What’s on Helen’s mind?


Keith-&-LesliKeith shrugged. “Works for me. Especially the rich and famous part.”

Alena shrugged. “What about you? You still allergic to filming? You have the looks for it. If football players, wrestlers, bodyguards, you name it, become actors. Even…” She pretended to shudder. “Models.” They all got a chuckle out of that.

Helen said, “Al, we can twist this fella’s arm ‘til it snaps off. He’d rather dance barefoot on barbed wire.”

Alena smiled. “Now, there’s an image.” She noticed she was the only one wearing a straight face. “Okay, fine. I have enough on my hands as it is.” There was no arguing that. Her talent agency was talking to Lola’s attorney. And enjoyed a lucrative association with Scott in terms of co-representing Helen and Sam.

Scott had them for music, Alena had them for any and everything else that involved sticking their faces in front of a camera. Her film company had the luxury of so many hot properties in the works she was actually fending off financial investors. On top of which, she’d discovered she truly dug directing and planned to do more of it. She hardly had time to twist Keith’s arm at all, much less until it snapped off.

Which was fine by Keith. All he wanted to know right now was when Helen would come up for air long enough to be invited to the wedding. She said she didn’t know but promised that, come hell or high water, she’d figure out something and call within a few days.

He spoke with her again before he left. They sat in an airport bar a little past noon, waiting for his flight to be announced, sort of decompressing. She before going on to her next move, he before taking leave of the whole thing. Temporarily.

Helen was enjoying a sloe gin fizz and, simply for a change of pace, Keith joined her in one.  “Well?” she asked. “Whaddya think?”

“Tasty as soda pop.”

“No, dummy. What do you think about what’re doing, how it’s going, where it’s gonna go?”

“Hel, what’s to think? A few months from now we won’t be able to sit here like this without constantly being interrupted. Speaking of which…”  She followed his eyes and looked around.

Sure enough, a trio of 20-somethings was converging on them. He had a moment of déjà vu, recalling how he’d met Sam. All the scene needed was for the pretty girl in the middle to be shopping a demo. Helen sighed. Patiently signed something for each, smiled, and sent them on their way.

As they left, she asked, “What I mean, Keith, y’ think we’ll be happy? About all of this?”

“Happy? What’re we, at summer camp?”

She laughed. “No, I guess not. Answer me, though.”

He gave Helen a look and said, “We got a fantastic job making more money than our children’s children will live long enough to spend. Unless we somehow manage to spectacularly screw things up, which I don’t see us doing. What’s happy have to do with it?”

She reflected. “Nothing. Like you said, we’re not kids. Bunch of great big grown-ups. Who should be grateful for this kind of work. If this is work. Dumb question.”

He had a feeling it’d come up again, somewhere down line. Something was messing with her.

That business about this not being work. He knew she knew. Might look like all you had to do was hop on-stage, stand around a couple-three hours, hop back off and get paid. Fact is, careers don’t come in a Cracker Jack box. You got to where you got by busting your butt.

Skill took a long, hard time to develop. After that, you had to keep your chops up. Work wasn’t any cakewalk. It took concentration, energy, and you needed to rest when you were done.

So yeah, it was work. Wasn’t digging ditches, but it was difficult work not just anybody could do — which was why they were getting paid buckets of money. He left Helen alone about it. Sooner or later, she’d find words for what she was trying to get at.


Next week: Keith settles in back home.

Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.