July 19, 1968

Izzy and Juliana work at a cocktail party hosted by Martine. He’s parking cars in a field as the guests arrive.

It was a 1967 Jaguar E-Type convertible, a long, eccentric shape with alien headlamps notched like cod’s eyeballs set in a cone of glass that somehow fit into the low-slung profile. There was an elevation along the middle of the hood, but the car was not about edges; it smoothed into its facets, a haunch over the rear wheels, an open, oval mouth like an inflatable sex doll low on the front. The roof was down and the cabin was wide open to the summer air.

The Jag glowed in the evening light. Somehow I got to the door handle before the driver did, and opened it slowly as he turned to me with an amused look. He was a confident, contented man somewhere in that vast expanse of his third or fourth decade on the planet, with slightly roguish long hair and a tennis court tan. He was smoking a cigarette.

“Help the lady first,” he murmured, as though we were, in our separate stations, working toward a common purpose, and I realized that I had failed to survey the tee shots properly. He took a last drag on his cigarette and dropped it on the ground between us and mashed it out with a loafered right foot, lingering there and giving me a chance to get where I was supposed to be.

I handed him a numbered slip and looped around the back of the car. His passenger was studying the visor mirror, applying a finish coat to her face, and I wondered if this delay was just for my benefit. I opened the door for her and she swung slender legs onto the asphalt. I must have seen the next part in a movie: I offered my left hand while I held the door open with my right and she rewarded me with a beguiling smile that made me think a fellow could get used to this line of work. She took my hand, gently, and rose from the car, sweeping past me in a fragrant cloud.

I wished Juliana was at hand as it came to me. Who would think that such fine ladies and gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale!

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