Tiny Viola ~ Chapters 21-30
Twenty-One ~ San Francisco
The next morning Ramon got a break from shopping and went to explore some of the great San Francisco tourist destinations. Viola and Espie told him what to see. Espie dropped him off at Market and Powell Streets at 9 am so he could take the cable car to Fisherman's Wharf and see Pier 39, Ghiradelli Square, and Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world.
Then Espie and Viola (in Espie's purse) went to all the antique stores in the city, looking for doll houses. They found quite a few antique furniture shops in the Mission, but unfortunately none with a doll house in it. Finally they found a small shop called "Red Buttons" that sold all manner of odds and ends. Espie just wanted to go in to browse around. It seemed the type of place that might have a doll house, and it was. In a far corner near the back of the store, hidden by a large birdcage, Espie found a doll house.
She lifted Viola out of her purse and put her in her shirt pocket so Viola could get a better look.
It was a maroon colored doll house, in the San Franciscan Victorian style, with a triangle roof and fine hardwood floors. The front of the house had the facade of the Victorian house, but the back was open so that children could play easily with the house.
It had a kitchen, a living room, a bedroom, a master bedroom, a den, a bathroom, and an open foyer near the entrance. It was quite a house.
"This is it." said Espie.
Viola nodded solemnly.
"Thank you," she said.
Just then an older salesman with a twinkle in his eye came by.
"Did you know this is a magic doll house?" he asked Espie.
"Magic? No, I didn't know. But I already know I want to purchase it."
"Look at this, I want to show you something," said the salesman.
He was holding a little paper cup of water. He poured it in the toilet and then flushed the little lever. The water swirled and went down!
"There's a septic tank over here," said the salesman, pointing to the outside side of the house.
"A little one of course, but see how it works! Amazing, huh?"
He pointed at the stove. "And this stove works too, you just have to add a little oil for the wick to burn. It's almost like this doll house was made for real little people."
"It's quite remarkable," said Espie. "I'll take it."
Twenty-two ~ The Doll House
That night Ramon helped Espie set up the doll house for Viola. It was perfect for someone her size. They stocked her little kitchen with food and added oil to the stove so she could cook if she wanted to. They added water to the empty jugs on the shelves so she could wash her hands or wash dishes if she needed to. They washed and dried the dusty linens and the comforter so her bed was fresh and clean. They added water to the toilet and added hot water to the tub. And lastly, Ramon fashioned a simple curtain to put over the back of the house so that Viola had privacy.
Viola opened a drawer of the desk and found sheets of paper and a tiny pen. She wrote out a thank you note for Espie and Ramon. She left it outside her doorstop. The writing was so tiny that they would need a magnifying glass to read it.
Then Viola took a long hot bath and dressed in some silk pajamas she found in another drawer. Finally she lay down to bed, happily exhausted with not a worry to bother her sweet head at the moment.
Twenty-three ~ Potion Problems
While Espie, Viola, and Ramon enjoyed San Francisco, waiting for the package from France with the Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion to arrive, Bonofacio was hard at work actually making that potion. He kept encountering a problem though. Every time he got a drop of the potion created it evaporated within one minute of its creation. He didn't have time to test it on any animal and frankly didn't want to in case he had to deal with a large rodent of some sort storming his lab. Also, he didn't think the Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion would work on anyone except Viola anyways, since it was coded to her DNA. Based on his studies and the tests he was able to do on plants, the potion did look like it would work for Viola. It was just a matter of the evaporating problem. There was no way he could mail it to San Francisco. The potion would just disappear en route, evaporated into the ether. And the potion required such delicate expertise to create that having Viola or Ramon and Espie recreate the potion mixture by mixing two bottles as one would do with hair dye, for instance, well, it just wouldn't work.
Bonofacio had to control the temperature, the wind factor, the humidity ~ all these things kept the potion at the perfect mixture to work. Bonofacio called Ramon with the news.
