CHAPTER ELEVEN

 

 

4.00pm, Friday, 3 February, the makeover and more

Wearing a glowing-white, starched shirt, top three buttons open, a blue-patterned silk tucked-in scarf, sharply-creased, slim-fitted black dress pants, perhaps a half-size too tight for his soft body, tanned and relaxed, Roberto waited in the open doorway on the second-floor landing, talking as Dee and Lt. Sam started slowly up the stairs. “Hello, Lt. Sam, and my dear Dee. Please forgive the sidewalk mess. It’s a good time to be on the second floor.”

“Meaning?” Lt. Sam, halfway up.

“You haven’t heard? The Newbury Street window-breaking? Started right after Christmas. Six last week, and, so far, four this week – causing havoc on the Street. Taking a lot of cops from their other duties to stop the bums.”

By the time she reached the landing, Dee’s legs felt like overcooked linguini. Unable to stop her forward motion, she tripped over Roberto’s foot, tripped across the threshold and into the salon, her grabbing the reception counter the outside force that righted her stumble and prevented a crash into the floor-to-ceiling mirror facing the entry.

Embarrassed by her graceless entry, Dee exclaimed, “Wow! The shop sparkles. Look at the floor,” Dee spotlighting the high-gloss finish. All six well-dressed adult clients filling the salon seats checked out the floor, nodding.

“Black Italian tiles,” Roberto, his arm sweeping the room. “I got everything you see from Milan: the chrome-trimmed mirrors, the stylists’ chairs, even the uniforms and towels. Who can argue with the Milanese?” Roberto, shorter than Dee by several inches, feeling full six-feet tall.

“The whole shop sparkles,” Dee repeating.

“As you will, my dear, when we finish with you.”

“Roberto, I’m Dee. Lt. Sam has told me so much about you. Thank you so much for taking me at such short notice.”

He took her shoulders and kissed both cheeks saying, “Such a pleasure, my pretty one.” He offered his arm and walked her to his chair, “Let’s see what we see,” saying.

Lt. Sam remained at the reception area, turning when someone tapped on the glass entry: Sgt. Jesse, refusing his signal to enter the salon, in turn, she waving to him from the landing. He opened the door and took the coffee cup carrier from Sgt. Jesse, she taking her cup, leaving to do some window shopping. Lt. Sam walked to Roberto’s chair and offered the tray, Dee taking her cup, nodding, “Thanks.”

The receptionist walked over and asked Lt. Sam if they’d like their coffees poured into china cups, “A little more elegant?”

Lt. Sam, seeing Dee’s inconspicuous shake of the head, responded, “No, thanks. Neither of us.”

“For the next time, remember that we have a full coffee service, complimentary. And if you want…”

“If you want anything, you know you’re a friend of the salon.” Roberto turned away from the receptionist who withdrew without further comment, Lt. Sam close behind her. Roberto stared at Dee’s head and, his left hand supporting his right elbow, a pointed finger to his cheek. “What have you done to this gorgeous hair?” He reached out and took a small handful of strands between the fingers of both hands, rubbing them, permitting them to drop. “You’re not looking for a cut and style, my dear, you need a reclamation,” next asking how long it had been…

“Since my last confession?” Dee finishing the question, he laughing, she saying, “Two lifetimes ago.”

“Because, honestly, my dear, we do have a mess on our hands. Come over to the wash station so we can get started,” delicately taking the breadstick-arm attached to Dee’s shoulder, helping her out of his chair to the wash station, waving away his head-washer. After he covered Dee’s clothes and rinsed her head, he rubbed in the shampoo, his strong fingers eliciting a groan of pleasure from Dee. Roberto saying, “You will definitely be taking home a bottle of this shampoo. It loves your hair,” he washed her hair a second time, wrapped her head in a towel, and, again leading her by her elbow, returned her to the salon’s chair of honor.

Along the way, Dee, holding her coffee in her right hand, bent sideways, using her left hand to scoop up the current issue of Seventeen. The surreptitious glances of the other patrons prompted Dee to glance at herself in a mirror. She grimaced and looked away.

Roberto helped her into the chair. “Do you have something specific in mind, or shall I just go in and tame the beast?” Her hesitation clueing him, he grazed her shoulder with his fingertips. “Let me handle it; we can always adjust on your next visit. Within the year, if you don’t mind.”

“Promise.”

