A novel by Karen Lockhart
Copyright© 2018 Karen Lockhart
After swallowing my heart to return it to my chest, I spun around and stared daggers at Wendy.
“Are you trying to get me to pee myself, young lady? Don't do that again!”
Watching her laugh made me even madder.
“What is it you want, it's 3:30 in the morning, you should be asleep.”
“Auntie, how did it go? Did Pete arrest him? Were you there? Did she confess?”
Typical teenager, ask a hundred questions, without waiting for an answer to any of them.
“Ariana is not Vincent Morales, she's too short. But one of Pete's detectives was on the ball and found a possible DNA sample.” I stopped and asked Wendy if she got a good look at Ariana the other day.
“Yes I did, when Aunt Ellen took photos of her.”
“Wendy, do you think Ariana looks like Tina Morales?”
She started bouncing up and down, “That's why she looked familiar! She could be Tina's sister. No, that's not right, the Candy Cane Club wouldn't hire her if she was a girl, right?”
I waited, you could see her features change like raising a blind.
“NO, she must be a guy! That means if she looks like Tina's twin, maybe she is, but not her twin sister, her twin brother!
“Smart kid, that's what I figure too. Pete is coming around to that idea too. Wendy, you should hear her sing! Unbelievable, just like the real Ariana Grande.”
“Aunt Ginny, that's what I wanted to ask you. Could I go to work with you tomorrow? I promise I'll do what you tell me. I won't leave the bar without you. This way, I can hear her sing too.”
“Does Ellen know about this Wendy?”
She nodded yes, “I asked her during supper, she said it was up to you. Can I?”
I said it was alright, but this place was nothing like the Naked City in Peabody. She mustn't wander off on her own, she could get in trouble.
Hiram! I bet he'd love her, and to be honest, Wendy would pass the physical.
“If I want to go to work later today, I have to get myself to bed, right now. We'll talk more over breakfast at 11 AM.”
I gave her a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek and headed for my bed.
I woke up to the smell of toast and bacon. After taking care of my morning ablutions, I followed my nose to the kitchen.
Wendy greeted me with a big smile as she placed a steaming mug of coffee in front of me. “Two or three eggs, Auntie?”
As I read the paper, she slid a dish with toast, 4 slices of bacon and three sunnyside up fried eggs at my elbow.
“What should I wear Aunt Ginny? A short dress and stockings and heels? Or a cheerleader dress and a white blouse?”
Time to stop this right now!
“You will not dress sexy! As a matter of fact, you will wear jeans, a polo shirt and trainers. And not tight jeans either! I want you to look like what you are, a high school kid. Now, let me call Jean and give her the good news that we'll have company at work today.”
Jean just laughed, and said she guessed we were going in my car. I made arrangements to pick her up in Nahant at around 1 o'clock.
On the ride to Quincy, Wendy chattered all the way, I guess she was excited. One thing she did say was Ellen and Pete were seeing a lot of each other and could she be a bridesmaid?
That got my attention! “'Bridesmaid?' Who's getting married, you don't mean Ellen and Pete?”
She looked shocked, “That was supposed to be a big secret, I'm in trouble now, aren't I?”
“Only if Ellen finds out you spilled the beans. Jean and I won't tell her.”
After warning her again to stay with me and not wander off, we went into the second floor employee's lounge. Ariana was there and gave me a big hello.
Giving Wendy a warning look, I introduced the two girls, telling Wendy she had to hear Alana sing. Wendy was invited to her first set about 9 PM.
I went behind the bar to start setting up for mixed drinks. Joy and Jan asked if Wendy was my replacement, They were that positive Mr Logan was moving me downstairs.
Wendy introduced herself, making sure they knew she was my niece, not my replacement.
After an hour or so, Hiram and Cathy returned to their favorite spot at my end of the bar. I showed Wendy how to make a Cosmopolitan, and had her pull a draft Pabst Blue Ribbon for Cathy. Of course, they were curious about Wendy. I explained she wanted to tend bar, so I was showing her what went on on my side of the mahogany.
After walking to the waitress station to fill drink orders, Wendy pinched my sleeve.
“Aunt Ginny, that Cathy, she looks just like the shortstop for the Red Sox, but it can't be him, right?”
I shushed her, and said we'll talk later on my break.
She actually did a good job staying out of our way and even helped out getting shaved ice and a case of beer. I guess as long as she wasn't serving drinks it was legal. She was still seventeen after all.
I showed her where to sit to listen to Ariana's act so no one could see her from the audience.
After fifteen minutes Wendy returned to the break lounge. Her eyes were big and all she could talk about was Ariana's singing. I teased her about forgetting her earlier questions about Cathy.
“Is Cathy a ball player Auntie, she can't be can she?”
I gave her a look, “Wendy, I was a truck driver, why can't she be a professional athlete? Do athletes look different? Is there a law that says a ball player can't wear a dress, or use lipstick?”
“I guess not, but...”
“This is something you will need to do if you want to tend bar; ignore that stuff and just treat everyone the same, especially if you want to work here or even at a place like the Naked City.”
Okay, it was a shock. Changing tack, Wendy noted, “Ariana is pretty isn't she? As a boy she was picked on I bet, I know I was.”
Sometimes you forget she was born a boy.
The rest of the night flew by and soon it was closing time. Wendy had fallen asleep around midnight in the lounge. When Jean arrived, that was the first thing she asked “Did you lose Wendy?”
We woke her up, and almost carried her to the car. She was asleep again by the time we hit the Ted Williams tunnel. Tomorrow was Saturday, so she could sleep in, unless she went with Ellen to the barn for a lesson.
The following week, Jean and I had Monday and Thursday off. I guessed she would pick up her new car the next day. This would let me be chauffeured in the new car to work.
I had to ask Ellen about when Wendy would get her road test for her driving license. I've lost track of everything. I guess the hours I was now working caused it.
I heard Ellen's cell phone ring twice in the morning, but she was careful to let me sleep. Around 11 AM my cell rang; looking at the Caller ID I saw it was Pete.
Before I could say a thing, Pete asked if I wanted a job working for him.
When I asked why, he said the DNA came back in record time. The indications were that Ariana and Vinny were indeed father and son. He also speculated that when Vinny had asked about whether the gay bar in Lynn was hiring singers, it was for her and not him.
“Pete, this implies Vinny and 'Ariana' are now on good terms doesn't it?”
“Yeah, now I wonder if he'll come to hear her sing at your club.”
“The only way he's getting in is as a member, and they don't advertise for membership.”
“Then how the hell will I get one of my people inside to look for him?”
“Pete, maybe it's time you talked to the manager. You never know, maybe the bouncers at the door will look for him and let you know if he shows up. Or maybe Logan will recognize him from a membership application?”
“Ginny, maybe you could talk to him?”
“NO, absolutely not! This has to come from the State Police, don't get me into this. I like working there, and might stay.”
Changing the subject I said, “Look, are you and Ellen getting serious?”
Pete sighed, “Yes, I've been trying to get up the nerve to ask her to marry me.”
If I could hug him over the phone , I would've right then.
“Oh I'm so happy to hear that; what are you waiting for, you big lummox?
“But her life and yours will change, and then there's Wendy to think of.”
“Ask her, you wimp! Don't use me or Wendy as an excuse.”
“If you think so. Okay I'll do it over dinner tomorrow night. Now about finding Vinny...”
To be continued.
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