Scene: the upstairs office in Peachy’s Gentlemen’s club. Devon Dean has redecorated everything. Instead of the dreary weirdly green-and-red paint job Valerie’d had, DD has gone for an all-white scheme, and the effects of the white nouveau Art Deco styled desk and chairs, white sofa, and white-on-white sculptures with backlighting are truly dazzling. Especially when one sees the two acquiescences to color in contrast: the marble vase on the enormous desk holding a single peach-colored bloom, and on the far wall, the old peach logo from the former PPAD.
Devon Dean takes his place behind the desk and gestures Donna to sit as well. “Now, Ms. Martin,” he begins grandly. “I’ve wanted to talk to you about the work you’ve been doing for me here at the club.”
Donna lurches forward, bugging her eyes. “Oh! Um, well, of course!”
DD smiles patiently. “You’ve done all the designs for the dancers and hostesses-”
But Insecure Donna flaps her hands in front of her, interrupting. “What? You aren’t happy with them? Oh, I knew it! Okay, I’ll just change the whole thing and-”
“No, no, I perfectly happy with the designing you’ve done for me. You’re very talented, Ms. Martin, and I think you have done some truly stunning work here, really. I was speaking of the modeling you’ve-”
“Ohmigawd, you hated it, didn’t you? I looked like a total fool, and I never should’ve-”
“Ms. Martin, please!” Devon Dean’s patience is wearing a bit thin with these Ain’t-I-Sweet-‘n-Humble Donnantics. But he manages to smile again, opening a white folder that is on his desk and taking out a number of glossy photos, all of Donna, modeling assorted Little Bit of Fetish-wear. “Now. As I was saying, I’ve been watching you closely, Ms. Martin, and am very impressed with all you’ve done here. In fact, over the last week, I’ve been showing these photos to several friends of mine in the Industry, and several of them are extremely interested in having you come in for some test photo sessions. You have a rare spark of passion and beauty Ms. Martin- Donna... a most unique look, racier than Drew Barrymore, newer than Madonna, more mature than the Spice Girls, and bolder than any of the runway supermodels. I think that you have the talent to go far, Donna, and I’d like to offer you the opportunity to test the waters, so to speak.”
And Donna gulps and bugs out her eyes and exhales really loud. “Ohmigawd, wow! I mean, are you *serious*, Mr. Dean? Me? An actual model?” And she clasps her hands to her chest and bounces and giggles and claps and gasps some more. “Ohmigawd, this is soooo incredible!” Rapist boyfriend? What rapist boyfriend?!
DD pats her hand, unruffled. “We have some work to do before I send you out on your first appointment, Donna dear. We need to put together a portfolio and a resume, just to start with. Almost any pictures that are current and in focus will do for now. And I’ll need you to compile a list of any and all professional work you may have done, charity shows, college talent contests, whatnot. Then, we’ll get some test shots and feedback from some of my colleges, put together an updated portfolio, and hopefully The Devon Dean Agencies will have a new rising star on its hands.”
“Oh, Mr. Dean, I don’t know how to thank you-”
“Thanks aren’t necessary, darling. I’ll be meeting with you again in a day or two. And please, tell Dave that I’d like to see him next.” And with a fond smile, Devon Dean waves Donna out the door, and she goes bounding and galumphing off with glee.
Scene: the Mexican Villa dining room.
In between forkfuls of enchilada and other various local delicacies, Marchette carefully poses questions to Dylan.
“Ah, Bruno mentioned to me that you might be having some, ah, trouble with that girl, Brenda...?” Marchette starts.
Dylan looks at Bruno questioningly, and Bruno faithfully says “I told Mr. Marchette about the mail you received.”
Dylan finishes chewing, swigs some of his glass of water, and stretches and grunts a little and wrinkles up his forehead to delay answering. “Yeah,” he finally rasps. “There are some things that need taking care of.” He may be a literary super-stud, but he gots no grammar skillz, yo.
“Like what?” queries Marchette, his fish eyes fixed intently on Dylan.
Dylan twists his head and rubs his goatee’d face with the back of his hand. “Brenda- Well, Brenda’s pregnant. And she’s hittin’ me up for child support and all that.”
Marchette puts down his fork. “What do you intend to do?”
“Do? I’m not doing anything, Marchette. I don’t want the kid. I’m not *ready* for a kid. It’s too much for me.”
“But Dylan, this is your blood!”
“Yeah, well....” Dylan swigs some more water and helps himself to another tamale.
