Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene: A Timeline Via Facebook Status Updates

Friday, 3:01pm - so if we have to ride out Irene at New World Stages can we at least have the bar open for the employees? Can the adults please drink?

Friday, 4:56pm - pre-hurricaning at Diwine in Astoria! Stop on by!

Friday, 5.39pm - I went old school...Escape by Calvin Klein (take that Irene)

Saturday, 9:48am - "Rock You Like Hurricane" station playing on Pandora!

Saturday, 10:16am - after "Rock You Like A Hurricane" Pandora chose "Livin' On A Prayer" followed by "Thunderstruck"! Interesting, appropriate and perfect for this day!

Saturday, 11:09am - it's raining in Astoria...unfortunately it's not MEN!

Saturday, 11:52am - people in my Trade Fair are fighting! Ain't nothing but the bullshit!

Saturday, 12:18pm - Hurricane provisions: chips, pretzels, apples, peanut butter, bread, pork and beans, Stella and Ginger Ale to mix with my Jameson! Here we go!

Saturday, 1:02pm - it's pouring outside, might as well pour myself a drink inside!

Saturday, 5:51pm - Ana Lucia - dead, Libby - dead, Michael - wounded, Ben - escaped. Things just got real ya'll!

Saturday, 7:28pm - me and Stella Artois are having a simple little sit-down on the sofa!

Saturday, 9:23pm - Irene Ryan was an American actress best known for playing "Granny" on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Saturday, 9:28pm - Irene Dunne was an American film actress and singer of the 1930s and 1940s. Dunne was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958.

Saturday, 9:49pm - Irene, Irene, Irene, Ireeene. I’m beggin' of you please don't flood my land. Irene, Irene, Irene, Ireeene. Please don't flood it just because you can!

Saturday, 10:43pm - Season 2 has ended, Season 3 is starting. It's off to the cages!

Sunday, 12:40am - hope the Cyclone and Wonder Wheel ride out the 'cane intact!

Sunday, 5:09am - well, I managed to sleep a couple of hours! spent the past two watching OLTL! too keyed up I guess!

Sunday, 6:06am - on Sunday morning @ 6am you'll find Looney Tunes on Cartoon Network! Trust me, I'm watching!

Sunday, 9:47am - Awake! Coffee! Window's open! Listening to the rain and wind! It's almost over, but she ain't left yet!

Sunday, 11:03am - Hey Astoria peeps and New World peeps, hope ya'll are all okay! It's brunch time!!

Sunday, 12:41pm - it's official...I'm off to brunch!

Sunday, 1:30pm - this bloody mary is so spicy, but oh so good!

Sunday, 3:51pm - the wind is crazy right now! fierce! strong! a little scary!

Sunday, 5:16pm - Eew, Paolo and Nicki just arrived on the scene!

Me, Myself and I(rene)

There is a sense of dread that comes with anticipation. It can be the dread of the belt as you await you father arriving home from work to punish you for something your mother is going to tell him you did that day. It is the dread of opening the last gift under the Christmas tree and knowing beforehand that it is not the two-toned denim jacket you wanted more than anything else. It is the dread of sitting and waiting for hurricane Irene to hit with all of her powerful, Mother Nature winds and rain while you hope the power stays on and there's water to drink and flush your toilet.

On Friday, New Yorkers learned that the MTA would begin shutting down mass transit at noon on Saturday. That's a major shut down for a city of 8 million people, most of who rely on mass transit to get anywhere. As the news broke, word quickly spread that Broadway had cancelled all performances for the weekend. I don't work on Broadway, but I do work in a major theatre complex in midtown Manhattan and we too cancelled all performances. The shuttering of the subway system prompted the cancellations. People either wouldn't be able to get to the theatre or might not be able to get home once they got there. Every precaution that could be taken by our Governor and Mayor was being taken.

