21st Century
The Future
World Travel
Books & Film
Original Fiction
Opinion & Lifestyle
Politics & Living
Film Space
Movies in depth
Kid's Books
Reviews & stories

The International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Dreamscapes

A Birthday in Los Angeles
Pierrino Mascarino

Sarah, a dark haired woman in her 20’s, was running down a Hollywood back street near a major movie studio situated in a subdued and reserved corner of the movie making community, but no ugly movie production wardrobe trailers ever occupied this reserved street.

While running she was trying to remember the French word for, "Good Evening."
Her scuffed high heels were clacking, running wobbly, a bit precariously, but her Hermann liked her in high heels, but it was so hard to hurry in them, but she wanted to please him tonight, but it was just so late and everything must be right, had to be perfect. She hoped her Hermann hadn't already gotten here before her, to this unnamed restaurant so conveniently near where he was working, "on the lot."

Ah there, I’m getting close, she thought, European cooking smell, must be near here, maybe this large, darkly-tinted, blank front window except for, let's see, that’s a street address in gold letters, she had written the numbers in ink on her hand and checked them now briefly glinting in the flashes of this passing Lamborghini’s eerie bluish LED headlights.

She grabbed--let's see this should be it--a door's cool carved handle. Its chilly whorls of brass carving felt almost churchy, very European, so this is gotta be it, but she here stopped herself abruptly, made The Sign of the Cross, reverently but quickly here outside, said a short success prayer, and then making herself stand straighter pulled open the door to enter what could be the glorious interior.

The French was "Bon" something and she looked down--her blouse--ooh, out in front, she was tucking back in where her bobbling breast had pulled out her blouse when running, brushing back her wild hair, pushing slowly open this heavy whooshing door and feeling that wonderful sensation, that goose bumply thrill on her arms, not even sure that this was a restaurant at all, but keeping herself absolutely decorously erect in case it might be. She was quivering, thinking what fun this little event she'd created would be for Hermann. Sarah was always creating little events for somebody and when she did the little goose bumps always came. Made her feel wonderful.

Do unto others that which they had forgotten or don't know how to do unto themselves.

Walking in slowly; and, yes, and here, once inside that wooden door was whooshing shut behind her--oh what a glorious…some-kind-of-Italian, French, Spanish spicy aroma--truffles, basil. Her breathing from running seemed loud--must stop it or at least breathe hard quieter.

Yes, lots of people at these little tables, this was for sure one of those hidden, never named restaurants Hermann had told her about, that only rich movie people went to--but where in here was her reserved table she had called for? They were all taken? Everybody was eating.

These diner's lanquid slitted eyes rose from their oval lavender plates covered with things that might have been food--maybe? nouveau cuisine food offerings: a thin cloisonné` streak of brilliant gamboge yellow sauce divided, bright, organically grown $10/pound immature haricot beans that probably were only steamed a little bit to keep their bright green color. The yellow sauce divided them like in artwork from the reddish brown Vitello a la Piedmontese, in these oval plates that had carefully been slid onto carefully ironed lavender tablecloths, and were quickly disappeared microseconds after being even partially emptied by hovering vested and bowtied waiters communicating only in sub auditum whipers.

Sarah thought, oh this is for sure totally high-class, I gotta look a spectacle up here in front, her worried fingers were squirming, discovering more little white blouse bits, tucking them back into her black skirt.

Maybe she'd got the wrong place and there is even a whole bunch of these restaurants with no names on them?
But if the right place, where was her table?

So she kept tucking and searching for a dark table in this constellation of candle-lit little chimneyed candles shedding flickering yellow light--but all taken?-- this must be the wrong place? But it's so late I can't just go back outside, just go walking around looking, I just got to pray I've got the right address--she looked down at the number written on her hand skin, but quickly closed it so no one would see she'd written it on her hand, but where was a vacant table between these white mustaches, dinner jackets, that were imperceptibly moving in the little candle pnumbras, the dim forms of these barely animate diners chewing with only slightly perceivable sideways mastication, small chews--maybe it is the right place, but my reservation just got forgotten? People were mouse murmuring through compressed lips--is this a funeral party?

They, everybody in here's wearing black bowties, naked black dresses, are they not allowed to look at each other?
But where's that maître d' I talked to? and me up here with my just homecurled black hair.

