No excuses! I don’t believe in them. Sometimes we just get busy.
Well if any of you read that last chapter you will have forgotten what it is about by now. And just to clarify something that was not clear after jumping into the middle of a story; the character I spoke of called Robin was my co-author of the first book, The Khaki Mafia.
Growing up, at the mercy of fate, I had experienced both wealth and poverty. Maybe that was why I consistently avoided the middle of the road. For me it was either ‘five stars’ or slumming.
My mother was a superb seamstress and throughout even the poorest years we were always well dressed.
“Remember June,” she used to say “First appearances stick. Always stand straight, keep your legs together when you sit and dress well. Nan dresses beautifully. Everyone looks up to her.”
“But Nan is rich.” I argued.
“You don’t have to be rich to have style” Mum countered, pulling on a rubber dairy boot. “Co-ordinate colors; wear what suits you, not what you see in the magazines.”
I smiled at Mum’s words as she bustled away to milk the cows. She was wearing her customary overalls and a battered straw hat. But if she went into town to buy a few groceries, she would be most properly attired.
Taking after my grandmother, I always found great pleasure in clothes. In Vietnam I had, out of practicality, worn fatigues. Now with money in my pocket once more, I was running amuck amid the shops of Manhattan. My mini skirts and boots were disappearing. Indeed, the previous week, my full length photo had made the front page of the prestigious Women’s Wear Daily. Forsaking glamour for elegance, I was pictured wearing a floor-length emerald green and navy tartan skirt topped by a double breasted velvet blazer.
Again I was on the fringes of ‘the social set’ but this time I found it enjoyable. At one of those New York cocktail parties I shared a dream with Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s sidekick.
“I’m going to have a Chinese junk built one day” I said.
Detecting his interest, I elaborated “In Hong Kong I went aboard several. They have wider beams than a regular vessel, making them really spacious and I’m told they are seaworthy.”
“Yes. I will hire a Chinese family as crew and take a bunch of Asian orphans and cruise the world. We will become world citizens.”
“It’s a nice dream” he said and he must have meant it. A short while later I learned he bought a Chinese junk but he did not fill it with orphans.
The book promotion was over! My plans were to investigate Florida with a view to buying a home in a warm climate. Home ownership was the first step towards adopting a child. Simultaneously, I needed to find a suitable marriage mate so the adoption agencies would consider me. It was time to leave Westport but still I lingered.
Propinquity had fostered an undeniable affection between me and Robin. I was well aware of his shortcomings but he was great company. And God knows I wasn’t faultless! We fell into a pattern of unorthodox domesticity. Somewhere along the way, after sharing an evening of alcohol stoked reminiscences, I had fallen into his bed. There were no fireworks. Robin’s tepid passion reached its performance peak when he emitted a gasp. Or so I thought, until realizing it was a snort; an indication that he had fallen asleep on top of me.
The next morning, neither one of us referred to the previous night’s event. I wondered was he even aware of it. I thought of the pleasant lifestyle he now led. The quaint town of Westport, only an hour’s drive from Manhattan, afforded the perfect mix of country tranquility and city conveniences.
Robin’s house had previously belonged to the artist Steve Dohanos (famous for all those Saturday Evening Post covers). The wide hallway doubled as an art gallery, with sun and sky visible through the glass ceiling. The cedar walls and wood burning fireplaces kept the air perpetually fragrant. It was easy to get used to. I loved the green hills with their bi-sections of white railing fences. I loved the pink flowering Dogwood trees that made canopies over the country lanes. I loved the sprawling, white farm houses and the people who lived in them. And then there was Vincent; always at our beck and call; always cheerful, respectful but never servile. Maybe I could settle down and live very happily with Robin.
I shook the day dreams from my head. Despite the inadequacies of our first coupling, Robin and I had continued the physical side of our relationship. For me, sex began in the brain and Robin was always immensely stimulating, therefore, desirable. I didn’t need porno movies or graphic magazine close-ups to turn me on. My idea of a stimulating sex scene could be found in the movie ‘From Here to Eternity,’ when Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolled about, kissing in the ocean. Equally stirring was the scene between Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in ‘Out Of Africa’ when he shampoo’d Meryl Streep’s hair. This was not a puritanical streak. I found the most acrobatic sexual acts to be uninspiring if they weren’t stirred vigorously by emotional flavoring.
That said, our sexual incompatibility did occasionally trouble me. How long would it be before I strayed? And I knew his history of perpetual infidelity; an enigma to me after I became aware of how adversely his drinking affected his lovemaking.
And how about adopting children? Robin referred to all kids as rug rats and he would run a mile at the suggestion. I now knew him too well. He loved controversy, loved sensationalism. I believed it was all a desperate attempt to break out of his genuine conservatism which he clothed so well inside those Brooke’s Brothers suits. His cringing had not gone unnoticed whenever I wore something that he considered too revealing. Yet it was my non conforming attitude that fascinated him. Eventually he would tire of that!

