K&T, LLC Ch. 05bypocketrocket©
Author's note: This section contains a graphic depiction of a very dangerous bondage scene. If you are at all squeamish, please skip the last chapter. There is a plot summary following the chapter.
Chapter 11 -- Old Friends and New
Interlude: 25th Anniversary
What can anyone say about the trip to New York. Maybe it would be that it was to Brooklyn, not Manhattan. Maybe that it was to a warehouse, not anyplace fancy. Maybe that Aunt Francine owned it through her production company. My personal favorite is that Mom met Angela and Pedro de la Garza. You have to be an insider like Aunt Frannie to know what that means.
Of course they also had the bridesmaids dresses made and designed the decorations for the reception ball.
I had a plan. Once we loaded up the cart and moved to checkout, I would pay for everything and say it was my wedding gift. Who knew Sheila would be flush and insist on paying herself? Then Jo Jo, the oversized little shit, slipped a gold card out while Schwartz and I were arguing. She and Little Miss Happy started hauling the clothes out, while Sheila and I were still arguing. It pisses me off when someone steals my lines, especially if I am paying good money for them.
We stopped in the lot long enough to snarf a decent sized snack, then stuffed everyone into the front seat and drove to Sheila's car. Jo went on to Julian's studio while the rest of us switched vehicles. When the three of us pulled up, Jo Jo was trying to climb some very nasty steps, in four inch heels. The damn woman was tall enough without them. Schwartz and I left Miss Serves a Lot to help her up.
That let us be inside to watch the M&M girls get their first sight of my work. Siobhan deserves a lot of the credit for the new look—she was wearing it after all—but Schwartz and I had gotten her into in the first place. An audience is necessary for the final judgment.
The look of Maggie's face alone was worth the effort. I could not have scripted her line better, "Sure it is, Miss Siobhan, that ye are a fine looking woman. Right handsome, I say. I did nae think these two were wee fairies, but perhaps I'm bein' mistaken."
Then she collected Jo Jo to get her fitted. CC went along, so Sheila and I were left to pace, and I did not even have coffee. We discussed a lot of things, such as her ideas about set design for the wedding. I had to hand it to her. Doing the actual ceremony on a party barge had a lot of possibilities. It would be easy to do the set and the audience could not interfere. Sound might be an issue, but that was details.
Schwartz was also telling me more than I wanted to know about her business. It was only going to be for ten days to two weeks. I could wing it that long. Hell, negotiating a scene is half the fun. It was a pity none of her outfits would fit me. Sheila told me she had built up a nice wardrobe. Jo Jo might find something, since she could wear things that were fairly normal sized. Maybe not. Things were getting dull when Maggie brought Siobhan back. Whew.
If I was going to be critical, there were a lot of small issues. In a corset, the skirt hung like a bag. Only the belt kept it from sliding all the way off. The hair was an all morning job, followed by an afternoon working on the face and nails. Hell, I could give her a trip to the spa. All that would be criticizing. The transformation itself was stunning.
Siobhan would never be pretty. She was too big and her features were too strong. That said, she did a damn good feminine version of imposing, and there was no doubt about the feminine part. Siobhan was born for the boardroom. Hillary Clinton eat your heart out.
Sheila took a bunch of pictures, then went out the door. Maggie and CC disappeared, probably to see Julian. That gave me a minute to consider touch up. The natural colors were good and very untouched. The hair could be worn up.
Schwartz came back with a more adjustable skirt and her laptop. If she was doing pics, I could do makeup. I pulled Siobhan into the changing room and helped her step out of her skirt. God, this woman's legs were longer than I was. The irony was that jeans would work, provided they were fitted. That was for later in the week. At the moment, I tied her hair in a quick knot and added some eye liner and lip gloss. It was purely icing on the cake.
I brought Siobhan out and Sheila shot more pictures. Then she showed them to us. It was one of those moments you never forget. In some ways it is not quite real til there is an image. Then, Jo asked the obvious question—how had she missed it? That let me explain what had been going on all day, or start. Halfway through I had to leave for my fitting.
Julian was exactly what I expected from a wardrobe genius. I did not want to waste time, so I tossed my top to Millie, who was standing in as the assistant. As I had expected, the corset was a cut down small. Seriously, short of making a new one, what choice was there. It was not like I needed one in the first place. Julian tried to fuss with it, but I closed it up and grabbed a bench. Julian gave a histrionic sigh, but complied.