A terrible fear occurred suddenly to her and she shook her head slightly testing, remembering that sometimes in a hurry she carelessly left one curler in--shook her head slightly, you could tell if it was by the weight—if it was she would just back out the door again, no nothing up there tonight. But those unsecured hairwisps were probably still sticking out --she knew she was a bit blousy and a trifle plump--oh I hope, she thought, I didn't call too long ago so they just forgot, or maybe Hermann already came and left?

She shifted from one foot to another, her high heels hurt her toes—drawing the flicking gaze of several sedate masticators.

Ah, at least she remembered Bon Jour, that was the French she wanted.
She swallowed, smiled, nodding to any eyes that met hers.
No one nodded back.

She wanted to ask somebody if...but their communal gaze only rose briefly touching hers and then they glazed quickly back into that inward, splendidly vacuous, but very stylish, Californish vacant look, peering intently back into that empty inner space inside themselves.

But, that dark place, up there in the back, what was that? A little darkened alcove back there?

Oh, my sad Hermann, have I spoiled it? She prayed, if this is the right place please let them remember my reservation, Hermann needs feeling loved and appreciated, celebrated; it’s just happiness that he’s just never had in his life. Sarah was sure of Hermann's undiscovered mine of personal spiritual gold inside just waiting her discovery.

She determinedly revived her smile again, this time at a boney faced, heavily wrinkled, scowling old woman at a single small table here upfront, with heavily powered, inflexible, taxidermied wrinkles. The old woman didn't smile back. Sarah murmured a prayer for her, let the Holy Ghost show her a happier way.

Well, Sarah was concluding, no maître d' because no more tables, her shoulders ached with the mounting tension--reservation's gone--my fault for calling too early and now Hermann, who didn’t really want to… .

Suddenly a dark suited telephoning man in the rear turned around, saw her and gave her a small smile of recognition and flipped a small wall switch. That little dark alcove in the back brightened, as though an emerging sunbeam had inquired it out. Slowly an interior golden halo arose within it, softly revealing a quaint little table inside, with curved protruding legs, just below a lavender tablecloth, carved curving legs, an exquisitely laden little table, very different than all these others around her, clearly a place of honor up there on the dais, glinting with increasingly abundant little flashes, argent gleams of a silver service.

—and, thank you Lord, here he came toward her with magisterial strides, the telephoning man who had flipped the switch, maybe he’s even maître d' Michelangelo?

Michelangelo, was the name of a Pope; but to her it was a voice, that wonderful European accent on the phone last week that took her reservation, her heart began thudding with restored hope--it was always like this when one of her surprises was about to surprise somebody, her mouth was dry.

She pointed to the coming man, with raised interrogatory eyebrows and mouthed the name with exaggerated lip movement, ‘Michelangelo’, maître d' Michelangelo silently acknowledged.

Ah, 'thank you Lord' she allowed her attention to quickly return to the alcove: in the slowly rising illumination its rounded Tiepolo ceilinglet was adorned with little puti presenting flowers to the viewer. Sarah, a little trembly--they could still maybe say to her ‘you are not worthy of this most beautiful of all of tables,’ struggling again to remember, was it, Bon soir, or Bon jour? even though she had taken French in high school.
"Bon soir," she whisperd tentatively to him on a sudden inspiration as he neared--oh, mistake!--Michelangelo was clearly Italian, what was she thinking of?
"Buona sera," he whispered back, with a delightfully continental accent, totally suave, perfect, "Saarah Soden?"
"Yes, it was me phoning, I'm so sorry, I'm afraid all the way back last Thursday--is that…?" and she half pointed at the glowing alcove, nodding a hopeful yes at Michelangelo?
Michelangelo nodded.

"Oh," it was! A murmur of relief escaped her as she just stood there, momentarily transfixed by the table's elegant beauty and then cautiously approaching it nearer through the other tables--her little one up there now becoming a timid forest beast exquisitely nestling in this intimate alcovian corner, scintillating with tiny coruscations of the bas relief patterned silver plate, a full service just as she had dreamed it; two tall unlit celebratory candles in squat antique silver candelabras with fat-bellied toads cast in silver, covered with silver tubercules, bearing silver-chased the children standing on the backs of the toads holding the candle holders up.

