Tour’s Books Blog

June 10, 2014

Carly and the Tango Instructor – Part 2

Filed under: Adventures of Reacherfan Groundhog — toursbooks @ 2:31 pm
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“You’re sure this is the place?” Trey asked.

“That’s what the map says.  On their website it was kind of a plus sign shaped building – look, over there!  Yes, this is it.”  The groundhog pointed smugly.

RF was still a bit wound up.  She went a little crazy in the convertible last night, standing with her paws on the dashboard yelling, “FASTER!!!!!!!”  Bouncing around in poor Rupert’s lap, then throwing herself across his body and hanging her head over the side of the door so the wind could blow through her fur.  The djinn had several small heart attacks holding onto her.  He was shaking so much he had trouble holding his fork steady at the restaurant.

RF had a blast and once the kitchen found out the High Priestess of Tortum was there, she all but sat in state as the chefs all paid courtesy calls – especially the very nervous pastry chef.  The other diners, used to the extreme eccentricities of celebrities, assumed he was George Clooney, and largely ignored the fact a very chatty animal sat there discussing food with the chefs.  It helped that Rupert looked tall, blonde, and insanely handsome.  Of course, if he looked like his real 8 foot tall blue djinn with a pony tail, and pointy teeth, they’d probably barely notice.  This was California.  But having RF this excitable was like having a 2 year old on a sugar high and Trey was exhausted.  He was driving, so drinking was out.  Good thing there was bourbon back at the house.

Now they had a bigger challenge.  Getting an animal into a rehab facility.  Trey parked the Jag, grabbed RF who was a bit calmer this morning, and the three of them approached the bright yellow doors.  He was sure they were meant to be cheerful, but he felt like Dorothy holding Toto.  Any flying monkeys and they we so out of there.

“Hello.  I’m ……

“Mr Clooney!  No need for introductions!”

“No, I’m not George Clooney, I’m Trey Dupress for Carly Cady.”  Trey flashed the smile that slayed all the women in the Bakery and it worked here too.  RF sighed and looked at the ceiling.

“Oh, yes, of course!  Your secret is safe with me!  And you want to see Miz Carly.  Lucky lady.”  The woman with the name badge that said ‘Rachel Winters’ checked an online schedule.  “Miz Carly is just back in her room after therapy.  She’ll be a bit tired, but I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you.”  She looked at Rupert and smiled even wider.  “Both of you.  Are you her dance instructor?”

Rupert looked a bit nonplussed and then he rose to occasion, “No.  I’m a personal friend.”  He took Rachel’s hand in his and bowed over it.  “I’m Zari.”  Then he smiled and Rachel turned brain dead again.

Finally shaking out of her male beauty stupor, Rachel cast an uncertain eye on RF.  “Is that her pet?  We do allow them for short visits.  It won’t bite or anything?”  She sounded a lot less than thrilled with RF’s presence and rather disappointed she wasn’t some stupid poodle or golden retriever.   Trey felt her stiffen and tightened his grip.  “She’s quite friendly, but a bit shy around strangers.”  SHY??????

“Oh, ok I guess.”  Rachel looked uncertainly at RF, “Would you like a widdle treat?”  She was using that really annoying sing-song tone reserved for babies that drove RF nuts.  Then she shoved a store bought fake ‘baby carrot’ in her face.  She gave Trey a look that promised retribution as he smiled widely at the woman.  With great reluctance, she accepted the offering, holding it in her front paws and biting at it delicately.  Disgusting thing.

“She is soooooo adorable.  I’m sure Miz Carly will be happy to see her.”  She patted RF on the head and Trey knew by the tension in his partner’s body the receptionist was seconds away from being turned into a gerbil.  “Could we have directions to Carly’s room?”

Rachel-the-perky-soon-to-be-gerbil, laughed.  “Sorry.  We rarely get two such handsome men here at one time.  Now here’s a site map.  Everything is color coded and Miz Carly is right here.  She has a sweet older lady for her roommate.  Just go through those doors and follow the colors to her room.  Have a nice visit!”

