“Honey, please,” Valerie pleaded. “I want you to share all of my life. That means you have to look the part.”
Mike looked at her and sagged. He followed her to the main level of the house. A severe, matronly woman stood in the middle of the main Castle living room. The complete opposite of the flamboyant Ramon, she arched a penciled eyebrow at Mike then shook her head.
“Neeooo.” She annunciated her “no” as if she were Pepé Le Pew.
Mike raised his eyebrows at her. Not sure of what to do, he held his hand out to the woman. “I’m Mike.”
The woman looked at Mike’s paint-stained hand and crossed her arms.
“You cannot take this … this … creature out in public,” the woman said.
“What?” Valerie asked. “Why?”
“He is … too old, too hairy, and too …” The woman made a disgusted face.
“But Wes is sixty-seven-years-old. Mike’s only thirty-two-years-old,” Valerie said.
“Wesford takes care of his skin. What products do you use on your face?” the woman asked.
“Um.” Mike felt like he was answering a trick question. “My face?”
“You see, completely unworkable.” The woman sneered at Mike. Looking at Val, she said, “Why is it that you left Wes? He was the perfect companion for you. Tall, thin like you are … not so … beefy hillbilly.”
“Sounds like you don’t need me anymore,” Mike said. “Val, honey, I’m going back to my studio. Nice to meet you, ma’am.”
The woman’s harping voice drifted through the kitchen. Standing at the garden door, Mike had his fill. Turning in place, he stormed back to the living room. The woman waved her finger in Val’s face while Valerie wept.
“Get out of my house,” he said to the woman. “You have no right to come in here and say anything — to me or to my wife. You certainly don’t know me. You can’t know Val if you talk to her like this.”
He picked up the woman’s bag and threw it out the side Castle door. He held the door and pointed for her to go.
The woman looked from Valerie to Mike.
“You have ruined your career,” she said.
“I don’t care,” Valerie said. “Please leave.”
With a smug “I told you so” look, the woman marched out the door. Mike scooped up Valerie and held her until she stopped crying.
“We’ll figure something out,” he whispered into her hair.
“I don’t care if I ever act again,” she said.
“Oh, honey, we don’t live like that. You love acting. You can do what you love. We just have to figure out how to make it happen.”
Valerie nodded and wiped her tears.
“Who’s next?” Mike said.
“I have a facial appointment. I thought I’d leave you with her, but … I forgot how awful she can be … “
Mike held her face between his big hands. His eyes caressed her beautiful face, then he kissed her lips.
“I love you, Val. Whatever you need is fine. You like that Ramon guy.. um, person. Why don’t we talk to him tonight?”
Valerie gave him a watery smile and nodded. He walked her through the tunnels to her Mustang. Valerie clung to him before getting in the car. He waited until she was down the street before he went back to the house.
Laughing, he made his way back to his studio. Then panic set in.
He’d waited a lifetime to be with Val. What if he wasn’t right for her life? He was going to lose Valerie because he was too hairy-beefy-hillbilly. There was no way to fix any of those things.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1, continues tomorrow…
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