Joined: 23 April 2013
Viren Vadhera stumbled, scavenging through his house, searching for the small white napkin with seven neatly written digits on it. His head pounded as he tore through his jeans pockets and black blazer. Each time he bent over, the room spun a little quicker than it should, jolting the nauseous feeling in his stomach. The paper he was searching for was truly gone, and desperation began to hit him. He closed his eyes, remembering the night before.
He had made his way towards the entrance of the gallery, steadying himself against the brick wall, before opening the door. He allowed the crooked world to catch up to him, and looked up to see the art gallery's name brightly lit.
"The Art Life?" he scoffed to himself, opening the door. "Who comes up with this crap?" His lugubrious disposition had claimed the best of him.
He walked inside to see a large open space, filled with eccentric art-lovers ogling the framed photographs and painted canvases lining the walls. Live music and chatting voices echoed throughout the room, giving it a most sprightly spirit.
"Excuse me," Viren said, spinning around to see the girl who had just collided with him. A small-framed girl turned and flashed a bright smile, echoing the joy in her cheerful grey eyes. She was shorter than he, looking to be about five foot seven. A black and white revel dress hugged her little waist, and ended a little above the knee. She was wearing black stockings with black pumps, and had her coat gracefully laid over one arm.
"I believe that's my bad," the girl said, patting his back where she had backed in to him. "I'm so sorry."
"Well I mean, you did almost knock me over," Viren said, smirking. "You should probably be a bit more careful."
The girl lightly giggled. "I guess I should work on that, but I was taught never to take advice from strangers." She stuck out her hand. "Everyone calls me Jeevika."
"Viren, and what a pleasure it is," he replied, smiling. "How long have you been here?"
"Oh, I just got here not too long ago. And you?"
"Likewise," Viren retorted. "I had a few drinks at royals first."
"I could use a few," Jeevika said laughing.
Viren looked around to see a waiter carrying a tray full of champagne not far from them.
"We can fix that," he said, as he walked over to the man and grabbed two of the flutes.
"So, what brought you down here tonight, Jeevika?"
"I'm an artist," she began. "I'm just wandering around the exhibit. I do some work here."
"Well, it looks like you're quite talented. If you aren't waiting on someone, let's go look around."
The pair made their way about the gallery, and Viren listened as Jeevika analyzed each of the pieces, attaching to them emotions, and uncovering all of their tales. He had been too galleries all of his life, and never had enjoyed it quite as wholly as he was now.
After completing their third lap around the large room, and fifth glass of champagne, the art began to blur together. Viren could feel the emptiness gnawing at his stomach, and the longing for water growing in his throat.
"I'm a little hungry. Would you like to grab a bite to eat with me?" Viren asked, touching his abdomen and somewhat slurring his speech.
"Sounds great. I'm starving!" Jeevika replied.
Viren and Jeevika made their way down the streets, looking for open restaurants. At one in the morning, options were limited.
"Hey... do you hear that?" Jeevika asked, as they approached the flashing green sign of the Green Lady Lounge. The sound of faint jazz resonated from outside the club. "Let's go in!"
Inside the dimly lit space, a long bar bordered the wall on the left hand side, and circular booths lined the wall to the right. The smooth swing of the piano made every listener in the room step back in time, swaying to the jazzed beat of the sweet music.
"Are you a jazz fan?" Viren asked as they climbed in to one of the booths.
"I am, but it's purely the band nerd in me. Are you?"
"I can't say I've listened to it much, but I think its quickly growing on me," he said with a smile. "What will you have to drink?"
"An old fashioned and water, please," Jeevika replied, as Viren made his way towards the bar.
The bars food menu consisted of a cheese and cracker plate, hummus and pita chips, as well as carrot and chocolate cake. Options were limited, but it would work.
"I'll take an old fashioned, two glasses of water, a glass of your port, and one of each of the food items please," Viren ordered.
"You want a cheese and cracker plate, slice of carrot cake, slice of chocolate cake, and hummus and pita chips?" the bartender replied, a little surprised. His dark wide eyes looked up at the menu and back down at Viren.
"As well as the port, old fashioned, an water," Viren replied.
"The drinks will be right up, and I'll have the food brought to your table. Where are you sitting?"
"Just over there," Viren said, motioning to their booth.
