Wednesday, 4 April 2012

THE AUDREY HEPBURN CONNECTION



Alan Cadman


Breakfast Coffee . . . at Tiffany’s of course


Sally sat back in contentment, after she’d revealed her latest plan to her two closest friends.

Amy shook her head. ‘I’ve never heard such a half-brained idea in all my life.’

Jill raised her voice above the melody of “Moon River” that floated out of the speakers in Sally’s apartment. ‘Why don’t you just ask him, Sal, for God’s sake?’

‘You’re allowed to you know,’ Amy agreed. ‘It’s the twenty first century now, not the dark ages, or should I say not 1961 with your hair looking like that?’

Sally Brown was a big fan of Audrey Hepburn. Her favourite film of all time was Breakfast at Tiffany’s in which Hepburn played the role of Holly Golightly; the confused and manipulated New York socialite with a difficult past.

Sally looked down her nose at Amy. ‘It’s called class, but you two wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?’ She eyed both of her friends up and down. ‘Look at you both, with your identical razor cuts and over-straightened bobs. How passé is that?

Jill opened her mouth, but Sally carried on, ‘The Audrey Hepburn look remains timeless.’

Sally did bear a slight resemblance to her heroine, with her light brown eyes and shiny black hair. She even sported a few blonde highlights; similar to the ones Hepburn wore in the film.

Jill studied a box of designer chocolates, her fingers hovered over a fudge and strawberry blush. ‘You’re just a daydreamer Sal,’ she said, shaking her head.

Amy pouted her lips and sighed. ‘A drama queen, more like, if you ask me.’

Sally didn’t miss the way both of her friends looked at her in a pitiful way. ‘I know what you pair will be doing tomorrow, idling your time away in a tanning booth or a nail-bar. At least my plans for the day are going to be exciting.’

‘So you’re really going through with it then?’ Amy asked, as she pushed back a few strands of her ‘over-straightened hair’.

‘Of course, and to prove to you I’m so confident it’ll work, I promise I’ll have my hair cropped if it doesn’t. How does that sound?’

Jill held a strawberry blush half way to her mouth, which remained open.

‘I think you’re just plain barmy, ’Amy said, grabbing the box of chocolates from Jill.

‘Anyway,’ Sally said, ‘if by the slightest chance things don’t go as planned, it’ll be like the scene from Roman Holiday when Audrey’s character, Princess Ann, gets her locks chopped into the pixie cut.’ Amy and Jill both laughed . . . for a little bit longer than they should have.

A book rested on Sally’s lap, as the bus inched its way forward through early Saturday morning traffic. The front cover faced upwards. It displayed a black and white image of a dark haired confident young woman; with a quirky smile and timeless natural elegance. Above the image of the woman’s head were the words, Audrey Hepburn. Sally copied the smile to perfection. She thought Holly Golightly would approve of her plan.

The journey to London’s West End, where Sally was employed as a sales assistant, took around an hour to complete. This gave her plenty of time for daydreaming about a hectic New York social life and, of course, her plan.

Sally shifted in her seat. Amy and Jill have got me down as a nutter just because I don’t conform, at least it relieves the frustration of flogging expensive designer clothes I can’t afford and don’t really like.

Thirty minutes into the journey she picked up her favourite book, with the front cover aimed directly at the passenger opposite, and pretended to read the well-thumbed pages. Sally noted the man had only started to commute on the bus for the last few weeks. He always joined three stops later than she did, and remained in his seat when she reached her destination. He sat opposite her on the left. This gave her plenty of time to be seated on the right.

She decided to give him a pet name. Yes he looks like a Fred, a struggling writer in his early forties, with his cropped dark hair and deep blue eyes. In fact he’s just like the character, Paul Varjak, who Holly named . . . Fred.

The man in the opposite seat showed no signs of being engaged in any profession just by the clothes he wore. He glanced towards Sally and gave her a brief smile of recognition. She blushed and pretended to scan another chapter of the actress’s biography. She convinced herself he could see the connection, between her and Audrey, on the front cover of the book. 

Her ludicrous plan, as her friends pointed out to her the previous night, consisted of one objective; she simply wanted a date with Fred. Through her own insecurities, Sally didn’t know how to engineer one. Being the drama queen she was, she concocted a far more complex and illogical way to solve the age-old problem.

She went through it in her mind once again. When I’m ready to leave the bus, I’ll place the book on the seat without anyone noticing. Now for the tricky part, hope Fred picks up the book, stops the bus, runs down Bond Street and returns it to me. I’ll thank him, offer to buy him a coffee and ask the all-important question.

It never entered Sally’s head that if, by some slim chance, he did happen to see the book he would just hand it over to the driver, or return it to her on Monday.

An hour had passed since she boarded the bus. It was time to put her well thought out, if somewhat very odd, plan into action. The sound of screeching brakes signalled she had reached her destination. Sally remained in her seat motionless.

In a fleeting moment, every doubt she had about her idea became more illuminated. Perhaps Amy and Jill were right. It’s too late. I’m going through with it.

Sally tripped, as she stood up and nearly fell right into Fred’s lap. She managed to compose herself and, with her back to the aisle, placed the book on the seat. Her hand went to her mouth. Oh no, it’s far too near the edge!

She scrambled to the exit doors before the bus headed off to Marble Arch. As she stepped down from the bus, she couldn’t resist glancing behind her. Fred seemed unaware that the book had slid off the seat. The front cover faced upwards. It displayed a black and white image of a dark haired confident young woman; with a quirky smile and timeless natural elegance.

BIO: Alan has been writing short stories for four years. Before that, he was editor of a civic society newsletter for seven years. His published work has been rewarded with complimentary issues from magazines. Alan’s first cheque arrived on Christmas Eve 2009. Almost two years later he became a prize winner for flash fiction.

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