The small treatment room was filled with fresh flowers in elegant vases. Six feet of blond Norse perfection, Astrid Blomgren, looked crisp in her mauve smock with the yellow daisy pinned to her breast pocket.
Evelyn paced around the Comfort Soul treatment bed talking loudly on her cell while Astrid made adjustments to the French Remodel Micro-current machine on a portable stand.
“The Boys have a meeting at Disney for a movie. And you’re coming with us.”
“I can’t, Evie. Impossible,” Abby said loud enough that Astrid gave Evelyn a look.
“Nonsense. You can. And you will! We can’t do it without you. Besides it’ll be good for you. Get away for a couple of days.”
“What am I supposed to do with Murphy and Winnie? I’m not leaving them in a kennel.”
“Of course, not. I would never suggest such a horror. I’m appalled you’d even think such a thing!”
Evelyn disconnected, threw the phone on a chair and turned to Astrid. “Returning to the land of Oz always reminds me how vain and self-absorbed I used to be.”
Before Astrid could respond, Evelyn beat her to the punch, “Don’t say it!”
“I was just going to say, you don’t look a day over—”
“Don’t! There is no number that will satisfy me. And I’ll believe. So on with the show!”
Evelyn climbed onto the Comfort Soul treatment bed and reclined. “Today you are Persephone, you have me in your clutches and I willingly succumb to your everlasting beauty magic.”
Astrid laughed. “I had no idea you were into mythology.”
“I spent half my life in Beverly Hills.” Evelyn rolled her eyes. “Psyche and Eros took hold of me long ago. Going back to Tinsel Town puts me right back to Aphrodite’s final test to Psyche.”
“You and a lot of my clients.”
“Into the bowels of hell I journey to bring back Persephone’s jar of immortal beauty ointment. Risking certain death, or worse, the eternal plague of an old and ugly face, I open the jar for you to do with me as you will!”
“Whatever I do can never improve your young and beautiful spirit.”
“Thank you, darling. You’re very sweet. And full of it. Now, get on with it.”
Astrid adjusted the dials on the French remodel micro-current machine. “Tell me, Evie. Great beauty… A blessing or a curse?”
“Having never possessed the former, I can only answer as an objective observer to the latter. A blessing or a curse?” Evelyn considered the options. “Both. In that order. I suppose, my face got my foot in the door. But I was an actor! Only interested in good parts in good plays. When I got to Hollywood, I found the interesting parts, the great characters, went to older, more worldly women. So, I took what they gave me. My time would come.”
Astrid attached wires with little sponges to Evelyn’s chin, cheeks and forehead.
“When it did, I was ready. Was asked to read for a marvelous part, a 65-year-old bitter recluse in a Hoffman film…”
“Sorry, they said. No one would believe me as 65. I was 50 at the time. They gave it to a 40-year-old who looked like the Bride of Frankenstein. Well, if that’s all it took. Didn’t occur to me at the time that she might have been a better actor. So… I put on thirty pounds, let my hair go au natural… Which got me more pity than good parts. Men I wasn’t interested in before now thought they had a chance. Worst year and a half of my life. So… Back to square one.”
Evelyn shot a hateful glance at the French Remodel apparatus behind her. “Now turn on your Marquis de Sade machine and let the torture begin!”
Abby wasn’t even half way there, wanted to turn around and forget the whole thing. But she had promised Evelyn. Maybe she was overreacting. Everything would be fine.
Turning off Carmel Valley Road, Abby headed up a two-lane street past a school and over a bridge across the Carmel River. Checking her rearview mirror, she smiled at Winifred and Murphy, heads looking out the wire doors of their travel crates.
Her smile vanished when she noticed an old pickup truck closing in behind, a mountain of blond hair in the driver’s seat. Abby white-knuckled the wheel and continued down the road bordered by ranch homes and horse corrals. She slowed, made a hard left and hit the gas. The Subaru shot down a private driveway ducking behind a patch of cottonwood trees. Abby turned around just in time to see the pickup rumble past, the big blond hair belonging to a weathered grandma hauling bales of hay.
Abby wondered if she was making more of this than there actually was. The trip to LA was sounding better all the time.
~ ~ ~