Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Thornclyffe - Part 9 & Epilogue


Instead of calling out to Cordelia or Ryan she decided to be as quiet as she could. She wanted to sneak up on them, whatever situation might be happening. She prayed that her mind was running away with exaggerated thoughts of Cordelia’s treachery, but she couldn’t be sure.

She slowly eased herself down the entry hall of their hotel suite placing one foot in front of the other. Wary of making a misstep or making the floor squeak, she wanted—needed—a surprise entrance.

She wasn’t prepared for the visual that awaited her when the hall opened into the sitting area of their hotel room. Cordelia was unbuttoning Ryan’s shirt as he sat slumped on the sofa. His head had fallen sideways onto his shoulder, but his hands were on her hips. They weren’t caressing her hips, but they were there nonetheless. For shear shock value this was the pinnacle. Lila half expected to hear, “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.” What she heard disturbed her more. She just didn’t immediately understand why.

“What are you doing?” Lila all but screamed at Cordelia.

Cordelia didn’t jump; she didn’t even flinch. She was expecting Lila’s arrival and had actually heard the click of the door unlocking. That’s when she had placed Ryan’s hands on her hips. Ryan didn’t know what was going on. Cordelia was intentionally baiting Lila with illusions of a tryst.

Cordelia stood up straight and looked at Lila. “Nothing. I’m just helping Ryan cool down. He feels really hot.”

“I’m sure his hands on your hips aren’t helping to cool him down,” Lila all but snarled at her.

Cordelia laughed. “Lila, you are so insecure.” She removed Ryan’s hands from her hips. He didn’t even notice. “Ryan has no idea where his hands were. He did call me by your name in the elevator though.” She took pleasure in telling Lila that information. It was written all over her face.

Cordelia walked past Lila to the kitchen area of their suite. Lila ran over to Ryan and placed her hand on his forehead like a mother checking her child for fever. He was warm, but not overly.

“Ryan? Baby, can you hear me?” She had concern and heartbreak in her voice.

He stirred, but didn’t open his eyes.

“Lila?” He said her name in a parched whisper.

“I’m here, baby.” 

Lila could hear ice clinking in the kitchen. Cordelia was pouring herself a drink. Lila listened to what she was sure were the sounds of Cordelia singing. She realized it was the same sound—tune?—she’d heard upon entering the room. Fury flooded her head. She couldn’t believe she had just walked in on Cordelia unbuttoning Ryan’s shirt, his hands on her hips, and now Cordelia was making a drink and singing as if it was just another day of summer break in the Hampton’s.

“I want you, I don’t want anybody else, and when I think about you, I touch myself. OOOh. OOOh. OOOOh. Ryan, you feel so good.” Cordelia talk sang from the kitchen.

“What did you just say?” asked Lila. The words sounded familiar to her, but seemed wrong for the song.

“What do you think I said?” asked Cordelia with a smile of innocence in her eyes.

“I was just singing a line from that song by The Divinyls that I love so much. You know the one, ‘I Touch Myself.’”

“Yeah, I figured that out, but you changed the words. What was the last sentence you spoke?” asked Lila, curbing her anger.

“Oh, you mean, ‘Ryan, you feel so good?’”

“Oh my God,” Lila recognized her own words coming out of Cordelia’s mouth. She knew exactly where she’d heard them before. She had spoken them to Ryan in a moment of passion while they were making love during their trip to New York City the previous summer.

The room felt like it was closing in on her. Cordelia was only five feet away, but seemed to be standing at the end of a long tunnel. Lila felt her anger boil to the surface—the rush of blood flushing her face with a mixture of indignation and embarrassment.

“I said those words to Ryan,” Lila said, teetering on the edge of control.

“Mm hmm,” Cordelia responded so nonchalantly that Lila wanted to run to her and grab her by the neck. 

“It was an intimate, private moment.” Lila’s forehead wrinkled in confusion and realization, her eyes fraught with outrage.

“Really?” Cordelia responded nonplussed. “Intimate, yes. Private, not so much.” She took a sip of the cocktail she had prepared herself.

“What do you mean? You can’t be insinuating that you were there.” Lila knew that’s exactly what Cordelia was saying, but couldn’t allow herself to believe it. “Ryan and I were the only ones in the condo that night. We couldn’t find you. You ran out of Safety and disappeared. We called you for an hour and then finally went home. You weren’t answering your phone and your weren’t in the condo.”

“You searched everywhere in the condo?” asked Cordelia.

“We looked through the rooms,” said Lila. “We didn’t feel the need to search under the beds or in the closets. We weren’t looking for an intruder.”

“You should have,” Cordelia said, amused. “I was in the closet.” She walked toward the picture window that overlooked the courtyard below.

Lila watched her as the words sunk in. “You watched us have sex?” Lila numbly said the words.

“Oh come on. What’s the big deal?” Cordelia asked, annoyed that this situation was making waves at all. “So I watched you have sex. It’s not like I fucked Ryan myself.” Lila felt like that 12-year-old girl on the playground watching Cordelia NOT realizing that tricking someone into eating mud was wrong. “You took away my chances of doing it the night you seduced him into kissing you for the first time.”

