The Dot & Dash Chronicles is a series of humorous episodes about adult twins, Dot & Dash Hammond. Dot is a straight — and straight-laced — executive, and Dash is gay and suffering angst over every aspect of his life. Dash eventually experiences an epiphany that creates positive changes in his own life which radiate exponentially to family and friends.
“Ms. Hammond, your brother’s on line one.”
Dottie Hammond swallowed a mouthful of air. “Did you tell him I was in?”
“Um…yes. Do you want me to take a message?”
“No. It’s alright. How did he sound?”
“OK, I guess. You know, his usual happy, perky self.”
“Thanks, Amy.” She raked her fingers through her shoulder-length auburn hair, then held her index finger above the button that would connect her to her brother. She took a deep breath and plunged. “Hello, Dash.”
“Dottie, darling, come have lunch with me.”
“No, next year. Of course, now, sillypants.”
“Dash, you can’t just call me at 11:55 and ask me to lunch. I need a little more warning, I mean notice.”
“Ooh, chilly, Dottie, chilly. You know that schoolmarm tone is wasted on me. Hey, d’ya know I passed that ‘Unday Runch’ sign in that place on Avenue A again. You’d think somebody’d fix it.”
“Dash, I think it’s just the angle you see it at. The S & B are there; you just don’t notice it.”
“Omigod, I’m such a yutz,” he giggled. “Anyway, come meet me. I want to say good-bye.”
“Dash, don’t threaten me with that.”
“Oh, it’s not the big good-bye. I’ve moved past that.”
Dottie’s shoulders relaxed. “Good. So, where are you off to now?”
“That would be telling. I’ll divulge everything over some Roasted Beets.”
She pursed her lips and stared out her office window. The glare of sunlight glinting off the Chrysler Building gave her a sudden headache. She lowered her voice, “I can’t lend you any more money, Dash.”
“I can’t lend you any more money, Dash,” he mimicked his sister. “Did I mention money?”
“No. Not yet. You always wait until the waitron brings the check.”
“That happened once and I paid you back. Jeeze Louise. OK, listen, sweetie, hop your pert little hiney into a taxi and meet me at Gramercy Tavern.”
“Oh, you know you want to. Stop trying to sell me on your blah-blah important job. Your pokey little company can certainly spare you for a couple of hours. Say hello to Monsieur Guy,” Dashiel pronounced it the French way: Ghee.
“Dorothy,” he admonished.
“You refuse to speak to your nephew?”
“Guy is a dog. I will not speak to a dog over the phone. And stop saying he’s my nephew! God.”
“I covered his itty bitty ears just in time. Luckily, he didn’t hear his Auntie Dottie speaking so harshly.”
“Dash, if you’re going to behave like this –“
“OK, OK. Monsieur Guy, The Most Precious Pomeranian In The World, is back in his Kate Spade carry case. So. On to the matter at hand. I want to see you. And I want you to see me. Wait. I want you to want to see me. You do want to see me, don’t you, Dot?”
“Will I recognize you?”
“I promise. I don’t look like Claude Rains in The Invisible Man today.”
“I never know what to expect with you.”
“Oh, there’s that Eeyorish tone entering your voice. Not flattering, Dottie.”
She rolled her eyes and sighed.
“Come on, Dottie, grab your Prada purse and get down here.”
“You’re there already?”
“Oui. I’ve got us a nice window table. We can watch the hoards of celebs walking by. Come on, I’m bursting with gossip, rumor and innuendo.”
“You’re insane, Dash.”
“I know. Come on. Quick, like a bunny. Mwah!” Dashiel Hammond sipped his Parkside Fizz and purred as an attractive bicycle courier rode by at the curb. “Yum.”
Dorothy Hammond paused at her secretary’s desk. “Amy, I’m meeting my brother for lunch at Gramercy Tavern. Please call me at 2:15 if I’m not back by then. Thanks.”