I was already enjoying a day off on Friday and now I was going to have the weekend off as well. What's a boy to do? Well, I got in touch with some friends and whiled away most of the late afternoon through dusk to early evening outside at the wine bar, Diwine, in Astoria. I enjoyed many beers and lots of laughter. Food was ordered as necessary and the conversation flowed as easily as the booze; that’s what New Yorkers do. We prepare for pending disaster by hanging out with our friends and daring whatever it is to interrupt our festivities.

Via facebook countless status updates reflected the party nature of my friends. People stocked up on wine, beer, vodka and Jameson. The recipe for “Hurricanes” floated around. Bars offered special "Hurricane" drink discounts. The 1919 musical Irene (revived on Broadway in 1973 with Debbie Reynolds) hadn’t been as talked about in years as it was on Friday as Hurricane Irene approached NYC.

As Saturday morning arrived and I didn't have to go to work, the wonder of how to spend my day occupied the top spot in my mind. I didn't really have that much food in the house and I didn't have a flashlight or extra jugs of water. I was sort of walking around in a daze. I didn't know how to truly prepare for something when I had no idea how bad it might or might not be. I created a Pandora radio station called "Rock Me Like A Hurricane" based on the song of the same title by the Scorpions. Soon 80's hair bands were filling my apartment with rock and roll and my facebook status updates were reflecting my pleasure. Eventually I made my way to the Trade Fair.

It was packed as I had anticipated it would be. I stocked up on chips and pretzels, cans of pork & beans, apples and of course more beer. I bought three prayer candles. Not because they were prayer candles, but because they were the ones that burn for 12 - 24 hours. There were no flashlights to be had. Not at the Trade Fair, the Rite Aid or the Duane Reade. People had already panicked and that shit was gone. If I could have gotten it over-nighted I guess I could have ordered it on Amazon, but the candles are what I chose. Nothing like a little prayer to go with the light that takes away the darkness. As for the water, I washed every pitcher, decanter and large vase that I owned and filled them full of water from my Brita pitcher. I just didn't want to spend money on water when I had plenty of water-storing options at my house.

I also filled every pan that I owned with water should I need it for anything. Maybe the funniest thing I did was filling my largest trashcan with water. I had been told to fill my tub with water so that I could use it to fill my toilet and flush should we lose water. Everyone knows I’m regular so having water on hand to flush was one step I couldn’t pass up. I chose the trashcan instead of the tub. I’m unique in that way. Sometimes I go with the flow and sometimes I like to walk into the traffic.

As I sat at home on Saturday, I found myself completely unmotivated. I'm so used to being at work that I literally wished I were at work. As 12:30 pm rolled around I sat down on the sofa to watch The Young and the Restless. I used to watch it all the time, but gave it up more than a year ago. For shits and giggles, and out of boredom, I decided to visit Genoa City while I ate breakfast. That's right, breakfast at 12:30pm. Anyway, I turned the television channel to CBS and was not greeted with Y&R. That's because it was Saturday. Having a weekend off was throwing me for a loop. One of my Diwine comrades the night before had told me to live in the moment and just enjoy the time. I was trying, but I was frustrated. Thankfully, HBO was running a couple of Bugs Bunny cartoon movies back to back. That occupied 3 hours of the afternoon.

It continued to rain off and on throughout the day. The sky was gray. Irene was coming and there was nothing to do but wait for her dramatic, over-the-top arrival.

I watched The Weather Channel for a while, but the gloom and doom, fear-mongering media trying to prepare us for the impending deluge of rain and winds that were approaching did nothing but suffocate me in a fear bubble. I had to turn it off. I had to placate my mind with Lost. My husband and wife landlord team had started to raise their voices at each other above me, a light rain was falling outside and the wind was gently blowing the leaves. As much as I wanted Irene to be past us I was thankful that the real drama was still (landlord yelling aside) on disc 6 of season 2 of Lost.

It was 7:45 pm when I paused Lost and changed my facebook profile picture to a more recent/accurate shot of Irene. At 7:48 pm I stepped into my bedroom to peer out the window. The rain changed from steady to downpour in about 30 seconds. A few cars passed by and a couple of people with umbrellas. To look at it from inside the dry, safety of my room it looked like nothing more than a regular rainfall that had drenched NYC last week.

