tagBDSMA Perfect Fit Pt. 23

A Perfect Fit Pt. 23

byumami©

"Hmm. Maybe I should call Freddy?"

"He's not a manservant!" Mark replies, exasperated. "Yeah, go on."

The stress of where they're going has Mark's hand tremor playing up. It only gets worse when he tries to force his fingers to do his bidding. Jenni's no help. She's tried but is only smothering him.

"Hi, Freddy. Can you come up here, please? We need your help with something."

The obedient sub is at the door in minutes. He still knocks.

"Come in!" Mark hollers. "Ya don't have to knock, baby," he says in a softer tone. They all understand it's just a grim day.

Freddy approaches Mark and sizes up the situation. "Allow me, Sir."

And just like that Mark has a half-Windsor knot. Freddy smiles. "Americans," he sighs.

"Thanks, man. How are you so good at that? I've never seen you in a suit and tie."

Freddy's in his work clothes that are stained with varnish. He smells like sawdust.

"Muscle memory. Years of school uniforms, I'm afraid. You look really good, Sir."

Mark does own one black suit that fits his unique proportions better than one would think. He doesn't seem the type to have decent tailoring hidden away in his wardrobe.

"Yeah, well I feel like I'm choking."

"Oh! I can make it looser..."

"No, it's perfect. It's just me. I ain't used to it. Last time I wore this was in court. I don't associate this costume with anything good."

"Well, it looks nice on you. Will you, um, let me fix your hair a little?"

"Okay," Mark grumbles. Jenni smiles. Calling Freddy was a good idea. He knows how to handle Mark in this situation. He stands before Mark and rakes his fingers through Mark's long layers. This part, he likes very much, especially when he pulls a little styling creme roughly through to tame his hair out of his eyes. To Jenni, Mark looks vaguely dangerous with his hair smoothed away from his angular face.

"You know, it's long enough now you can wear it in a ponytail -"

'I ain't doin' that!"

"All right, no one's making you," Freddy says like he's talking to a wild animal... or a mental patient. "It's nice like this. There is something else, though. You'll want this for the temple." Freddy produces a shallow bowl of dark blue satin from his pocket. It looks very old. "It's a yarmulke, for your head. May I?" He clips it to a strand of Mark's hair so it stays in place.

"You are full of surprises today. Why do you have this?" he asks.

"My grandfather hid Jews during the war. I found this in a box of his things I inherited. It must have belonged to someone he helped."

"You must be real proud of him."

"I am. So there's a bit more history to add to your depressing outfit."

"I won't lose it. I'll get it back to you. Thank you, baby." He kisses his boy, feeling overwhelmed by the heavy emotion settling over the loft. "How do I look, girl?" Mark asks Jenni.

"Like a Jewish gangster, Daddy."

Mark chuckles, despite his agitated state. "And you look like the good girl I don't deserve."

Jenni's wearing the funeral outfit Evie helped her to buy. She's a brunette now, like her Daddy.

Mark looks at his watch. "I guess we better get over there," he says in a tremulous voice.

"Want a ride? I can take you," Freddy offers.

"No thanks, I need the walk. You still up for that, baby girl?"

"Yes, I need that, too."

"In that case, we better go now so we won't be late. Thanks for this, Freddy," Mark says, touching the knot at his neck and then the piece of Freddy's family history atop his head. "Will you have dinner with me tonight? Just the two of us?"

Freddy glances at his sister, whose placid expression shows she's been made aware of this. It might even be one of her little romantic schemes, for all he knows.

"Of course, Sir. What time?"

"I don't know yet. It will be someplace special, I hope. I'll call you."

Mark and Jenni walk briskly to the synagogue. "Are you okay, Daddy?"

"So far. I'm gonna cry, though. I can feel it comin' on again."

"I'm sure you won't be the only one," Jenni says. "I hate to see you cry because I love you, but it doesn't change who you are to me. You know that, right?"

"I know. Guess I must seem like the kind of guy who thinks men don't cry. I know that ain't true."

"Good. Don't forget it," she says and holds his hand tighter as they approach the throng of mourners. Lucien's memorial service is a big deal indeed. People file into the cool, cavernous sanctuary and it quickly fills to half. Jenni had been wondering if she and Mark would be allowed to sit together, but since this is for a diverse crowd no one seems to follow that rule. They sit in a pew toward the back, as people continue to take their seats behind them.

"This place must seat a thousand people," Mark whispers.

