“She’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.” The voice on the phone trilled.
Vince Andrews knew a lot of shes, but this she he knew better than most.”Lucia, Lucia, Lucia,” he cooed into the phone.
Lucia shooed her overattentive intern Evie out of her office and closed the door.
“How was the tour?” Vince got up from his bed for the first time that day and looked at his reflection in the mirror. He needed a shave and clothing that didn’t feature the abstract designs of tomato sauce dancing with egg yolk stains. He inwardly groaned and the words you pathetic slob entered his head.
“The s–t that went down in Rio–,” Lucia began before Vince cut her off.
“Wait a second, I’m about to hear some out of control story and there’s no liquor in my hand. Where are you?” Vince asked, while scanning hisapartment for a bottle of scotch.
“In my office.” Lucia answered. The phone line hissed during their mutual pause.
“Temple,” they shouted simultaneously and then giggled like mischievious, naughty children.
A very presentable food stain free Vince walked into Temple Bar and spied Lucia’s curvaceous ass perched on a stoolat the end of the bar. He walked behind her and whispered into her velvety smooth neck ,”I want my money.” Lucia spun around and flashed her almond shaped eyes.
“Sorry, sugar, spent it all on gin. Mommy’s got to have her medicine.” They hugged.
“Page Six says that your boy Olu got arrested,” Vince announced as he settled on the stool besider her. He placed a twenty on the bar before lighting up a cigarette.
Lucia’s back went ramrod straight. “I don’t call him Olu,” she replied, smoothing her white linen skirt and demurely sipping a gin & tonic.
“Lucia, that’s what he calls himself.” Vince started to get antsy because the bartender was taking too long to take his drink order.
“You and I know that son of a bitch is Colin Powell’s nephew Chauncey. His name is not Olu Shakur and he’s not related to no goddamn Tupac.” Lucia’s black-brown eyes flashed angrily. The bartender appeared before Lucia could go on.
“Yes, I’ll have a Glenlivit on the rocks. And Luc, drink some more.” Vince rubbed the small of her back. Lucia followed instructions.
“Off the record, he didn’t get arrested.” Lucia raised her hand slightly and the bartender returned with Vince’s drink. Her cerise colored lips mouthed the word please and the bartender smiled knowingly. Vince took a long sip and breathed a deep sigh of satisfaction and relief. Why did I think I should stop drinking, he thought to himself.
“Then what the fuck happened?” Vince took another sip of his drink and got excited at the prospect of a second and a third.
Lucia sighed. She was risking her livelihood by telling Vince the truth. Vince, although she trusted him, could easily sell the story to any of the gossip columns or even write the story himself for Vain Magazine. Even worse, he could call up the jackals at UrbanExpose.com. The truth was she no longer cared.
“There was a fight backstage at the concert.”The bartender placed her drink in front of her and Lucia’s heart did a little flip.
“Page Six ain’t mention no fight.” Vince leaned in closer because how often does Vince Evans get to possibly scoop Page Six? Take that Richard Johnson.
“Vince, didn’t Charlie tell you not to believe anything in the Post? And how is your traitorous sister?” Lucia spoke with a touch of irritation in her voice. Charlie, Vince’s younger sister, was scheduled to work in Rio until an unfortunate run in with New Orleans jambalaya.
“She didn’t know she was allergic to shellfish. It was an actual medical emergency,” Vince spoke with a patient and calming tone.
Lucia rolled her eyes at him. “All I know is I could have used her publicity loving butt with me. All you journalists types want to do is drink and have sex. There was no writing, no reporting. Every minute those overeducated weenies kept asking if I could get them a taxi girl. And that Annika girl is a little freak.” Lucia’s voice rose when she said little freak. The bar patrons turned around but Lucia ignored them.
Vince’s eyes lit up. “Annika, a freak?”
“Make that big freak. And I know.” She looked into Vince’s eyes and chuckled mirthlessly. Vince knew he was busted and burst out laughing.
“I missed you so much.” He gave her a chaste kiss on her cheek.
“Yeah, yeah. if you know all these writers, why didn’t you warn them about Annika? Or at least tell them about your adventures with her at the Berlin Film Festival?” Lucia glanced around the bar to ensure there were no faces that she recognized.
“I owe no one an explanation or a tutorial,” he said haughtily.
“Vince, she had sex with Olu, Miles, Gregory.” The list was longer but Lucia, in a brief moment of emotional self-preservation, decided to stop tracking when the former love of her life became ensnared in Annika’s so called honey pot. “That’s what the fight was about — Olu threatened to kick Miles’ butt. Actually, he said he was going to cut off Miles’s you know what and serve it up in some feiojada. He caught her leaving Miles’ room one morning.” Lucia shrugged.