“What are you talking about? He kissed me. It was out-of-the-blue. I kissed back. I didn’t initiate. I kissed back. You remember that the next time you try to get all superior on me about Ryan. He didn’t—doesn’t—want you in that way. He wants me. You need to get over it. And don’t you ever watch me have sex again!”

Cordelia turned to look out the window and took another drink.

Without facing Lila she said, “I guess this would be the moment where I tell you I masturbated while I was watching.”

Lila got up from the sofa and left Ryan’s side for the first time.

“You are a hateful, spiteful bitch, Cordelia Boston.”

Cordelia turned to face Lila. Her eyebrows arched slightly out of shock and amusement.

“You haven’t ever minded that before because you’ve never been on the receiving end of it.” Cordelia spat back venomously. “You always stood behind me and watched it happen to someone else. Well, welcome to my funhouse, sweetie. It’s a little distorted isn’t it?”

“Did you give Ryan Laztripol tonight?” Lila was angry enough now that she was going to get all the answers regardless of whether she wanted to hear them or not.

“Yes.” Cordelia responded in a steely, superior voice. “I thought he needed to loosen up.”

“How could you do that?” asked Lila. “You gave drugs to someone you profess to love. You knew what it did to him the last time he tried it and you gave it to him anyway. How could you do that?”

“Because I didn’t think it would hurt him.”

“How much did you give him?”

Cordelia didn’t answer right away. She took another sip of her drink and turned away from Lila.

“How much did you give him, Cordelia?” It was Lila’s turn to use the steely, superior voice.

“I put two drops in his champagne glass at the bar before pouring the champagne at our table.”

“Oh my God. I cannot believe you would be so reckless and cruel.” Lila was fighting back tears. “Look at him. Did you even stop to think what two drops might do to him?”

Cordelia looked at Ryan slumped on the sofa. She then took a deep breath.

“He’ll be fine, Lila. He just needs to sleep it off.”

Lila clinched her hands into fists. She felt possessed. Rage like she’d never experienced came over her. It surged through her body. She couldn’t control the scream that built from her gut and exploded out of her mouth. She ran at Cordelia.

She didn’t know what it was like to black out, but her mind went blank. She couldn’t see and she couldn’t remember. Seconds later she opened her eyes to the scene in the room.

“Cordelia,” Lila screamed. She watched in slow motion as the window began to crack and with nothing to grab on to Cordelia began to fall through it. 

“Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God,” Lila screamed. She was frozen to the spot where she stood for at least a minute. When she found the ability to move she walked slowly to the window, a knot of dread in the pit of her stomach at what she might see. She placed her hands over mouth to cover her screams. The blond wig Cordelia had been wearing was hanging on a shard of glass still attached at the window. It was dangling there in the wind. Cordelia’s body was lying in the courtyard below, unmoving and unnatural. The courtyard garden had changed from beautiful to gruesome. 

Lila’s eyes were wide with fear; tears were rolling down her cheeks. She couldn’t stop the involuntary scream that protruded from her lips as she uncovered her mouth. She turned to see Ryan slumped now on the floor, shaking.

She ran to phone and dialed 911.

“911, what’s your emergency?”

“Cordelia just fell through a window at The Clementine Hotel and I think Ryan is having a seizure.” The words fell out of Lila’s mouth.

“Okay, miss. Please stay calm. What floor are you on?”

“We’re on the third floor, Suite 307.”

“Thank you. And you said Cordelia and Ryan are hurt? Those are your friends?”

“Yes, they’re my friends.” Lila felt the pain of the word “friends” as she said it. “Please send an ambulance. Hurry.”

“An ambulance…”

Lila had already hung up the phone. She ran to Ryan. She cradled his head in her lap. He was still jerking. She didn’t know what to do? She stared at the broken window, the glass that remained, splintered yet still attached. The wig looked like a piece of surreal art as it hung in the balance between life and death. She watched as the breeze loosed the wig and sent it, too, plummeting to the ground below. She closed her eyes as tears dripped from her chin. She looked down at Ryan and began to smooth the hair from his forehead.

She had to go check on Cordelia. She took a pillow from the sofa, put it on the floor and gently placed Ryan’s head on top of it. She walked to the window. She was afraid to look, but knew she had to. She brought her right hand up to cover her eyes, to block the view of Cordelia as she cried. She saw the wig; it had fallen near Cordelia’s body. She couldn’t stop crying. It was uncontrollable. How could this have happened? She tried to breathe through the tears, but found herself unable to stop them.

She heard a knock at the door.

It was hotel security along with the EMT. She had heard the faint sound of a siren in the distance but didn’t make the connection that it was her ambulance, the one she had called, the hopeful rescue of her two friends.

§

Lila heard a knock on the door again. She couldn’t find her voice to speak. She was exhausted and her tears had strained her more than she knew. She took several paper towels from the dispenser and wiped the tears from her face. She then walked to the door.

Her mother was standing there when she opened it.

