[K][T] and Family Ch. 03bypocketrocket©
Author's note: As things move toward the wedding, there will be less emphasis on sex. There is enough other drama to go around.
Chapter 11—Concentration of Forces
Interlude: 25th Anniversary
Much has been made of the interviews that day. Given the number of reporters hanging out in various places, there was bound to be some variety, even disagreement. Some of them ended in embarrassment for the writer. Frank Costello, a long time local columnist, became nationally famous. Rutgers had him address the journalism school. He is not the only one.
Mom is quietly eloquent. It embarrasses her to talk about it, but even verbal professionals like Aunt Jo and Aunt Francine will not cross words with her. It was Winfred Smith who first presented Mom's famous homily. I had it hanging above my bed when I learned to read. It was ten years before I realized that my own mother first said it.
We pulled into Sean's estate like celebrities to the Oscars. The line of of cars, bearing wannabe press was, excuse the expression, impressive. True to form, Sean's people kept the access open, though three cars had to be turned away before we reached the gate. Once inside, an attractive Bostonian blue-blood named Elspeth escorted us to see Siobhan. She took us to a guest room and said she would call in three hours. I got naked and into bed. I have no idea what Roxanna did.
The wake up call came with a steaming mug, which partly made up for the insult. Elspeth tried hard not to fawn, so I pretended she succeeded. It's always funny how the snooty upper crust tosses that air aside when around a celebrity. I tossed off the covers to rub her nose in my nakeditity. Elspeth colored and directed me to a shower.
Roxanna was already up, though still in her undies. She grabbed her own dirty top and tossed it to me. Together we went in search of soap and water. Roxie was enough of a beach babe to deal with a little skin, but the whole act reminded me that I was seriously horny. That was a problem. Roxanna already had reason to claim sexual harassment and I was running around nude.
It must have shown in my face, because Roxanna cracked up. I was embarrassed, but not about to get on her for laughing at my own peccadillo. When she settled down, Roxanna said, "You have no idea how funny it was to watch you wrestle with hitting on me and doing the right thing. I'm kind of flattered, even if you aren't my type. I like big girls—when I swing that way." As soon as she said "big girls" my mind jumped to Siobhan. That meeting could be interesting.
"There is a rehearsal at six and a dinner after. You are going to be my escort, unless you have a problem with that. I guarantee the food will be good." Roxanna thought that through. "Rehearsal as in a play or a wedding?" Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Francine, where is your head? "Wedding. The guy that owns this house is getting married. I am one of the bridesmaids. I also dated the groom, back when...I first met the bride. Different schools."
Roxanna nodded as if that made sense. "Is that big woman we met, after the car...?"
"The groom's sister. Right." Roxie licked her lips. She really did like big women. "Her name is Siobhan. She answers to Jo, or at least she has been. If you want to use her given name, pronounce it correctly. She is Doctor Richards, PhD, from Yale no less. She swings that way, but she also has caught the attention of a seriously tall German, named Lars. The two of us are going to be working together." I considered a moment.
"There's more. The bride is going to be dealing with Hollywood. No one here knows the ropes. I can't keep you in LA, but you have skills that are hard to find here. I will introduce the two of you and see how you get along. Just so you know, Sheila was the only thing Triple A and I talked about." Roxanna had looked skeptical, until I mentioned Aaron Aldermann. It had been her job to know who did what in the studios. AAA had called us. That sort of thing told stories Roxanna could understand.
It was just as well I slept all day, because there was nothing to do til dinner. I went down to the garage and looked over the metal. Sean had a vintage car hobby on the side. The Chevy was just one of seven cars in the garage. The Bentley was almost passé, but some form of Rolls is almost required. Absent was the Mercedes diesel Sean used as his personal car. Working down the row was a Bugatti, a Datsun 240Z with its engine pulled, the Chevelle, a big black limo out of Sunset Blvd, the Bentley, an early 1970s hearse with custom modifications, a really old car and something from a science fiction movie. All of them were at least as old as Sean. Whatever the story behind his choices, I wanted to hear it.