When I opened the door to the parlor, Jo Jo had CC over her knee for a spanking. I was jealous and not sure of whom. Spanking CC is a lot of fun, but Siobhan was very good at it. I could cast myself in either role. Be that as it may, it was too good an entrance to waste.
"Damn, Schwartz. Next time you schedule entertainment, let me know." Schwartz had Siobhan stand up, then demonstrated the correct form for taking a bow in a skirt. No one does a curtsy any more, but Sheila does one with real style. Then it was goodbye to the M&M ladies and off to Brooklyn.
I once asked why Pedro had built his costume and prop warehouse in the relative sticks of Brooklyn's south side. I expected a money based answer, but he told me he met Angela in a school near there. That made no sense, because Angela is two years older and has multiple degrees. Pedro had a bit of education in Puerto Rico, but dropped out in what would be grade school. He's proof that you do not need a degree to be smart, like Sheila. They could compare notes sometime.
Rather than move the merchandise, we elected to continue with Siobhan in the Mercedes and the rest of us in Sheila's Volvo. Being in Elizabeth helped, since we were already well south. We headed across the bridge to Staten Island, then another bridge into Brooklyn. It was still rush hour, but we were headed toward Town, so it was not too bad.
Once in Brooklyn, we went to Bensonhurst, which is where it gets tricky. I was an old hand and Sheila's driver never lost me, so he was pretty good. In the un-redeveloped part, not far from the beaches, are some old warehouses. I do not go around telling people, but I own three blocks and a few odd buildings. One of the things I do not own is a an old Dutch Reformed church. That was where Pedro and his people were waiting.
If you are not in theater, you may have never heard of Pedro de la Garza. Even if you are, his name is less known than his company, JB Productions, or his wife, Angela Molinari de la Garza. Angela is one of those women that always get pictures in the coverage of the Tonys and Academy Awards, generally with Edith Dryden. Pedro and Edith's escort, usually Deirdre Walters, will arrive separately, so the two beauties can face the paparazzi. Do not be fooled. Pedro and Deirdre was also an interesting pair. Deirdre hung on Pedro the way CC revolved around Schwartz.
When I had called, I was expecting to meet Justice J Smith, Jr. my Manager. Pedro had retired almost five years before. However, 3J's wife was in maternity, so Pedro volunteered. Even at 70, he cannot sit still. Unsurprisingly, Pedro was accompanied by Angela, his wife, and Deirdre, his shadow. I really needed to see Sheila, Sean and CC together, because I sensed the same sort of indivisible trio. Naturally, as soon as we piled out of the car, Deirdre's eyes went straight for CC. Like knows like.
It may be cliché, but Pedro and I first hit it off by comparing short stories. Even barefoot, he is five inches taller than I am, but that is still very short for a man. The thing is, Pedro had a feminine version, Patricia, that fooled even seasoned theater people. In four inch heels, Patricia was a tallish woman. I had asked what it was like being normal sized. We talked damn near til sunrise.
That led to my first profitable side venture. Pedro had a gift for seeing untapped potential, beginning with Edith Dryden. Hard as it is to believe, Edith once considered herself actively unattractive. Think Talia Shire in Rocky. The problem with discoveries is that they know nothing about anything. Edith was an established star by the time I met Pedro, but there was always another young thing who had no clue how to walk, talk or hit a mark. I tutored "deportment." Then I set up a company to do it, so that I could focus on the promising ones. These days Martel Academy has outlets near every major theater and film district. Up to his retirement, Pedro consistently sent me the best prospects.
It was that eye that I wanted to gauge, when Pedro saw our little group. As noted, CC peeled off and settled with Deirdre, who was old enough to be her grandmother. Sheila glided up, as only she could. Pedro bowed low and kissed her hand.
Without introduction Pedro said, "You can only be Senorita Schwartz, of whom we have heard so much for so long. My Francita is green with the envy. Now I see it is entirely justified. You move with the passion and sorrow of José de Espronceda's poetry. It enlarges my heart to hear that you are engaged to marry. Is it not so?" In response, Sheila blushed nicely and gave a curtsy I would kill to reproduce. Fortunately, Jo Richards arrived.
