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.
“And?” Dash coaxed.
Dottie made a face at Amy and turned the card to her.
“They’re wearing inflatable tubes,” Amy whispered and made an imaginary circle around her waist.
Dottie squinted at the slightly colorized photo. “And they’re wearing inflatable tubes.”
Amy tapped her bare wrist reminding Dottie of her eleven o’clock meeting with Maxwell.
“Can you have lunch with me today?” She slipped her feet into her Stella McCartney’s and stood.
“No can do, Buckaroo. Dinner, yes. Vous?”
“How about Sister Bertrille’s at seven?” she asked and gathered up files from her desk.
“Fabulous. I’ll call Reverend Mother Plaseato and make the reservations.”
“Mwah,” Dottie blew him a kiss and hung up. She took a final sip of coffee and headed for her meeting with Maxwell.
“You’re going to a convent for dinner?” Amy asked, following Dottie from the room and handed her the color graphics she’d just finished.
“Thanks. No, it’s a kitschy restaurant based on the 60’s TV show with Sally Field as The Flying Nun. The waitrons wear the novice habits and the starched cornets – but they’re not aerodynamically sound.”
Amy looked blankly after her as Dottie stepped into the elevator. Being 23 years old and not a TV trivia whiz, Amy sat at her computer and Googled Sally Field.
“Guess who’s getting a raise?” Dottie whispered after her meeting with Maxwell.
“You?” Amy whispered back.
“Nope. You.” She beamed at her secretary.
“Because I told him what a terrific job you’re doing and how you’ve come up with a few cost-saving ideas, keep me sane and on track, etc., etc.”
“Dottie, thanks so much!” She blushed with delight.
“My pleasure.” She walked the few feet to her office door, paused and turned. “Just don’t get too good. I don’t want any All About Eve action going on here.”
Amy looked blankly at her. “Oh, don’t worry about that.” As soon as Dottie disappeared into her office, Amy Googled All About Eve.
“Hi, I’m Sister Benedetta. I’ll be your novice for the evening. May I take your beverage order?” She handed them their Commandment-tablet-shaped menus.
“A glass of Chardonnay, please.”
“I’ll have tap water with a lemon wedge, thanks,” Dashiel smiled at the waitron, then turned his attention back to his sister. “I see you’re back on the vino.”
“I see you’re back on the judgmental wagon.”
Dashiel raised an eyebrow and pursed his lips. “Will you please take those silly glasses off.”
Dottie removed the 3D waterproof glasses and asked, “So, where’s the mutt?”
Dash spluttered. “If you’re referring to Monsieur Guy,” he closed his eyes and shook his head, “He’s having a sleepover at Mitzi Finn’s.”
“Dogs have sleepovers?” she asked incredulously.
“She’s in heat,” Dash whispered.
Dottie shuddered. “OK, way more information than I needed or wanted.
“So, what are you having?”
Dottie shrugged as she perused the Roman Numeral’d items. “Tell me about the waterproof 3D glasses and why.”
“Well, you know how there’s nothing to do in the city?”
“I’m sorry,” Dottie said and set her menu down. “I thought you said there’s nothing to do in the city.”
“Right. You know, for regular people who can’t afford the expensive restaurants and can’t get into the hip, trendy clubs.”
“There are museums, movies, bowling, paintball, rock wall climbing–”
“Exactly. And in keeping with that theme…” he paused for effect. “Swim Cinema.” He held his arms up in a triumphant V.”
Dottie raised an eyebrow and pursed her lips. “How long have you been off your meds?”
“I told you, ‘it’s meditation, not medication’. Thank you,” he said to Sister Benedetta when she placed the drinks on the table.
“Swim Cinema,” Dottie rolled it around her tongue.
“You know my friend Cliffhanger?”
“No.” She sipped her Chardonnay and scanned the room for Sister Benedetta to order a quick second but in their identical habits, the waitrons all looked alike.
“Sure you do. You met him at my Halloween party. He was trying to pass as the Joel Grey character from Cabaret but you know he was Sally Bowles inside. You know Cliffhanger.” He insisted when he saw the doubtful look on her face.
“What was he wearing?”
“A derby and that lower lid false eyelash.”
“Like a big baseball player’s cup but worn on the outside.”
Dashiel looked up toward the left, trying to conjure an image of Cliffhanger at the party.
