Chapter Eight: Dinner and a Movie
Gavin led Zorell back to his car where he did the gentlemanly thing and opened the car door for her. She entered the car and drank in the city air. It was early afternoon, and she was enjoying her first day in the city, even though the circumstances were not ideal.
“So where should we go now?” Gavin asked after he had entered the car.
“I thought we would go back to the hospital and check on Leland… and Shanee,” she said and sad look come to her face.
“That’s not a good idea,” Gaven said, and Zorell turned to him surprised. “Look, Zorell, I know Leland, and when he’s in this state it’s best to leave him alone. Plus, if Shanee is awake by now he’ll want some time alone with her.”
“Do you really think she’s going to wake up?” Zorell asked, looking out the window. “When I saw her, she was in bad shape.”
“All she needs is Lee,” he said and started up the car. She heard the noise of the engine. “You weren’t here when these two first fell in love. It was like no one else in the world existed. If anyone can bring Shanee back, it’s Leland.”
“I have no doubt of that,” she said and sat back in her seat. “So, let’s go somewhere fun.”
“Okay, since it’s early in the day we could go to the picture show,” he said and she seemed to like the idea. “Have you ever been?”
“A few times,” she said and thought back to these Saturday afternoons with her brother. “I used to go with my brothers when my father was away on business.”
“So, who’s you favorite?” he asked. “I like Lon Chaney.”
“So, do I,” she said as he drove the car down the street.
They had to stop when the traffic light changed. There was policeman directing the people on the sidewalk who wished to cross. She could see the theater from the traffic light. It was a Lon Chaney flick, because his name was written in big letters, even bigger than the title. It was the afternoon quarter show and she was excited to see her first movie in the city. After she started work, she figured she wouldn’t have much time for social engagements.
“So, when was the last time you been to the picture show?” Gavin asked and Zorell had to think for a moment.
“It’s been a while, last summer I think,” she said as he parked the car. “Father never approved of the flickers, so my brothers and I had to sneak off when he wasn’t around.”
“It sounds like you got yourself into a bit of trouble in that small town,” he said as he led her to the theater.
“Not really,” she said with a laugh. “There wasn’t much to do there, so we had to entertain ourselves. Tricking father was our favorite past time.”
He took her hand and led her up to the ticket booth. “I would like two tickets for Ace of Hearts,” Gavin said, taking a dollar out of his wallet. He handed the money to the woman in the booth. She was a pretty blond looking no more than eighteen. The girl smiled with a little high-pitched giggle. She was about to pass him his change when he winked at her. “Keep the change.”
This was one of the smaller theaters, but is still looked like a palace inside. The theater she and her brothers would go to back home was merely a converted barn and not much to look at. They had one simple piano player and basic refreshments served before and after the feature. It was twenty minutes before the film was to start, so they walked into the lounge for something to drink.
The lounge had red velvet tapestries adorning the walls with oriental designed wall paper. The carpet was plush and the color of red wine. There was an attendant behind a counter that looked like a bar.
“Some refreshments for the lady and myself,” he said taking out some more money. She hated that he insisted on paying for everything, only men who we officially courting a girl should do that, and they were not an item seeing they just met earlier that day.
“Very well, sir,” she said and took the money. “Would that be ginger ale, sir?”
“If that is what the lady wants,” Gavin said and turned towards Zorell.
“That would be fine,” she said, and the girl behind the bar poured two glasses.
“Thank you, Miss,” he said and picked up their drinks. He handed one to Zorell. She took a sip and was grateful there was no alcohol in it. She heard about places secretly spiking drinks when customers asked for it. They paid extra for the service, but when it came to spirits some people would do anything to get it.
“I think I’ll stop in the ladies’ room to freshen up,” she said and sat her drink down on the table.
“Don’t be too long,” he said, and she gave him a little wave as she walked off.
She entered the ladies’ room through a door which was made of carved wood. It was a carving of a mermaid with long flowing hair that was holding a jewel in her hand. For a small theater the place was well crafted in design. It seemed to her like a mini palace fit for royalty. When she walked in, she saw an ocean design throughout with blue-green wallpaper looking like a swirled marble design. There were three sinks made of metal but looked more like silver. Each sink had an oval mirror above it with carved silver seashells adorning the frames and on the other side were three stalls. It had a matching ocean design that complimented the wallpaper. The tiles on the floor were an aqua color that looked like it had water drops in it. The place was fancy, even the bathrooms.
