(Click here to see our previous chapter; the curious may go here to return to the beginning of Uncle Buddy’s House©. “A savage tale of lust and madness.” -- J.J. Hunsecker, in Argosy)
He went into the lounge, she was there, sitting at the bar with a shiny leopard-print raincoat over the back of her barstool. As he walked over she turned around and saw him.
“Hi,” he said, and he kissed her on the cheek.
He sat down, putting the overnight bag on the floor.
Shiny black heels, sheer black stockings, black cocktail dress with spaghetti straps, that little green-and-red-and-blue tattoo Saturn rising up out of her décolletage, those dark eyes, the fucking bomb. He took off his glasses so he could see her better.
“Been waiting long?”
“No, just a few minutes.”
And to think, first time he’d seen her he’d thought she was, what, some dreary, Diet Coke-addicted, Emily Brontë-obsessed -- but wait, that hadn’t been the first time, the first time had been onstage, in that play, whatever --
“You don’t have a drink,” his voice said.
“I know. Look at this. I don’t know what to order.”
It was a big wine list -- bla bla bla -- he looked from the list to her. She had her hair tied back in some complicated way, a few wisps curling down --
“So,” said Buddy, “You like red wine, right?”
“Yeah,” she said.
The red lipstick again. Buddy took a deep breath and looked back at the list, and then the bartender was there.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Uh, yeah, thanks.” He made himself concentrate on the list for two seconds. “We’ll take a bottle of this ‘95 Barolo here.”
Buddy handed the guy the menu before Cordelia could see the price.
“Um, Buddy,” she said, “do we have to have a whole bottle?”
“Well, you know, split two ways.”
“That’s true. But -- can we not eat here?”
“Sure. You got some other place in mind?”
“No, but it’s just I don’t feel like running into -- Joe, or someone else in the show.”
She looked at him with those eyes.
“Right,” he said. “The whole company’s not staying here, are they?”
“No, just some of us. Everybody else is at the Comfort Hotel, or else they’re local and they just go to their own homes.”
“Right.” She had a white plastic purse on the bar top. Too much. “Well,” he said, “I don’t really feel like talking to anybody else either, so how about we just get a glass apiece, and then split. Okay?”
“Okay. So,” she said, “how was your flight?”
“Oh, bearable. I only had one drink, and I managed not to shit a brick.”
(The rain and wind had died down miraculously about an hour before the flight. God wanted them to get together.)
“Why would you shit a brick?”
“Because I’m a coward and I hate to fly.”
“Because of 9/11?”
“No. I mean 9/11 didn’t help, but I’ve never liked to fly. I’m too aware of the fact that there’s only this sheet of metal in between my feet and all that space. I could never understand why they don’t hand out parachutes on airplanes.”
These were lines he’d said dozens times before, but they were probably better than his saying duh duh duh --
“So how do you deal?” she asked.
“I try not to think about it. I read, I watch the movie, I listen to operas on my Discman. Oh, and I drink of course. Alcohol. And I take pills if I can get them.”
“God, you are a coward.”
“A gibbering coward.”
“But you flew all the way up here just to see me. That’s so sweet.”
He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to lift her up on this bar top and --
“You look good, Buddy.”
“You do. You look thinner. What’s your secret?”
“Philip’s been dragging me to the gym, plus I’ve been swimming every day after work. Instead of just getting loaded. Well, I still get loaded, but I swim first.”
“That’s great. You look handsome.”
“Yeah? You look pretty good too.”
She looked away for a second, gnawing the corner of her lower lip, then she looked back at Buddy.
“What did my --” her voice started too high, and she dropped down an octave, “what did my dad say?”
“Oh. When I didn’t stay for the pompano?”
“Yeah. Did you tell him you were coming up here?”
“No. I just told him I had a work emergency. And then I offered him a job in my next movie, so he’s happy. I offered Joan a part too.”
Now she gnawed her upper lip for a second, then she said:
“Why? Why did you do that?”
“I don’t know. Make it easier on Deirdre. Get them off my back.”
“It wasn’t so he would -- give you a free hand with me?”
“I’m sure that’s what he thinks.”
“Yeah. He hugged me.”
“Yeah, in the rain. While he was showing me his boat.”
“It wasn’t pretty.”
Pause. He wanted her in bed.
“Okay, Buddy, one thing.”
“Let’s not talk about him.”
