The Kathy Winters Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

It's not quite right to say it's never too late.

 

Kathy Winters watched the grey smoke flash past the carriage window as the express thundered its way to Crags Norton. As she watched the smoke and the green fields beyond she remembered leaving 36 years before.

 

“You don’t look too happy to be back?” a gruff American voice said. It came from a large red-faced man wearing a double-breasted jacket and wide black and white tie sitting opposite. Jerome Miller had been Kathy’s manager and 5th divorced husband since she first set foot in Hollywood all those years ago.

 

“Oh I’m happy enough Joe. The views are beginning to bring some memories back that’s all.”

 

The day she’d stood on Crags Norton station kissing Tom Newell goodbye her name was Mary Smithers. Not a name Hollywood thought would get her very far so it was quickly changed and she’d been Kathy Winters ever since. She’d remembered calling out as she leaned out of the carriage window, “I’ll write soon.” Through the tears welling in her eyes she could make out Tom mouthing, “Don’t forget then,” She could see him now, hand raised in goodbye as the train began to move. She swallowed hard as a painful lump rose in her throat. Poor Tom she murmured.

 

“What’s that,” Joe said. “You thinking about that ex-boyfriend again?”

 

“I can’t help it Joe, he was my first love and you know what they say about that.”

 

Joe growled and thrust the short fat cigar he was smoking into his mouth and rolled it around his lips.

 

“I was your godamn 5th love and that didn’t do me any godamn good did it?” he tried without success to emulate the thick smoke outside the window. “It must’ve been my godamn accent…”

 

“Joe. Do you have to keep saying that word every five seconds. Maybe I loved you but not your way with words, you ever thought about that, plus those stinking things you’re puffing away at too? Can’t you be quiet for a minute?”

 

Joe mumbled something incoherent and turned his head to look out the window.

 

**

 

Gliding along the small station platform like the entrance of Cleopatra, a part she lost to Elizabeth Taylor, Kathy smiled and waved. As all stars do she stopped when she saw the assembled press and the flash lights began to explode.

 

 

She responded with enthusiasm to the photographers shouts of ‘this way Kathy’ - ’tilt your head Kathy’. Joe caught her eye and coughed through his cigar, “Come on,” he said. Then waving a hand at the cameras he smiled allowing a gold tooth to glint in the flashlights.

 

“That’s all fellas.”

 

He guided Kathy to a waiting limousine, the crowd surged as she waved once more and disappeared inside. Within 15 minutes she was in the lift of the Crags Norton Grange Hotel on her way to the penthouse suite.

 

Joe left her to check out his room further down the corridor. Kathy poured herself a black coffee and sat back to plan her next move. She needed to find out if Tom was still around and if it would be OK for them to meet, depending of course on whether he was married or not, she wouldn’t want to compromise him. Remembering how he loved books and reading she thought the library would be a good start, perhaps somebody there would know him.

 

By now Joe would be snoring his way to another 15% of a blockbuster so she could get ready. She’d bought a blonde wig, glasses and cheek pieces to help change her appearance. Changing quickly was something she’d learnt over the years and was soon checking herself out. ‘Yes,’ she thought turning to look over her shoulder in the full-length mirror, ‘You’ll do, the trousers and flat shoes’ll make sure no one recognises me.’ She found the service lift without much trouble and descended to the ground floor. It was easy from there to find the back entrance and walk to the bus stop.

 

 

There was a new extension to the library which she didn’t think much of but the way in was still the same. It was empty apart from a young girl and a much more elderly lady stacking books that, Kathy decided, would be more likely to know about Tom. She smiled as best she could with her false cheeks.

 

“Hello,” she said.

 

The elderly lady looked up and said ‘hello’ in a hushed tone.

 

“I’m wondering if you can help me,” the lady nodded even though Kathy hadn’t asked anything yet. “Have you worked here long?”

 

In a whispering voice the lady said, “25 years and never missed a day.”

 

“I’m looking for a friend who would’ve been a regular here,” she paused, waiting to let the words sink in. “Tom Newell is his name, he loved books.”

 

The lady placed the edge of a hard back against her lips almost kissing it. She tapped the side of it. After a minute or two her face seemed to light up.

 

“You mean Jack Newell’s son, the one who joined the Army. Yes that’s who you mean.” This recollection seemed to open her memory’s floodgates.

 

 

“His wife’s name was Joan, killed in a car accident I seem to remember. They had a son too, he went away just after leaving school, and Tom didn’t like that. A long time they were married, must’ve been nigh on 30 years. He went to bits when she died, hit the bottle too much, got arrested a couple of times drunk and disorderly.”

 

“Where does he live?” Kathy blurted out as the lady took a breath. “I’d really like to see him.”

 

The old lady returned to sorting through her books, without looking at Kathy she said,

 

“That’ll be a bit difficult. They found him drunk and asleep again last week in the cinema where that local girl’s latest film was showing. Only this time he didn’t come out of it. I’m sorry but they’re burying him on Friday.”

 

 

 

 

 


Submitted: May 20, 2020

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