She quickly used the facilities and washed her hands. She took a look at her herself and saw that her hair could use a touch up and her makeup could use a little refreshing.
She wasn’t alone long, when she saw two other women around her age walk in. They were conversing among themselves. “Did you see that honey that Gavin Lorio walked in with?” one of them said just as Zorell finished brushing her hair.
One of the women, she noticed, had jet black tresses that looked unnaturally straight with just a slight curl at the ends that rested perfectly on both her cheeks. She was tall and thin with a petite figure, which was seen as attractive. She looked like one of these clothing models in store advertisements she saw in papers and magazines.
“She was quite the number, but not the usual dame he usually gallivants around with,” her friend said, as one of them entered a free bathroom stall.
Zorell saw that she had red hair in a full wave bob. It was so tight that her ginger locks didn’t seem to move, and she wondered if it was a wig. She had two gold hairpieces that matched the gold necklace she was wearing and also wore a simple black dress with a white jacket with a fur collar. They looked to be well to do women, dressed fancy.
Zorell had realized that they were talking about her which made her uncomfortable. She didn’t like to be a focus of attention so she made herself as discrete as possible. She stayed by the exit door ready to leave after the other woman entered a stall, but their conversation caught her ear.
“She looks pure as the driven snow, a regular Virgin Mary,” the dark-haired girl said. She could hear the laughter from both women, so they were making fun of her.
“You’re telling me,” the red-head said after she had walked out of the stall. She was now at the mirror fixing her hair. “She won’t be so sweet and innocent for very long. Gavin’s quite the ladies’ man, and I should know.”
Zorell left the ladies’ room after that last word. She wondered what the girl meant, but she remembered something her father told her when she demanded to be allowed to court. He stated that men were only after one thing, and that was what was under a lady’s undergarments. She wondered if it was true. After all, Gavin was nice, just a bit of a flirt.
Zorell rejoined Gavin back in the lounge. They had less than ten minutes before the movie started and he looked relieved when she finally came out. It was worth the wait because she looked better coming out than going in. Ladies did spend a lot of time fixing themselves up, but the result was worth the wait. If it was one thing Gavin Lorio loved, it was young beautiful ladies.
“Are you ready?” he asked, and she nodded without saying anything. She couldn’t get out of her mind what those two women were talking about in the ladies’ room. She didn’t know if it was true or not, but she decided she was going to put it out of her mine…for now.
When they entered the theater, they were greeted by an usher. “Good afternoon, Madam, Monsieur, come this way,” the tall usher with slicked back black hair said. He was wearing a tuxedo and led Gavin and Zorell to the fifth row up towards the front.
They sat down in their seats and waited for the movie to start. The theater was only half full. It usually happened that way in day shows. The evening shows usually saw a packed house. It was exciting for her to see a movie in a classy theater like this, instead of Maggie and Earl Camper’s converted barn.
Living in the city would open up a lot of opportunities for her, not just having a job she loved, but she had the chance to become more cultured and attending events and parties, all the things that her father would never allow. She promised herself that she was going to be independent and do all the things that she always wanted to do.
As the lights turned down, she was even more excited. The screen was the biggest that she had ever seen. She realized just how big when the screen filled up and the title of the movie was written across it. Her eyes were glued to the screen while Gavin’s eyes were fixated on her.
Soon after the movie started Zorell felt something touch her hand. At first it surprised her, but she looked down to see Gavin’s hand on top of hers. His eyes had turned to the screen, and wondered if he had done it accidentally. She thought of pulling her hand away, but his hand felt so nice on hers that she just sat back and enjoyed it. The slightly drafty theater seemed warmer with her sitting next to Gavin. She kept her eyes on the screen even when he put his arm around her shoulders. She knew she should have stopped him, but she was too nervous to do anything.
She had never been out with a fellow before, and she wasn’t sure how to behave. She just let her instincts take over and sat close to him. He was wearing nice cologne. It was making her head spin, and she felt she was going to lose control of herself at any moment. She was even afraid to look him in the face, because she felt that he was staring at her again. She felt as if everyone in the theater was watching them and it sent chills down her back.
She was so flustered that she almost missed the end of the film. She would have to come and see this one again, without the aid of gentleman companionship. That way, she would actually get to watch the movie. The lights brightened again while the audience was clapping. It brought Zorell back to earth, and she clapped too. It gave her an excuse to take back her hand.
