Christmas With...Penny Reid!
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Breakfast at Tiffany's
Ever since she had been a child she had dreamed of leaving Greenstown, West Virginia and living a glamorous life in New York City. Because, as everyone knows, life in New York City is nothing if not glamorous.
And so, twelve days before Christmas 1962, Amanda smoothed the length of her black skirt, pulled at the cuffs of her ruby-red skit sweater through the sleeves of her winter coat, and—rolling her only bag of luggage after her—hooked her purse over her shoulder.
Amanda Tucker snuck out of her parents’ house, leaving her childhood, her boring life, and a note of:
Thanks but no thanks. I do not plan on marrying Bolt Shepard and having four litters of kids. You can kiss my ass.
P.S. Merry Christmas
Actually, she didn’t like to think of herself as sneaking out, but rather asserting her independence as a full-grown, fair minded, well functioning adult. Regardless, no one knew she was leaving and that suited her just fine. Therefore, boarding the bus to New York City at approximately twelve-thirty-eight in the A.M., she felt light as air.
As the bus rolled pass the city limits of Greenstown her stomach rumbled and growled, reminding her that in her haste and excitement she’d forgotten to bring a single bite for breakfast or as a snack.
Ah well.... She raised her eyebrows and sighed, I’ll just have my breakfast in New York.
And, without another thought to the matter, she leaned back in her seat and settled in for the long ride, ready for her life to begin in the town of her dreams.
Karl Sterling was having a shitty day, and it was only seven thirty in the morning.
First, his neighbor had been arrested—he always knew the Snodgrass’ hadn’t made their money in pig farm futures—at five in the morning. It seemed that the IRS didn’t like checks that bounced. Then, his housekeeper and maid were both on vacation. This left no one to make his breakfast but the gardener and the chauffeur; neither knew a toaster from a roasting pan, and it didn’t matter anyway because both were out with the flu.
Wistfully, he thought of Mrs. Mayfield’s eggs and toast as he pulled his lucky tie from the rotating closet rack and found the matching charcoal wool jacket. Grabbing a stainless steal mug he filled it with coffee from the percolator and left his house in South Hampton at precisely 5:30AM. With no driver, he opted to take his new model jaguar into town rather than driving the more sensible Cadillac sedan.
He made it halfway down his driveway when his tire, having hit a carelessly strewn garden rake, burst. This shook both him and the car, subsequently drenching both the interior and his favorite tie in Columbian roast. Gritting his teeth before cursing long and loud he attempted to mop up the brown stain from the carpet of his new toy before realizing the fruitlessness of his efforts.
In the end, he had called for a car service and changed, throwing his lucky tie in the bin Mrs. Westby would take to the cleaners on Wednesday. As the limo pulled from his driveway at six-forty-five in the A.M. his stomach rumbled uncomfortably, reminding him of his lack of both coffee and breakfast. Covering his mouth with his giant hand, the blue eyed, black haired business tycoon clenched his jaw, trying to decide whether he would fire his cook, his maid, his gardener, or his chauffeur first.
By the time the bus arrived in New York, Mandy was famished. A woman on the bus had a mini picnic around seven thirty and Mandy contemplated jumping her for the food. Instead, she looked on, almost drooling, and sat quietly in her seat. She passed the time imagining all the wonderful foods she would find in the city.
However, as she moved to collect her bag, pushing against the crowd that had gathered, she found it had been “misplaced.”
“Misplaced? Misplaced?!” She screeched at the bus attendant, “What exactly do you mean by misplaced?”
The man, whose name was Don according to his name tag and had a thick accent and a nasal twang all at once, huffed, “Listen, lady, I don’t know what happened to it, what can I tell you? Someone must have taken it by accident.”
Mandy clutched her purse to her stomach, she didn’t want anyone taking that by accident, and leaned forward, “What am I supposed to do? Everything I own was in there!”
Don shook his head, “We have form you can fill out but… other than that, I got nuthin for ya.” The man shrugged and Mandy wanted to punch him in the nose.
A temporary setback she told herself, you were going to need new clothes anyway. She bit her lip to keep from crying as she asked Don for a form and a pen.
Traffic was terrible. There was no way into the city it seemed, and Karl Sterling was late. So late in fact that his secretary had likely canceled all his morning meetings as he was uncertain when his albatross of a driver would finally make it to his building. He called it his building because it was his building.
When he spied first sight of it at 10:30 AM, he instructed the driver to pull to the side and let him out. Karl decided he would walk the last few blocks. His stomach grumbled again… perhaps he would grab something to eat on the way. As soon as he stepped out of the car, all at once thankful to be free of the limo with bad brass paneling, the traffic seemed to magically clear up.
