Chapter 7: The snappy saga of Dot & Dash continues …
Dorothy Hammond stood on the large circular raised platform in a strapless gown. “Could you stop making that awful face?” Dot asked her brother’s reflection in the 3-way mirror.
“Sorry, but I’m wincing for you. Isn’t that uncomfortable? It’s like I’m suffocating in empathy for you. It must feel so constricting in order for it to stay up. You got whalebone stays in there?”
“Those went out before the Roaring Twenties or something. Actually, it’s all done — amazingly, if I may say so — with a micro-hydraulic pulley system,” she said straight-faced.
Dash stared at his sister as she gazed at her likeness, admiring the fit and design of her gown. “Just built into the bodice?” he cocked his head and squinted, studying the construction of the strapless evening dress.
“Leetle, tiny winches, barely visible to the naked eye. Look, the works are cleverly concealed in the pockets.” Dottie slid her hands into the pockets at the seams alongside her hips. She flexed her pectoral muscles and the bodice moved slightly from side to side.
Dash’s eyes widened and his mouth O’d. “You’re kidding me.”
“Of course I am. Had you going there for a minute.” She laughed.
Dash buried his face in his hands, embarrassed that his sister had pranked him.
“What color would you say this is?” Dot asked, swaying gently, enjoying the way the light played upon the shimmery material.
“I thought you’d say that. Taupe. What the hell is taupe? If you’d never heard the word before you wouldn’t know what color it was. It’s not like it’s topaz, then you’d have an idea.”
Dash shut his eyes in thought. “Isn’t it French for mole? The color of a mole?”
“Like a mole on your face?”
Dash laughed. “You’re such a ninny. No, the feral animal.”
“I think it’s more of a shale.” She turned slowly, taking in the draping satin ribbon between her slightly freckled shoulder blades.
Dash scrunched his face. “Shale? Ooh, that sounds like slimy mud at the bottom of some alligator-infested river in Mozambique or something.”
“You’re thinking of silt. Shale is something to do with shells.”
“What kind of shells? Turtle or armadillo?”
“Actually, I think it’s more to do with rocks than shells.”
“Well, whatever the hell you call it, it flatters you.”
Dot tuned to face her brother, her mouth open and her eyes wide.
“It’s…it’s just that I can’t remember the last time you said something…nice to me.”
“What? I say nice things to you all the time. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“No, seriously, Dash, you don’t. You break my chops constantly. Or give me left-handed compliments.”
“Do I? I’m sorry if you feel that way. You know I adore you, pumpkin.”
Dot pressed her lips together and sniffled.
“Oh, my God, you are not crying. Dottie.” Dash stood and went to her.
“I’m fine, I’m fine. Just got a little emotional.”
Dash whipped his monogrammed handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to her.
“You’re the only man I know who still carries a hankie,” she laughed and dabbed at her eyes.
“Hankie?” Dash rolled his eyes and sighed.
“Hand-ker-chief,” Dottie amended and handed it back.
“It’s a silk Hermĕs pocket square, not a handkerchief,” he gently corrected. He neatly folded the square and pursed his lips. “You know, a year ago I’d be having what you’d call a tantrum–”
“Hissy fit,” she corrected.
“Right about now,” he continued, “because you got black mascara on my silk Hermĕs pocket square. But as you know, I’m so over labels and brands now that it doesn’t bother me.”
Dot chewed the inside of her lip and waited. She nodded slightly to encourage him to continue.
“What the heck, have it dry cleaned and give it to Goodwill.”
“Goodwill? I’m keeping this puppy.” She snatched it from his hand and tucked it into the micro-hydraulic pulley system-created cleavage. “So? Whaddya think? Is it a keeper?”
“Definitely. Now just have them hack off about 3 feet, make the excess material into a wrap and it’ll be perfect.”
“Really? I can’t wear a gown?”
“Dottie, it’s an afternoon wedding. Honestly, what happened to your fashion gene?”
“Apparently you got what was intended for me.”
“But I wanted to look like a princess,” Dot whined.
“And you shall, darling, on your wedding day. It’s Boxo and Em’s day. Let Em have princess duty.”
Dot slouched dejectedly.
“Posture, Dottie,” Dash warned. “Those pulleys can only do but so much.”