They went thru another set of doors and were immediately assaulted by smells associated health care institutions.  “Water,” gasped RF.  Trey found a fountain and the groundhog spit out the bits of carrot and rinsed her mouth, spitting out water with the last vestiges of the offending produce.    “That was disgusting!  It was covered with chemicals.  I probably have hepatitis of the tongue or hanta virus.”

Trey and Rupert exchanged looks.  The drama of the groundhog.  “I think you’re safe from both.  Let’s go find Carly before she falls asleep.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Carly was trying to figure out why all the nurses and therapists were running in and out of her room, fluffing pillows, offering to do her hair, cleaning invisible dust and watching the door expectantly.   Suddenly a man who was a dead ringer for a younger George Clooney was there with a tall, drop-dead gorgeous blonde behind him – and held in his arms was …….. “RF?  Is that really you?”

“Hi Carly!” She gave a little wave.

The staff just stared at the men and didn’t even notice the animal was talking.  Being in California had its advantages – except Trey looked ready to run.  There had to be at least 6 people just staring at him in awe.  RF climbed up to his shoulder and whispered.  “Put me on the bed and then just roll with it.  Get these people OUT OF HERE while I ask some questions.”

Trey gave his partner a dirty look and muttered, “You owe me,” and he very gently set her on Carly’s bed and started chatting with the staff, expertly herding them out the door, while casting dark looks at RF.  Rupert looked completely at home with all the gawkers and pulled out some surprisingly smooth moves helping Trey clear the room.

“How are you feeling?”

“I hate this whole thing, but I think I’m feeling a bit better.  I hoped to get home in 2 weeks, but …… well, I think it really might take a month.  And I’ll miss the dance competition completely.  In fact, I don’t think I’ll tango ever again!”  She looked despondent.  RF wasn’t sure if she knew about Raul.

“Did you hear about Raul?”

“He hasn’t been to visit!  Why hasn’t he at least come to see me or sent a card?  Caryn sent a nice plant and a get well card, but even she hasn’t seen me.”

“Well, Caryn might be concerned about a lawsuit.  And I don’t mean to upset you, but Raul is missing.  He disappeared shortly after your fall and the police can’t find him.”

Carly looked upset and mad at the same time.  “I told that stupid cop that someone kicked my ankle.  You could see the swelling and bruise, but Raul said that happened a lot when practicing for a competition with an amateur and it didn’t really mean anything.  They just called me clumsy.  CLUMSY!!!!!!!!  I was set to compete in the senior amateur competition in Laugna Beach and we had a decent shot at a top 5 finish too!  I even paid the blasted entry fees!  Why would Raul lie?”  She sounded baffled by Raul and more than a bit angry.  Angry was good.  It made the next part easier.

“Well, he wasn’t really Raul.  He was Ricky Andretti from Brooklyn.  He seems to have come into a bit of cash recently.  You didn’t lend him any money, did you?”

“That lying sack of poo!  He had all these stories about growing up poor and dancing in the clubs in Buenos Aires for money.   Everything was a big lie!”  Seething now, Carly suddenly remembered RF asked about money.  “ME LEND HIM MONEY?  What money?  If he was looking for a sugar momma, he was looking at the wrong person!  And why would he want money from me?  He drove a Lexus, dressed in all designer clothes, and let me tell you, costumes for those competitions cost a fortune!  Most instructors, even major competition winners, don’t make a ton of money, drive small, older cars and save their money for their competition outfits.

“I guess Caryn does ok, but any studio needs to place high or win those amateur contests to keep their customers.  Wrecking the chances of a good student isn’t a smart move.  And an accident like mine makes all students nervous.  She could lose business.  And if I sued, she’d lose more.”

“Did Raul and Caryn fight?  Was he thinking of changing studios?  Could he have done this deliberately to hurt her business?”