Roxie was shadowing me, which made sense. She was just a plus one. I was reminded of Christine, or rather CC, when I first met her. I waved Roxie closer and we went to see the carnival. Ye Gods it was big. At least an acre had been marked out for games, stalls and such, with more on the fringes. It would have been cool to snoop, but I was recognized. In less than a minute, I had three of my New York crew, Sean's Lord of the Grounds and Siobhan converging on me. Only Siobhan was smiling. Grinning might be closer.
She said, "I knew you would come. They are about to start making ice cream. Naturally, you smelled it." I grinned back. Short jokes are fighting dirty, but food is fair game. "That would be the stink I smelled over the diesel. Did you leave the cream out too long?" Rather than reply, Siobhan took us back to the garage.
There was a huge crank-type ice cream churn. It's flywheel had a belt running to a funny looking motor. Siobhan gestured to a mechanic, who pulled on a rope. The third time it coughed a couple of times before dying. The fourth time it caught. The sound was unique. It was unmistakeably a motor, but unlike any other I have ever heard.
Siobhan said, "It isn't from 1910, but the type was available then. This particular one was built in 1919. We will be using it to churn the ice cream during the, umm, festivities. Sean figured it would draw a crowd." She made a chopping gesture at her throat. Blessed silence followed. "We have a tour of reporters coming. In fact, several are outside now. Feel free to divert some attention." Finally, a plan.
I looked over at Roxie, who was all but hissing at the preppy little grad student following Siobhan around. I would have told Roxanna that she was out of her league, except the prepster also had her back up. Kids. I headed toward the gate, not looking back. Shortly, I heard Roxie running to catch up.
Outside the gate was a menagerie of legitimate press, stringers, bloggers, wannabes and gawkers. There was a stir when the gate opened, but nothing like when they recognized me. I jumped on the hood the closest SUV. Welcome to Martel Answers, your guide to life in the fantasy worlds. Bullshit and misdirection included at no extra charge. It was easy to thin the shouts. I asked them to hold up their invitation when they raised their hand. Two idiots tried to cheat, which lightened the mood.
I never lie in interviews. Fact checking is a hobby for some people. That said, I have been known to lead reporters astray, even into ambush. That would not do here. I told them the story of how I met Sheila and we danced The Nutcracker. I could have gone on to how Oskar Gruber ripped Sheila's heart out, but that would be for a serious interview. Instead, I switched to Sean and his awkward sister. A familiar voice said, "She isn't awkward now, is she." It was Frank Costello and he earned a bonus.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Frank Costello. He was there when Sheila and I went to New York. He will also be there when I give the exclusive interview in about five minutes." It was one of my better buckets of ice water. "Sheila was my friend then. She is my friend now. Two days ago, when we went to the City for bridesmaids dresses, Pedro de la Garza wanted to meet Sheila. He called her the diosa. Pedro does not say such things lightly, or in jest. Good evening and good luck."
I let Frank in, much to everyone's dismay. He made a show of starting his recorder, as if it were not running already. I asked him what had already been covered. He mentioned a naked photo. A few questions identified exactly which photo. I was surprised and Frank was too good a reporter to miss it. I told him that I needed approval to go further. Anything touching on Mistress Cynthia was dangerous.
I said, for the record, "Sheila Schwartz is no one's submissive. If you don't believe me, try verbal fencing with her. Sure, Sheila has a submissive side. So do I. We play roles for fun. It's not who we are. I think one of the reasons she and Sean mesh so well, is that he is a role player as well. In their world, Sean is the Lord of this Manor and Sheila is his Lady. Ask the staff. She has been here less than a week, but she has already merged into the flow.
"Sheila was dealt a steaming crock of, uh, manure. She made fertilizer from it and grew a business. Sean, who is no slouch at spotting talent, noticed her photographic work. He asked Sheila to bail him out of a really nasty situation. She far exceeded anyone's expectations. In the course of working together, Sean looked into her background. That led to his forming a real estate group. Ask anyone in the group. Sheila owned the key piece. Now, there is a new division. I cannot talk about what I was doing in LA, other than closing an office, but think about the timing.
"Sheila Schwartz is an extraordinary woman. She is so well spoken that it is easy to miss how quiet she is and how she values her privacy. That's why she will be very happy here. She can have a family, which she wants badly, and do all her work without leaving the grounds. In a couple of months, when she is world famous, all these questions will be forgotten. Bottom line: Sean is marrying up." Frank quoted me word for word. It was a good interview, but Frank was a local reporter. I was surprised when the story went world wide.
