The Disappearance of Big Tony
"Mr. Jones, my name is Miss Michaels. I understand you have a room for rent."
"That is correct, and it is still available."
"Would you tell me a little about the room and where you are located?"
"It is a very large room. 18 by 22 feet. South facing and well heated. You do understand you have kitchen privileges, don't you? I mean you would have to take your meals here unless you drive the four miles into town every meal."
"The kitchen privileges are very important because I don't have a vehicle and I don't go out often. I do have a California driver's license. I illustrate children's books for income. Umm, do I need bedding? I've never been in this position to have to rent before."
"There are sheets in a chest and some blankets in a trunk. They would need airing out. I've never rented a room out before so--ah--I guess what I'm trying to say, I would need two months' room rent in advance."
"You advertised this for $125 a week or $450 a month. I would certainly pay by the month. Would you give me directions on how to get to your place? I will have to get a cab to transport me."
"Where are you now?" I knew it was the middle of the afternoon and no cabby would come out here this time of year anyway.
"I'm at the bus station here in Brattleboro."
"I'll pick you up in 45 minutes if you want to wait that long. The grocery store I use is on the same street and I have to get some things."
"You are so kind, Mr. Jones. I will expect you."
After I hung up, I decided maybe my new roomer might want something at the store so I would go directly to the bus station.
I had no idea what this woman who had rented a room from me sight unseen would be like. She seemed pleasant over the phone. I hoped she was as pleasant when I met her. I didn't really hurry as she wouldn't be going anywhere. I drove up to the station and I saw this very tall woman come down the steps and stand by several large suitcases. She stood there patiently as I pulled up. She had on a full winter coat and a Tyrolean style hat. The hat was pulled down to her eyes and she had a scarf almost covering her lips. I smiled to myself, wondering if she was wearing leather britches and suspenders.
"Mr. Jones, thank you for coming for me. These bags are mine. I'm glad you have a van. I would have had to argue with a cab driver about fare, they are so heavy." I opened the hatch door and the bags filled the cargo space between the seat and the door. She stood there clutching a hard case much like those that repairmen use to service equipment. I went to take it from her hand, but she said she would keep it with her.
I didn't realize what a large person she was until I got close to her. I am six-feet, three-inches tall and she was nearly my height. I held the passenger door open and she gathered her coat around her and slid into the seat. I caught just a glimpse of her legs as she swung in. They were long, of course, but even as quick as my glance was, I noted how smooth and fine skinned she was. I was startled when she readjusted her hat and removed the scarf, but made no comment.
"I didn't get your first name, Miss Michaels."
"It is Chastity. You can call me Chazzy. Most everyone I know calls me that. You said you were going to the grocery. I have a list if you would be kind enough to pick up these few items." I wondered if I was going to always do her bidding. Too early to argue about it yet.
There was a fact I was aware of that I didn't think she knew. I had seen Chazzy twenty years ago. It was at the Williamsville swimming hole not many miles distant from my home. A place for kids and grownups alike to swim. I was nine at the time and I surmised this girl swimming with her friends was a year older than me. At the time she was tall for ten years, but not overly so. I remembered the girl wasn't what you would call ugly, but she certainly wasn't pretty. At the time I didn't speak to her, because she was summer people.
The growth spurt that came later hadn't done that much for her facial features either. Now she had heavy dark eyebrows, an overly big nose and excessively large lips. The lips barely covered her teeth which were crooked, uneven and protruded. Also her lower jaw receded and there was little apparent chin.
I knew where her folks lived at the time I had seen her years ago. My father sometimes went there to do some work for Big Tony, the owner. Dad told me at the time I was never to go near there. He never said why, and I never did, maybe because he was so serious about it.
The place was only about three miles from where she would be living with me now and still carried the name of the Smith place. Then something came unbidden into my mind. Her name at the time was Chastity Michaels Smith. I had seen it written on her bicycle. Why had she dropped her last name? A little mystery here.
When we reached the store she handed me a $100 bill. "That should cover what I need. You do have a refrigerator and a freezer don't you? If it is more, I'll reimburse you. I'd go in, but I have had a long journey and am very tired. I do thank you, though." I surmised she didn't want to face the public. I can't say that I blamed her.