* * *
Dot and Dash sat side by side in Virgin Atlantic’s business class heading to London. “Oliver and I were talking about reincarnation last night. Oh, thank you,” Dot said to the flight attendant and accepted another glass of Champagne. “And he was saying that he believes that perhaps before, you know, in a previous life, we were the sorts of people whom we fear or hate in this life.”
“That’s ridiculous. Ninety-five percent of the world’s population couldn’t have been clowns in a past life.”
“Can’t you ever be serious?” Dottie asked.
“I am serious. I mean, what are the odds? Do the math.”
Dottie giggled as the bubbles tickled her nose.
“Watch it, Dottie. You don’t want to get schnockered so early into the flight. Pace yourself. British Customs Officials can get a tad snarky with drunken Americans, ya know. You don’t want to be kept naked in some cold, dark, dank holding cell.”
“Naked?” Her eyes widened with alarm.
Dash nodded solemnly. “Well, you’d have to be naked for the body cavity search. Oh, goodness gracious, pumpkin, don’t look so frightened. I was just teasing you.”
“Well, stop it.” Dottie blew her nose and dabbed at her eyes.
“What’s got you all teary lately?” he asked softly.
“I don’t know. I think it’s this whole wedding thing and missing Oliver.”
“There, there, sweetie. We’ll have a blast. And we’re flying back with Boxo and Em, remember?”
“And Ollie will be there in spirit. You know if he didn’t have to supervise the building of the Honeymoon Suite at the ranch he’d have joined us.”
Dash signaled for the flight attendant. “Please take this away,” he whispered and handed the woman the glass of bubbly. “And keep it away. Thank you.” After a polite pause in which Dottie applied some lip gloss and straightened her hair with her hands, Dash coughed gently. “So, anyway, Jasper invited me to a read-through of his play ‘Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego and the Fiery Furnace’ in some God-awful off-off-off Broadway theater and the director had apparently told them to delete all punctuation from their scripts.”
“Apparently this is the notion of some famous person, don’t ask me who. And it was just unbearable listening to that gibberish! ‘Judge, not lest yee be judged.’”
“What? Everybody would sound like Christopher Walken then.”
“I know, right? Atrocious. I wanted to stand up and scream, ‘Judge NOT, lest yee be judged!’ but you know how I hate to be the center of attention.”
Dottie laughed and leaned her head on her brother’s shoulder. “I could listen to you for hours.”
“Thank you.” Dash patted her hand and flipped though the in-flight magazine.
“Wake me when the food arrives, OK?”
“OK, sweetie.” Dash kissed the top of her head and quietly turned a page.
* * *
“Din-din, snookums,” Dash said softly and gave Dottie a gentle nudge.
“Was I asleep long?” she asked and smothered a yawn.
“Days and days.” He said and studied his salmon and grilled vegetables.
“Amazing. You’d never know these dinners came out of a microwave oven.”
“Catholic nuns are supposed to be married to Jesus, right?”
“Right,” Dottie agreed, unfazed by her brother’s non sequiturs.
“That would make him an über polygamist, wouldn’t it?”
“You need to move away from me when you start on one of your sacrilegious rants.” She gazed out the window, awaiting a lightning bolt.
“Imagine having the Virgin Mary as a mother-in-law? You could never compete with that.”
“And God as a father-in-law,” Dottie offered. “That’s HUGE.”
“Well, Joseph, too. Everybody always forgets about poor Joseph. He was there through all those sleepless nights with teething, measles, mumps, and chicken pox or whatever childhood diseases they had back then. Maybe even locust attacks, I’m not certain. And he taught him how to be a carpenter. Poor Joseph. Never getting the props he deserves.”
“No wonder Jesus never married,” Dottie said.
“Well, what woman in her right mind would really want a husband who always had a dozen unemployed guys hanging around with him? Twelve pairs of dusty sandals up on the furniture, spilt wine, fish bones, and bread crumbs scattered all over.” He shook his head.
“You’re teetering on the brink, Dash.”
* * *
“Well, that was totally unsatisfying,” Dash said and clicked off the feel-good-hit-of-the-year.
Dottie removed her ear phones. “What a waste,” she agreed. She checked her watch. “Did you change to Greenwich time already?”
Dash held out his wrist for her to see his dual time zone watch. “I’ve got both. You know time zones confuse me.”
“How do you know which is which?”
Dash’s eyes grew wide.
