Russell hadn't been this nerves in years. He buttoned his shirt like he always had for work and put on his left shoe before his right. It was his daily routine, but that day was different because of the small, black velvet box in his pocket.
Mr. Fredrickson had always told him, "Elle was a strange child, the good kind of strange, though. That's what you need to find, the partner who is the good kind of strange. They are always the best."
Mary is the strangest, most entertaining women Russell has met. She tells him the story of her "Kitty" who in fact is not a cat at all, but a big blue and purple monster who lived in her cupboard. He saved her from the purple lizard who had haunted her up until she met him. It's Russell's favorite story she tells. It rivals his balloon story and how he found Dug and Kevin.
His boss had already been informed about Russell's absences for the day. Russell knew that day was important and wanted to propose to her more than anything so he could start forever with her.
A gentle knock pulled Russell out of his nervous head and towards the door. "Russ?" A small voice asked, turning the handle and opening the door ever so slightly. "Boo!" His face lite up as she awkwardly pulled herself through the door. "Good morning handsome, ready for breakfast?" He took a moment just to look at the beautiful women before him. She was a petite woman, small in height but curvy due to her wide hips and large bust. She hated her body shape, as did most women but Russell couldn't see a single fault. Her black hair always cascades over her left shoulder, covering a part of her face. "I'm always ready for food" he smiled at Mary, her face lighting up as he spoke.
"Where do you want to go?"
"Alfredo Linguini's had it's grand opening last week, we could go and see what it's like, I have heard good things." Russell had heard about this restaurant, the owner's father was the talented cooking legend, Auguste Gusteau. The food was meant to be exquisite. The perfect place for the perfect moment.
"Sounds great" Mary smiled, her smile covered her cheeks, making her eye's crinkle at the sides. Russell grabbed his wallet out of the bowl by the door, took Mary's hand and left his apartment. "Did you hear about that corporation?" Mary asked as the walk down the stairs to the foyer.
"Oh, Buy n Large? The new toy robots are awesome! They think they will have one's to help us in day to day life in the next year"
"I want a robot!" Mary states as she moved through the main doors of the building and out onto the street. The weather was warm and muggy. The uncomfortable heat that made even the nicest people rude and agitated. "I regret this jacket now" Russell moaned as they walked down the crowded streets. Mary giggled at Russell as he tried to shake his jacket off without using his hand that was holding Mary's. "I can help if you like?" He shook his head, not letting his jacket defeat him.
Finally, his jacket slipped off his shoulder and down his arms where he slipped them over his hands. They had not walked far before the smell of spaghetti and meatballs filled the air. The gnawing of hungry at Russell's stomach gave out a large roar, causing people to stare at him.
He shuffled under the gazes, making him uncomfortable. Russell had lost a lot of weight from his teen years, going from 20st. to a mere 12st. He was uncomfortable around people, he thought that maybe they'd make Mary see she was too good for him.
"Just round the corner!" Mary chimed, oblivious to Russell's discomfort. His mind raced, What if she noticed the people? he thought, does she think less of me? His body was sweating more than normal.
Alfredo linguinis came into view. Huge windows ran around the building, every other one had Alfredo Linguinis written across the glass. Red shelters sat above every window and at the center was two large, glass doors greeting those wishing to enter.
The couple made their way towards the doors, being hit with divine smells of different cultures. "Table for two?"
"Right this way" A man in a black suit lead the two to the table in the corner, farthest from the bathroom and closet to the wall. "I shall give you a moment and return to take your order!" The man smiled, his mustache moved up as his did. Russell had opened up the menu but couldn't stop looking at her. She chewed her lower lip as she thought and tapped her forefinger against the table, completely oblivious to the event following their meal.
"Ratatouille sounds good, don't you thnk? Even says it's the chef's specialty!" She was easily pleased about things and appreciated so much more than others. "Sounds amazing, Boo."
Ever since they had met, Mary did not want to be called Mary. She wanted to be called nothing more than Boo when asked why her response was always "It is just an old nickname from some dear friends."
The waiter had appeared beside the table holding a small notebook and a pen. "What would you like today ma'am?" He asked, ready to write down anything she said. "May I have the ratatouille?" She spoke clearly, her face looking at the waiter the whole time as she spoke.
"Certainly, you sir?"
"Oh, I will have the lobster ravioli" Russell had looked quickly at the menu while Mary had been ordering and decided his favorite food with a twist. "May I offer you some drinks?" The question had an easy answer, but Russell was too nervous to think of one. "May we have 2 glasses of red wine please" Mary spoke again.
Russell needed Mary, while he was usually a confident a man, he couldn't find the courage he usually had. The woman in front of him was effortlessly beautiful, she was unaware of her own beauty. She turned this confident man into a ball of nerves.
Russell realized he had been staring at her, and so had she. "Russ, are you okay?" She reached over and placed her hand on top his, causing her to worry a little more. "Your hands are boiling!"