The manicurist, stool in hand, appeared on her left, gingerly sliding the magazine from Dee, setting it down on a nearby coffee table before rolling a tray-on-wheels beside Dee, on the tray, a soak basin into which she placed Dee’s left hand. At the same time, the pedicurist placed her stool on the floor on Dee’s right before setting a basin at Dee’s feet. She sat on the stool and removed Dee’s sneakers and socks, setting Dee’s feet in the feel-good, warm, silky water. Roberto worked mostly at Dee’s back, weaving around the two nail trimmers as necessary. “Paraffin, girls,” the only words Roberto spoke to them; they in turn saying only, “Other hand” or “Other foot” as appropriate.

Dee closed her eyes, succumbing to Roberto’s stream of pontifications touching on beauty, glamour, fashion, boys, perfume, a dinner outfit and accessories, the weather, au courant social media, and new technological devices, he requiring only an occasional encouraging question or grunt from Dee to continue with his patter.

Through her beauty, Dee had a dark side: spontaneously, aggressively hostile, in which she reveled.

Through her beauty, Dee had a dark side: spontaneously, aggressively hostile, in which she reveled.

In thirty minutes, five minutes after the end of the pedicure, the manicurist returned Dee’s hands and magazine. Dee, admiring her fingers as a moment ago she had admired her toes, thanked the manicurist for her professional work, as a moment ago she had thanked the pedicurist for her professional work. She sat back into the chair and fought a tear of joy: reclamation going full bore.

Dee thumbed through the magazine, stopping at a questionnaire that rated sexual compatibility, asking Roberto: “What do you look for in a partner? Do you find yourself attracted to people as driven as you are?” and, “When was the last time you had your heart broken?” while he cut, shaped, clear-glossed, and blew-dry. Finding, after toting her answers, that her social life flat, testified to the accuracy of the questionnaire.

Roberto, “Alright, my dear, you may look.” She did. “You like?”

Dee grinned. “It’s beautiful – Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday.

Roberto speaking his words slowly, “Perhaps a little longer. And fuller. But, yes. Generally.”

“I totally love it,” hefting her hair with both hands saying, “Shiny and soft.”

“That’s the clear gloss.” Offering his hand, “Now let’s move to Olga’s station, so she can put some color on that stunning but anemic face of yours.”

Olga, a round, rosy Nord, gestured Dee to her chair, studying her face as she sat. Once Dee settled, Olga spoke through a strong Norwegian accent, “A natural beauty. How lovely.” When Dee settled in her chair, Olga took her chin between her thumb and forefinger, levering her head in every direction while examining Dee’s skin saying, “Roberto, no facial this time – she’s too dehydrated.”

Olga to Dee through the mirror, “For the young lady, no foundation. I’ll make a light application of bronze, with a touch of blush to bring life. For your eyes, we’ll do some liquid eyeliner, mascara, and a light shadow, pink and gold, I think. Maybe kick out a little bit of a cat’s eye, make your eyes pop. Finally, a thin layer of tinted lip gloss.”

“Olga, I’m totally intimidated. I’m putting my face in your hands.”

“Olga, it’s five-thirty. You have twenty-five minutes. This girl has got to be done at six.”

“Never. I need forty minutes to do this properly. To six-fifteen, not a moment sooner.”

Roberto ignored Olga. “I’m going to call Armani’s to confirm your meeting with their clothes stylist. I’ll tell them you’re running a tad late. I told them to pull some dresses, warmer tones; size four? I think so. And I told them you need a piece or two of jewelry. If they don’t have something appropriate, which they won’t, they’ll bring a jeweler in for a private showing.”

“They’ll do that?”

“For what you’re going to spend? They’ll pay for dinner.”

“Thank you, Roberto,” he looking to Lt. Sam who nodded satisfaction.

“I also called the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons and reserved a table for seven-thirty tonight. If you’re going to gain weight fast, you might as well do it eating the best. Plus, it’s nearby. And I called Clio’s for tomorrow’s dinner for four – you eat sushi?

“The four of us love it.”

“Your table’s set there, as well. It’s quite the experience. Not exclusively sushi – a mix.

Roberto taking a breath, Dee jumped in, “Thank you so much for all this, Roberto. But what’s the hurry? Why must I be done here by six? Jesse told me Armani’s open until eight. And, good idea, supper, but I’m not crazy about eating alone tonight in a formal dining room…” and then, turning pensive, she stopped talking and slowly stood up, looking for Lt. Sam. Olga stepped discreetly away from her work space.

“Sam, you haven’t mentioned it once, but shouldn’t we be checking in at Spaulding by now?” He stuttered. “Rascals! All of you! I was wondering where my parents were in all this.” She froze in position, her arms forming an inverted V, palms facing out, fingers wide apart. No one spoke.

