Lori is walking down the driveway by the time I finish counting. I can’t believe her! She’s going to give me a ticket for a car I’ve driven in and out of here for fifteen years! Even though I’ve told her time and time again over the course of two years I can’t afford to replace it. God, where am I going to get the fifty bucks to pay this?
God, the month hasn’t even started yet and I’m fifty bucks in the hole. I grab my stuff and storm towards the front door. Carl, our doorman gives me a sympathetic smile as he opens the tall polished glass door for me. The gray-haired chocolate colored man takes my bags and walks me through the lobby over to the elevator. I reach into my wallet and pull out a five. Carl shakes his head no.
“Put your Money away Mari.” Carl says. “I can’t take your last.”
“C’mon you earned this Carl.” I plead.
“Girl, all the twenty dollar tips I get I should be giving you money.” Carl laughs. “You have a good day.”
“Thanks.” I say as I stick the five-dollar bill back in my wallet and get on the elevator.”
Carl waves at me as the elevator doors close. I take a deep breath during the short elevator ride. When the car opens on the third floor I’ve cooled down enough that I don’t want to punch someone in the face.
I storm past the painting of three maidens down the Berber carpeted hall to the front door of apartment #3C. I unlock the door, drop my bags in the living room and find the perfect place for Lori’s ticket: The wastepaper basket right below the framed sheet posters of All About Nikki and Dark Ride in the foyer. I’ll put this stuff away later. Right now I need a break.
I let out a sigh as I follow the Shrine to myself through the living room. Pictures of my TV alter ego are on framed covers of Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Tiger Beat, Teen, YM, and TV Guide right next to a photo of myself wearing a fabulous aqua colored gown underneath a caption stating I’m #36 of the 50 most beautiful people from a page in People Magazine. Right next to the article are a series of pictures of me with the beautiful people at famous events. The Golden Globes, the Emmys, and even one of me at the Oscars. The big premieres of some of the big 1990’s movies like Jurassic Park, True Lies, The Lion King, Pulp Fiction, Forrest Gump, and Titanic. The openings of all the top Beverly Hills restaurants. Funny how all those famous people I used to know forgot my phone number when I stopped being popular. I don’t think I ever smiled for real in any of those pictures.
I pass by the cardboard standee of my TV alter ego in her Chanel Suit and scan the bookcase next to it. I’m careful not to jostle any of the props on the top shelf. In between A crystal clear bowling ball, a lime green Swatch watch Nikki wore all the time, and a neon sign that decorated Nikki’s bedroom are between two boxed All About Nikki dolls and a pair of rhinestone covered pumps. I can’t believe how many kids wrote me thinking these were real diamonds. I still laugh when I read those letters.
Below the props are videotapes of every episode of All About Nikki cataloged in the sequence they aired. I grab episode 13 from the second season off the second shelf. It always makes me feel better after days like this.
As I turn the corner into the bedroom, I smile as at the series of photos of my present-day life on the dresser. The intimate pictures show me helping Lucy in the Burbank Baptist kitchen, teaching kids the bible in the Sunday School, Posing in Jim’s gym with Shay and hanging out with Bri at the beach. I have none of the money but all of the fun. I pop the tape in the VCR in the adjacent armoire and push play. As the soft rock theme song starts, I flop on the bed, kick off my sneakers and socks and let myself escape to a simpler time in my life.
The show fades in on Nikki waiting impatiently down the stairs for Rosa as she timidly shuffles down with a Red Cashmere sweater.
“Miss Desmond, Your Red Cashmere Sweater.”
I watch as Nikki snatches the sweater away from Rosa and glares at her. “This isn’t my Red sweater! This is my crimson Sweater! Nikki shouts.
“They look the same”
“Maybe they’re the same in your country, but not here in America. Now go upstairs and get my red sweater!”
Rosa shuffles up the stairs as My TV butler Rumsfeld walks in on cue.
“Miss Desmond, which one of the cars shall I bring around?”
Nikki Flashes a wicked smile. “I really want to make the kids jealous.” Nikki says with a grin. “Let’s take the Rolls to school today Rumsfeld.”
My TV Dad strolls in dressed in a double breasted Armani Suit on cue and gives me a stern look as he tells Rumsfeld. “Rumsfeld, hold off on bringing the Rolls around. Nikki’s not going anywhere until she apologizes to Rosa.”
Nikki turns to her father and smiles. “Dad, Rosa’s not people. She’s help.”
The upset TV dad tells her “She has feelings just like you do.”
I wish people understood that I have feelings just like they do.
I always wondered why I identified so much with Rosa’s character. Now I know.
I am Rosa.
I’m not a person. I’m help. I dress up in a uniform, go to people’s homes for thirty minutes, make them laugh, make them feel good and then I leave. I clean out all the miserable feelings they pile up during of their workday and leave them ready to shovel more crap in the next day.
And just like Rosa, the Nikki Desmonds of the world who I work for don’t give a shit about my feelings. I look like a dude? I wish I could have turned the other cheek by punching her in the face-
The phone rings and interrupts the violent thoughts I’m imagining about beating the shit out of Natalie and Holly. I ease the cordless out of the cradle on the night table and cock it to my ear before greeting the caller with a pleasant professional tone. “Marilyn Marie.”
“Marilyn, this is Ava.” Ava says. “I wanted to talk to you about the project. It’s shooting at 3800 Wilshire Boulevard tomorrow at seven AM.”
This doesn’t sound right. Usually I get sent a side or a script for a part I’m reading for. What kind of job is she sending me on?
“Hold on. Casting in the middle of shooting? I don’t like where this is going-
“Look, this is a great part.”
“If it’s such a great part, you should be Fed Exing me a script right now-”
“Don’t worry. This is a great project. It’s gonna pay six figures.”
Six figures? That’s more money than I’ve had in a long time. I grab a pad and pen off the night table. “3800 Wilshire?”
“See you tomorrow morning at seven.”
I spring out of bed and hurry out to get my groceries. I’m hoping this is the last night I have to eat cereal for dinner.
I've approved the paperback edition of The Temptation of John Haynes with Lightning Source. So it should be up on Amazon and online bookstores in a couple of weeks. Readers will eventually have the option of paperback or e-book. This will be the first time ipad and Kindle readers will have a chance to buy one of my books!
There will be two more chapters of Marilyn, and then I'll be switching the blog back to articles until The Temptation of John Haynes hits Amazon. When the book drops, I'll be posting sample chapters!