THE MAYOR'S WIFE. NEW CHAPTER 4. PLEASE CRITIQUE
- hERE GOES.
Indigo and Mel stood in the foyer under a magnanimous chandelier. The green Chanel blended against her skin like seaweed against clear waters. Her hair, still damp, flat against her head and wrapped elegantly in the back made her a striking image. Tonight, though, saving face and keeping a lid on the secret were more important than her look, or style. She�d have to play up Compton and not mention WorldHub. Now the last person she wanted to see was up in her face�Councilman Kahn. ------------------------------She smiled at him while hostesses herded the crowd around. Watch out for him. Ever since he went to Sacramento and lobbied for the 91 Freeway egress at Alameda, Indigo didn�t trust him. Why did he feel the need for an egress? In that particular spot?
Mel insisted on his local leaders being on hand. Mel shook hands and Indigo pranced and greeted, swooned and cooed. She schmoozed cheek-to-cheek�that is until Councilman Kahn reappeared. That�s when she led Mel, ahead of schedule, into the rented tent ballroom. At the entrance, she and Mel formed a receiving line. Hostesses ushered in actors and actresses, an African Ambassador, politicians, businessmen and society women. Across the floor, Indigo spied Margo, gathering admiration in hot orange chiffon, strolling like a peacock, downing her drink, swaying. �Yee hoo, Sidney.� Margo waved at the famous actor and she disappeared in the crowd.
Indigo rushed to the bathroom and A continuous selection of jazz hid the human murmur under the smooth strings and horns. And the group found their hors�doeuvres and champagne and gossip. In the next 30 minutes when gossip was heaviest, Margo disappeared. Indigo made her way to the guest bathroom. Her hand slid across the silky wallpaper in search of a light switch and a human presence moved around her feet. She found the switch and turned on the light.
The lines of white powder shifted on a small oval hand mirror. �It�s me, girl.�
�Are you crazy?� Indigo whispered.
�Have a little, Indi. It�ll help you make it through the night.� Margo offered the
mirror to Indigo. Indigo slapped it out of her hand and the powder floated to the beige
�No!� Margo dropped to her knees, sniffing. That�s nearly a thousand dollars you knocked down there. Her head rotated from the floor to Indigo, burning with indignation. �Miss Diamonds President,� she snorted the tile between phrases. �You are so pompous.�
�And you?� Indigo asked.
�You knew Marcus wanted that development contract and you put it all out in the open.� Margo sniffed again. �And you knew Dupree would give her right arm to get the Diamonds that Philanthropic Council nomination, and��
�No, I just allowed you to show your true self,� Indigo said.
�Even in college, Indigo, you��
�Don�t talk about college, now. Every professor you studied under gave you A�s for the privilege of looking at those pretty green eyes of yours, and that pale skin. Not because you accomplished anything, but because you looked like real white women they all wanted.�
�Oh, aren�t you tired of being the chocolate victim. You were always jealous.�
�Margo, look at yourself. Who would be jealous of that? �
�Don�t you go throwing your sanctimony at me. �cause you take those gold credit cards and acrylic nails and drive your Rolls to Beverly Hills four days a week, just like the rest of us who live here.� She sniffed and pulled herself up by the edge of the
�But I�m not self-destructing on cocaine.� Indigo wiped white powder off Margo�s nose and walked out, leaving the scent of Ivory soap and Margo�s Opium perfume.
A woman wearing a glittering gold cocktail hat and high heel gold sandals rushed up to Indigo and handed her a small hand-made map. �We almost got lost,� the woman said.
�Ah, I�m so sorry.� The map Indigo had inserted in the invitation to divert guests away from Wilmington Avenue, where the druggies often hung out tried to come back to haunt her, but she crushed balled the map in her hand and ushered the woman along the line. �Oh, Ambassador, it�s wonderful having you. She ushered him along.
�Oh, Mrs. Chandler.� Indigo said to the department store heiress that appeared in the Los Angeles Times social section most Thursdays. The Dorothy Chandler Music Center founder congratulated Indigo with impressed enthusiasm. �What you�ve done with the Music Center is my inspiration,� Indigo lied after a fashion�If I can play hostess at the Music Center for every black play that comes to town, surely you can come to Compton once in a lifetime. But she did like the earthy, poised �Buffy� Chandler. She had molded an idea into the Dorothy Chandler Music Center, the cultural oasis in the Los Angeles desert, known and respected over the world with an idea. That�s what WorldHub must become�something significant�in a sort of way.
