To the Magical Memory of Rain

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Out of the supermarket, on their way home with three bags full of groceries in their arms, foul weather struck down the day and swept up the loveliness in a monstrous rain. Felicity felt that she had been momentarily prevented from making any revelations to Desirée. They needed to hurry home. The street was quickly evacuated of all human life, except for an occasional speeding car, splashing rain everywhere. There was something terrible, awesome, and even magical about the way the weather had so suddenly turned on itself, Desirée reflected. She doubted whether they would make it home before they were consumed by the drenching downpour; almost struck down dead ran through her mind. Desirée suggested a cab. The mother said that they couldn’t afford one, besides, it would be next to impossible to get a taxi to take them a mere four blocks. They could make it home if only she could get Desirée moving. Well, this was what it meant to live under a tyranny, the young woman thought to herself. She was always using a mask of excuses.

Soon the two unfortunate women were the captives of a shocking thunderstorm, three long blocks from the street where they lived, lightning and furious rain pouring everywhere. Grocery bags were soon so rain-drenched that apples and oranges were falling upon the pavement and produce was flying about. Rain-sopped paper bags were falling apart and completely crumbling in their hands. Racing on their high heels, the women were a half block or less away from home when the heel of Desirée’s left slipper cracked and the slipper came off. She didn’t have time to retrieve it. Thanks to her years of ballet lessons, she was able to maintain a semblance of balance and didn’t fall, but much of the produce came tumbling onto the street. Vegetables and packages of frozen meats were sucked up in the storm. Her mother was far ahead of her. And Desirée didn’t have the time or the inclination to retrieve the slipper, but hobbled the twenty-five yards to the door of the old apartment building. Just then the paper bags were swept out of the hands of both women by the powerful grasp of the thunderstorm; as if struck by the wand of cruel magic, the women discovered themselves arriving home empty-handed.

As Desirée took a hurried, last look down the length of the street, she saw, approximately five feet from the doorway, the complete harvest of their two-week’s grocery shopping transformed to litter, jetsam and flotsam, as it were, in the man-overboard mayhem spun by the windstorm. The brown paper bags whipped about like so much foolish garbage left over from a masquerade carnival scene; and Desirée’s high-heeled silver slipper appeared to romp about in the rain. In the distance, an extremely tall figure, a dark stranger of a man, appeared, carrying aloft a huge umbrella, which miraculously enough seemed undisturbed by the wicked wand of the thunderstorm. The huge, lily-white umbrella appeared to have the power and size of a protective canopy above a freak side-show at the circus. As she dashed upstairs to get in out of the fierce storm, Desirée thought of the unfortunate incident as yet another example of the Dobbs’s condemned condition, and why she must get away. Even the last sight, that of the tall figure in the distance with his huge umbrella, seemed yet another manifestation of the madness which now blewout of the rainstorm. A deranged set of circumstances which kept her and her mother on the brink of a living unreality. . .forevermore. The mother regarded all their groceries lost to the thunderstorm, simply and bitterly, as plain bad luck. It was not unlike the reversal of fortunes in life, she wearily reflected.

Now Desirée was drying the mother off with a series of bath towels; then she gave her a fine cup of pea soup and put her to bed. No sooner had the mother’s head collapsed upon the pillow than she fell fast asleep. Just as Desirée turned to the place where she had left off reading Anna Karenina, the doorbell rang three times. Shocked by the shrill peal of the bell, the frightened and bewildered Desirée crept to the door. And who could it be out of this terrible rainstorm? Someone beseeching them for shelter and comfort from some calamity, as driven as this terrible thunderstorm?