But Marchette reaches over, touching his arm lightly but urgently. “Dylan, Dylan.... Think of it. Your son. My grandson. Our *blood*. He would want for nothing. We’d raise him here. Or we could take him back to Italy. Or Switzerland, or even-”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, you’re forgetting something, Marchette. Brenda has an attorney. She wants sole custody. And” – Dylan draws the word out, shaking his head back and forth a bit – “frankly, I’m prepared to sign the papers giving it to her.”
“Why?” Marchette still hasn’t blinked.
“Oh, c’mon, Marchette, I’m in no position to take care of a kid! No home, no job, no future....”
“Dylan... son... haven’t your circumstances changed now? Aren’t you here? Your future is with me. And so is the future of your son. Anything you need, a house, cars, nannies, ponies, anything a child could want, I can provide. It’s rightfully yours anyway, Dylan, just as someday it will rightfully be your son’s. Think it over.”
“...What about Brenda?”
“Oh, Dylan, we can make a deal with her. I’m a wealthy man, you know that. This Brenda, what is her financial situation?”
“Uh, well, she’s been studying acting. Her parents would probably support her, but they may not even know about the baby yet-”
“There, you see! We can pay her off, set her up in a lovely little bungalow in the Hollywood Hills, pay for her acting classes, buy her a beauty salon or something to run, whatever it takes-”
“Actually,” Dylan says slowly. “I have an idea.”
Scene: Devon Dean’s all-white office in Peachy’s Gentlemen’s Club. DD, settled at his huge desk, has just finished meeting with Donna, and has time only for a quick morsel or two of fruit pastry before the door opens, and Davy Silver, desperately in need of the Epil-Stop Hair Removal System for the growth of fuzz on his face, comes a’swaggerin’ in, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand.
Davy sniggers for no reason, jams his hands in his pockets (HAND CHECK!), and says “Hey, Devon, Donna said you wanted to see me?”
DD beams a big smile at Davy. “Ah, Dave, yes, please, do come in and sit down.”
Hitching up his baggy cords in that annoying I’m-all-man way that many of the male Hillsters have, Davy sprawls in one of Devon Dean’s white and chrome office chairs, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand and sniggering for no reason.
“I must say, Dave, you have been doing a marvelous job with the music here at the club,” DD begins grandly.
“Hey, yeah, thanks, I really love it.” says Davy, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand. “I’ve got some great ideas for playing some live hip-hop to go with-”
But DD holds up one soft hand, still smiling widely. “And that’s something I want to talk to you about, Dave. I understand you are quite the experienced musician. Steven has supplied me with some of your demo tapes, and, of course, the work you did with that band some months back, Jasper’s Law.”
Davy sniggers, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand, and looks modestly pleased with his bad-ass self. “Yeah, man, music’s my life. I love it.” Because he got the passion, don’t he?
“And you obviously have the talent as well,” Devon adds, “You were clearly wasting your time and talent with those silly jingles, weren’t you?”
“Well, uh, yeah, I, uh,” he says. And then Davy scratches his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand.
“Dave, one of my very good friends is an agent in the music industry. In fact, he was here just the other night to listen to your set and observe your stage presence. He liked what he saw, Dave, and would like very much to meet with you in regards to a band he’s putting together. Five young men, all from this area, hip-hop pop-funk with a techno edge. He’s been holding casting calls, but for you that wouldn’t be necessary. He’s ready to sign you immediately.”
And Davy laughs, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand, and deedles himself, shaking his head. “Wow. This is amazing. Would I be able to write my own material?”
“Absolutely,” assures DD. “It’s one of the main reasons Alfred wants you. He needs someone to act as the band’s primary songwriter, as well as to help choreograph the group’s stage performances when it comes time to appear live. I, of course, would act as your manager, and I’m prepared to see that you get the most lucrative deal possible.”
“No, there’s no need for you to give me any kind of answer now. Alfred will be holding his final casting call this afternoon, here, before the club opens for the evening. All you have to do is show up, meet with Alfred, and with the other boys he’s selected. I’ll take care of the rest.”
“Hey, thanks, man. Thanks a lot,” says Davy, scratching his nose with one finger, then the back of his cue-ball head with the other hand and laughing.
“No thanks necessary,” Devon smiles benignly, waving Davy out. “Oh, and Dave? Could you please tell Steven I’d like to see him? And please ask Mr. Buccichio to send up a few more apple Danishes and coffee. These have gotten cold.”
Cut to commercial.
Scene: a small but sunny, nearly-bare apartment. The front door opens, and Valerie “Chuckles” Malone, struggling with a couple suitcases, comes in first, followed by Brinda “Poppin’ Fresh” Warsh, struggling with a small duffel and her huge belly.