9pm. The leaves on the tree across the street from my house were now being more than gently blown. There was no force behind the rain, but the wind had changed. I began alternating between the season 2 finale of Lost and The Weather Channel. Irene was getting closer to home. She really wasn't supposed to hit with all of her force until Sunday morning, but she had already caused over a million people to be without power as she soaked the east coast with her splash and trickle. I won't lie; I was nervous. Anticipatory anxiety is the worst.

When Lost season 2 had ended I debated whether to read, open another beer, watch The Weather Channel or pop in Lost season 3. I popped Lost into the DVD player, made a quick check of the weather outside my window then turned on TWC. Nothing like a check of the weather on TWC to confirm that Irene was still on her way and to see how much devastation she had caused at the prom already. Oh wait, that's Carrie. I couldn't resist stepping outside my apartment and into the foyer of my building. From the time I looked out the window of my bedroom to the moment I got into the foyer the rain had begun to downpour again. I stood at the front door and watched the pelting rain bounce off of the sidewalks and roads.

I wanted to stay awake and hear Irene make her grand entrance into our city, but I was tired. I had already decided to spend the night on my sofa in the living room. There's only one window and it faces the alley between my building and the house next door. I turned off the air conditioner in preparation of high winds and the possible power outage. I rejoined Harry Potter in his quest to find Sirius Black as the rain fell heavy on the air conditioner; the front of the storm had made its way into our area. The worst was supposedly yet to come. All I wanted to do was sleep. I was reminded of long trips as a child. Mom always said sleeping would make the time fly. The difference this time was sleeping was going to take me right to the main event. Irene's major performance was scheduled to hit us the next morning. The center of the storm looked on track to hover over the City. That was something to look forward to with the morning coffee, right?

Sleep proved not to be a lengthy visitor. I slept for a couple of hours until a dream that had nothing to do with Irene jolted me awake. I then heard something fall outside. It was no use. My curiosity made me get up from my sofa and make my way to the window in my bedroom and watch the rain. I stayed awake for at least another two hours. I had slept for two and then was awake for two. One Life To Live on Soapnet helped me pass the time during those two hours. I talked to a friend (who laughed at me about OLTL) and watched the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on HBO then watched Looney Tunes on Cartoon Network as the sun began to lighten the 6 am sky. Well, as much as Irene’s gray clouds would allow it to lighten. Finally I fell back to sleep, but only for another couple of hours – two-and-a-half at the most.

My groggy, irritable self got up from the sofa and put the water on to boil for coffee. What else was there to do? I was bored. I won't lie. I didn't want to be bored, but I couldn't help it. I had spent the entire previous day at home anticipating the hurricane. I just wanted something to do, somewhere to go. The rain was over. The day was overcast, but somehow beautiful. There was a breeze blowing, but nothing gale force. Then a plan formed. Two of my Astoria friends started communicating via facebook about having brunch. I was all over that. I'm a homosexual. We know how to do brunch. Waiting out Irene seemed to be all about what you were drinking while you stayed locked inside your house. With Irene's wrath past the City it seemed perfectly normal to gather at brunch for a mimosa or bloody mary and talk about how you spent the evening.

Just before 4 pm I heard the wind. It was the sound I had been expecting all the previous night. The tail winds from Irene were still present. I not only heard them, I saw them blowing the leaves of the tree across the street, swirling the clouds in the sky. My curtains were blowing as the open windows in my apartment created a cross breeze. I watched the power lines outside my apartment swaying. This was the moment that I realized that even though we had made it through everything Irene had dumped on us, we still had to get through these winds.

