Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Under Ware: Agent With The FBI

Shortly after 9/11, Under passed her special agent test. She'd been a computer analyst with the service since l995, her first job after graduation from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. With a name like hers, she wanted to stay under the radar. The fact that she lived in Washington D.C. and traveled constantly was ideal. Pasadena, California, was no more than the place Under had been born. 

She was now known as U. Ware. Her twin, Arde, or Hard, as his UCLA frat brothers called him--had done the same thing in med school and now he was on staff at a prominent Midwestern medical school, Dr. A. Ware or AW.

"Say your name and be proud of it," their mother had said, when they begged to know why such names had been put on them. "Ware is an old British name, much like, Blood, my maiden name. Where do you think the term, Bluebood, comes from? I don't hear your cousins complaining about their name."

"Yeah, their first names are Jennifer, David, and Ashley," Arde said, a hardness  underscored his voice even when they were youngsters.  

The three cousins were slackers who hit the party scene first in Bali, then in Rio and finally in Hollywood. They partied away their incomes at the Troubadour, the Viper Room where they met Johnny Depp, and various other clubs that came and went. Under had ushered in the 21st century by going to bed at 8 PM and waking up at 7 AM, same as always. Arde spent that year in Japan, doing God knows what. He said he was studying Eastern medicine.

Last summer on July 4th, their mother hosted a big bash and collapsed at the buffet table, dying from a heart attack before the medics arrived. U and HW had to go home. 

"I've never seem her so beautiful," Under said, looking at her mother before the morticians prepared her for the funeral. "Peaceful and serene. Luminescent."

"The old gal's blood wasn't as terrific as she thought it was," Arde said. He took charge, made all the arrangements. Arde had fought to have an autopsy performed, Under refused. Her mother's beauty was all she had left. She sat with the open casket before the funeral.

"I'm so sorry for my disgraceful behavior," she said. A single tear slid from the edge of her eye. "I don't know why you did this to me, but I love you." She smoothed her black dress and sat quietly. "I'll start wearing mascara to make up for things," she said, looking straight forward.

"Let's get this over with," Arde said, then snapped the silk-lined casket closed. "Everybody's waiting. Did you contact our father?" 

She shook her head. "I ran a check on him. A year ago he was living in Romania with a woman named Irma Vagine. They have children and run a legitimate orphanage. Leave him alone, he has a life." 

"Don't you want to know your father?" Arde snarled at her in the same tone he used with their mother.  "We need to know what diseases he has, what we've inherited. He's the Ware. He abandoned us."

Under wept, bowing her head, covering her eyes with her hands. "I know who I am, Hard Ware. I'm Under Ware." She looked up at him, emotions in check, radiant in her truth. "I spend my days ferreting out people who change their names to serve some purpose, avoid some truth, or getting away from themselves and their families." She snorted and cleared her throat. "I'm a Blood-Ware, bright red and running strong."

"And you're so tough. FBI. You'll always be under some body's thumb," he said. "Let's get this over with."

They sat together. They gave the eulogy together. Under wept. Arde didn't. When the service was over, as they were leaving, a man tapped Under on the shoulder. When she turned around, she saw her own  pale face but with flashing dark eyes rimmed with double thick lashes. 

"I vant you to meet my vife, and zon's lit-tle shildren," he said. "They've ast to meet you for a longa time. Ve've saved money for 10 years. Come from Poland. Bad timing. " 

"Arde, I think this is our father," she said. "Look."  

"Ah, your uncle. Your fader feld offa curb in and vas hit by a truck," he said. "I'm Zilva Vare."

Arde just starred. Under gave Zilva a hug. The children giggled and his wife smiled.

More little Wares, Under thought smiling at them. I vonder vhat their names are?

And that's true. To some extent.

Monday, October 13, 2008

ESTABLISH: Parking Lot Outside The Salon, Sherman Oaks, CA

Tina left the salon in thin orange rubber flip flops. She'd forgotten to bring her own and wore really cool red peep-toe shoes which she had to carry back to the car. Her exquisite French-tip nails matched hand to foot. She was ready for her audition later in the afternoon. She knew it was a great role, made for her: A smart, sophisticated women with a mission before she succumbed to leukemia. 

The pebbles in the parking lot punctured, oh really, they wobbled beneath her feet as she tiptoed to her Acura not 25 feet away in the open air parking lot. It was pleasantly warm, the lot hardly half full, and a well-validated parking ticket assured her of free passage out of there. Still, why couldn't they clear the stupid pebbles? 

Her foot massage wouldn't last to the car at this rate. How could she maneuver in heels later in the afternoon at this rate? A big man leaned against the trunk of a big black Lincoln Navigator (gas guzzler) too closely parked beside her car door. He was sharing his cell phone conversation with the world.

"I paid. You know I paid. I'll pay the rest. Just give me a couple days.  I know I said..." he shouted, pacing left to right his free hand never moving an inch out of his black suit coat pocket. "You owe me," he shouted. Obviously, the person at the other end had some equally potent reply. He waved the phone around in a circle then back close to his ear and unexpectedly said in a most even tone, "I won't do it," and then  smacked the Blackberry again his sizable chest, grimacing with fury. 

She stopped, ready to click the car door open, but didn't. Pondering his 300 pound dark, swarthy frame, Tina easily imaged him as Mafia. Was there such a thing as Persian Mafia? Probably not, but maybe he was black Russian Mafia, and had died his hair and spent a lot of time in a tanning booth.  

She peered at him with her peripheral vision, blinking quickly as her placed a smile across her face allowing her mouth to fall sensuously open.  She licked her plumped up lips. Her job was to get him in the mood to care about her, forget that phone call. Tina shifted from foot to foot, her flowing garb suggested either a free spirit or more likely a wood nymph.

Tina rubbed her palms together warming them, as she always did before a performance. "Excuse me, please," she said as she titled her head slightly to one shoulder and looked  directly into his dark dark eyes. The click of her car remote gave away her intent. "I'm late for an audition, excuse me."  Tina forgot about the pebbles now,  her back straight and chin lifted, she stepped lightly past him, not touching as she opened the car door. "Thank you," she offered.

"Sure, sure," he said. "I wish my wife was so agreeable. She always wants more, more." 

And he thinks I care, passed through Tina's mind. "I'm sure she's a beautiful woman," came out of Tina's mouth. "Wants to make a beautiful life for you. That costs money." Tina's heart beat so fast, she felt a panic attack coming on. "Good luck," she said. Why did I have to say that, pounded between her ears. 

Backing the car out took a 5 point turn in her current state of flux. She peeked at him through the rear-view mirror and waved. He leaned wearily against that big black car, unmoved, head hanging down. Tina put her well-manicured foot on the accelerator, the back tires threw gravel as she pulled forward, toward the window of the parking attendant booth. 

"I'm ready for the audition  after that, "she said out loud. Shifting in her seat, she sat shoulders back to stop shaking. "People think show business is all fun and games. It's work and preparation. I could have said it better: I'm sure she's a beautiful woman, or, I'm sure she's a beautiful woman." Tina rolled her eyes, handed the attendant the ticket and pulled out onto the street.

And that's true. To some extent.