About then, Sean and Sheila arrived. Sheila took the lead for the formal tour. I went to collect Roxie and found her talking to Jason. I was not sure who was hitting on whom, but they were deep into a discussion of the California surf and sun lifestyle. Christine kicked Jason in the ankle. Jason got angry, saw me, recognized me, went all hero worship, noticed Roxie again and tried for surfer cool—all in 3 seconds.
Roxanna burst out laughing. Not bad for off the cuff. Christine was good at practical jokes. Hours later that I realized that it was in Jason's best interests to look foolish. Ergo, Christine was trying to set them up. It was subtlety worthy of Sheila. I had a glimpse into why Christine meant what she did to Sheila. Damn Skippy.
At the time, I used my Miss Martel voice. "Christine, that was uncalled for. I should spank your fanny. Instead, I want you to turn around and show Roxanna what you do for fun." Christine complied with a definite twinkle in her eye. I had to stifle a laugh. Since Roxie had forgotten to cover her open mouth, a laugh would sound critical. "Christine, what is the best way to get Jason off?" Christine mimed drinking coffee. Jason laughed.
Christine put her fist in her palm and twisted her arm back and forth. "Grinding coffee? Coffee grounds?" Christine had already started moving her hands up and down, like milking a cow. "Milking. Grinding milk? Milking coffee? Milk and coffee? Latte." Christine smiled. "Wait a minute. That makes no sense." Christine mimed a screwdriver. Was there a pun there? Take it apart. Oh. Duh. Grind and milk together. Another coin drops. "You call it latte." Christine did American sign language for yes. What was that girl not studying?
I turned to Jason. "What have you been doing with this girl. She was practically a virgin when I had her last week."
Jason grinned. "No 'practically' about it. She was the real thing, sans hymen. Hair brush at eight. She thinks a real cock is much better than plastic." Jason turned to Roxie. "She also thinks sex is a competition sport. First to cum loses. She's good at it." Roxanna was steeped in LA sexspeak, but this was deep even for that pool. I took pity on her.
First things first. "Christine, say hello to Roxanna." Christine said, to me, "Hello to Roxanna." Now Roxie was really confused.
"Roxie, it works like this. Jason has had more, and more varied sex, than any five people you can find, even ones like me. He can tell that story himself. Christine, also known by her initials, CC, is a submissive and a bit of a pain slut. What you saw is over the top, done for a special occasion. All of New York is still talking about it. She is also a major league exhibitionist, which is why Jason can say things like that. She gets off on the humiliation." Christine was red as a beet, but I would lay tall money she was also wet.
I turned to her. "Don't think I don't know you upstaged me on purpose. Three times in one day is a record, in case you wondered. They are still trying the pepper sauce challenge. No winners yet."
Back to Roxie. "I'll show it to you on YouTube. Now, pay attention to these two. Watch their faces. Ready. Mistress Cynthia." Roxie watched Jason and Christine. I watched Roxie, so I do not know what their faces said, just what went across hers. I had made my point.
"As a matter of disclosure, Mistress Cynthia will be a name people ask about, should you take the position I am prepping you for. She is a dominatrix, perhaps the dominatrix. Yes, she and I have had a session. No, I will not tell you about it now, except to say that I have not cum that hard in years. Sheila is the one that really got off. No, I will not tell you about that either. What I will do is introduce you to Sheila. If this works out, she will be your new boss. She's also the bride, so it's complicated.
"Did I miss anything?"
Christine slapped her forehead, which cracked me up.
I love watching Sheila work an audience. I can deliver a speech, but for salesmanship no one touches my Kitten. She took a room full of seasoned reporters and spoon fed them misdirection, without ever straying from the facts. Oddly, the biggest worry was the reporter from the Beacon. Frank Costello had been reporting local political news since before I started school. He knew everyone who was anyone in town and quite a few people in the Capital. I do not think Sheila ever convinced him of the story. She convinced him to report the story she gave.