"It's just the weather that's all, I am fine" He smiled at her, causing her features to relax and replace her frown with a smile. "You remember my friend Molly Davis?" Mary paused for a short second for Russell to nod before she continued with her story. "She is a doctor now! She finally completed all that training. It took years!"
"That's because you need to know what you are doing, you guess and you could really hurt someone" Russell spoke a little more confidently, gaining more courage as they spoke. "Her brother is a pilot. He say's the best thing that could've happened was his dad leaving. Something about him being a lazy, cheating idiot. Some people are terrible fathers, they get children others deserve," Her smile weakened as she realized what she said. "You're dad deserved you!" She tried to catch herself but had already failed.
"No, he didn't. He didn't deserve anyone yet he found Phyllis and had the twins. Mr. Fredrickson deserved children and instead idiots like dad got them. It just isn't fair."
"I know. Have you heard from him?" Russell wanted to tell her that he didn't even know where to find his father was but that was a lie. He had moved to Washington DC shortly after Russell had turned 9. His father was replaced by Mr. Fredrickson. He had sacrificed more for Russell than anyone. The sad truth was, Russell need Mr. Fredrickson but they had lost contact when Russell had moved to California for college.
It had now been 10 years since Russell had last Mr. Fredrickson.
The last he had seen him was when he stood up on the stage and was handed the bit of paper certifying that Russell had completed his high school education. He had hugged the man he only knew as Mr. Fredrickson and thanked him for not only staying with him throughout the years but also being his father figure where his real father had left him.
Since then, Mr. Fredrickson had moved back to South America but this time, he went by plane and lived in a small cottage in a village, or so Russell had heard.
Since then Russell applied to many colleges, and he had been accepted at Southern California Institute Of Architecture. Russell had earned a degree and was busy designing a house that moved. He wanted to design one that could move via wheels before trying to make one fly.
That's how he had ended up in Calfornia. He had met Mary as she had been a waitress at the local sushi bar, she said it reminded her of when she was younger. It was where she first met someone called Mike.
Russell looked back at Mary, she was clearly feeling guilty for even bringing the topic up. "I haven't seen dad in 20 years, not that it matters" Mary shook her head, a small smile played on her lips.
"I know that, I meant Mr. Fredrickson. When did you last see him?"
"High School graduation. I tried to stay in touch but after I moved here, it became almost impossible"
"You should find him!" Before Russell could response, the waiter had returned with their drinks, another waiter in toe with their meals. "Please, enjoy!" Russell removed his fork from the table and pierced it into the large pasta square. The fusion between the lobster and the pasta was strange, but Russell enjoyed the taste. Pasta and seafood always seemed like they shouldn't be paired together. However, to Russell, it was like him and Mary. She was the lobster and he was ravioli. This was his chance.
"Boo, when you look at seafood, it isn't traditionally paired with pasta. It is a weird fusion that no one would usually think off, I like to think that we are like the seafood and pasta."
"Me being the seafood?" Mary chimed. She liked weird conversions.
"Exactly! But once you have tried them together, it is hard to think of them ever being apart" Russell held out his fork, presenting the ravioli to Mary, the orange sauce dripping onto the napkins below. Mary leaned forward and happily excepted Russell's food.
"And I think that is us. Once we found each other, others realized how amazing we are together. We strengthen each other and that is pretty awesome." Russell took another bite of food, hoping to calm the stampede in his stomach. Mary was sat watching as if waiting for something further.
His hand found it's way into his trouser pocket and pulled out the box. "I guess where I am going with this is, Mary Gibbs, Will you marry me?" Russell slides the box over the table and opened it. Revealing the rose gold ring holding a small sapphire and emerald. Mary laughed as the tears filled her eyes. "Mike and Kitty?" She giggled as she realized why those gems had been used. Russell nodded, his heart beating out his chest. "Will you?" He asked again, worry making its way through.
"Of course, I will!" Tears had started to fall. Russell couldn't wait, he stood from his chair and embraced her before fumbling to get the ring on her finger.
"That's why you have been off all morning?" Russell nodded. "You have to find Mr. Fredrickson now! He has to there when we get married!"
"I will. Later today I will go through the phone book and search the internet. I'll find him!"
Russell took back to his seat and happily ate more of his peculiar dish. "How is the ratatouille?" He asked Mary as enjoy another mouthful.
"Amazing" She smiled.
After their meal, Mary and Russell head to the record office to find out if they could get any information on Mr. Fredrickson. The clerk was a lovely man but he was of no help to them. The two had spent the day running around Californa looking for information on the man.
Mary collapsed on the bench and instantly rubbed her legs. She huffed out a breath and turned to Russell. "Go to South America!" Mary finally said.
"You know the village he went to, go and ask around!" Russell smiled at her. This woman was doing all she could to find one man that meant so much to him. "Okay. Let's go book some tickets!"
Mary paused. "Russ, I can't come with you. I have a lot to do here, you need to find him but I think this is one journey you need to do alone."
Russell understood the things she was saying. He nodded and smiled gently. "Let's go and book a ticket".