Debutante Ball

                  After the NY meeting

chapter 27

 “Miles, would it be violatin' some reg or other if I distributed

  some party invitations on my route?”

      “Am I invited ?”

      “Of course you're invited Miles. Could it be a party without 

  you?”

      “Alrighty then” . Miles snorted with joy. “No reg I'm aware of.

. Where's the party?”

       “I cut a deal with Morris to let me have the VFW for a couple

  hours on Mon night. Laterish, sorta after closing. Will you come?”

      “I'll check my docket. I don't remember any urgencies I could

  not reschedule.” Miles grinned so broadly his head might've

  cracked in two.

       “See you on the other side Miles.” was heard as Celia left the

  office with the last mail bag for Mr Stephens.

       Morris closed the VFW early on Monday or Tuesday, when he

  could. After hitting it hard on the weekend, dark Monday or

  Tuesday. provided a needed break for both Morris and the regular    

   clientele.

      The VFW which, Morris and everyone else referred to as 

  the VFW, not the bar or Morris's joint or anything like that,

  provided Morris a small apartment round back and upstairs where

  he might shower or possibly have some personal belongings. No

  one knew. He did not have kin or visitors or a phone other than the

  pay phone in the vestibule downstairs. 

      Rumor and then some was Morris did not sleep in his apartment.

  He vanished into the night with his duffel bag and slumbered an

  unknown distance remote from the VFW. Guess he didn't want to

  be caught off guard where someone might come looking for him. 

  If weather prevented this, he stayed in the VFW. Upright. Sleep

  was different for Morris. 

     Folks started to arrive bout 9 as per Celia's request. They parked

  mostly round back so cars would not be spotted from the road. All

  who were invited were in attendance. 

      Phil and Mike brought cheese and salami. Babby brought

  something she had invented which no one could quite figure out 

  but all agreed this was a new perfect food. Penny brought pretzels.

  Not perfect but salty and crunchy. Everyone was eating drinking

  and having a good ole' time.

     For Celia, the wonder of wonders was that no one realized why

  this group of people were assembled. No one even suspected.

  Amazing.

     There were for Celia 2 groups or sub-sets of people at the party;

         First there were those who Celia had definitively outted like

  the crew and Babby. 

        Then there were those who Celia knew sure to be hideouts but

  thus far remained enigmatic but sure as sure can be, not natural 

  products of this place. 

      Kinda' natural-ized if ya know what I mean. Morris and Miles

  and Jessie and Paula for example were members of the second

  group.

       With a fresh bevidge in hand, Celia took the stage on the little

  riser kinda thing with the banister. She looked at the assembled 

  group and they back at her. Her theater training taught her to gauge

  when all eyes and attention were on her and now, she gauged, it 

  was time to speak.

      “My friends, first can we thank Morris for allowing us the VFW

  for tonight's assembly? To you Morris”. Celia raised her glass as

  did all and all drank.

      “You know me all as Celia Stax the new mailman. Though this 

  is true in a sense, it's only half true. What's true is the job is my

  cover. Really. I'm a location scout for one of the big TV networks. 

  My mother who is an exec there, sent......forced me out here in

  preparation for a big fucked up TV show which will in its

  conclusion, destroy this town and the lives and traditions of the

  people who live here. I live here now and here, now, is where my

  loyalty hangs its hat.”

      On the one hand, folks getting their first breeze of this bulletin,

  after allowing it to be true, were, well, put out by this woman 

  come to say she was an agent of destruction to their home but had 

  a change of heart. I'd be pissed too. “How about you just stayed

  home and away and leave us alone.” On the other hand, everyone

  there, maybe except Morris, had a hankerin' for a little excitement.

  A little adventure. There was already a definite thing, a vibe, 

  a buzz in the room. The curtains of secrecy, that kept these

  disparate folks apart, though not drawn, were becoming somewhat,

  sheer.  

     “This is my confession. Ya heah!! I'm confessing to you. My

  precious neighbors and friends. In return, and as events demand,

  tonight we all confess. Tonight the veils come off.” Before the 

  veils, the smiles came off and the moment chilled.

      “Nothing leaves the VFW tonight. No one can know because 

  that is what we want.....need to avoid. Now, everyone here has a 

  story to tell. Let's get on with it. Who wants to go first  ahh, 

  second?”

      At the part of Babby's story about shooting her boyfriend, Mary

  inquired if she killed'em. “Nope, but the FBI did.” Mary received

  the answer with mixed enthusiasm. “Fuggin' Feds.”

     As the jacket revealed, Penny was Weather Underground. She

  was at the beach the day they busted the bomb factory. All her

  friends were killed. What she told Celia about being from the 

  South was true as well.

      Miles was a genius. Is a genius. Born into a very wealthy

  Connecticut polo & tennis crowd advertising dynasty he was in a

  sense banished for not looking like Tab Hunter. Miles was smarter

  than the whole bunch of'em and they knew it. They hated Miles 

  and he them so he just left.

      The night was rolling and sobriety was no where to be found. 

  Paula was a retired assassin. Really. Her last gig was wiping out 

  her boss and associates. Then she disappeared with her daughter

  who was now a junior in college in Mexico.

       Morris; Special Forces. Maybe the most  dangerous person the

  U.S. Military ever produced. Fearing he might lose it in dense

  population, they provided  him gainful retirement in Ardensville

  and crossed their fingers.

      Curtains drawn and veils lay scattered everywhere. Sunlight

  bathed all souls in the VFW that particular night.

     “Is that everyboby?” Celia asked now holding on to the banister

  more and a glass not at all.

      Even in this darkened room, Jessie had kept his absurd 

  sunglasses on. Slowly he rose. His shades could not conceal the

  tears that ran down his cheeks and into his beard. He assumed his

  place on the riser and there was a gravity about Jessie greater than 

  all those who preceded him. So much so, that all in the room rose,

  which was no small feat as all were thoroughly ossified. It was a

  couple of minutes of breathless anticipation of an unknown

  something.

      Jessie abruptly whipped of the shades.

                             “Well itsa one for the money !”

      Mary fainted straight away falling backwards into Phil's arms.

                                  “Two for the show”

      Celia dropped her coffee and she too fainted, into Miles' arms

   who could not support her so they both hit the deck.

       “Jessie, what'a'ya doin?” yelled Mike now on the floor with 

   Penny failing to revive her fanninig her with his hat.

                     “Three to git ready now go cat go.....”

        Clearly clearly, the VFW had become a wondrous place.

                   “Now dontcha   step on my blue suede shoes.....”

  "Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate — we cannot hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."