|Rowena's Page, Rowena Gets a Life.||Rowena Moves Closer, Part 5|
Rowena climbed into the back seat of Terese's car. “Hello,” she said to Terese and Beth.
“Hi; how goes it?”
“Good to see you,” said Beth.
“I'm okay,” Rowena told Terese. “I finally got the information I needed for my latest project.”
“Ugh,” said Beth. “Work.”
Terese pulled out into the street. “Rowena's work,” she said, “not yours. Got a Rorschach & Schmed story for us? How is dear old Eloise?”
“About the same. In fact, exactly the same. Yesterday she got annoyed at Sara for not being at her desk seven minutes after she was supposed to be back from lunch, and was just working herself into a lather when here comes Sara with an armful of fresh copies.”
“Hiding out at the copy machine,” said Terese. “How dare she.”
“My boss once yelled at somebody for using the wrong dry cleaner,” said Beth.
“A dry cleaner that happened to be located next door to our main competition. Apparently we were not supposed to be Seen In That Neighborhood.”
“Terese,” Rowena asked, “which theater did you say it was? Because if it's the one with the lamppost out in front we should have—”
“It's not the one with the lamppost. It's on Claremont Street.”
“Trust me,” said Terese.
“I've never heard of Claremont Street either,” said Beth.
“You trust me too. I found it on the map; we'll be fine.”
“Just so we don't miss Douglas Fairbanks,” Beth said. They were on their way to a Silent Film Festival. Beth rolled her window down a few inches. “They don't make 'em like that any more.”
“Are you going to go and swoon?” asked Terese.
“If you ever see me swoon, it'll be today.” She rolled her window down a little farther.
“Swooning,” said Terese. “Over some man.”
“Douglas Fairbanks. Gimme a break.”
“Beth's got a point,” Rowena said. “We're not talking about one of these guys they have nowadays, with nothing going for them but a big merchandising campaign.”
“They don't make 'em like that any more,” Beth repeated stubbornly.
“There's nobody like any of those guys these days.” Terese glanced at Rowena in her rearview mirror. “So who's your hero, Harold Lloyd?”
“Is that a Remark?” Everything awful happened to Harold Lloyd. Terese and Beth giggled. “If you must know,” she told them, “yes, I do like Harold Lloyd. But then, I like most of the silent films and silent actors I've seen.”
“Hear, hear,” said Beth.
“I just thought you might especially identify—”
“You, I suppose, are waiting for a Mae West Festival.”
“Touché!” cried Beth.
“Hey. She was feisty.”
“What I mean,” said Rowena.
“Listen, Mae,” said Beth. “You sure you know where you're going?”
“Of course I'm sure. Why?”
“I thought you told me the place was North of the—”
“Then we should be going that way.”
“North of the what?” asked Rowena.
“Don't worry about it.” Terese was going to be in one of her moods. Rowena looked out the window.
“How do you think the various police departments felt about the Keystone Kops?” she asked.
Terese managed a smile. “I expect they had a sense of humor.”
“Probably people didn't believe the movies so much then,” Beth suggested.
“I bet they did,” Terese said. “I bet the only difference is people weren't so bored back then.”
“As a commercial art form,” Rowena mused, “the movies would be geared to the people of the time—the time and the culture.”
“Terese,” said Beth, “where are we?”
“I keep telling you, don't worry,” Terese said. “We have plenty of time.” She got out of the car, leaned back in through the open door. “Be right back,” she said. And left them with a little slam.
“I can't believe it,” said Beth, watching Terese walk—quickly, despite her assurances about the time—across the parking lot and towards the drugstore. “I can't believe she left the map at home.”
“Think she'd let us get her a Thomas Guide for her birthday?”
“When is it?” Beth asked. “Six or seven months?”
Rowena considered. “Eight.”
“Well, at least that would give her time to forgive us.”
They watched Terese emerge from the drugstore, a map in her hand. She walked quickly to the car, got in, and unfolded the map.
“Let's see,” she said. She batted smooth the part of the map that was on her lap; more map attacked Beth, climbing up her to chin level.
“Terese,” she said.
“Lemme think.” Terese studied the map, ran her finger over one of the streets, scowled, then gathered the whole thing up and flipped it over.
“Ouch!” Beth said.
“Sorry.” She studied the list of street names for a while, then flipped the whole thing over again. Beth ducked.
“H'mmm,” Terese said. After a few minutes she gathered the map up and attempted to fold it. “Stupid things,” she said, as the map folded of its own accord to settle gently over her head. “I hate maps.”
Rowena kept quiet. Beth only said, “Let me have that.” She took the map from Terese and began folding it.
“Got it all figured out?” Rowena asked.
“Almost,” said Beth, folding.
“Yes,” said Terese, turning to glare at Beth. “Now if you'd hurry up with that so I can get started before I forget again . . .”
“Where do we go?” Rowena asked, a bit hurriedly.
