Authors: Susana Falcon
Elyse winced from Judy's screechy voice directed at the lady.
"Elyse can help you with anything you need. She knows our line. I've got to run to the doctor's office now for some tests. Nothing serious, my doctor just likes to be sure. Better safe than sorry, right?"
"Sure," Natalie said with mild interest.
Elyse breathed a sigh of relief when Judy finally bustled out the door.
"So," Elyse began shyly. "You're Kiel Knight's makeup artist?"
"I am. And you're the in-house makeup artist, here at--what's it called? The Make-Up Place?"
Elyse gave a brief history of the Make-Up Place. She emphasized how world-famous makeup artists, Raphael Navarro and Solomon Winters, had started it eons ago, creating their own cosmetics and skin care line, which they later sold to the Hoffenzimmers.
"Mm...interesting. I'm fussy about the skin care Kiel uses though. Got to be careful with makeup on camera, too, so things don't look fakey-fake. Know what I mean?"
"Sure," Elyse said, nodding as if in reverence to a master. "I mean, I've only done a little bit of film work myself, but, I want to get into it more--you know?"
Natalie burst out laughing. "Hell, yeah, I know! Where else can a creative earn as much as a Wall Street executive? Doing what we love, no less."
Elyse's eyes widened in surprise. "The money's that good?"
"For feature film?" Natalie gave her an elfish grin. "You have no idea."
Elyse considered this. "Apparently not."
"Once you're in the union anyway. Got to be in the union, if you want a real career."
Elyse had never thought of that. "How do you get in the union?"
"Well, see, that's the tricky part. It's who you know, in a way, because somebody inside has to sponsor you. Then, of course, you have to pass all the tests, go before the board--more than once. Bring your own model, be exact with the applications...it's a whole big deal."
Elyse frowned in consternation. "Huh," she said. "Who knew?"
Natalie glanced up from the foundations she was looking at. "But, you seem like a bright girl. You certainly have the looks. Of course, I don't really know how things work here, in New York, because I'm based out of California. Just put it out there though. It'll happen for you."
"Just put it out there?"
"Yeah. To meet the right people, at the right time. And when you do? Be ready to make things happen. When the opportunity presents itself, do whatever you have to, to get the job done. You know?"
But, in truth, Elyse was a bit puzzled by her assertion. "Just put it out--where?"
Natalie snuffed a little laugh as she dipped a cotton swab into a jar of concealer and drew it along her wrist. "Into the Universe." Examining the color against her skin, she added, "You set the intention, I guarantee opportunities will follow."
"Oh, right," Elyse said slowly. "Just kind of, 'put it out there.' I see what you mean."
"And when the doors open, make sure you get right on it." She stopped and looked straight at Elyse. "Just got to have faith, you know? It'll all work out."
"Sure." Elyse supposed this was sage enough advice, in spite of its mystical overtones. Although it wasn't a concept she'd consciously put into practice before.
A couple of minutes later, she was ringing up the items Natalie had chosen to purchase, when the door to the waxing room opened and peals of laughter pierced the air. Elyse looked up to see Carla strolling toward the retail counter with the starlet, Kiel Knight.
The two of them kibitzed and laughed together like old friends. Well, a bikini wax could, in fact, bring two women closer than a lot of other experiences, and pretty darn fast, too.
Elyse swallowed her excitement at the sight of the movie star's face live-and-in-person. She had appeared onscreen in some of Hollywood's hottest movies alongside the most gorgeous leading men. Her heart pumped a little harder and faster as she handed Natalie back her credit card, along with the slip to sign. Natalie dashed off her signature, put the card in her wallet and turned toward Kiel.
"Everything all right there, Kielie, my darling?"
"Oh, super, super, super! Carla was wonderful--I barely felt a thing."
"Well," Carla said in humble response, "you were very good client."
"Any red bumps?" Natalie asked.
"Not really," Kiel answered. "We should be fine to shoot that scene the day after tomorrow."
"If we stay on schedule," Natalie said. She took her bag of products and led Kiel by the elbow toward the door.
Elyse leaned back against the register, feeling a bit shy as she watched them depart.
