Sally Forth to Idaho
The interview with the actress Abby Rose was off. She was a no-show. After her announcement, the receptionist turned and marched out of the room. Black anger swirled behind her.
It’s true that Ms Rose always arrived fashionably late. An hour’s wait for her was normal. If we were patient, we would be rewarded with an encore of her signature dramatic walk-in, the perfect photo-op.
To say the least, she was contrary. At best, she was short tempered and surly, and more often than not, a little rude. She almost never stayed on topic. But the woman was entertaining. You had to give her that. She could be relied on for a caustic quotable quote which would fit any front page any day of the week. Above the fold. Of course, having one or two very rich and famous relatives didn’t hurt a bit.
One time she was three hours late, after which my own column offered a severe rebuke. I was chastised by the studio and uninvited to all activities for the better part of a year.
But, today she didn’t show at all. Abby Rose seldom missed an opportunity to prance in front of any number of admiring public. So, this was something new.
By noon, all the other reporters had gone elsewhere to pursue anything more lucrative than sitting idle. I planned to take a few weeks off and had worked up a series of columns to hold my place while I was gone. With no other appointments that afternoon, I stayed where I was – in the plush meeting room off the Astoria’s lobby. I found a small table close to an outlet, plugged in my laptop and put finishing touches on the work I would submit before leaving.
“Maybe she will show,” I told myself, knowing she wouldn’t. A double scotch from the open bar sat on the table beside my laptop. I don’t know how many I’d had, but at that point, I preferred sitting to standing. I had placed a cold cup of coffee a little farther away. The coffee was just for looks.
I filed my columns and called all my contacts at Abby’s usual haunts. It was days, or in one case, weeks since anyone had laid eyes on her. Odd. It was as if she had dropped off the face of the earth.
At four, the manager signed to the barman to shut down the bar. I packed my gear and stood up. As I extracted myself from the cushy overstuffed chair, I tottered just a little and leaned against the table to slip one arm through a strap on my daypack. I hoisted the pack onto my shoulder and wove my way toward the street.
Halfway through the revolving door, my phone chimed “Anchors Aweigh.”
“Hey, Hudson.” It was months since we’d talked.
“Sally, you’ll never guess who I saw today.”
“My guess would be Ms Abby Rose. What in Hell is she doing in Idaho?”
“I forgot you’re psychic. If you’ll give me an exclusive, I’ll tell you where she is.”
“Oh, Man, if I ever start working for that podunk paper of yours, I’ll never get rich. I can’t afford the time or travel money to go that far off the grid on a slim chance I’ll get her to talk to me.”
“I know, I know. Look, I can’t guarantee much in the way of pay, but her people still owe me from a couple years ago. They’ll pick up your travel. Both ways. First class. She needs some positive press, so you’ll have to agree to that part of it. They say she’ll cooperate. Well, let’s be realistic. We both know how it’ll go.”
“Wait a minute. I don’t do public relations. If that’s what you want, go somewhere else.”
“Look, Sal, you could soft pedal it a bit without selling out. Couldn’t you?
“Depends on what you mean by soft. Why don’t you do it?”
“You know she hates my guts. And you’ve always been able to handle her.”
Hudson and his flattery. Gets me every time. I thought about it for almost a full minute before he became impatient. “Come on, Sally, it’ll be like a vacation. Besides, I miss you.”
If I hadn’t been drinking all day, I never would have considered such a hair-brained scheme. “Don’t whine. You got scotch?”
“I’ll get some.”