William Grant is wandering through the avenues of Florence, Italy with his beautiful girlfriend named Isabella. They giggle to each other softly and secretly, passing under the ancient arches and crumbling cathedrals of the narrow and romantic street. They exchange passionate kisses and sly glances, and all passersby who see them think wistfully of springtime romances and sweet lavender. William Grant thinks that he could never be happier.
And then his alarm goes off.
Will grunts and swings his arm around in the general direction of the snooze button of his alarm clock, only succeeding in ceasing the siren after knocking virtually everything else off of his bed stand. “Five minutes, please,” he begs the clock. He wants to return to Italy, to Isabella. He’s only met her the previous night, but already he finds himself dreaming about her. I’ve really gone and done it this time, he thinks ruefully to himself. A hopeless romantic, Will has had extremely short but passionate flings with women ever since he was 26, and he is now 28. Two years of hopeless loves and losses. But all that changed last night, with Isabella. She was so different from Opal and Sally, who he’d tried out the previous week, with disappointing results. He’s already nearly forgotten about them, and only remembers their names and faces with extreme concentration.
Will, reconciled to his fate, swings out of his bed and trundles towards his shower, only to realize halfway through the shower that his alarm is still sounding. He has to quickly wrap a towel around his midsection, run in, and unplug the damn thing. He can only pray that he didn’t get anything too wet, but of course he does (his favorite leather shoes, which are lying on the floor and still stained with blood). “Oh, no,” he mutters, looking at his now-ruined footwear. He’ll have to get new ones somehow; they were a part of his “romance suit”, as he calls it. He doesn’t feel comfortable around women without his romance suit on or nearby. He also never wears it out on his day-to-day business, since he feels that doing so will spoil whatever mysterious charm his romance suit possesses.
Will stands staring at the ruined shoes for approximately thirty minutes, dead to the world, until the bong of the clock tower outside brings him out of his stupor. Chuckling to himself over how upset he had gotten over a silly pair of shoes, he finishes his shower and brushes his teeth, singing, ” That’s Amore” to himself loudly and out of tune.
Fully awake now, Will practically dances down the stairs to his kitchen, eager to see the object of his affection once more. He schmaltzes into the kitchen, adopting a Humphrey Bogart voice, and cries out, “Schweetheart! I’ve mished ya. C’mere and gimme a kish!”
Lost in the throes of love, Will dreamily opens the fridge and takes out Isabella (or what is left of her). He begins to hum a waltz, kissing Isabella periodically between the notes. “Listen, baby; it’s our song. Shall we dance? Silence is acquiescence, my dear. What’s that? You’d love to? Oh, DARLING!” He swings her about in an elegant and passionate two-step, spilling congealed blood all over the kitchen. He knows he will have to clean it up later, but it’s worth it to spend quality time with his “best girl”, as he affectionately calls her. Just as he had called Opal and Sally.
After their dance is over, Will delicately places Isabella back into her cubby in the fridge, and grabs the milk from behind her ear. He then shuts the fridge door, but not before whispering, “I’ll be back soon, darling,” into his beloveds ear. Humming his beautiful waltz loudly, Will pours himself a bowl of Lucky Charms. As always, he goes immediately for the marshmallows. He simply can’t control his instincts most of the time. His overwhelming desire for sugar overshadows all rational thought in his mind, and he devours the marshmallows like a rabid dog. Afterwards, he stirs the remaining, not-marshmallowy bits reflectively. Today he has work, and that means pretending. He doesn’t want to have to pretend, but he knows that it is what people do. It is a part of them. As much a part of them as breathing and sleeping. As much a part of them as love is a part of him. So he gulps the rest of his sugary milk, kisses Isabella goodbye with promises to return soon, and departs for work.
At work, the local law firm, Will sits in his cubicle, thinking only of Isabella and seeing her again. He turns his body on autopilot, as he often does when he wants to be alone in his head, and begins to fantasize about Isabella. His eyes see faces and names (Mary, Peter, Ash, all of his coworkers) and his mouth takes care of the niceties (smiles, smirks at off-color jokes, short greetings), but his mind is free from contamination from other influences. His hands even do the work for him, typing out endless forms and data analyses, so that he can remain focused. Whatever else we may say about William Grant, we may say that he is focused on what he wants.
5:00! Work is over. In his head, Will has practically worked himself into a frenzy thinking of all that he and Isabella are going to do together. He skips out of his cubicle and smiles at each and every one of his fellow employees, who smile back with genuine affection. After all, he is the friendliest fellow in the workroom. Unbeknownst to Will, his bosses are discussing giving him a raise. His work is always impeccable and meticulous, and his attitude is so refreshing. He might even be managerial status.
Will, however, couldn’t care less about all of this. Right now, he wants to go out and buy himself and Isabella a nice bottle of wine. Perhaps some pineapples too (which are his favorite fruit, and thus Isabella’s as well; those two do everything together!).
Will goes straight for the best wine in the store (nothing’s too good for his girl) and jovially dunks it into the bottom of his cart. He then strolls over to the pineapples, picking two at random and plopping them into his cart alongside the Pinot Noire. Isabella will be so surprised and happy, he thinks to himself, and smiles a smile so warm and intimate that a woman across the aisle from him can’t help but wish that her boyfriend was that crazy about her, to smile so widely.
