There was a man named Valentino who found Valentine’s Day sickly sweet. He really wanted to make an impression on the girl that he liked. He wanted her to know how much he liked her, which was a lot. He liked her in the usual way, of course, the way that imagines talking to her and making her smile and eventually holding hands and then kissing and getting warm and naked under covers and having sex and then taking a shower together or a bath with candles and also, and perhaps most of all, having chocolate things with ice cream afterward and falling asleep but not before brushing their teeth and getting into warm pajamas that they would wriggle out of because it’s so warm under the covers when you want to snuggle all night. And then he wanted to also wake up in the morning and make French Toast with real maple syrup and cinnamon and sugar and lots and lots of butter with a side of bacon, probably turkey bacon, and really excellent coffee that was gourmet and ground and brewed perfectly. That’s what he wanted to do with her. All those things over and over and more. Like walk around downtown and go to museums and stay warm and cozy walking around and duck into quiet, homey coffee shops and have pastries with coffee or French onion soup or maybe homemade style lasagna. And a glass of red wine. So it was Valentine’s day and he’d never spoken to her. He didn’t even know her name. She had beautiful curly blond hair and perfect reddish pink lips and bluish eyeshadow and darker blond eyebrows and long legs in tight jeans and a ribbed cashmere sweater. She was in good shape and he was in ok shape. But he didn’t think too much about himself. He just wanted to be close to her and fall asleep naked next to her naked body and keep her warm. Valentino wondered what she’d like and he thought that it would be pretty clear that he liked her if he got her flowers. He didn’t know her very well, but he figured that a girl like her, she was like a beauty from some old MTV music video, a girl like her would really like flowers and if they came from him she would understand. And maybe a box of really nice chocolates. The kind that have goo inside. And come in a box that has a map of what the chocolates are. He never had that map lined up right in the past, he remembered. That would be something they could figure out together. And even if the chocolate was the wrong one, like nougat when you were expecting some kind of nut, they could laugh about it and share the chocolates, all of them and eat them even at the same time so that their lips could be touching while they ate chocolates with goo inside. And maybe there would be some hot chocolate, too, to drink. Or maybe milk. Cold refreshing milk. Who knows what she would like? He wondered. They could figure it out together. He saw her come out of her building which wasn’t too far from where he lived. It was at the top of a hill and she had a doorman holding the door for her. She had on sunglasses and she was walking her little dog who looked like a really nice, kind little dog. Valentino held the two-dozen red roses and the box of chocolate and called out,
Excuse me, Miss?
I think these are for you.
Yes. What’s your name?
Denise. Denise Albright.
Yes. They’re for you.
Oh… wow. They’re… they’re beautiful.
They’re from Valentino.
Yes. And these are chocolates.
Yes. They’re assorted chocolates with different fillings. Do you like chocolate?
I… I do. Sometimes.
Well, you will definitely like these, Denise.
It’s nice to meet you.
What’s your name?
Oh. These are… thank you.
Would you like to eat them together?
The chocolates? Not the roses.
Oh. No. I mean, I don’t –
You don’t eat roses, of course. Neither do I.
No, I mean. I don’t know you.
I know. Ok. Listen, I am not interested.
And she handed back the flowers and the box of chocolates.
Please take them?
But Valentino didn’t take them. So Denise put them on the ground.
You seem very kind and very generous.
And it makes me worried that you won’t take these back when I asked you.
Yes. You gave me these gifts and you don’t even know me.
But I think you’re very beautiful. And I really don’t want to look at anyone else or anything else besides you ever again.
It’s true. And I think that if we tried these chocolates together we could really have some fun because they all taste very good even if you eat one that isn’t the flavor you thought it was.
I believe you. But I think you should eat them with someone else. And give the flowers to someone else, too.
There is no one else.
Ok. Well. I’m sorry.
I can’t accept these.
Yes, you can.
I can’t. It wouldn’t be right. I don’t want to eat these chocolates with you.