“Did she sleep with corny Kyle, too?” Vince asked. Kyle was Vain‘s publisher who decided, at the last minute, that Vince wasn’t the appropriate writer to cover the first ever Rio & Soul show. Vince remembered his stomach burning with rage when Kyle’s assistant called him with the news.
“Of course she did. I hope Kyle’s wife doesn’t find out. Our lovely Annika can’t write a press release or make a pitch call but she sure gots what the boys want. But we knew that already. I think the only people who missed the Annika train were me and Melanie.”
“And what happens to Olu?” Vince pulled out another twenty.
“Chauncey caused such a fuss that the Brazilian promoters called the policia and told him you have to go. Not only from the show but from the country. I don’t know how he’s going to finish his story — he missed the show. So much for him being the hottest thing in music journalism.” Lucia and Vince toasted to Olu/Chauncey’s career stumble.
“Who’s Melanie?” Vince lit up another cigarette.
He stared at Lucia’s face — the Rio sun had left her with deep brown coloring. He wondered if she knew how beautiful she looked in that moment.
“Didn’t you meet Mel at the MTV party?” The bartender brought them another round of drinks.
“I wouldn’t ask if I did. You need to drink to stop asking stupid questions.”
Lucia snorted. “Melanie is this new writer at Billboard. She just moved here from Minneapolis.”
“I’ve never heard of her.” Vince wondered if Lucia knew he was lying..he knew exactly who Melanie Curtis was. She was the woman who stole the Billboard job away from him with her lousy writing and her big, bouncy gorgeous breasts.
“Well, she’s never heard of you either.” Lucia loved the cheap entertainment of seeing Vince’s barely concealed writer envy.
“I don’t believe it,” Vince said, a little too quickly.
“It’s true.” Lucia successfully stifled her laughter. “All the boys were trading their favorite Vince stories and she asked rather innocently who you were.”
“And what did you say?” Vince felt secure about his writing most of the time. But losing the Billboard job to Melanie (a friggin’ out of towner!), he was feeling that the game of loving and covering music with an all consuming passion was moving on without him. And if that was the case as he often thought in the hours between last call and sunrise, what would he do next? What could he do next?
“I told her you were the greatest writer that ever lived.” Lucia took a sip of her drink and smiled. Vince smiled sheepishly. “Anyway, I’m having a dinner party next week for Chauncey.” Lucia reapplied her lipstick.
“Isn’t he on your most hated ever list?”
“That paternalistic corporation that ensures that I’m clothed, housed and liquored up is making me do it. With a sushi and raw bar. And lots of peach sake. As an apology to that wimp getting kicked out of Rio.” Vince loved Lucia’s expense account as much as he loved Lucia.
“What time and where, baby, what time and where?”
They roared with laughter.
The night didn’t end as it could have at Temple Bar. There was a visit to the Craig David record release party
and several other random stops along the way. Vince’s ex-wife once told Vince and Lucia that when they went out together, she didn’t know whether to be happy or sad if Vince made it home the next day. They drank to her rare attempt at honesty. On this night, when they realized they couldn’t make it to their respective homes (Vince had fallen on the street), Vince had the brilliant idea to ring Charlie’s buzzer at three o’clock in the morning. “Who?” was her sleepy answer. Her boyfriend Tom shouted from the bedroom that she should ignore it.
“Cholly, Cholly it’s me. And Lushia.” Charlie was tempted to call the police as a joke to get him off her stoop. Tom, wearing only a robe, walked into the living room.
“Who is it?” Tom demanded.
“It’s Vince.” Her hand lingered on the intercom. She heard Lucia’s filtered voice say something about needing to pee.
“Don’t buzz them in. I have a big meeting tomorrow,” Tom whined.
“I have to. Go to bed. I’ll be in as soon as I set them up.” She pushed the door buzzer and opened the door. This only made Tom angrier. His cheeks started to redden. Lucia didn’t even acknowledge them as she rushed to the bathroom. Vomiting noises could be heard.
“Lucia, we are not cleaning that up,” Tom shouted.
“I ain’t either. Tommy Boy, what’s up?” Vince said before leaning against a wall and sliding to the floor. Charlie closed the apartment door, grabbed some pillows and blankets from a closet and threw it her brother’s head. Charlie pulled a still angry Tom back into their bedroom. A dishelved Lucia crawled from the bathroom to Vince’s side.
He was on the verge of slipping from a state of temporary drunken alertness to full on pass out mode. She nudged him until his eyes opened. “What?” he said, clearly annoyed at Lucia’s poor timing.
“Your sister’s boyfriend has a big penis for a white guy.” After that, Lucia and Vince curled up and went to sleep.