Carly paused and gave RF’s questions a lot of thought.   Hesitantly, she replied, “You know, now that you mention it, Caryn and Raul had been giving each other the cold shoulder.  Not fighting, at least not in front of students, but something was wrong.  He wasn’t mad at her ….. well, maybe a little, but professional dancers are pretty temperamental, so as lowly students, we just ignored it.  He was quite charming with his private students – when he wanted to be.

“Dimitri is the better dancer, but he has so many awards, I couldn’t afford his private student fees.  And it’s not like there was any real competition between them.  Dimitri and Caryn are dance partners in competitions, but he’s gay and in a committed relationship with a stockbroker.  They aren’t hurting for money and he owns part of the studio with Caryn.  Caryn has a boyfriend and they seem to be serious, so it wasn’t like Raul was after her.”

“Could he have been jealous of Dimitri?”

“Oh, he was.  Insanely so, but Dimitri usually ignored him, so he just sort of seethed.”

“Was Dimitri competing in your group at the competition?”

“No, most of his students are younger than me and can do the more complicated moves.”

“What about the other instructors?”

“Well, the women are the most competitive because private male students are a lot harder to get and keep.  Especially talented ones.  Cindi – with and ‘i’ – has a really good one.  Dave’s an electrician and has limited money for lessons, so like me, he can’t afford Caryn or one of the other high profile instructors.  But I know Ellen wants to steal him.  She a much better teacher and needs a good young male student.  She and Cindi are barely speaking and I think Dave is almost ready to quit the studio and go elsewhere rather than deal with them.”

“Does that happen a lot?  Instructors stealing students?”

“I think it happens more than it should.  It’s kind of cutthroat.  Like a used car dealership, they circle like sharks over promising students that look like they’ll stick with it.”

“So why did you start dancing?”

Carly blushed deeply.  “I wanted to go out more and thought it would be good to learn to salsa dance.  It’s very popular in the adult clubs around here.  So I took some group lessons at the ‘Y’ and then wanted a bit more and tried this studio, Foot Steps.  I kind of got hooked on the Argentine tango and Raul was really good and I could afford him.”

“And what was the real reason?”

Honestly, trying to lie to RF was really hard.  “I went on Weight Watchers and saw how much dancing did for Kristie Alley, so I figured, it was one exercise that I might not hate and gave it a shot.  I liked it, just like I said.  It made me feel better, gave me more energy.”  She pulled a face.  “Or it did until Raul dropped me.  Now look at me.”

It would have been a perfect moment for some reassuring sympathy, except her roommate cut loose with a loud fart.  “And then there’s Mrs Kim.”  Now Carly sounded resigned.

“On the upside, there is some entertainment value.  You can start scoring them for loudness, duration, and ……. fragrance.  Then hold up a scorecard.  If you can’t change it, make the best of it!”  RF grinned.

“How about this Mrs Kim?”  RF called as she carefully stepped across the bottom of the bed, stood with  her tail pointed to Mrs Kim, and let loose with loud and smelly one – just as Trey and Rupert came back in the room.  Carly shook her head.  RF really was nuts.

“RF!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  Open a window!”  Rupert ran to comply.  Mrs Kim was laughing and gasping in the groundhog created miasma.

“You funny demon rat.”

“I’m a groundhog, Mrs Kim.  A member of the marmot family.  I am not a rat!  And I’m definitely not a demon.”

“You and blondy both demons.  You a fat demon.  Kind of small, but a demon.”

I AM NOT FAT!  I AM ZAFTIG!  ZAFTIG!

“That just German for fat.”

“I’ll give you fat ……”

“You stop right now, RF.  Are you done questioning Carly?”  Trey snatched her off the bed before she could launch herself at the little Korean lady.

“NO!”

“Why are you yelling at me?”

“Because you wouldn’t let me drive the Jag!”

“You can’t see over the steering wheel or reach the pedals.  How could you drive?”

“Size discrimination!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Carly turned to Rupert, looking a bit stunned.  “She wanted to drive?”

He sighed deeply.  “You have no idea.  Now she wants a car.”