Hermann would enjoy this, this total elegance. He had often spoken of famous but unknown-to-the-general-public Hollywood restaurants, shown her pictures of industry insiders at such hidden places reserved for industry royalty--he would be totally stoked by this.

She took a deep appreciative breath of tremmering joy and relief, smiling to Michelangelo and whispering, "How wonderful is this? too perfectly perfect." The tension knots in her shoulders were relaxing.
Many diners were covertly watching her. Michelangelo paused by her side as she took it in.
"Oh Michelangelo," she finally said smiling familiarly up at him in gratitude, now they were now old friends of at least 20 seconds—bits of murmurs from the other diners--"who was this woman, obviously from out of town, being so familiar with the maître d'?" A very erect, quiet man in his Italianate dark suit with a lavender silk tie, but Sarah went on, "Michelangelo, if, when you bring it in," now they were both reverently approaching even closer, she making long smoothing tentative gestures nearer the table, whispering, "put just right here, it will make Hermann so totally stoked and, please, let it come first. Oh, it will be such a total glory,"

Sarah stamped her foot, a short stamp of subdued exuberance. Her already pinking cheeks now flaming up to bright red, "just know it's gonna be too perfect Michelangelo!"
My goodness what was she doing?...another room murmur.
Tall Michelangelo whispered, "I'm sure eet will."

Sarah was getting teary and the goose bumply thrill—zoowee-what a goose bumply--but she stopped—caught herself getting so unendurably over delighted, she remembered what happened on such occasions from shared double-dog anticipation, that her bladder would do an uncool, absolutely unmentionable thing.

Michelangelo said, "What-eh time will de gentlemen be arriving?" His red carnelian jeweled tie pin was flashing a muted tiny sparkle, from its one point tiny pave` melee diamonds, a gift from his mother.
"Oh, right now" whispered Sarah, then, "but please, where is the…the…you know," while she was reluctantly backing in some direction, she didn't want to lose even momentary sight of her treasure, repeating, "where is the…" whispering more urgently, pointing to different room corners, not wanting to say the vulgar word…Michelangelo pointed down the hall for her. The restroom.

Sarah, paused at the hall corner for a last table glimpse, making a thumb and first finger "o" of delight in the air, dancing an instant shuffling mini happy dance and rushed off, chuckling herself out of sight.
Creak went a hidden restroom door down the hall.
A time passed.

Creak again, Sarah returned, still smoothing her black hair, dress straightening, but now with freshly reapplied, very red lipstick, the uncontainable bumpily joyish, almost scared feeling making a lump somewhere in her…oh, in her chest, throat, someplace, oh, thank you God, even starting to run to the large wooden front door, but no—please stop, please don't do nothing, straightening her back—it was not, remembering her high school French, comme il faut—gotta be cool, with a self-shushing finger in front of her red lips, she proceeded more sedately.

There were quiet chuckles, but the old taxidermist near the door merely glared up as she went by but it was even getting worse: the joy level in this anonymous restaurant was rising, downright dangerous—pandemic happy contagion was mercilessly inoculating even these morbidly encapsulalted, terminally sour bystanders.
Sarah rewhoshed open the unmarked front door, stuck out her head for a tiny peek but then yanked it back in very quickly, her smile larger than her face--taking several steps backward--whispering loudly, "he's here. Oh, he found it…."
Everyone waited with her.

Whoosh, a short fussy man, looking down, shouldered open the wooden door, his weary face creased with fatigue, gazing up only as far as the violet carpet, hands jammed in baggy pockets, rather paunchy, who could this be? wearing a wrinkled blue suit, forehead furrowed with irritation--then he finally looked up and froze, still only part the door, his shoulder holding it open, his eyebrows up in astonishment—amazed at finding Sarah here, not seated, but right here near the door in ambush.
"Herma-n-n-n-n," Sarah shrieked, springing her surprise.

Hermann furtively glanced past her and recognized a famous producer, a director; and gasped, quickly averting his eyes to keep anyone from recognizing him, and quickly starting to back out, "Sarah? Shhh!" he whispered, "you didn't tell me, I'm not dressed--I can't... ."