“Maybe ol’ Cliff was being Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. You know, Alex DeLarge.”
“Never saw the movie.”
“I remember a Cliff, not a Cliffhanger. Is his surname Hanger?”
“No,” Dashiel said and resumed his study of the menu. “I call him that ‘cause he’s so deeply in the closet he’s got hanger marks on his face. Mmm….this looks good.”
Dottie rolled her eyes at her brother’s insistence that most men were gay; they just hadn’t realized it yet or weren’t willing to admit it yet.
“Anyway, he just bought this old derelict movie house down on 13th Street that’s been boarded up for centuries. And when he gave me a tour – you would not believe the filth in there, and the smell,” Dashiel stifled a gag with his napkin, then composed himself. “We needed HazMat gear to survive the walk-through. The seats were torn and rotted and the stage had huge rat holes in it…anyway, there was part of an old movie poster on the wall – advertising some 3D B movie from the 50’s and the light bulb went on.” He pointed to the top of his head. “It just came to me in a flash. Like a vision. I saw the place all white and pristine with a sparkling swimming pool where the seats had been and people floating around on inflatable rafts and tubes watching the big screen.”
“With 3D glasses?”
“Well, of course, if it’s a 3D movie.”
“So, at the concession stand, along with popcorn, candy and sodas, people would rent inflatable tubes?”
“And nose plugs?”
Dash flung another raised eyebrow in her direction.
“How will they hear the dialogue with all that splashing going on? Will you have those little speakers like in the drive-ins that they can clip onto their tubes?”
Dash glowered at her, but stored away the idea of waterproof ear pieces. “And as in regular movie theaters, the pool would be skimmed after each feature. And of course the chemical levels would be checked often.”
“Because of all that soda.”
“Dorothy,” he admonished.
“No diving permitted from the balcony, I hope. Think of the lawsuits.”
“That’s where the locker rooms will be, smartypants.”
“How will the lifeguards be able to watch for drowners in the dark?”
“Oh, their eyes will adjust. It’s not like it’ll be totally dark. There are underwater lights.”
“Or 3D night vision goggles,” Dottie suggested and tried to control a smirk.
Sister Benedetta was once again beside their table. “Are you ready to order?” She slid a #2 pencil from under her cornet and stood poised.
“Loaves and fishes for me,” Dashiel said.
“Same here.” Dottie smiled and handed the tablet-shaped menu to Sister Benedetta. “Well, seems like you’ve thought of everything. What does the Health Department say about food in a pool?”
“Dottie, we won’t be encouraging people to eat or drink in the pool. We’ll have tables and chairs in a separate snack area.
“And Cliffhanger DeLarge thinks this is a brilliant idea too?”
“Well, he doesn’t know how to swim, so he was a bit hesitant at first but he loves movies. He’ll come around.”
“Will you have theme nights?” She knew he would. “You know, a midnight showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show?”
Dashiel gave her a disappointed look. “Dottie, that’s like so early80’s.”
“I know, Dash, but you have to cater to everyone. You can’t just show Mommie Dearest and A Chorus Line.” These were two of Dashiel’s favorite movies. “If you want to get in the kind of customers you said can’t afford to go to upscale restaurants and hip, trendy clubs, you’ll have to show kids’ and hetero date-night type films. And Cocoon-type movies to get in the seniors.”
“Ugh! They’ll want a discount.”
“Don’t forget the adult diaper issue,” she said and pressed her lips together to keep from laughing.
Dashiel leaned back in his chair and studied her. “Mock all you like, Dottie. I think you’re just jealous that I’m the creative one.”
“You’re right. I am jealous. I’m sorry. You keep coming up with these truly inventive ideas and you’re bound to hit on something that works.”
“Uh, Dorothy, the ranch inMontanais making a profit.”
“So I can expect a return on my investment? Or are you rolling it over to create an ice-skating rink on horseback?”
“Why are you being such a bitch?” Dashiel asked as Sister Benedetta placed their meals in front of them. “Sorry, sister,” he said to the waitron.
“Oh, that’s all right. I’ve got a dozen ‘sisters’ here and half of them are bitches. Oh, no offense,” she addressed Dottie and bowed her head in supplication, her winged cornets flapping as she did so.
Dottie muffled a Chardonnay spit-take and laughed.
[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