Main > Series > Chapters > Fame Book 2 > Chapter 12

By the time that Wednesday came around, the Schwartz plans for Alumni Day were well under way. Tickets for the dance were moving well, and items for the Country and Western decor were being stacked in the scene dock ready to be moved into the hall for the intensive refurbishing that was due to take place over the weekend. One kid had managed to get some hay bales trucked down from his uncle's farm in upstate New York, whilst another had promised some barrels from a brewery somewhere in Long Island where his brothers worked. Some of the signs had been finished, and most of them had no spelling mistakes.

     Doris herself, however, was starting to flag. A lot of the zip had gone out of her efforts by the middle of the week, and Julie Miller couldn't understand why.

     'It's because of this guy Will Gunther,' Bruno explained to her. 'Doris found out last night that his band's got a booking to play six weeks in a Miami hotel. He has his last gig at Kickers on the night of the dance, and they fly out the next morning. With all the extra responsibilities she's taken on she's hardly going to see him until he gets back.'

     'We'll have to find a way to cheer her up a little,' Julie suggested. 'Some way of telling her that she's doing okay, and that it's appreciated.'

     'Agreed,' Bruno said. 'Any idea on how to accomplish all of this?'

     'I'll think of something, ' Julie said. 'Give me a call tonight, and we'll talk.'

     As the Martelli and Miller progeny were discussing Doris in the cafeteria, the heads of their respective households were, by coincidence, arriving together at the school office.

     'Hi!' Angelo Martelli said, as he held the door open for Charlotte Miller to step through. 'You're Julie's mother, aren't you?'

     'That's right,' Charlotte said.

     'I see they trapped you into being a chaperone at this shindig too, huh? What have they got you doing?'

     'I haven't found out yet. That's why I'm here.'

     Mrs. Berg took a few minutes to find the list of allocations that Doris had left for her; she'd filed it away, but she couldn't remember whether she'd filed it under A for alumni, or E for entertainments, or D for Dances. She finally found it under V for Various Items, and over filled drawer which also contained a small haul of unclaimed lost property - overspill from the U file, of course.

     'Mister Martelli,' she said at last, checking down the list, 'you're supposed to take care of refreshments. And Mrs. Miller, you're in charge of security for the evening.'

     'Well, refreshments,' Angelo said doubtfully. 'That's punch and cookies and stuff like that?'

     'And maybe some brownies,' Mrs. Berg suggested helpfully. 'Or even a nice crumb cake.'

     Angelo didn't exactly seem smitten by the idea. 'But that's woman's work,' he said. 'It should be a man who keeps watch on the doors, to make sure there's no trouble. Mrs. Miller can't handle that.'

     'Oh,' Mrs Berg said, blinking. 'Why not?'

     'Well, because. It just makes more sense.' He turned to Charlotte Miller. 'Why don't we just switch assignments?'

     But Charlotte apparently felt challenged by the suggestion, and she said, 'Mister Martelli, I'll stick with what I've been assigned. Mrs. Berg, I'll check in with you later.'

     Angelo wasn't exactly happy with the arrangement. Refreshments? He was a taxi driver, not a pastry cook. It wasn't going to work out, and he hated messing up any kind of job.

     Which was why, when Charlotte Miller phoned him that evening and suggested that they should meet the next day for lunch, he promised that he'd swap a shift in order to make it.
 

They met at Joe Diamond's restaurant, and were shown to a table for two. Angelo's disappointment came quickly; Charlotte Miller made it clear that she wanted to talk about matters other than a trading of assignments for the dance.

     'Mister Martelli,' she explained, 'I've been doing punch and cookies since Julie was three years old. It'll be nice to do something different for a change.'

     'Cook,' Angelo said gloomily, picking at the lettuce in his waist-watcher salad. 'I barely know how to buy cookies, much less having to make some.'

     'I could give you a terrific recipe, if you'd like.'

     Angelo brightened, but not much. 'Thanks,' he said. 'But make sure it's an easy one.'

     Charlotte hesitated for a while, and then she said. 'Actually, the real reason I wanted to see you was because I'm worried.'

     'About security? I knew it.'

     'Not the security. I'm worried about our kids.'

     'What do you mean?'

     'Well, I'm not sure . . . but from the little bits of a telephone conversation that I overheard last night, I think they may be planning something.'

     'So?'

     'I think it might be . . . sexual,' Charlotte explained delicately, and then she went on to give a summary of what she'd heard. She had't meant to listen, but she'd been taking a rest break in her exercise programme - the same aerobics that were allowing her to dig into a cheeseburger whilst Angelo was picking at rabbit food - and Julie's voice had come through clearly from the next room. Once she'd heard  No, of course I haven't told my mother, she was hooked. The rest of it  -  Bruno,  I've  never  done  anything  like  this before . . . Of course I trust you! . . . You think your dad suspects anything?  -  had given her an incomplete but persuasive picture.

     'Well, what do you know.' Angelo said, shaking his head, and Charlotte obviously thought that he wasn't looking as shocked and concerned as he might. 'Oh, come on, Mrs. Miller,' he said. 'I don't think Bruno and Julie are planning an orgy! You need a whole bunch of people for one of those.'

     'Mister Martelli  -  they're being very secretive about something.'

     'Bruno never keeps secrets from me,' Angelo insisted, but now he could feel that the seed of doubt had been sown. Bruno had seemed a little disturbed about something over the past week or so, but Angelo had assumed that he'd be consulted when Bruno felt the need. 'Some-thing like this, it would come out in the end.'

     'You mean he'd tell you if he and Julie were going to . . . '

     'No, no, I don't mean he'd tell me straight out. But it's like I could kind of get to the topic, and I could tell what's going on. He'd sort of open up to me, because we've got that kind of communcations. You've probably got the same kind of thing with Julie.'

     'Well, in a sense,' Charlotte said cautiously. 'I mean, I think some things are different between a mother and daughter as opposed to a father and son.'

     'I suppose so,' Angelo said. 'Listen, I'll check it out.' And then, unable to hold himself back any longer, he added meekly, 'Do you think I could maybe have just one of those french fries?'

     'Here,' Charlotte said, 'help yourself,' and she slid the plate over to him.

     Somehow, she didn't seem to have much appetite left.
 
 
 

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