She stood up and looked around and then back at Gavin. He was handsome, and she could see why those girls were talking about him. She believed that she would have to be more careful around him. A girl could lose her wits being around a fellow like him.
“It’s almost dinner time,” Gavin said, after they had returned to the lounge. Zorell thought his statement, and she realized that she wasn’t that hungry. She felt she had spent enough time with him today. She wasn’t sure if it was just her shyness around men, or if she genuinely liked him.
“I’m not really hungry, and I am a little tired,” she said and he looked disappointed. “I have work early in the morning, and besides I want to check on Leland. Visiting hours is about to end, so he’ll probably be returning to the apartment, and…”
“I’ll take you home,” he said, and she felt a little foolish for babbling on like she did.
“Okay,” she said and he took her hand and led her out of the theater. He led her back to where the car was parked. He opened the passenger’s side door for her allowing her to enter. She was still a little flustered and remained quiet even after she sat down in her seat. “Did you have a good time?” as he was starting up the car.
“Yes, it was a really good movie, it’s just…” She abruptly stopped speaking not knowing what to say.
He looked over at her confused. She didn’t want to encourage him too much, but at the same time she didn’t want him to think she wasn’t interested. She could have used Eloise’s advice right now. It was true, she was a younger woman, but she had more experience courting than Zorell did. Eloise kept company with several boys before deciding on her brother Devlin. She did admit to her that she only went around with those boys to make him jealous, and it seemed to work because he eventually plucked up the courage to call on her. Now they were happily married. Zorell was not on the search for a husband but having a nice young man to socialize with would be nice.
“It’s me, isn’t it?” he asked and looked disappointed.
“Oh, no,” she said and was trying to find the right words. “I’ve just never really courted or anything.” He looked surprised that a young woman her age had never had a beau. “My father was really strict, and he never allowed that sort of thing.”
“Oh, so, it isn’t me at all,” he said, and she looked over at him forcing a smile, while he looked hopeful.
“You’re really nice,” she said and it seemed to perk him up. “I can see why you’re friends with Leland.”
“He’s a good sort of fellow,” he said, and he looked away from her. She felt he was acting as if he was jealous.
She was quiet through the rest of the car ride back to Leland’s place. She wondered if she made a mistake in mentioning him. Instead of talking, she hummed one of her favorite tunes. The song was Everyone Loves My Baby, and before she knew it, he was singing the words to the song while she kept on humming. She would have stopped, but his voice sounded so good she wanted to hear the rest the song.
Once they finished, she gave a small laugh, having enjoyed the little impromptu number immensely. “You have a nice voice,” she said shyly. He looked away, for the first time becoming bashful himself.
“So, do you,” he said as he parked the car in the lot behind the building. He helped her out of the car and that confident smile came back to his face. “I would perform with you any time.”
His words made her blush. She never thought she was very good when it came to playing music, but it was something she loved. Hearing Gavin praise her for her talent made her blush.
He walked her into the apartment building and took the elevator which Zorell hated, but somehow, she wasn’t so scared riding it with Gavin next to her. Once they exited, he walked her to Leland’s apartment door. Her nervousness once again returned. “Can I see you inside?”
“That’s not a good idea,” she said with her hands behind her back.
She had her hand on the doorknob and held onto it tight. Leland had given her the spare key earlier, and she was exhausted. She had to start work in the morning, but there was another reason she didn’t want to let him in. She remembered what those girls said in the ladies’ washroom. She had never been with a man, and if she gave him any encouragement, she wouldn’t know if she could go through with it so letting him in was not an option.
“Why not?” he asked and moved closer to her. She was leaning up against the door, and there was no escape from him.
“Look, Gavin, we only met this morning,” she said, her face going pale and her knees shaking. “I just don’t think…”
“I understand,” he said and backed away. She hoped he couldn’t tell that her knees grew weak like that were full of water. In another few seconds, he would have had to catch her from falling. “I hope I can see you again.”
“That would be nice,” she said, but she looked away.
She was trying to turn around to unlock the door but he had captured her hand. Before she realized it, he had placed a tender kiss on it. His gesture was quick but a sweet one that left her speechless.
“Until we meet again,” he said and slowly walked away from her.
She watched him until she reached the elevator and disappeared inside of it. She almost hated to see him go, but her head was spinning so bad that she needed to get a hold of herself. She was determined she was not going to fall for him. She wasn’t going to fall for any man, even one that handsome and charming.