The Ritzy Column

Submitted into Contest #254 in response to: Write a story in the format of a gossip column.... view prompt


Fiction Funny Speculative

This column is meant for entertainment purposes. Please do not sue me. Any tips or leads can be directed to my email which you can find on our newspaper’s contact page.

It is fifteen minutes past six in the evening. The aura of prestige and class permeates throughout the Vee ’Ola restaurant. Political figures dine here. Self-made millionaires dine here. It is even rumored that actor Getta Davis received the call to learn that she had landed the role, in what is now her award-winning movie, Plausible Deniability. The reservations are made months in advance and walk-ins are guaranteed at least an hour’s wait. And even if you are lucky enough to get a table before then, one glance at the menu with entrees starting at seventy-five dollars, you may just decide a microwavable pizza is the wiser choice. I am cutting into my salmon covered in roasted peas and sauteed mushrooms, when to my shock, in walks Poppy Gallagher. Signature black sunglasses and a black dress, that Audrey Hepburn would have approved of, are where the classiness of this outfit stops. Bright orange high heels and big parrot earrings turn the outfit into a construction hazard zone. But it is not the outfit that warrants the passing glances of others. It is the fact that Poppy has walked into this establishment at all. Three months into a high-profile divorce case with her ex-husband Nathaniel Gallagher. It has been a spectacle of fonder that has ranged from secret bank accounts, to rumored year-long affairs and even a letter written by Nathaniel Gallagher himself. A letter to his mother, telling her that marrying Poppy was the equivalent of joining a circus and wondering if a fun mirror is the reality of looking at his relationship. His words, of course, not mine.

           Poppy takes a seat at a table, in the middle of the restaurant, as if she does not notice the sideways glances of others. She places a bright orange purse on the table and digs out a handheld mirror and her signature red lipstick. She applies the lipstick as if, she does not already have a fair quantity on. I am so consumed by her presence, that I almost do not notice Rick Holden approach her and sit down across from her. Oh Rick Holden. The man that Hollywood has nicknamed “The Absent One.” Never on time on a movie set. Never reads his lines and always asks for a dressing room equipped with baskets of blueberry muffins and potato chips. He occasionally gives riveting performances but most of the time, the director is quoted as saying he has never made such a disappointing casting choice. Rick is dressed in a wrinkled blue dress shirt and yes, unbelievably, neon green gym shorts. To top off his outfit he has chosen blue socks and a very new pair of white Nike sneakers. I am writing this down on my napkin, so as not to forget the memory.

           Rick and Poppy are talking, as if they are old friends. A waiter with a poker face, already having brought them a two hundred bottle of wine, that they are consuming throughout conversation. Poppy has never been shy about her flirtatious nature. She ravishes in male attention, at least that is what the wives of the Lush Society would tell you. One of those wives claiming Poppy popped up at her summer pool party, two years ago, with no wedding ring on her finger and dressed in a scantily clad green bathing suit. “It was atrocious.” I sniggled at this woman’s account of the evening because she spent the whole recount of the story, looking as if she had something rotten under her nose. Rick and Poppy are clearly enjoying each other’s company. Everything seems quite peachy until Rose Gordon walks up to the table and that is when I slide into a closer seat. Somehow completely undetected. The low lighting in Vee ‘Ola proving to be extraordinary. Poppy greets Rose, as if they are old friends, but Rose will hear none of it. “YOU SLIMEY WOMAN!” The restaurant screeches to a halt at Rose’s raised voice but even more extraordinary than the lighting, the restaurant continues at its previous pace. I wonder if Poppy Gallagher has any friends left in this city. Poppy laughs and waves Rose off which makes Rose even more upset. She grabs the wine glass out of Rick’s hand, who is completely shocked by the whole thing, and throws the wine in Poppy’s face. A big Chester size grin comes across Rose’s face, and she politely says, “I hope you have a beautiful evening,” and disappears into thin air. I am assuming this has something to do with the fact that Poppy was recently cast on the new celebrity game show, two is too Many. In most critics’ eyes, a stab at garnering publicity for the show. Rose Gordon has been standing alongside Brent Walls for ten years doing a widely popular trivia game show and was aligned to get that role. When Rose Gordon heard of the role being snatched from her, she was furious. Reportedly having her assistant get a stack of Poppy snapshots which she chucked tomatoes at for an hour straight. At least that is what the security guard at the production building told me.

           Rick Holden grabs napkins and tries frantically to help Poppy clean off her dress and her face. She brushes him off and scurries off to the restroom. In that moment, I inch toward the table where Rick Holden is trying to quickly pour another glass of wine before he loses what is rest of his nerve. “Rick Holden and Poppy Gallagher. New power couple?” He looks at me, as if I am sprouting broccoli from my head and says they are not a couple. “Are you helping her with her divorce? Giving her legal advice? I mean you have been married four times and divorced all four times.” Rick downs the glass of wine and pulls crumpled twenty dollar bills out of his pocket. “My mother was right. I should move to Montana and work at a family farm. Throw Hollywood out my passenger side window.” “Can I quote you on that?” Rick’s face turns bright red, throws five twenties on the table, and runs out of the restaurant. With Poppy still in the restroom, I return to my unattended meal. I am enjoying my salmon once again when Poppy returns to her table. She notices Rick’s disappearance and crumbled bills on the table and is clearly frustrated. She grabs her purse and for some reason, notices me sitting and eating my meal. She approaches me, a look of disdain on her face. She removes her sunglasses and I notice she has mascara smeared below her eyes. “How much money have you made off of my hardships?” she asks me. I have only written two columns about her in my career. One of them eviscerating her most acclaimed movie. She had fired her acting coach during production, and they cut her lines in half because they did not think she could muster extended dialogue. Ask a wardrobe stylist and they will tell you anything. I place my fork down and respond, “I just write what people deem interesting. It is, unfortunate or not, depending on who you ask, of quite interest to read about celebrities. I am assuming it makes you all seem more human and not immune to the basic suckiness life can bring.” Poppy gives me a frown, places her sunglasses back on her face and sulks away. Parrot shaped earrings swinging as she blows by staff and pushes her way through the door. I finished eating my salmon and asked my waiter for the dessert menu. I eat the most delicious slice of cake and email my editor to tell her, my article will be ready for print before the deadline.

See you soon!

Sincerely, Rachel Ritzy

June 09, 2024 20:19

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