But Sarah, had gently captured him with a hug, pulled him in, whoosh even went the closing door back behind him, "Herma-a-a-n," here she sweetly paused, cocking her head tenderly to one side, "Happy birthday, sweetheart."

Such a sweet endearment as would tenderize the heart of a serial mass murderer, cannibal child torturer from this angelically radiant woman, shining her fierce little Sarah lovesun of joy into the gloom of Hermann's reticence and she mercilessly went on, "This moment's very special and just for you my dearest sweetheart"--ugh, how déclassé, didn’t this unfortunate woman realize that such corrrrny, unimaginative, unclassy, p.d.a. fearlessly declared had long since become uncool here in airkissing Hollywood, even in front, or especially in front of cameras, and more especially in front of this particular assembly of extremely with it, quintessentially cool, unimpactable men with $500 haircuts, that were themselves full of issues, wearing $800/dram Japanese fragrance, and their bling covered women with painfully expensive wax jobs on pimpled thighs. But at this very human moment, even these sad self-obsessed souls were suddenly…well, at least interested; perhaps? some, beginning to be even a microinfinitesmal warmed?

Of course, not so this boney scowling woman sitting alone up front here, maliciously scrutinizing jubilant Sarah to discover the inevitable Hollywood phoniness? But then averting her head, perhaps a dust mote had gotten in one of her eyes, or something had penetrated the skeptical armor of years--there were sudden, tiny drops—what in the world were they? not tears?...under those thirsty taxidermied wrinkles, her blue lips twitching to regain control.

But gently struggling Hermann was only embarrassed and terrified, hissing, "Sarah, this is one of those places I told you about, we can't... ." giving little embarrassed apologetic smiles around to what he fancied were annoyed film Industry aristocracy, in little steps backing himself and Sarah both out again.
"Sweetheart," he said, poor little Sarah, he was thinking, said with barely moving lips into her ear, "only very importatnt film execs come here sweetheart, stars, don't you know you've gotta have a reservation months in advance, know somebody, bribe the maître d'; sweety, you can't just come in here off the street, "besides I'm just a P.A., a production assistant."

Shlumpy, nebbish, Hermann in Vittorio's? He thought, who would these multibillionare producers and directors here think he thought he was? At least his butt was now pushing against the big wooden door--to his crazy Sarah, this nutty girlfriend, he was whispering, "You gotta know Sarah, this is Hollywood," saying it to her as he would professionally to an extra making destructive noise during filming--as he had been doing to loud extras all day today, if they were talking, on a bell while film was rolling, "we'll just disappear outside."
But intrepid Sarah was still hugging, not releasing him, "And," he added, "you have lipstick on your teeth!" putting a demonstrative finger to his lips to quench her, "Sweetheart we're--disturbing—everybody."
He’d never work again.

But Sarah was softly insisting, "No, no, sweetheart it's all right, look up there, see? In that alcove, our precious reserved table's even waiting for us," she knew this was the crucial moment, if he managed to get them back all the way outside she knew that would be the end. Even Sarah’s brave smile and goose-bumply began wavering, her shoulder tension knots returning, "please Hermy," now whispering, pressing very close to him, her warm bosoms, hugging him, very gently backing them both away from the door, "everybody here just admires you, you stud," she knew this always gave him confidence, "it's your special birthday, this is your time big man," stroking Hermann's hair, "you deserve this," then looking very tenderly, deeply in his eyes, slowly soothing his fearful displeasure, "Happy birthday Herma-a-a-n," elongating the syllable.
"Look darling," now she was turning him again, pointing a small fingerpoint, "the table's over there? Our precious little table reserved just for us, Hermy; isn't it adorable?"

She was determined not to let their little celebration be ruined, "Let's--can we sit down? Everybody’s," here she made a sweeping gesture including the onlookers, "just happy for you sweetheart."
Hermann said, "You actually have a reservation? How'd you get it?"
"I know it's just all of a sudden sweetheart and you don't usually like surprises, but this is a good surprise, a sweet surprise Hermy," at this moment Michelangelo, had seen Sarah's difficulty and came to her rescue.
"Right dees way sir, per piacere."

Sarah's brave smile sun immediately sprung out again and the goosebumply feeling in full force. Michelangelo was conducting them back to the alcove.