“I have great news” Robin burst into the study, his coat dusted in snow, his cheeks bright red. He and Vincent had just returned from town. Bustling over to the fireplace, he warmed his hands before the blaze. Vincent followed him into the room saying, “I’ll make dinner now Mr. Moore. Maybe forty minutes. You want a cocktail first?”
Robin shrugged his coat off. “Don’t ask dumb questions!”
Vincent grinned and strode to the cocktail cabinet “You too, Miss June?” he tossed over his shoulder.
“No thanks Vincent. I still have one. I’ll wait for dinner.”
“Don’t you want to hear my news Junie Moon?” Robin teased.
“If it’s good, out with it.”
“The Khaki Mafia is going to be made into a movie.”
“Wow” I yelled, jumping up and dropping my book “Tell me more.”
“Hannah Weinstein will produce it. She is well respected and the investor is Edgar Bronfman, the owner of Seagram’s whisky.”
“That’s terrific.”
“She’s anxious to meet you” Robin continued “I told her I would bring you into the city tomorrow.”
“I’m so excited.” I threw my arms around him and tried to pull him into a little dance. He smiled as he unfurled himself from my embrace.
“Why don’t you wear that new mink coat you bought?” he said.

I did wear the coat; my first fur. Hannah, petite and brisk, wore a grey wool coat which matched her salt and pepper hair. The meeting went well and we quickly established a good rapport. Over the following weeks things moved fast.
Then one day she asked me to join her at The Four Seasons Hotel. Our lunch companions were Ann Margret and her agent Alan Carr. It looked promising that Ann Margret would be playing the role of me in the movie. Naturally she wanted to suss me out.
To my surprise, she was totally unlike her sexy screen image. Off screen she was quiet and almost shy, not the least bit arrogant as one would have expected. When she spoke of her husband, Roger, who was home sick, her voice filled with such love and tenderness that I, a cynic regarding marriage, experienced a little jab of envy.
I found myself a little tongue-tied. She was so beautiful; it was difficult not to stare. Her flawless, pale skin was as smooth as alabaster and her eyes could melt any heart.

Glancing out the window early one morning, I saw it was still snowing. The countryside looked like a Christmas card. Robin sat across from me as we ate a light breakfast before Vincent drove us into Manhattan.
“Pass the vegemite please Robin.”
“How can you eat that axle grease?” he lifted the small jar between his index finger and thumb, frowning disdainfully
“No self respecting Aussie eats toast without vegemite. Thank God mum mails it to me” I replied.
He dropped the jar in front of me before pointedly reaching for his vitamins, appalled, it seemed, by my gastronomic choices.
“Edgar Bronfman has given Hannah the first half a million for pre-production.” Robin brightened as he changed the subject, “We should be getting our cut this week.”
For all his book royalties and his family’s wealth, he frequently seemed to be running short of money.
“Yes,” I said “And Hannah wants me to meet Jules later this afternoon.”
“Jules Dassin, the director?” Robin frowned.
“Yeah! He flew in from Athens last night. They’re dragging me off to Hawaii soon while they hash out how Stirling Silliphant will handle the script.”
“Damn it.” Robin scowled “Hannah is leaving me out of the loop. She didn’t invite me last week when Ann Margret came into town.”
He stood abruptly. “Be ready to leave in ten minutes. I’ve got an appointment with my accountant this morning.”