Everyone started toward the car, but CC is the one that made it to the door. She helped Jo Jo out of the car and gave her a shoulder to balance on. Schwartz said, "¿Puedo presentar mi cuñada, Siobhan Richards?" (May I present my sister in law, Siobhan Richards). Damn show off. That was the kind of thing Deirdre used to do. Pedro responded, "Encantado, mi querido." (Enchanted, my dear). Then, to Jo Richards, "I see much progress, but also much potential. Francita was not exaggerating. But come, we have a few blocks to drive."
The warehouse was a converted produce market. There were loading docks on both sides, then strings of blocky rooms opening out, with a spinal hallway. It was useful for separating periods and types of costumes. You could drive a truck directly to the one you wanted. I owned the place, but it was years since I had spent time there. Pedro led us to the part of the building furthest from the gate. Once inside, I immediately recognized the costumes to Dorian Gray.
You had to know her well to see it, but Sheila was just a step removed from orgasmic.
Once I had sent our grad students off for their beer and pizza, I went up to security central. Chaos would be the polite word.
It is a fundamental law that everyone likes toys. For security geeks, high definition, motion tracking cameras almost define the term. Given that Sheila had only four cameras, you would think the project was well contained. Wrong. Everyone wanted in on the job. As their ultimate boss, I drew a shred of respect, but it only cut the din slightly. I just shook my head and went to Gerald's office.
Understandably, Gerald was upset that his staff was behaving like a bunch of boys with a new bicycle. I waved it off. It is rarely a good idea to be a wet blanket—unless there is a fire to smother. Gerald knew this as well as I did. His team would be putting in a lot of overtime in the coming days. This installation would be the highlight of their week.
Instead, I wanted reports from the building professionals that had been nosing around. Normally, this would have been Mitchell's area, but he was busy with our grad students. Richard's Enterprises had a master electrician on staff, so I asked him to come out and evaluate our possibilities. Things were not as bad as I had expected.
Little of the old house was properly wired, but almost all of it had been fitted with gas lights. All that gas piping could be removed and the holes used for electrical conduit. The gas light sconces could be wired or replaced. It was simple work, which would give us basic lighting for the foyer and the parlors. That work was well under way. Lighting the Ballroom was more difficult, because the main chandelier was for candles. An electrical conversion was not doable in our time frame.
Albert, one of my tech geeks, had a solution. Rather than attempt a full scale conversion, use battery operated lights. Given that the room was originally lit with candles, this had merit. Dozens of fake candles could be placed as easily as real ones. A supply house in Philadelphia had sufficient on hand and could deliver next day. I authorized the approach. Since they were available from the same source, I told them to get several dozen small LED lights. Events could supply paper bags. These could be made into luminaries for the driveway and waterfront.
Next up was the Fire Marshall's assessment. He set a limit of 115 people in the Ballroom proper. That ought to be plenty. Given that we expected Amish manpower, he was willing to tolerate kerosene lights, provided they were actual lamps or lanterns. Surprisingly, he signed off on the stoves in the kitchen. Some were gas, but others were wood fired. It seemed that some century old regulations were still in force and the flues passed muster. Naturally, the gas lights were not acceptable.
Ventilation was another area I had worried about. This turned out to be the simplest of all the issues. One of the nice things about competent ancestors is that they think about little things like hot weather. This time of year, the breezes are off the lake, and the house is designed to catch them. Some long unused baffles on the roof needed to be opened, but the Ballroom had flow-through ventilation designed in. Events would be setting up water spray cooling for the outdoor seating. The same air would be pulled through the house. It was not air conditioning, but it would be endurable.
Food service was taking shape. The weather forecast was for sunny and temperatures in the mid 80s. This was ideal for serving a variety of cold food, such as Gerald's sandwich stand, plus cold chicken, potato salad, fresh fruit and garden salad. The only hot items would be bread and sweet rolls. For drinks, we would have tea and lemonade in large stoneware crocks, bottled beer and vintage blend soda in tubs of ice. Supporting all of this were two refrigerated containers, already delivered. One was set for 35° and the other for -5°. They would be an inconvenient, but sizable, walk in refrigerator and freezer. We also had a freezer for bagged ice and a delivery contract.
