Once back inside the studio I went to prep for the next model, leaving Lea with no idea what to do for a while. It wasn’t till she was grooving to the music that she remembered where she was, and why, and as she walked to the big room, as she liked to call it, she found herself happy to know classical music could make her feel like dancing too. . .
“Big Beethoven fan,” I explained as I watched her sway to the music.
Today’s model pretended to understand. “Yeah, I love that dog too. Wish he’d make more movies.”
I somehow managed not to strangle on that one, even kept from laughing until the gal’s first wardrobe change. Lea zoomed right up, hands playing with the buttons of her blouse. “Since I’m not being paid today,” she mused aloud, “and we’re not in private, I will only take half of my clothes off. Would you like that?” she winked.
“Half-naked, or half-clothed?”
She hooted. “Which one is the optimistic one?”
“For me? I would like you to remove the clothes on your left side.”
Oh oh. . .
She was saved from ripping up her available clothing by the arrival of the model, who hadn’t dawdled as usual, not with a better looking model in the house. . .
Lea pretended to go away, for the model’s sake, but I knew where she was, which didn’t allow me to answer all the model’s questions honestly, but on the other hand gave me plenty of opportunity for fun.
“I’m not saying I hate the way Lea looks,” the model was protesting. “All I mean is that she doesn’t have the usual look the rest of us do. I’m surprised she gets any jobs at all.”
“Lea appeals to men,” I replied simply. “Most models are chosen to appeal to women, not in a lesbian kinda way, but to make them think, ‘If I wear that, I’ll look as good as her.’ Females are simple creatures.”
By the time Lea was finished sorting through all that material, the moment was gone, so she turned and flounced out. It wasn’t till the model was taking a bathroom break that she came back, where in as airhead a voice as she could handle, asked, “Do you believe in advanced mutual compatibility on the basis of a primary initial ident?”
Since I knew this one, I gruffly replied, “When the ident has curves like yours, baby, one look’s all that’s needed.”
She tried to look surprised. “I didn’t think you’d get that.”
“Saw the same show. Have it on DVD.”
She looked smug. “So our compatibility is based on more than just primary initial ident! Yes!”
“Glad there was something, since I didn’t see anything mutual on your part.”
“I fell in love with you the moment I saw you!” she squealed.
“You were looking at my laptop!”
“Oh, yeah.” Then she winced at having said that out loud, for now she wouldn’t be able to argue it.
Fortunately the model returned, glanced at us curiously, then struck a pose. . . literally.
Grinning in relief, Lea waved at her and retreated again. . .
But unable to stand the thought we were talking about her, she was back very quickly, where she saw me struggling with a flash umbrella, two steps up on a small ladder and teetering like memories of the playground. She quickly rushed over to help steady the ladder, giving the model a baleful look; the model shrugged and went to get some water, apparently believing that her job of calling for help if necessary was now in someone else’s hands.
The model startled and turned around, but by this time Lea was smiling sweetly at her, so she went back to her water bottle.
Wow, a telepathic curse! I don’t know my own brain strength!
She was frightened out of her own inanities when I jumped down to land beside her, then held her steady when she squeaked. “Sorry. I’m so used to moving silently. . .”
“I noticed that last night,” she smirked when she regained her composure, licking and then chewing on my jaw for emphasis. “By the way, I thought you preferred to use less light.”
“I’d shoot you under a tree, if there are any in this damned town. Why?”
She pointed to the object he’d just been adjusting.
“Got no choice, working in a studio. As a photographer, light is my life. . . don’t start singing.”
She smiled her delight, but didn’t say anything, kept on noshing on my face, making it difficult to talk, let alone concentrate.
“Remember, photography means drawing with light.”
“I get it!” she chirped brightly.
Staying there this time, she couldn’t help but notice I didn’t talk to this model nearly as much as I had with her. She remembered what I’d said about most models being bimbos, and believed the massive compliment I’d given her, if she hadn’t believed it before.
Suddenly she heard the model say, “I don’t have an accent, I’m from Brooklyn!”
Wow, the bitch was making an attempt at a sense of humor. Too much.
“Brooklyn is not an accent. It’s a speech impediment. It’s a mouth infection.”
Lea suddenly screamed and ran out, squealing, “Don’t say mouth infection!” Howz that for a screen test, buddy?
“Now you tell me!” came my dopplering voice behind her.
Okay, that was funny. . .
“I shutter at the size of your aperture,” she purred a few minutes later, running her hand over the long lens, which was fortunately not attached to anything at the moment. She threw me a wink, just in case I didn’t know where she was coming from.
“You really AREN’T a dumb model!”