Just before the starlet and her makeup artist reached the door, however, Natalie stopped and turned.
"Oh, Kiel, by the way--this is Elyse, the staff makeup artist here."
With a burst of adrenaline, Elyse shot forward and banged her knee against a shelf inside the counter space.
"Ooh--ouch! Watch it, there," Kiel said.
Elyse looked at the famous face she'd seen on both big screen and television, along with countless magazine covers. Right now it radiated beauty and kindness.
"Oh, what a klutz I am," Elyse said, blushing. "It's very nice to meet you, Kiel."
"Nice meeting you, too, pretty girl. Thanks for everything. Bye, Carla! Have a great day, you guys!"
With a bedazzled grin, Elyse watched through the window as Kiel and Natalie locked arms, their heads pressed together in ...er. They laughed and shivered coatless in the cold as they crossed the street. Elyse watched them until they disappeared inside the trailer on the other side.
"God," Elyse gushed to Carla, "she's so beautiful, isn't she?"
"She is very pretty lady. And, also, she is nice."
"Geez! Some people have it all."
Carla joined Elyse in gazing out the window.
"But," she finally said, "you know something,
"What?" Elyse asked from her far-off thoughts.
"She is a person, too, just like you and me."
After a few seconds, Elyse shook her head. "Sure, she's a person. But, honestly, Carla? Not like you and me. Look at who she is, and all she has." With that, she heaved a great sigh.
Carla said nothing more.
After the emcee's final "Goodnight" blasted through Gotham's Comedy Club, the house lights came up and the music kicked in. Elyse clapped heartily with the rest of the audience. Once the applause died down, she turned to her friend.
"So, do you think he's funny?"
Sharmaine Shazmani was draped along the red velvet banquette like a pampered show cat used to winning blue ribbons. While formulating her opinion, she smoothed her shiny, bleach-blonde hair down over one shoulder.
"Yeah," she began slowly, "he's funny. Maybe a tad cerebral for your Average Joe. But he has a following, right? So people must like him."
"I guess. He's popular here in New York. Don't know about the rest of the country. But it was nice of him to get us in."
"Totally." She added in a throaty voice, "Even though I'm sure he gets a certain number of comps."
"Yeah, but he could've saved them for his agent, or somebody important. But he gave them to us."
"I beg your pardon? I'm important."
"You know what I mean. Anyway, I got to pay you back, at least, for some of the times you've gotten me in to see you perform."
"Which reminds me... I've got a
pas de deux
with Mario in
, next week."
"Yes, I'd love to come, thank you very much."
Sharmaine chuckled. "You might have to wait in standing room, though, 'til a seat opens up."
"Mind if I go out and smoke while you talk to your buddy?"
"Not sure I'd call him my buddy, but you go ahead."
The ballerina stood and stretched. Elyse admired her feline grace.
"And don't worry," Elyse added. "I'll tell him you said thanks."
"Right on. See you out front."
Sharmaine pulled a short, fake fur coat over a lace top with skin tight jeans and over-the-knee boots. As she sashayed along the upper tier, she also wrapped a cashmere scarf around her throat. Elyse marveled at how her long, lean legs seemed to go straight up to her ears.
With the final audience members milling about or heading toward the exit, the waitress named Cherry came back with change.
"There you go, darlin'," she said in a smoky voice.
"Oh, that's all yours," Elyse countered. "By the way, which way did Mickey go?"
"There's a powwow in the dressing room. He'll be out in a couple a minutes. You can hang here, if you want. Or you can even go down to the bottom tier and wait at the end of the hall."
Antsy after sitting for the show, Elyse rose and headed for the lower tier. She slung her coat over an arm and leaned against the servers' stand directly across from the kitchen. Not a moment later, a guy the size of an NFL linebacker stuck his head out the kitchen door and looked around. He checked right and left, glanced at Elyse and motioned to the guy behind him. Elyse watched a handsome blond fellow of average height and build slip through the door and lean against the wall not far from where she was waiting.
The linebacker intentionally blocked the guy from the sight of stragglers in the showroom. Elyse figured he was a body guard, but didn't recognize the blond guy. She gave them both a half-smile, just to be polite. Then she stared at the closed dressing room door at the other end of the hall.