"I like it in here. I like the blue stained glass. It reminds me of his spirit, somehow."

Mark considers the cobalt light filtering in. "Ya know why? He wore a suit that color. I think it was one of his favorites."

"You're right!" she whispers. "I think it was his favorite color. Gosh... to me, he was just Dr. Z. but Evie said yesterday he was a very great man. I don't think I understood the magnitude of who he really was."

"Yes, ya did. You just didn't know he was this famous. We were real lucky to have been his patients."

"Mark... we're his luckiest patients," she says, squeezing his hand.

The rabbi goes to his lectern and arranges his notes, gazing out with a kind smile to his congregation. "We'll give it a few more minutes for more to arrive," he calls out in the voice of a classically-trained actor. He knows how to project his voice to reach everyone without resorting to a microphone. The stone building seems to be designed with acoustics in mind.

When the doors creak closed, he resumes. "Shalom," he greets them. He appears to chuckle a little when it's unevenly murmured in response. "I know many, maybe most of you, are new to a place like this, but you are welcome here. In fact, I'm not sure Lucien was entirely comfortable here. In our many conversations over the years, Lucien referred to himself as 'a bad Jew.' I never believed that. He was my friend and as good as any of us can hope to be. He got the important parts right, even when he didn't follow the rules. He loved people. Really loved them. He was charitable, kind, and the purpose of his life was to bring comfort to those who are suffering. That is why we are here today. Not to eulogize Lucien Zavodny. He has no use for that and we all know his many fine qualities. We are here to comfort one another in our time of grief. As Lucien did for so many, we now do for each other as we come to terms with the loss of our beloved friend, guide, son, brother, and husband. And on that note, here is a poem by Rabbi Maller that I know Lucien loved. I'll try to get through it without crying, but no guarantee. It's called 'When All That's Left Is Love.'

"'When I die

If you need to weep

Cry for someone

Walking the street beside you.

You can love me most by letting

Hands touch hands, and

Souls touch souls.

You can love me most by

Sharing your Simchas (goodness) and

Multiplying your Mitzvot (acts of kindness).

You can love me most by

Letting me live in your eyes

And not on your mind.

And when you say

Kaddish for me

Remember what our

Torah teaches,

Love doesn't die

People do.

So when all that's left of me is love

Give me away.'"

When he finishes you can almost hear a thousand tears rolling down the faces of the mourners as well as the sounds of a few openly weeping.

"And now, some of Lucien's family and friends have selections they wish to read. The first is Lucien's beloved mother, Ruza."

Mark and Jenni glance at each other. 'What the...' they both mouth. Yes, Dr. Z.'s mother is still alive. The rabbi helps her carefully up the steps to the lectern. The tiny woman gazes out with a look of awe-struck pride on her stricken face. Surely she was in agony to have outlived her child, but he'd certainly lived a successful life to have so many people turn out on a Monday afternoon to pay their respects. He was very loved. She can't project her voice and flutters her hand just like Lucien used to do as if to say, 'I know you can't hear me. That's not the point.' They can see, though. She recites from memory with great emotion, her hands gracefully signing the meaning. When she finishes, the rabbi takes her arm to help her back to her seat in the front row. Mark's crying now, his heart breaking for her loss as much as his own. "God, that's sad," he whispers.

Lucien's sister reads a poem by D.H. Lawrence that she explains was one of his favorites. Though not sexual, the sensuous language is far from what the pair had been expecting at a funeral. Then again, this was Lucien's funeral.

After a few more readings and some personal remarks, despite the admonishment not to eulogize (with a man like this, it was impossible not to), the last selection is a stunning performance by an opera singer. The woman fills the space with her powerful contralto voice. Not only does she sing the song flawlessly, but packs the emotion they all feel into each note the way a true artist does. Jenni taps Mark and points at the fine hairs standing up on her forearm. Mark shakes his head in wonder at yet another gift from Lucien Zavodny: A rare concert experience for all his friends and family.

When she concludes, tears streaming down her face, no one stirs. "It's all right. You may applaud that!" The rabbi calls out. The congregation as one is on their feet pounding their palms together not just for her, but for Lucien's whole, well-lived life. It sounds like being inside a thundercloud and feels just as electric.

They file out and are ushered to a large community room where they are greeted warmly by older women who must be synagogue volunteers. They are encouraged to eat. There are tables set up with mountains of pastries, cookies, and samovars of coffee and hot water for tea. "Why is there a whole bakery in here?" Mark whispers.

