As a recap: Ronnie Stein is a struggling web developer who has been offered two jobs by Mayor Jon Steadman. Through the process of creating a justifiable slot for her in his life, he has also been making sexual advances. Ronnie is not his only target. John is having cybersex with multiple partners. It gets worse. Jon is lying to his wife and a secret part of psyche is addicted to sex. But what does that mean? Is the sex his main desire? Or are his affairs an expression of a deeper need for constant validation?
As we watch the Mayor unravel, we have also followed Ronnie’s obstacle course as she maneuvers around the Mayor’s advances. She is finally making a stable living and she must keep that going. However, a little voice inside tells her BEWARE! We, as readers, know she must listen to that voice. A trap is about to snap.
I NEED YOU NOW! Or someone else. [Part 7 of 8]
Laughter abounds, as four festive people finish dinner at a card table set up in Ronnie’s living room/dining room/bedroom studio apartment. All is neat, tidy and clean, the equivalent of Ronnie Stein’s state of mind this evening. Yes, life is sort of okay now, which she has just explained to Beth, Beth’s boyfriend Dave, and the new man in her life, Aaron Sedran.
“So is this polling thing, like a new career?” Aaron asks.
“I have no idea where it’s going, Ronnie replies. “But it’s paying the rent.” She stands, grabs the center platter, extends it across the table. “More chicken, Dave?”
“I’m filled to my neck. It was fab, Ronnie.”
“How ‘bout you Beth?”
“Saving room for Aaron’s pies.”
Ronnie swings the plate to her date. “Aaron, don’t be shy.”
“Not shy. Just done. Ronnie, you are a fantastic cook!”
“Well Beth brought the veggies.”
“Which I bought at Antonio’s.”
“The wine’s mine,” Dave boasts. “Okay…I bought it too.” No one laughs.
As Ronnie starts clearing, Beth’s eyes shift to the man opposite her. “Aaron, where’d you find those fabulous pies?”
“I made them.” Aaron lifts out of his chair and reaches for two serving bowls. “You bake!” exclaims Beth.
“When I have time.” To Ronnie. “Where do I bring these?”
“Follow me.” Which he does, moving into the kitchen behind his host. As they place dishes on counters, Ronnie’s phone rings from her desk back in the big room. She ignores it.
“You’re not taking it?” Aaron asks.
“Solicitations. They call every night.” Ronnie pops open the plastic lid boxing pie number one. “Aaron, this looks so yummy! Will ya open your other one?” He does, and they walk back to the table just as Ronnie’s answering machine clicks into record.
“Ronnie? Pick up if you’re home. It’s Jonny. C’mon, pick up.” All heads swivel toward the tiny speaker on the phone base.
“Sounds important,” Beth comments.
“I’m having a party. And it’s after eight.” Ronnie puts the pies on the table.
“Okay, look…” continues Jon’s voice, “if you’re home by nine, call me. My lead went up four points! So babe, you and me, we’re celebrating. You got my numbers.”
The machine clicks off. The room stays quiet, until Dave whispers, “Whoah…”
Three pairs of eyes shift to Ronnie. Hers move to Aaron. He’s the most important judgment in the room. And he looks disturbed. And that’s bad. Because she likes him. A lot.
Ronnie straightens, preps for resistance, and addresses her guests. “Everybody, I’m going say this once, and then we’re dropping it. Okay?”
She gets three nods.
“I have nothing going with the mayor. He wants to make it more than it is, and I won’t let him. That’s why I didn’t take his call.”
“True,” Beth verifies.
“Wouldn’t be the first time a boss comes on to his assistant,” Dave adds.
Ronnie darts a second glance back to Aaron. He’s shaking his head. “What are you thinking?” she asks him.
“This must happen to you all the time.”
“So now I’m untouchable?” Her tone goes cold.
“What did you mean by that?”
“What did you mean, Aaron?”
BEEP…BEEP… Ronnie’s cell phone sounds from the bed. “It’s a text,” Beth states.
Ronnie recoils. “I know that!”
“Well you all think I’m fucking the mayor!”
“No we don’t!” Dave states.
“Thank you!” Ronnie barks.
Beth scoots to the bed, lifts the phone. “You gonna read it?”
“Why? You think it’s from him?”
“Jesus, you guys!” Ronnie grabs the cell from Beth’s fingers and reads the tiny screen.
Dave joins the girls, trying to read the message over their shoulders. “Is it his?”
Ronnie presses three buttons.