“Omigod! Look at you!” Dashiel stood and clutched his imaginary pearls when his sister entered the Tavern. He gave her the once over. “Toe cleavage! Omigod, Dottie, you always swore you’d never expose your toe cleavage.”
“Shhh! Sit down. Please.” She sat quickly and gestured for her brother to do likewise.
“Are they Michael Kors?” Dash tilted sideways to ogle his sister’s high heels under the table.
“Well, honey, I gotta tell ya, you’re stepping up your game. Oh, dammit!” He slapped his hand on the table.
“What’s the matter?”
“I used a cliché. I hate when I do that. You know I strive to be fresh and original.” He sipped his drink. “If I had a nickel for every time I heard ‘step up to the plate’, or ‘at the end of the day’, or ‘think outside the box’.” He shuddered.
“Or, ‘If I had a nickel…’,” Dottie feigned earnestness.
“Ugh!” Dash slapped the table again.
“Perhaps you could start a quarter jar and each time you catch yourself…”
“Then I wouldn’t be asking you for money all the time?” he asked and narrowed his eyes at her.
Dottie smiled and studied the menu.
“I gotta tell ya, sweetie, your skin is flawless. What are you doing?”
“Do you have to do this every time, Dash?”
“Would you stop dissecting me?”
“Dottie, you’re six minutes older than me and you look five years younger. You’re such a bitch. Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not lying to you. People are staring,” she whispered. “Lower the volume.”
“I was feeling so good about myself until you got here.”
Dottie gave the people at a nearby table a pained smile. “You know you’ve really perfected the knack for making me feel like crap,” she whispered across the table.
“There, there, Dottie, don’t feel bad.” He patted her hand. “You’re gorgeous.”
“Dash, it doesn’t need to be a contest between us, OK? How about I grow a big mole with a long black hair sticking out of it? Would that make you feel better?”
Dashiel sipped his third Parkside Fizz and studied his sister.
“Hmm? Oh, sorry, honey, I was lost in a reverie. You know where you and I are at a fabulous party and I have to introduce you to some of my friends and I feel so bad for you because of that nasty hairy mole and I tell them when you walk away about how beautiful you once were.” He smiled.
“I know. But you adore me.” He sang the word ‘adore’.
Dottie smiled and nodded and went back to the menu.
Dottie shifted her eyes from the menu to Dash’s face.”
“And how do I look?”
Dottie folded her hands in her lap and gazed at her brother. He was backlit which allowed the shadows to soften his features. “You look … lovely.” She sipped her water.
Dash gently patted his hair and sucked his teeth.
“What?” she asked, hunching forward to encourage him to keep his voice down.
“This isn’t some Saturday morning PBS kiddy Let’s Pretend shit, Dottie. Why can’t you ever be honest with me?”
“I am honest with you.”
Dashiel downed the remainder of his Parkside Fizz and looked for the waitron to give her the nod for a fourth. “Oh, right. You’re honest when it comes to telling me you won’t lend me any more money. But not about the important things.”
Dottie wished she was knocking back a Parkside Fizz of her own, but knew better. Her tolerance for alcohol was as weak as her tolerance for speaking to dogs over the phone. “What, Dash? What are you after this time?”
“You never comment on my appearance,” he said sulkily.
“Sure I do.” She sat back and studied him. “New blazer?”
“No. It’s a retread from last season. I wasn’t referring to my attire, darling, but my countenance.” He made jazz hands at his face.
Dottie cocked her head and stared at her brother. “You want the truth?”
“Oh, God,” he groaned. “Save your cruelty for strangers, Dottie. Remember, we share the same DNA.”
“Well, not quite. I just think…”
“You didn’t even say hello to Monsieur Guy.” He turned his attention to the carry case on the chair beside him.
“Dash, please don’t.”
“Bon jour, my petite prince,” he cooed into the bag.
“Dash, I wish you could just be happy with yourself and stop …”
“Stop what?” His voice turned hard and his eyes sharpened on Dottie’s.
“Stop screwing around with your face,” she whispered and draped the white linen napkin across her lap.
