Mr Magnifico - First Love PDF Print E-mail
Mr Magnifico entered the hospital lobby after a long night of surgery. He emanated exhaustion and antiseptic.

Ping Pong glanced up from a copy of Highlights for Detectives and inquired cheerfully, “How’d it go?”

The detective shuffled over to the couch, plopped down, and admitted “I don’t know. It got boring so I got a hot dog.”

Ping Pong turned a page and handed his employer a cup of stale coffee. “I think it’s more likely to find a reliably good cup of coffee than for animal part to be accidentally attached to a human body.” The latter, he believed, was at least within the realm of science.

“I know,” pined the detective, “But wouldn’t it be awesome if you saw a guy with a monkey tail, scurrying around and climbing trees all day long. I could coax him down with a bunch of bananas and then wrestle him, proving my mastery over the animal kingdom.” Mr Magnifico’s fingers began to tap a beat on his knees.

“How come so many of your stories end with you wrestling monkey hybrids?” commented Ping Pong as he scoured the hidden picture feature of his magazine.

“That’s just the natural conclusion,” explained the detective who noticed the catchy twitch of his own hand bouncing in time with the drum beat from the TV. “What are you watching?” he asked without bothering to look himself.

“I don’t know -- I was reading. It sounds like Hawaii Five-O,” hedged Ping Pong as he glanced at the television and then to the detective. “Are... are you crying?”

The detective silently stared up at the screen, tears showering his lapel. He turned to his aide and asked ardently, “Did I ever tell you about when I left my first love?”

“Um, yes?” Ping Pong lied, hoping to stem the tide of the story.

“We were in Maui,” Mr Magnifico proceeded, undeterred by his aide’s apathy, “at the Humuhumunukunuku’āpua’a Waterfront Café. I blithely sipped pineapple juice and kept time with the waves crashing on the shore until I saw her -- Gina ‘the bronco’ Bouza. Her cropped black hair glistened in the moonlight like rainbow obsidian as she smiled at me from across our table.

Sucked in by the story’s current, Ping Pong placed his magazine in the communal pile and interjected, “Our table?”

“I had closed my eyes as I strummed on the table, and I didn’t notice her sit down. Gina said that she had been there for several minutes and didn’t want to disturb my reverie because I looked ‘serene and adorable.’” Mr Magnifico stretched out and grinned with self-satisfaction, reenacting his peaceful repose.

Ping Pong stared at his employer, marveled at Gina’s patience, and flatly offered, “How sweet.”

Sensing that his audience was engrossed in his tale, the detective resumed, “For three hours our conversation flowed like milk from a coconut as we complained about the over-abundance of tourists and reminisced about the good times we shared.”

“Wait. You already knew her?” interrupted the assistant.

“Of course. It would be pretty weird if a complete stranger had been staring at me for several minutes,” the detective proffered, “Don’t you think?”

Ping Pong acquiesced, “That would be weird,” but thought to himself, “And completely expected.”

Mr Magnifico continued, “We had so many great memories, like the time I won the surfing competition to save inner-city schools or the time we broke up that tiger smuggling ring.” Mr Magnifico beamed through mixed tears of sadness and joy. “Those kids had more tigers than they knew what to do with.”

Ping Pong wondered if anyone actually needed more than one tiger, “to have enough to not know what to do with.”

“Alas, this was the closing act and there wouldn’t be another,” lamented Mr Magnifico mournfully, not knowing any other way to lament. He clasped Ping Pong on the shoulder fraternally and reenacted the scene, “‘Partner’, I said because she was really into cowboy lingo, even though she wouldn’t admit it. ‘Partner,’ it’s about time I done moseyed on down stateside and set up my own private dickery.”

“Gina smiled a ‘bella’ smile, as she used to call it. I’m not sure what it meant, I don’t speak Spanish, but I saw in the stormy depths of her ocean-blue eyes that this time, it was not ‘bella.’”

“Gina’s sanguine smile never faltered. She stood up, looked me in the eye with a gentle tenderness I have yet to see again, and kissed me on the cheek. ‘I long for the time when our paths cross again...’ she said and then turned to leave. As she exited the café, I called out to her for what could be the last time, ‘Wait!’ My voice choked with emotion, ‘You haven’t put in for your half of the bill!’”

Ping Pong’s eyes narrowed, forcing the encroaching tide of tears to retreat.

“She turned around and said something which was lost to the noises of the street; it looked to be ‘I love you’. Then suddenly, the director yelled ‘CUT!’”

“Cut?” asked Ping Pong.

“Cut,” repeated Mr Magnifico. “That’s what directors shout. They shout ‘cut.’”

“So your entire conversation was all part of a movie?” Ping Pong cursed himself for ever being interested and retrieved his magazine from the pile.

“No. Of course not. They had been filming a movie across the street. You should know that I only act in legitimate theatre. It is the stage or nothing!”

Ping Pong compared the “What’s Wrong” feature of the magazine to his own life and opted to not bring up his boss’s numerous attempts to get on Law and Order.

“I’ll never forget that cafe, Gina, or the power of the cinema.”

Ping Pong rolled his eyes, removing any trace of emotion, “So, not that I even asked, but what exactly was your first love?”

“My first love?” The detective gave a small chuckle and looked up to watch a wave crash onto the beach. “The sea, my friend. The sea.”

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