Friday, March 29, 2013

Some pretty impressive items are on display to be auctioned.  Among them is none other than a painting by now deceased artist F. Lamar Dollison donated by the family.  The crowd gathers around and carefully examines the artwork along with other items of interest to prepare their bids.  The money will go into the general building fund towards the purchase of the property.  

“These things seem like common household junk!” Geneva detests as she and Quincy peruse the display. 

One particular item catches hers and Quincy’s attention.  They carefully examine it trying to figure out just what it could possibly be.

“Suppose the person who donated this had a special commodity shop?”  Quincy asks aloud.

Geneva squints trying to read the description written underneath.  “It’s a Bloo?  What’s that?”

“A Bloo?  Never heard of it.” Quincy narrows his eyes attempting to make out the small scribble on the paper before deciding to save his face the wrinkles and extract his reading spectacles from his breast pocket.   “Let’s see here.  A Bloo…”  Quincy freezes in amazement.  Then he removes his eyeglasses, wipes them down and repositions them on his face. 

“Well, do you recognize it?” Geneva asks, still studying the contraption.

“I haven’t the slightest idea what it could be, but some poor soul is willing to pay $8100 for it.  It wasn’t a ‘Bloo,’ my dear.”  Quincy returns his glasses to his breast pocket.  “That’s a bid that reads 8,100 of someone’s hard earned dollars.”

“You can’t be serious!”  Geneva takes a step back and re-examines it with added peculiarity.

“I wish I wasn’t.”  Quincy just shakes his head in disbelief.

“I know.  I can’t figure out exactly what it is either.”  Alesandra joins them in marveling at how someone could be willing to pay so much for something that doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense.  “I mean, it isn’t much to look at if it’s supposed to be some sort of abstract art sculpture or something.  And then, if it has a purpose… well…I just can’t seem to figure out what it could possibly do.”  She shrugs.  “I hate to sound cliché, but as the saying goes…One man’s trash-“

“Apparently makes him wealthy and someone else a foolish pauper.”  Bethany glides past them, smiling.  We have quite a few attractive bids for many of the items on display.  However, this piece has been the topic of conversation among many for the better part of the night.  Bethany looks stunning in a long, flowing evening gown.  She is hardly the shell of a woman that was being beaten a few short months ago.    

Ms. Wyndham scurries past them and scribbles something on the bidding sheet that corresponds with the artwork donated from the Dollison family. 

“I do believe that’s artwork from the young fellow that shot himself, Geneva,” Quincy whispers.  He and Geneva inch closer to the bidding sheet, both seeming to have the same idea about checking for the highest price.   “My, my.   That’s more than I would’ve expected.”  Quincy stands back and takes notice of the painting again.  “Kind of resembles our old camo gear, but with more color.  Certainly wouldn’t pay that much to hang on the wall.”

“It’s strange what people will give their money to,” Geneva chimes in.  “I had to work two jobs for a number of years to support myself, and that never amounted to anything remotely close to what someone is willing to spend on… this.”

“Likewise, after the war was over we returned having to scrap for work.  None of us have probably seen that kind of money.  Nor the families who lost loved ones.”  Quincy shakes his head in disdain then ogles the painting once more until he hears quiet sobs from over his shoulder.

Beth notices that Quincy has heard her tears.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that he was… we were very close.”  She manages a faint smile to lighten the mood.  “He’d not ever made that kind of money selling his artwork.  This would definitely be a good night.”  She gazes as if lost in thought.

“That’s right.  You’re the young lady he was there to see that night.”  Geneva takes a closer look.
Beth smiles and nods.  “Yes.  Yes, I was there that night.”

“You poor dear.   Tragic,” Geneva makes a failed attempt to console her.

“Nothing tragic about getting rid of someone whose primary form of stress relief is targeting your head with his fists multiple times.  I’d say he did you a favor, sweetie.”  Maria is slurring, drink in hand.  Standing unsteadily.  “God be praised!  Ding, dong! The dog is dead!”  She raises her glass as if to toast then takes a sip.

Beth, Geneva and Quincy are at a loss for words.  They stare blankly at her.  She takes notice as she is lowering her glass.