When Desirée opened the door (but at a safe crack, of course, as was her training—only to the width of the six-inch chain), there stood the most absolutely gorgeous guy in captivity, she heard her heart throb in her throat. He was magnificently attired, and he remained—astonishingly enough—untouched completely by even one drop of rain—not even the slightest hint of a trickle. Well of course, he had the gigantic umbrella. . .and oh my God is he forever and a day tall. . .But, the breathless Desirée exclaimed to herself, just how had he bounded up the four flights of steps with such accelerated speed? On the wings of a dove? No. An eagle? Now Desirée unfastened the chain, feeling completely safe in the lyrical lair of his hypnotic, dark, soul-draining eyes. Desirée had never heard her heart pump with such life before (except the times she had tried out for the track team, and had almost broken her neck—or so she had thought—attempting to vault hurdles at breakneck speed). . .It was like the rewinding of hundreds of feet of film, flashing backwards faster than any forward thrust she had ever encountered. . . .Oh it was. . .he was too much.

Just then the most gorgeous guy in the world said: “I’ve come for you, Desirée, to take you away from all of this,” in a rich, deep tenor voice, full of mellifluous melody, honey, rhapsody, gentleness, urgency, and righteousness. Just too marvelous for words, Desirée heard her heart proclaim. At least that’s what Desirée thought she had heard him say. Because he was just too gorgeous for words, words, words alone to know what exactly he didn’t say; or did say.

If Vronsky looked like this, no wonder Anna lost her sense of reason, Desirée wept to her heart’s delight. Just then the most gorgeous guy in captivity took three large military steps backwards in the hallway, completely dominating all the space in time, she thought. Then he brought forth, in the form of an offering, a huge white umbrella, which contained, for heaven’s sake, the four bags of . . .no—it couldn’t be. . .but four bags were set about in a perfect circle on the outskirts of the gigantic umbrella, filled to capacity and untouched by the furious rain. These items were in the same condition as when Desirée and her mother had left the store, she now discovered as she picked her way through each bag, going to and fro from the door to the kitchen with one bag at a time, as if to savor the miracle. In the kitchen she reexamined the contents with even greater thoroughness, finding her fingers moving over the contents of the bags, as a gifted harpist might touch upon the strings of her instrument while running through a sweeping, lilting version of The Blue Danube. Sure enough, all of the items that she and her mother had purchased were there (or, maddeningly, their equivalents).

Mistrusting her fust impression, Desirée reexamined the bags filled with groceries—they were without wrinkle or blemish, though her face virtually wrinkled up looking at the wonder of it all. Her temple was rain-wet and soaked, as if she and her mother had never emerged from the thunderstorm at all. Then she recounted all of the fruit, for Desirée had a photographic memory of which she was quite proud, and didn’t need to consult the grocery list the mother had written out. She said to herself, I saw with my own eyes these very apples rolling down the street into the mud in the thunderstorm only minutes ago, and shook with terror and awe. Desirée found herself trembling with an untold fire and throbbing delight and desire. She was propelled, like the track star she often dreamed of being, and she vaulted down the hall to capture the most gorgeous guy in the world, who had spun—out of some miraculous magic—the life back into her shopping bag. “It is but a wonder. . .it is but a wonder. . .it is but a wonder,” she howled over and over again, until she was back at the front door and facing her miracle worker with her face tilted back as far as possible to encounter the reality of the most gorgeous guy in the world.

When Desirée returned to the door, the most gorgeous guy in the world simply said, “I’ve come to take you away with me, but you must hurry, because we cannot afford to let this beautiful night escape from our grasp.” He reached into a secret compartment within his jacket pocket—just beneath his heart—and the dazzling stranger said, “But how can you hurry along without this?” He then produced from his pocket the fine slipper that Desirée had lost, with the heel pounded securely into place. Now the slipper shone with a brightly polished glaze.

Captivated by the mere glance of the most gorgeous guy in the world (who was so magnificently attired in various phases of the color purple), Desirée was momentarily speechless before this presence. I’ll not put my complete heart under your hammer, Desirée said to herself over and over again, in a self-fashioned litany. The material of his clothing appeared spun from silkworms. He wore a smoke-colored leather jacket. A fox’s tail was drawn through each shoulder strap.

