The Groaning Board

The Groaning Board by Annette Meyers Page A

Book: The Groaning Board by Annette Meyers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Annette Meyers
her
substantial figure draped in what looked like layers of woven and fringed
shawls. A thick braid hung down her back. She wore no makeup whatever, so her
eyelashes and brows seemed to disappear entirely. Her lips glistened without
color.
    “Leslie Wetzon.” Wetzon held out her
hand. “We met last month when my partner brought me to The Groaning Board to
taste some food for her party.”
    “Yes. I remember now. Xenia Smith.” She rolled Smith’s name on her tongue as if she were tasting it.
    Wetzon smiled. This was a different
Micklynn Devora from the one she’d met previously. “Carlos and I have been
friends for almost twenty years. He told me that when you lived next door you
kept him and Arthur from starving.” This seemed to amuse Micklynn. “I doubt
that, really.” She looked past Wetzon. “Oh, there’s your partner now.“
    “My partner? Excuse me?” Wetzon turned
in her seat. Smith was coming down the aisle toward her, but she sailed right
by Wetzon with a casual wave. She went directly to the couple at the piano as
if she knew them, then faced the audience and smiled.
    “Ladies and gentlemen,” Smith began,
radiating charm. “I am your host, Xenia Smith. I want to introduce you to a new
musical. I am certain that after you’ve heard this wonderful score, you will be
eager to make an investment.”
    Host? Wetzon was so floored she missed the next few
lines of Smith’s introduction.
    „...for Softly. I’d like you
to meet two wonderfully talented people: Marian Lesser at the piano and Ez
Carpenter, standing. The next Kander and Ebb.”
    Did Smith realize that John Kander
and Fred Ebb were men?
    “Before we start,” Smith continued, “we
have an open bar set up and a snack table. Why don’t you help yourselves to
drinks and food, and while you’re doing that, take a look at some of our
literature.”
    “Are you all right, Leslie?” Micklynn
whispered. She didn’t have to, for people were noisy about getting up. En masse
they moved toward the back of the room for the free booze and Cheez Doodles.
    “Yes. No. Why?”
    “You’re whimpering.”
    “Godalmighty,” Wetzon said. “Excuse
me a minute.” Smith was totally surrounded, so Wetzon made a beeline for Carlos,
who was talking warmly—would you believe—to Mort Hornberg.
    “Birdie!” Carlos cried, giving her
the no-no sign behind Mort.
    Wetzon ignored him. “Mort, darling, I
thought you were in California making Hotshot without Carlos.” Carlos
was now doing a St. Vitus dance in an effort to shut her up.
    “Delighted to see you too, Leslie
darling,” Mort said. He took out a small dispenser from his inside pocket and
sprayed his mouth.
    “What is Smith doing here, Carlos?”
Wetzon gave up on Mort and zeroed in on Carlos.
    “Representing your clients,” Carlos
said.
    “My clients? What clients? You’d
better tell me slowly, Carlos. Very slowly.”
    “You represent Lesser and Carpenter
and Softly, Dear Heart. I thought you knew that. It’s a Smith and Wetzon
extravaganza.”
    “Shit, Carlos. We’re not agents.”
    “You’re managers, I was told. Don’t
tell me you don’t know. I thought you knew all about it.”
    “Goddam,” Wetzon said. I will kill
her for sure now, she swore to herself. In some terribly painful, terribly slow
manner.
    “Sweetie pie!” Smith greeted her with
an oversized, perfumed hug. “I’m so glad you got here. Isn’t this perfecdy
thrilling?”
    “Oh, I’m thrilled all right. Why
didn’t you tell me about this?”
    Smith summoned up a truly hurt
expression. “I did tell you,” she said with supreme patience.
    “No, you didn’t.”
    “Of course I did. You poor thing,
you’ve been so distracted lately, sweetie pie. I just don’t know what to do
with you. Oh, there’s Twoey!” She kissed her fingertips and touched them to
Wetzon’s cheek, then went off after her former lover Goldman Barnes II, known
as Twoey. Twoey had bored Smith when he was an investment banker and

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