Andy Seven, former rock star/male model/bon vivant, the man with the action-packed expense account, the fabulous free-lance creator of stories and images is available for your entertainment NOW! on Blogger.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Department Store Catfight (red COFFEE Chapter 2)
I had two weeks left on my apartment in Downtown Los Angeles and then I was on my way to a fabulous loft in Hollywood, rent free. I was going to watch it while the owner, my friend Mister Bradley, designer to the Stars, summered in Europe. “I’m going to visit the most beautiful man in all Europe. He’s a war hero, you know. He served in the Spanish-American War”. “He was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders?” “Heavens no, Miss Low-la”, Mister Bradley yowled, “He’s the most bee-you-tiful Spaniard you’ve ever seen. Makes Rudy Valentino look like Marjorie Main!”
I left a few of my things in Hollywood between jobs before I’d trek back to tragic Downtown. I walked across Hollywood and Vine past the news stand, getting ready to grab a taxicab when a ratty little man with no legs wheeled himself up to me in his cart.
“Hey!” he garbled with a stubby cigar hanging out the side of his mouth. “Hey, Toots! How’s about a couple o’ bits for a regular guy who fought in The Great War? I’m a decorated war hero, I served my country - kick down a few shekels, kiddo. Whaddaya say?” “I gotta cab to catch, Speedy”, I sidestepped ham and his little sled. “STUCK UP QUIFF! I HAD BETTER IN NORMANDY! BITCH!” He angrily spat brown cigar schmutz on the sidewalk. “BREWHACK! COUGH!”
I slid into the yellow Checker and the cabbie yawned and put away his paper. “Where to, Ma’am?” “Bullocks, Miracle Mile”, I said, looking out at the radio station building across the street. “Righty-o”, he pulled out into traffic, chuckling at the Ford Model T’s still tooling down the street, too slow to cruise with the big boys. “Take that crate back home and burn it”, he mumbled at the ancient autos creaking by. I crossed my legs and caught the cabbie looking through his rear view at them until a Packard angrily honked his horn, forcing him to watch the road. “Awright, awright, don’t get all tuffy with me”.
A little while later I was in the Bullock’s private dressing quarters, where we change into our clothes. Miss Slattery, a boxy little woman with pinned-back gray hair, and also the Sales Manager of the Women’s Lingerie section, rolled up a dress rail in front of us as we changed. The rail had two dozen night gowns hanging on clothes hangers with numbered cards clothes pinned to them. Basically, our job was to walk into the lounge area of the Lingerie Section and model the latest outfits to customers who sat and drank tea as we sashayed by them, and whichever outfits they liked the most they bought. We were like breathing and walking mannequins. Bullock’s may have sold clothes, but WE sold the negligees.
“Miss Shapiro, you’ll be showing #2, the quilted satin night gown, Miss Martino, #5, the green chiffon nightie, and Miss Angelus, you’ll be featuring #7, the black silk sheer nightie”, Miss Slattery ordered.
The girls all eyeballed #7, i.e. mine, and it gave me the heebie jeebies. Miss Shapiro, a thin, horsey woman with bug eyes, fish lips, and mousey brown hair wasn’t what you’d call model material. Her third uncle on her mother’s side was Vice President of the Board of Directors, nevertheless getting the job was as far as her influence got her. She still had to lie, cheat, and steal to get the best jobs.
Anyway, when I turned to put my shoes in my locker, I caught Shapiro in the locker mirror winking at the other girls and switching card numbers. She was going to stick me with that ugly quilted number so she could style the sexy number assigned to me. I spun around as the girls walked away to the bathroom and I put my number back on my outfit, following that with mixing #2 and #5.
I put my black sheer nightie on and got ready for the showroom presentation. Shapiro and Martino, the two-headed monster returned from their smoke in the ladies room, and Shapiro immediately looked daggers at me.
“Hey, sister, what gives, that’s my outfit, you’re wearing”, Shapiro whined.
“I have #7, Miss Slattery gave you #5, remember?” I winked back at her. Giving her a taste of her own pissy medicine. “Well”, Shapiro backed off, “I guess the green chiffon nightie will do okay”, she pouted, caught at her own game. “NOW JUST A SECOND”, Miss Martino yelled, “Where do you think you get off with pushing that crummy rag on me? It was yours to begin with!” “Aw, go dry up! I always had #5, Lois’ll back me up, won’t you. Lo?” “WHY YOU DIRTY DOUBLE CROSSER!” Miss Martino grabbed Shapiro by the hair and pulled her down on the floor. Both girls screamed and kicked away at each other, Martino’s legs were longer and thinner, so Shapiro’s thick thighs pumped harder at her enemy. Shapiro also started scratching at Martino’s face, drawing thin cuts of blood. There was a loud tangle of chiffon and satin writhing on the floor in an ugly textile blur with cat-like shrieks and yowls. I casually walked towards the hallway and filed my nails.
Miss Slattery, accompanied by Mr. Hermann, the store manager came racing in to break up the melee. Pee Wee the Janitor was right behind them with his mop and bucket. He leered at the two ladies tearing away at each other and ripping their outfits to shreds. He behaved like an old drunken sailor at a burlesque show. Miss Slattery and Mr. Hermann, on the other hand, looked horrified.
“Ladies, ladies, stop this rough housing, at once!” Miss Slattery yelled. Poor Mr. Hermann had to get between the two rotten tomatoes and break them up, kicking and biting each other with mussed makeup and wild hair sticking up like crazy. One of them bit Mr. Hermann by accident, and he let out a holler you could hear all the way to the Sporting Goods Section three flights up.
“That’s enough of this donnybrooking, you, you Hellcats!” he lifted Martino up by her arm as hard as he could. Pee Wee jumped in to pick up Miss Shapiro, staring at her butt hanging out of her torn night gown.
“Get your hand off me, you damn monkey”, Shapiro pushed Pee Wee away. He didn’t look too bugged. I could’ve sworn his pants looked funny in the front but you didn’t hear it from me. “You harpies, you, you harridans”, Mr. Hermann sweated and gasped, “You have ruined two perfectly valuable original designs which I assure you will come out of your pay checks. But first, as soon as you two get decent I want to see you both in my office this instant!” He stormed off.
Miss Slattery turned around at Pee Wee, who was still leering at the two girls. “Well, Ziegfield, don’t you have some toilets to unclog?” she spat. “Oh, uh, yeah, sure, of course, heh!” Pee Wee’s mouth was wet with excitement as he pushed his rolling bucket down the hall.
“Well, Miss Angelus, I guess it’s just you today. I just hope Miss Marion Davies likes black!” “Marion Davies!” “Well, for crying out loud!” “Not a word out of the two of you! Get dressed and get out!” Slattery shushed them both. I raised my eyebrows, primped my hair and got ready to sell some sheer silk to William Randolph Hearst’s wife.
And if you really want to know, she bought the outfit as soon as I walked into the lounge.