Finally Desirée found a portion of the power of her tongue: “Tell me. . .Tell me, just what is your name?”

“I have been called by the name of Reign,” he answered.

Reign was tall and thin and regal in his handsomeness. His complexion was a lyrical blend of deep rich bronze, a meshing of many burnished browns. The vision of an immense chocolate bar filled Desirée’s imagination. No blemish had ever dared visit his face, or so did the visage of the most gorgeous guy in the world appear to Desirée. No barber’ s razor had ever touched down upon such a face, she thought. The pronounced Indian-Caucasian features were pitched to beauty in his African-American, bronze burnished face. Just then Reign fell to his knees and placed the repaired slipper upon her unshod left foot—a perfect fit. She gave it back to Reign, ran barefooted back to the sewing room, and found the other high-heeled shoe. Once she had allowed Reign to help her put both shoes on, she discovered that she stood a full two inches beneath his armpits.

Now, in an attempt to help the girl find her tongue, the most gorgeous guy in the world opened his mouth and said: “You will need little clothing, either, other than that which you have on your back. Where we will be going, you’ll be dressed and redressed to kill, from crown to sole. Notice how a rhinestone diamond has already been placed on the outer instep of your shoe.”

Hearing her exhausted mother snoring away, Desirée asked, “But—but, what of my mother?”

“We are going on a great migration.”

As Desirée appeared to ponder the meaning of his invitation, the most gorgeous guy in the world took off the handsome, brilliantly alive rhinestone belt he was wearing and gave it to her. He said: “Leave my champion belt of priceless value at the foot of your mother’s bed, along with whatever note you feel you need to quiet her concerns. This is my gift not so much to you as to her. It was a relic of Ashante royalty in my family, from way back when. But now, hurry, Desirée, and sweep up whatever you need (we must not disturb your mummy’s slumber) for our marvelous journey into space and time. I’m going to show you a world higher than any mountain, deeper than any valley.”

“But you hardly know me. . .And anyway, how exactly, Reign, did you know my name?”

“There is little that I don’t know about the divine Desirée.”

Oh,” she said. Desirée appeared now to try to outrace her heart, and fled to her mother’s room with the unbelievable belt. How will Reign keep his pants up without it? she found herself whimsically musing; then, shocked over these stirrings, she blushed in her embarrassment. The deeply snoring Felicity remained undisturbed by her daughter’s high-heeled footfall in her room. Nor did she awaken when her daughter placed the worshipful Reign’s belt upon the foot of her bed; nor even when Desirée placed a kiss upon her mother’s temple. With her eyebrow pencil, Desirée scrawled a quickly conceived note upon an envelope from the IRS. But the note contained no pertinent information, for Desirée could not say for certain exactly where she was not going. Let me hurry for my binoculars to see this unknown world, and my camera to capture this unseen universe, Desirée said to her pounding he art, which seemed to drum with the beat of the rain as it struck down upon the roof.

I’ll not allow. . .I’ll not allow. . .My heart to be under any man’s hammer, Desirée said aloud, and almost completely out of breath now, as she affixed the straps of the binoculars, and then placed her gift from her father into the camera case. Soon the most handsome couple the world has ever set eyes upon went downstairs, and onto the streets. Now Desirée—who considered herself tall for a woman—discovered that she barely reached the elbows of Reign. The rain had completely ceased, and there was a rainbow in the heavens. Desirée saw at the curbside a purple-colored stretch limousine, with smoky ultra-violet-colored windows. The most gorgeous guy in the world scooped Desirée up into his arms. She was completely breathless as they entered the limo. The chauffeur was dressed in black, and when he turned to greet his passengers, Desirée observed he was wearing a ski mask with only shocking blue eyes showing through; he had a red carnation in his lapel.

The limo took off in a cruising manner, like a plane or a gigantic bird about to ascend the heavens, Desirée thought. She had never been in an airplane in her life, she could only imagine that this was it, this zenith of overdrive. She had been in a limousine once before when Desirée and her mother had left her father’s funeral in a car similar to this one, but not nearly as well appointed, Desirée now reflected. The driver of that limousine was also a part-time blues singer and steel guitarist—Lightning Chord Rodgers.