“Thanks.” She had to work to freeze the smile.
“Although you’re the one with the aperture, babe.
She was probably right in thinking flouncing away again was the only response she could give. I didn’t see her again. . . until she got hungry, at which point I took her along to a business meeting I was scheduled for, knowing there was a good chance she could distract the other guy. . .
Worst of all possible worlds, the restaurant didn’t have a convenient subway stop nearby, which meant it was easier to. . . gasp! Walk!
“I want to be an actress!” she suddenly cried.
“There’s a shock. Thankfully you’re not like that around me.” Hadn’t she already said this? I couldn’t remember, and right now I had to concentrate on remembering the best route to the restaurant.
“The reason I bring this up again is because we are passing just a block away from a place where I’d really like to work.”
I made sure of the street we were on; nope, not close to Broadway. A good sign.
“It’s called Don’t Tell Mama.”
“Hmmm, I like where this is going. So you wanted to be a stripper/comedienne before I brought it up?”
“Not like that, sicko. Some might call it a cabaret, but it’s not like that either. It’s just a whole bunch of incredibly talented, struggling actors.”
“Waiting for someone to figure out how incredibly talented they are?”
“Exactly! The place is standing room only with a line out the door, spilling onto the street. Audience members sing, and even the bartenders perform. If you get there after 10 P.M., you’ll be listening from the outside, so get there early.”
“I wasn’t planning on going.”
“Not even to see me?”
“You’re not there. . . yet,” I quickly added to save my life.
“I want so much to play there!” she whined.
Perhaps she wanted to show her thespian range, or maybe she was just too thrilled to be getting a free meal at such a ritzy place and didn’t want to mess it up, but either way she was far more calm as we were seated. Squire Harry, as I referred to the Brit I would be parlaying with, was already there, but he pretended to be a gentleman by rushing over to kiss her hand and seat her.
“I work in the Empire State Edifice,” Squire Harry told her after a throat clearing, hoping that would impress her.
“That must cost a lot,” she replied between gulps of her soft drink, having ignored the alcohol offered. More than it’s worth, was the implication in her tone.
Well, at least she knew what an edifice was, he mused. But then, he knew my taste did not run toward bimbos.
I couldn’t resist sweetly asking, “Is your office next to the Nappy-Time place?”
Squire was spared from having to ask what the hell I was talking about–he hated having to admit he didn’t know something–as the waitress came to take our order. When that was done, he boomed a non sequitur, “Ah, I love New York.”
“Living in New York is worse than boot camp. Trust me, I know.”
“You can’t tell me it’s worse than El Ay.”
“I can tell you, and I will. Here’s easy proof. There aren’t even ten thousand cops in El Ay. Chicago has over thirteen grand. But NYC has more than forty triple O. What does that tell you?”
Squire’s usual reply would be an automatic “It tells me nothing!” but he knew better than to try that with me, under any circumstances but especially today. So he went with, “And yet you never see one around when you need him.”
“Next time something happens to you, make sure you’re in a donut shop.”
“I have people who get my donuts,” Harry complained, but found that didn’t impress the girl. Okay, something a little more moneyed, he thought. “I was at a fundraiser the other night, I don’t remember what for, but it sure raised a lot of money, I’m told. Had some big politicos speaking, and the police chief was there too. He went on and on in a verbal monologue–sorry, that’s an oxymoron– about how citizens have to help the police, even the rich ones like us. It was quite pathetic. Yeah fine, here’s a check, now shut up and get out.”
Lea glanced over at me, wondering which way I’d go with that; she thought of at least five avenues of attack.
“Verbal monologue is not an oxymoron; it’s a redundancy. Written monologue would be an oxymoron.”
“And did you write him a check?” she asked sweetly.
“Of course not!” he snorted. “Who knows what he would have done with it!”
By the time we were done eating and she’d gone to the restroom, I’d gotten everything I could have hoped out of the negotiations, and more. Squire Harry didn’t seem put out, so maybe he would have given more, but I was more than happy with the results.
“Everything copasetic?” Lea asked mock-brightly when she returned.
“You’re a student of history too?” I grinned.
“I stude all over the map,” she giggled.
“Ahem, yes. Excuse me. My turn for the little boys’ room.”
“I like our euphemism better,” she told Squire as he stood up. That got a smile out of him as he made his way through the tables, thinking a woman couldn’t be a bimbo if she knew what a euphemism was. . .
Suddenly she threw her arms around my neck and kissed me, murmuring, “How’d I do? Distract him enough?”
Since I hadn’t told her about that, I couldn’t help but be impressed. “I could give you 15% and still come out on top, so yeah.”
“Yay! Amsterdam here we come!”