“I’m sorry, honey.  Did I interrupt your pity party?  I thought we were supposed to be having fun?  Huh?  I didn’t bring any pity with me.”  She pretends to look inside her clutch, searching.  “Nope.  No pity in there,”  She slurs with laughter.  “But the good thing is that you definitely supplied the F-U-N!”  She holds her drink up.  “And this is the good stuff, too!  A fancy party and no BYOB!  Shoot, you can put me up for auction!  One bottle of Jack! Sold!”  Maria is laughing, drinking in between and getting louder by the gulp.

Quincy and Geneva simultaneously tip away so as not to be an audience for her embarrassment.  Bethany signals for Jun, who rushes to her side as soon as she notices.  Maria continues to drink and provide a monologue for a disproving audience.

As soon as Jun realizes what’s happening, she intervenes.  “You’re the lady from-“

“Right now, I’m Mrs. Jack Daniels,” Maria retorts, seeming bothered by Juniper’s introduction.
“Is there somebody I can call for you?”  Juniper attempts to remove the glass from Maria’s hand.

“Lady, you have no idea what to call me, but you’d better turn loose my drink!”  As Maria attempts to retain hold of the glass it slips from her grip and bolts through the air piercing the canvas, ruining it.  There is a hush that falls over the entire room.  Only the sound of the jazz band playing in the background can be heard, uninterrupted because they are oblivious to what’s happening just a few yards away.

“Look at that.  Now if you think I’m going to pay for this you’ve got another thought coming.  I want my drink back.” 

Juniper glares at her. 

“Humph, is this how you treat guests?  Was I only invited to this fancy party just to be treated as if I’m unwelcomed?  Or am I your entertainment for the evening?  Cause in either instance, I ain’t been paid!”  Maria looks around the room at all the eyes staring back at her.  “That’s ok.  I’ll just go get my own drink then.”  She turns toward the bar and takes two steps before collapsing to the floor.

Friday, March 22, 2013

“Jun this turned out beautifully!  How long did you work on the decorations?”  Ms. Wyndham is in awe at how the little rinky dink community center has been transformed into such a lavish formal space. 

“I and a friend worked most of the evening getting it together.  I think we did pretty good.”  Jun is dressed in a beautiful, flowing full length navy gown with jeweled accents throughout the neckline and bustier.  

“You definitely have a creative eye.  There’s no way I could ever have visualized this, which is sad to say given that I deal in real estate.”  Ms. Wyndham laughs while eying the fabric that has been suspended from the ceiling and draped to cover the dingy walls.  There are chandeliers with accented beads and luminaries that make this appear as if it costs tens of thousands of dollars to prepare.  “How much did all this cost?”

“Not more than a couple hundred bucks.”  Juniper smiles. 

Ms. Wyndham looks astonished.  “A couple hundred bucks?  How?” 

“You’d be surprised what you can do with some of the things at your local second hand store.  It’s really not that difficult.  You just have to know where to look.  And I have a crafty friend.  She can almost always make something from what we would just toss in the trash.” 

Ms. Wyndham removes her wrap to unveil a beautiful knee length black dress that is brought to life with jeweled heels and a matching evening bag.  Her look is classic.  “The two of you should be in business.  This is impressive.”

“Perhaps we’ll consider it.  In the meantime, enjoy the evening.  The program with begin shortly.  For right now we’re just mingling.  There’s a champagne fountain near the ice sculpture and some hors d’oeuvres.  Oh, and if you plan to participate in the auction don’t forget to sign in for your number there.” 

Juniper points out sign-table and directs Ms. Wyndham toward the others gathered near an area where Alesandra has created some beautiful dainty hors d’oeuvres.

“Tish, it really doesn’t look good for you to be standing here playing with the food.  Can you please stop rearranging those platters!”  Alesandra is trying  to smile, but Tish is her usual annoying self and is working her nerves tonight.

“It’s just that I can’t decide if it looks better this way….”  She rearranges the platters again.  “Or like this.  What do you think?”

“I think nobody is paying as much attention to that as you are.  Now leave them as they are.”  Alesandra smiles as another guests places some foods on his plate. 

Tish sighs as if in distress.  “You really should be a bit more appreciative.  The Epicurean has made a formal debut with this fundraiser.  These mouths seem pretty happy,” Tish giggles and adjusts the catered by nameplate that boasts of the business she has assisted her sister in forming.  “We’re sure to get some business after tonight.”

A stocky gentleman with a limp nears the table.  “Pardon, ma’am.  Would you mind filling a couple glasses with beverage?  That pretty lady over there would like to wet her throat.”  He points over to Geneva seated near the center of the room.