“Right,” said Terese. “And then left, and then right.” Beth reduced the map to a reasonable size, and Terese started the car. Rowena glanced surreptitiously at her watch. Unless the theater was quite close and Terese went straight to it, she doubted they'd make it in time.
“We could have lunch there afterwards,” Terese said, pointing out the window. The sign above the restaurant showed a smiling waitress with a beehive hairdo.
“Let's not,” said Beth.
“Looks like fun,” said Terese. “Or maybe that Japanese place there?”
“Terese, I don't think I can handle anything more exotic than an omelette today.”
Rowena said nothing. She looked at her watch; they had already missed the first ten minutes of the show.
“Or we could eat there.”
“Terese,” began Beth, but she didn't finish.
Terese pulled over. “Let me see the map again.”
“Terese, it's no use. Even if you do get it figured out this time, we're still gonna miss the first 20 or 30 minutes. At least.”
“You'd still get to see Douglas Fairbanks. Maybe.”
“Dammit, Beth, I'm doing my best.” Terese impatiently unfolded the map, and Rowena thought she heard it tear.
“Terese—” Beth said again.
“You figure it out!” She shoved the map at Beth. Beth spread it out rather more carefully, Rowena thought, but one corner invaded Terese's territory and was shoved back.
“Where are we?” asked Beth as Terese got back into traffic.
“Larson,” said Terese, turning off it.
“Pine,” Rowena said. Beth pored over the map.
“Pine and . . . Fitzgerald.”
“Gotcha,” said Beth. “Okay. You want to go left when you get to McIvers, and then—”
“Shit,” said Terese. “Detour.”
“What?” Beth raised her head and stared out the windshield. “Where are they sending us?”
“Around,” said Terese. Beth looked out the windshield, then out her window, and then at the map. Rowena looked at her watch. She raised her head, wondering what if anything to say, and then suddenly craned forward.
“Hey! Is that it?”
“Right there.” She pointed. Terese turned into the parking lot and parked.
“Shit,” she said. “We're here.”
“We're very late,” said Beth.
“I'm going in,” said Terese. She opened her door. “You can do what you want.” She got out and closed the door with a slam.
“How'd this get to be my fault?” asked Beth.
Rowena sighed. “Hang on,” she said. She got out, not sure what she was going to do. She caught up to Terese.
“Terese,” she began, hurriedly checking the ticket booth to see if anyone was there.
And then she stopped. “Terese,” she said in a different tone.
“Terese, there's a 3:00 showing.”
Rowena pointed to the sign above the ticket lady's head. Terese stared at it.
“I don't remember anything about that,” she said.
“Listen,” Rowena said. “Let's go have lunch and then come back. Okay?”
Terese was still looking at the sign. “Yeah,” she said.
“And maybe apologize to Beth for snapping at her?”
Terese looked at her. “Now you're going to make things difficult,” she said.
“You know me,” Rowena said.
Terese looked at her, and then at the ground, and then back at Rowena. Rowena waited.
“I, um, I wasn't going to tell anybody,” said Terese. She looked at the movie marquee; Rowena somehow expected her to stick her hands in her pockets. “That Chuck guy stood me up last night,” she said.
“It's not—I mean, it's not like we were—it's not like I was madly in love with him or anything. But it made me mad.”
“And . . . you know, rejection and all that.”
“I was kind of hoping, though, that he wouldn't be that much of a jerk.”
Rowena sighed. “I guess this is where I have to say something brilliant, like ‘Better luck next time.’”
Terese smiled wryly. “Next time, right.” She glanced around to where Beth waited in the car. “I think the official diagnosis is, I'm out of sorts.”
“Well,” said Rowena, “what would make you feel better?”
Terese looked at her and smiled. “Come on,” she said. “Beth's waiting for us.”
They went back to the car. Terese opened her door and leaned in.
“Good news, Beth,” she said. “They have a 3:00 showing. We can go to lunch and then see the whole thing.”
“Good,” said Beth, a little shortly.
Terese got in and sat down. Rowena got in too. “Beth,” said Terese. “I'm sorry I've been such a pain. I was really mad at myself, for getting us lost.” She paused. Beth said nothing. “So, um, I'm sorry and I'd like for all three of us to go to lunch and then to see the movies and—and to have a nice day. All right?”
“Thanks,” said Terese. She started the car. “Now. How 'bout the place with the beehive?”
“Oh, please,” said Beth.
“I vote,” said Rowena, “that we go somewhere very near here. And preferably on the same street.”
“Second,” said Beth.
“All right,” said Terese. She pulled out into traffic. “Though it seems to me it would be simpler to go back to . . . wherever that place was.”
Rowena wasn't sure whether she was joking. She decided not to comment.
She peered forward around Beth's head, looking for a restaurant.
Volume I: Rowena Gets a Life.
Book 5: Rowena Moves Closer.
About the Stories.
About the Author.
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