Lydia called Simon around midnight after Tiffany left her grandparents’ home. And after she called Kizzy.
“No, Lydia. It’s just not a good idea,” Simon Said.
“I don’t want my girlfriend driving a pick-up truck around Manhattan, looking like an escaped Beverly Hillbilly.”
“The Clampetts were from Tennessee and moved to California, not New York.”
“Let’s not argue details, Lydia. I don’t want you bringing home a truck.”
“I wouldn’t choose a pick-up truck, either, Simon, but he did leave it to me.”
“Well, leave it there for your cousins to sell.”
“If we had our own car, you could stop renting cars when you need one.”
“An inherited pick-up truck is not owning our own car.”
“It’s got a sun-roof.”
“I’ll ask if you can have Rose’s car.”
“Kizzy’s excited about the truck.”
“Kizzy’s a fucking dyke from Oklahoma. She probably categorizes a newer pick-up truck with a sun-roof as a luxury vehicle.”
“That’s mean, Simon.”
“The truth is never mean, Lydia. It’s truth.”
The truth is you’re an elitist snob who didn’t even come with me to my father’s deathbed and now you’re slamming Kizzy and telling me the truck my daddy left me because he wanted me to be able to get more road work embarrasses you. The truth is my people and I embarrass you, thought Lydia.
“You shouldn’t talk like that about Kizzy, Simon, okay?”
“We’re both upset, Babe. Your father just died.”
“Yeah, he did. So maybe you shouldn’t insult Kizzy or his truck.”
“I don’t want to argue with you, Lydia. Did you call your agents and tell them you can’t make the audition Monday?”
“I called them from Chicago. They were able to rebook me for Wednesday morning.”
“Good. Make sure you keep running your lines while you’re there.”
There are no sick days, vacation days, or paid leave for the self-employed. It doesn’t matter what issue a performer is dealing with the show must go on. Someone dies? Your audition gets moved a few days, if you’re lucky. Head cold? Take some medicine. Heart break? Pretend everything is okay while you’re on stage, or if you can’t, you better at least make your pain funny while you’re up there. Nobody likes a sad clown.
“It’s hard to focus right now,” Lydia muttered.
“Yeah, well, you need to focus.”
“My father died, Simon. I don’t care much about an audition right now.”
“You’ll get in there and kill it, Lydia.”
Great, she thought. More death.
Lydia had never missed an audition. She didn’t want to disappoint her agents. They worked hard to get her opportunities. She didn’t want them angry with her, either. Some agents and other industry types could be compassionate when talent had a death in the family or sudden sickness. Some agents and bookers could get angry, though, and take it personally when talent had an emergency because they were negatively affected, too. A headlining comedian with a bunch of TV credits told Lydia that a booker yelled at him when his grandmother died: “That’s just great! Thanks, dude! It’s Thursday and now I have to find an act to cover for you!!” And then the booker hung up on him.
The thought of a grandmother dying brought Rose to Lydia’s mind.
“How is your grandmother doing?”
“Who knows?” Simon said with disgust. “They keep saying she doesn’t have much time left, and then she doesn’t leave.”
“At least y’all have time to say goodbye,” she said. Unless you’re her granddaughter, she thought.
“Lydia, ‘y’all’, really, Babe?”
“Sorry, Simon, I slipped. Heads up, I may bring my accent home with me. Turns out my daddy left that to me, too!” And then Lydia hung up on him.
She returned to the porch, poured another glass of wine, and called Kizzy.
“Simon Says I can’t keep the truck.”
“Cuz it’s a truck. He said he’s going to ask for me to have Rose’s car.”
“How much are they going to leech off that poor woman?”
“I dunno. How much does she have?”
Kizzy laughed. “I wish I was there with you, honey.”
“Yeah, well, it’s probably best you’re not here, I think having a Black person in the house overnight would kill my grandfather.”
“You mean you’d inherit a truck AND a gun?” Kizzy teased.
They were giggling when Simon called.
“That’s him calling back, hold on,” Lydia said as she switched over to the new call. “Simon, I apologize for hanging up, but you were being really insensitive.”
“David just called me, Babe. Rose passed.”
“Oh. Simon. I’m so sorry.”
“The funeral is Tuesday. I’m going to switch your ticket so that you arrive in Boston Monday night. I’ll pick you up at Logan, in Rose’s car.”
“But my dad’s funeral is Monday morning.”
“I’ll find an afternoon flight. Or a redeye that gets you in Tuesday morning.”
“I thought I would have Monday evening with my family.”
“Sometimes plans change, Babe,” Simon Said. “I need you here.”
There was no point in arguing. It was obvious Simon had already decided. And he was the one paying for Lydia’s ticket.
“I have that audition Wednesday.”
“Perfect excuse for us not to stay in Mass. Run your lines, Babe. Tell your cousins to sell the truck. We’re taking Rose’s car back to the City. I love you, it’s late. Goodnight.”
“I love you, too, Simon. Goodnight.”
She switched back to Kizzy and told her what had unfolded.
“So, he can’t go to your dad’s funeral, but you’re supposed to leave your dad’s funeral to get on a plane to meet him in Boston so he can attend a funeral long enough to get a car?”
“Was he even upset Rose died?”
“He’ll probably cry at the funeral.”
“You mean if they say he can’t have her car?”
They chuckled. Because it was true.
“Oh, Kizzy! All this death is so upsetting,” Lydia started to cry. “First my daddy, now Rose. I can’t. You know I’m a sensitive bitch.”
“I know, baby. I wish I was there. In Whiteface.”
And they laughed and cried into the wee hours of the night as Lydia finished the bottle of wine.