Saturday, November 10, 2007

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Dropping Lally Fitzwater off at her apartment after the performance had taken much longer than usual. Although Kevin had graciously accepted the old woman’s invitation to come upstairs and have a cup of coffee with her (an established ritual with many of his regular clients), for some reason Mrs. Fitzwater -- who was usually so prim and proper -- was talking a blue streak tonight.

“What’s more, I’ll never understand why they closed that restaurant that used to be located at the top of the Met. You’re too young to have eaten there, of course, but it used to be so romantic. Having your own private elevator made it feel wonderfully exclusive and the service was absolutely superb. The maitre d' always recognized my husband. We were treated like royalty every time we ate there. Of course, those were the days when our family foundation used to underwrite a new production once every three years. But all that has changed. Today, whenever I call people at the Met, it’s almost as if they had never even heard of Matt and Lally Fitzwater!”

Kevin shifted his position in the chair. The old woman’s monologue was beginning to bore him and he was anxious to leave.

“These days,” Lally continued with a semi-regal snort of derision, “it seems as if almost anyone can go to the Met. Why, just look at the people who were at tonight’s performance! All those Japanese tourists -- not to mention those colored people in our box. Now mind you, Lance, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a thousand times that I am not prejudiced against Negroes. Not at all. I just adored Leontyne Price back in the days when she was a new artist at the Met. But you must remember that she, at least, was a major talent. That pushy black woman seated in back of us tonight is nothing but a shameless social climber.”

Not wanting to appear rude to his client, Kevin continued listening to Lally’s diatribe. Soon the old woman was reliving the memories of days long gone, when she and her husband were at the center of New York’s society circles. The world she described was as alien to Kevin as life on the moon. But, to Lally, each charity event remained as fresh in her mind as on the day it had occurred.

Kevin looked down at his watch and cleared his throat. “Mrs. Fitzwater, it’s getting kind of late and if I don’t leave your apartment soon, you’re going to see one very handsome young man transformed into a big orange pumpkin wrapped in a black satin cummerbund. I hate to do this, but I really have to go.”

Lally stammered for words as she fought her way back to reality. “Yes, yes. Of course. How foolish of me. I was enjoying having someone to talk to so much that I completely forgot about the time. Now don’t you worry about the dishes, young man, I’ll take care of those myself. Here, let me show you to the door.”

While Kevin put on his coat, Lally reached into her purse and took out a twenty dollar bill from her wallet. Discreetly folding it in half, she made sure that it found its way into Kevin’s coat pocket as she reached up to give him a long and slightly sloppy kiss on the cheek.

“Thank you so much, Lance,” she cooed. “For the pleasure of your company.”

Knowing that freedom was just moments away, Kevin gave the old woman his most endearing smile. His straight blond hair and healthy complexion -- not to mention the near perfect dimples in his cheeks -- made him look totally irresistible.

“The pleasure, Mrs. Fitzwater, was all mine,” he whispered as he closed the door to Lally’s apartment behind him and headed down the hall to the elevator.

Next: Come Here Often?

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