Selena and Janet were tidying their house up for their daughter-in-law’s birthday dinner. It was just going to be the family – David, his wife Tracy and their seven-year-old daughter Lisa – so they didn’t need to do any major cleaning. They lived in a comfortable 3-bedroom, two bathroom house in a decent neighborhood. David’s old bedroom had become Lisa’s room for the times she stayed over – which was often. The kitchen was small but efficient. The living room was barely used. Everyone liked to hang out in the family room. One of the things Selena and Janet loved to do was entertain friends and family.
“Did you ask Tracy to invite her father and his wife?” Janet asked Selena as they walked into the kitchen.
“Of course.” Selena said as she started writing a shopping list. “Tracy said she didn’t want to invite them.”
“I wonder why. Every time we invite them, the kids give us some excuse.” Janet and Selena always referred to David and Tracy as ‘the kids’. Janet walked over to Selena who was checking the wine situation in the cabinet.
Selena added two bottels of Chardoney to the list. “You know what? I was wondering the same thing. I’m going to ask them tonight.”
“Okay, but don’t force the issue. They must have their reasons. Is that a shopping list for me?”
Selena handed Janet the list. “Of course. You love to go shopping. Just don’t bring back more than is on the list. Try to control yourself on the desserts.”
“When are the kids coming over?” Janet asked.
“They’re coming over soon. They should be here by the time you get back from the store.”
Selena had barely finished setting out the lemonade, chips and dip in the family room when David arrived with his family. She was so proud of him. It seemed like just yesterday when she and Janet had decided to have a baby together. They decided to go the sperm bank route with Selena carrying the baby. They picked a donor that had many of Janet’s traits. David turned out to be a good mix of the two of them.
Tracy and Lisa followed David into the house. “Happy birthday, sweetheart.” Selena gave Tracy a big hug and kiss. Lisa gave Selena a quick hug, went to her room, and turned on the TV. The adults settled in the family room.
After some discussion about the bathroom remodel that David and Tracy were planning, Selena decided to broach the question. “I’m going to ask you guys something and I want you to be totally honest with me
“Of course,” said Tracy.
“Why have we never met your father-in-law and his wife?” Selena asked David. “We’d love to invite them here for dinner and get to know them.”
Before anyone could say anything, the chimes on the front door announced that Janet was home. She brought the groceries into the kitchen. Lisa ran into the kitchen to check the bags to see what was for dessert. She grabbed Janet’s hand and pulled her into the family room and announced “Cake and ice cream for dessert, Mommy.” She went over and grabbed some chips. Janet sat down next to Selena.
“Bill is cool, but Mary is a trip,” David said. “Let’s just say she’s just an old-fashioned girl. We’d rather not have you guys meet her. Please don’t ask us why.”
Tracy tried to explain. “She can be very demeaning. Last time she came to visit us, she said to David ‘It’s a good thing your parents are helping you financially. Maybe you should live someplace you can afford’.
“What?” Selena screamed. “We’re just paying for dancing and singing lessons for Lisa. We gave that to her as a gift.”
Tracy continued. “Another time she said to me ‘Your daughter should spend more time reading. Maybe she can do better in school than you did.’
“She’s a jerk,” Selena said. “You had learning disabilities that you have overcome. I’d love to meet her so I can tell her what I think of her.”
Lisa bounced over to Selena and sat in her lap. “Mary says two women can’t get married. She says you will burn after you die.”
“Really! Anything else?” asked Selena.
“There are other things that are really horrible.” David didn’t elaborate.
“Like what?” Janet was curious.
“Like I shouldn’t come over here,” Lisa chimed in. “She says that this house is full of sin and the people that live here do evil things.”
“That woman says this to a seven year old girl? What a ….” Janet caught herself before she proved Mary right.
“Oh please invite her over so we can share our cooties with her.” Selena pleaded.
“We promise we won’t say or do anything inappropriate in front of them.” Janet said.
“I’m not promising that,” said Selena. “I really want to talk to this woman and tell her to stop filling my granddaughter’s head with a bunch of lies.” Selena was very serious. “Let me have her number.”
“It’s not worth it,” David said. I don’t want you to make this a bigger deal than it already is.”
“But it is a big deal. Janet, back me up on this.” Selena wanted to set Mary straight.
“Let the kids handle it,” Janet said. “If we confront Mary, she might take it out on them. We wouldn’t want that to happen.”
“At least we can always rely on you for being the sane one.” David gave Janet a big hug. David turned to Selena. “Can I count on you to let this go?”
Selena thought about it for a little while and finally said, “I’m not going to call her if you don’t want me too. Promise”
“Thanks. I appreciate that,” said David.
Later that night, Selena and Janet were lying in bed, watching TV. “I know you’re up to something.” Janet said to Selena.
“What makes you say that?” Selena asked.
“I know you. You’re not going to let Mary get away with this.”
Selena was indignant. “I promised the kids that I wouldn’t call her,” Selena said with a smirk.
“You have something up your sleeve. What is it?” Janet questioned Selena.
“Nothing. Really,” Selena said.
“But if you were going to do something, what would you do?” Janet knew how to play this game with Selena.
“Do you really want to know?” asked Selena.
“Yes. I want to be able to rescue you from yourself.”
“Fine,” said Selena. “But you have to swear not to tell the kids.”
Janet was impressed with Selena’ plan. “I swear. And I hope it works.”