Viren grabbed the drinks, bracing one in each of his arms and one of each of his hands as he made his way back to the table.
"They didn't have many options, so I just ordered it all," he said laughing, as he entered the booth. "It will be here shortly."
As the jazz marched on, so did conversation. Each song brought about new topics and gave way to new attractions. Viren could almost see the time fast-forwarding around them, as if a movie, suspending only them in the present.
Viren listened as Jeevika explained where she grew up and how she had managed to come to college for art. Her dream had taken brought her to the Midwest, in search of new scenes to pain and techniques to learn.
"You never told me what brought you to the art gallery," Jeevika said.
"It's a sad story really. You don't want to hear." Viren chuckled.
"I'm an artist. I make my living off of being sad. I call it inspiration. Give it your best shot."
"Well..." Viren began. "I was on a blind date at Royals, where I was stood up. So, instead of being glum, I drank the bottle of wine I ordered for my date and myself, and drunkenly chose to go look at art instead. I always came down here with my mom when I was little. She was an artist. Wandering around and looking at art seemed more enjoyable than going home, so I stopped in. Then you tried to run me over."
"That wasn't a sad story! It has a happy ending. You have to try much harder if you are going to make me sad, not to mention you definitely ran in to me."
Viren smiled. "Maybe I don't want a sad ending. I think it would be an even better if I knew I was going to see you again."
Jeevika reached across the table for the unused white beverage napkin. From her purse she pulled out a pen, and precisely wrote the seven numbers that ensured their future together again.
"Put it somewhere safe from your drunkenness," she said.
Viren reached for the napkin and placed it in his back pocket. He looked at Jeevika and realized that this had been the best night he had had in a long while.
"So a blind date, huh?"
"Yes, but please don't think I'm desperate." Viren smiled. "I haven't exactly been keen on settling down until recently. Then my little sister got engaged, and I realized I'm old."
With that, Viren polished off his drink.
"Care to dance?" he asked, standing up and extending his hand.
"It'd be my pleasure," Jeevika replied, grasping his hand as she exited the booth.
Viren danced Jeevika in circles around the room, until it was turning circles around them. At least he heard the bartender initiate last call.
"Want to go wander around outside?" Viren asked.
"Sure. I've never watched the sunrise over the city before," Jeevika answered.
"So, where do you work?" Jeevika asked gracefully sitting down on the bench.
"I work at Hallmark," Viren answered. "In short, I am an editor of designs and sentiments for new cards that are being created."
"I expect to see one in my mailbox soon."
How they had managed to pass the time, Viren didn't know, but conversation, interest, and happiness were effortless.
"Already?" Jeevika asked as the first rays of the pink sun began to streak the black night. "I guess it's time to go" Jeevika said, standing as she spoke.
Viren clutched her arm before she could move away, and the two kissed, sealing their night together.
"How soon is too soon to call?" Viren said as Jeevika turned to walk away.
Jeevika winked. "I guess it depends on how soon you want to see me again, and how good of an impression I made."
Jeevika walked away, only looking over her shoulder once. Her coquettish smile intoxicated Viren all over again. After pausing briefly to gather himself, he picked up his phone to call a cab.
After the long ride home, Viren walked up the stairs to his apartment and fell in to bed, letting his last fleeting thoughts wander to Jeevika.
Coming to from his memory, Viren once again felt the flash of upset fill his body, as he thought of the missing number. I have to find this girl.
Knowing that Jeevika was an artist, Viren set off for the art studio where he first met her. Upon arrival, he saw that it was closed, but noticed a sign in the window, listing the artists that were showing the previous night. There were two men and three women, none of who had the name Jeevika.
He quickly wrote down their names, planning to locate them in the phonebook when he got home.
"Hey, bro. It's Veera. How's it going?"
Veera was Viren's youngest sister by seven years, who was soon to be married to her college boyfriend. Knowing Veera, Viren could already tell she was going to ask a favor of him. She never called unless she needed something, and she never simply asked, "How's it going?" She always wanted details.
"I've been better. You?"
"I'm doing alright. What's the matter?" she said hurriedly.
"Oh, I just met the girl of my dreams, but lost her number. No big deal," Viren said frustrated.
"I'm sure you'll find her," Viren's younger sister said lightly, clearly not understanding the depths of the situation. "I was just wondering if you could do me a favor."
"What do you need?"
