Rumours

London, October 1968

When she walked into the room, you could sense there was something about her. Something dangerous. Enticing, but dangerous.

She looked like a revelation from the past, but not entirely. She seemed fresh and ancient at the same time. The smell of spring flowers with a hint of illegally produced liquor, her sparkly but old-fashioned flapper dress with frills… She was a vision. Her hair was bouncing just slightly as she brushed by. Her hand wavered gracefully in the air, as if she was about to touch me. Almost. And then, she was gone.

Who was she? Where had she gone? I had to find out.

“I heard she calls herself ‘The Dame’,” a woman said with a viciously envious look on her face. “Quite presumptuous, if you ask me!”

I ran out the door, into the street, just to find out I wasn’t the only one. Several men in fedora hats were flocking into the streets, walkie-talkies in hand.
“We don’t want to cause a disturbance, so we need to move quickly!”, I heard one say.

Trying not to look suspicious, I casually moved along with them and asked them who she was. They stopped dead in their tracks and all stared at me. Not my best move, I admit.
“Who, you ask? Pish, what is she! That would be a better question. This is no ordinary human. She is not of this world, I tell you. Better steer clear of this one.”

Well, that was the worst conceivable way to put me off anything, really. If I wasn’t interested before, I sure was now. Was she an alien? A superhero? A spy? I was just a young man, and much too romantic for my own good. And I was hooked on this Dame. When they gave up the search, I joined one of the men in a local bar.

So, she calls herself The Dame, I hear? What does that mean?
“I reckon it means she likes to stay anonymous, that’s what I think. She must be a fugitive, or something. Something to hide, huh?”

Well, what do you know of her?
“Not much, I’m afraid. We just know the boss is looking for her. But you know. There are rumours. Lots of ‘em.”
What kind of rumours?

“Okay, you never got this from me. But I heard she’s one of those time-travelling types. Or she just isn’t bound by time, if you know what I mean.”
Uhm, no. I haven’t the faintest clue what you mean. Like, she’s from the past, or the future?

“Not necessarily. She just isn’t affected by time the way we are. She can just go back and forth, like what’s-his-face.”
Like dr. Who?

“Yeah, something like that.”
So she’s what, dr. Dame? How is that even an option?
“Hey, you’re the curious one here. I’m just telling you what I heard, is all.”
Obviously, this guy wasn’t helping.
I decided to move in a different direction. This Dame hadn’t seen the last of me yet.

And so, my quest began. For years on end, I spent all my time and resources on finding this Dame. To no avail, I’m sad to admit. By February 2018, I had become a tired, old man with a fleeting image in my mind’s eye, an image of this phantom called the Dame. Where had she gone?

And then, long after I had stopped hoping, it happened. There she was, as if she had never left. She hadn’t changed at all, as if she had just stepped out of my dreams, back into my world. In a place I would never have expected her to show up. The venue? Just some old cinema in the Netherlands. But it was definitely her! And there was music… a sound I will never forget. Wailing guitars, the sweet, sultry sound of her voice singing. Her hips moving gently with the rhythm. Captivating me, almost as if she was mocking me.

This time, she wasn’t getting away from me. I pulled myself together, gathering every bit of courage I had in me, and started walking towards her.

Then, I saw my reflection in the mirror. I realised what had become of me. A sad, empty, old man with nothing to show for himself. What happened to the young man, full of dreams and ambitions? And what would I tell her? What did I have to offer? My courage sank. I left, and never spoke of her again.

However, in my mind, my body and my dreams, the music was there to stay.