When I reached the inside, I paused to see what she had put down for groceries. She had fresh fruit and vegetables. The fruit was in multiples of two, so I guess she wanted enough on hand for two days. The vegetables were hearty. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, squash, turnip (rutabagas) and onions. Not too many leafy ones. She specified how many pounds of each. When I went down the meat aisle, she had roasts, both pork and beef, sausage, bacon, chicken and lamb and extra large eggs. Damn, my mouth was watering already, for lamb was my favorite. Maybe she would like to have me sit down with her.
Bread, she wanted wheat and twelve grain, both loaves and rolls. She had butter, yogurt and cheese and when it came to ice cream, she wanted the gallon size, two if they have different kinds. I didn't think I would have any money left and I made sure I had extra money in my hand when I reached the checkout. I had enough, but just barely. My change was a nickel and two pennies. The groceries went on the back seat of the van. I handed Chazzy the change and the slip. "No beer? You didn't get beer."
"I'll get that at the discount center. I have to stop for gas."
"Good, I like beer with my meals." She paused, "Damn, I forgot to put freezer bags on the list."
I broke in with, "I have a good supply. Cooking for one person, I always have leftovers."
"Smart man, that's what I do too. Of course with my appetite, I don't always have too many of those."
As we turned onto my road, I told her that at this time of year the mud could get pretty bad. "We have two miles of it after we leave the black top. My driveway is about three hundred yards long and I drag all the way. It'll last another week and then it will start to dry up. The mud is a lot worse over beyond here. Dummerston and Newfane have further to truck gravel to fill in the mud holes."
"What town is your house in?"
"Brattleboro. The Dummerston town line is at the top of the hill."
"Is this your house we are coming to?"
"Yes, hang on, I'm going to have to goose the hell out of the van to get through this." We were considerably bounced around as I charged through the mud, just being able to make it.
I pulled in front of the house. Chazzy said, "I'm not going to do any driving until the mud dries up, that's for sure."
We unloaded the groceries. I carried the heaviest of her suitcases into the room she had rented. She was looking with interest at the furniture. I pointed out where the bedclothes were stored. "You better get them out. You can fluff them in the dryer if you want." She took off her hat and coat and threw it on the bureau. My God, what a hunk of woman!
"Go ahead and stare. Most people do. That is why I don't go out too much. You'll get used to how I look if you are around me for awhile."
I was somewhat embarrassed, but I wanted to keep looking. She had invited me to, hadn't she? I did, I walked around until I was behind her and paused. "Okay, that's enough. Come around where I can see you." She said this as she whirled to face me. Her face may not have been what her parents hoped for her, but there was no disputing the rest of her was fine. There just was so much of it.
I smiled into the face that was equal in height to mine. "You're beautiful!"
"Yeah right. As beautiful as a horse."
"No seriously, you're beautifully proportioned. The dress you have on is just right and your hair style is perfect."
"Mr. Jones, I have known you for less than an hour and I think you have gone far enough with your remarks."
"My apologies, Miss Michaels."
"That's Chazzy to you. What is your first name, now that we've got the boundaries established?"
"It's Marvin. Call me Marv, which I hate, or just plain Jones, as others do. Hey, I'll get more suitcases." When I came in and put two of them down, Chazzy had the sheets out and was making her bed. I grabbed the blankets and went down to the cellar to put them in the dryer to fluff. There was an opening over the washer that had at one time been a place to shoot laundry down. I could hear my new guest on her phone.
"Uncle Mort, I got here all right, but we can't do anything for a few weeks. You can't believe the muddy roads they have here. I think I'm about three miles from the house and I'm on the right road, but still in Brattleboro. I don't really remember what the place looked like and I don't want to ask too many questions. The person I'm renting from is a pretty nice guy. When we get done what we have to, I just might stay here for awhile and get to know him."
So--she was here because of where she stayed when she was younger. Why had she dropped her last name and why didn't she come right out and ask about her former home? Well it wasn't really a home because she only stayed the summer. There were places like this all over southern Vermont for people with money to come and stay a few weeks. Wow! A mystery for sure! Maybe I could have a real mystery to unravel. I should be able to because I wrote mystery stories for a living.
