Saturday, September 3, 2011


In the late 1970s  Cindy managed the box office for a small local theater production at the Hippodrome Theater on Broadway across from that Filipino restaurant where bands would play at night after the restaurant closed.  On Sunday there is an afternoon matinee in addition to the regular evening performance, so much for the day of rest, she has to be up, out of the house and at work by 2 p.m. instead of the normal 5 p.m.  But it is always slow, relaxing, with a few hours break in between performances. Undisturbed time to tighten up the loose ends of the week. 
Which is what Cindy is doing now when she becomes aware of Allen standing in the box office doorway behind her.  She glances over when he says, "Use a little makeup and curl that hair you wouldn't be bad looking at all.  Might even have a shot a me some night."
She turns back to her work, I doubt that I'll ever be that drunk so you can quit dreaming."
``Think about it."
`` If I thought about it I'd probably be sick."
Allen asks if there's any mail, any messages as if he's expecting something, told no he leaves to get ready for the show.
Half hour later her assistant Dana arrives, announcing as she enters, ``Today's the day.'' She flourishes a square pink greeting card envelope, ``The coup de grâce."
Cindy extends an arm, ``Hand that over,'' takes the envelope and pulls out a folded note.  Slides it under her nose, ``Mmmm, gardenia, nice touch.''  Opens note, letters in broad ink pen with wide feminine flourish read:

  I watched the show twice this
  week and as usual you were wonderful.
  And as usual the whole time I couldn't take my eyes
  off you.  We need to stop playing
  games, we need to meet.  Tonight I will
  wait for you on the patio at Enrico's after the show.
  You'll recognize me, I'll be the girl sitting with the red carnation.

Cindy shakes her head, ``So Mr-Gods-Gift-To-Women will be told this little love note was left during intermission tonight?''
``That's the idea.''
``How many is this?''
Dana thinks, ``Not sure, we mailed the first two so he picked them up here, then Larry left a couple in the dressing room, saying they were given to him by some attractive girl.  And then this one that he'll get tonight.''
That evening just before showtime Allen pops into the box office in character, this is a big no-no to be in the front of the house but he has to check one last time, ``Any messages?''
Cindy turns, casually laying her arm over the pink envelope and tells him no, then after he's out of hearing says, ``We'll be seeing you later.''
She can hear the onstage patter while in the box office, it's a bit before final curtain; she's finished her report and is closing when Dana and Larry come down from the producers office,  ``Let's get going, it's about time for Allen's big performance.''

Brian is washing glasses behind the bar at Enrico's during a lull and idly scanning the action out on the table section of the covered terrace.  Only a few regulars and the cocktail waitress ever come back into this area, the hip people watching is all out front. He grabs clean glasses that have dried and turns to stack them along the shelf.  Behind him he hears Cheryl mutter ``Ordering.''  He frees his hands and turns.
``One white wine, one Pernod and Coke.''
About to turn he stops and stares at her, mouthing back those last three words as a question. ``They're French,'' she says as way of explanation.  He shakes his head and pours the drinks.
A waft of anise as Cheryl hoists the tray, he watches as she marches off, tray in the air, exclaiming "Viva la France!"  It's bad enough that she's so hot and has a boyfriend but she embellishes everything she does with such a sexy flair.
Outside every table is occupied and a clot of people stand along the sidewalk waiting for a free spot.  Cheryl set the drinks down in front of a couple, white wine goes to the guy while Pernod/coke sits sideways in a tight pullover, horizontal navy and white stripes emphasize her breasts.  Shakes her head to adjust a great pouf of that Bardot sex kitten hair.
Maybe he could forgive that gal for her beverage choice.
An awkward bustle is occurring at the entranceway as three people push through the sidewalk cluster and onto the terrace.  It should be obvious there is nowhere for them to sit.
``Ordering.'' Cheryl standing there with her tray.
Next time he looks up the three have fanned out and are moving among the tables, the way the Hari Krishna do. The way gypsy children did in Spain.
Last summer in Seville he sat at an outdoor cafe and watched this enormous gypsy woman in billowing layers of tented purple and orange skirt undulate along the plaza surrounded by a swarm of kids, a moveable playground.  Look at me! the spectacle said, a street spectacle, a vacation story.  Cameras flew up at every table.  The children chased one another in a swirl among the chairs, giggling, jostling one another through the seated tourists, begging money, distracting their marks.  The youngest always lagging behind, playing catchup, a Disney movie played out in real life.  One kid careened off a table and Brian pulled him up by his forearm, laughing, ``Watch out there tiger.''  The gamers would flock back in a circle past mom where they secreted whatever they cadged among the folds of her skirts. 
After the colorful whirlwind flowed away down the Rambla Brian went to light a cigarette and couldn't find his Zippo.
rom his viewpoint in the back bar area the movements of the group on the patio appeared to be a choreographed pantomime, a backlit set piece framed by columns and potted palms. The customers sat silhouetted with the three newcomers drifting lazily among the tables. He goes back to washing glassware.
``Ordering.''  Brian looks up, wet soapy hands holding a glass, shifts attention to Cheryl setting her tray on the bar,  ``Vodka/tonic, White Russian.'' 
He pours the drinks, quick squeeze on the lime to drop the green lump into the highball glass, then half-and-half flowing in tiny avalanches over the ice cubes and the dark Kahlua, makes change, and watches Cheryl saunter back outside, tray hoisted steady, that great ass slowly rocking.  The group of three has now settled into the first table of his empty bar area and have shifted the chairs so they all sit with their backs to him to face the patio.  Cheryl pauses by their table, bends and listens, then returns to the station.
Before she can speak Brian nods toward that table and asks, ``What were those people doing out there on the patio?"
``They gave a flower to all the girls,"  she says, then beams that chipper smile of hers, ``See I got one too."  Cheryl tosses an arm up into the air with a flamenco finger snap as her other hand lays the red carnation into her hair, like the Andalusian girls.