To say that Catryn was a vain person would be to do her an injustice. But lets put it another way; Catryn took a very critical view of mirrors; they never seemed to do her justice. That was her position and she was sticking to it. To dissenters she said - Get a Life ! and dismissed them with that regal flourish of her slender waifish arms .
She had a portrait of herself hanging over the mantle piece at home . It didn’t look remotely like her. She had a prominent chin which was complimented by an equally prominent nose, which gave her a somewhat chilling appearance . She gave you the impression that the nose and chin would one day meet , for not alone were these prominences prominent she used these features in a manner which gave the expression ‘’ in your face an entirely new meaning. She gave the impression also that that jutting chin could be a formidable weapon in an argument , and like the puffer fish she thrust it forward whenever challenged ..
But the portrait depicted a more heavenly creation which was brought about at her continuous urgings of the artist who relented ; he smoothed the chin and rounded the nose ; He abandoned his subject completely and composed someone more regal, and vowed as he did so never to do another portrait for a beautician .. Never ever again.!!
Whoever it depicted in the end he didn’t really care . He didn’t sign his name to it. It was not going to be his major opus. He had to prize the money from the battleaxe , For all her outward appearance of affluence she was as tight as a crabs ass. . But she was happy with the creation finally when he had changed it so utterly that any depiction of Cartyn was morphed out of existence three layers of paint beneath the surface. But he got paid and scooted vowing like someone else never to return.
She was now idly looking out on the street as the rain streamed down the cobbled paths washing the dust and showing the sweeping the patterns of the streetscape . She had invented a name for her encounter yesterday ; the young man who bumped into her on the street , and who took an instant keen interest in her . Fernando - she thought , no.- too long .. Fred .. Not exotic enough.. Fredo ..aha ! She settled for Fredo… She envisaged Fredo waiting in rapt attention on her smallest whim.
Fredo sat in the corner looking lasciviously at her long elegant limbs ., the gentle sweep of her long back , and her glorious flowing locks tumbling on her shoulders . He was mesmerised by the reflection of the azure eyes. Her extraordinary classical high check bones and the long eyelashes. And all this for real!! Fredo could not believe he was even allowed to look at this adorable creature .
He was totally absorbed by her beauty . How come some film director hadn’t spotted her, or how come he didn’t’t see her on Vanity Fair..or Cosmopolitan , or any number of fashionista mags .
Her beauty rendered him bereft of reason and profoundly in love . He capitulated completely to this compelling angel combing her hair in front of the mirror.
Fredo - She looked sideways at him through hooded eye .
-what are you looking at ?
-Oh nothing .. Can I say something .
- What ?
-I want to say you… You you ...
- - Spit it out boy - have you a stutter -
- No .. its just .. You’r soooo ! amazing !!
- Yes . Well.. - she regarded him coyly
- Its scarcely a unique observation Fredo .. But perish the thought you take any liberties with me !
- Can I say some.. Some..
- Oh Say it !!
-Are you.. Well I mean .. like are you.. involved with anyone right now .. I mean romantically.
The chin jutted and the nose complimented it,. He effect was electric and for an instant
he stood there petrified .
- If you weren’t such an idiot I’d call that insolence . How dare you .!
But there was no vehemence in her tone . She just wanted to drop one of her quotable epithets
- I don’t know what difference it would make to you either way .. But yes . I am always involved. There are several wonderful men in my life. Professional men . A girl like me has to be particularly careful ..One has to be choose wisely. As for you Fredo , I forbid you to even fantasise about me . I utterly forbid it. Understand that . And done ever forget it . Understood ?
- Yes - I understand -said Fredo sheepishly , and with a resigned sigh as he fell back into a sulk continuing to adore her entire magnificence .
Later Fredo was opening her car door outside Nighthawks night club , when she specifically told him to keep the photographers away from her.
- And you let me down ..! Silly boy !!- she chided him
-You know how I loath those paparazzi - !! -she said and threw her mobile at him hitting him roundly on the snout. He considered the punishment quite bland under the circumstances .
