THURSDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER, 2009
On a frigid November afternoon in Mississauga, Charlotte Buonfiglio sat in the living room of her apartment. She sipped a cup of tea and marvelled at how tasteful and stunning her place looked: not a hair that was out-of-place, not an objet d’art that wasn’t just so, and not a piece that didn’t suggest luxury at its finest. Charlotte herself was dolled up for an afternoon of simply sitting on her sofa and marvelling at how far she had come in her life: she wore a French silk bathrobe in light pink, matching slippers, and nothing else.
The doorbell rang, and Charlotte crossed the apartment to answer it. She looked through the peephole, and discovered her close friend Sissy Vandenbroucke on the other side. Quickly, she opened the door.
“Hey, girl!” Charlotte chimed.
“Hey, girl!” Sissy responded in kind. They air-kissed each other as if they were socialites who ran in the same circle. Sissy entered, wearing a red coat and black beret, being the only person in the pair truly cognisant of the weather.
“How are you today?” Charlotte asked.
“God is good, so it’s all good,” Sissy replied. “Where’s Savannah?”
“Lionel is taking her for a drive. She’s doing fine.”
The two friends sat down in the living room, admiring the view of Mississauga. “I just can’t believe that you managed to land this crib,” Sissy said.
“I got it dirt-cheap, girl. Of course, some assistance from my daddy didn’t hurt, either. And there are a lot of nice parks and schools within walking distance, so Savannah will have her pick of the litter when she starts kindergarten.”
Charlotte poured Sissy some tea, which had been awaiting them on the coffee table. “How do you like your tea?” she asked.
“Lots of milk, if you have it.”
Charlotte added some milk to Sissy’s cup and handed it to her. “Thanks,” Sissy said. “So, have you found out who her father is?”
“I haven’t heard from the DNA people yet. They’ve been combing all of the GTA and New York City. Still, Lionel’s been good to ‘Vanny. How’s Chuck?”
Chuck Frankston was Sissy’s husband and the youth minister at their church. “He’s fine. He’s off with his youth group this weekend.”
“Give him my love, won’t you?”
“But of course, girl! So, what’s up with you?”
“Lots, really. Have you seen my latest head-shots?”
“Then have a look!” Giggling, she took a black portfolio from the table and showcased the contents to Sissy: a set of fresh head-shots with Charlotte in various guises.
“Oh, girl…” Sissy cooed. “These are fierce!” She pointed to one in particular. “Ooh, I LOVE this one with the Cherries in the Snow lip colour. So classy.”
“My agency is also thinking about giving me a new name.”
Charlotte put the portfolio back on the table. “Not legally, of course. Charlotte Buonfiglio doesn’t sound like a proper model name.”
“What have they suggested?”
Charlotte took out a piece of paper from her robe pocket and handed it to Sissy, who read, “Carmenza Jayne… Ingrid Raine… Shauntay Marie… Madina… Facet… Summerwind… Danae… Carla?” Sissy was confused.
“Well, it’s close to my name, and pretty exotic,” Charlotte said. “I do like Summerwind and Danae, though.” She paused for a moment, and her face lit up. “Hey! Danae Summerwind! Doesn’t that reek of high fashion?”
“Works for me. One thing, though: Why haven’t you revealed your real age to the agency? It’s not a crime to be 26 and a model, you know.”
“Well, Sissy, they do know my age. But I managed to get them to release my age as 21.”
“How did you do that?”
“Simple. I fucked my agent,” Charlotte said, proudly. “And let’s not forget what stunts you’re pulling at your church, Sissy dear.”
Sissy nervously tugged her ears. “Ummm… I see your point. Judge not, lest ye be judged, as the Good Book says.” She noticed that her tea hadn’t been touched, and proceeded to drink it. “Next time, Charlotte,” she said after finishing, “could you add a little booze to the tea?”
Charlotte nodded. At that moment, the front door opened, and Lionel Campos came in, holding Savannah. Lionel was 6’2” with milk-chocolate skin and full of Cuban muscle, and Savannah was a fair-haired toddler. “Hey,” Lionel greeted his girlfriend and her friend.
“Mommy!” Savannah exclaimed. Lionel put her down and she ran, to the best of her abilities, to Charlotte.
“Did you have a good time with Lionel?” Charlotte asked.
“Good time!” Savannah cheered.
“I’m gonna take a shower. I start work at four,” Lionel replied, heading for the bedroom.
“Remember to keep your hands off my fucking Dove body wash!” Charlotte yelled after him.
“Aww, come on!” Lionel moaned. “I like that stuff.”
“Don’t touch it, okay?”
“Okay,” Lionel said, slightly rolling his eyes as he entered the bedroom.
“Anyway,” Charlotte continued, “the other big news is this: my family is going to get rid of the idiot brother once and for all.”
“Ooh, fabulous!” Sissy exclaimed. “What have you planned?”
“Well, a few nights ago, my mom said that she hired this private dick to tail the idiot brother. Well, obviously we couldn’t use Lionel because he’s too close, so we had to ‘outsource’, if you will. We’ve got a lot of information on the idiot brother, and long story short, we’ve formulated a plan of sorts.”
“Do tell,” Sissy said, sipping her tea.
“Well, it turns out that he’s been seeing a psychiatrist, he’s been living on the Harbourfront, and he’s been dating someone. We’ve decided to eliminate those three things, making the idiot brother so despondent that he’ll die. We wash our hands of the whole thing and continue to live our merry lives without his stench hanging over us.”
“I like what I hear so far. But why not just kill him?”
“Because that would be too easy. And it’s not like we haven’t done the whole thing before.”
Sissy’s eyes opened. “What do you mean?”
Charlotte moved closer to her friend. “Cecilia, girl, can I tell you something in confidence?” Cecilia was Sissy’s legal first name.
“Girl Guides honour,” Sissy said, crossing her fingers.
“Well, here’s the thing: remember when my grandparents died and when the idiot brother’s fuck-piece died?”
“That was all us, girl!” Charlotte’s face was aglow, and Sissy’s face was enraptured.
“You mean… y’all did it?”
“Like a virgin gets done on her wedding night.”
“Charlotte, that is so disgusting… so horrendous… so beyond the realms of anything good and decent in this world…” Sissy shook her head. A moment later, she exclaimed, “… and I LOVE IT!”
Charlotte laughed and the two friends high-fived each other. “My grandparents had been on our cases for years, so we had no option but to get rid of them. The car crash in Vaughan? The arson attack in Corso Italia? That was all my parents’ doing.”
“What about the fuck-piece?”
“Oh, that was all me. I called in a few favours. I was in New York at the time, but I still managed to cover my tracks.”
Sissy looked at Savannah, showing the first bit of genuine concern in the conversation. “Why are we discussing this in front of your daughter?”
“Oh, don’t worry,” Charlotte shook her head. “No one suspects a damn thing.”
Inside the bedroom, Lionel’s mouth and eyes were open in horror and despair. He had heard the whole thing! “Oh, shit,” he muttered. He headed for the bathroom, and locked himself inside. He dialled a number on his cell phone.
“Claire, this is Lionel. You will not believe what I overheard! Trust me. You’ll want to sit down for this.”