Dee’s excitement abated and she sat back down looking around as though her parents might be hiding in the shop somewhere. She leaned forward and called out to Lt. Sam making himself small by the reception desk, “Okay, Sam. Where are they? When? When will they be here?”

“How’s now?” her mother rushing through the doorway toward Dee, she dropping her protective cape, jumping to her feet, the two of them hugging while Dee cried, “Ooohh!” before spinning out of her mother’s grasp and jumping into her father, he kissing her hard on the cheek, Dee turning to her mother again, crying, “Oh my goodness! Oh, my goodness!” They took each other’s hands and looked closely at each other. Dee saying through tears, “Mother, you look so beautiful!”

Dee looked up. “Excuse me, Roberto. May I introduce my parents, Michael and Lorraine Mirabile?”

Michael and Lorraine met in college when Lorraine participated in a retreat that Michael helped organize, a retreat in the form of a thirty-five-mile pilgrimage that started in Framingham, some miles outside of Boston, and ended in Spencer, Mass, at the St. Joseph’s Trappist Monastery. For the first of the two pilgrimage overnights, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Worcester provided the boys and girls with dormitories and fed the hundred and fifty participants both dinner and breakfast. During the lecture and discussion that followed dinner, Michael and Lorraine fortuitously sat side by side on the gymnasium floor; and stayed side by side ever since.

Friendship, loyalty, intellectual awareness, architecture, traditional values, and love drew them; as did physical attraction: Michael six-feet one, Mediterranean complexion and facial structure, and black wavy hair; Lorraine, size six, pale-complected with delicate features and auburn hair. Made for each other and knowing it.

In time, they also shared the two-sided honor of parenting. On the one-side, caregiving, although both quickly recognizing how little their daughter needed of the counseling, directing, and mentoring that normally accompany parent-child relationships. On the other, guardianship, they quick to realize Dee’s especial need of privacy and secrecy.

Roberto hugged each of her parents saying to Dee, “We’ve met of sorts, sharing several phone calls while we hatched our plot. Which worked perfectly if I may say so. Now, you, young lady, must return to your seat to free Olga for her next appointment.”

Dee pulled her parents to Olga’s station, sitting, squeezing Olga’s hand, “Very sorry, Olga. I’ll behave. I promise.”

“Family first, Miss Dee.” Olga adjusted the cape to protect Dee’s clothes and engrossed herself with Dee’s face. Two side chairs appeared and Michael and Lorraine sat.

Dee, “There’s so much to talk about.”

“Well, we drove here to hear every word of it. We have all night in front of us.”

Mother, “Your hair looks wonderful. A new you. He called you ‘Dee?’”

“Oh, that. We have a lot to talk about. You should also meet Lt. Sam. He and his partner, Sgt. Jesse, will be escorting me around for the next couple of days.” Lt. Sam walked over to shake hands, admitting a role in the surprise and so, like Roberto, having informal prior contact with Michael and Lorraine.

Roberto gingerly held up Dee’s purse saying softly, “Dee, sweetie, may I take your wristlet?”

“Yes. Whatever you think.”

Riveted by the challenge of repairing the facial ravage Dee suffered during her captivity, Olga disregarded the continuing popularity of her work area, hardly looking up when Roberto used his arm to sweep aside her arranged brushes and cosmetics so he could dump the contents of Dee’s little hand bag.

After returning the cell phone to her bag, Roberto, using only thumb and forefinger, picked up each of the several beauty aids that he found, raised it high and away from his body, and dropped it into Olga’s waste basket – not holding his nose – to the amusement of the Mirabiles. Consulting with Olga, he picked product from the salon shelves and brought the harvest over to Dee, holding up each item for admiration, telling her why it was so much better than what she had, and instructing her on its use: lip gloss, nail file, mirror, and a personalized palette of eye shadow, bronzer, and blush, all now integral to Dee’s purse.

Forty minutes later, her fastidiously-repaired face lovely even if sitting atop a stick-figure, Dee stood up and looked appreciatively at her reflection, lavishing thanks and praise on all who had a hand in her redo, eventually making her way to the receptionist-cashier, handing over her credit card, privately hoping she had funds to cover. Approved. She had been the only doubter. She signed the slip for six hundred and sixty dollars, including a twenty-five percent tip.

After a last round of goodbyes and Dee’s solemn promise to return soon, very soon, Lt. Sam led the group outside to the waiting police car, for reasons of security and temperature, eschewing the short walk to Armani’s. Only Dee noticed the guy, crew-cut blond, almost albino, dressed in a dark formal suit with a dark tie and shiny shoes, looking at her reflection off the window of Victoria’s Secret.