The following day she went to the beach again . Her sunburn had lost its vivid flare to reveal a glowing even tan. So much was she pestered by those young boys , for that’s all they were , who were kicking the ball closer to her by the minute just to get one look at her up close that she had to abandon her sunbathing
She retired to the beach club bar when she spotted a photographer with a zoom lens shooting from the promenade .
- O God !! Is there no peace. - she threw he class of lager at the barman and shattered the mirror before she stormed off in a swirl of lather and foam , to the startled amazement of the perplexed customers.
She was thirty seven this year though she had the figure of an eighteen year old.. She’d had had quite a few relationships , only some of which went the distance as she liked to call it. They were all embarked on with keen discernment She had a razor sharp wit as was amply demonstrated by her put down of Fredo , and the barman .Many a pitiful admirer was brought to his knees by her knavish aside . Her comments were quotable. She often thought she resembled Bettie Davis in this manner.
She turned away from the window as the dreary rain poured down relentlessly. She had picked up a magazine on the metro and was flicking through its pages to see what was on where. Any amount of movies, but she wanted something with a little adventure, a little romance perhaps adventure .The opera Aieda was playing in The Azuro .. Extraordinary encounters happened at the opera . So many sophisticated wealthy men . She was thinking of the sumptuous scenes of the opera in Godfather Two and she started humming an idle air as she waltzed the tango about the confined apartment . Just then the door bell rang . It was the apartment bell-hop. .
- I am so terribly sorry to disturb you senora .. But I couldn’t’t resist.. Desist.. I mean stop myself ..
- what are you trying to say you blithering Portuguese idiot ?
- Excusee Senore .. But I could not stop myself .. I heard the beautiful singing and I was whisked away to a time I was a babe in my mother’s tender arms . She used to sing in the Opera you know.
- No.. How could I know .. .. Your mother must be at least 45 .. She would be 25 years my senior .. Anyway .. She sang in the opera did she .? Indeed .. Was she any good ?..
- Yes Senora senora she had many admirers but s …I am so sorry senora ..I just wanted to say how the sweet dulcet tones of your mellow voice whisked me back in time ..to when I was a mere babe ….
- Yes yes !!.. You said that.. In your mothers arms ..Tell me boy .. What part did your mother play .?
- Oh senora she was a great diva , much in demand from Milan to Barcelona ..
- Was she beautiful ?
- Ah yes senora .. But not as beautiful as you…
- I see .. I should report you to the management for impertinence .. But I’ll let you off .. You can bring me a caraffe of champagne instead…
- Oh it will be my great privilege senora.. Please spare me my insolence . I spoke beyond my station.. Quite beyond it…I was enraptured by….
She held up her hand to silence the pitiful miserable creature ..
- Go ! She said dismissively as if she were swatting a passing fly with that eleeeeegant hand which was turned slightly inward to render it all the slimmer ..
But now that the opera idea had taken hold , how could she manage it .She couldn’t’t go alone . Pity Fredo wasn’t a real. man .Opera material man . She went to the wardrobe and took out her little black number , and her fake pearls. Looking at her reflection she saw a Deborah Kerr , with Marylyn’s mouth , which she opened now in a gesture of simple sensuality , which even aroused herself.
Her friend’s brother was studying with the Irish Dominicans in Lisbon.. He could take her to the opera. Why not ?
- He’s a priest for Christ sake .. That’s why not ‘’- her friend hissed when she revealed her plan.
- Not yet he’s not !
- Don’t you get any ideas -said Chantelle ( that was her friends name - really it was Chrissie but for Continental Europe she choose Chantelle ) …. Oh hell with it what do I care .. Ring him .. Opera is up his alley .
The evening at the opera was arranged . She didn’t quite like the Music but the costumes were well daring, The Prima Donna was about 35. She had a good figure but an enormous chest , which all girls studying ballet seemed to develop. It seemed more muscular than alluring . She watched the gentlemen‘s reaction. But as she suspected thesee men of great cultivation betrayed no signs of the base instincts ..
