Eva M. Alexander (Fodor Éva Mária)

I am sitting here, in this lovely, quaint old fish restaurant in the country, just few miles from Budapest, early afternoon. Stephan, my romantic and exciting new Hungarian friend, and me. A bright warm October sun shines through the window. What a wonderful Indian summer...

Eva M. Alexander írása

I feel very fortunate not only for the beautiful weather but to have met this charming and interesting man immediately after my arrival. He is candid, open, and full of life and energy... no visible hang-ups, doesn’t try to conceal his interest in me. My God, he is totally different from his North American counterparts.
He is talking about his life, plans, and dreams, and about me. He makes me feel that I am the only woman in the world, at least for him. We are alone in the restaurant. The lunch crowd has already gone, and it is too early for supper.
We are eating fish soup, drinking strong vodka martinis. We are both crazy about this hot, strong, bright red Hungarian specialty: hot and strong, like poison.
Stephan looks deeply in my eyes (Wow! These Hungarians certainly know how to flirt), but his hands are touching my knees -not too aggressively, just nicely and playfully. “You have the sexiest knees, and your ankles are amazing, so delicate. Look, I can hold them in one hand” (flattery gets you everywhere, especially since I know that I have fat knees).
“You are the kind of woman that men could fall in love with in a matter of hours. I feel I am a schoolboy when I am near you. I want to be with you all the time, walk with you hand in hand.” What a lovely lie, but I feel, who cares, let him just talk to me about me.
“Since I met you. I’m on cloud nine; it is such an unexpected, thrilling experience. When I was eighteen, I met this gorgeous young girl from America. She was here for the summer, and we fell madly in love, but then, of course, she had to go back home. Such is life, but I never really got over her. That was twenty years ago, but now with you, I can recapture the same innocent, pure emotion.”
Of course, I knew that this wasn’t the first time he used this touching tale, but he is so charming, I let him sweep me off my feet.
We are at the third vodka martini, and the second bowl of soup. Stephan keeps talking about his second great love of his life, the third, followed by many more. One was sexy, the other passionate, or smart, or fun. “But all these are rolled together in you! You are incredible!”
I want to say something, but what is this? Oh, no! I think I’ve just swallowed a fishbone, and it was painfully stuck in my throat. I doubt there is any danger of suffocating, but it didn’t move. I am getting scared.
“Excuse me, Stephan” (I feel very silly and embarrassed, the blood rushing to my face). I’ve just swallowed a bone.”
“Don’t bother, darling, eat some bread!” He is helpfully pushing the breadbasket toward me. “You know I can only think of the moment when we can finally be alone together, chez moi.”
I am eating the bread, dutifully, but the bone is unyielding; as a matter of fact, it seems to be growing, getting thicker, longer...
“Stephan, this is not moving at all! Maybe we should try to remove it somehow.”
“No, no, trust me, just keep eating the bread, you see, it is better, isn’t it? You know it is funny, but you are beautiful even now when you are suffering. Oh, tell me when, when?”
I ate four slices of bread, my mouth, throat are full, but the bone is still there large, and menacing, and now I am coughing; it isn’t funny anymore: I am choking to death, after all. My uncontrollable cough seems to irritate Stephan, whose hands are reaching under my skirt, not into my throat.
“Eat the crust. Eat the crust,” he is urging me, impatiently. The crust moved the bone indeed but in the wrong direction, and now I am definitely choking. Actually, I think I am dying, yes, this is the end!
Sweat is breaking out on my face and neck. I am gasping for air; I can’t talk anymore. How terribly embarrassing to die here in this dark, horrible place, and not as a victim of some greasy international murder plot, but simply choking to death on a fishbone!
And while my friends and enemies will no doubt mourn me tearfully, they will have a hard time to counsel the impudent laughter triggered by this weird, unnecessary, and freak accident; nobody had expected to see me leave this earth in this manner.
Everything is spinning around me. The remains of the bowl of soup are growing into a huge red nasty fish tank, and there is this shark snarling, snatching at me, and, now, it is changing to Stephan’s face, who is still talking to me about final fulfillment. My whole life is whirling in this red sea, I see places, people, unfinished matters, broken friendships, mistakes I can’t undo anymore. My God, I still have so much to do!
A strong hand is pushing me down. I feel someone kneeling on my chest, slapping my face, breaking my ribs. I am violently shaking and then choking again, but it turns to uncontrollable coughing, and all of a sudden, it is out, just like that, the damn little murder weapon is out, looking so fragile and harmless ... and through my sweat and tears, I can only see that shock of silver-white hair and the kindest blue eyes, belonging either to an angel or a man. It must be a man, I don’t see his wings.
“Here, drink some water, my dear, everything is all right now, the bone is out, you will be fine.”
Where did he come from? We were alone in the restaurant, weren’t we? He is smiling, reassuringly, while lightly stroking my hair.
“Take care of yourself, my dear. You certainly gave us quite a fright; and you, my friend, watch out for this lovely young lady. We almost lost her.”
And he is gone. I am following his tall frame with my eyes as he walks away from our table, from my life, my life, which he just saved.
“What an unpleasant, interfering asshole! Some people just can’t keep to themselves; what a nerve! How roughly he was treating you; there was no need for that!” Stephan says, indignantly, but he seems confused and asks for the bill, and we leave in silence.
I am still looking, searching, but my white knight is nowhere to be found, and Stephan is driving, moody, without a word or smile, all the way back to Budapest.