London Calling; A Time to look Back
The London traffic was far worse than he remembered. Tony gazed out from the window of the black London taxi cab. The city had changed, much of it was new since he was last here. The driver was an eager young Pakistani who insisted on giving him the full tourist speil. “This is the London Eye,” he pointed proudly, “ they built it for the millennial celebration in 2000. It is the largest observation wheel anywhere in the world.”
Assuming Tony was a tourist, the driver continued to point out various places of interest, as the taxi inched its way through the horrendous traffic. “Did you know, it is possible to view up to 25 miles around London from the London Eye? He inquired, Tony smiled, as the amiable young man enlightened him about London, in a thick Pakistani accent. If only he knew!!... Tony did not elucidate, and the driver continued, not aware that his passenger already knew London like the back of his hand, well... he did once, but must now concede, twenty years was indeed a very long time. Once again, here he was, a stranger in a foreign land.
The excitement of this beautiful vibrant city was mounting; it felt strange but also familiar. The vehicle, however, moved painstakingly slow, like a snail on sedatives, Tony sighed.
Tony took the opportunity to reminisce; he drifted softly back in time. The driver still chuntering on. Tony sat back, one hand under his chin, his right foot tapping impatiently, a far away look in the hazel eyes, the apparent composure on the handsome face belied the intensely conflicting emotions surging through his body.
The voice of the driver and the noise of the heavy traffic merged and faded into the background like the distant echo of a restless ocean.
The elegantly dressed middle-aged man leant back into the comfortable seat.
Tony felt young again, in his prime, a young man on the brink of discovery. He would become a doctor, not just any doctor, but a doctor with status, money, and influence.
From Sicily to London
Tony grew up in a relatively poor Italian family; he left home with mixed feelings and a heart full of hope. The young Tony could barely contain his excitement, but there was also sadness, as he moved away from Sicily and his family to chase his dream of becoming a doctor in London.
Tony's father Alessandro, reluctantly arranged the move to London, heTony would live with Alessandro's brother. Tony's uncle Gino and his family.
Uncle Gino left Italy ten years ear; he now owned a string of successful delicatessen in and around Hampstead village, one of the most affluent areas of London. Hampstead village is said to have more millionaires within its boundaries than any other area of the United Kingdom. Gino was a Sicilian of modest beginnings who made good in London and was very proud of this fact.
He was happy to have his nephew join his family. Gino always wanted a son. "The Lord in his wisdom gave me four daughters, as punishment!!...." he would throw his hands up in jest, but there was always a hint of sadness in his voice when he uttered those words. Gino loved his daughters dearly, however, he sometime felt completely out numbered, as the only male in this noisy family of women.
Tony soon became the son Gino never had; he would cringe with embarrassment as Gino bragged to his customers, "this is my talented nephew Tony, he will be very brilliant surgeon one day."
In the slow London traffic
Finally, the mist that were clouding Tony's mind lifted; nostalgia threatened to overwhelm him. How could he have forgotten her? He smiled, Yes it was all coming back to him now. But the girl, how on earth is it even possible? Sweet Jesus!...is it really possible? Tony remembered the shock he felt, having opened the package from the morning post, he slid the enclosed disk into his laptop and saw the same beautiful face from way back.... the same face.... but yet..... not quite the same.
He replayed the video, gazing at the young girl's face, searching for.... he did not know what. she was exceptionally beautiful with the smile of an angel and a sweet soulful voice. He watched the unchecked tears raining down her cheeks, the sheer relief and disbelief in those lovely eyes as she looked at her, as if afraid to let herself believe, but it was true, she had won the contest and declared, the United Kingdom's X factor winner of the year.
Tony was no longer sitting in the back of a taxi cab crawling through the London traffic. He was at the operating table, 20 years in the past. He would steal occasional glances at the very efficient theater nurse working beside him. He loved the intensity with which she followed his every movement. Preempting him, she'd wait with the appropriate instrument in her hand, pressing it firmly into his, as he reached out, he never needing to ask.
Tony Left London for the US, accepting a lucrative job as a Cardiac Surgeon at the world famous Mayo Clinic. His life was a mess, as he attempted to end his marriage with a modicum of dignity. However, Kate wanted revenge; her marriage was now over, but she would not leave quietly. She intended to make life hell for her creep of a husband; she will end this sham of a marriage with as much bitterness and recrimination as possible.
Fortunately for Tony, the offer of a job in the US, came just in time. On hearing Tony's version of marital woe, his friend and mentor, who was also a prominent Surgeon, arranged the move. The " old boy's " network still going strong and crosses the pond with perfect timing for Tony. "You're just running away, you fucking coward." Kate spat at him, in a heated row, when he revealed his plans to her, and maybe she was right.
Tony and Kate were happily married for three years, before the awful news, that Tony would never father a child.
Kate was desperate for children, an only child, she dreamt of a house full of boisterous Bambini, this news was devastating for the young couple. Kate wanted a large traditional Italian family, after undergoing every test possible, they were told that Tony had an extremely low sperm count and would not be able to give Kate the children she so longed for.
On the couple's 5th wedding anniversary, Kate spent the day crying into her Gin and tonic, while Tony sneaked into another man's bed. Neither Kate nor Tony was happy with the constant sniping and fighting. Tony dealt with the situation by taking comfort in the arms of available married women, and only married women.
He would break this rule, just once.
The Young Doctor, Tony In London
The sight of the attractive, vivacious theater nurse, always manages to excite and infuse some well-needed sunshine into Tony's day. So much so, that consciously or unconsciously, hers was the first face he would seek as he entered the hospital.
Exhausted, after a long and testing day, Tony was feeling jaded, a bit depressed, as he changed into jeans and blue cashmere pullover. About to head for the exit, he stopped; he thought he could hear music drifting from the coffee room, but surly every one had left? Curious; he decided there was time for one more coffee before braving the London traffic.
Tony pushed open the door to the coffee room, and entered. “What a lovely surprise,” he shouted loudly, above the loud music coming from the radio. The young woman was oblivious, as she moved with the music shaking her mass of dark curly locks backwards and forwards as she played an invisible saxophone. Then in a velvet smooth voice, she sang along with Gerry Rafferty' "He's gonna give up the booze and the one night stands And then he'll settle down in a quiet little town And forget about every...." the next word died on her lips as she threw her head around to find Tony vigorously clapping his hands, reclining in an old arm chair. His long legs thrown out in front of him, as he tried unsuccessfully, not to cracking up with laughter.
Joy turned away grabbed the bag containing polystyrene cups, which she was tiding away, she dropped the bag and began to giggle; she placed both hands on her face, " Oh my God!!... how bloody embarrassing?" She attempted to move past Tony, aiming for the door, Joy began what was meant to be a cheery, good night doctor, but could not get the words out.
Tony suddenly knew, he did not want to go home. He took hold of the young nurse's arm, time to bite the bullet, he thought, “Joy, please, have dinner with me tonight? He whispered urgently.
The question was not planned, Tony's heart, pounding much too fast, he waited for her reply, it seemed a long time coming.