A Grand Gesture

In the evening, the rich, famous, beautiful celebrity Lililalaya enters a crowded coffee shop. To avoid being recognized, Lililalaya is wearing a wig and large, dark sunglasses. She looks around the coffee shop, trying to find the person she is to meet here.

She sees a man sitting at one of the tables. He is the only patron who is not with other people. On the table he is sitting at is a cup of coffee and a cellular phone. He is staring at Lililalaya with an excited, desperate expression, the same type of excited, desperate expression that Lililalaya has often seen on the faces of many of her adoring fans.

Lililalaya approaches the man.

“Hello, Lililalaya,” the man says.

“Are you the one who put that photograph in my mailbox?” Lililalaya says.

“Yes,” the man says.

Lililalaya sits down at the table, directly across from the man.

“The message you wrote on the back of the photograph told me to meet you here tonight,” Lililalaya says. “So I’m here. So tell me what you want.”

“My name is Martin,” the man says. “Martin Pimbly. I’m a friend of Andrew Squervil… the man you are kissing in the photograph.”

“Yes, I remember Andrew,” Lililalaya says. “I was expecting him to be here. I presume you are his accomplice. The one who took the picture of us.”

“It was Andrew’s idea to take a picture of you kissing him,” Martin says. “He wanted to use it to blackmail you for a very large amount of money. He said that if I took the picture for him, he would split the blackmail profit with me. I went along with his plan. I took the picture of you, using the camera in my cellular phone, this cellular phone. But then I double-crossed Andrew: I told him that I had messed up; that I had used the camera in my cellular phone incorrectly; that I had failed to take a picture of you kissing him. But as you already know, the photograph does in fact exist.”

“So you lied to Andrew so you could blackmail me yourself and keep all the blackmail money,” Lililalaya says, wanting to scratch Martin’s face.

“No,” Martin says. “No, that’s not it at all, Lililalaya. I would never try to blackmail you. I love you.”

“What?” Lililalaya says.

“I’ve been in love with you since the first time that I saw you on television,” Martin says. “You’re everything I’ve ever wanted. I dream about you every night. I hated Andrew so much when you were kissing him. I wanted it to be me you were kissing! I would do anything to be with you the way Andrew got to be with you later that night. That’s why I took the picture of you, Lililalaya. It was the only way I could get you to meet with me. It was the only way I could get this chance to tell you that I love you.”

Lililalaya and Martin sit in silence for a few seconds.

Then Lililalaya says: “Your message on the back of the photograph said that you have many, many copies of the photograph. Is that true?”

“No,” Martin says. “I lied. I only said that to ensure that you would come here. The only versions of the photograph are the one that I left in your mailbox and the one that is stored on this cellular phone.”

“I already destroyed the one you left in my mailbox,” Lililalaya says. “So the only one left is the one stored on your cellular phone?”

Martin picks up the cellular phone. “Yes,” Martin says. “That’s why I have it here for you to see, Lililalaya. I know I’m not the first man to try to win your love, and I know I won’t be the last. So I know it will take a grand gesture to prove that I am the most deserving of your love. That’s why I’m doing what I’m about to do.”

Martin destroys his cellular phone. It is now beyond repair.

“I could have become rich with that photograph,” Martin says. “But I chose not to. Because you’re more important to me, Lililalaya. I love you.”

“So… no versions of the photograph exist anymore?” Lililalaya says.

“No,” Martin says. “None at all.”

Lililalaya is smiling now. She leans across the table, getting closer to Martin.

For one second, Martin thinks Lililalaya is about to kiss him, and it is the happiest Martin will ever be in his entire life.

Lililalaya takes Martin’s cup of coffee and tosses it at Martin’s face. His face and shirt are now covered in coffee.

“You’re an idiot and a loser,” Lililalaya says. “And I will never, ever love you.”

Lililalaya stands up. She exits the coffee shop.

Martin sits in silence. His hands are shaking.

“It wasn’t supposed to turn out like that,” he says, speaking to no one in particular.