Stevie Wonder�s fingers riffed I�ll Be Loving You Always and the mystery of Indigo maneuvering the musical genius to Compton grew larger. Little did anyone know that his radio station, KJLH, used Compton�s FAA license. It was only good business to return the first lady�s phone call, and play at her husband�s congressional announcement party�Until the rainbow burns the stars out of the sky---Always.
Until the ocean covers every mountain high�always
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea�always
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream
That I�ll be loving you always,
When the birds don�t sing in the morning�and the moon don�t shine at night�
I�ll be loving you always.
Indigo�s theatrics were as compelling as Stevie Wonder�s music. She glided onto the floor and engaged Mel. Anything to keep from remembering that Mel wasn�t taking her to D.C. And that no one could share her sadness for it and that she was no longer be angry with him about it. That she might not get him to change his mind about running for congress at all. That he needed to keep his decision a secret�without a slip. Her taut body moved with anointed harmony. Her head flung back. Her smile was sunshine breaking through he clouds. Mel kept time with the prize that every guest admired tonight. And she held the secret close to her heart. �And I�ll be loving you always.�
As was usual, some man promptly pulled Mel aside for a private talk. Unfettered, Indigo floated from one table to the other, checking things out. In the garden, under the shadows of the gazebo, She spied Congressman Pascal. She abruptly turned and headed for that special bottle of champagne for his table.
From the narrow hallway facing the maid�s room, Indigo could see the garage�a studded dog collar blinking from a nail, the children's cast off bicycles leaning against the wall. Through the outside window, the streetlight showed the refrigerator. She reached in and took the bottle of champagne. When she walked back into the ballroom, Mel was already on the platform. �We don�t know how these things will turn out, for nothing�s
ever written in stone�� He said. ��Congress is just another avenue for doing what needs to be done, like getting WorldHub completed.�
Oops. That�s just too close. � He hadn�t said he wasn�t running, but she didn�t trust that he might If he breaks the news before she could make worldHub seem bigger than any inner-city social cause� If the Diamonds and the moneyed supporters know before the people of Compton know� Indigo walked on the platform, kissed Mel�s
cheek, turned and entered his speech on the next pause.
�Tonight is one of just thanking you for your support. For your kind donations. Now let�s enjoy.� Indigo said. During the applause, and renewed drinking, she led him off the platform. Her pumping heart settled.
Across the lawn toward the gazebo, Margo, Dupree and Alice stood in an elite little circle near the pool, where candles drifted on magnolia leaves. Margo called before Indigo reached them. �My, my Miss Indi, you are the black princess tonight.�
�Girl, you�re the Paris runway queen,� Indigo said.
�I see you went back for that Dior after all,� Margo said.
Indigo smiled and stroked Margo�s back, which brought back the memory of
cutting the Chanel label out of the Saks dress and sewing it in the back of her knockoff. Alice guided Dupree into the mix.
�I always love the feel of Chanel.� Dupree said. � It�s only fabric and cut that make a dress fabulous, you know.� Her voice went into its own raspy pitch as she pinched the fabric and swished it between her fingers. She belted out a hearty laugh. Indigo let out one too. Alice and Margo gave a confused smile.
�What?� Margo asked
�What is it?� Alice asked.
Jenna McCoy, the Times reporter, broke the conversation �Have you got minute, Indigo?� The blonde journalist stood between Indigo and the women. �How are you, with going to Congress?
Now that was direct on the juglar. Keep the secret. �We�re just more into getting
WorldHub completed before anything,� Indigo said.
Mel sauntered up and Jenna pointed the microphone in his face. �Mr. Mayor how do you think the WorldHub project will affect your running for Congress?�
Oh, don�t let it slip. .
�Congress is a good position for directing federal funds to Compton.� Mel said.
Indigo�s breath returned.
�Doesn�t Congressman Pascal do that?�
�Compton will be in the new district,� Mel said. The rest of the press cadre bunched up around Jenna.
�Mayor, you�ve been pushing one project for five years and now you�re planning to leave before--?� Gerald Knight, the Long Beach Press Telegram reporter, asked��Some people say you�re leaving because your wife wants to move,� Jeff Gibson, a young white trainee from Gardena Valley Newsman, said.