I waited down in the basement for the blankets. I heard her go out and get her last two cases, and it sounded like she was putting her things away. I got the blankets out of the dryer and folded them slightly so I could carry them. I received a smile of thanks as I parked them in a chair. "I'm having soup and a sandwich for supper. My heavy meal of the day is at noon. I can put together a sandwich for you if you wish."
"No, I'll cook myself a hamburger. What kind of soup?"
"I'll have a cup, if you have enough." When Chazzy cooked hamburgers, she fried an onion and used almost a pound of hamburg for the two she fried. It made my mouth water to sit across the table from her. They weren't on the plate long, as they disappeared into her mouth at a rapid rate. She drank the hot soup from a mug. Half before she began on the hamburger and the last before she started on the second one. She washed that burger down with a can of beer.
I considered myself a good feeder, but I knew I couldn't compare to Chazzy. "That was good. I like your choice of beer. You know, I'm going to be doing nothing all day to speak of. Why don't I do the cooking for both of us?" She didn't look like she wanted an argument, so I agreed. I think my world had changed and it was certain to change more in a very short time.
There wasn't much for dirty dishes and we did them up in a few minutes. After that I went in and put on the evening news. I did this every day. Chazzy sat on the couch and I parked in my recliner. When the news was over I said, "TV is all yours if you want. I have some things to write in my office." I received a thank you.
I worked for two hours on a novel I was composing. I began to smell popcorn. I came out and she had my huge mixing bowl full of popcorn. "I was hungry so I went looking for a snack. I found the popper so borrowed some corn and made it. I'll pay you back next time you are in town." I hunted up a cereal dish and scooped some out of the bowl. She had put enough butter on it to practically soak the kernels.
The road was frozen over in the morning, so I went for my walk. I always planned on doing this, but sometimes I skipped out. I did walk enough to keep me lean anyway. When I returned, I could hear the shower running. I put coffee on and set about getting my breakfast.
I usually had one egg on toast, one extra slice of toast, one slice of bacon, one sausage link. As I sat down to eat, Chazzy came in with a robe on. It was easy to tell that was all she had on. She was well covered, but what was under the robe moved with every step she took. That is facing me or going in the other direction. It had been a couple of years since I had a steady woman in the house and this was quite a show for me.
"Look all you want, Jones, but you ain't ever going to get none."
I mumbled, "Sorry." I watched as she put three eggs in the frying pan, four strips of bacon and three sausages in another and filled the four slice toaster with bread. I said nothing, but got up and got the largest coffee mug I had out of the cupboard. I had creamer, but no cream.
"You will get some cream when you go to town again. I need it in my coffee. None of this fake stuff." I could tell she almost said crap, instead of stuff. She put the food into her at an amazing speed. Done, she stood and gathered all of the dishes. "You don't have a dishwasher? We need one. I like to cook, but I hate doing dishes. I'm going for a walk. Tell me about where the roads are within five miles of here?"
I drew her a map explaining where we were in relation to the different towns. It took her five minutes to get dressed and I watched her go down the driveway. I did the dishes. Nothing had been said about dinner and she had agreed to cook the meals but-- I fixed a three and half pound chicken to roast. Smiling, I wondered if I would get any of it. This done I went into my office and took up where I was last night with the story I was writing. I heard her come in two hours later.
She knocked on my door, opening it before I asked her in. I looked up at her. The sweat suit was well named, for she was perspiring heavily. "That chicken in the oven. Are you going to invite me or do I cook something for myself?"
"You're invited, but--" and I paused, "you do the dishes. Shut the door, I'm busy."
"Sorry." The door slammed. I decided maybe we should have a sit-down discussion about what's what after dinner.
"So where did you walk this morning?" I asked Chazzy this as the last bit of chicken disappeared off of her plate.
"I went up the hill. I saw the Dummerston town marker. When I got quite a ways, I saw the road that said Marlboro, but I kept to the right onto the Ravine Road. I went a long ways until I saw Barrows Road, turned around and came back. I had a hard time coming back up the hill and was glad when I reached your driveway."
