She came to watch even though they made her sad.
|They sported tuxedos and evening gowns. The help was dressed in black with fire-engine-red bowties. A string-quartet played Chopin liltingly, which is to say divinely, which is to say not so loud you had to raise your voice to be hoid.
Gretta Radzinski stood just off the terrace viewing the candlelit tables through the big picture window. She was dressed in the exact same white tablecloths the tables were dressed in-- though Gretta’s tablecloth looked elegant on her. She made it swirl. She made it plunge.
Otis Rathbone saw the woman standing by herself and with a practiced glance over at the ball-n-chain across the way, he moseyed over.
“Why you’re as pretty as a picture,” he said.
Gretta smiled a kind smile.
“I hope I’m not intruding…”
“Why would you be intruding?”
“I don’t want you to think I’m a dirty-old-man.” Otis laughed at the folly, then cleared his throat. “My name’s Otis.”
“Well, I don’t see hows not knowing a person leads to intruding when you say howdy, Otis.”
Otis was just about to say of course not, when he realized the young woman he was standing next to was barefoot under her toga. His back straightened. His eyes swept the veranda to spot anyone pointing at him, maybe laughing at him.
He pretended to wave at someone he knew.
“Here,” Gretta said. She slipped something into his hand. “You might need this.”
Otis tried to look natural. What was it she gave him? Drugs? A key to some liberal freak-party?
He opened his fingers and with some disappointment found a polished stone with the letter “B” painted in red.
“What does it mean?” he whispered.
“Just be,” Gretta said. “It’s good advice.”
Maybe for you, Otis thought, and rushed off before the old battle-axe spotted him.