For Napoleon Solo a stroll along Fifth Avenue was a welcome respite, though a short lived one as he knew he had to return to headquarters soon. No rest for the weary or the wicked as he and Illya often quipped.
Solo’s contribution to that little saying was of course the latter.
It was a surprisingly temperate day, despite it still being winter. If that groundhog in Pennsylvania was right then there’d be six more weeks of cold weather.
Napoleon didn’t believe it as he felt like spring was in the air; it was a time for romance, though he had plenty of romantic liaisons so far this winter season. Far more than an average man would have in a year, then again Napoleon Solo was far from being an average man.
Still, spring was different, it brought out the ladies in their short dresses and they’d shed their heavy winter coats for something lighter.
It would be nice to see a woman looking more like a woman and not like a bundled up Eskimo; stylish outside...as well as inside, he supposed. Not that he disliked Eskimo women. He smiled thinking of rubbing noses and lots of cuddling he’d had with one woman in particular while on assignment in Alaska not too long ago.
As he watched a pair of nicely dressed girls pass by, he averted his gaze; they were too young. He wasn’t one to rob the cradle, and preferred a woman with experience, and not necessarily sexual, even though it was the age of free love.
Some of that free love could become costly if one went after the wrong young lady, as it could result with him being on the receiving end of a daddy’s shotgun.
He’d been there once or twice already, though no wrongdoing on his part, but still Napoleon wanted to avoid a repeat of that all cost.
Sometimes an angry father could be worse than a THRUSH megalomaniac.
That’s when he saw her, a woman with familiar face and he called out a name.
“Mary? Mary Kennedy?”
The blonde quickly turned to him, her mouth open with surprise which she quickly covered it with her hand.
“Napoleon? Good Lord is it really you?”
“The one and only!” He opened his arms and together they hugged each other.
“Mary you look wonderful.”
“You don’t look so bad yourself Solo. Still the natty dresser I see.”
“Hey my Aunt Amy taught me to appreciate the finer things in life.”
“Is she still alive?”
“Yes, and traveling like always. She’s amazing.” He looked at his wristwatch, realizing he had to go back to headquarters.
I’m sorry Mary but I have to get to an important meeting. Are you free tonight? Let’s meet at the 21 Club for dinner, around seven o’clock?”
“That would be lovely.” She pulled a piece of paper from her shoulder bag and jotted down her telephone number and waved goodbye before walking into Tiffany’s.
“What were the odds of him running into his high school sweetheart in the middle of New York city?” He mused as he hailed a taxi with a loud whistle.
The afternoon meetings dragged on but Napoleon was distracted as he was looking forward to his impromptu date with Mary. It had been a long time since he’d seen her and his young memories came flooding back; they made him smile.
“Mister Solo what are you grinning about?”Alexander Waverly demanded.”I hardly find this supposed plan to steal the crown jewels of England a laughing matter.”
“Oh I wasn’t..well, you see ummm...it’s gas.” He cringed at giving such a crass excuse for not paying attention, but it worked. It wasn’t often Napoleon could get one over on Alexander Waverly.
“Oh beg pardon, ahem, never mind,” the Old Man cleared his throat upon receiving that unexpected response.
Finally the evening arrived; Napoleon and his old flame sat at an intimate table in the back. The maitre d’ knew Mr. Solo’s preferences as he was a regular at the club.
Napoleon wore one of his best suits, a double-breasted grey with a red tie and matching red pocket square. He had a long single long stem white rose for her, as that was the type of flower he’d given her on their first date so long ago.
“A memory from the past,” he said as he gave it to her.
White represented new beginnings as well as remembrance and innocence. She seemed to have no recollection of that first flower he’d given her.
Mary looked flawless, wearing a deep green, tightly fitted dress to show off her curves, and a decolletage that would fill any man with desire. He was sure it had to be a tease just for him and him alone, though several other patrons were discreetly eyeing her with envy.
Her hair was done up in a bouffant, pinned just right. A pear shaped diamond pendant graced her pale throat that Napoleon surmused was at least two carats. She had on a pair of diamond studs as well, also quite large.
There was no marriage band, or any rings for that matter and he wondered if she had a lover who’d given the diamonds to her as they were quite expensive. Then again, she came from a well to do family, and he did see her walk into Tiffany’s jewelry store.
As they sipped their Sauvignon Blanc, they savored an appetizer of Oysters Rockefeller.
“I haven’t had this in ages,” she sighed.” I always find them a bit sensual, don’t you?
“I thought they’d be nice for whetting the appetite,” he smiled. “ and they’re purported to be an aphrodisiac.”
As the flirting continued Napoleon couldn’t help but revisit the old stories from when they used to date, the innocent kissing and petting. The never made love, though they came close.
Had it not been for Mr. Weatherly the gym instructor coming into the gymnasium, it would have happened right there beneath the bleachers.
In the back of his mind he was thinking of rekindling their relationship as he definitely found her very attractive. She had filled out all in the right places and was no longer the teenager he once knew.
It wasn’t just his libido rearing its head, so to speak; he remembered Mary was bright and intelligent. In that she seemed the same and he found it very enticing.
The main course arrived, braised lamb with roasted potatoes, fennel and radishes and a lemon brown butter sauce. There was red cabbage slaw with hazelnuts and lemon. The chef had outdone himself on this one.
As Napoleon watched her eat sparingly, like a little bird, he wondered if she might have actually been the love of his life that he’d let get away? Perhaps this was fate giving him a second chance.
He supposed he was trying to recreate the past in a way by talking about it to her. He brought up the prom when he wore a white tuxedo jacket and black pants, and she in a sparkling white gown. They danced the night away and were the envy of everyone there.
Napoleon reminisced about their trips out on Long Island sound in his small sailboat. They were wonderful moments together.
As the night wore on he realized, feeling quite foolish, that Mary really just didn’t care about the old times. The best she managed was a smile here and there as he told his nostalgic tales.
To her Napoleon Solo was was just a guy from a long time ago, and nothing more.
In a way that realization was a crushing blow to his ego, but it was a wakeup call as well.
It didn’t take Napoleon long to understand that rekindling a relationship with Mary Kennedy would have been a disaster, and be like nothing at all. He’d still end up alone just like he was now. Only a fool would believe otherwise, and he was no fool.
He listened as she went on about her life now and it was ‘I this’ and ‘I that,’ and she seemed happy enough, but what she spoke about wasn’t enough for him.
She’d asked what he did for a living and for once he didn’t want to use his ‘working for a novelty company’ as his cover story.
“I’m a rich playboy who jetsets around the world,” he quipped.
“No, really?” He suspected she actually believed it as she mentioned his expensive taste in clothing for the second time that day.
All he could do was flash her one of his charming smiles.
Mary worked in the upper echelon of Barnard, a private women's liberal arts college right here in New York City. That explained her being such an independent woman.
The night wore on and at the end of the date, Napoleon knew he was never going to see her again.
Still he wondered in some strange way if she’d one day show up and tell him she was in love with him. That was his ego talking.
“Nah,” he laughed it off as he watched her cab drive off into traffic on W. 52nd St.
He drew out his little black book from his suit pocket and pulled out the loose paper with her number on it. Rolling it into a ball, he tossed it into a nearby trash receptacle.
“Goodbye Mary Kennedy.”
Thumbing through the book, Napoleon went back inside to use the house phone.
The night after all, was still young…