“Good idea. You do look great by the way.”
“Yeah.” He took this opportunity to pretend to look at her dress, but he was mostly looking at what was inside it. “This a new dress?”
“Yes it’s a new dress and I’m afraid to move I’m so fucking fat --”
“I mean, wait -- do you think I look fat?”
He didn’t say anything, or now he couldn’t say anything. She stared at him, her mouth open, then she must have known what he was thinking, and what he wasn’t thinking. She closed her lips, then opened them and said, “Okay, calm down, tiger.”
He took a breath.
“Sorry,” he said.
The bartender was there finally, with the wine and two glasses. Did he go to Italy for it?
“Oh,” said Buddy. “Listen, I wonder if we could we just have two glasses instead of the whole bottle?”
“I’m sorry, sir, this bottle isn’t available by the glass.”
“Oh. Well, in that case go ahead and open it.”
“Buddy,” said Cordelia.
There was the usual awkward moment waiting for the guy to get it open. In the meantime Buddy worked on getting a grip on himself.
“Just pour away,” said Buddy. “I’m sure it’s good.”
The bartender poured away, then went away.
“Buddy,” said Cordelia, “I thought we were just going to get a single glass apiece.”
“Well, we don’t have to finish it.”
They tasted the wine.
“Wow,” she said.
She looked at the bottle, touching the label with her finger.
“Isn’t this the same kind of wine we had at that Luigi place?”
“Yeah, same kind. Different year and vintner.”
“You’re too much.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“So what do you want to do?” she said.
“Just drink the wine, then eat something.”
“You look great,” said Buddy.
“You said that.”
“Oh. Right. Alzheimer’s. Beginning stages.”
They drank their wine. Across the room a woman was singing with a jazz three-piece, “Come Back to Sorrento”, Chris Connor style.
“This is only the third time we’ve met, isn’t it,” said Buddy.
“Fourth, dummy. You forgot my dad’s party.”
“Oh, right, how could I?” He looked at her, her face and her eyes. “Oh,” he said, “I’ve got something for you.”
He took her sunglasses out of his shirt pocket and laid them on the bar.
“Oh, thank you,” she said.
She put them into her purse. The slight problem was that he still kept wanting to kiss her. He turned and looked down at his wine.
“Hey,” she said.
He turned, and she put her hand lightly on the back of his head, drawing his face to hers. She opened her lips a bit as if she were about to say something but wasn’t quite ready yet. Her eyes, and this warm smell --
She kissed him, on the mouth, her mouth slightly open, a kiss he felt all the way down through his self. She took her hand away from the back of his head and settled back on her stool, looking at him.
“Okay,” he said. “Oh, I’ve got something else for you.”
He brought up the overnight bag, unzipped it and took out the Chanel #5.
“Here ya go. Hope you like it.”
“Oh my God,” she said. “Buddy. I don’t even wear perfume.”
“Well, in case you ever get the urge.”
She opened the box and took out the bottle.
“Y’know, I’ve never tried this.”
“Go ahead, take a hit.”
She opened the bottle and put a tiny bit on her wrist and smelled it.
“I like it.”
She held out her wrist for him to smell.
“Yeah,” he said. “Nice.”
It wasn’t as nice as her smell, but what the hell.
She touched her wrist to her neck, and then she re-stoppered the bottle and put it back in its box.
“Now I feel like a kept woman. But thanks, Buddy.”
“You’re welcome,” he said. “Holy shit.”
“I just drank that whole glass of great wine in like two minutes.”
She lifted her glass and drank it all down and then put the glass down and licked her lips.
“Now I’m up to you,” she said.
“Good. Let’s finish off this bottle and get some chow.”
Outside in the lobby she suddenly hunched over, grabbed his arm and put her other hand up next to her face.
“Oh shit, weird Joe’s over there.”
Buddy looked and saw Joe Morrow by the elevators, talking to some guy.
“Ah, fuck him.”
“Yeah, but still --”
“Right. But look, can I at least stash this stupid bag?”
“Oh, okay, follow me; we’ll sneak up the stairs; I’m just on the fourth floor."
(Will they or won’t they? Continued here.)
(Kindly look to the right-hand column of this page to find a listing of links to all other available chapters of Uncle Buddy’s House™. Vancouver locations filmed at Paramount Studios. Special thanks to William Powell and Kay Francis for posing for this episode's cover shot.)