As for the rest, Sheila was quite correct. They would not have been there if the wedding was not generating so much interest, which tied in with the catalog and Mistress Cynthia. So, Sheila gave them some juicy gossip, which kept them from poking holes in her story. Showing pictures of herself was brilliant. I almost choked on my water. After that, it was all downhill. She brought them up to date, then I called a break before we went to the gym.
The others were interested in what XTreme Fitness had done with the building. I could tell that Claudia Johnson was itching to go to the back. In time, she did. Everyone and his mother-in-law's dog eventually saw Cynthia's studio, what was left of it. They saw the mounts for the cameras and the rings on the wall. Add that to a rumor of a bondage studio and everyone thought they had figured it out. There was no more talk about whether Sheila Schwartz was a gold digger. Instead they were working on how to titillate without using the words "bondage" or "dominatrix." On top of that, there was the blog which placed Mistress Cynthia in Brooklyn on Tuesday. It was sweet.
After that, we went back to the house to show the wedding magazines around. People and Us are wedding magazines, in case you never noticed. Wrapping up the tour took time, but we had a rehearsal scheduled, which is a good excuse. By 6:00 PM, our extended family was able to think about the wedding. We allowed a couple of reporters to cover even that. Lord grant that the weather Saturday evening was like that one. It was perfect.
Thursday was the big finish. This was the first time I had been in charge of a big project, and we would bring it off. In later years, people would talk of throwing the wedding together in a week. For Sheila and Sean, that is true. Sean proposed on Friday night and they were married Saturday the next week.
For the people doing the work, we had three days, and I was gone for one of them. On that point I had to thank Sheila—and Gerald. I brought twelve pampered graduate students, several from wealthy backgrounds. They all liked to play dress up, or they would not have come. However, they thought a hard day's work was spending ten hours preparing for finals. Nothing prepared most of them for getting their hands dirty with paid by the hour temps.
It could have been a lot worse. Gerald's people had military experience. Yes, that meant they knew how to take orders and not complain. It also meant that they had practice pushing the limits. It can be a real pain to have someone pointing out the details you missed, but it is comforting to know they will not ask the impossible. It turned out that was my job.
I was the one who said no. Do it my way became a mindset. I was the one that told this person that the other person had priority. I was in charge of all the scarce resources, like extension cords and battery packs. I said no so many times, to so many people that I thought they would all hate me. Instead, they wanted Justin to take our pictures together. They were proud of their work, and I was the one who approved it. One of Francine's people, also ex-military, told me I had a command mentality, whatever that means.
Here is one example. On Thursday, one of the few new things was Justin Immons, the wedding photographer. He took over the gazebo for his equipment. Some of Francine's people drifted over. Soon there was a big discussion going on. I went over to move things along. The problem turned out to be simple—the boat had no lighting and the natural light would be behind it.
I asked Justin how he would shoot it in natural light. He said that he would have reflectors set up. Also, he needed the boat's position to be quite stable. I told him to find a position he could use, then Michael Gilbert would get it anchored in place. That covered, I told him that he could set up a low strip of reflecting material near the water's edge. I left them to argue the details.
By lunchtime Thursday, we all knew it would work. That afternoon was our final push. The wedding was Saturday, but the yard belonged to the Amish on Friday, followed by a dance on Friday night. We all worked like dogs. As time ran down, we were forced to cut corners to make the deadline. Some things were left for Friday or even Saturday morning. There would be rough edges, but it would work. The only headache was the crowd of reporters assembling at the gate.
When the time came, I went out to the gate to meet the crowd. Security kept them outside until Sean and Sheila came home. Our plan, for me to wear a tux and stand with the groom, gave me something to discuss with the press. It probably explains all the pictures of me that were published. When I saw them, I was glad for the corset. When Sean and Sheila pulled through the gate, an enormous weight lifted. Sean was smiling and Sheila was wearing the zen-like expression that Christine gets. Whatever their done with their day, it seemed to have worked. I hugged them both, then moved everyone along. We had a schedule to meet.
The tour was an eye opening experience. As cameras flashed and I pointed out details, I took a fresh look at the house. The transformation was amazing. The house looked a high priced vintage hotel. Our theme was to show the old house well. It would not have worked if the house had not been worth showing—well made and enduring.