‘EXCUSE ME, aren’t you that famous travel photographer who took the photo of the Dalai Lama blowing on his soup?’ Garcia was standing outside the door of the beloved Krishna Sweet Shop in Sag Harbor when he was again accosted. This time it was an older woman with a straw hat who had spotted him from afar as she came out of the Whaling Museum. There was nothing unusual about these kinds of run-ins with his growing divisions of fans, but this one was a bit more of an embarrassment because of the company he happened to keep. “Who is this very lovely young woman with you?” the woman nodded to Miss Enid Bryant, who stood at Garcia’s side with an amused look on her face and a hand on his arm. “Is this your daughter?” Enid Bryant’s blue eyes rolled back into some cavern within her skull and then resumed their default positions. She felt for a moment quite faint and then let out a nervous laugh, which the woman in the straw hat seemed to enjoy. “You look so familiar,” the woman said to Enid. “I swear I have seen you somewhere in Dan’s Papers. Or maybe in The Wall Street Journal weekend edition?” Garcia cleared his throat and removed his sunglasses. The June sun beat down upon his dark, shoulder-length hair, and he wiped away the accumulated perspiration with his shirt. “It’s true, I’m the one you think I am,” he acknowledged to the lady in the straw hat at last. “But this young woman beside me is not my daughter. We’re just friends.” “I see,” said the woman, looking directly into Enid’s eyes and then directly into Garcia’s as if waiting for them to divulge the truth. What could they tell her though? That they had been meeting secretly for weeks, roaming the sands of nearby Barcelona Point and reading each other stories and poems? That they would congregate on the neutral streets of Sag Harbor, far from the overbearing eye of Enid’s titan of industry father Ethan Bryant and stroll along the docks eating ice cream flavored with honey, turmeric, and ginger from the Krishna Sweet Shop? The proprietors, a father-daughter team named Rao and Geetha, paid these new regulars almost no attention, only happy to serve Mr. Javier Garcia his Hanuman Jungle Sundae, which came studded with nuts and banana chunks, while Enid liked the smooth and fruity Passionfruit Namaste Surprise. These they devoured while inspecting anchored yachts and chartered fishing vessels. Garcia would regale Enid with stories about Shiva and his special role in the Panchayatana puja. So far they had not kissed, but there had been one time when Garcia and Enid were so inspired by these constellations of Hindu deities that her soft, smooth hand had found its way into his larger, hairy one. Garcia had been startled by how aroused he had been at that moment, as was Enid. She did not especially seek the sexual company of a Galician photographer twice her age, nor did he seek out young women from prestigious families. Yet they were oddly complementary. A perfect mismatched fit. Their ears burned as red as temple candles. The curious woman on the street took note of that blood rush glow and continued to hawk over them, waiting for all of their prurient tales to be revealed. She had very light-colored hair and very light eyes, with a distant, eastern look to them, and few freckles, either natural or spotted by the sun. Garcia and Enid played dumb excellently though. It was as if they both held their breathe within. Sooner or later, this East End interloper would leave them on their own. “Well, your darling friend is very lovely, and you are a talented young man,” she informed Garcia. “Thank you, madam,” Garcia answered. “How did you even get that shot of His Holiness? The one with the soup? Did you have lunch with him? It’s been reproduced everywhere, you know. I think they are even selling t-shirts with that remarkable image.” “Oh,” Garcia shrugged. “You know us photographers. We have our ways.” “Well, you must exhibit in my husband’s gallery,” the woman said. “It’s just opening up and we would love to have you there.” “Where is it?” asked Garcia. “Out in Westhampton Beach.” “Oh,” said Garcia. It sounded like it was far away. “I guess I could consider it.” “You must exhibit with us,” the woman insisted. She tugged a card from her purse and tucked it into the front pocket of Garcia’s shirt. A moment later she was gone. Enid exhaled and let out an anxious laugh. Then she blew upward, lifting her dark hair in the breezeless day. When the woman was out of sight, Garcia pulled out the card and examined it in the sun. “Eeva Raamat,” it read. He turned it over. “The Raamat Gallery.” Strange name, he thought. All those vowels. Quite peculiar.
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