“Certainly, Sir.”  Tish ladles the beverages and carefully passes the glasses to Quincy, who thanks her and makes his way back to his date.

“There you go.  For you, my lady.”  Quincy hands Geneva the punch.  She’s giggling like a school girl again.  He takes his seat.  They’re both looking around, taking in all the excitement.

“This is really nice.  I don’t think I’ve been to anything like this since my high school prom.”  Quincy gives a few bellowing chuckles.  “Did you go to prom?”

“No, Quincy.  This is the first formal event I’ve attended in all my… 40 plus years.”  They share another laugh together and sip some of the beverage. 

“In that case, the evening wouldn’t be complete without a dance.  So if you’ll do the honor of dancing with an old fart before the night is over, that would make this a magical evening I’ll likely never forget.”

“It would be my pleasure, Quincy.”  Geneva takes another sip of beverage and smiles.  She and Quincy are distracted by a lady that accidentally bumps into their seats. 

“Pardon, I wasn’t watching where I was going,” she smiles down at them. 

“That’s quite alright,” Geneva smiles.  Nothing is going to ruin this evening for her.

Maria nods again and eases over a couple rows before taking a seat.  She feels somewhat awkward here alone.  She’s not been to a formal event since happier times with Gabe.  As she continues to look around, she notices the beautiful flamingo ice sculpture that illuminates different colors.  Her mind begins to wonder how much less those tenant association dues that have been collected would have been had they not opted to invest in a fancy waste of money like an illuminating ice sculpture.  Then again, Juniper seems quite resourceful.  She could’ve gotten it donated or discounted.  Subconsciously she checks the time, wondering what Valissa is doing at this hour.  She’s made arrangements for her to spend some time with her father, but hasn’t settled the most recent disagreement between them.  Her feelings are still a bit fragile at the thought of what happened.  It has finally dawned on her that she never really found out where Valissa was or what happened that she skipped school.  Her actions only closed the line of communication between them.  Reminiscing of how close the two of them once were causes tears to well in her eyes.  So much has changed.  Things are so different now.  Maria fans her face to keep from ruining her freshly applied cosmetics.  She needs something to curb her now increasingly emotional state.  As she continues to fan at her eyes, she notices some people gathered around what looks to be an open bar.  At first she struggles with the notion to get a drink.  But at functions like this, the liquor is always watered down.  There’ll be just enough in the drink to taste, not nearly enough to do any damage.  She eases from her seat and begins a slow tread towards the bar, bypassing the champagne fountain. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Contessa gives a few rapid knocks at the Coucilman’s door and enters.  “Sir, another few dozen of letters have arrived with the morning delivery.  Plus, I can’t get to city business because my email is flooded with responses to the Millford Estates project.  Are you planning to make a public statement soon?” 

“Are the emails generally in support of the tenants?  Or are there complaints?”  Councilman Ford doesn’t even bother to look up from whatever it is that has his attention.

“It’s really hard to tell.  Quite a few have been supportive, but there have been some who’ve shared that this area could benefit from a change more like those you had in mind.”

“Hmmm….”  Councilman Ford reclines in his seat.  “And the letters?”

“The few I’ve opened have been supportive, but you know I hardly have time to read all those letters.”  Contessa laughs.

“You can reply that I’m preparing a statement after more talks with negotiators and the tenants.”  He resumes scanning over some reading material.

“I thought that –“  Contessa’s statement is interrupted by a knowing glance from Councilman Ford that lets her know she shouldn’t question but just do exactly as he’s instructed.  “-would be the best thing to do.  Yes, Sir.”  She gives an odd smile and exits his office, shutting the door.  As she walks toward her desk she realizes she forgot to mention something and makes a u-turn back to the Councilman’s office suite.  This time she just sticks her head in the door.

“Sir, I forgot to mention that you’ve received an invitation to attend a fundraiser two weeks from Saturday.  The RSVP reads  The Millford Estates Tenants Association care of Juniper Sturdevant.  How should I plan to respond?”

Councilman Ford looks surprised.  “A fundraiser?”

“Yep.  The funds are expected to go towards legal representation and purchase of the building.”  Contessa reads the Councilman’s expression.  He wants to know how she knows that.  “Of course, you know I called to inquire about what kind of function you’re being invited to attend.

