One afternoon in late spring, Dolores took a cab to Reagan National and boarded a jet that tilted on takeoff towards the Carolinas. She came down over cypress swamps and sea marshes glowing in the setting sun, and dozed in the limo that brought her to the Indigo Inn, steps from the old Slave Exchange. She slept for an hour or two, then called Max.
The muted trill of his phone barely registered. Max had flown into Orlando an hour earlier, had checked into the Halcyon Suites, and was now gazing at his laptop. Max was intent on re-incarnating the Hotel Fakir. He was well-acquainted with the ambiance of the vanished tango salon, a tenuous distillation of the secret cobbled patio, black lacquered door with an etched cobra in the transom, slim white pillars defining archways opening into a dance floor, and an inviting melange of those seeking companionship and Tango. He was negotiating final details of a building contract with retired Master Chief Petty Officer Jared Gregorio. Gregorio’s last naval assignment had been oversight of deeply-classified Afghan and Yemeni enemy combatants in the Charleston Navy Brig. Gregorio had subsequently acquired credentials as a builder, and now presided over crews of undocumented Guatemalan, Honduran and Mexican carpenters who energized the next real-estate bubble as it swelled towards ultimate bust.
Max’s phone trilled again as he sent Gregorio a file of Architectural Digest photo-spreads of the George Hotel in the city of Lwów. Beveled-glass double doors manned by gold-tasseled servants opened into the hotel lobby. A receding black and white tiled floor drew the eye towards curved stairways flanked by marble columns. Max tapped his phone and heard Dolores speaking softly in his ear. The architectural images dissolved to Dolores coolly appraising the tango salon from a table next to a framed print of a Cunard ocean liner. In his mind’s eye, her graceful figure, perfectly defined in a Valentino embroidered-lace dress and Jimmy Choo sandals with impossibly high heels, became a focal point of desire. He realized that an essential element of reincarnation, as vital as the bricks and mortar and polished heartpine floor, had just slipped into place.
“Dolores,” he said, “We’re rebuilding the Hotel Fakir. It won’t be the same, but you and I have lived those lost tango dreams. Let’s bring them back for everyone.”
A long moment passed; in the phone he could hear distant sirens and wind sighing through the water-oaks.
“Forget the tango dreams, Max,” she said. “I just want to dance. Where are you?”