Sweet Dreams Reprinted through World Wide Mystery at eharlequin.com!
Thursday, October 21, 2010 3:34:00 PM
by Flo Fitzpatrick
|I inherited my name, Abby, my height, 5’2”, and the gift of second sight from my great-grandmother Abigail Dumas. She should have included instructions written in my genetic code for using that latter talent.
Precognition hasn’t stopped me from falling for popular “soap” star, Johnny Gerard. Flashes of the future haven’t kept the two of us from being hounded by mobsters, attorneys, hit-men, less-than-respectable strip club bouncers –and looney daytime drama fans.
Johnny and I are supposed to open soon in a new Broadway show. But, if my latest vision comes true, we won’t live long enough to hear the first chords from the orchestra.
Where’s Granny Abigail when I need her?
by Flo Fitzpatrick
The short blonde was wearing a red G-string, red pasties, one red six-inch platform shoe, and nothing else. A cigarette dangled from her right hand. Standing slap in the middle of the living room, she was eyeing herself less than critically in a full-length mirror, ignoring the nicotine ashes gently floating towards the hardwood floors. A radio blared at full volume in the corner of the room.
I half faced Shay, standing awestruck in the doorway beside me, then muttered almost inaudibly.
“I’m going to kill you. Then I’m going back to the convent on 14th street. Or perhaps to O’Malley’s for a serious drinking spree.”
Shay punched my arm, steered me into the living room, all the while waving at the girl to get her attention.
“Yo! Cherry! This is Abby Fouchet. Uh. Abby, this is Cherry Ripe.”
A dyed head of hair turned from its narcissistic inspection. A sharp nose sniffed at me.
“Abby? You serious? What the hell kinda name is that? Sounds like a dog from the pound. Ya should dye your hair, ya know. Brown ain’t in this year.”
I realized I was clenching my fists and wondered if I could betray twenty-one years of indoctrinating Southern courtesy by punching out my new roommate. Shay poked me in my side, then hissed, “Say something.”
I spoke with (admittedly) icy politeness.
“Hi, uh, Cherry? First of all, my hair is closer to chestnut. Not brown. And it doesn’t take kindly to chemicals. Secondly, Abby’s a family name. Goes back about three generations. I’m not changing it. But, tell me, how did you come by the name of Cherry Ripe?”
The minute the words came out of my mouth, I knew they were wrong. I was right. The brunette glared at me with blatant dislike.
“Oooh, aren’t we miss chi-chi classy? I came by this name, ‘cause I picked it for my profession.”
“Just like you guys. I’m a dancer.”
I was overcome by a sudden coughing fit. Shay poked me again. My ribs were beginning to hurt and I felt bruises forming.
“Oh, that’s. . . nice. Um. Are you in a show now?”
Cherry gave me a look that indicated she perceived my intelligence was on the order of the one platform shoe still on her foot.
“I work at The Squirrel Shot Gentlemen’s Club on 8th Ave.”
“Oh, that’s ni. . . Shay? Didn’t we leave the taxi waiting downstairs? Let’s go pay the man.”
I grabbed Shay’s arm and began to forcibly pull her into the hall. Whatever techno-pop dance hit that had been playing mercifully ended. Cherry grabbed the radio as if she feared I’d steal it, turned it off, then calmly walked in front of me before making what an important announcement.
“I’m taking a bath now.”
She leaned down over the edge of the sofa to pick up a second cigarette reclining in the Lenox saucer currently serving as an ashtray. Then she stalked into the bathroom still wearing her barely there costume.
I stared at Shay, waiting until I was sure Cherry was out of earshot.
“She smokes in the bathroom.”
Shay seemed to be intently focused on a spot on the ceiling.
“Well, yes. But don’t let it drive you crazy. Just make sure you look in the drain before you fill the tub. Look, let’s get something to eat, then hit the locksmith’s for your keys.”
“Shay, I don’t know if I can even stay one afternoon here. And I know I don’t really want to be here when Miss Ripe emerges from the potty.”
“It’ll be okay. I promise. Cherry’s never home. She’s either working or staying at someone else’s place, if you get my drift. And we really do need help with the rent. And your suitcases are already here. And you have no place else to go.”
I stared at those suitcases. She was right.
I arrived in New York nearly three months ago after obtaining my Actor’s Equity Card doing half of the summer season with Houston’s Theatre Under the Stars. The last two shows had been The Fantasticks and 1776. There are no chorus dancers in either, so I’d packed five suitcases full of dance clothes, dance shoes, headshots, resumes, T-shirts, jeans, jackets, and boots. I’d put all my savings into a cashier’s check, kept out about $400 in cash, found a one-way ticket to La Guardia at a decent price, and waved goodbye to Minette and Paul, my tearful parents.
The first month hadn’t been too bad. I’d been taking classes, finding my way around New York, and going to the Gene Kelly festival at a revival theatre in the East Village for entertainment. I’d wandered around the city getting my bearings and playing tourist at the free attractions. I’d visited the Statue of Liberty three times (low-cost for the ferry ride. I hadn’t gone in. Too expensive to actually peer out of the lady’s lamp.) I’d spent hours gazing at paintings in the Metropolitan Museum and dinosaur bones at the Museum of Natural History. I’d gone to three different Broadway shows, paying rush ticket prices and skipping dinner for the next week.
I’d done all these things by myself. I hadn’t been able to take more than one dance class a day due to monetary constraints and couldn’t go out to eat with anyone I met in class for the same reason. I’d chatted with a couple of other dancers for a few minutes at the two auditions I’d braved. Most of the girls both in class and auditions had ignored me (that competition thing).
Mother Minette didn’t help matters. Daily phone calls kept me between angry and homesick. But then, Minette hadn’t wanted me to come to New York in the first place. She’d made her feelings plain since the day I’d told her I wanted to drop out of college and head to Manhattan, two years ago.
“Abby, this desire to go to New York is sheer nonsense. You haven’t even finished college yet. If you don’t like the University of Texas, transfer somewhere else for your last two years. New York is big and dirty and crime-ridden. You don’t know a soul there. You’d be miserable.”
“But, Minette . . .”
“I’m not finished. It’s nearly impossible to have a career as a performer. You’ll end up like millions of hopeful dancers from all over the country working at Macys behind a cosmetics counter or typing for some insurance company.”
“I doubt that, Minette. Since I can’t type I don’t think I’d get hired.”
“Abby. Don’t be impertinent. That’s not the point. If you don’t have the back-up of a degree you can’t even teach. And you’ll never find anyone suitable to marry.”
“You’ve got to be kidding! I am 19 years old. I’m not terribly concerned about being Mrs. Somebody-in-Politics right now. And where is it written that people in Manhattan don’t find spouses and get married? I mean, really, how did the city get so crowded if those people aren’t reproducing? It’s not just all immigrants.”
I’d gotten upset and consequently found myself not making a lot of sense. Paul, my Dad, gently intervened, but still sided with Minette in an effort to keep the peace. We were both well aware of the fact that Minette was not pleasant when her ideas were opposed.
He smiled at me and spoke softly as he tried to make a compromise that would be palatable to both daughter and mother.
“Abby. We just want you to be a bit more realistic. Wait until you graduate from college. Then we’ll see how you feel. If you still want to go to New York, then that’s fine.”
I went back to University of Texas and graduated two years later. Minette was, if not happy, at least slightly mollified.
Once I was in New York, I had the stupid idea that my mother might let up a bit. I was wrong.