"Can you make it by the store to get my wedding invitations later this week?"
"Sure. Just send me the address and tell me when to go."
"It's called Word-Press. It's a letterpress studio located in the District. I just need you to go down there by Wednesday."
"Sure, not a problem, sis."
"Thank you so much! I've got to run, but good luck with the girl. Let me know if I can help. Love you."
"Thanks. Love you too," he replied, hanging up the phone.
Alright, Viren thought to himself, now to find the girl.
He spent the rest of his Sunday googling and researching the addresses of the artists from the studio. He had found two personal addresses and one business address. He figured he would visit them after work each day, determined to find his girl.
Monday at work could not pass quickly enough. He usually loved reading the new sentiments his employees had brainstormed for the new cards, but his mind consistently raced to Jeevika. He was determined to make it before it was dark. Night made his quest seem slightly stalkerish.
Pulling up in to the driveway of someone's house, he could feel his heart anxiously banging against his chest. The house was a little dilapidated, but nothing a little care couldn't fix. The robin blue paint was slightly chipping, but still mostly in tact.
Viren stepped out of the car and began making his way up the long walkway. He rang the doorbell and waited. When the door finally opened, three young girls no older than five were staring back at him.
"Hi, what's your name?" the small redheaded girl on the left asked, twisting the curls of her hair with nerves. She had a tiara on the top of her head, and a sparkly green tutu hung on her waist.
"Umm, hello. I'm Viren. I was wondering if your mother was around."
The little girls stared back at Viren, examining him and what seemed to be his intentions before responding.
"I guess so. Are you her new friend?" the girl asked, still not looking for her mother.
"You can't just ask him that!" said the little girl in the middle, hitting her sister on the arm as she responded. She looked a little older than the one who had asked his name, but he couldn't be too sure. Her brown hair was braided in two braids that hung to her shoulders, and she was wearing yellow polka dot rainboots with a pale pink feather boa and purple silk cape.
"Yes huh! I just want to know if this is the man mommy's been talking about!" the girl on the left retorted.
"MOMMM! There's a man at the door," the last little girl bellowed. "She'll be here in a minute, I think."
She has red hair as well, but it was not as curly as her sister's. She had on a pair of small high heels, which sang the wedding march each time she shifted her weight. A bejeweled jean jacket draped over her shoulders, and orange clip-on earring were hugging her ears.
The girls stood in silence staring at Viren, who was now wondering how Jeevika could have failed to mention her three children.
Just then a woman, wearing a pair of sweats, a cutoff t-shirt, and a ponytail arrived at the door.
"I'm so sorry. These are my three girls. I'm Jeevika . Is there anything I can help you with?"
Viren starred at the woman with disappointment. It wasn't Jeevika.
"I'm sorry, but I seem to have the wrong place. Please forgive me. Have a great night," Viren finally managed, turning to walk away.
He climbed in to his car, and crossed out the address in his notebook. He would be able to go to the next one tomorrow, but as for tonight, it was time for a drink.
Once again the day and night passed slowly, as Viren was anxious to meet the next girl on his list. He walked out of his building in downtown Kansas City a little early, as the next address was a place of business and he had to make it there before they closed.
Arriving at the destination, he quickly parked and headed inside. Through the doors and up the elevator to the third floor, he arrived at a door with a small opaque window that read "Jeevika S. Interior Designer."
Viren tried to open the door, but it was locked. Noticing that there was still a light on inside the building, he tapped on the glass.
The door soon opened to a sight that he could not believe. A tall, thin redhead was standing in front of him, in only an unbuttoned trench coat, and a black pair of stiletto heels.
"OH MY GOD!" the girl shrieked! "You aren't Brandon!" She quickly pulled closed the trench coat and stood staring at Viren, who was standing with frozen in shock.
"I'm so sorry. I was just looking for Jeevika," Viren finally managed.
"I'm Jeevika," the girl said quickly, nodding and somewhat glaring, clearly trying to end the conversation quickly.
"Oh, okay," Viren replied, defeated. "I suppose I was looking for someone else."
"Oh, sorry," the girl said before shutting the door in Viren's face.
Viren made his way back down the elevator, truly beginning to lose hope. He continued home, where he once again pulled up the website of the art studio, and began looking through the local artists being displayed on the webpage. None of the faces starring back at his were Jeevika.