In a way, it was a depressing report. I had good people and they could see what needed to be done. I was left with nothing to do but endorse their recommendations. It was gratifying, of course, but I felt like a fifth wheel. I recalled one of the meetings at Harold's print shop. My most useful contribution was switching Sheila's empty water bottle for a full one. Here, my only suggestion was to see if an old fashioned commercial size ice cream freezer was available.
Surprisingly, this led to an extended discussion. There was a WW I vintage one lung motor in the garage's machine shop. We could use it for power, provided it was running. The motor's distinctive popping sound would make a great attraction for our little carnival. Gerald thought that might be doable. One of the auto mechanics liked to tinker with old engines. As for the freezer, White Mountain still made them. If necessary, we could get a new one shipped for a few hundred bucks. I could give it to Events and charge the cost against my bill. I also thought the Amish would appreciate churned ice cream.
Feeling a little better, I asked if Gerald had heard from the girls. I was shocked to see him blush. Without explanation, Gerald turned to his computer and pulled up an email. Attached was a picture of an imposing woman in a business suit. The email was from Sheila and had only two words, "Pay up." I was at a loss for a moment, then I recognized Jo's distinctive chin. Sweet Baby Jesus. I stared at it for a while, then turned to Gerald and said, "You have to now."
Gerald understood that I meant. He would have to dance with my sister, but this did not seem to bother him nearly as much as I had expected. Sweet Lord, Sheila had done it again. She had seen what was in front of me the whole time, but I had overlooked. Gerald had a soft spot for my baby sister. True, he had always been harsh and demanding of Jo. The military has an expression for that kind of constant attention. They call it love.
Among Francine's many accomplishments was a driver's license. Considering her lead foot, this was one of the more unlikely ones. Somehow we negotiated rush hour traffic, across the bridge to Staten Island, then across the island itself, then another bridge into Brooklyn. I more or less understood where we were. It was the run down section near the touristy places on the water front.
We pulled into the parking lot of a 200 year old church, where a vintage Lincoln Limo was parked. Everyone piled out of the cars, except Siobhan, who was using a sane driver. Francine put on her company manners and led me to a short Hispanic man. I recognized his wife, so I knew who he was. My knees still went weak. Pedro de la Garza is one of the quiet giants of the New York theater scene and Francine was saying that he was here to see me. Before Francine could make introductions, he bowed and kissed my hand.
He said, "You can only be Senorita Schwartz, of whom we have heard so much, for so long. My Francita is green with the envy. Now I see it is entirely justified. You move with the passion and sorrow of José de Espronceda's poetry. It enlarges my heart to hear that you are engaged to marry. Is it not so?" Where I had felt frozen a moment before, I suddenly burned. I did a cortsy, then turned, because Siobhan had arrived.
We all started for the car, but it was Christine who helped Siobhan out. As they walked up, I indicated Siobhan and said, "¿Puedo presentar mi cuñada, Siobhan Richards?" Mr. De la Garza responded to me, "Encantado, mi querido." Then he said to Siobhan, "I see much progress, but also much potential. Francita was not exaggerating. But come, we have a few blocks to drive."
It was rather further than a few blocks, but eventually we reached a fenced yard, with long, squat building inside. All along both sides of the building were loading docks. It reminded me of a farm market, with each dock being a different grower. Mr. de la Garza headed to the back. Inside we found my costume room—on steroids. It was dedicated to hundred year old fashions. I was in love.
It did not take long for our group to break apart. Francine and Angela de la Garza drifted off, with Francine talking enough for both of them. They were obviously old friends. Mr. de la Garza delegated someone to escort Siobhan to the "Executive Suite." Christine went with them, which left me alone with one of the most famous people I had ever met. Suddenly, I felt incredibly shy, in spite of the fact that Mr. De la Garza was about 70 years old. Clearly, he noticed.
"No. No. No. Such things are for my Deirdre or your Christina. You and I are ones who decide, like your cuñada, Señorita Siovan. I am pleasured to have met her, but this day is about you, no? My Francita, she is very pleased that you have finally found el muchacho verdad, a real man. If this man is Señorita Siovan's brother, then all is explained. But come. You must call me Pedro. I am a poor worker from the sugar cane in Puerto Rice, whatever may have happen since." G_d, the man was humble on top of everything else.