Alice shoved the scripts at Maya like she was sending a salad with a caterpillar back to the chef. She owed Maya something in return for the lunch, but reading one of these scripts? Aloud? On stage? No. Her whole body constricted at the thought.
Maya shuffled through them. “No, not ‘Venus Interrupted.’ It’s about the killing of innocent women all over the world. You know, like those awful honor killings and dowry deaths in Asia, the maquiladora killings in northern Mexico, and female infanticide in places like China.”
A chill went up Alice’s spine, and she heard Kali giggle from her shelf.
“Too depressing for you,” Maya said. “Ah, here. Try ‘Venus Nipples.’ Start here.” She shoved the whole script pile back at Alice, pointing to the top one with her long, slim index finger, so tan and refined next to the graffitied cast below it. “Aloud.”
Alice obeyed out of old habit. “I am Venus’s rosy, erect n-n-nipple, open and tamarind sweet, full and ripe and waiting, pulsing to nourish the world. My dark au-au-aureole, its rich coffee halo roots taste of warm bergamot, yearns and blooms, aches a saxophone echo of my plummy, t-tart Venus l-l-labia, q-q-quivers the sweet, tender—”
“Going to lunch with us, Maya?” came a tenor voice from the doorway.
“Ahh!” Alice lurched upright, clutching the scripts to her chest.
A shaggy male head in a worn-out baseball cap appeared at the office doorway. “Oh. You have company.” She saw worn brown corduroy pants on a medium, stocky build. His Birkenstocks stepped inside the doorway.
Alice saw a chance to bolt.
Maya said, “Hi, Joe. Lunchtime already? Alice, this is Joe Dancy from art history. He and I eat with a group of colleagues on Fridays.”
Alice stood and took a step, but her long, flowered skirt caught on her chair leg. Rip. Pulled off balance, she grabbed Maya’s desk, and the bundle of scripts fell through her grasp like pornographic confetti.
Private female words danced around the office floor like a bunch of naughty four-year-olds. Alice dove at the scripts, ripping her skirt farther.
But Joe, Boy Scout-quick, was already kneeling and chuckling at the top script. “Nipples? Lick me, suck, me, and drag me howling to your famished depths? Whoa, momma!”
Maya grabbed the script. “Joe, Alice here teaches ESL part time.”
In her mad scramble after pages, Alice mumbled hello.
Maya said, “Alice, what was your last name again? I’m sorry. My memory plays more tricks than Kali and Shiva together.”
“Hey, don’t call in your demons, Maya,” Joe grumbled. “I’ve got enough trouble this week, thank you.”
Alice finally looked up to see a wild sandy beard and sandy eyebrows to rival Groucho’s. Joe’s gray eyes lit up as he glanced at another script. “A climactic, pulsing, reverberating sunrise of glossy, moist, pink vibrations?”
Alice wrenched the whole paper mess from his hand. “Hi. I’m Alice.”
“Alice …?” he said expectantly.
“Chalmers.” Three … two … one. Alice evened the stack of papers and checked that her cell phone was on in case one of her kids barfed at school or her house caught fire. The best thing about her ESL students and city folks in general was that they didn’t blink at her famous name brand.
Joe nabbed three more scripts from the floor. “Oh, Nora Rohmer mentioned you.” Nora Rohmer was ESL department head. “She and I just served on the technology committee together. She likes your enthusiasm for the new classroom computers. They were her idea, you know.”
What a relief not to have to discuss her name further. “Always glad to be in good with the full-timers.” Alice performed her I-love-this-job-so-much-couldn’t-I-just-have-an-office-and-tenure-with-a-side-of-benefits? smile.
A wiry young woman with low-slung cargo pants, tiny tank top, four-inch platform clogs and Coke-bottle glasses slouched in. She reeked of cigarette smoke and fresh nail polish. “Lunch time, Maya. Get a move on! I f-messed up my toenail. Gotta get to a nail place. Now.”
“Go ahead, Lila,” Maya said. “I’ll lock up if we’re long.” She frowned. “Wait. Alice Chalmers. Isn’t that a famous actress?”
Joe fingered his beard. “No, I’m thinking a porn star.”
“Joe,” Maya laughed. “No sexual harassment. Please!”
Lila clomped back to her desk, shaking her head.
Then the corner of Joe’s mouth went up. “Oh. Allis Chalmers.” His eyes twinkled like a sandy Surfer Santa on a Laguna Beach Christmas card. “Listen, I’ve got car trouble. Do you rent out for towing? Or even better, for spring planting? My garden really needs work.”
“It’s not easy being green,” Alice sang. “Eight cylinders. Always towing a wide load, sowing seeds of knowledge, spreading around loads of sh—manure.”
Maya said. “Seeds? Manure? Are you a gardener, Alice? But a green toe? Isn’t it a green thumb?”
Joe cocked an eyebrow. “Alice will tell us over lunch. Won’t you?”
Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Monologue-Land-Amy-Gettinger-ebook/dp/B00VVK8NFM