7.19.2011

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What now, she thought, as she turned to walk down the narrow alley past the candy store, the last leg of her usual lunchtime circuit. Two cars faced off, neither one moving, everyone involved yelling at top volume. Ursula stopped to watch, idly munching on the banana chips she had picked up at the GNC. The driver of the nearer car began to lay on the horn as a woman dressed all in red jumped out of the back seat of the distant car.

"What the fuck do you think you are doing! This is a one-way street! Back the fuck up!" As she shrieked her jeweled purse flopped from her shoulder to her elbow; she caught it from falling to the street and her jacket opened, revealing a neckline that plunged to her belt. Her hair was the color of toasted pignolia nuts and her lips were as cherry as her suit.

Holy christ, that's Melodia. Holy hell, what on earth is she doing here in Pittsburgh, what the hell? Seriously, what the hell. Their eyes met and Melodia's face softened just a bit. "Ursula? Really?" Ursula nodded and took a step closer; Melodia transformed from pit bull to yappy chihuahua and scampered forward on her McQueen platform pumps. The driver of the other car loosened his tie and blared his horn again. "Lady, what the fuck! Yinz gotta move, get outta the fucking way! Aw, c'mon!"

"What are you doing here? In this town!" Melodia's voice was just that, a melody in ranging octaves. Her eyes scanned up and down Ursula's simple black dress, stopping for a moment on her weathered Dansko clogs, before continuing. "You look wonderful, Ursula. So fresh and, ah, earthy."

"I live here, Melodia. What's your excuse?" Ursula could feel the blood rushing to fill her cheeks, her nose, her ears, her neck. At least she wasn't dressed all in red if she was going to be flushed and self-conscious.

It was true, Ursula was living in Pittsburgh now. She worked downtown as part of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, advocating to make the city attractive to Hollywood production companies as a prime location for filming their movies. It was a far cry from two years ago when she was nominated for an Academy Award, but she had needed the change. Dramatic change. In fact, the last time she had talked with Melodia was the day after the awards ceremony.

Melodia was the reason she had fled.

And now, she faced Melodia in a brick alleyway in downtown Pittsburgh wearing her most pedestrian get-up, while air horns blared and a man in a suit yelled expletives with such force and duration it appeared he might be on the verge of exploding. Given her line of work, Ursula should have known this would happen. But when you rely on denial your whole life, it came naturally, even when you thought you were getting better.

"Oh, you know, I'm here filming," Melodia sang as Ursula focused on her breathing. "September Room. With James Franco."

What now, indeed. Ursula searched for words but none came. She breathed, popped another banana chip in her mouth, and considered her next move.
This week's Indie Ink writing challenge came from Catherine, er, CreativeCat, who prompted me thusly: "What's your excuse?"

This story is part two. Part one is maybe for orange juice.