By pressing a small blue button on a panel, the most gorgeous guy in the world was able to present an extended, bright bar of worldly delights. A variety of liquors, candies, mints, miniatures of the best bourbons, scotches, vodkas. . .caviar. . .patés. . . .More than anything Desirée was stunned by the wonderful glass mirror that reflected the beautiful image of this fabulous couple before her eyes: Reign and Desirée Dobbs. She wondered if he had a last name. Well, of course he did. But he was too gorgeous to need a last name. Still, “Reign” seemed something akin to a stage name a renowned entertainer might carry.

Soon the most gorgeous guy in the world took a small pouch out of his jacket pocket. He took out a beautiful oval shard of reflecting glass, with an oval-shaped golden border, and from the pouch Reign poured something that looked like snow, (Oh, it isn’t, silly girl, Desirée laughed to herself) or confectionery of some sort. Now deploying a barber’s razor that he plucked from the lapel of his smoke-colored jacket, Reign pressed a button on the handle and a glistening, six-inch blade shot out. Then the most gorgeous guy in the world commenced to segregate the fine powder before him into columns, and now, from a receptacle containing glistening gold-paper-wrapped straws, Reign selected one and proceeded to inhale several columns of the white powder before him through it. Turning on occasion to Desirée between inhalations, Reign exclaimed, in a beautiful whispered, throaty manner, that this experience was “more wondrous than the breath of an angel.”

Upon another glance, after the breathless awe she felt when he looked into her eyes, Desirée looked at the two of them in the mirror before her, and thought she might explode with glee. For the mirror now revealed a man, this Reign, as the most gorgeous guy in the whole universe. Yet the power of the mirror’s perfection, rendering up everything in such exact detail, suddenly afforded her another slant upon the eyes of Reign that she had not noticed before. There appeared just the slightest discoloration, as if a tiny dapply brush stroke had been touched up in the very corners of those divine eyes, reminding her of a doll’s eyes that she had often touched up with Mercurochrome. What a wild, crazy thought, she laughed. He made an offering to Desirée upon a small tin plate of Russian caviar and a half glass of champagne. His face was still that of a prince, but since he had inhaled three columns of the white powder, Desirée noted how Reign looked cold, brilliant, not as sweet, yet perhaps even more enchanting and awesome than ever. In the mirror before them, this couple, thought Desirée, could surely take Hollywood by storm. Reign had uncommonly long eyelashes and Desirée could not tell, for the life of her, whether the eyes of Reign were velvet emerald, or velvet streaked with the color of purple. Perfectly guileless, she thought. Now the tiny flecks of red in the corners of his eyes had evaporated from her view.

As the limo floated down the Drive, her guide lifted a small portion of the white substance that looked like confectionery sugar, and she peered down into the pouch offered to her by the most gorgeous guy in the universe. With a wry smile, the most gorgeous guy in the universe agreed with this opinion, when she voiced it. And then he gave voice to his wildest dreams, by revealing to her the paradise that awaited her, as Desirée took part in the ritual initiated by the most gorgeous guy in the universe; and soon Desirée was in paradise as she followed in close imitation of his every word, inhaling the white powder through the golden straw.

Meantime up front, the driver spoke in a gruff voice through his ski mask, upon the car telephone, barking out orders to a series of command centers, or so it appeared to Desirée.

But she did not dwell upon all of this for very long; because she was now enraptured in the arms of Reign.


