to play!”
“Please excuse me, ladies – Ms. Melanie Davis and Ms. Brenda Taylor, I presume?” asked a well-dressed man awaiting arriving passengers in the concourse.
“Why yes, this is Ms. Taylor and I’m Ms. Davis” replied Melanie, pleased with the style and manner they were being greeted with.
“Welcome to The City! My name is Michael and Mr. White sent me to escort you both to Virgin America’s Clubhouse to await your departure to the Mark Hopkins, Hotel InterContinental. We’ll ride there on the electric cart waiting for us to your right – may I please carry your bags for you?”
“Why certainly, Michael – you’re a perfect gentleman! Thank you so much for assisting us today on Keith’s behalf. I’m impressed with his style already and we haven’t yet had the pleasure of making his acquaintance!” replied Brenda, as she quickly turned to give Melanie a wink and a smile as they followed Michael, who was placing their carry-on bags on the electric cart. From there they rode along to the Virgin America Clubhouse where Michael parked to the side of the entrance.
“Ladies, I’ll escort you into the Clubhouse and ensure you’re well taken care of, prior to leaving to verify the delivery of your checked luggage here to the Clubhouse, and then on through to your connection departing for the Mark Hopkins. This way please, ladies, and please allow me to hold the door for you both.” Melanie gave Brenda a quick look and an understated smile as they passed into the Clubhouse to await the next stage of their adventure, as Michael followed behind them and checked their carry-on luggage with the Clubhouse receptionist.
“Ms. Davis and Ms. Taylor, I would like to introduce you to Ms. Veronica Cooper, who will see that your every need is taken care of while relaxing here in the Clubhouse in preparation for your departure to Nob Hill. You’ll be in very good hands ladies and I’ll oversee the transfer of your checked baggage. If you need anything at all, Veronica will be more than happy to take care of you. It was my pleasure to meet you both, and Mr. White is very pleased that you’ve arrived safely in The City and are now part of our family! Good bye, ladies – Ms. Davis, Ms. Taylor” said Michael as he nodded in turn to both of them.
“Good afternoon, ladies – as Michael said, my name is Veronica, and I’ll be your hostess here in the Clubhouse until your departure. Will you please allow me to show you the powder room where you can spend a few moments freshening up, prior to enjoying the selection of light appetizers we’ve prepared for you: Almond Strawberry Salad, Teriyaki Salmon, grilled vegetables and your choice from our extensive wine list. Your departure from the Clubhouse is scheduled for 3:30 p.m., 50 minutes from now. Jeremy will be here after you’ve finished your appetizers to brief you on the next portion of your trip. Meanwhile, please freshen up for a moment while I ensure your food is ready for your enjoyment!”
Melanie replied, “Veronica, you’re the perfect hostess! We’re enjoying your wonderful hospitality and after we’ve had the opportunity to freshen up, we’d love to sample your menu – it sounds delicious! Thanks so much for thinking of us!”
“Mr. White wouldn’t have it any other way for his invited guests – and please rest assured ladies – he’s very keen to ensure your visit goes smoothly and favorably for you, as his special guests. I do hope you’ll find that everything here meets with your approval…and if there’s anything at all that you require, please let me know so I can take care of it right away for you.”
With that, Melanie and Brenda entered the powder room to freshen up in the posh accommodations and prepare for what was to be the final leg of their trip to Nob Hill and the Mark Hopkins, where their suite reservations were being held for them by the Concierge at the reception of the Hotel InterContinental. “We’re being treated like Princesses on a Royal Visit, Melanie! I can’t believe how thoughtful and polite everyone has been to us so far! Everyone keeps referring to Keith as Mr. White – as if he’s royalty – this is one fairy tale I want to last forever!”
“Don’t let it all go to your head, Brenda, we haven’t even met Keith yet. Don’t jump to any conclusions before we understand the playing field – there’s a lot that we don’t know, and I don’t want to take anything for granted – especially concerning Keith. He’s bending over backwards to deliver on his promises so far and I want to allow him the opportunity to continue with his plans without making any demands or changes to them – I’m delighted with how beautifully he’s prepared for our arrival…treating us as part of his family, along with Michael and Veronica here. I’m definitely impressed so far!”
The view during their exquisite lunch overlooking the busy tarmac below presented a theater of activity – of colorful aircraft taxing, service trucks, baggage carts and airline personnel swarming around arriving flights, while departing flights jockeyed into position in a ballet of timing and choreography that would please even the most critical of West End audiences. They watched as a sleek and ultra modern, blue and white helicopter deftly landed in the circle painted on the tarmac below them, catching their interest and attention with the skill and professionalism displayed by the helicopter’s pilot.
Veronica cleared away their lunch plates and silverware, and poured them both a second glass of wine. Returning to their table a few minutes later she said, “Ms. Davis and Ms. Taylor, I’d like to introduce you to Jeremy. Jeremy, this is Ms. Melanie Davis and Ms. Brenda Taylor – guests of Mr. White’s for you to bring to the Mark Hopkins, Hotel InterContinental. Ms. Davis and Ms. Taylor – Jeremy will be your pilot.”
“Our pilot? Keith spoke of making arrangements for his driver to bring us to the hotel…I’m confused.” Melanie was clearly perplexed with this twist in their adventure and didn’t know what to make of this new development.
“Ms. Davis, I’m sorry to have surprised you – Mr. White always refers to me as his driver – it’s just his way of staying grounded. He doesn’t let his surroundings alter his core values. He’s the best boss to work for in the whole world and he’ll treat you both with the utmost care and professional courtesy during your entire stay here in The City! Please, when you’re ready, we’ll prepare to fly to the Hotel InterContinental – it’ll only take a few minutes!”
“Thank you very much, Jeremy – it’s a pleasure to meet you. I apologize for my reaction, I was caught by surprise – I never expected such royal treatment!”
“It’s my pleasure to serve you both, Ms. Davis and Ms. Taylor – Mr. White only knows one way of treating everyone and doing anything – and that’s First Class.”
Now it was Melanie’s turn to give Brenda a look of surprise and amazement, while pinching Brenda’s arm under the table as if to say they’ve now entered the enchanted pages of a storybook fairy tale…the fairy tale of their dreams!