Irene blew through town like a party girl. She hung out long enough to get the party started and then stayed past her prime. New Yorkers know how to weather a storm be it a blizzard or a hurricane. By the time her party was in full swing, Irene had been downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane to a tropical storm. That didn't change the power of her rain or winds. Facebook statuses were a way of keeping connected to friends across town or in another borough. We're resilient and we bounce back. We gathered and drank and watched DVD's. We filled our tubs with water and we stocked our cabinets with canned goods. We then stood in Irene's winds and waved goodbye as she left our City stirred not shaken.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Changing Patterns

It’s never that easy is it? I always thought it should be easy. But there’s so much second-guessing and wondering and excitement and laughter and anxiety. It’s not easy. It can be down right painful. It’s like growing pains for the heart. The journey is hard. Climbing up hill takes stamina, walking on level ground takes patience. Continuing, when all you want to do is give up, takes perseverance. The journey may take a while. I’m scared, but I’m in it right now. I’m finding it hard to find the joy. I have a Post-it on my refrigerator that says “It’s important to experience joy every single day.” Every. Single. Day. Do you know how hard that is? If you don’t, let me tell you. It is one of the most difficult things to find when you’re scared or sad or anxiety-ridden.

It’s easy to find joy when everything is going your way and the Universe is giving you what you want. Try finding it when you keep asking and nothing is happening. It’s hard to find the joy then. Even harder: realizing that the Universe is not ignoring the request just not answering it at this time because we aren’t clear, aren’t ready or don’t need it.

Patterns as I say the things I always say. The older I get the more I understand myself. The more I understand myself the more patterns emerge in my life. I’m in a rut. It’s a deep trench where I’m trying to keep myself hidden from Fear as he lurks just over the ridge. I’ve let him keep me at bay for a very long time. Sometimes he gets down in the trench with me and I run from him, keeping a slight lead. I can always hear him behind me, running, taunting. If I can make it to my door without him overtaking me, I lock myself inside and breathe. That’s not living though. That’s hiding.

Just look…here I am on cue again
Upset, feeling torn in two again
Afraid, saying I’m okay
Making little jokes
Until I run away…again

Patterns in the ways I try but never change. There has to be a change. I made a decision recently that was a departure from the “me” of my past. I chose friendship. It hurts everyday when you want something that you can’t have. When feelings are not returned the pain can be devastating. I know that sounds dramatic, but I am dramatic so it seems appropriate. As recent ago as last year, I would have walked away from a situation such as this, but today I’m struggling to find the balance. When someone if worth it you find a way. If I walked away right now I would be walking away from someone that I want in my life. Someone who wants me in his life. Good friends are hard to come by in this world. Why have I turned my back on so many who could have been good friends? That’s my pattern. I walk away. I made a decision to change this pattern. My God, it’s hard. I feel like I need a Xanax most days. I don’t want to need an anxiety medication, but the anxiety I feel is real. I’m coping, but just barely. I sure could use a double shot of joy.

And yet I know I am not the same
Inside my heart is something I can’t tame
I feel my mind bursting into flame
And I must change or else I’ll break apart
Or break away
And end up having to start…again

I don’t know where this journey is heading. None of us do. If we did we might never start walking. Being open and honest about my feelings is the only way I know how to be. What I chose to not walk away from is the most honest and vulnerable that I’ve been with a person in 13 years. No one has really, truly seen this part of me except for the friends I’ve had in my life for almost 20 years; the friends who knew me before I became the scared, closed-off person struggling to remove the bricks that he walled himself up behind.

Just look as I’m thrown a curve again.
I leap, then I lose my nerve again
In tears, running home I go
Secretly relieved, safe with what I know…again

It’s time to change the patterns, get out of the rut, climb up to the top of the trench and face Fear. It’s time to create the life I want instead of hoping and waiting for it to appear around me. I want my heart to burst with joy, not constrict with anxiety.

One of my best friends said to me recently “In the mean time you have to keep living.” He’s right. I have to live my life. I have to live the life I want. I have to have the courage to be me. I have to have the strength to believe in myself. I have to walk through life with confidence. I feel like I’m just starting my journey, but in reality I guess I’m starting a new leg. I’ve been staring at the fork in the road and finally chose a direction.