And, just as the ugly black car turned the corner, Karl realized his briefcase, as well as all his money and cell phone, were still keeping company with the ugly brass paneling. A new and even more colorful string of curses spewed forth; he turned red as he contemplated chasing the car down, but thought better of it as he was only seven blocks from his building.
However, he soon came to regret that decision as he walked into the lobby of his building and was adamantly denied access to the elevators by a new security officer named Bob.
Grinding his teeth, his hands clenched white on the marble security counter, “Would you please just call my secretary? Mrs. Teffler will be more than happy to-”
“Listen, buddy, I don’t care if you are Rodgers and Bernstein, I’m not letting you use the phone and you are not going upstairs, capiche?”
Karl closed his eyes, trying to control his anger, “It’s Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
Bob’s face turned red with anger and he stood suddenly from his gray, sensibly upholstered roll chair and wagged his finger at Karl, “You get out of here or I’ll make you get out.” His voice was low with threat.
Karl’s mouth drew into a tight line as he made a mental note: add security guard to list.
Now that she’d arrived, she couldn’t seem to make heads or tails of anything. Everyone walked so fast, it was like a race everywhere she went and she somehow got caught in the flow of traffic without meaning to.
Mandy allowed it to carry her along streets and avenues, walking somewhat despondently as she mourned the loss of her roll luggage.
She wondered if she had made a huge mistake. Bolt wasn’t so bad, even if his name was Bolt. What kind of person names their kid Bolt anyway? Dunderheads, that’s who!
It wasn’t until she found herself standing in front of Tiffany’s that she was shaken from her depression. She gasped, audibly gasped at the size of the store; diamonds winked at her from the window, glittering in the almost afternoon sun. There were so many different colored jewels, so many different shapes, a yellow diamond tiger, a green emerald dog, a purple amethyst grape vine.
Suddenly, she remembered her hunger and lack of breakfast and she laughed. Her first meal in New York would be spent standing outside Tiffany’s. She spun and twisted, searching for a store, a bakery, as street vendor, anything that sold food. Her eyes settled on a hotdog vendor and she charged forward, not letting herself mind the interesting odor as she approached.
She ordered a chili dog with extra cheese—no onions—and paid the man from her savings. Smiling, she took the stale bun gleefully, and turned, leaving the Russian vendor more than a little confused.
Raising it to her lips, she paused, and her eyes widened with surprise. Sitting not more that four feet from her was the most beautiful man she had ever seen with the angriest and most exasperated expression on his face eyeing her hotdog with the bluest and hungriest gaze imaginable. Forcing herself to swallow, her eyes moved from him to her hotdog then back again.
She bit her lip, then, boldly, crossed to him, moving the hot dog into her left hand as she offered her right.
“Hello. I’m Mandy Tucker.”
There he was, minding his own business, waiting for his vice president to pick him up when he saw her. Snow white skin, red lips, chocolate brown hair; she looked like she’d just stepped out of a magazine advertisement for Macy’s, and she was holding a chilidog with extra cheese, no onions—his favorite
The last thing he’d expected was for her to march over to him and introduce herself.
Even more surprising, when she spoke he was enveloped in a charming and unassuming—thick as sausage gravy—West Virginian accent. He didn’t know what to do, which irritated him. He always knew what to do.
So he took her hand in his and introduced himself, “Uh, Hi, I’m Karl.” He swallowed.
He dwarfed her. He was tall and she was short. She smiled up at him brightly; he felt the exasperated, tense expression leave his face. Suddenly, her hotdog was in his hand and she had turned to order a second one. He glanced from the hot dog to her, unwillingly admiring her shapely legs.
She walked back to him, still smiling. “I didn’t know how you like it. I hope this is okay. I don’t like onions, they make my nose itch,” she explained, indicating to the hotdog in his hand, the hotdog in hers and the vendor watching on with more than a little curiosity.
“Thank you.” Was all he said, completely dumbfounded and at a loss for words. He eyed her suspiciously, wondering if she were an escaped mental patient.
She nodded her head then turned her attention to Tiffany’s. “Well, I guess I’ll see you around. Merry Christmas!” She glanced back offering a shy smile over her shoulder as she began to walk away.
He watched her go three steps before his brain drop-kicked his mouth and feet, yelling at him to move. “Wait, wait!” he called after her, holding his hotdog to the side and reaching for her arm with his free hand.
She stopped and looked at him, puzzled, waiting for him to speak. Finally, for lack of any other words, he asked, “Where are you going?”
She shrugged her shoulders, licking her lips, “I was just going to have... um, breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
He glanced down at the hot dog in their hands, then back to her large dark sapphire eyes. For the first time that morning, he smiled, unable to help himself.
Offering his elbow to her, he dipped his head. “Mind if I join you?”