March 26, 2019. Tuesday.
The landline phone dragoons through with its exasperating ringtone at 6:24 AM! Dylan and I bump out of sleep at once! “Is this your typical morning?” she groans. “People are already shaking their legs to hear your voice way too early?”
I check the caller ID. It is Joan — one of the sweet darlings — I vault out of the bed and answer the call — “Joan!”
“You have no idea how deliriously mad we all are right now, Ace Hansel,” she blasts through the other line. “We’re outside of your building. We need to talk.”
I sprint out of the bedroom, towards the balcony, and — OH MY GOD!!! All nine store managers are hunched up together, stretching their heads up to my suite! “I am so dead!” I panic and address my caller on the mouthpiece — “You may come up!” I run to the door entrance buzzer system and press the unlock button. “It’s open!” I hang up and haul off on Dylan — “Baby, some of the sweet darlings are here!”
“Whaaat?” She sacks out, stupefied! “I don’t want them to see me! Just go talk to them yourself! I’m staying right here!”
“No no no no no!” I protest. “I’ll introduce you! I’m not hiding you away! C’mon out!”
“Ace, I’m sure they’re glamorous and all that!” she exclaims. “I don’t want to see their disappointing faces once I show myself!”
I pacify her with a kiss. “You’re beautiful. They’re gonna love your glow. Please?”
“I’m in your nightshirt, for crying out loud!” she frets.
“It’s not a see-through. You’re sexy. C’mon.” I pull her out of the bed, and she concedes. We calm our way into the kitchen. “I’ve gotta make some coffee,” I say.
“I’ll do it,” she insists.
A KNOCK startles us! I respond to it right away! And — whoops! Without a word — only sulky looks — greet me! They all flock inside, breathing out embittered blows! I shut the door and face the huffy horde — Joan, Lisa, and Nicole lead the pack! These elegant young women — all nine of them — can own a part of this world — and yet here they are — standing before me — betrayed and outraged — over my walnut proclamation sensationalized by human inner child — fueled by the arrogant Ace Hansel mania!
They notice Dylan prowling in the kitchen — Browbeaten eye scrutiny for a moment — Then their heads bash to me — somewhat diffident now — And they muse over my one and only LUSH again — Back to my walnut — Back to my beautiful sacred seven decades — AND!
“Is that her?” Joan asks — with her glazing eyes on me.
“Yes,” I pride up, smiling. “Her name is Dylan. Dylan Dawson.”
“Ace Hansel,” Lisa yelps, “you’re gay? And you’ve picked –” — she grins — “– the most charming girl!”
And they all mob Dylan with sweet and enthusiastic welcome — congratulations — and introductions!!! Oh, my one and only LUSH’s overwhelming reaction almost clubs me into cheerful sobs!
It is about time to get serious now. I sit them all down in the living room over coffee. Dylan is perched beside me, quietly listening —
“I’ve got an announcement to make,” I strike in.
“You mean,” Nicole yups, “we’re up for more surprises here?”
“We’re just swinging by to meet Dylan,” Joan says, “and bombard you with a million-dollar question — How come your name is not mentioned in the memo? And why is Alex calling the shots now? We’re having a lunch meeting with her today. What the hell is going on?”
“My announcement is sliced out of that,” I reply. “I — uh — Well –”
“Ace Hansel!” Lisa rivets.
“I don’t work there anymore,” I confess. And — stunned! Nobody moves a spasm — The disheartening silence provokes the human air. “Alex and I have had a — vicious — misunderstanding — so I –”
“Alex has been madly in love with you!” Nicole rants out. “We’ve known it all along!”
“Did she fire you because of Dylan?” Joan assesses.
“Pretty much,” I mutter.
“I’ve told you she’s not HUMAN!” Lisa raises. “This is unacceptable! Excuse my ass, but I am NOT gonna be working for that bitch at all! I’m done! That’s it for me!” She points a finger to my flurried face. “I already know what you’re gonna do given your beautiful conscience and all, but I’m so sorry, Ace Hansel — YOU CAN’T MAKE ME GO BACK THERE ANYMORE!!!” And she wrangles her way out of the suite.
“ME TOO!!” Nicole weaves after Lisa!
“Girls ! Girls! Please!” I panic.
“What’s the point now, Ace?” Joan says. “What’s the point?” And she commands the other sweet darlings — “Girls, let’s go!”
I jump on to my feet. “Joan — girls — will you please — just listen to me for a minute here — Please please please!”
“Oh, I’m still gonna attend the meeting, Ace!” Joan feeds the fire. “And I’ll let the bitch have it! You’ll see! Every single one in the employee list — is storming out TODAY — and there is nothing — NOTHING THAT YOU CAN EVER DO ABOUT IT!! NOTHING, ACE HANSEL!! UNLESS THE BITCH COMES TO HER SENSES AND MORPHS INTO HUMAN!!”
“JOAN!!! GIRLS!!!” I plead.
And they all gust out of my sight. I attempt to scurry after them, but Dylan weans me down right away. “Oh, god!” I shudder. “I hate Ace Hansel! I don’t know what to do now!”