"Oh then, Barrows Road is just past a house we have always called the Smith place. Some summer people owned it back twenty years ago. They don't own it now and haven't for several years. Is it muddy out that way?" Chazzy's head came up at attention when I said Smith place.
"Not any worse than this driveway is. In some places the road is still smooth. How come?"
"That means it hasn't broken up. I mean, the frost hasn't come out of the ground yet. Those spots will be muddy eventually."
"I think I will buy me some kind of transportation. What would you suggest?"
"I don't know. Where will you be driving and how far?"
"Not far, but I would like to be free to take off anytime."
"Soon? If you are, you should have something with four wheel drive in it. There are any number of vehicles out there. Pickups and Subaru cars would do it. You buying new or used?"
"Old and used, but dependable. Would you know what to choose?"
"I could find something. How much do you want to spend?"
"Could you get something good for a couple of thousand?"
"Well after I get the damned dishes done, let's look for something." I sat and watched as she did the dishes. I think she thought I was going to be intimidated by her size and the shape of her body enough to help. I wasn't intimidated, really. How can you be when something so admirable was moving around in close proximity to a person. When she hung up the dish towel to dry she said, "You're bad." She smiled and I grinned. I think over time we were going to get along okay.
The next day we found a nine-year-old Subaru on a used car lot on Putney Road for $1795. When it came time to make out the paperwork and pay for it, all she had was cash. "Jones, I'll make a deal with you. I'll give you the cash and you run it through your checkbook. You buy the car in your name and when I leave, you can have it. All you have is the van. Wouldn't it be good to have a smaller vehicle?"
There was a long hesitation before she answered. "I don't want my name to show up anywhere, that's all."
"Is the law after you?"
"No, but I can't tell you why either. Won't you trust me on this one little thing. You are getting title to a car that is all paid for, so isn't that enough?"
"I'll probably regret this, but I guess I can. Give me the money." I went into the dealer's office and told him I would be back with a check for the full amount. I went across the street and bought a quart of half and half cream, a three pound bag of popping corn and handed over one of the hundred dollar bills to the checkout cashier. She examined it and used her little pen on it, rang up the amount and gave me the change.
Chazzy was sitting out in the van wondering what I was up to. When I came back, I handed her the grocery bag. "What was that all about?"
"Just checking to see if one of the bills you gave me was counterfeit. It wasn't, so I'll go get a certified check to buy the car with."
"What if it had been?"
"You would have been out $100 and I would be answering questions by the police."
"Would you have turned me in?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Depends on whether you would be willing to do all the dishes while you live in my house."
"You're a bastard, you know. I don't think you like doing dishes anymore than I do." The paper license plates were installed and I gave Chazzy instructions on how best to get the car through the mud and we were home in time for supper.
Supper was the same for me as last night. I made my sandwich from the remains of the can of tuna fish and opened another can of tomato soup. It would have been celery, but Chazzy said she didn't like that kind. Her meal consisted of the same hamburg and beer as last night along with the soup.
This woman had a beautiful body, and there was a lot of it. She ate three times as much as I did. Was it just habit or did she eat because she liked to exercise and thought she needed the fuel so that she could. "Chazzy, how much do you weigh?" I was going for it.
"None of your business. What a question to ask a person."
"Let me guess then. I'm guessing you weigh in at 267 pounds. I'm not trying to insult you, I just worry about how much strain you are putting on your heart. You came in yesterday all sweat from your walk and you consumed almost 5000 calories at dinner. That's a recipe for disaster."
"I like to eat, that's all. You said yourself I was nicely proportioned."
"And you are. Look at me, though. I'm an inch taller than you and weigh sixty pounds less than you do. I exercise, but I do it because I like to. You have to exercise to keep your weight down. If you ate 4000 less calories a day, you wouldn't have to worry at all about your weight. You could go walking or running and wouldn't even break a sweat. You would feel so good when you came in from the exercise."
"Why are you complaining? You like to look at my tits and my ass."
