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Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Patti arrives tonight bearing the dummy for
the ad supplement. Being a Monday evening, there is
no show, so she arrives later than usual. The cover is
a burgundy colored stage curtain with gold brocade
trim, parted at the middle. This I like.
The title of this pamphlet is now “Pretty Lady and the Curse East of
. It also had a subtitle – “Ghosts, Murder and
Mayhem” – which I nix the instant Patti hands me the
print out.

“Murder? That’s terrible. Is Terri insane? We
cannot appear to be making hay off of Danny’s death.
We’ll be destroyed by the press. It’s too ghoulish.
Pretty Lady is a light comedy. No no no. This was not
my intent at all. It’s not my intent or my style and it’s
got to go.”
“Got it. I was thinking the same thing.”
She was taking notes on her laptop Mac.
“Okay. That’s the cover – get rid of the subtitle.
We don’t need a subtitle.”
“Moving right along,” said Patti.
The next page is an interesting write up of all
the lore regarding the curse in general – its origins,
shows believed to have suffered from the curse, and
so forth.
“This stuff on the curse looks okay.”
Following that is a full page biography of David Belasco which includes the information that his ghost may still haunt the theater. I read it quickly.
“This Belasco piece is nothing. It won’t do at all. It’s innocuous. And David Belasco was anything but innocuous, my dear.”
“I didn’t write it.”
She types something into her laptop.
“I know you didn’t. But make a note please.”
“I already did.”
“Tell Terri I want a lot more color about Belasco. The man invented the casting couch, one of the most salacious factoids in theater history, and there’s not a word about that. This is no time to be Victorian about these sorts of details. Killing and screwing are the national obsessions. We’ve got more than enough killing attached to this show. It’s time to add some screwing.”
Patti was chuckling as she tapped extensive notes on the computer keyboard.
The memorial page devoted to Danny Limm is tasteful and acceptable.
“My only addition is that we add a line at the bottom which states that there is a one hundred thousand dollar reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Danny Limm’s murderer.”
“Do you really want to put that in there, Gus?”
“Yes. I do. The police are up against a dead end in the investigation.”
“But they could catch someone, and then you would have to reprint the entire supplement.”
“Catching the killer would mean more headlines, and more headlines would mean more ticket sales, not to mention getting this murderer off the streets and putting Danny’s memory properly to rest. So what if we have to reprint. I welcome the need to reprint. It’s a negligible cost in the scheme of things. Negligible and welcome. Have them put in the reward announcement, please.”
Patti grimaces and taps at the computer. “Okay.”
Patti is intent on making her notes. I flip through the rest of the pages in quick succession, reading every word with preternatural speed while pretending to skim.
“These all look good.”
“You hardly looked at them.”
“I’m a producer, not a proof reader. Make sure everyone’s name is spelled correctly and so forth and let’s get this thing moving.”
Patti gives a quick affirmative shake of her head.
“Yes, sir.”
She writes some final notes and looks at me.
“Is that it? Anything else?”
“Are you hurrying off? I was hoping you would join me at Elaine’s.”
“Oh Gus, not tonight. I’m sorry.”
“Big date?”
“Not really. Not a date at all. I just want to get plenty of beauty sleep this week. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’ve been running all day, unlike you. The worst would be going to opening night this week with circles under my eyes.”
“Oh, is opening night this week?”
Patti throws her head back and laughs. Her neck looks so inviting, so lovely, pale and smooth and pulsing and flowing with blood. She is beautiful in every sense of the word. For a brief instant I think of making her my companion for all time. But I know it would turn out badly and reject the idea.
“Gus, people say you’re so serious. They don’t know you like I do.”
“Is that what people say? That I’m serious? I think that’s a good thing, don’t you? And it’s true. I am serious.”
“You’re a gem with facets, Mr. Windham. Let’s just say I’m honored that you let me observe them all.”
“Do you think you’ve seen all there is to see of me? I hope there’s still something of a mystery about me.”
“To others, yes.”
“But not to you?”
“I’m not sure how to answer that, Gus.”
“Good. That means something about me is still a mystery.”
Patti smiles an inscrutable grin.