And, as they reached the table, Michelangelo pulled out a welcoming chair for Hermann, simultaneous whisking a butterflyfolded napkin from a table goblet which he presented like an award to Hermann Guderian.
Hermann the grandson of a rigid, authoritarian Nazi war hero, sat.
Michelangelo then quietly moved away sensing a moment of needed intimacy.

When he was safely gone Hermann said very, very quietly through closed lips, teeth together, to Sarah, who was seating herself opposite, and now caressing him gently with her knee under the table, "This place costs a fortune," his eyebrows were smashing together a small centergroup of forehead wrinkles against one another in a furious frown.
But Sarah purred, "Isn't it beautiful?" perhaps too loudly, "Don’t worry sweetheart; we'll just have a good time."
"I have to worry," he continued emphatically with a stone face, "it’s embarrassing," her hand was reaching to him, as he said, "don't you realize Sarah, it looks like I'm putting on airs by even coming here, there is a process of gentle rising here in Hollywood" pulling his hand inconspicuously away, "coming to one of their places, Sarah, you gotta keep a very low profile," his frightened eyes kept submissively thrust down, shackled to the table in rigid, fearful irritation.

Sarah said, "Don't worry darling, everyone knows it's your day, you deserve to have a wonderful birthday, everybody does," now keeping her hands to herself to not further irritate him and just smoothing imaginary wrinkles out of the linen tablecloth, as she hoped to smooth out the squashed together wrinkles of Hermann's worried forehead.
"Sarah," he whispered, now even more quietly but intensely, speaking from his nose through his throat, so as not to be even seen talking, "do you even realize who's in here? that blond guy over at that table?" Without looking at that blond guy, "he gets $30 million a picture, don't you know this? We'll just sneak out," taking stuttering breaths again.
"Isn’t the table beautiful at least," Sarah said with a little soothing laugh.
"Don’t order," said Herman, "we'll just leave, I’ll give the maître d' a tip and we’ll get the hell out," even though he was safer now hidden in the dark obscurity, "I'll leave some money," he was fishing out his very overloaded wallet, "probably should be at least twenty. Maybe even more, entrées in here cost over $150 I think. I just hope that no one notices that... ."

But the already dim lights suddenly dimmed further and from somewhere there was a growing sound of singing?
What was happening? Waiters suddenly emerging from the kitchen? tall dignified Michelangelo and two others, "Happy birthday to you," sang a little fat balding waiter in front of the procession named Rubens in a high falsetto, "Happy birthday to you," and redhaired younger Raphaelo with a deep voice and a bow tie, wearing a black waiter’s vest; and--oh no! What were they doing? Not coming this way? "Happy birthday dear Her-r-r-r-r-mann," all three harmonizing; and, holding at the center of their joyful little group an exuberant frosted birthday cake with many red candles lit, fit only for Steven Spielberg or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, slowly advancing in the warm shifting penumbras of these dozens of dancing little candles casting a roseate glow of happiness.

This royal cake with little lavender bunting and gay flowers was exquisitely enthroned on a brilliantly flowered platter--all the distinguished diners were now murmuring, "Beautiful," in spite of themselves, at the musical spectacle.
But—oh, oh! Hermann jumped up, as the telltale cake was fatally approaching , hissing down at Sarah, "you silly, silly woman. You’ve ruined me."

He dashed out through the wondering diners, keeping his head low, whooshing open the large wooden door, leaving Sarah alone at the table with her flickering cake.

Michelangelo first stopped singing, then Rubens, but the last and youngest, bowtied Raphaelo persisted, still looking down at his lovely cake, boyishly enjoying being a joyful messenger.
Michelangelo touched his shoulder.
No forks or glasses clinked.

Everyone’s attention now turned back to Sarah, her dropping tears streaking in the wavering birthday candlelight. One tear took longer, making its way down her nose through her recently applied powder, collecting little powder fragments, becoming cloudy at it reached her nose end.

But the huge, merry birthday cake remained cheerfully lit on the table, its little red candles dripping birthday wax, their sweet little flames dancing gaily.

Suddenly there was movement somewhere off in the shadows upfront--that formerly scowling old woman? seated at the single table? Name of Mathilde, now she authoritatively rose and walked through all of the tables to the alcove, stopping and standing very upright by weeping Sarah.