"Yes and I would still like to look at them if you were a forty instead of a fifty-four. Your cup size would decrease as well. None of the double Ds stuff. Your waist would shrink eight inches and you would lose a foot off your hips. You would be the same proportion, but a lot healthier. I think you still have muscle tone or your breasts and buns wouldn't move so delectably when you walk."
"What do you know?"
I grinned. She thought all along I was watching her because I was turned on. (I was a little.) "I am a medically trained nutritionist."
She had a defense. "I didn't used to eat like this, but I had a job where weight was everything. I needed to eat to bulk up."
"Are you going back to that job?"
"No, I'm getting too old for it now. I suppose you know how old I am as well?" This was a challenge.
"Would thirty be about right?"
I held up my hand. "Lucky guess, that's all. Hey, I should get in a couple of hours writing." This time it was she that was staring after me.
I spent some time on the Internet looking for anything I could about Chazzy. It was an unusual name, but I came up with zilch. Feeling crazy, I typed in "Amazon Women" and there she was. Gladis Shadis, female wrestler. It gave her age as twenty-three at the time the image was taken. There were several blurbs and sports news articles about her. The last one was that she had been injured severely and had been invited to work in films. She was interested.
I tried every genre, including porn, and I finally struck her image in horror flicks. Two films only before she retired saying she wasn't interested in making films a career. Jan Mortimer. I wondered if Uncle Mort had anything to do with the name she had chosen for this career.
The next day Chazzy didn't have too much to say. Her meal was smaller at breakfast, but her ten o'clock snack more than made up for the calories she had denied herself earlier. She was so frustrated! By evening she had consumed more than 700 calories during this day than the day before.
I made an offer. "Chazzy, I could personally train you. I'm qualified. I would need six months to do it right. That 'Biggest Loser' show on TV is good entertainment, but to me some of it must be pure torture. I wouldn't want to torture you."
"When would you be done with me?"
"Depends on you, of course. Even if you are reluctant to follow my program, I would guarantee that by October, you would be the image of what is best for you. You would love it and without too many problems you could maintain it the rest of your life."
"When do we start?"
Why was I doing this? Well, I was waiting to find out what Chazzy's real purpose was in coming here and renting a room from me. In the meantime, I was enjoying being as close to her as I could be. Over the next couple of weeks, she trusted me to weigh her in when she was only clothed in her pajamas, or to spot her when lifting weights. I held her legs when she was doing sit ups.
She occasionally called her Uncle Mort. I planned it so I could overhear a bit when I got the chance. Nothing new, though. As the weather warmed, we found we could run on certain smooth sections after the road was graded. Always we went in the direction of the Smith place. It was five weeks later when we arrived in front of the house still with our wind intact.
"Do you think it okay to go up and look into the house through the windows?"
"You can. I can't. I promised my father I would never go onto this property."
"He is dead isn't he?"
"Yes, but a promise is a promise."
"That's crazy. What is he going to do. Send a bolt down from heaven, or would it be a fireball up from hell?"
"It could be either, but I'm not breaking my promise."
"Stay here then." I watched as Chazzy walked up and looked in. I saw her shake her head. Evidently there were blinds closed on the first floor. She looked up to the second story and then she came back around front. She poked around and bent down and turned over some of the flag stones. Suddenly she stood upright and glanced back where I was standing in the road. She had found the key to the front door.
She approached the door and I could see her fitting it into the lock. The door swung open and she peered in. She hesitated and looked at me again. I shook my head violently--No! I could see her smile and pull the door closed. She locked it and replaced the key where she had found it.
When she reached my side she was laughing and made the comment, "People are so dumb. I bet I could find your spare key if I wanted to."
"Yesterday maybe, but not after today."
"Damn, now it is me that is dumb." She was still smiling.
The weather warmed and summer progressed. I couldn't get Chazzy to go into town with me. She did go for drives in her/my car sometimes. I had no doubt that the Smith house was thoroughly inspected when I wasn't there to object. My novel was completed by July fourth and I sent it off to the editor to be edited and proofread before doing any rewrite. I was a terrible speller, and even with spell checker there were a myriad of mistakes. I had two weeks before I expected it back.
