Hollywood Lullaby

Mystery Novel

Monday, June 18, 2001

Chapter Two
--Daddy's Car

A red Corvette pulled up to the curb. The doorman of the Knickerbocker in his uniform and cap, after hesitation of a moment's admiration, stepped up to the car, and to pretty blue-eyed 17 year old Amanda, whose blonde hair was quite well-blown about her face and shoulders after the top-down drive from the West Hollywood Strip.

"Good Morning, ladies. Are you here for the hotel?"

Charlie nudged Amanda, and then sat forward a bit, the better to address the man. "Mona Jarrett, a lady staying here is expecting us. We are Ms Charlene Chance and Ms Amanda Lane, thank you."

A white-gloved hand came to the door handle and pressed the button. "If you'll leave the keys with me, I'll have the car parked for you." When the girls had both come out the passenger side to the walk, they followed the doorman's beckoning toward the foyer.

Amanda elbowed Charlie in the ribs. "How rooty-toot snooty can you get?"

Charlie gave her friend a look through half-closed lids. "Cool it, doll. Don't blow the scene."

"Aw, jeez."

"Just while we're on duty. I mean, just ask yourself, before you speak; okay, would Sam Spade say anything like this?"

"Probably not 'rooty-toot'."

"He'd stick with 'snooty'."


They paused before the doorman who stood near the inner entrance with a telephone to his ear. "Yes, Miss Jarrett. Rudy, here. Oh, I'm fine, couldn't be better. There are two young ladies to see you; one Charlene Chance and one Amanda Lane?" He listened, and then: "Very well. Thank you." He hung up and turning to them said, "It's room 707. The elevator is to your right in the center of the lobby." He motioned for them to enter.

Coming off the elevator on the seventh floor, and starting down the corridor, Charlie stopped her friend. "Keep one thing in mind, Amanda."

"Yeah sure. Like, what?"

"Mona Jarrett won't look anything like she used to, so don't act, like, too surprised or shocked or anything when you see how old and dried up she is."

Amanda started walking. "Uh, like, okay, I guess I have enough sense to know that, Charlie."

Charlie caught up. "I'm just trying to make sure, is all. These washed up old movie queens can be pretty vain about stuff like that, you know."

"Shh!" Amanda caught her by the arm and raised a finger. "Isn't this her door?"

Charlie reached up to touch the number. "Seven-oh-seven." She shot her friend a glance. "Looks like the place all right."

"Well, look at it through a magnifying glass why don't you?"

Charlie gave Amanda a little bump with her hip as she raised a hand and knocked.

A voice, surprisingly audible came through the thick wood. "It's open! Come in!" Charlie shrugged, tried the knob and when it opened, she let Amanda go in before, shutting the door behind. A short corridor led to a surprisingly large, high ceilinged sitting room, not overly crowded, and tastefully--if not decadently--decorated with Art Deco era furnishings. Mona Jarrett was just setting a silent movie director's conical megaphone down on an end table next an expensive looking hand-painted vase with peacock feather bouquet. The wall above her was a gallery of framed, glass paned posters from, as it might appear, every movie Mona Jarrett had ever starred in as leading lady. There were romantic poses of Mona and Alan Ladd, Mona and Glenn Ford, Mona and Gable, Mona and Cary Grant.

"Wow," said Amanda.

"Is that all you can say?" The aging star smirked, almost prettily, in a vague, long-faded sort of way as she held one hand aloft with her cigarette smoking in a long black holder. The girls slowly approached as the woman in a fine black chemise dressing gown beckoned from where she leaned against an arm-rest, semi-reclining on a broadly checked black and white divan that Charlie found herself thinking was strictly from the set of *The Fountainhead*. Mona Jarrett had maintained her svelte figure, and as a person in her mid-seventies, she was bearing her years with grace and a vintage form of charm that well befit her.

"You're looking well, Ms. Jarrett," offered Charlie.

"Aw, don't give me any of that 'Ms' business, kiddo. 'Miss Jarrett' is just swell with me; an old vamp of my age does not revamp herself just to suit you saucy young broads in these fancy whims of yours!" She cracked a smile in enjoyment of their dismay, as she waved the smoking holder toward a set of blowing guaze curtains over French windows, beneath which lay a scattering of fringed satin floor cushions. "Take one of those, each, and have a seat here where I can keep an eye you."

Sorry for the Inconvience! This area of the novella is closed for remodelling. Please don't mind the dust, the jack-hammers and rubble. We dearly hope to have things restored to a more pleasant condition very soon. Thank You!

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