Dot squelched a smirk. “This is New York, this is London.” She tapped each crystal face, then gazed out the window at the night sky. “I miss him,” Dottie whispered. “Sorry,” she added softly.
“I know. Don’t be sorry. He’s a great guy. I miss him too, but not in the way you do.”
“It would’ve been nice to have him come to the wedding with me. I wouldn’t feel like such a loser.”
“Well, thank you, Dottie.”
“Oh, you know I don’t mean that. I don’t mean I’m a loser without a man and you’re certainly not a loser without a man. But you know. After my ugly breakup with Sebastian–”
“Don’t even say his name in my presence. That cretin. Now he’s a loser.”
Dottie nodded. “It would’ve been nice to sort of show him off to the rest of the family. And let them know I’m happy, that’s all.”
“We could have a big cardboard cut-out made and you could walk around with him at the reception. You know, introduce him to everyone.”
“I hope my dress isn’t all scrunched in my luggage,” Dottie said and sighed.
Dottie turned and looked at him, eyebrows raised.
“No, I’m not wearing a dress. I meant your dress.”
“Dash, look! A shooting star.” She pointed out the window and leaned back so Dash could see.
“You know, I saw a TV program with astronauts and they said most things that people think are shooting stars are really bits of spacecraft crap just reentering earth’s atmosphere.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“Well, thanks for taking the romance out of it.”
“How does that take the romance out of it?” Dash asked. “First of all, what’s so romantic about a shooting star? Secondly, if you find those things romantic, don’t you find it romantic that humans were once up there doing God knows what?”
Dottie thought for a moment and shook her head. “Not the same thing. Shooting stars are magical. Spacecraft debris, not so much.”
Dash made little humming sounds and glanced across the aisle at the snoring passenger in 3B.
“You’re doing it again, Dash,” she whispered.
“You’re humming. You only do that when you’re pondering another invention or something. Tell me.”
“You know how different sorts of cats can mate with each other? A short-haired Calico with a Persian that turns out looking like some sort of psychedelic Daniel Boone coon skin cap. Cross a Spyinx — you know, that poor hairless Dr. Evil cat? — with a Himalayan — which is already a cross between a Siamese and Persian and is a big poufy cat — and you’ll have a friend for life. Any sort of cat, it doesn’t matter to them.
“And dogs, too. You can breed a Yorkie with a Poodle and get a Yoodle, and a Labrador with a Poodle and get a Labradoodle. Imagine breeding a Cocker Spaniel with a Beagle and getting a Cockerbea or a Spangle? Or a Pitbull with a Fox Hound and getting a Pitfox or a Bullhound? A Boxer with a Dachsund and getting a Boxshund? Or a Shi Tzu with a Maltese and ending up with this massive ball of fluff? Then, of course, there are your run of the mill mutts — who can be equally adorable and sweet.”
Dottie muffled a yawn and gazed out the small window and squinted at the rising sun’s glare on the wing. “What does go on in that laboratory of yours? You’d better be careful, Dash. You mess around with Mother Nature and she’ll–”
“I’m not interbreeding dogs, Dottie. I’m just musing.”
“Good.” She patted his hand and slipped his tiny bag of roasted peanuts from his tray.
“But do birds mate outside of their family?” Dash continued. “Imagine if you could mate a brilliant red Cardinal with a Blue Jay and get a regal Violet Jay? Or a Yellow Finch with a Blue Jay and get a Green Finch-Jay? A Robin Red Breast with a Cardinal and get a magnificent crimson Robinal?” Dash closed his eyes. “Just image the myriad colors of birds alighting on a leafless tree, creating a veritable rainbow of winged beauty.”
“Did that flight attendant spike your mineral water?”
“Don’t you have abstract thoughts like me?”
“Sometimes, but I have to admit, they’re not as … colorful as yours.”
“That’s a shame, honey.”
“I’ll try harder,” Dottie said languidly. “Have we crossed the International Time Zone yet? Is it tomorrow already?”
# # #
Previous episodes in the Dot & Dash Chronicles:
A sometime amateur sleuth, Billie offers to help the cops solve a local murder. One mention of her psychic visions and they scurry, but when a body from a cold case appears in her backyard, they’re all ears. During this turmoil, Billie realizes her accountant, Emmett Gilmour, is sweet on her. She’d like to let him know the feeling’s mutual but doesn’t remember how; it’s been decades since she dated.