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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 37 page 03


But the young woman has become interested in a blemish on the back of the grey-haired man’s neck. “Uh-oh,” she says, putting down the cinnamon bun. Getting up on her knees, she deftly closes in with two thumbnails and pinches at the skin under his ear.

Ow!” he says, in real pain. “What are you doing?”

“I just — don’t move, okay?”

“What is that?”

“It’s sort of a pimple. It looks like an infected hair or something.”

“Just take a razor and hack it off.”

“I tried but it’s not going to pop. There’s some blood. You might want to get a Band-Aid.”

“A Band-Aid? I’m not going to be one of those guys who walks around with a Band-Aid. People will think I’ve had a biopsy.” He stands up, his fluffy robe falling open, the belt-ends dangling. He tosses the marker and the magazine onto the bed. “I can’t get ‘brief gleam.’” He glances at her. “Are we going to this gala tonight? Who’s going to be there?”

“Errol said he might go. That’s what he said last night.”

“I didn’t know you were talking to Errol. Working those pants, were you?”

“And there’s a press screening for Gareth’s movie.”

“People are going to that? To a press screening? What kind of film festival is this?”

“I was looking at Gareth last night,” says the young woman, licking the icing from her finger-tips. “He’s just so confident and cute. You can tell he was always like that. Way before he was a movie star.”

“Gareth Morgan is not a movie star.” The grey-haired man, Brendan by name, looks at his reflection in the mirror on the bathroom door, checking the back of his neck for blood. “Has he looked at his pay check? That’ll tell him if he’s a movie star. Gareth Morgan is a television actor.” He lifts a bottle of Visine from the bedside table. “You talk to Errol? What’d he say?”

“He’s here because he wants to make another movie.”

“He’s here because he has to make another movie.” Angling his face toward the ceiling, Brendan squirts a few Visine drops into his opened eyes. “Errol has to make a movie or his deal expires with the studio. He’s got forty million left in his envelope. That’s why he’s here.”

“Did you tell him your idea for Romeo and Juliet in a retirement home? I was telling Gareth about it. He thought it was gold.”

“Cookie,” says Brendan, blinking away the excess Visine from his eyelashes. “No one can know that idea.” He turns to her, stern. “Things I tell you in private, I tell you in private.”

“Sorry. But don’t big-deal me, okay? I forgot so I forgot, all right?”

“Who else did you mention it to?”

“No one! If it’s such an issue, don’t tell me stuff I’m not allowed to know.” Her eyes at that moment are radiantly open and honest, and evident on her cheek, just beneath her left eye, is a small dimple in her skin, perfectly circular. It might be the result of any number of things — the residue of teenage acne, a birth mark, a scar left by the removal of a mole. When he became aware of it, six years ago, when Hannah was living as a law student in a Williamsburg walk-up — for that is her correct name, Hannah — he’d felt a flash of love so pure he’d hoped the feeling would stay inside him forever.

“I won’t talk about your projects again,” she is saying, gazing at him. “Promise. I love you. I’ll make it up to you. I’ll find a way.”

“Or Fifi will.”

Hannah bounces on the bed, as if it were a trampoline, leaps to the floor, and strides effortlessly to the bathroom. “Oh,” she says, lifting her slip as she sits on the toilet. “Know who I liked last night? Your friend Margo. She was like a normal person who doesn’t care about the business.”

“Margo’s good people. She’s a doctor.” Brendan waves at the manuscript on the dresser. “She just wrote a book about her year with a marine biologist. A memoir. She married him.”

“Small world,” says Hannah, returning from the bathroom, the sound of the flushing toilet fading behind her. “Is it good?”

“To be honest, it’s not that good a book but it might make a brilliant movie. The story it wants to be? I’d make that movie. They were sailing off Cape Breton when the guy had a heart attack.”

There’s a honeymoon you don’t forget. She have a publisher?”

“She’s shopping it. No one knows about it.”

Abruptly, Hannah turns to him. “So who was Errol’s date last night? What was she wearing? Some acrylic doily dress?”

“Now, now. No need to stoop—”

“She looked incredibly unsexy. Like something out of Dancing with the Stars Bulgaria. Someone should tell her that frost tips are over. She did look familiar, though. Didn’t she used to be your — what-do-you-call-it — wife?”

Ex-wife, Cookie. That was years ago.”

“And now you work with Errol. Anyone else find that weird?”

“Believe me —” he flips his hand carelessly — “I don’t think about it. Neither should you.”