Chazzy had lost twenty pounds by this time. She was still in proportion and she was beginning to enjoy the diet and the amount of calories I was allowing her. Sometimes, she would push her plate back and say she was saving the calories or she could spend them on her next meal. Maybe she did use them and maybe not.
And she seemed happy now. She had a nursery rhyme that she often sang. My mother taught it to me when I was small, so I knew the words.
1-2, buckle my shoe
3-4, shut the door
5-6, pick up sticks
7-8, lay them straight
9-10, big fat hen
I quizzed her why she sang it. "My Dad taught it to me. When I was older he made up another one, but I guess I have forgotten most of it. Maybe someday I will sit down and see if I can remember it."
"Let's go swimming. The water will still be cool, but we can brave it. I think maybe Williamsville swimming hole."
"That's where you go down a steep bank through the woods, right?"
"Did used to go down, but it is posted now. No one has been able to use that access for years. You can walk up the river though. Where did you ever hear of the swimming hole or knew that you had to go down the steep bank to it?" I got a shrug of the shoulders and no answer. I didn't follow the question with more. I dropped it. "I don't care anyway. I just want to see you in a bikini."
"No bikini. Not as young girls wear anyway. I do have a two-piece though. I'll put it on so you can see me." I waited for a few minutes and then heard a burst of laughter. "Jones, come in so you can laugh with me."
I pushed the door open. The bottom was just barely hanging on her hips, and the top, she held the straps of her bra folded behind her so the cups wouldn't gap open.
I stared. God she was lovely! Oh, she still had a ways to go, but you could see the hard body emerging. I looked into her eyes. She had stopped laughing. I turned without saying anything and went out and sat in the living room. It had taken all of my will power not to cross the room and put my arms around her. Three months she had been here. Suddenly things had changed.
I guess they had changed for her as well. She was dressed in a sun dress when she came out minutes later. She had a full set of underwear on underneath. "Jones, damnit, why did you do this to me? I'm a freak, for God's sake."
"You aren't to me. I said you were beautiful the first time I saw you without your coat and you are more beautiful as time goes on."
"What about my frigging face? You can't like someone with a face such as mine."
"No, I couldn't like your face." Her face fell and tears started. "I could love you though, in spite of what you think your face is."
"I wish I could believe you. It just isn't possible. You don't know how many times I have almost killed myself because of it."
"I don't doubt that, and you probably don't want platitudes. So what are your plans? Are you going to hide here forever? By the way, why are you here? You said you illustrated children's books, but I haven't seen you working on any. You've had plenty of time. I have written six chapters of a book and been personal trainer to you."
"I can't tell you."
"Okay maybe not. Can I ask some questions? I think I have some rights."
"You can ask, but I may choose not to answer."
"Does it have anything to do with you being Gladis Shadis?" A look of horror settled over Chazzy's countenance. She silently shook her head no.
"How about being Jan Mortimer in a couple of horror films?" Hopelessness was there now, but she shook her head no again.
"Okay, is your name Chastity Michaels-- " She started to shake her head yes, but paused when I finished with, "Smith?" This brought a waterfall of tears. I let her cry for a few minutes. Finally she looked at me and could see I was waiting to say more.
"Who is Uncle Mort? I'm being totally honest now. I inadvertently overheard part of your phone call to him the first hour you were here. There is an unused laundry chute in the basement that is directly under your room. A person can hear from there as plainly as if they were right beside you."
"Uncle is my mother's brother. He really is my uncle."
"Big Tony Smith is, or was, your father, correct?"
"Yes. He disappeared twenty years ago this September. I hate to say this, but Mom is slowly losing her grip on reality. She thinks she and Uncle Mort are kids sometimes and she tells him things just as she did when they were young.
"One of the things is that somewhere and somehow, she thinks Big Tony collected a large number of diamonds. She won't say more about them, no matter how many times Uncle Mort quizzes her. She just changes the subject or jumps back to the present. I suspect Uncle Mort and Big Tony were in the same game, business, mob, or whatever you want to call it. Big Tony met Mom through Uncle Mort, but Dad and Uncle didn't get along all that well."