Mathilde then turned round and surveyed all the staring diners, the birthday cake candles shining up a peculiar roseate soft cast on Mathilde's face; and she--it began slowly-- Mathilde's mouth corners definitely migrating upwards to an unfamiliar posture, her eyes continuing to survey the restaurant talent, settling over there on that 30 million dollar star nearby, that blond guy.

He was already looking with concern at Mathilde with large attentive green eyes.
Mathilde made a slight silent come hither motion to him with her gray, heavily hairpinned head.
A slow reciprocal smile then began on the famous young man's broad generous mouth, he touched his chest, meaning me? She nodded yes, the smile spread to his eyes, he nodded and arose--quite tall, with very broad shoulders and a strikingly square jawed face; now walking over to Sarah's table, first checking with old Mathilde again, to see if he understood correctly.

Smiling Mathilde made another slight head gesture, eyebrows raised, downward with her head pointing with her chin towards Hermann's vacated seat—the celebrity winked at her, sat as instructed and watched Sarah across the lighted cake for a moment .
Sarah's large tearful brown eyes looked up at him, surprised.

He said ever so softly, as if asking for permission, "No sense letting a good birthday cake go to waste?" He leaned forward, forming his generous lips into a blowing posture, and, foooof, blew out all of the birthday cake candles, "don't worry," the star went on, "he'll come around. It's the most beautiful birthday cake anyone ever saw and a cool idea."

Michelangelo, Rubens and Raphaelo were now retreating: but the elderly Mathilde called after them, "We need cake plates out here please, about 10 of them," in a cheerful voice she'd not heard herself use in years.
"About 10," the young man repeated, counting the house, and laughing, in a wonderfully deep and resonant voice.
Sarah just looked at him. The waiters disappeared into the kitchen.
"A birthday is a terrible thing to waste," said wise Mathilde.

The bowtied Raphaelo quickly reappeared, now carrying a deep pile, of carefully balanced, slightly tottering stack of lavender plates--this had never been done in the history of the anonymous restaurant--clacking within itself, over to the table and set them down, bowed slightly and went away.

The blond young man removed a silver knife from Hermann's vacated placesetting in front of him, got up and smiled again, a wide tanfaced smile down at Sarah--very green penetrating eyes, large strong hands now lifting a top lavender cake plate from the tall stack and plunging the silver knife into the moist white frosting with large red writing across it: Happy Birthday Herman.

"Lucky Hermann," chuckled the young man as he cut through the thick, creamy frosting, breaking through little yellow sugar roses with delicate green petals and blue bachelor buttonesque flowers, neatly balancing the cut cake on the cutting knife--no fingers and suddenly flipped the knife so that the piece gracefully lit with a flump on a little lavender plate.
He set this first piece in front of Sarah.
She looked up at him, and said, "But you’re famous… ."
"I hope you won’t hold it against me," he said a little laugh and cutting another piece, with the same quick, graceful, competent strong motion, flump into another plate and began cutting another piece, all the while whispering to Sarah, "you've spread some joy around tonight, you're wonderful."

Mathilde now noticed the waiter Rubens clearing a table; and, seized up two of the cakefilled plates and went over, while smiling her creaky unaccustomed smile again, thunk, thunk, set down the cakeplates in front of a very serious man wearing a cravat and a woman, the woman with a two or three carat wedding ring and a low cut sequined gown revealing an ample chest, who looked up at the arrived cake plates, at Mathilde, then over at Sarah's table, the continuing cake cutting, the young man.

She smiled first at Mathilde and then back to her dinner companion and then back over at the now brightening Sarah.
Mathilde ceremoniously walked back for more filled plates. A communal murmur started growing; and, when much cake had been distributed, the woman with the large diamond and sequins rose with slightly moist eyes and a smile, a sweet, broad joyful smile on her face, began singing in a beautiful contralto, "Happy birthday to you," the man at the table rose alongside and joined her in a resonant baritone and raised a grass to Sarah, Mathilde and the blonde young man.
Some of the more adventurous diners one by one and joined more quietly in the chorus.
"Happy birthday to you."

© Pierrino Mascarino August 2009

More life stories


© Hackwriters 1999-2009 all rights reserved - all comments are the writers' own responsibility - no liability accepted by or affiliates.