After explaining everything to Ramon, Bonofacio hung up the phone and sighed. Was it safe for Ramon to be traveling in Paris? Back in San Francisco, Ramon was wondering the same thing. He was on vacation from his work but his apartment had been bombed. He'd been working on arranging a work-from-home scenario with his boss, and then work from undisclosed temporary locations until it was safe for him to return to the sewing shop office where he worked in the accounting department as a bookkeeper. As long as his work could be emailed to him, it would be a fine set up, and no one need know his true whereabouts. But the thought of having to return to France so soon creeped him out. He didn't want to return only to be blown apart by some stupid thug.
Luckily for Ramon, when Espie and Viola heard the plan, Espie jumped on it.
"I can take you, Viola," said Espie. "You'll need someone who can travel safely to Paris and Bordeaux and who won't be under scrutiny. At least not the scrutiny of carrying a two inch person on board."
"Thank you," said Viola. "It'll also be safer for Ramon this way."
Ramon thought for a minute. "But how will you get through airport security? This isn't France where you just have to walk through a metal detector and your bags will be x-ray scanned. At SFO there's an entire body scanner and everyone must go through it."
"I was just thinking of that too," said Espie.
"We'll use my private jet. Since I'm known, I can avoid the body scanner, at least, I've flown to France that way before, and it's been fine."
"The only problem I can think of," she continued, "is that I have to film in San Francisco for three months starting in two weeks. So if we do this, we have to act fast and do it now."
"I'm ready when you are," said Viola.
"Let's see if we can leave tonight," said Espie. "I'll call Henia, my good friend and assistant. She can be trusted to know this, but I might just keep it from her to keep her safe from this stupid bombing thug. It's better if she doesn't know. However, she can get in contact with my pilot and help make arrangements for our stay."
"Before we go, there's just one place I want to visit before we leave," said Viola, "if you don't mind."
"Where's that?" asked Ramon.
"Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theatre School for Children."
Twenty-four ~ Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theatre School for Children
The Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theatre School for Children is an esteemed elementary school in the Dolores Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, whose students excel in academic performance as well as theatrical performance. This was the school where Viola taught second grade.
Espie Meadows showed up at Adda Clevenger Junior Preparatory and Theatre School for Children and caused quite a stir. Children everywhere pointed and giggled, awestruck. Faculty came over and gushed over her. It was just the sort of distraction Viola needed. Ramon came also, as Espie's bodyguard, with Viola, of course, perched carefully in his shirt pocket.
"If you children could show me your latest performance, that would be great!" said Espie.
Espie was talking to eighth graders, who excitedly began acting out scenes from Les Miserable for Espie. The principle came out and agreed to give Espie a tour of the premises.
"I'm fine here, Ramon," said Espie. "Feel free to meet me at the car."
Things were going just as planned. Now free from attention, Ramon started down the hallway in search of the second grade classroom. From her vantage point Viola gave Ramon directions. At last they reached the room. Ramon peeked through the glass window on the door. The class was in session.
He lifted up Viola so she could see.
"Miss Hasselhoff," said Viola. "She'll do."
Ramon pocketed Viola again.
"Hey, it's stuffy in here!"
"Look, it's for your own good. You can't be seen, remember?"
"Yeah. I wonder if my kids miss me. I miss them."
"I'm sure they do. Let's head to the car so we can meet up with Espie."
Twenty-five ~ A Private Jet
Espie finally came to the car. They left for the private airport pad where they were to meet Espie's pilot Pierre. The airport was secluded and somewhere past the Santa Cruz mountain range. It was quite a drive. Viola stayed perched on top of the fuzzy dice on the vehicle, so she could see out clearly. But after a while it got too hot, so she settled for sitting in the drink well between Espie, who was driving, and Ramon, in the passenger seat.
They talked about the San Francisco Giants, who just won the World Series. It was exciting, but they had missed most of the details, having been busy doll house shopping and taking care of Viola.
They put on talk radio and listened to Dave Ramsey expound upon the virtues of being debt free, paying off your debt feverishly, and staying out of debt and getting rid of credit cards.
Viola looked up at Espie, wondering.
"This doesn't apply to me," said Espie.
"This does apply to me," said Ramon. "Hm... new ideas.."
Viola stayed quiet. Frankly she was hoping they'd switch the channel to music but she didn't say anything. Espie and Ramon had been nothing but helpful to her since she had met them.
