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Posted on June 12, 2012 by Hobart Fowlkes

Francesca bolts out of her loft on Broadway near Union Square.  Dizzy from a month of dieting on nothing but wheatgrass shots and Cinnamon Lifesavers. Everything goes black for about 2 seconds as the blood rushes out of her brain as she swerves to miss colliding with the giant inflatable rat that the Custodial Services Employees Union had erected in front of her building sometime in the still of the night.  They’re pissed because the building hired some non-union peeps to do something.  Whatever.  She’s late.  It’s the casting at FORD for which she has been waiting an entire month.  She just finished a spread for Vogue, and there was the Victoria’s Secret Catalogue, but fashion week is coming and she needs runway work.  How could she be so late? She shouldn’t have stayed out so late the night before at  Les Bains at The Standard, but the puffiness under her eyes is nothing a little hemorrhoid cream can’t fix.

“Hello Moto!!” blasts from her bag.  It’s her phone.  She has to remember to change that jarring ring tone.  It makes her jump about three feet in the air anytime someone calls her.

“Hello this is Francesca.” She answers in her most businesslike accent-less voice.  Months of diction lessons had paid off, and Francesca had managed to lose her Appalachian twang in very little time at all.  It resurfaced only occasionally, like when she lost her cool and freaked out, or if she was a little tipsy and flirting with a guy, or whenever she spoke with any of her relatives.  Anyway, she wasn’t drinking this month. Too many calories.  How on Earth does that Kate Moss do it??  I guess its all the coke.

“Peggy Sue?  Is that you?” inquired the voice on the other end.

“Hi Momma, yeah its me. I’m late for an appointment, can I call you later?”

“It’ll only take a second, Peggy Sue.”

 “Momma, I wish you’d call me Francesca.” She says remembering her composure. When she spoke to her mother, she often reverted back to her old self.  She’d had to reprimand her mother on several occasions. “You sound all fancy-like,” her momma would say, “Jess like one o’ them ladies on FOX News.  I hardly recognize you when I talk to you anymore Peggy S…I mean Francesca.” She said carefully knowing how moody Peggy Sue/Francesca had been lately.  She was now depending on Francesca for financial support since she’d gone off and made it big in New York City.

 “Um, Francesca Hunny, the roof in the back part of the trailer is leaking again after all that rain we been havin’, and I don’t know what is going on in our septic tank, but it seems like every morning when I get up to go, there’s a lil’ ole black snake coiled up right there in the bowl.  I guess he likes the coolness of the porcelain.  Don’t bother me none, he gits kinda skeered and jess pulls himself back down the pipes, but darlin’ don’t you think that somethin’ must not be working real good if snakes be comin’ up outa there?”

“Yeah Maw, that’s pretty weird.  Listen, I’ll call you as soon as I can, but I’ll send you a check as soon as I’m done with my casting.  How much do you think you need?”

“Well, the tar paperin’ man said it would cost about $1000 to redo the entire roof of the trailer, and I figger it should be about another $1000 to get Ray (you know, Earlene’s son.  He’s in the septic business now) to git down in there and see what’s going on with them snakes.”

 “I’ll send you a check for $3000 just in case it’s a little more, OK, Momma?”

 “That’s mighty nice of ya, Peg-Francesca.  Oops I did it again.”

“Ain’t no matter Momma.  I’ll send you the check today, and Momma, if I get this job today, I think I might just be able to move you out of that trailer and see if we can’t buy us some land and put up a nice double-wide on it.  What do you think of that, Maw, wouldn’t that be nice?”

 “Well, Francesca, that sure would be mighty nice, but we do OK just like we is.  No need to cause you too much trouble.  We sure would like to see you sometime if you ever wanna come home and see us here in West Virginia.  You know Ray’s got a pretty successful septic business, and he asks about you a lot.  I think he saw you on that Tyra Banks model show.  Been talking about you ever since.”

“Momma, I’ll come see you just as soon as I have a couple of free days, but I’m crazy busy up here.  I promise.  Keep your eye out for that check, Momma, and wish me luck at this casting.”  She said, slowly transitioning back into her Francesca voice.  While having conversations with her momma, Francesca and Peggy Sue would constantly morph into and out of each other, which a diet of wheatgrass and Lifesavers made Francesca feel even dizzier, and like she might be turning mildly schizophrenic. 

“OK, Darlin’, I sure do love you.  Take care of yourself up there and don’t let no one try to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.”

“Alright Momma, I sure won’t, and I sure do love you back.  I’ll try to come see you as soon as Fashion Week is over, K, Momma?”

 “OK, Hunny, bye bye.”

 “Bye Bye.”

Francesca was now half a block from the FORD Modeling Agency.  “SHIT,” she thought, “I forgot to pop my pre-casting Klonopins!” She rummaged through her purse, shaking it simultaneously.  She could hear the rattling of the prescription pill bottle.  Ah, there they are.  She popped two of them little blue suckers in her mouth, no water.  She just waited for enough saliva to gather in her mouth so she could swallow them dry. It’ll only take about 20 minutes. I should start to feel the effects as soon as they’re ready for me. So on her tiny, little, skinny legs in her big, clunky boots, she whizzed round the corner and stomped into the lobby. Break a leg, Francesca. Not literally, dear.  That’s showbiz for “Good Luck.”