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Chapter Two


The afternoon sun shone brightly through the window of Boo’s uptown apartment.  Charming, elegant and utterly feminine, the furnishings befitted a successful woman of the theater. 

Her coffeepot gurgled on the kitchen stove, filling the air with the sweet aroma of fresh coffee. Wearing only a blue terry-cloth robe, Boo was having a giggly, girlish conversation with her best friend, Mary Stevens. 

Mary sat patiently awaiting her coffee.  She twirled a few strands of her brown hair between her thumb and forefinger.  Her slender shape, and delicate facial features betrayed that this beauty was indeed a talented actress and model.

“Gosh, Boo, I just realized that it has been five years since we first met. Remember that crazy audition we went to in the east village?   Can you believe it?  Five years… And remember that lecherous producer, George what’s-his-name?” said Mary, smiling broadly while adjusting her black cashmere sweater.

“Goldstein,” said Bouvette.

“Yeah.  And how he came on to all the girls while we were trying to read our lines until…” giggled Mary.

“His wife showed up that day and slapped him so hard that his toupee flew off and into…” chuckled Boo.

“The table fan! And it chewed off little puffs of fuzz and blew them all over the stage!” roared Mary.

“It was like thousands of bearded moths flying around. That pervert George acted like a crazed bug catcher, chasing them down and wrestling to paste them  back together…”

Boo put a dainty china creamer and sugar bowl onto the lace tablecloth that covered her kitchen table.  Still laughing, she walked to the stove to get the pot of coffee.

“Five years… Now look at you. You’re the one producing plays, and you’re a darn site more successful than anything old George Goldstein ever put together,” said Mary, referring to Boo’s current production of Revival of Petrified Forest. Mary starred in the play.

“Yeah, well that’s because I have a much better toupee,” said Boo, theatrically tossing her hair over her shoulder.  Boo delivered some toasty warm Danishes on a silver platter. She poured the coffee into two petite cups and handed one to Mary.  

Mmm, this coffee is delish,” Mary said,  pausing briefly. “So tell me about this mysterious stranger that kept you out ‘til four a.m. Did he kiss you or anything else?” Mary winked a long eyelash.

“Mary, I’m surprised at you, asking me that after our first, ah, well, gee, it actually wasn’t even a date,” said Boo.

“Well, did you kiss him?”

“Mary!” Boo said, feigning embarrassment.  She gracefully slid onto the chair across from her friend and dipped a silver teaspoon into the sugar bowl.

“Okay, I’ll take that as a no,” said Mary, with part of a Danish in her mouth. “Come on, give!” Boo just stirred her coffee.  “The scoop Boo, juicy details! Come on!  What’s he look like? How did you meet him? Come on!”

Boo opened the floodgates. “Well, he’s tall and absolutely gorgeous and his name is Hughie, although I still call him Mr. Hewitt. And I’m very attracted to him. He makes me laugh. He’s so handsome and polite and gentle, and he’s got steel gray hair and deep blue eyes and he’s the kind of guy you could fall instantly in love with. And did I tell you that he’s tall and ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS and I wish he would have kissed me?” Boo exclaimed as she rambled on like a schoolgirl talking about her first crush. 

Mary hung on every word.  “He’s a long time friend of Vincent’s. You know Vincent, one of the brothers who own Rao’s on the upper east side. That’s where we met. You know the one, on East 114th Street behind that cute little iron fence.”

“Oh yeah, the Mafioso place.”

“Mafioso?” said Boo blankly.

“Don’t tell me that you didn’t know that the Rao brothers are wiseguys.”

Wiseguys?  You mean they crack a lot of jokes?” said Boo innocently.  She took a sip of her coffee.

The seriousness in Boo’s voice made Mary cackle like a speckled hen.  “Gee, Boo, for such an intelligent woman your naiveté is astounding,” chuckled Mary. 

“When you’re done laying that egg, it would be nice if you would simply educate this poor ignorant California girl. Need I remind you, little Miss Perfect, glass houses—stones?” said Boo in remembrance of a similar circumstance in which Mary was the ignorant one.  

  “A wiseguy is another word for mobster, you know. Mafia, organized crime—they’re in the mob!”

“Oh… Oh no, that can’t be. Vincent’s such a nice fellow. He couldn’t be a gangster! I’ve known him for years.  You must be wrong,” Boo remarked, somewhat shocked by the words of her friend.

“I can prove it, but you have to promise you won’t tell another living soul,” Mary uttered almost in a whisper.

“I promise.”

“Remember three years ago? I had a quick roll in the hay with Sam, the stage manager?”

“Uh huh.”

“We weren’t serious about each other. We just did it for fun. Anyway, I got, you know, in trouble.”

“You were pregnant!”

She nodded. “The last thing Sam or I wanted to do was get married and raise a child.  I knew I couldn’t handle being a single mother all alone in this city and frankly, I didn’t want to end my career and end up taking it out on the kid.  So he took me to his cousin, who happened to be Vincent.  They made arrangements for a doctor to perform an abortion.”

“Wow, how did they get the doctor to break the law?”

“Boo,” Mary said bluntly as she dabbed the corner of her mouth with a linen napkin, “the mob can put pressure on people.   Turns out some doctor owed big money for a gambling debt. They checked me into Flower & Fifth Avenue Hospital where it was written up as ‘a minor gynecological surgery.’  It was easy, no problems.”

“Were you scared?” said Boo, her eyes as big as beach balls.

“A little, but everything went real smooth. Thanks to Vincent. He’s a real pal.”  Mary poured some more coffee into her cup.

“I don’t think that I could have done that. Well maybe, if I were pregnant and the father was someone I didn’t love.” Boo sighed deeply. “To me, having children with the man I love is the ultimate reward in life.  To raise kids and nurture them means more to me than fame or fortune or anything… But I certainly wouldn’t want to have children by accident or if the father was a real jerk,” Boo was thoughtful as she pondered Mary’s revelation. “So Vincent is in the mob. I’ll be...”

“Yep, but let’s not talk anymore about that. Tell me more about this attractive man of yours.”

          “Oh no,” Boo wailed, sitting down, “that explains it. Oh no!”  Her heart sank as a thought came over her.

          “Oh no, what? Explains WHAT?”

“It was something Hughie said. We had been laughing and having a great time.  I was telling him how much I enjoyed his company and he said how much he enjoyed mine, and then all of a sudden he looked really sad and said that he probably enjoyed it more than he should have. Oh Mary, he looked so sad.  At first I thought he might be married but he had no ring or, you know, that telltale white mark when they take their ring off and pretend—so I asked him and he said he wasn’t and I believe he was telling me the truth.  But he was so sad. Oh no, that must be it. He must be in the mob and afraid of a relationship or something.  Oh Gosh. I have to find out.” 

“How are you going to do that?  I can see it now—Oh, Hughie, I really like you. Oh, by the way, are you pals with Al Capone?” said Mary.

“No silly, I’ll just go to Rao’s and ask Vincent.” Boo jumped up and rushed into the bedroom to dress.




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