His phone buzzed for the vibration of the text message from his sister, Veera.
It read: Found the Girl?
Viren replied: No.
Veera: Go the invitations?
Viren: Not yet. Going tomorrow after I see my last girl.
Veera: OK. Good luck.
The next day, Viren began work as usual. The hours passed slowly, but the abundance of tasks pushed them along. When five o'clock finally came, Viren was aching to leave to see the last girl on his list. Retrieving the address from his small notebook, he set off to find Jeevika.
Here's to hoping, he thought to himself on the long car ride to the house. As he approached, he saw a small little Craftsman styled house, with two cars parked in the driveway. The front yard was neatly landscaped, and a nimble calico kitten crept through one of the flowerbeds.
As Viren made his way up to the door, he watched as a girl with long hair made her way through the kitchen. His heart lurched. It must be Jeevika.
Just then, as if worse than a scene from a horror movie, the girl with her back turned was joined by another man, who quickly swept her up and began kissing her.
Viren quickly turned away from the sight, his heart aching as he watched the woman of his dreams kissing another man. He bolted to his car, leaving the scene as quickly as he could.
Before going to pick up his sister's invitations, he decided to make one final stop at the art studio where he had met Jeevika that magical night. He needed closure.
Approaching the studio, he could see a light on in the back room. He opened the door, jingling the bells on the small handle inside.
"Hello?" a deep voice called from the back room. Soon a bearded man emerged, making his way toward Viren.
"What can I do for you, man?" the studio worker asked.
"Oh, I was here a few days ago for Art Crawl. I was just coming in to see if a girl I met that night was here," Viren stated.
"I'm sorry, but it's just me here. I'm just one of the part-time artists," the man retorted. "What was her name?"
"Jeevika," Viren quickly replied. "She wanted to be an artist.
"I don't remember any Jeevika, here, man. Better luck next time."
"Alright, thanks. It was worth a try," Viren said, turning to leave.
Walking out the door, Viren's hopes sunk. He was sure that the third girl he had seen was Jeevika. They looked almost identical from the back. She must have lied... She must have had a boyfriend he thought to himself. Walking off down the street, he made his way to the Word-Press, which was only a block away from the studio.
Viren's phone trilled.
"Hey do you have the invites?" Veera's voice rang through the phone.
"Chill out!" Viren replied. "I'm on my way to get them right now.
"Umm, they close at seven," his sister said, sounding snippy. "You have ten minutes."
"I'm the one doing you a favor. You could be a little nicer!"
Viren argued with his sister outside of the Word-Press studio.
"I'll call you back. I'm going inside."
"Fine!" his sister said, hanging up on him.
Viren opened the door to see a vast space. Located in the back of the studio was the letterpress warehouse, where all of the invitations were made. There was a half-wall dividing the warehouse from the storefront. In the front of the space was a small store, with different posters, cards, and odds and ends that were for sale.
Just then, Viren saw a beautiful girl whom he recognized round the corner in the warehouse.
"Jeevika?" Viren called to the woman.
As the girl spun around, he knew it was her. She made her way from the back of the warehouse to the front of the store to greet him.
"You never called..." she said as she approached, clearly somewhat hurt by Viren's lack of communication.
"I'm so sorry. If only you knew what I have done to find you," he said laughing. "Somehow I lost the napkin you wrote your number on when we said goodbye. I searched my apartment and jeans, but couldn't find it anywhere. I went back to the studio to find you, but you weren't there. I wrote down the names of the exhibiting artists from that night, and tracked them all down, but none of them were you."
Jeevika smiled. "I wasn't one of the exhibiting artists. I did all of their posters and advertising," she replied. "This is my letterpress store. This is what I meant by my art, but it's good to know that you work part-time as a stalker."
At once it all made sense to Viren. Jeevika was making Veera's wedding invitations.
"How did you find me?" Jeevika finally asked.
"You're making my sister's wedding invitations. Her name is Veera Vadhera. After giving up hope of finding you at the studio, I came by here on my way home to pick them up for her."
Jeevika walked around the front cabinet and picked up a large box, containing the invitations.
"Here you go," she said. "Now give me your phone."
Viren promptly handed Jeevika his phone, and he watched as she saved her phone number to his contact list.
"Is it too late to call?" Viren asked smiling.
"For you, it's never too late."
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