Counting Stars

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“Lets see, there was Harrison Ford back in the seventies, before the whole Star Wars thing.”  The woman talking to the group of uninterested men was Meryl White, an actress that hadn’t been in front of a camera in over thirty years.  “I’ve been with Kevin Costner twice.” Meryl continued as she sipped champagne from the long-stemmed glass that she casually held in one hand as she flicked ashes from the cigarette that was in the other. “And of course Kevin Bacon, but everybody’s been with him.  Oh, and Mickey Rourke, back before he messed his pretty face up with all that plastic surgery.”

Meryl always insisted on being the center of attention, and tonight was no different; it made no difference to her that she had not actually been invited to tonight’s party, she showed up wearing the kind of shiny black dress that you would expect to see on some starlet at the red carpet of an awards show, her favorite costume jewelery hanging from around her neck, and her hair was held in place by enough Aquanet to stand up to a hurricane.

As soon as Gracie made the mistake of mentioning the celebration that her new employer, Alpine Marketing, was going to have to mark the occasion of signing their first million dollar account in front of her mother, Meryl had guilted her daughter into letting her tag along.  Gracie had made her mother promise to remain low-key and not do anything to embarrass her in front of her new bosses, but she couldn’t bring herself to be surprised by her mother’s appearance; Meryl didn’t know what low-key meant.

Gracie wasn’t a part of the marketing team, she had only been at the firm for a couple of weeks and did mostly secretarial work; her job at the party was to oversee the refreshments, which meant making sure the bartender had everything he needed and occasionally making a trip around the room with a tray of hors d’ourves.

Gracie set her tray of food down on the bar after making her latest round, “Give me double shot of the strongest thing you’ve got back there Charlie.”

Charlie was the bartender that had been hired for the night, and Gracie had been telling him about her mother.  She had told him about Meryl’s obsession with being known as a star of the silver screen, even though she had never starred in a single movie.  Meryl liked to act like she was a box office magnet, but in reality she had only ever played small bit roles, doing parts that no one would ever remember. “What’s she up to now?” Charlie asked.

“She’s counting stars.”  Gracie answered.

“Counting stars?”

“It’s what she does at parties.” Gracie explained, “She recounts for anyone that will stand still long enough to listen the names of every star she was in a movie with, no matter how small her part in the film was. That is, until she gets a little more champagne in her, then she’ll start counting all the stars she’s slept with, but we’re going to stop things before they get that far.”  Gracie gulped down her drink.

“Really, how are we going to do that?” interested in hearing what her plan was.

“You’re going to start mixing these drinks a lot stronger, and I’m going to pray everyone gets so drunk they don’t remember this night at all.”  Gracie told him with a smile on her face.

“Good ole alcohol,” Charlie said, “the magic potion to solve many a problem.”

Gracie had another plan that she didn’t share with Charlie though, and after he filled her tray with drinks once again and turned back to washing the dirty glasses in the sink behind the bar, Gracie deftly sprinkled the crushed Ambien into the cocktails before delivering them to the men surrounding her mother.  No one could ever know what happened here.
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written for: The Speakeasy #148
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