“Easy for you to say, sweetie. You were blessed. God, I want a cigarette.” His chair scraped the floor as he abruptly stood. “Join me?”
“You’re just going to leave him here?” she asked and indicated the carry case.
“Oh, he’ll rip off anybody’s hand that tries anything.” He grinned and headed for the door. “I’m just stepping out for a smoke,” Dashiel informed the hostess.
Dottie joined her brother on the sidewalk. “Dash, why do you ask me for the truth and when I give it, you change the subject?”
“Omigod! Look, it’s Jude Law.” He pointed to a tall blond man in scruffy jeans and a suit jacket walking across the street.
“I don’t think so.”
“Could be. He could be here on location or something.”
“I saw Jake Gyllenhaal the other day.”
“Did you?” Dottie hoped she sounded interested.
“Probably not. Christ, you’re really pissing on my little parade, Dottie.”
“I’m sorry, Dash. I just don’t know how to be when I’m with you anymore.”
“Just be your old self, honey. This whole ‘climbing the corporate ladder’,” he emphasized with air quotes, “crap has really taken your edge.”
He blew a plume of smoke over Dottie’s head. “Not that long ago I remember you being nearly as bitchy as me. We left Will & Grace in the dust, remember? Now you’re all sweetness and light or something.”
Dottie pursed her lips for a moment. “Number one, that was years ago and me ‘climbing the corporate ladder’,” she repeated his air quotes, “hasn’t taken my edge, as you call it. I just grew up and matured, Dash. And I’m not all sweetness and light either. That’s at least fifty cents for your jar, you know. Christ, Dash, you make me sound so bland.”
“Oh, honey, bland isn’t so bad.” He patted her shoulder.
Dottie raised an eyebrow at him.
“OK, you’re not bland.”
“You’re just not …festive like me.”
“But you only see one side of me, Dash.”
“Oh, I’m sure. When you’re huddled around that board room table in some über important meeting of the minds you’re a piranha. And when you’re with Sebastian you’re all giggly and girlie..”
“Sebastian and I aren’t together anymore,” Dottie said softly and studied her shoes. “He dumped me.”
“Omigod!” Dash flicked the cigarette butt into the gutter and threw his arms around her and hugged her tight. “I’m so sorry. He seemed like such a nice guy. What happened?” He pulled back and studied her face. “Did he hurt you?!”
“Aw…you got a little butch there for a second,” Dottie smiled and touched his cheek. “How nice.”
Dashiel smiled. “So, that explains why you’ve been so grumpy lately.”
“Dash,” she admonished. “Can you just think these things and not necessarily say them?”
“Omigod! Did I say that out loud?” He covered his mouth and looked aghast.
Dottie reprised the raised eyebrow.
“Let’s eat.” He took her arm and led her back inside the restaurant. “So, tell me every little detail about your breakup with Sebastian-The-Shit, and I’ll tell you all about my plans to go to Singapore for a tummy tuck because I am truly 5 lbs. from slipping on some Sansabelt slacks and buying a condo in Miami. I am not even kidding. My life is just waiting to turn into a Country & Western song and I simply won’t have it. You can watch Guy while I’m gone, right? It’s only for three weeks.”
“A Parkside Fizz, please,” Dottie begged the waitron.
“Omigod. Are you drinking?” He tsked. “You know what that’ll do to your face.”
“I’ll risk the alcohol-induced puffiness. Maybe it’ll offset the hairy mole you’re predicting for me.” She winked at her brother and smiled.
# # #
[box type=”bio”] Born and raised in the Bronx, MARY VETTEL has spent the last 15 years residing in Southampton, NY, where she’s written six of her nine novels, two of her illustrated children’s books, and The Chronicles of Dot & Dash. She also adapted her novella, Greetings From Hell! (based on her three years living in Central Florida) to a stage play which was produced by The Naked Stage of Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY. Her novel, Death at the Drive-In, is available on Amazon. You can also view some of her work at www.MaryVettel.com
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