Indigo knew this was a dangerous moment because, if asked, Mel wasn�t going to lie. �Since that one was directed at me, I�ll answer. Yes, I�d love to move because people do prepare themselves for good things in life. But I already stated that right now we�re dedicated to making WorldHub a reality before anything.� Now there!
�But Mayor, if you�re in Congress, won�t the project get lost?� Jenna asked.
�The project will go on, no matter what.� Mel said emphatically
Indigo reached back, then stuck a chocolate-dipped strawberry in Mel�s mouth, distracting the press without getting on their bad side. They ambled across the lawn, free of the press. Mel stopped to talk and Indigo picked up the champagne. Promptly, someone grabbed Mel�s shoulder and Indigo headed to the whitewashed gazebo. In the shimmering shadows, Congressman Pascal paced clockwise, and then counter clockwise around a small wicker table. He draped his arm over Jim Wright�s shoulder, the mayor of Lynwood, his black tuxedo jacket hiked up in the back.
�I keep my mayors informed,� he said, �not on what�s already happened, but on what�s going to happen.� He pursed his lips and stared across the lawn at the ballroom where beautiful people glided across the floor to My Funny Valentine. But his thoughts seemed far away.
Indigo placed the champagne on the table without interruption.
�Indigo, how are you?� Pascal asked, then turned back to the men. She poured champagne in each glass and left the bottle on the table with the Dom Perignon label on display, the one pasted over Korbel.
Pascal�s index finger jabbed the air. �That�s the only way to profit�from knowing what�s coming in the future, not what�s already happening.�
The four men with him hung onto every word. Everyone knew that friends of the congressman fared well. They got sought-after seats at coveted events and participated in lucrative contracts before they were announced to the public. The Congressman wasn�t cheap like most of the local leaders. He wasn�t strict and so by-the-book like Mel.
�One day, you�ll see,� Pascal said. �The 73rd�s going to be the richest district in
LA County. That�s how the white boys play the game.�
Indigo knocked over one glass and poured another. She wiped the
table and heard fragments of an enlightening conversation.
�Watch out, now, Your Honor. Adam Clayton Powell played the white-boy-
game and died a defeated man. When he could�ve left a great legacy,� Mayor Wright
�Yea, if it hadn�t been for that,� Bob Allen said. The Watts� representative to the Los Angeles City Council bent his hands, cracking his knuckles.
�He left a great legacy.� Pascal said. �We saw a black man believing in this country�s power�that it could work for him as well as anyone.�
Councilman Kahn charged into the gazebo and Pascal glanced at the bulging neck in a white tuxedo. �Councilman Kahn.� He greeted Kahn gingerly.
Indigo walked out of the gazebo, but she wasn�t ready to leave. She stepped down to the ground a level below. A group surrounded her in a location that was a pivotal to hearing and seeing the gazebo.
�Now we got our reservations for Mel�s inauguration at the Washington Hilton for January 4,� A woman said. �But I never liked the Hilton, it�s too close in the city.�
�Yes,� Indigo said, turning her ear to the gazebo. Mention of the inauguration pained her.
Kahn shuffled restlessly about the half-wall gazebo. �Now, Your
Honor, you know I won my re-election by eighty-nine percent. That�s more votes than
the mayor got,� Kahn said.
�If you had been running for mayor, perhaps you wouldn�t have won by eighty-
nine per cent,� Pascal said.
�Naugh. Naugh that shows I got more power than the mayor, Your Honor.� His beefy hands jutted up and down. �All I need now is some play. Since Mel�s going to congress, just endorse me for mayor.�
Pascal reared back. �Kahn, a man has power when he influences people.�
�If we get the Mayor to use that $150 mil and you endorse me for mayor, I
�Councilman Kahn,� Pascal said, �these mayors, as you know, represent my 73rd and they have little to do with Compton.�
�I could a swore I heard something about Compton making the whole South Bay
rich.� Kahn said, �Now lemme tell you this here: all five of your cities gonna lay down and die if Mel Tate don�t vote right on that $150 million Tuesday night.�
Indigo�s knees shook and she walked back toward the ballroom. Kahn knew something.
Watch for LIVING IN THE MIRACLE ZONE by Marti Tucker
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