By the time they arrived at the high-rise apartment building on the other side of town, Desirée was breathless and seeing visions. Soon she was up in the arms of Reign as they came to the door (like a bride, she exclaimed to herself). They received an uneasy salute from the doorman. As they entered the lobby of the building, an aged parrot who was perched upon the five-foot-high ashtray stand leading to the elevator, started croaking:

Do an about face young fox …

you can’t stand the paradox …

Soon the elevator was exploding upwards, but Desirée thought that she was about to fall down the quite visible air shaft (was this the paradox the aged parrot had referred to?), and she found herself screaming and weeping all at the same time, as she entered a vast apartment in the arms of the most gorgeous guy in the universe, and he closed the door. The lights were quite low. Soon the light was turned on full blast, and Desirée saw signs unseen by her eyes before.

All about the vast room Desirée was shocked to see young, languishing and lounging women naked or nearly nude. Some were in cages. In other cages she observed adorable baby lions. Soon Desirée was asleep. . .


Desirée was awakened by the sound of a prodigious crash, as if someone had broken a window with a two-ton wrecking ball from a crane. Just then, miraculously enough, the most gorgeous guy in the universe was at her side—reassuring Desirée that all was in proper form. Then, in a matter-of-fact manner, he told the story of what had happened in the apartment just next door. Desirée was shaking her head in tune with the early morning airing out of the apartment, and wondering about her dream as Reign revealed what had gone down next door.

It was, simply put, the story of a man who had thrown a chair out of his fiancée’s front-room window, after he discovered that she had been having an off-and-on affair with his brother during the times he was at work as a pilot for Eastern Airlines. After his explanation, Desirée’s Adonis said that he had to “scurry off to work.” He now replaced his silver-and-gold felt house slippers with his alligator shoes. There was to be a fashion show in this apartment’s extension, starting at eight o’clock, Reign informed Desirée. It was now about six-fifteen.

All of the nude women were gone. Desirée had a splitting headache, completely different from anything she had felt before. She felt extremely depressed and all alone in the world; yet there was everything to keep her content. Soon she found herself longing for the fine white grains of confectionery that the most gorgeous guy in the universe had floated beneath her nose, at the hour when he had redeemed her, as he put it, from the street where she lived.

The next day the most gorgeous guy in the universe announced that he “must go out to work and capture the essences of this world.” When he closed the door, leaving Desirée alone in the huge room, she thought to herself, but I thought that Reign had said he was going to work yesterday. She believed she heard, just then, a strange noise in the hallway. Perhaps it was the man who had thrown the chair out of the window, returned now to hurl the young woman out of the window. Soon the sound disappeared.

Desirée passed most of the morning and afternoon trying on the grand stack of dresses and robes that she had selected at the fashion show the day before and that Reign had paid for by dint of a mysterious credit card that was pure white, like his huge umbrella. But she longed for his presence no less than she longed for the strange confection-looking substance he had given her to sniff the night before.

Desirée heard that eerie noise in the hallway again. Soon a key was twisting in the lock of the door with a sound akin to that of someone trying to get out, not in, it seemed to the frightened Desirée. Now the door opened, and in came this huge snake with his tongue licking about. He placed his head in her lap and declared, in a voice that was full of authority, rich and rather familiar: “Now you must search my head for lice.” Desirée found many horrible things growing there, which also seemed to grow or expand, even as she killed them with a knitting needle. But amid the abominable field of lice and other insects, she soon found a steady supply of what looked like the confection-like substance the most gorgeous guy in the universe had given her the day before. She sniffed the substance, the snake left, and soon the most gorgeous guy in the universe returned.

He said to Desirée: “Were you afraid of me when I came in a little while ago?” And Desirée said, without particularly grasping the portent of his question: “No.” Then Reign went about the business of his all-consuming work.

