Allen surprises Lottie
The Volkswagen kept a steady pace with the flow of traffic. Lottie rarely had the opportunity to drive and wasn’t eager to get to Denny’s anytime soon. As far as she was concerned, her family were little more than acquaintances, except for Denny. She and Denny seemed to have a history of sorts, unlike with the rest. She really didn’t know them all that well. She was reminded of the time that Allen had dropped in unexpectedly at her and Sandy’s Greenwich apartment, which had been so odd to her.
When she went to her intercom to find out who was buzzing her apartment, she’d said, “Allen who?”
“Your brother, Allen,” he said with a note of impatience, as if taking umbrage that she hadn’t recognized his voice.
She turned, staring wide-eyed at Sandy. Sandy ran over and pushed the buzzer. “Come on up!”
“He doesn’t know about me,” Lottie said, walking in circles.
“He’s going to learn fast,” Sandy said.
“Please don’t say anything,” she said, rushing to grab a long-sleeve shirt, slipping it on over her head. “Let me tell him.”
Sandy rolled her eyes just as there was a knock at their door. Lottie whispered through clenched teeth: “I mean it, let me tell him.” She opened the door and, with forced exuberance, blurted, “Allen! What brings you here?”
Allen leaned over her and gave her a hasty hug. “Can’t your big brother drop in? Hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Oh, no. No. Sandy and I were just hanging out.”
Sandy reached over and shook his hand. “I’m Sandy,” she said.
Lottie watched as Allen gave Sandy the once over. No longer was she a dark-haired beauty with bright blue eyes. No, now Lottie could only see a hefty dyke and was sure her brother saw it, too
They all stood in an uncomfortable circle for a moment until Sandy said, “So, this is a surprise.”
“Yeah,” he said, “I’m actually in town for an interview.”
Sandy scowled. “What do you do?”
Allen raised an eyebrow, glancing over at Lottie. He forced a laugh and said, “I’m an actor. I’m sure Lottie told you all about Benny and Crow.”
Sandy looked at Lottie with a scowl. “Benny and—?”
Lottie jumped in and said, “Did you want to sit down?” She pointed to a small space off the entranceway with room enough for only a loveseat.
“Um, sure,” Allen said, walking in and sitting down on the edge.
“So,” Sandy said, “what’s Benny and…” She sat down next to him.
“Crow,” Lottie interjected, pulling a chair from the small table they used whenever they ate at home and sat down across from them. “Allen was the star of the show in the eighties. He was real famous.”
Sandy nodded. “Oh, I guess that was before my time. Would I know any of your recent stuff?”
“He’s a weatherman in Chicago now,” Lottie said. “He’s real good.”
“Uh,” Allen said, “no. I actually have my own talk show. In Chicago. But that may change. I just may be your neighbor.”
Lottie’s mouth dropped open. “Really?”
“We’ll see. Some producer asked me to audition for a talk show here. Being New York, how could I say no?”
Lottie and Sandy nodded, feigning interest.
“I would’ve called, but then thought I’d surprise you.”
Sandy raised her hands in mock surrender and said, “Surprise!”
“So, will you be going to Long Island?” Lottie said. “To see Mom?”
Allen hesitated, before saying, “Uh, can’t. My flight leaves right after the interview.”
Lottie looked down, playing with her pinky. She knew how disappointed her mother had been that Allen not once went to visit her since her prognosis. She said, “She’d really like to see you, Allen.”
“Yeah, well, that would be good, you know, but my schedule is just crazy.” He glanced around the apartment, and then added, “How is she, anyway?”
“She has her good days and not so good days. I get there when I can, but with my shop and everything, it’s hard to leave.”
“Shop?” Allen said.
“I own a costume shop a couple of blocks away.”
“Wow, I didn’t know that.” He looked over at Sandy. “Lottie was just a baby when I went off to college so there’s a big gap between us.”
“I can tell,” Sandy said.
“Oh!” Lottie said. “Can I get you something to drink? Some water? Coffee?”
“Brandy?” Sandy threw in.
“No, no,” Allen said. “Actually, I thought maybe I could take you to lunch.” He hesitated, then added, as if as an afterthought, “And, you, Sandy, you’re welcome to come along.”
Lottie tried to get Sandy to turn down the invitation by giving her a warning look, but instead, Sandy said, “Great! I’m famished. I know a cheeky little place just a few blocks over. Has the best vegi-burgers ‘round here.”
“Oh, sure,” he said.
Sandy jumped up and said, “Well, let’s go then.”
Allen looked at Sandy in her denim overalls and Lottie, who was dressed in her ripped jeans and oversized shirt. “I guess it’s casual dress.”
It was apparent Allen attempted to make small talk, but every time he asked Sandy where she was from or what she did for a living, Lottie would interrupt and try to bring the conversation back to his audition. She didn’t mention how she and Sandy had met or fell in love.
After lunch, Allen kissed Lottie on the cheek and shook Sandy’s hand and then grabbed a cab. The minute he was out of sight, Sandy said, “I’ll pack my things and move out.”
“If you’re so embarrassed by me,” she said, rushing down the street with a determined stride, “then I shouldn’t be around you.”
“Sandy!” Lottie ran after her. “I’m sorry. I love you, I really do.”
“You have a funny way of showing it.”
By the time they reached the apartment, Lottie was sputtering with tears rolling down her face, begging Sandy to stay. “It’s just hard for me to tell my family. I don’t think they’d understand.”
Sandy pulled Lottie into a hug. “I love you, but I don’t think you know what that’s supposed to feel like.”
Lottie thought Sandy might have a point.
Sandy added, “Promise me that you’ll tell them soon.”
Lottie nodded. “Just as soon as I know my mom can handle it.” What she figured on was her mother dying and getting Lottie off the hook of having to tell her.
But then her mother fooled them all and outwitted cancer.
Chapter Three to be continued tomorrow…