Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fancy Dress (red COFFEE Chapter 13)



I remembered that the society column in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner had the nerve to publish the guest list for the masquerade party thrown for designer King Vivian scheduled for tonight, so I planned ahead. I had a feeling a certain dangerous, uninvited guest might show up so a bit of subterfuge was in order.

Since it was a masquerade party I dressed up as a black bird, my pale blonde skin glowing luminous against the black feathers on my dress, long opera gloves and matching headdress and mask. The task at hand was disguising a half-cast black girl like Ida Parker to look just like me. If that wasn’t the hardest disguise to pull off, nothing was.

“You won’t be completely covered in white, just your face, arms, some leg, and, voila!” I helped her with her outfit, a silver angel with wings.
“I’ll be glowing in the dark”, she complained.
“That’s the point, how else are we gonna catch this creep? You have to be my decoy”.
“I don’t know why I agree to these things. I must have rocks in my head”.
“No, you’re just a good friend. Put this mask on!”
“I hardly even know you. Why am I putting myself in danger like this for a semi-stranger?” She put the silver mask on.
“You’ll be catching a killer, just like in the gangster movies. Teddy’ll be there to keep an eye on you. Here’s your blonde wig, Ida. Get a look at you! Why you’re looking more and more like me by the minute”.

I helped her into some 3” high heels so she can match me height wise since I was a pretty tall bird.
“Well, if I’m not a regular Svengali, kid. Walk over to the mirror and get yourself an eyeful. Why, your own mother wouldn’t recognize you!”
Ida reluctantly sashayed over to the mirror, and practically jumped at her image in pale skin and blonde hair. “My mother wouldn’t want to recognize me!”


We took an expensive cab ride with our wings folded up to the Lovell Health House on Dundee Drive. If you haven’t been to this house it’s a nutty kind of place: imagine a bunch of boxes on top of each other but messy like in a shoe store where the boxes are all crooked and ready to crash down on you and the whole thing’s held up on stilts. This was the joint for King Vivian's soiree.

Mr. and Mrs. Lovell were hosting the party, of course, and they’re strong health nuts. There were classy tonic bottles lined up in a row for all the guests. A very healthy, fresh-faced Nordic guy in a boiled suit handed us our bottles.
“Tonic – for your health! Healthy bodies, healthy minds for a strong America!”

We ambled over to a corner of the room away from all the rich swells. I pulled a flask out of my wings and spiked our drinks. “For our health!” we clinked bottles, toasting each other.
I lifted the beak strapped to my mouth and took a relaxing swig, and then stopped. “Do you hear that record? What are they playing?”
“I don’t know, sounds like some long hair music. Why?”
I listened closer. Drat, it was that record again.
“It’s Anitra’s Dance from ‘Peer Gynt’. Jiggers, I can’t get away from that lousy tune. I’m going to take that record off and break it!” I started towards the sound of the phonograph, but Ida the silver angel pulled me away.
“Nix, nix, that’s the rye talking”.

The room was getting more and more crowded with people. I couldn’t help thinking that our target, one Mr. Shep Rogers, was lurking about somewhere. After all, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting some well-heeled big shot there. King Vivian got around.
“Lois Angelus! Back from the dead!” King Vivian ran up to Ida, resplendent in a well-tailored, spangly matador outfit. “And how fitting, as an angel!”
“Uh-hum!” Ida coughed, looking at me with fear in her eyes poking through the mask.

“Lois dear”, I lisped, flapping my wings, “You promised me you’d show me the powder room”.
“Uh-Hum”, Ida already ran towards a dark room down the hallway, her angel wings scraping against the ceiling. King Vivian stared at me.
“I thought you had to use the powder room”.
I spun around and raced after Ida.

A cowboy in a mask floated around the room and approached me. His lips looked familiar.
“Psst…Teddy”, I whispered.
“Lois, is that you?”
“Of course. Say, there’s a mighty suspicious character walking around here, dressed like a lumberjack. He looks kinda like our man Rogers”.
Detective Braintree laughed. “Boy, I’d hate to have you pick a mug in a line-up. That’s one of my guys!”
“Well, he does look like our man”.
“I’m keeping a close watch and so’s he. Are you sure he’s gonna be here?”
“Sure I’m sure. My feminine intuition’s driving me crazy”.
“You said it!”

I started for the bedroom Ida was headed to, but immediately got pulled back by Teddy. “Say, Lois, let’s have a quick kiss in between crime chasin’”, Teddy clutched me. I pecked him like a bird.
“There, are you happy?”
“Say, you don’t have to peck like a bird, even if you’re dressed like one. Make this one count!” Teddy leaned in. I glanced behind me and noticed that the bedroom door was closed.
I gave Teddy a matinee idol kiss. “Okay, Valentino? Now get back to work”.
“Awww”.

After our clutch the creepy song from Peer Gynt started playing, "In The Hall Of The Mountain King". I glided over to the bedroom and tried the door. It was locked. The next thing I heard was a weird, scuffling sound with things banging around inside. Nobody really heard much because the music was loud and the room was set far from the living room area. I jiggled the door knob and got nervous.
“Ida! Ida! Open up! Come on, open the door, it’s me!”
No answer.

Since the door wouldn’t budge I finally gave up and decided to find Teddy. I collared him while he spun a six gun in his hand like a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy.
“Teddy, Ida’s in the bedroom, but I’m locked out”.
“What do ya mean?”
“Ida’s in the bedroom with him!”
Braintree signaled to the lumberjack across the room, who joined us towards the bedroom, attracting everyone’s attention for a few seconds, which predictably passed back into their socializing.

“I hope the home owners aren’t anywhere around. I caught hell for doing this the last time”, Braintree pulled out a long file from his holster and jimmied the door open, not without tearing out some of the door sill along with it.

Braintree and the lumberjack jumped into the room and pulled out their guns to an unoccupied but messy bedroom.
“Look, chief, there’s signs of a struggle”, the lumberjack pointed to a fallen dresser and torn bed sheets.
“Yeah, she put up a fight”, he scanned the wreckage, running over to the open balcony. “Get a load of this!”
We ran out to the balcony and saw a line of torn bed sheets knotted together in a link for escape out the back.
“Well, Lois, your feminine intuition paid off”.

I broke out into a cold sweat. “Teddy, what are we going to do? We have to find Ida. She’s my only friend”.
“What about me?”
“Why, you’re more than just a friend”, I wrapped my wings around me.
“That tears it”, the lumberjack grunted. “I’ll get the car, but pronto!”



1 comment:

Busy Gal said...

Amazing!!! MORE! I love the way you write!!!