He waits in the checkout line, his body once more on autopilot. Faces become a pointless blur to him. Until, that is, a loud plonk captures his attention. He stirs from his stupor and looks… into the eyes of the most beautiful girl he has ever seen.
“I’m so sorry. I dropped your pineapple!” exclaims the clerk regretfully.
“That’s quite all right, um…” he looks at her nametag in rapture. Jenny. “…Jenny. I’ll just go get another.”
“No, I’ll do it.”
Jenny rushes off into the hustle and bustle of the produce section, unaware of Will staring blissfully after her. He has already forgotten about Isabella. She’s the past. His future is with Jenny. It’s all so clear now, he thinks.
His fellow shoppers nudge each other slyly, observing Will’s lovestricken stare, his soft and longing eyes. Wouldn’t it be cute if they remember that this is how they first met later on, they whisper to each other in ecstasies of temporary gossip. By the time they proceed to the checkout, they will have forgotten this little incident entirely.
Will dreamily accepts his replacement pineapple, pays with a check, and walks out of the store with a new mission. He has already filed away her voice in his brain. He’ll never forget it. He doesn’t think he can if he tried.
“Jenny…” he whispers to himself, and blushes a deep crimson.
“Jenny Grant…” At this, Will’s face practically lights on fire. His lungs temporarily stop working, and his heart stops beating, to relish the sense, the feel, of this beautiful sound.
Miraculously, Will’s trance-like drive home ends without an accusation of DUI or an accidental manslaughter. He sings “That’s Amore” loudly and out of tune to himself as he rushes as quickly as he can to his computer. He methodically scavenges Facebook for over 2 hours, looking at every possible Jennifer that lives in his town. He eventually comes up with a Jennifer Carta, a Jennifer Takane, a Jennifer Smith, and a Jennifer Gutierrez and copies down the address of each. Unfortunately, none of these girls had posted their phone numbers online. No matter. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and Will definitely has a will: love. Never in his life can he remember being so in love as he is right now. He feels as though his heart is turning cartwheels in his chest.
Will scours his phonebook for another hour and calls each Jennifer posing as a representative of the Government conducting a survey. Between calls he absentmindedly turns the TV on and off, unaware of what he is doing. In the snatches of time that the TV is on, it announces that the police are searching for a girl named Sally McManning. It says nothing about a connection between her case and the Opal Knick case.
When Will speaks with Jennifer Carta, his fourth and final Jennifer, his heart nearly bursts with joy. It’s her! It’s his baby! Her voice! Like melted chocolate and marshmallows and lilies-of-the-valley all rolled into one! Will withdraws into his mind to dream about all the times he and Jenny (he wants to call her Jenny almost as much as he wants to run his fingers through her smooth, chestnut hair) will share, and his mouth again takes over. Will’s body asks Jennifer if she would please take a government survey regarding proposition 40, Jennifer replies no politely but firmly and hangs up on Will’s body before it can have a chance to pester her further.
The groceries lay long forgotten on the kitchen table as Will meticulously cleans his house in preparation for Jenny’s beauty to grace it with an appearance. He mops the kitchen floor, faintly stained with rusty blood marks. He changes the sheets, which are more like sponges now due to all the blood they have absorbed. He washes his favorite knife, which he then slips lovingly into his pocket. For later. Lastly, Will cleans out his refrigerator. He winces slightly as an unsavory odor wafts into his nose, but does what he has to and disposes of the leftovers (Isabella’s very existence has already been deleted in Will’s mind). At last, his house is as a palace, ready to receive his best girl!
Now all Will has to do is prepare himself for Jenny. This is a very important step, as any boy on his first date with the girl of his dreams will tell you. First, Will combs his hair. He knows that it has to be just right, and is almost too excited to hold the comb straight. It takes three attempts until Will is satisfied. Next, Will puts on cologne and shaves. There’s nothing to shave (he shaved last night for Isabella, and nothing would grow back so soon), but Will has to be sure. Lastly, Will assembles his romance suit. Smooth black leather jacket, his gray T-shirt, his favorite pair of black chinos, his black ski mask, and his black leather shoes. Shoes. Will suddenly remembers that his favorite leather shoes are currently unwearable. What can he do? He’s never gone out to see a girl without his romance suit! Will stands stock still, his mind in crisis. He can’t go and see Jenny without his shoes!
Will ponders his dilemma for half an hour, standing motionless in deep thought, his face slack and his eyes glazed. A fly lands on his forehead and ambles about absently for two minutes before flying off to seek greener pastures. A tiny droplet of drool inches out of the corner of his mouth and hangs in stasis. After much internal deliberation, his eyes regain their glow of flaming passion. If Jenny loves him as much as he loves her (and she very much does; there is no doubt whatsoever of this in Will’s mind), then she won’t mind the incompletion of his romance suit. How could she?
Will’s face lights up in a blaze of emotion. He feels the gravity of the moment, the freedom he now possesses, the confidence he now has. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, said Shakespeare, and Will cannot agree more. Love has triumphed this warm Tuesday night!
Having doffed his tattered white Vans, Will slips quietly out of his front door. He feels the soft, cool air and marvels at the thought that somewhere Jenny is feeling the exact same breezy kiss. He thinks to himself, I will have to remember this Tuesday as the happiest day of my life. The day I met Jenny. Smiling deeply, he begins to skip to Jenny’s house, humming a sweet and sensuous waltz to himself the whole way.