"So you are up here to look for the diamonds? It doesn't sound as if you have much of a chance of success."
"I'm supposed to look around and listen to the neighbors after I get friendly with them and see if they remember anything that happened that day in September, twenty years ago. It has to be hopeless. Christ, the houses are so far apart up here."
"Yeah, and the summer people and the natives didn't mix much--still don't for that matter. I know just a little about you. I was at the swimming hole one day when you were there. You don't remember me, but I remembered you."
"Why, was I this ugly back then? I didn't think it happened until I reached my teen-age years."
"You weren't ugly, just tall. Actually I remember your bicycle more than I remember you. You had your name on it. When you told me your name it all came back to me."
"If I am summer people as you put it, how come you are friendly with me? You certainly are a native Vermonter."
"Big difference, you and me. You are renting and living with me in the same home. It would be boorish of me not to be friendly and not make you feel at home."
"Jones, this is the best and nicest home I have ever had. I suppose now that you know so much more about me, you will be wanting me to leave."
"Nope, not yet anyway. I still want to see what you look like when I get 15 or 20 more pounds off of your frame."
"That means you won't kick me out before sometime in October. I'll take it. I still want to go swimming. Are there other places around where people won't be able to look too closely at my face?"
"Sure, there are spots in the West River. We might have to act like lovers. No one would bother us then."
"Always the man aren't you? Well if I have to, I have to. I'll give you my size and you can pick me up a suit tomorrow."
"Christ, the saleslady will think I'm buying it for myself."
"We can't go swimming then."
"Okay, okay, tomorrow morning I will get a suit for you. It's going to be brief, though. Do you need a razor for anything?" Chazzy's face went bright red. Mine was full of innocence.
I knew immediately I had gone too far. "I'm sorry for that last remark."
I was hoisted on my own petard, immediately. "Yes I need a razor and you, you bastard, are going to imagine me using it too. I don't care how tiny the bikini is either." She then burst into tears and fled to her room.
I waited fifteen minutes for Chazzy to come out of her room. When she didn't, I knocked gently. "May I come in for a minute?" I didn't get an answer. I knocked again and pushed the door open. She was sitting by the window with her face looking out. "Chazzy, I was way too fresh. I'm sorry. Forgive me, please?"
"Sure, I forgive you. Just remember how fragile my ego is sometimes. I know my body is something and yet my face is so horrible. I just feel as if people think because of that they can take liberties. They think I am so homely I should be thankful for any kind of attention. And Jones, I'm human and sometimes I can come up with a slight when there isn't anything there. I know you meant well and I was getting up courage to come out and tell you to forget it.
"I hate it that you have to get personal items for me. It makes it worse when you comment on some of them. I'll give you a list in the morning. Just don't comment. If there is something you can't buy, I'll understand. We don't have to go swimming--but I would like to."
"Chazzy, again I'm sorry. I'm just beginning to realize how sensitive you really are. Tell me how you got into a wrestling ring and performed before thousands?"
"I don't know. I did it at first without thinking, I was new and I did enjoy myself. My promoter and agent needed new blood so-to-speak. I was big and my body was great. But then men on the same card started hitting on me, and my agent kept saying it was great if I let my name be linked to some male champion. The public got to believing I was screwing all of the wrestlers. I challenged my agent about all the gossip. He basically said I was property and not a person.
"I quit. I never screwed anyone. I refused any more matches and that's when suddenly it was given out I was severely injured and had to resign and find other work. The bastards drove home the fact I was just meat for the skillet.
"The same thing happened in the movie industry. I was kissing werewolves and ghouls and every chance the actors had, they were grabbing me where I didn't want them to. I mean the writers were writing scenes specifically for that purpose. My body was photogenic enough, but I always ended up looking more horrible than I really am. You should see me after they turned me into a vampire."
After this emotional outburst I figured I would have a crying woman to deal with. Chazzy turned to me. "Jones, relax your damned training for the day. I need the biggest creamie you can buy at the Chelsea Royal. I'll even ride with you. I can make faces at the kids and scare the crap out of them." I shook my head. I guess things were okay between us again.