“It was him!” Beth reports. “She just deleted it.” Turning to Ronnie. “What did he–”
“Beth! Do you always have to know everything?!”
“Well, yeah! What are you gonna do?”
“Quit.” Ronnie shifts her gaze to Aaron, still at the table. “I’m picking up my check on Friday, and that’ll be my last day.
The man nods, his eyes conveying, “Wise decision.”
“And I’m sorry I yelled,” she says to the group. “But the job’s been pure hell. Taking it was a bad idea.”
Slouched in an overstuffed living room chair, one impatient middle aged mayor waits for Ronnie’s callback. The mantel clock over the fireplace tick-tick-ticks the seconds away, then strikes nine. Deadline reached. Jon grabs his iPhone, which just happens to be lying beside his left hand on the chair arm. He speed dials, waits for an answer. Gets one. “Hey babe, whatcha doing?”
“Nothing. Watching TV.”
“How ‘bout some fun tonight?”
“The usual. One hour. And hey, tonight you’re a lawyer. Look like one.”
Jon drops his briefcase onto the hotel bed, opens it and turns to the pretty redhead, Lusty Charm, prancing out of the bathroom totally nude. “Look what I have,” he gabs. “Movies!” He lifts into view, his iPad.
“You always bring porn. What’s the matter with me?”
“It IS you! With Sasha Black. Hot! And with this, and you in the bed, it’s more of everything.”
“I always give you everything, all by myself. Put that away.” She swipes the computer out of his hands and drops it hard on the nightstand.
“HEY! Careful with that!” He grabs it back. Inspects it. “My whole fuckin’ life’s in there!”
“You’re whole fucking life’s with me right now.” She unbuckles his belt. Then unzips him.
“You think I’m naughty?” he mutters, as he watches her hands close in on his crotch.
“I think you’re very naughty.” She yanks down his slacks.
“You think I’ll get reelected?”
Trim, clean shaved, hair in perfect place, (what’s left of it) Jon Steadman marches into his office, briefcase by his side. Passing his staff, he hears, “Good morning, Mayor.”
“Jon! Stats are on your desk.”
“Mr. Steadman, your ten o’clock cancelled.” Jon doesn’t hear any of this. He’s focused on one thing: his next call. He stops outside his office, scans the room. “Where’s Anne.
“Over here!” Anne shouts from across the room.
“Anne, get my wife on the phone, will ya? I’ll take it in my office.” He goes to his desk, set down his case. His desk phone rings. It’s telecom.
“I have Mrs. Steadman on the line.”
He picks up the receiver. “Hi honey. How’s it going?” He opens his briefcase. Starts unloading it.
“Dad’s still sick,” comes through the phone. “And mom, she not doing that well either. It’s good that we’re here.”
“Good…” Jon repeats, in a monotone remote.
“I saw that you’re moving ahead. Your spots are running day and night.”
“Uh huh…” Jon’s staring into his open briefcase, his jaw hanging open.
“Do you have time for your son?”
“Uhh…” Jon’s frantic, yanking everything out of his case. Papers fly to the floor.
“Jon? You there?”
“Uhhh. Honey, I gotta go. Something came up!” He throws down the phone and shouts out the door. “Anne! Get me Max. Now!”
Back into his case he digs, this time searching side pockets. Nothing is in them. “Christ!!”
“I have Mr. Jacobs on the line.”
Jon snatched the phone off his desk, slaps it against his ear. “We gotta problem.”
“What kind of problem?”
“I left my iPad in the Marriott last night.”
“What’s on it?”
“Cool down. We’ll get it back.”
To be continued…09/02/2011
This segment sets up the device – JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER. We find that Ronnie’s life has moved away from financial ruin, there is a nice man in her life, and so far, she has managed to fend off the Mayor, until…his call. BINGO, another reversal, another plot twist, another nose dive, and Ronnie is now on the defensive. And then comes a resolution: Ronnie will quit, which we expect, will redirect the plot into a different direction. But will she quit? Or will the perks be too good to let go? Is this what you’re thinking? If is, you are engaged by more dramatic questions.
Jon’s scene with Lusty Charm is both a set up and a character revelation. As she goes down on him, what is he pondering? His election! He needs to hear a porn princess tell him he is electable! This is a subtle clue as to what his “addiction” is about: constant validation, no matter where it comes from.
The office scene – Jon left his iPad in the hotel, which could possible mean complete ruin. Or maybe it won’t happen. Maybe he’ll scrape by this time as he has in the past. Maybe he can lie his way out of this, or maybe he can’t.
What do you think? Is the mayor toast?