“Well! Here we are,” beams Val. “One bedroom, one bath, good-sized kitchen with all-new appliances, washer and dryer included. Yours for the taking.”
Brinda, in a plain, neat cream-colored maternity shirt over black track pants and comfortable black sneakers, her newly-styled hair cut short and flattering, looks around. “Oh, Val,” she says, obviously moved, when she spies the apartment’s only furnishings: a baby crib, changing table and small dresser in one corner. A brightly-colored mobile hangs over the crib, and there are a few stuffed animals and toys lining the dresser top.
“You like ‘em?” asks Val anxiously watching Brinda’s reaction. “Oh, and I talked to Jim and Cindy about using some of the furniture they’ve had in storage since the move to Hong Kong.”
“You didn’t. . . ?”
“What do you think I am, crazy? Of course I didn’t tell them anything! Just that I was decorating a new apartment. But with Brandon and Kelly’s wedding coming up, and this custody hearing, you can’t hide it forever, Brenda. They’ll be here to see for themselves in a couple of weeks.”
“I know,” sighs Brinda. “I was just hoping things would be... more... *settled* by then. You know, the custody hearing and child support and all that.”
“Well, here’s one thing taken care of,” says Val, taking a folded paper out of her pocket. “One year’s lease, no strings attached, renegotiable at the end of twelve months. No one can argue that you can’t provide a home for the baby.”
Brinda, looking at the papers, gapes again. “Val, just fifty dollars a month for rent and utilities?”
“Hey, you gotta have money left over for diapers, Bren.”
“Val, it’s too much. I can’t take all this from you,” Brinda gestures around the apartment.
“Brenda, I *want* to. You’re the closest thing I have to family, you know? Let me help. You’d do the same for me, wouldn’t you? Haven’t you?”
“Val, that stuff with your dad wasn’t the same as this-”
“Yes it was! I had no place to go, no place to hide from him. Every time you let me sleep over with you, every time you came home with me after school, that was just one more time that you stopped him from hurting me. You know, that night he shot himself [I’ll never believe Val killed him! That plot line was too hokey for words! Last season SUCKED, do you hear me, Jason, IT SUCKED!], he’d just had his first visit from the police after the school reported it. You were the one who told the school counselor for me. And I owe you for that, Bren, and more. No strings. Anything I can do to help make sure you can keep this baby, I’ll do. And you can pay me back by being a better mother than my mom was. Or than I could be.” With tears in both their eyes, Val hugs Brinda, somewhat awkward around her protruding stomach, but genuine.
So Brinda acquiesces, and lets Val show her around the place, smiling – laughing, even – for the first time in a long time. And when the movers arrive with a couch, bed, dresser and other furniture and stuff from the former Casa Walsh before the Hillsters took over and painted the living room that awful blue-green and stuck a pinball machine in the foyer and a stupid, tacky carousel horse in the living room, Brinda and Val happily direct them in placing things around the little apartment... Brenda’s apartment.
Suddenly, in the middle of all this activity, Val turns to Brinda. “You worked with Ohndrea yesterday afternoon, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I acted as translator for her interview with Jean-Jacque Roland, a film director from France. Even made a little money from it. How come?”
“Is she still staying with her grandmother?”
“As far as I know.”
Val’s dimples show themselves again. “D’you think she’d be interested in an apartment not to far from the beach – with great neighbors, I might add – if someone were to make her the right offer?”
And Brinda grins back. “I don’t know, but let’s ask her!” And they giggle happily together.
Scene: Devon Dean’s office in Peachy’s. This time it’s Stevie’s turn through the front door (don’t say it! Don’t!), and Devon Dean has to concentrate hard to keep himself from drifting off in a romantic fantasy about him, Stevie, a can of Crisco and a vinyl drop-cloth.
“He-e-ey, DD!” Stevie chortles, doing some hip-sway move while snapping his fingers and clapping his hands and pointing and laughing and other activities that would generally count as symptoms of hyperactivity and ADD in children.
“Ah, Steven, come on in,” says Devon, trying to subdue his own wild flights of fancy.
Steve grabs an understated white chair from against the wall, swings it around and straddles it. “So, tell me what’s up.”
“We-e-e-ll,” DD draws the word out lingeringly, “I wanted to talk to you about that bonus I promised you last week, when... when there was that... ah, unfortunate incident up here.”
And Stevie, instantly reminded of the Rape of Kara, puts on his Concerned Boyfriend face. “Yeah.... I hope she’ll be able to put it all behind her soon.” That PSA for Concerned Boyfriends done with, Stevie switches gears again. “So, about that bonus...?
DD smiles slowly. “It’s a special surprise. Can you meet me later?”