HOLLYWOOD—The instant Candy opened her torn half of Mylanta's Oneness, it spoke to her. “Maria Candelaria,” it said and pontificated about lies standing in the way of evolution. The Truth will get us sooner to where we're going—the book said in fluent Spanish, peppered by Salvadoran slang—and it's a crying shame to hold up the show.
Footsteps reverberated downstairs in the foyer's marble floor. Nobody else was here. The gardener had left hours ago. The jarhead had moved out, and Suzanne was in Italy, filming a romantic comedy during a hiatus in her TV show. Kit was sound asleep in bed, unless she was sleepwalking. “Kit!” Candy cried out. First thing she did when she was spooked was turn on the pool light. Eels of light slithered along the stucco walls, vapor rose from the surface in fine veils.
Candy descended the cold tile stairs in her bare feet. The dog was barking, a high-strung Pomeranian that Suzanne had bought. One more thing for Candy to feed and bathe.
“Jason!” she cried, recognizing him in the middle of the living room.
“Who is these old lady?”
“That's my mother, Helene. This is Candy.”
Kit came out on the stair landing, squeezing sleep out of her eyes, bearing the angry look of one whose sleep has been rudely interrupted. Candy sped upstairs to blanket her and usher her back to bed.
“Who is the colored girl?” Jason's mom whispered.
Before he could say, Mom you're so racist, he saw what she was talking about. Candy had stopped using the platinum dye, her skin darkened to a light mocha brown; he saw her Africanized features and was magnetized to her.
“Kit!” Candy shouted from the landing, “Come back.”
Jason's daughter scurried down the stairs in her scuffies.
“Grandma,” she cried.
They hugged. Helene's crinkly eyes got moist. Jason had to suspend his loathing of mom for just one moment and see her with loving eyes as she hugged her granddaughter.
“Grandma, did you bring me anything?” Kit asked.
“Haven't you got everything under the sun? You've got this beautiful house, your own swimming pool,” she made a gregarious gesture to the glowing oval of turquoise light.
Kit and her dad, had never had time for a dip in the pool. The clock forever scowled at them, “Hurry up. It's time for school.” And amidst all the epidemic busyness, neither Jason nor Suzanne had ever had time to spare to sign up Kit for swimming lessons. Partly due to the penury imposed by his teacher's salary, the lessons were considered an impractical luxury and, now that Suzanne was making beaucoup dinero in Swag, the cable show, she completely and utterly lacked the time, as she indelicately put it, “to pick her own nose.”
“Where's Suzanne?” Jason's mom asked.
“Italy,” Kit replied petulantly. “Grandma, are you sure you didn't bring me anything?”
Candy said, “Would you like something to drink? You must be tired after your flight.”
“I could use a cigarette,” Helene said. Without asking anyone's permission, she lit up.
Kit, her one and only grandchild, coughed theatrically. Helene was too old to give a damn, and went right on puffing. Then the intercom buzzed and buzzed. Grudgingly, Candy spoke to the speaker: ”Hello.”
“It's me, Suzanne. I lost my keys. Can you come out and help me with my suitcases?”
Candy buzzed her in. It was Jason's turn to sigh. That was Suzanne: losing keys, back unexpectedly, changing travel plans with the frequency of underwear, always hogging the stage.
“Jason! What a surprise!” she seemed to be walking on a cloud, her jade eyes aglow. Then she saw his mother, Helene, and her face fell.
“You can always divorce a husband,” Helene said, “but you can never divorce a mother-in-law.”
“Jason, can you do me a favor, dear? Go out and help the taxi driver bring in my suitcases. And please pay him,” she hugged him to her chest. “I don't have any cash on me.” Suzanne released him. She spoke from her cloud to Helene and Candy, “I'm in love. I never knew there was love like this. Bruno Panini and I will be married in two weeks.”
“In two weeks,” Jason gasped, “'Night School Musical' debuts.”
“Jason, don't be jealous,” Suzanne said. “I know that you'll find love someday.”
(to be continued)
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