“Honey, are you okay? You’ve been in there a long time.”

Lila walked to her mother and laid her head on her shoulder like a child being cradled. She felt her mother’s arms tighten around her and she let it all go again. She couldn’t believe she had tears left to cry yet they were pouring from her eyes.

“It’s okay, honey. Let it go. Mother’s here.”

As Lila’s tears began to subside her mother told her that Dr. Martin had given her permission to see Cordelia and Ryan.

Lila lifted her head up from her mother’s shoulder and looked at her. Mrs. Hayward smoothed Lila’s hair away from her face.

“Mom, this is going to sound really...” Lila searched for the right word. “…stupid, but do you have a ponytail holder? I need to pull my hair back. I need to not see this hairstyle when I look in the mirror.”

Mrs. Hayward gave her a mother’s reassuring smile. “I don’t think that sounds stupid at all, Lila. I think it sounds normal.” She nodded her head as looked into Lila’s eyes. “You need a little bit of normal right now.”

She put her arm around Lila and they walked back to the waiting room. Mrs. Hayward found a ponytail holder in her purse and Lila pulled her hair back. 

As she watched Lila, Mrs. Hayward was reminded of the 12-year old version of her daughter; running in from school, needing consoling after a playground altercation, or fight with Cordelia. She forced her own tears back realizing that in this moment she needed to be strong for her daughter.

Lila swiped her finger under her eyes one more time to wipe away the tears and mascara, then walked out of the waiting room and down the hall toward Cordelia’s room. She had to see Cordelia first. Maybe it was because she was angry with her or maybe it was because she hoped to have the chance to tell her she was sorry. She knew she couldn’t see Ryan yet even though she wanted to. She had to face Cordelia first.

Machines making rhythmical beeps and tubes looking alien were the first things that Lila noticed in the room. Broken hearted, she stood over Cordelia's body, covered in cuts from all the shards of glass that had forced their way into her skin; fractured and bruised from smashing through the window and falling to the ground below.

She was still alive, but Lila wondered as she looked down at her friend whether or not death would be the greater blessing. She wanted to reach out and touch Cordelia's hand, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. Maybe in time, if Cordelia actually lived, they would find forgiveness for each other. For now she just had to walk away. There was nothing she could do. Ryan needed her.

As she was leaving the room she saw a couple, huddled in sadness, walking down the hall toward Cordelia's room. It was Mr. and Mrs. Boston. Mrs. Boston touched Lila's hand as they passed in the hallway. It was a brief touch. No one paused. Lila was filled with a sense of familiarity and heaviness of heart.

As she turned the corner and made her way to Ryan's room Lila heard Mrs. Boston release a heart-breaking sob.

Walking into his room she made a concerted effort not to cry. She pulled a chair next to his bed and took his hand into her own. She laid her head on the bed and listened to the beep of his heart monitor as she felt the pulse of his heart through his hand.

“Do you wanna just get in here with me?”

It was a weak voice, but it was a voice she had never been happier to hear.

She looked up. “Ryan?” The tears welled up in her eyes.

“I’m gonna be okay, Lila.” He then smiled that beautiful 100-watt smile at her and she lost control of her tears. She felt such a sense of relief as she laughed and cried. She pulled his hand to her mouth and kissed it. He motioned her toward him and she cautiously rose from the chair and leaned down and gently kissed his lips. The man she loved was going to be fine.

EPILOGUE

The Presbyterian Church that had seen so many funerals and weddings had indeed seen another funeral and would see another wedding.

Lila placed her wedding announcement to Ryan in a scrapbook on the page opposite Cordelia’s obituary.

She looked at both newspaper clippings and thought how things should have been different for all of them. Cordelia should have been her Maid-of-Honor, but she was now covered with flowers instead of carrying them down the aisle. 

She ran her fingers over the picture of Cordelia that accompanied her obituary and fought back the tears and gnawing panic in her stomach. 

She turned back a page and stared at the photo that had been taken of the three of them that night at the society ball. It had arrived in the mail 2 days after Cordelia died. She stared at her and Ryan’s shocked expressions. They had been caught off guard and you could see it in their faces. Cordelia’s expression was completely different. She was in her element. She had a very seductive look on her face. She was every inch Marilyn the vixen. Lila couldn’t help but laugh as she thought about all of those photos she’d seen in her mother’s magazines of the love triangle’s on Dynasty and Falcon Crest. Their story and it’s ending would certainly give those writers a run for their money. Her heart began to pound with the anxiety that she now took pills to control.

She had finally remembered what had happened just before she blacked out. She had actually pushed Cordelia, causing her to lose her balance and crash through the window. It was a deliberate push. No one knew it except for her. The drugs and alcohol found in Cordelia’s system seemed the perfect explanation for how someone could lose their balance and crash through a window. No one questioned it further. Lila would have to keep that secret for the rest of her life. She now lived behind one of those closed doors in Thornclyffe that hid the secrets.

“Lila,” Ryan called from the kitchen of their apartment.


She closed the scrapbook and placed it back on the shelf.

©2011 Michael Rohrer