Now Desirée decided to go downstairs to call her mother in order to inform her that all was well. But in the elevator, on the way down, she encountered on the twenty-first, fourteenth, seventh, and first floors a vast snake. At each stop, these serpents entered just like a natural man. Desirée thought to herself that perhaps she needed some fresh air. Yet, as was the case when the snake entered her apartment and placed his head in her lap the day before, Desirée believed that nothing could harm her, as long as she was lodged in the apartment of the magical Reign—Reign, and the beautiful substance, so like snow or confectioner’s sugar (that she blew up her nostrils with the golden-wrapped straw.) And the ritual was repeated over and over again: each evening Desirée and the most gorgeous guy in the universe would sniff and snort “the white lady avenger against death,” as Reign called this magical substance; then the snake would come in. Then the stranger would return, who appeared now to resemble, in the imagination of Desirée, Reign himself. It could not be, yet the tenor of the voice of the snake, and that of Reign, had a similar resonance within an echo chamber of sound and authority. It was almost as if they were working shifts, Desirée thought.

In the apartment, Reign wore only his silver-and-gold felt house slippers. In the streets, when he left the apartment, he wore one of his seven pairs of alligator shoes and a smoke-colored leather jacket. Desirée decided that she had to get out of this place. She could never get the most gorgeous Reign ever to speak about the meaning of the snake that always came in just after her prince went off. And to where—to work? Nor could she get Reign to talk about “the white lady avenger of death” that she found in the serpent’s head amid the rank rot and the lice. And he would say nothing of the individual snakes that appeared at the four stops when the elevator carried her downstairs to get some air. Meantime, the wardrobe he purchased for Desirée grew more and more gorgeous: very masculine or extremely dainty in fashion, by twists and turns. She had not until then thought of her dearest guide, her dead father. Perhaps with the power of his avenging arms, she could remove herself from this place. Desirée commanded herself, just now, to get out of this place. Simon says, “Stand up,” she laughed.

Finally, when she came to the front door of the apartment building, she encountered the same doorman she had seen in the beginning when she first came into this building. The name Reverend Elderberry was embossed on the golden name plate affixed to his dark blue uniform. Desirée told the doorman that she wanted to pick up a pizza. Then she started crying, and asked him to step aside. Then she confessed what was going on about the snakes she encountered in the elevator, but said nothing against the most gorgeous guy in the universe, even as she did invoke the name of Reign. Desirée also said nothing of “the white lady avenger of death” in the snake’s head, nor of the white powder she and Reign drew up through the golden straws each night.

But the kindly looking middle-aged gentleman Reverend Elderberry now said in a voice that sounded like an echo called up from a man twenty years his senior, “Young lady you are in deep, deep trouble. The man you are involved with is one of seven brothers; they are all magicians of various stripes. And most of their magic is evil, particularly your man, who has got you by the nose, as I can righteously see. His heart is not included in his body! He is one of seven who were bom without a complete soul. Do you know what this all means, young lady?” His voice was full of urgency and dread.

Desirée discovered how much her body was trembling in the mirrorlike glint she gleaned off of the bold-faced purple-colored horn-rimmed glasses the doorman wore. But without a heart? And was this possible?

Then with a twinkle in his eye, the doorman’s voice sounded off in a different way: “But there is hope in all of this. I mean, you can just split the scene, but that solves little or nothing. Look, highly desirable one, there is a collection of hearts in a great big bag under the bed, in the master bedroom, dripping with blood. Child, you must go get that bag and bring the contents down here. . . .And then we’ll—you’ll go from there. But you’ve been sucked up by the seventh son of a seventh son and number seven in this tribe of bad-men-trickster demons. . . .Go!”

Desirée trembled all the way upstairs, for she decided to walk rather than ride the elevator in order to give herself some time to think over what had happened to her and what she must now do. She climbed up to the twenty-eighth floor where she lived with Reign, for she also feared taking the elevator because the snakes might manifest on the twenty-first, fourteenth, or seventh floor. But born without a heart, nor even a soul? “Oh, my God,” Desirée screamed, “How can he be soulless when he is so gorgeous and filled with heart? Has so touched my heart?” Desirée had already thought of herself as Narda, and of the most gorgeous guy in the universe as Mandrake. Yet the doorman Reverend Elderberry’s words, coupled with the visitor snake and the emerging serpents on the elevator, and the white powder he gave her, which kept Desirée excited or vastly depressed.…