“Oh.  That’s not good, is it?”  Wow, Rupert looked really good as a human.

“Not if you’re anywhere near her, no.”

Apparently done with their squabble, for the moment at least, RF turned to Carly again.  “Who was in the studio when you had your accident?”

“Dimitri was dancing with Mrs Benson.  She’s in the amateur competition as well, but in a much younger age group.  She’s late 20’s early 30’s and married to some bigtime TV exec in Laguna Beach.  She’s on the board for the Laguna Beach Ballroom Dance Club.  They’re the ones sponsoring the pro-am event and it’s sanctioned by NDCA – National Dance Council of America.  With all the coverage on TV for ballroom, they get big crowds, especially here in SoCal.  And Cindi with Dave.  They were polishing some footwork, but he’s in a different age group too.  None of them had reason to want me out, because we didn’t compete against each other.”

“And Dimitri wasn’t near you?  And neither was Cindi?”

“No.  He was always careful that way.  He really is a pro.  I wish I could afford him – well I would if I could still dance.  Won’t be doing ballroom after this.”  She sighed unhappily.  “Cindi and Dave were a bit closer, but if they did anything, it was an accident.”  Carly looked at Rupert as if realizing just what he was, “Can’t you, like blink and make this all better?  You know, if I say I wish …………….”

“NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Trey, RF and even Mrs Kim were all yelling at once, stopping Carly from saying more.

“Carly, you cannot say that to a ……., ah,” she glanced at Mrs Kim, “him.  Ever.  When I broke my paw last year, I had the surgery and therapy and everything, so I do understand.  I couldn’t even dig a hole, and for a groundhog, that’s like basic part of life.  But you simply cannot EVER ask or wish for something like that.”

“Then it’s not like Aladdin?  Or I Dream of Jeanie?”

Rupert smiled.  “It’s never like that.  Unless you know how to do what RF does, we’re very dangerous.  I am bound to her now, for a time, but saying such a thing to me, it could cost your life and your soul.”

Carly sat wide-eyed.  Mrs Kim looked at RF, “You fat, but you not bad demon.  And you fart good.  You bring some kimchee and we try again.”

“Then I get 1000 year eggs!”

“Kimchee do better.”

RF got that evil smile that made Rupert want to run.  “Not for me.”  Goundhogs and eggs were a potent mix.  Trey sighed.  Good thing they would be back in the UK soon, because a fart contest with Mrs Kim would likely lead them to being banned from Vista Knoll for life.

The groundhog turned to Rupert, “Where’s that bottle I gave you?”  He handed over what looked like an ordinary extra-large calcium plus D3 vitamin bottle.  “Now, just in case, this is real calcium.  Turn it upside down and unscrew the bottom and ………………… Neuhaus dark chocolate truffles!  I’ll see what I can smuggle in tomorrow before we leave.”

Carly was all but orgasming on a truffle when she realized RF would be leaving soon.  Swallowing she asked, “You’ll know what happened that fast?”

“I’m pretty sure I know now, but I have some people to see before I can be sure.  You rest now.  We’ll see you tomorrow and let you know what we find out.”

“You bring kimchee – and truffles.  I like chocolate.”  She looked at Carly.  “You share truffle with old lady.”

“Why?  You never even talked to me before.”

“You not interesting before.  Now is different.”  She holds he hand out.  “Truffle!  Or I tell evil nurse Dwayne.”

Carly glared at Mrs Kim as RF, Trey, and Rupert said hasty goodbyes and left the roommates to the ‘Great Truffle War’.  They were almost out of the building when RF observed, “Well, at least Carly seems more lively than when we arrived.”

Trey sighed and tossed his partner in the car.  “Where to next?  The dance studio?”

“OK. And Rupert, find that Benson person in Laguna Beach.  Maybe your cousin can help.  I want to talk to the husband and the wife.”  Rupert got busy on the cell phone while hanging onto RF as she hung over the door again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To be continued …………………….

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