Patterns through the day I seem to use to give my life a shape
Patterns through the house that give me comfort when I need escape
Patterns that lead me nowhere…at all.

My ipod is charged and my playlists are loaded with enough songs to keep me occupied and entertained for a while. I don’t know why I’m scared. It’s just a journey. What’s a journey? It’s getting somewhere else; going somewhere familiar or new. Change is scary, but I have to do it. Here’s to changing my fear pattern into and excitement pattern.

(Lyrics in bold and italics from the song "Patterns" cut from the musical BABY)

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.


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

Friday, August 12, 2011

Thornclyffe - Part 8

The scratchy sounds of pre-recorded music spilled forth from the ballroom as they entered. The band for the evening was to be Benny and the Midnight Goodman’s, but as they had yet to start playing, the music was vintage gramophone; every scratch and imperfection could be heard piped throughout the room, but it only added to the ambience.

Cordelia was giddy. Unbeknownst to Lila and Ryan she had indulged in a little light drug use before exiting her room. Maybe light wasn’t the correct word. She placed two drops of Laztripol under her tongue. It was the first time she had allowed herself more than one drop at a time. She was already feeling it. She was tingling from head to toe. She had slipped the vial into her purse as on option for later should her two friends want to partake with her.

The Stork Club’s main dining room was laid out before them. Deep red leather banquettes lined the walls while round tables covered in pristine white table clothes made an inner circle. The dance floor took the center of the room. Each table was graced with a bowl of tightly bound red-centered yellow calla lilies, red roses and sprigs of yellow berries. A black ashtray emblazoned with the words “Stork Club” in white also added authenticity to each table. The accompanying chairs were covered in green velvet. Fake windows had been mounted on the walls behind each banquette and hung with green and silver velvet curtains. Huge sprays of red roses, also containing the yellow berry sprigs, were standing on the dividers that separated one banquette from the other. 

As this was an event laced with nostalgia, the owner of The Clementine had given his permission for smoking to be allowed in the ballroom once the doors were closed for the evening. It was shocking that he had said yes to the request, but he was a sucker for perfection and wanted the room to transport each attendee back to a time when cigarettes were sexy and laughter was seen through a cloud of exhaled smoke and heard after swills of champagne.

There were life-size, black and white cutouts of famous Stork Club patrons. Owner Sherman Billingsley was represented by a cutout at the entrance to the ballroom. The Kennedy’s were there, as well as Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Ava Gardner. A large photo of Walter Winchell sitting at his regular table, #50, was hanging from the ceiling over what was presumed to be that evening’s table #50. Pictures of Tallulah Bankhead, Charlie Chaplin, Grace Kelly, and Ernest Hemingway were hanging on the wall. Even famed gossip columnist Louella Parsons was represented with a cutout that looked as if she was overhearing what would be the headline of her column the next day.

All three of them looked around the room. They were completely in awe at the effort that had been placed upon every detail in order to recreate a glittering world that had once been a society mainstay. This was not their first society ball, but it was by far the most beautifully rendered, from idea to completion, they had ever experienced.

As the music continued to change, the sweeping sounds of Frank Sinatra, Lena Horn, and Count Basie engulfed the room. The past replaced the present. Nothing outside of that room existed anymore. They were shut away, back in time, enchanted by the chance to just breath the air that seemed to have been part of a New York City that didn’t exist anymore.

“Our table is #23,” said Cordelia, looking at her invitation. “You two find the table and I’ll get us a bottle of Champagne.”

“A bottle?” said Lila. “Somebody’s in party mode.”

Cordelia laughed a little. “I just want us to have a good time tonight,” she responded. “I’m counting on the two of you to keep me from giving too much money tonight though.” She gave them both a serious look before bursting into laughter.

Lila and Ryan both laughed as Lila shook her head at Cordelia.

“But seriously,” said Cordelia, “I don’t want to lose control of my mind or checkbook tonight. I’m counting on both of you,” she said pointing at them both to show she meant it.

“Yes, ma’am,” said Ryan.

