The Model and The Snow Monster #15

I will have to send a thank you note to The Teenage Morose One for his most recent gift to the household…a big, nasty-arsed, nose-blowing, ear-plugging, throat-scalding COLD! He came home eight days ago white as a ghost and hacking and sneezing, in desperate need of Mama’s Ministry. All you middle-aged parents of only children are quite familiar with this particular ministry, the one where you make them a hot, bubbling Jacuzzi to break the fever, ply them with all their favorite food treats just to cajole them into eating something, the backrubs with Vick’s, and letting them encamp in the living room in front of the REALLY REALLY BIG TV, so they don’t have to navigate up and down the stairs to their room,  therefore hastening their head-long rush into the arms of the Grim Reaper.

I had a brief moment of foreboding, but since I haven’t had a cold in about six years, I ignored the little voice that kept repeating, “STEP AWAY FROM THE CONTAMINATED BOY”.image from 48 hours later he was right as rain and The Spousal Unit and I were busy practicing dialing 911 and updating our wills, just in case. As much as the two of us have whined (and wined!) this past week, you would think we had survived double amputation instead of the Common Cold ! It’s been a hazy week, what with all the different cold medicines, rum soaked egg nogs and Irish coffees we’ve ingested. A most excellent side benefit of retirement is IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY SICK DAYS YOU TAKE!!  YOU AREN’T PISSING OFF YOUR COWORKERS BY NOT BEING THERE!

Have to dive right in to 1975, because this part is a humdinger! One very gloomy, snowy Friday in early March, I ventured out to Eve’s office to pick up my paltry paycheck for the week. Boy was out of town for three blissful days, doing some freelance drafting gig in Princeton, and probably also doing the architect who’d hired him as well, and I was looking forward to the predicted snow storm and a weekend alone. I just wanted to pick up my check, get to the bank, and then home to enjoy some long-overdue ME time. Just as I was about to make a clean getaway I heard Eve call out “Renee, dear, is that you? I need to see you for a moment.” Oh crap, what now? “I need to ask you for the biggest favor ever. My boyfriend just arrived back here in the city and he needs to update his portfolio and the model  who was supposed to test with him this evening just cancelled. Will you please do both of us this huge favor and go to his place tonight for a shoot?” Sure, I thought, just as much as I’d enjoy all four impacted wisdom teeth being pulled out by a crazed two-year-old with a pair of rusty pliers. #*#*. This meant I’d be on the subway late at night in a snow storm, and who knew if this “boyfriend” knew one end of the Leica from another? I certainly didn’t owe Eve any favors, but I don’t lie quickly on my feet, and also had trouble bucking authority figures in those days, so…

Vince (the boyfriend) lived in a very strange setup. At the top of a 12-story high rise, you exited a door onto the building’s roof and walked about 30’ to another door, which opened into his apartment. It had been snowing for hours and getting to this front door was no easy feat. He had some decent gowns he’d procured for this session, and while I didn’t think he’d become my new BFF, I didn’t yet hear any alarm bells going off, though the two large, growling dogs he had were worrisome. We spent the next three hours posing and chatting and drinking tea, all the while I kept yearning to be home, being my own A-hole in charge of the remote for a change.

 Around 11PM Vince said he wanted to get some shots of me on the spiral staircase leading up to his bedroom, and that he would pass “my outfit” into me as soon as I undressed in the adjoining bathroom.  “The outfit” turned out to be a completely see-through negligee. When I stepped, naked as a jay bird, out of the bathroom to protest, Vince and the growling German Sheppard and Doberman were firmly planted on the spiral staircase, effectively blocking my only exit from the apartment. Vince’s demeanor had changed from mild-mannered to menacing. “You will do exactly as I say; what did you think Eve sent you over here for, a game of checkers, you stupid bitch?” The blood drained from my face as I quickly reviewed my options, which weren’t looking too numerous just then. All my clothes, my purse, my money, were in a pile on the floor of the bathroom and three extremely dangerous beings were blocking the stairway. I cursed Eve to the ends of the earth and back and vowed, for the 200th time, that I would find a better agent soon.

Time seemed to stand still and no one moved, but then the telephone rang and I could see Vince was torn. Should he get it or me?  His decision made, he told the dogs not to let me move, as he stepped into the kitchen to pick up the phone. Knowing I may not have another chance, I bolted down that staircase and vaulted over those two demon dogs like the devil himself was after me, because he was. I pulled open the front door and skidded barefoot across the icy rooftop aiming for the door into the high rise tower; I knew there was a doorman on duty and if I could just reach him, I’d be safe. Vince managed to grab my hair but lost his footing on the snow. I slammed through the door leading to the elevators but realized that Vince could catch me while I waited for it to come, so down the 12 flights of stairs I flew. I’ll never forget the look on the doorman’s face as I burst out of the stairwell door, all gangly 118 lbs., stark naked, glistening with snow and ice, like some deranged snow angel. Making an instantaneous decision not to trust the doorman with my story (what if he was friends with the Snow Monster?), I burst out on East 56th Street just as an elderly lady was emerging from the back of a Checker cab. Her shocked eyes took in my naked being as I dove past her into the back seat and blurted out my address to the cabbie.image from newyorkindecember

To his extreme credit this good Jamaican gentleman’s eyes betrayed nothing, just another day around the water cooler, yes mon? After we’d traveled a few blocks it struck me that I had no way to pay for this ride and no keys to get into my apartment. That’s when everything hit me at once and I started to sob, deep, bubbling, gulps of tears and air and hysteria, realizing how close I’d come to being raped at best , and at worst, possibly murdered.  Mr. Jamaica pulled over, got out, removed his pea coat and gently opened the back door and handed it to me. “Miss, you look like you need this a lot more than I do at this moment.” Grateful to no longer be naked and exposed in the middle of Manhattan, I glanced downward and saw a $20 bill on the floor of the cab. What were the odds?!?

When we arrived at my building Mr. Jamaica insisted on walking with me to the superintendent’s door to get the extra key he kept for his tenants just for such events. Both the super and the good Mr. Jamaica stayed with me in the apartment until the police and five of the Prancing Sheilas arrived. My dear, loyal, true Sheilas would stay with me until Boy arrived home late Sunday, because Vince still had my ID and keys, and could conceivably come to find me at any time.

On Monday Boy and a Sheila accompanied me to Eve’s office, where I emptied my mailbox and severed all ties with her. By that time I had learned that “Vince” had just been released from Sing Sing, a prison just a bit upstate, earlier that week. He had served four years of an eight-year sentence for false imprisonment and rape of a nineteen-year-old college student in Tarrytown, NY. Based on my deposition, The Snow Monster’s parole was revoked and I never set eyes on Eve Shelton again.

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