"It's customary, I think. Plus, Dr. Z. had quite a sweet tooth. He'd want everyone to have a treat."

"He would."

First, however, they fall into the haphazard line to express condolences to the family. Mark and Jenni both feel nervous and out of place, despite the efforts of the rabbi and his staff to welcome everyone kindly. They look around and try to guess who is a fellow patient. It's hard to tell in this context whether someone is a psychiatric patient or just taking Lucien's death very hard. There are a few disheveled people milling around, but they might be eccentric writer friends of the doctor.

When it's their turn, they are face to face with Ruza Zavodny. It's so unexpected Mark is at a loss for words. She reaches for his hand with both of hers and looks up into his eyes which fill with tears again.

"I'm so sorry, ma'am... Mrs. Zavodny. He was m-my doctor and I owe him my life. Your son changed my life. I'm so sorry for your loss."

It's clear to the woman that Mark is overwhelmed by what she must be going through. "You are a good boy," she says in a heavy, beautiful accent. "So was my Lucien. That's how I know he's in heaven and we'll be together soon. It gives me comfort, so let your mind be quiet, shayna boychick."

"Oh, okay. Thank you, ma'am," Mark says and they move along.

"She called you a pretty boy," Lucien's sister says. "It's a nice thing. You looked a little confused."

"I often am. I'm very sorry about your brother. We both loved him and are so grateful for him."

"Me, too. I can't believe how many of his patients are here. He really did his job that the people who needed him are even able to be here."

"Yes, that's true. His kind of patients tend to avoid this. I'm glad we didn't. It was a beautiful service."

"I'm glad. It's how he would have wanted it, I think. Shalom."

"Shalom," they say and then find themselves in front of a man who they know right away though they've never seen him before. "Tom?"

"Yes."

"I'm very sorry for your loss. My name is Mark and I'm..."

"I know who you are," he says without emotion. "I saw a picture... of both of you."

It's obvious to the pair, maybe more than most others, that Tom is sedated and on something that may not entirely agree with him. They can hardly blame him. This must be hell for him. He's even younger than they'd suspected but has the look of someone who's aged ten years overnight. His eyes are sunken and his smooth olive skin has a greyish cast. Jenni wants so much to offer something, if he ever needs anything, anything they can do... but it's not her place. They are patients, not even his acquaintances. "I'm so sorry..." but his dead eyes are already scanning down the line for someone else to talk to.

A distance away, Mark says, "Well, don't I feel like the whore who showed up in the red dress."

"You did what was right. I'm sure he wouldn't be like that at all if Lucien were alive. This is the worst day of his life, Mark. You did fine."

"Evie must be around here somewhere. Ya wanna wait for her, baby?"

"Yes, Daddy. We should say hello. And I want a pastry," she says guiltily.

They find a place to sit in the corner and keep an eye out for Evie. "This is delicious. They went all out on the baked stuff," Jenni whispers, offering Mark a bite.

"I better not. It's all for you," he says vaguely.

"You're rattled by Tom, aren't you? Daddy, you know how the rabbi said Lucien really loved people? Well, he REALLY loved you, shayna boychick. I think Tom knew that somehow."

"You're crazy, girl."

"I know, but I'm not blind. It was just a bad day for you to meet. It's okay, Daddy."

Evie spots them and strides up, also looking rattled by Tom, but for different reasons. "Hey, you two! God, Tom is a fucking wreck," she says in a low volume. "I will definitely be checking in on him as much as he'll let me. And whatever he took was not prescribed by Lu, I can tell you that."

"Evie, are ya stayin' a while or do you want to get out of here? I can't be here anymore..."

"Yeah, that sounds good. I talked to everyone I needed to. Get me out of here before I start eating the rugelach; nothing here is vegan."

They step out into a pleasant abstract sculpture garden meant for contemplation.

"How about that singer, right?" Evie remarks.

"I have never heard a voice like that!" Jenni agrees.

"Lucien and I used to talk about going to the opera together. I always wanted to but never made it happen. So he went and..." she chokes back a sob, unable to finish the thought: He went and gave that to everyone to make them happy. "I don't feel like crying right now. Where are you headed?" Evie asks. "Maybe I can walk with you."

"Home, I guess," Jenni says.

"I got something I gotta do," Mark says, looking like the man of mystery in his "costume" and cagey expression.

"Fine, keep your secrets. I'll walk with Jenni."