“Now, let me get that bottle and get it back to the table while it’s still cold.”

After finding table #23 Lila and Ryan sat down. Lila looked in the direction of the bar and stared at the curvy backside of Cordelia’s Marilyn Monroe. “She seems to be really happy tonight.” Lila smiled. “That makes me really happy.” She turned to Ryan. He reached out and took her hand and smiled at her. 

“You’re a good friend, Lila.”

“I try, Ryan, but I don’t always succeed where Cordelia’s concerned.” A shadow of doubt crossed her face. “I know how she feels about you and as much as I try to keep my jealousy at bay it comes out sometimes.” She looked down at his hand in hers then back into his eyes. “You know what?”


“I’m not going to worry about that tonight.” She took a breath and straightened her posture in the chair. “Tonight we’re three friends having a good time at a fabulous party.”

Ryan lifted her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Agreed.”

“Okay people, the champagne girl has arrived and the cigarette girl will be by our table in a few.”

“The cigarette girl?” asked Lila.

“You know the Stork Club had a girl who walked around asking people if they wanted cigarettes.” She looked at the two of them and the look on each of their faces told her they hadn’t done as much research as she about the Stork Club. “Okay, maybe you didn’t know that. I’m thinking I might just indulge myself tonight. I mean why not? ‘Soap opera says, One Life To Live.’” Her use of the Janet Jackson lyric made Lila laugh out loud and Ryan shake his head with the biggest smirk he couldn’t hide.

Cordelia laughed and poured champagne into the champagne coupe’s that were popular during the now romanticized 1950s.

They talked and laughed their way through that bottle of champagne. The Laztripol was coursing through Cordelia's blood. She was ready to explode out of her chair, out of her dress.

"I have to dance, you guys." She looked at them with a longing that they join her.

Benny and Midnight Goodman's had taken the stage and were playing through the hits of the Big Band era. The music was as intoxicating as the champagne. Ryan looked a little strange; truthfully he looked as if the champagne had gone right to his head.

"I think I need to eat before I attempt to dance," said Ryan. "Lila, why don't you dance with Cordelia? I would love to watch the looks on the more conservative faces." He laughed then patted the sheen of sweat from his forehead with a napkin.

"Honey, are you sure you're okay?" Lila asked.

"Yeah. I just need to eat."

"I’m gonna stay here with Ryan. Is that okay, Cordelia?"

"Of course," she responded. "It would be nice to have someone to dance with, but I think I can manage as Marilyn on my own." With those words she was in the center of the dance floor causing all eyes to focus on her, which meant she was right where she wanted to be—the center of attention. Slow and easy she moved. Her eyes were closed as she swayed her hips to the moan of the trumpet lamenting forth from the bandstand.

Lila watched her briefly before turning back to Ryan.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

"I just feel light-headed. That's why I think I need to eat. I didn't eat much today and we did just drink a bottle of champagne." He smiled at her.

"Dinner should be served shortly," said Lila. "Would you like some water?"

"That sounds great."

"Be right back."

As if she'd been watching, lying in wait to make a move, Cordelia sidled up next to Ryan and grabbed his thigh and gave it a squeeze.

He jumped.

"What are you doing, Cordelia?" He asked, taken aback by her blatant forwardness.

"I was just checking on you," she said, acknowledging neither his jump nor her inappropriateness.

Lila returned to the table as Cordelia was removing her hand from Ryan's leg.

"Hey," said Lila. "Finished dancing already?"

"Just keeping Ryan company while you were gone." She smiled at them both. To Ryan: "Are you feeling any better?"

"Actually, I'm feeling a little more dizzy now," he said as he started to stand up. "I'm going to go to the bathroom and splash some cold water on my face." To Lila: "Would you see how much longer until they serve dinner?"

"Of course, honey," Lila responded. "Cordelia, will you go with Ryan."

Ryan didn't really want her to go with him, but he also didn't want to protest too much. He thought it better to just give Lila the peace of mind that he would be with someone should he need the assistance. Cordelia positively beamed with delight as she nodded to say yes. 