Finally, Desirée reached the twenty-eighth floor. Though completely exhausted, she entered the apartment quickly and immediately fled to the master bedroom to retrieve the sack of hearts. She went straight to the gigantic bed and looked beneath it and found the soggy, bloody bag inside a huge wash pan (which reminded Desirée of the kind of basin that the mother had often used to wash her feet in). Now Desirée peered into the bag and found seven actual hearts, pumping furiously on their own steam, or so it appeared. Amid her howls and screams, she raced out of Reign’s vast apartment with the blood-dripping bag in her left hand (Oh my God, my father’s binoculars and the gift of his camera!, and so she raced back into the apartment to retrieve these properties, with her heart pounding like a drumming hammer). But it appeared as if her detour to retrieve her binoculars and camera was a mistake that would trip up her needed flight from this place of her captivity. For all of a sudden Desirée heard a voice so familiar, warm, thrilling, and sexy. “Stop! You think you can trip me up baby, but I’ve got front-page news for you.” It was the voice of Reign himself. Then as she hurried to the stairwell to race out of his world, she thought, If it is true that he has no heart in his body, then he’ll not be able to race me down the stairs of twenty-eight flights. Then in a voice she had not heard before, he said “I’m reclaiming your heart now.” So, off they went and around and around did they spin, race, and swing down the stairwell.…

Desirée never knew that she could fly in a circle, in a whirlwind with such speed, even as Reign took long strides in those alligator shoes of his. But Desirée was so breathless from climbing up the steps that soon he was about to overtake her. (Apparently the doorman Reverend Elderberry was wrong, she thought, about the most gorgeous guy in the universe, who had stolen her heart.) A ruse finally came to Desirée, and she swiftly dropped the huge, heart-shaped bag, three steps behind her, just as Reign—in seven long strides—would have overtaken her.

But because of the smoke-colored glasses which adorned the eyes of Reign, the most gorgeous guy in the universe had missed seeing the bag of bloody dripping hearts. It was just at this moment that the girl heard the voice of the doorman screaming to her to duck into the elevator (Desirée thought he had sent it up to her just in the nick of time), and as gorgeous Reign lunged for the body of Desirée, he tripped over the bag of hearts and went tumbling head over heels down the stairwell fourteen stories below, letting out a shriek like a pig being slaughtered. Reign landed on the concrete floor, face down—but no blood was spilt.

Meantime, Desirée continued to fly down the stairs at breakneck speed. When she actually got to the bottom step and onto the lobby floor, several people were crowding around Reign, and a doctor was down on both knees trying to examine him. Suddenly, the doctor’s face turned ashen. The doorman Reverend Elderberry leaned over him and said: “You are wasting your time, Doc, looking for a heart.”

Greatly irritated by this intruder, the physician said: “Get out of here, he is still breathing.” But then he stammered a bit. “I can’t seem to find his pulse. . .or his heart.”

The young woman was heard now laughing hysterically, and none could hush her. “Somebody slap some sense into that bitch,” said the serious and grim-faced young platinum-blond doctor, whose hair was now on end as if he had been hit by an electrical shock. Finally, after five minutes of her rollicking and bitter laughter (as if somebody had given Desirée a dose of laughing gas), the young lady was led away to an ambulance, while the doctor proclaimed that the most gorgeous guy in the universe was dead—for all eyes, if not ears, to behold. The doorman appeared to be shedding tears into a huge colored handkerchief. Soon the kindly Reverend Elderberry was fulfilling Desirée’s request and flagging a Yellow Cab at the entryway to the apartment building.

“Such. . .such a wonderful man, that Reverend Elderberry,” said Desirée to the cabby, feeling lucky to be alive.

“Smooth ole dude all right. But you should see his sons. They are a real treat and a trip, too,” the bright-eyed cabby said.

“Sons?”

“Yeah. Right smart successful sons. Ladies’ men so I hear tell. All seven of them.”

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