The in-house music loop concluded and silence enveloped the vacated club. Only a couple of servers were left ...ing and cleaning up after the last few tables. Elyse drummed her fingers along the server stand hoping Mickey would hurry the hell up so she could thank him and be on her way.
While she tried not to, she couldn't help but eavesdrop as the two guys shot the breeze.
"Yo," the linebacker was saying, "that's like the dumb broad over at the Supper Club that time. The one who bugged you a thousand times to autograph her--"
"Yeah, yeah, I remember. Not the first time that's ever happened, right? And I'm guessing it won't be the last."
The two guys sniggered until Elyse glanced over at them. When the blond one grinned, she was struck by his outstanding good looks, with uber-white teeth and a perfect nose. He seemed friendly, so she smiled.
He nodded at her. "How ya doin'?"
Some unspoken cue made the linebacker pipe down. After the last of the servers left through a door on the other side of the stage, total quietude settled over the cavernous space.
"Gee," she said out loud, "maybe I should interrupt that meeting in there."
"Maybe," the blond guy said. "Once Miles starts spouting off, no telling how long he'll go on."
"Head honcho. The owner. Likes to hear himself talk sometimes."
"Oh," Elyse said. "You know him, I guess?"
He looked at her quizzically. "Yeah, you might say."
The two guys then chuckled at what Elyse surmised was an inside joke. She sighed and drummed her fingers against her thigh. The blond guy pulled a baseball cap from inside his jacket and slipped it over his short hair cut.
"So," Elyse asked, "in your experience, do these powwows go on very long?"
"Depends on how fast the headliner wants out of there. Like, if he's jonesing for a drink, or has a hot date, or if he's just plain sick of listening to Miles!"
The two guys guffawed. Elyse chuckled and inspected the manicure she'd gotten earlier that day.
"What color?" the blond guy asked.
"Huh? Oh, Tutu Pink."
He reached for her hand. "Let's see--if you don't mind."
She complied and lent him her hand. He admired the light-pink lacquer on her nails.
"Very nice. You have pretty hands. Well, you have pretty everything, from what I can see."
Elyse thanked him and took back her hand. During the pregnant pause that followed, she felt the blond guy watching her. It made her self-conscious, so she stared at the photographs hung all the way down the length of the wall, unable to discern who was in them from where she was standing.
The dressing room door finally opened part way, and a cacophony of male voices flooded the hallway. The blond guy reached his hand out to Elyse for a shake.
"Hey," he said, "it was nice talking to you. What's your name?"
Elyse shook his hand, but her name was lost in the voices that suddenly converged loudly in the hallway. Mickey arrived at the front of the pack and jutted out a hand to the blond guy in the baseball cap.
"Hey, Bobby, good to see you. How's it shakin'?"
"Not bad, guy, not bad. Good show, tonight."
As the group gathered around the blond guy and his linebacker buddy, Mickey came over to Elyse.
"Hey, glad you made it, darlin'." He gave her a quick hug and lowered his voice. "Hope I didn't interrupt anything."
Elyse gave him a blank look. "Huh?"
Mickey nudged his head toward Bobby. "Wouldn't want to step on the bigger swinging dick, you know?"
Elyse frowned. "No, I don't."
"Hey, no offense." Mickey chuckled. "Just a reality in this biz."
"Show biz. Entertainment. Whatever you want to call it."
"And what reality is that?"
"The one where the famous get laid before the underlings."
She looked at him with incredulity. "Meaning..."
Mickey stopped and stared at her. "You do know who that is, don't you?"
Elyse nudged her head toward the blond guy in the cap. "Who, him?"
She shrugged. "Should I?"
"Hello? Star of
New York's Finest
? Biggest hit series on prime time right now." He lowered his voice almost to a whisper. "Plays the hot stud captain on the police force."
"Oh," Elyse said offhandedly, "pardon my ignorance. 'Fraid I haven't been paying much attention as of late."
Mickey chuckled. "I love it--doesn't even know who he is!"
She glanced at the blond guy caught up in conversation with the rest of the pack.
"Well," she said, "he certainly is good-looking."