Ryan stood up followed by Cordelia. The roaming photographer called their names and they each turned to look at him. He snapped their picture, the bright flash causing shadows and blurs to dance before their eyes. Cordelia laughed while Ryan tried to shake away the after-effects of the flash.

Lila walked toward the back of the ballroom past the ghosts of former celebrities as they danced and drank and laughed. The music filled the room and floated on swirls of cigarette smoke. All she could think about was getting Ryan some food. Anything would do even if it was just a roll. If eating would help him feel better she wanted to find him food.

Cordelia took Ryan's arm and walked him past the bar toward the bathroom. They stopped in front of the men's room door. He leaned up against the wall instead of pushing the door open.

"I think I need to go to the room. It's getting worse. Can you go get Lila?" His face was flush and he was starting to sweat more.

"I can take you to the room, Ryan. I'll send Lila a text and let her know." Cordelia as nurse was an amusing role to play especially dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Had Marilyn ever played a nurse? It was unlikely. "Come on. Let's get you upstairs."

She took his arm and began to lead him toward the doors.

When they arrived at the elevator it was there as if waiting for them, again. Cordelia pushed the button for the third floor as Ryan leaned his head on her shoulder.

"Thank you, Lila for taking me back to the room. I know you were excited about the party." His eyes were closed. He didn't seem to know what he was saying. "You can go back if you want to after you get me inside."

Cordelia stared at their reflection in the golden doors of the elevator. She wanted Ryan to love her and he thought she was the woman he was in love with. For a brief moment she felt bad for putting two drops of Laztripol in his glass before bringing it to the table. She couldn't understand why Ryan and Lila hadn't had the same reaction on the drug as she and couldn't resist trying again. Ryan was reacting poorly, but she felt certain he would be all right once he slept it off.

Once they were inside the room Cordelia did send a text to Lila. She was unconcerned about how long it might take Lila to respond or about the fact that she was missing the party. She was exactly where she wanted to be.

When Lila returned to the table with a basket of bread in hand she was curious as to the whereabouts of her two friends. She had been gone so long in search of food that she assumed they would be back and sitting at the table when she returned. She looked in the direction of the bar but didn't see Cordelia or Ryan. Impatience took over her thoughts and she walked to the bathroom herself. Cordelia was not in the hall. She went inside the ladies room. Cordelia was not inside. She walked back into the hallway and paced in front of the men’s room door. Her mind raced with questions—thoughts—of where they could be. She finally decided to walk into the men’s room. She started knocking on the door before pushing it open.

"Hello. Anyone in here? Lady coming in." She now stood in the men’s room. "Ryan, are you in here?" There was no response. She peered under each stall. The bathroom was empty.

She opened the door and ran back to their table. It was still empty. She had a split second of feeling like the room was closing in on her before the moment of clarity arrived. She remembered she had her phone. She would call Cordelia.

She opened her bag and saw the flashing light indicating that she had a new text message. She was relieved to see that it was from Cordelia.

"Ryan wasn't feeling well. Got really dizzy. Took him to the room"

Lila grabbed her bag from the table and began to run toward to door. The slit in her dress allowed her to move freely with no constraints.

When she arrived at the elevator she didn't have the same luck that the three of them had had before. Both elevators were on the top floor and her button push made them start their descent.

She tried to call Cordelia, but there was no answer. She did the same with Ryan and again got no answer. She jabbed at the button as if it would make the elevator move faster or at least feel her agitation the more she pushed it.

When it finally arrived at the lobby level it seemed to take an eternity for the doors to open. The seconds ticked away like hours for Lila. She didn’t know why she was so anxious, but she knew she wanted—needed—to get to Ryan.

Finally on the third floor she again ran. This time to their room. As she entered she could hear the faint, sexy, mood-inducing sounds of music coupled with the muffled words of someone speaking. She saw no one, but her untrusting instincts regarding Cordelia kicked into high gear.

©2011 Michael Rohrer