At the intermission she asked her escort him to lindly chaperone her to the bar, arrange seating so she could take in the people in the private cubicles upstairs .
. She spots a suave gentleman in evening dress at the other end of the counter . Breeding and wealth written all over him. She smiled when she got his attention. The waiter arrives with two flutes of champagne and a bottle of Dom Perion in an iced casket .
- It is from the gentleman - he begs you to accept on his behalf. The bartender says .
At length the gentleman comes over and introduces himself. He is a shipping magnate currently opening a new line from Lisbon to Morocco.. Diamond trade….
- Of business.. Of business he can only say it is boring . It is boring he would not inflict it on a lady of such refinement he says with a beguiling smile , and she knows he is smitten . He is staying in town for but three nights . Would they honour him by allowing him to offer them dinner . Then it transpires the chaperon is a clergyman..
- oh but you must come too !
-No I’m afraid the rector would find it impossible to allow it . We are usually only allowed out once a month .
-But she has a girlfriend , she protests coyly
-But she must come too- he says magnanimously.
She is picked up by chauffer the following night…
They dine . In addition to his shipping company he also has an interest in a film studio. Twentieth Century Fox .. Perhaps she’d heard of it.
- Oh.. Vaguely.. didn’t they film Cleopatra .. With whats her name .. that Taylor woman ..
Yes yes.. !! that’s it he said grandly - they were shooting a new picture in Monaco. They hadn’t decided on a leading lady.. Would she .. But no it would be too presumptuous….no no It would be preposterous… he fumbled awkwardly .
- What had you in mind ?- she flashes those keen intelligent eyes at him.
- Would she ..? Could she ..? He knew she would be just divine ..
- For what you silly little man ? - she chided him , her pulse quickening..- feeling an aphorism coming on .. What would Betty say..?
- Get real kid ! - This where the pedal hit’s the metal?
- More or less.. Could he be so bold -Would she consider doing a screen test for the leading lady’s part.. It was those Deborah Kerr eyes and the sensual mouth.. So like Marylyn’s .. It was uncanny….
It was just then that she woke up with a violent start as he doorbell rang. Her friend was outside in a panic., screaming
I‘m robbed !!!… Ive been pick pocketed .!!..Get the police !!! She burst into the apartment in a great fluster.
Suddenly Cartyn felt weak Betrayed utterly by the dream. The harsh reality thrust itself upon her with a vengeance .the cruel truth that there was no debonair gentleman, no flutes of champagne .. No sumptuous operatic scenes She wasn’t going to play the leading lady.!! How cruel a sudden dream could be . How wretched she felt . .She was numb.She looked at her little black number in the wardrobe - It seemed to be mocking her .
Her friend was in a state.She was dialling a number .. Polica .!!. Yes Nunber 27 Rue de Alberto .d‘ Azul Ojo . Aparmento quatorse .Quinte .!!.- Come quickly I can still see him from here !!
She was at the window looking out an the rain drenched streets ..
-Look at him…!!See him there .!!. Behind that van…I knew the minute he approached me.. The little pimp…!! keep your eyes on him.. !!! Oh Fuck fuck fuck!!!
To her horror Catryn spotted the lithe figure darting between the traffic.. It was Fredo..!!
Her friend was wailing on .But Catryn was in another realm . She felt as if she were free falling through the clouds .
- He managed to distract me for just a moment and I knew my purse was gone ..!! The bastard !!..
-How ..?- How did you know he’s a pickpocket -Catryn asked in a distracted , remote little voice.
-His picture is all over the metro you fool .!! Everywhere .! Don’t . you notice anything ..He’s the most notorious pickpocket in Lisbon.. !!
Catryn , as if in a trance went to the dressing table and took out her wallet . € 1000 in cash , her passport , driving licence , and all her credit cards - all gone !
She fell to her knees and wept bitterly, then threw herself on the bed in a torrent with a pitiful capitulation to the mercilessness and callous dream..