Madison stirred her third pumpkintini, the signature drink of the posh Halloween soiree in full swing at her Cousin Mary's country estate. Mary had met her husband Jim Holloway at an auction at Christie's, he was the hottest hedge fund manager on Wall Street and she was the hottest socialite on Park Avenue, they were the perfect power couple. Mary had always included Madison, her starving-artist cousin, on her guest list. Mary collected party guests the way others may collect figurines and she found Madison to be a fun and whimsical addition to her collection.
Madison was dressed as a modern witch in a short black Betsy Johnson with thigh high laced black leather boots. Her copper curls sprung from the pointed hat and cloaked her in a drape of coils when she wanted to be alone. Plotting her escape, Madison stared mesmerized at the Kieninger mantle clock showing 10:10. Her gaze slowly crept up the wall to the portrait she had painted for her cousin as a wedding present last June. Though she felt warm and happy about her cousin's bliss, an icy shiver crawled up her spine. "Mary was telling the guests that you painted this portrait. Is it true?" It was a man's deep tenor, with hints of San Juan in his accent. Madison cringed; not being in the mood to entertain one of Mary's often pretentious guests, nor to have a superficial discussion about her art.
As Madison whipped her head around, her curls lashed the air, as though looking to punish her intruder, but then finally decided to settle and rest in a soft cascade down her back and shoulders. Her full attention was locked on a pair of periwinkle eyes. His caramel skin, sun kissed tan, glowed warm luminescent beneath the soft cast of the jack o' lanterns' glow. "Come with me." He coaxed. "The Harvest Moon is out tonight." As though under a spell Madison willingly obeyed and they soon found themselves surrounded by Mary's prized Marilyn Monroe roses, they were strangely in bloom, though they weren't usually this time of year, Madison gazed in wonder at the enormous fiery-orange Harvest Moon.
"My name is Madison," she started wanting to fill up the empty space between them with language. "Shhh", he turned to her "We don't have to do this. He was luminescent in moon light on this starless night "I …uh…" she attempted again "What's your name?" He was gazing at her like she was a sacred artifact or alien from another planet she wasn't sure which, but then his finger softly touched her lips. "We don't have to do this." He said as he bent down slowly and captured her in a soft gentle kiss. As he kissed her the world began to spin faster, the earth gave way beneath her feet. Time and space seemed to race and she saw this kiss reenacted in a different time, beneath the sacred stones of Stonehenge, this kiss behind the Coliseum in ancient Rome, this kiss stolen within the Temple of Isis in the Egypt of antiquity, this kiss between solider and French lover, V-Day on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris, this kiss amid a sea of naked dancing bodies painted in day glow with Jimmy Hendrix playing Purple Haze in the background. As they broke their kiss Madison was breathless she looked up to him in amazement. "Who are you?" she demanded.
"I'm sorry." He paused as if searching for a way to tell her the deepest secret of his soul. "It's Juan Fortuno this time. I found you too late, I'm sorry I must go now but I'll see you soon." And then he was gone. He was disappearing down the path that cut through the corn field and Madison felt powerless to stop him. After a moment of doubt, Madison began to run after him "Wait. Stop. Don't leave! Please don't leave yet." Just then she heard Mary calling for her from the main house. "Oh there you are. Where did you run off to? Oh never mind hurry, I want you to meet the Senator." Mary took Madison by the elbow and led her through the crowd. Madison put on her usual mask of feigned interest as Mary and the Senator discussed fundraising for the new Children's Art Museum they planned to build downtown. Madison shook to her foundations, this evening had been too much she had to get out of there-- she felt the walls close in on her. "I'm sorry; I'm sorry Mary I have to go. I'll call you later. Thank you. Thank you for everything. Senator, it was a pleasure to meet you. I must go."
Madison ran through the grass, the fall leaves crunched and swirled at her feet. The mist of her breath steamed the night air in puffs of desperation as she finally saw the Midnight Blue Metallic of her Audi A4 glistening under the Harvest Moon. Madison was crazy with panic "Where could he have gone? Who was he? Why did she feel like they had been together forever? When could she see him again?" These thoughts tore at her brain like a tornado ripping at her sanity. She positioned herself behind the wheel and flew down the drive, pointing her A4 toward the highway she made her way into the starless night. "I will see you soon." Juan's words wisped into her consciousness tickling her, it was a distraction. At that moment Madison knew what he meant. The bright lights that tore around Dead man's Curve, she saw the lights and pulled the wheel hard to the right, the screech of the tires, the metallic crunch, the shatter of glass, and then all was still.
Madison watched from the side of the road, the red and blue flashing lights, she saw Mary and Jim talking to the police. She observed the firefighters use the jaws- of-life on the Audi to unwrap the metal to set her body free. It was midnight. The soft tenor whispered to her once more "Are you ready to go?" He was gorgeous, swirling gold and white sparking light, Madison sighed "Yes, I'm ready." Dios des muertes, the day of the dead was her final fleeting thought as she and Juan stepped into eternity--together.
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