Patty’s Angels–Prologue

Prologue

 

 

Los Angeles, 1960

 

It wasn’t the sound of the trucks grinding past her apartment window that roused her. Nor the flickering light from the Jewish deli across the street. Her senses were inured to those constants buzzing around her foggy head resting on the pillow. It was the smell of…could it be… was she dreaming? Gingerbread? And what was that voice?

A child’s greeting echoed in the hall. Knock, knock, knock. “Mewwy Chwistmas.”

Geraldine Blodgett (screen name Anna Stevens) tossed off the covers, swung her feet across the mattress and struggled to sit up. She felt sticky and icky; a bad taste lingered in her mouth. She was thirsty as hell. The silk nightie slithered across her body, then settled in place. An empty whiskey bottle on the small table was at once a source of shame and her best friend. One more empty bottle. If all her empties were piled on top of each other, would they reach to heaven? A lush’s Jacob’s ladder.

The knocking grew louder, a little girl chimed, “Mewwy Chwistmas.”

Geri thought she might be going ‘round the bend. Yet, the spicy, sweet scent lingered and footsteps approached. And, sure enough, some shoes appeared behind the threshold, visible through the crack under the door.

Knock, knock, knock. “Mewwy Chwistmas.”

Whispers. A card slid under the door.

Geri took halting steps toward the bright red envelope, almost a blinding contrast against the grimy carpet. She pushed her wavy, platinum hair out of her eyes as she bent to pick it up. And, oh the yummy, sugary aroma drew her hand to the knob.

Geri dwelled in the shadows, accustomed to the semi-dark, the colorless walls, a noir existence. She lived in that stark world. She’d long ago given up thinking she could find a Technicolor life. She might have simply thrown the envelope in the trash, but her mouth yearned for the sweet bite promised just outside the door. So, she opened it.

A woman and child had moved on to Auntie Z’s apartment a few feet down the hallway.

Knock, knock, knock. “Mewwy Chwistmas.”

The woman placed a Christmas bag down as she pushed another red envelope under Auntie Z’s door.

The little girl turned and smiled. Geri grabbed the doorjamb to keep from falling at the sight. The child’s blond hair fluffed around her small head like a halo. Her pinafore dress reminded Geri of the dolls in toy store windows. Light seemed to shine from the small body, like Barbara Stanwyck’s sparkly dress in Ball of Fire.

The girl waved, repeating, “Mewwy Chwistmas!”

The mother stood up, turned around and smiled also. Geri shook her head at the sight of this Lee Remick wannabe, dressed in a full skirt, wearing gloves, toting Christmas bags and towing the angelic daughter beside her. What was she thinking coming to a stink hole like this? What a do-gooding idiot. Geri looked down at the tempting bag at her feet. Well, she wasn’t one to turn down free food. She pounced on it.

The woman took a tentative step toward her. “Hello, I’m…”

Geri clutched the bag to her bosom and slammed the door.

She leaned against the dingy wood, reached into the bag, and sank her teeth into the perfect mini loaf of gingerbread. Mmm. Lee sure could bake.

Who were these people? Geri picked up the envelope and opened the holiday card.

Merry Christmas from All Saint’s United Brethren Church. Crayon stars and a childishly scribbled name—Patty–embellished the inside.

Her name was Patty.

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