And if I eat them alone, I won’t be thinking of you when I do.
Well, perhaps. But maybe I will share them with someone else.
You wouldn’t dare.
Are you giving me these under the condition that I either eat them alone or think only of you as I eat them?
No. Well. I hope you remember me when you do.
Oh, first of all, I will not be eating these. Second of all, I want you to remember what I’m telling you now.
What are you telling me?
I can’t accept these.
I don’t love you, Valentino.
I make really good French Toast.
I’m sure you do. But I don’t want any French Toast.
You don’t like French Toast? That’s ok.
No, I don’t want YOUR French Toast.
With cinnamon and real maple syrup?
Valentino, my dog is getting cold.
What’s his name?
Her name is not important.
No. I have to go.
Let me –
I don’t want to see you ever again.
But we just met.
Yes. Isn’t that wonderful. We met and now you know something you didn’t know before.
Your name is Denise.
Yes. But also, that I don’t want to see you again. And I don’t want you coming over here to watch me. And that if I see you, I will call the police. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give these beautiful flowers and special chocolates to someone else who will enjoy them…
What will I do if I see you again?
Call the police.
Correct. What about your mom?
She might enjoy these.
Denise. My idea of a good valentine is not my mom. Valentine’s day should be sweet. And full of chocolate and being very, very close with a woman who you can make love to.
Valentino, imagine giving your chocolates to someone who wants them. And not just chocolates. But chocolates from you.
To eat together.
Valentino picked up the box and the roses from the ground. He held out his hand to the little dog. Denise pulled on the leash to bring her little dog closer.
Valentino stood up and sighed and looked off at the buildings down the street.
I guess this is goodbye.
Yes. Goodbye Valentino. And good luck.
Goodbye, Denise. I loved you. But it just didn’t work out.
No. That’s right. It didn’t work out. Also, you didn’t love me.
And Valentino walked down the hill toward his apartment building. And when he got there he climbed up the stairs because the elevator was OUT OF ORDER. And he opened the door to his apartment where he lived with his mother and their cats. And he slumped into the chair at the kitchen table and covered his face with his hands.
Just then his mother put a big plate of French Toast in front of him. With cinnamon. And butter. And a bottle of imitation maple syrup.
No, mama. I want real syrup.
That’s it, Tino.
He pushed the plate away.
That’s when Valentino rubbed his eyes and picked up the box of chocolates and the roses and he handed them to his mother.
You don’t have to share them or think of me when you eat them.
And Valentino sat back down and put his head back onto the table with a thump.
Are you ok, Tino?
My heart is broken, mama.
That blond woman.
I can never see her again.
She said so?
Well, you’re better off anyway. She doesn’t know what she’s missing. You are very kind and very generous.
That’s what she said.
And you know how to do Valentine’s day, Tino.
It’s all I know how to do.
Why don’t you go take a nap?
So Valentino went and took a nap and dreamed that he was feeding chocolates to Denise in a bathtub of bubbles with candles all around and it was in a very high up place on the roof maybe of the apartment building on the hill and Denise’s little dog was there on a leash nearby and some violinists were playing some music and it was a beautiful day. He began to lean over to kiss Denise but he had really been feeding Denise roses and her mouth was bleeding. Blood was streaming down her chin and into the bathtub. And the building, which was very tall, wasn’t finished being built so the bathtub was really about to fall and her little dog was hanging by its leash from an I-beam and it was being strangled there in the wind. And Denise was very scared but her mouth was full of roses and blood. And that’s when Valentino fell down through the center of the building.
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Huh. The beginning was so sweet, I was thinking, yes, that's a lovely picture, then he turns out to be a bit of a simple man and a stalker... that surreal dream of his, that was interesting way to end it and though it was only a dream it makes me wonde if he really is the harmless kind of stalker? (if there's such a thing?) Anyhow it was a nice read and I'm craving maple syrup!