“MISS WAHZOO” (Excerpted from Larceny of Love)

Dakota sat at a window table in a lounge at LAX where the planes taxiing by the windows looked close enough to touch. David soon appeared at the door. They spotted each other, smiled and waved and were soon embracing, cheek kissing and holding hands at arm’s length while they gazed at each other without talking. Not many people towered over Dakota, but David was six-six and a former college basketball player. “I didn’t think I’d still be in love with you, Dakota. It’s six years since I’ve seen you”

“Your fickle heart.”

“It’s a rare day when I don’t think about you, wonder what you’re doing.”

Dakota opened her arms wide and smiled her searchlight smile. “Here I am.”

“I’m so glad you called. Oh why were we such assholes?”

“Nineteen, stubborn, couldn’t give in, assholes. Are you happy, David?”

“Overall, I guess. I never . . .”

A waiter interrupted. “Excuse me, would you like a drink?”

“A good pinot noir please,” Dakota said.

“Would Saintsbury Carneros be satisfactory?”

“Perfectly,” David said. “Two.”

“Did you remarry, David?”

“No, but I’m getting married tomorrow.”

Dakota raised her eyebrows and her voice and shook her head in disbelief. “Tomorrow! Why didn’t you tell me? I never would have let you meet today.”

“I would have met you tomorrow. It gets better, there’s a huge shindig at her house in a few hours, wedding rehearsal dinner. It’s one of those big Norma Desmond mansions set back on Sunset. The thought of all that evaluation of me by unmet relatives and dealing with the pointless chit-chat makes me want to call in sick.”

“Christ, you are somethin’ else.”

“Now, how about your love life, Dakota? I don’t see a ring.”

“Several near misses that I broke off at the witching hour. Although some of the men would say it was the bitching hour.”

“A string of broken hearts.”

“Better than casting pearls before swine.”

“Or Dakota into the Badlands.”

The waiter arrived with the wine. Dakota, still laughing, toasted, “To your happiness. What’s your fiancée like?” She looked out to see a Japan Air Lines 767 taxi by. Dakota saw faces in the plane windows. I should be on there with them.

“A society girl, debutante, sounds a little like Grace Kelly, maybe even looks something like her, money up the wahzoo. What’s she like? That thought never crossed my mind until now. And, I’m glad you’re sitting, she’s white.”

Dakota smiled. “And to think I once thought you were a credit to your race.”

David’s laughter burst, and he pounded the table spilling pinot noir on the white tablecloth. He pointed. “Looks like me and her.” They are now out of control, the room is looking at them rather than the planes, and the waiter appeared to ask if everything was all right. “No it isn’t all right, but before you call security bring one more glass of pinot to top us up after the spill.”

Before the waiter could cover the stain with a spread napkin, Dakota said, “You’re lighter than that, closer to coffee, light on the cream. I think you could pass, café au lait, with a little skin whitener.”

“Well, listen to Miss Mocha with a pound of Dixie Peach in her do.” And they’re at it again, rolling around in their chairs, in tears grasping hands across the table. Neither one has had this much fun in a long time, but the mood shifted. “What are you doing out here, Girl?”

“Visiting an old college friend in Benedict Canyon. She’s married to Preston Powell, the film director.”

“Hmm. I worked for him a few times. So you’re a friend of Stella’s?”

“I thought the Hollywood six degrees of separation was Kevin Bacon territory. I now believe it belongs to Preston Powell.

“You gonna work on a film, Dakota?”

“No plans, but I’m open to any and all offers as long as I can remain vertical.”

“Difficult attitude to maintain in this town. But seriously, can we see each other, be friends?”

Dakota took a reflective taste of wine. “No, David, we’re still too attracted.”

“Could I call you sometime and talk?”

Dakota thought on that. “Just talk. I’m not going to be your mistress. Is that Hollywood, or what? Ex becomes ex’s mistress.”

“How about ex becomes ex’s wife?”

Dakota laughed. “If I could blush, I would. Are you proposing bigamy, polygamy? Once you’re back in the arms of Miss Wahzoo this fantasy will fade.”

“I always felt I was robbed, really robbed myself, of the love of my life, you, because of my immaturity and stupidity. I never blamed you, it was me. As soon as you walked in; will you promise not to get involved until . . .?”

Dakota smiled, stood, put her hand on his shoulder to keep him rising, placed money on the table and kissed David’s cheek. “Of course, my mutable one, I’ll only date eunuchs. But I must confess I’m fair game to fall into a big mogul’s wallet. But this subplot does have the makings. I’ve been looking for a concept for my next musical: The Director, The Composer and The Debutante.”

“How does it all come out?”

“The resolution needs to be Mr. Suddenly Confused Marries The Society Dame.”

Over Dakota’s shoulder as she left, “See you at the movies.”

David smiled and shook his head as he, and fifty other people, watched Dakota’s sinuous walk down the room. He noticed a faint lip mark on her wine glass, reached for it, licked it and drained the glass. He looked out the window for a long time then reached for his cell phone.

“David, why are you calling me?”

“Where are you?”

“I’m getting a car rental and driving down to Newport Beach for a few days of decompression before entering the scene. What’s on your mind?”

“You. I’m not going through with the wedding. Once I saw you again and we had the time together, I knew I wanted you and not her.”

“This is crazy. You can’t just jilt the girl.”

“You did it.”

“Yes, but it wasn’t as though the candles were lit. And besides, I’m making no commitment to you. Moreover, you’ve succeeded in making me The Other Fucking Woman. I don’t like this.”

“All I’m asking for is a chance.”

“David, you do what you have to do, but don’t count on me, least of all for what you apparently have in mind. Anyway, if you do go ahead with this shit-brained scheme be careful because I predict you’re gonna get your black ass burned.” Dakota clicked off. I’m afraid the brother’s wood done left the shed.

NOTE: This story was adapted and excerpted from Larceny of Love, a provocative print and eBook novel that traces the interwoven careers of three men in jeopardy (one of whom is a professional pitcher who suffers from sudden, extreme, unexplained career-threatening wildness) and the unforgettable women in their lives.

“The first thing I’m going to do is recommend Larceny of Love to my friends. It has intricate plotting, a slew of unforgettable scenes and a clever and satisfying resolution.” -Lesli Summers, Marietta, Georgia

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