* * * * * *
The Hillcrest hotel, where Mary was a concierge, is a very upscale hotel in the Oakland Hills. It overlooks the City of Oakland, the Bay and downtown San Francisco. On a clear day, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Angel Island. It is said that Al Capone’s wife stayed at the Hillcrest and was able to see her husband waving to her.
The Hillcrest has an excellent spa that was popular with the locals. Many tourists who stay there often use the services at the spa. Half of the lobby area is an extension of the bar. This is where visitors are often found enjoying an informal meal and drinks.
Today, Selena was one of those visitors. She was dressed in drag – dress, heels, and makeup – the works. That was not her normal style, but she wanted to fit in with the crowd.
She walked by the concierge’s desk and noticed that the woman behind the desk was older than Selena and wearing a frumpy dress with mid-size heels. Her nametag said she was Mary Sheridan. Selena had promised not to call Mary. She figured that talking to her in person was fair game. She just wasn’t sure how she was going to strike up a conversation and talk to her. That was going to be tricky.
Selena bought a book at the gift shop and sat at a table close by. She opened the book to make it seem as if she was reading, occasionally glancing up to watch Mary as she approached visitors in the lobby.
A nice looking man sat at the next table, talking on the phone, and writing notes into his tablet. He was obviously here on business. His dark blue suit was neatly pressed, shoes were recently polished, and his tie was a lighter shade of blue with pink specs. His short, blonde hair was slightly wind-blown.
Mary was walking towards them. Selena made believe that she was engrossed in her book, hoping that Mary wouldn’t stop and talk to her. She wasn’t ready yet. It worked. Mary walked by Selena and stopped at the blond man’s table. She held out her hand to shake his. “Hello. I’m Mary Sheridan. Are you interested in our spa services?”
The blond man looked up at her. “Hi. I don’t think so. But thank you.”
“Take a look at our spa menu.” She handed the blond man a brochure. “We have all types of massages, facials, body treatments, manicures, pedicures, skin care, hair care, acupuncture, and personal wellness. You can select items a la carte or get one of our special packages. For men, we recommend the packages listed on the middle panel of the brochure. They include Deep Tissue Massage, Sports Massage, Elemental Facial, Runner’s Relief Pedicure, Mini MANicure, and the Businessman’s special. Everything is described right there. If you change your mind, call me. Here’s my card with my cell number.”
“Thanks.” The blond man took her card and laid it down on the table. “I’ve been here before and used the spa. It is delightful. If I change my mind I will call you.”
“That’s wonderful,” Mary said. “May I have your name?”
“Jim Williams,” the blond man said.
“Well, Mr. Williams, it is very nice to meet you. I hope to hear from you during your stay here.” Mary smiled at him and walked away looking for another potential spa customer.
Selena was curious how the hotel spa services were. “Excuse me,” she said to the blond man. “Hi. My name is Selena. I hear the spa is supposed to be wonderful here. What have you tried?”
“Oh, I’ve use the sauna and had my nails done. Also massages.” Jim said. “Are you planning to use the spa services here?”
“No. I’m just curious if their services are as good as they say.” Selena said. I do body work myself. I was thinking that I might offer my services here.”
Jim gave Selena a weird look and snickered. “This is the work you do?”
“Pretty much,” said Selena. “I can give you my card if you’re interested in some body work.”
“No. I’m not into that. But thanks.” Jim picked up his tablet.
Selena continued to talk about what people say about her services. “My customers tell me they love my hands and feel so relaxed after I’m done.”
“I take it you specialize in the Businessman’s special?”
“Which is …?” Selena asked.
“In room personal body work. I’m sure it’s the Spa’s most popular service.”
“I have no idea.” Selena said. “I bet my prices are better than what you pay here.”
Jim looked surprised. “If I may say, you are pretty bold coming up to a stranger and offering your services. For all you know, I might be a cop.”
Selena was getting confused. “What’s wrong with that? Cops need relief, too. Their jobs are so stressful.”
Jim stared at Selena for a moment. “At least the Spa’s brochure is more discreet. Openly soliciting sex can get you arrested.”
“What are you talking about?” Why would this guy think she was soliciting?
“You’re a hooker, right?” Jim asked.
“No! I’m a chiropractor! Do I look like a hooker?” Selena was astonished that anyone would think she’s a prostitute. Maybe she had overdone the makeup.
Jim looked sheepish. “I’m so sorry. I swear I thought you were trying to undercut the Hotel Spa’s business. I mean you don’t LOOK like a hooker, but um …”
“Don’t worry about it,” Selena laughed. “But can I ask you something? How do you know they offer sex here?”
“There’s a code that hotels use to define their illicit services.” Jim started to show Selena how to interpret the code in the brochure. “For example, the Businessman’s special is, uh, you know, uh …”
“Never mind. I don’t need the details. I get the picture.” Selena could see that Jim was embarrased talking about this to a woman he didn’t know, “Do you mind if I keep this? Selena asked.
“Go right ahead.” Jim even offered Selena Mary’s card. “I’m sorry if I offended you.”
“Don’t worry about it. I got exactly what I came here for. Enjoy the rest of your stay here.” Selena stood up and said goodbye to Jim. Then she called Janet.
“So how did it go today?” Asked Janet.
“Well, when I get done with Mary she will never say a bad thing about us again.” Selena gloated.
“Why? What happened?” Janet asked.
“I found out what she really does at work.” Selena chuckled.
“Which is?” Janet asked.
Selena felt victorious. “Let’s just say, we’ll be calling her Madam from now on.”