and I’m breakin a confidence here, there’s this guy—-an incredibly successful
attorney, if you must know—who has a thing for you. I won t mention names, but
Bill Veeder made a special request for your presence.”
“Not on your life, Laura Lee,” Wetzon
snapped. “I am tired of the emotional wrenching that comes with relationships.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more,
darlin’. That’s why it’s so much fun to play with fire. If you are really
careful and contain it, you won’t get burned.”
Wetzon thought, that’s really what all of this is about. Men enchanted with their penises.
It had started to rain, soft warm
drops like tears on your cheeks. She opened her umbrella and, heading westward,
jaywalked across Second Avenue in a traffic lull. Forty-ninth Street between
Second and Third was a well-kept enclave of privately owned brownstones, home
to, among others, Katharine Hepburn and Stephen Sondheim, Wetzon’s favorites.
Wetzon paused in front of Sondheim’s
house and made her usual obeisance. Closing the umbrella, she set down her
briefcase and bowed deeply. Rain dribbled down her nose, frizzled her hair in
its topknot. Sorry, Steve, you get short shrift today. She pressed the button
on her furled umbrella; it snapped open, she righted it, and went on her way.
She would look a total wreck by the time she arrived at the backers’ audition.
Unless... She could stop at the
Chanel counter at Saks and get someone to make her up.
Which is exacdy what she did.
It was that time in the afternoon
when the shop-till-you-drop crowd were wending their way home, and the
after-work contingent had not yet arrived. Wetzon perched on a high chair in a
private alcove and let the cosmetologist clean off her streaked makeup, fill in
her tiny lines, and erase the dark circles under her eyes. She was quickly
dabbed and brushed with the latest eye shadows and liners, moving her away from
subtle browns to purples and wines, a touch of white on her lids. The palest of
lip color completed the transformation.
Handed a mirror with a sly smile,
Wetzon was stunned by her reflection. She looked like a different person.
Sultry, somehow. The flare of her eyebrow let the world know how assured she
was. Yes. Unattached. Yes. Her hair, loosened by the rain, blurred the
sharpness of her nose, chin, and cheekbones. On the make, Leslie Wetzon? Why
the hell not? Silves-tri had walked out on her, expecting her to be patient and
understand that he preferred not to include her in this portion of his life.
So she was free.
By the time she left Saks, the rain
had stopped, and the sky was a mellow blue streaked with pink. May would have
it no other way.
On the corner of Fifth Avenue and
Forty-fourth Street, where she again turned west, a snack cart operator, his
knees resting on a piece of cardboard, was praying to his God. New Yorkers
passed him by; tourists stopped to stare.
The penthouse office of the
Dramatists Guild—its opulence still visible in the carved-plaster and
gold-leafed ceiling of the huge room—had once been the home of J. J. Shubert,
the oldest of the legendary three Shubert brothers. The empire the trio left
still operated most of the theaters on Broadway.
A coatrack fat and dripping with wet
raincoats and slickers stood near the entrance. Rows of folding chairs, almost
all occupied, were lined up in front of a grand piano. A man in his thirties
stood, leaning against the piano, while a very stout Woman perhaps a little
younger, took up most of the piano bench.
“Well, look at you, Birdie mine!”
Carlos grabbed her Waist and twirled her around; his face was flushed with
excitement. He kissed her lightly on the lips. “I saved a seat for you, right
When she turned to talk to him, he
was gone. Wetzon spread her coat loosely over the back of the chair and sat
“We have met, I think,” the woman
beside her said.
It was Micklynn Devora,