Imperfect Thoughts—Elaine Bonow
Nighttime lighting was kind to Lollie Winters. That is why she agreed to meet the news reporter at the Queen City Bar and Grill. The booths would offer privacy from incidental eavesdroppers and the glow from the beeswax candles would bathe her face in a soft mellow light.
Lollie ordered a traditional Gimlet with Hendrick’s Gin and Rose’s Lime Juice. As her order was taken by the waiter, the reporter called her cell phone, “Sorry Lollie, I’ll be a there in a bit, I’m parking my car now.”
Her drink arrived. She said, “That’s fine luv. I just got here myself. I’ll see you in a few.” Lollie took a gold compact from her purse. She had all of her makeup especially blended to exactly match her skin tone. She dabbed some powder on her nose and carefully retouched her coral pink lipstick, checked her hair and smile. Satisfied she allowed herself another micro sip from the perfectly blended Gimlet.
She easily recognized Carl Maryborne, local newscaster, except in real life he was much shorter than she would have ever guessed and his head seemed larger than life like a bobble-headed doll. She was glad he was going to be the reporter assigned to her. She didn’t think a woman would be the best fit.
Carl saw her, gave a small wave and headed to the booth. “Thank you so much Lollie for letting me interview you. I am so excited about your story and I feel that people will be inspired by your involvement in this project.”
“Thanks Carl, you are so sweet to say so. I hope you don’t mind I started without you.”
At that moment the attentive waiter glided up to the table and asked Carl what he wanted to drink. “I’ll just have a Perrier with lime, please.” Carl took out a new steno book, turned to the first page, and clicked his expensive mechanical pencil. The waiter returned and poured the Perrier into a glass with artistically shaved ice and announced the Brazilian lime that he professionally squeezed into the water.
“Now Lollie, Let’s talk about you and your work with the homeless youth of the city.” Carl couldn’t believe that such a proper woman would dedicate her life to saving these kids. She didn’t look like the stereotype of the do-gooders in this town who, although good of heart were usually middle-aged women with very short grey hair styled by the neighborhood barber. They always wore sensible Clark’s brogans or Dansko clogs. Their clothes were usually faded green cotton, shapeless oversized shirt blouses and mid calf full skirts, pioneer clothing. No jewelry except a Timex watch and no make-up was the rule.
Lollie Winters was the complete opposite. Looking at her was like looking at an old fashioned movie star. Her dark glistening hair was piled on top of her head in a sleek chignon. The pearls were real and perfectly matched her earrings. The black cashmere sweater set off the perfect shape of her breasts. Her makeup was flawless, not over stated at all and being in the television business he understood make up quite well. Carl Maryborne actually enjoyed getting made up for the camera. His makeup assistant, Nigel, applied foundation and contour with a deft hand, a craft he had learned in London at the Old Vic.
Carl had been on the air for the past thirty years and had won numerous awards. He still had the boyish good looks that had gotten him in the business plus his charming personality helped keep him on top of his game.
Lollie looked like the perfect middle-aged matron, more at home at the Hunt’s Point Country Club than a grubby halfway house for at risk juvenile delinquents. That’s why her story was so compelling, why it had to be told. Carl realized that he was staring. “Please excuse me for staring at you Lollie, but I think our viewers will be fascinated knowing your double life.”
“Carl, I’m doing this because I believe more people in this world need to help others in what ever way they can and this is my way.”
“Before we start the interview, I’d like to know a little about your background, if you don’t mind, so I could understand you a little better.”
Carl had been curious about Miss Lollie Winters ever since she arrived in town and attended society functions. Everybody had something to say about her. Of course, he had Googled her but there was only one website with her name on it and that was under the auspices of her non-profit. He studied the profile before him mentally noting camera angles that would be best if she decided to go on camera with her new project.
Breaking the spell Carl said, “Lollie Winters is a very unusual name. Is Lollie a nickname?”
“Lollie took a larger sip of the gimlet and smiled.” I’m afraid it is just a family name. I was named for my great-great grandmother.”
“My family moved to Australia from California in the late eighteen hundreds. A very unusual move at the time.” Lollie leaned forward, her elbows on the table anticipating the probing by the famous Carl Maryborne. She quite liked his earnestness and the honesty that came across so well on the local news. She trusted him and felt quite good about answering his questions.
“What brought you to the Northwest? Are you settling into the lifestyle here?”
Before she could answer his phone rang. The waiter came by to take their dinner order. Carl motioned to her that he would take the call outside. The waiter said he’d come back in a few minutes.
Lollie sat back and folded her arms across her chest. All of these questions and the half finished Gimlet made her think back to her former life in Australia and the story she always told.
“Sorry about that. I’ve turned my phone off. Where were we? Oh yeah, I was asking about your former life.”
Lollie finished her drink and ordered another. Carl broke down and decided on Veuve Clicquot; together they chose some imported cheeses and artesian breadsticks. Comfortable now with each other, Carl led Lollie through her life in Australia and Lollie answered the questions like she usually did, her marriage, his death, the vast wealth he left her, the moment when she realized she had to dedicate her life to a worthy cause.
“I felt that I was chosen for this task. I became friends with a priest who worked at a homeless youth center. I felt like he did, that these kids had been thrown away.”
“So tell me, what plan do you have for our city?”
Lollie gave Carl an outline of her overall plan in very succinct sentences and handed him a folder with more detailed information.
“Wow, I am impressed. You really have put a lot of work and thought into this.”
“Yes, I want transparency so I thought a favorable news article would be helpful.”
“Perfect I’ll arrange everything. We’ll get you in the studio next week.”
They clinked glasses happy to be on each other’s side. Carl thought Lollie looked lovely. She will photograph beautifully. The two of them would look great together on the TV screen, making it easier to get John Q Public’s approval for her project.
They promised to be in touch and as Carl rose to go he said, “Do you need an escort Madam Winters?”
“Thanks ever so much Mr. Maryborne but my assistant Jacob is waiting to walk me home. I’ll be waiting for your call.”
After Carl departed a young man stepped up to the booth. He was holding her coat, which she slipped on. They left walking south arm and arm.
“How did the interview go Lolo?”
“Oh, very well. He will do just fine. He has just the right amount of sympathy.”
“And have you decided to go through with it?”
“You mean tell my true story?”
“It will be a startling revelation for many but will give your cause and entirely different edge, more pertinent to the modern world.”
“I can’t wait to see Carl Maryborne’s face when I tell him that I was once a man. I saw how he was looking at me tonight. What will he think when I tell him I too was thrown out of my home and left to roam as a homeless youth for being who I was, a small skinny gay boy who made a fortune in real estate so that I could finally be me. What a gift I have to share with the world.