Throughout the hour long trip, Robin ignored me, burying his nose in a newspaper. He was seldom in such a grumpy mood and it was clear Hannah had put his nose out of joint.
The previous week, when I attended a small dinner at Hannah’s apartment, I realized that she wasn’t overly fond of Robin. She rather brusquely told me that now the book was written, Robin was no longer needed. At the time I wondered was it a Jew versus wasp thing but as the dinner progressed, I realized that was not the case. They were just worlds apart. The same thing was true with her and me yet, somehow we gelled quite well.
Hannah was an intellectual. Her over stuffed apartment was full of old fashioned furniture and well read books. Her other dinner guests were her close friends; the aging actress Lillian Gish, and Leonard Bernstein whom she affectionately called Lennie.
I was simultaneously impressed and bored as they reminisced about old times. They graciously tried to include me by asking questions about my experiences during the war but despite their best efforts, that old, ‘fish out of water’ feeling persisted.
As I listened to the conversation around the table I soon understood that Hannah’s differences with Robin were not founded on religion or race. When I hesitantly mentioned my adoption plans, she was sympathetic and encouraging.
I listened quietly as she talked about the early days when, as a widow with young children, she had the audacity to break into the (then) man’s world of movie producing. Possibly that was our mutual link; neither one of us had played the expected female role.
She started producing during a period when movie industry was the domain of ‘whites’ only. Apart from Sidney Poitier, there were seldom parts for black actors other than ‘walk on’ roles. These were customarily of a demeaning nature, such as slaves or servants. Back stage was no different. Crews, grips, cameramen, all were white. Hannah went out of her way to employ and train Negros, as black American’s were called back then.
I contemplated Hannah’s compassion as I sat beside Robin while we sped towards Manhattan. Maybe that was the link connecting her and Stirling Silliphant. He had broken the ice when he wrote the script for one of the first successful black movies, “Shaft”.
Robin folded his paper and laid it on the opposite seat. “You might take the train back tonight,” he said “You can grab a cab at the station. I’m going to be having dinner with my attorney, Marty Heller.”

The night before I left for Hawaii, Robin didn’t come home. It was the first time he had stayed away all night. I barely slept, listening to every sound, hoping it was the car. It was a windy night and an unlatched garden gate kept slamming. I jumped up repeatedly. The next morning, hoping against hope, I crept into his bedroom. His bed had not been slept in. My heart pounded and my hands shook. I tried to focus on the imminent trip but the joy was damaged. He rarely displayed anger. Maybe he was getting revenge over not being invited to Hawaii. Or maybe he and I had just run our course.
I finished packing and lifted my bag off the bed. Despite our intimacy, Robin and I did not share a bedroom. Despondently, I hung the last of my winter clothes in the closet beside my mink coat. Just as I closed the closet door I heard the car pull into the driveway. Hauling my suitcase to the living room, I tried to maintain my composure.
“Good morning Robin.” I greeted him with forced cheerfulness as he slunk in, red eyed. He avoided looking at me but spotted the suitcase.
“You’re going today are you?”
“Had you forgotten?” With an effort, I kept my voice even.
“Of course not, Junie Moon. I let Vincent have the night off so I stayed at my club.” I knew he was referring to The New York Athletic Club, another prestige hangout for old wasp men. Although he frequented it often, during our time together he had never spent a night there.
“No need to explain!” I refused to go all hysterical as I had so often seen Liz do. “But I wonder could you spare Vincent to drive me to the airport?”
“What? Hannah’s not sending you a car?” he sniped.
“I never asked.”
“Well okay. I’m planning on writing today so I don’t need him.”
I felt like beating him over the head but I made myself walk over and kiss him on the cheek. He smelled of stale whisky.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do while I’m away.”
A dry imitation of a laugh escaped his throat “That leaves me plenty of scope.”
I resisted slamming the door.

These chapters have not yet been edited so I welcome any comments as I change things frequently before the final edit.


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