The girl grins at the prospect. She loves to spend time with Evie. Considering how little of it the woman has, Jenni knows she's as lucky to have her friendship as she was to get to be one of Dr. Z.'s patients. Almost, anyway. Mark kisses his girl passionately, full of wordless gratitude for handling him today, and strides off on his mission.

* * * * *

"This place! Sir! Do you know how hard it is to get a table?"

"We have a reservation. It will be okay."

"How long ago did you do this?"

"Today," Mark says sheepishly. "Guess I got lucky. That's why I didn't tell ya - in case it didn't pan out."

Freddy laughs out loud. "Let me guess: You made the reservation in person."

"I been told I'm a shayna somethin' or other. Wanna go in?"

"Of course I do! I've wanted to eat here for years."

"Cool. Let's go in."

"Oh my," Freddy says upon seeing the inside of Les Branleurs. As a designer, Freddy is not easily impressed, but they've outdone themselves. The place is built to resemble an old European train station and they get it right. It even sounds a bit like one with all the commotion. Despite its vastness, it's still thought to be impossible to get a table and they have to wait for theirs a few moments.

"Do you know what the name of this restaurant means?"

"Of course not, but I bet you do."

Freddy leans in close to whisper in his ear.

Mark wheezes. "I feel more at home already. Do they know that?"

"I think they do, yes."

The hostess finds Mark's unheard of reservation and it wasn't a hallucination. "There you are. Follow me," she says with a pearly smile. The woman looks the part: Her dress has a neckline that plunges nearly to her navel and she carries it with the 'I don't give a fuck' attitude of a Parisienne. The boys glance at each other as they follow her; it's fun to have a straight boyfriend sometimes.

Their table is right in the center of the controlled chaos. It's hard to hear and the 360-degree exposure is not Mark's preference. Freddy looks at his Dom, asking the question with his eyes. "I'm fine," he whispers. "I took a Valium before the funeral and it's still working." Mark rubs his arm reassuringly. "Don't worry about nothin'. I'm good."

"Yes, you really are."

"Here are the dinner menus and the wine list. Would you like the oyster menu?"

"Yes, please," Freddy says eagerly.

"Enjoy, guys," she says sweetly and leaves them.

Mark is thrilled to be able to do this for him. Though he doesn't know anything about this kind of food and can't eat most of it anyway, it's the kind of place his boy deserves.

"Oh my," Freddy says again as he looks at the oyster list. "Will you have any? I know they aren't vegan, but they don't have much of an inner life."

"Are they good?"

Freddy's long hesitation makes Mark laugh. "It's hard to tell someone that because they aren't quite like anything else, food-wise. I think they're very good."

"Well, I like the idea of you eatin' lots of them. And watching ya do it. I didn't know there were different types. It's just protein, right?"

"You can put lemon on it, but you should try it plain first to have the experience."

"That word has me intrigued. I'll do anything once."

The waiter arrives. "Good evening. I see you're checking out the oyster list. Any ideas?"

Freddy selects several types like he knows the difference. The names all sound like bodies of water, football teams, made up nonsense words. Mark is highly entertained by this "experience" so far. They order wine to go with it. Mark is planning to have a little and if Freddy wants to, he can kill the rest of the bottle without adverse effects.

"So, Mark, are you going to wear the yarmulke while eating your first oyster? Those are two strange first times to combine."

"Oh shit, I forgot I left it on. I was really scared I'd lose it somehow. No wonder he didn't ask if I wanted any." He hands it back to his boy.

"I think he could tell I was ordering for two people. How was the service?"

Mark tells him all about it, the opera singer, meeting Dr. Z.'s mother, the weirdness with Tom. As he does so, he realizes: Freddy is the best listener he's ever met. Even Dr. Z. could get preoccupied while writing his notes, coming up with his theories to help him. Maybe it's the din in the room or that English is not his first language, but Freddy hangs on his every word. "How was your day?" he asks, realizing he should return the favor. He has been going on for what feels like a while.

"It was fine. Baby Lu's crib will be ready for you to look at soon. Mostly I was just worried about you. I know it was a tough day, but I'm glad you went, Sir. It sounds like you got from it what it was meant to do."

"Uh-huh. This has made me realize a lot of things. Baby, there is something I have to tell you."

"Oh?"

The waiter returns with the array of oysters on a tray of ice. He opens the wine and pours them each a taste. Freddy approves. "These look beautiful," Freddy remarks to him as he fills their glasses and tucks a white cloth around the sweating bottle.

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