“Was there mention of whom else had been invited or is expected to attend?”

“Try as I might, she wouldn’t give that much information.  There’s one for Mr. Trudeaux as well.”

“Plug that in, Contessa.  And sync the calendar.  Thank you.”  As Contessa nods and eases the door closed, Councilman Ford realizes that he didn’t take the tenants seriously enough.  It would help tremendously if he knew who else had been invited to attend.  His eyes are drawn to the illustration board sitting on the bookcase of the Millford they had planned for.    Although the tenants efforts make a good show, he still has concern that the area will not become what he envisions it to be.  Unless he can get those that are spearheading the purchase to buy into the future he has planned this could just be another good story that will be forgotten amongst a crowd of hopeless and misguided imbeciles that have no knowledge or ambition of growth.  There is a place for people with no will to thrive.  It’s just not here.  He lights a cigar and leans deep into his leather chair.  Just then the event Contessa has plugged into his calendar illuminates the computer screen.  Millford Estates Fundraiser  RSVP Juniper Sturdevant.  Juniper Sturdevant.  That’s one he’ll plan to get better acquainted with.  Find out what her angles are.  Who she is.  After a deep draw, he exhales a dense cloud of smoke and prepares to make a call to Keagan.    

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alesandra closes the door and leans her back against it in exhaustion, breathing a sigh.  Chef was challenging tonight.  She pauses for a moment with her eyes closed and drops her bag on the floor.  Graduation.  This won’t last forever.  Just a couple more months before graduation.  After having taken a moment to put things in perspective, she begins sifting through the mail.  Notices.  Junk.  Junk.  Then she comes to an envelope with Tish’s handwriting, but it’s from a financing company.  Alesandra gives a chuckle and tears the envelope open.  Apparently Tish has taken it upon herself to research some financing options for the purchase of the building.  As she pulls the brochure from the envelope she realizes her thoughts are correct.  Attempting to buy into this building seems too much of a financial responsibility for someone in culinary school and with limited resources.  Alesandra isn’t even certain that she’ll want to remain a tenant once she graduates.   She tosses the mail on the counter and walks toward the living room when a thud and yelling startle her.  There seems commotion coming from the neighbors.    At first she dismisses the noise, but curiosity gets the best of her and she leans toward the wall to listen….

“I can’t believe you’ve done this again!  What are you trying to do, Lissa?!?! Need I remind you of why we moved in the first place?”  Maria is yelling like never before.  Valissa has skipped school today.  The truancy office has left one of those recorded messages.  This child is so bold she didn’t even bother to come home normal hours, staying out well past nightfall.

“Uhh, can you remember how many drinks you had?  Can you remember screwing up daddy’s business dinner?  Can you say ‘divorce?’ YOU are the reason we had to move!”  Valissa  moves from the door that she just slammed and walks toward her room.

“You stand right there until I’m finished talking to you, Lissa.”  Maria places her hand over her forehead and sighs, trying to calm herself.  “Where were you?  Who were you with?”

Valissa stands with folded arms, trying to decide if she’s going to respond to her or not. 

Maria looks exasperated.  She stares at her in awe.   “Don’t think you’re gonna stand there and pretend that you don’t hear what I’m asking you!”   

“I was with my friends, ok!”  Valissa yells something just to get Maria to shut up. 

“I can’t believe you!  I mean, we move to get to a place where we both can start over.  You had a fresh start here, Lissa.  Instead of making some better friends, you find company with the same element that was the reason we moved in the first place!”

“PART of the reason, Maria.”  Valissa rolls her eyes and shakes her head mumbling, “ We moved because daddy put your drunk ass out.”  Evidence that what she thought she had mumbled under her breath was heard came with heat lighting what felt like fire across her face from her mother’s back hand.  She stood motionless.  “Did that make you feel better?” 

Maria’s words are met with yet another slap to her face from her mother’s palm.  “Now go have a drink and blame somebody else.”  Valissa scowls at her and walks to her room. 

Maria stands with a forlorn countenance, a woman defeated by her own actions.  Trying to drown her mistakes and feelings in alcohol.  Tears stream down her face.   Yet in all her pain and after having been confronted by the truth, she goes to the cabinet and pours herself a drink.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Your regularly scheduled episode of The Life of Orderly Chaos has been postponed due to scheduling conflicts.  Programming will resume shortly.