"I'm going with you," said Ramon.
"What?!" said both Viola and Espie.
"It makes no sense for me to hide all my life. I'm not a coward. My apartment has been bombed but the thug doesn't know where or who I am. I'll stay away from you both but I'm going to France. France is my home."
"Ramon, let me explain to you precisely how foolish you are being. We're asking you to stay away from Paris and Bordeaux for your own good. The thug might start asking questions to people who know you. He might dig deep and find something out. And then what will you do?" Espie said.
"I'm safe with you so far. I'm sure we were not followed to San Francisco or something would have happened by now," replied Ramon.
"Famous last words," said Viola. "Listen to Espie and be safe. You said last night your boss would let you work from afar.."
"And he will. And I will. I will work from afar. I'll avoid my usual places. I'll avoid my usual friends. I'll be very, very careful. But the truth is I'm pissed at these guys and I want to do some detective work and find out what's really going on," said Ramon.
"What's really going on is I'm going to be big in no time, and then we'll all be safe," said Viola.
"Not if somehow Jean and Lielle were part of the H-Hydrobi Factor X potion," explained Ramon.
"We have to find out more. I have to know what's really going on and put an end to it."
Espie looked at Viola. "You'll be safe," she said. "I'll take you straight to Bonofacio in Bordeaux.Ramon, we'll leave you at the airport with a car. The rest is up to you."
"Thank you," said Ramon. "That will work."
Except for Dave Ramsey, they drove the rest of the way to the airport in silence. Pierre was found, met, and Espie, Ramon, and Viola boarded the private jet plane.
Twenty-six ~ Bordeaux
After landing near Bordeaux, Espie left Ramon at the airport with a car, just as she said she would. Viola and Espie headed directly to Bonofacio's lab where Bonofacio greeted them happily. It was the first time he had ever seen a star in person.
"Esperanza, my dear, you are radiant," Bonofacio said charmingly.
His gray hairs were standing on end and he resembled Einstein for a moment, Viola thought.
"Thank you Bonofacio for all the work you've done," said Viola.
"Let's get you to the lab, post-haste," said Bonofacio.
Espie entered the lab and set Viola on a table.
"Now, it takes me only 5 minutes to concoct Lycomobin Synclopia Rye potion after 24 hours of distillation, which of course I am constantly doing, meaning there is always a supply of Lycomobin Synclopia Rye mixture ready to be anti-oxidated and queued for human ingestion. The problem is the quick evaporation, which I explained earlier to Ramon. Since you are here now, let me try to make the potion and you can ingest it."
Bonofacio worked feverishly pulling bottles with different colored potions and mixtures in them and combining different colors. He used a centrifuge, which spun a purple mixture until it was blue on top and red below. He poured off the blue into a separate beaker and muttered things like, "Isolation. For later."
He added a white cocktail to the red left over and swirled it around. Then he heated the concoction over a Bunsen burner and collected the steam with yet another large beaker.
The steam collected and began to drip. He poured a drop onto a green liquid drop from another beaker and the potion-drop turned pink.
"Now watch," he said.
The pink drop was quickly evaporating. In a minute, there was none left.
"Based on my experiments," said Bonofacio, "this should work instantly. Are you ready?"
"Yes," she replied simply.
Bonofacio poured another drop of the condensed liquid into an empty beaker and added a green drop from the other beaker. He swirled the beaker and when the drop turned pink, he handed it to Viola.
She did so. The liquid burned and took two gulps. Viola choked. She stumbled around. She started panting.
"Water! Water!" She gasped.
"No, you can't. It'll just dilute what you've just drunk. Try to hold on," said Bonofacio.
Viola swallowed again and again and teensy tears formed in her eyes.
Other than that, nothing seemed to have happened.
They all waited for the momentous change to occur, but nothing happened.
Twenty-seven ~ Complications
Espie took Viola to a hotel in Paris. In her pocket. It was an ancient hotel, a beautiful hotel, where the servers and maitre D knew Espie from her previous stays.
"We forgot your doll house," said Espie.
"It's OK," said Viola. She looked incredibly sad.
"Maybe it'll happen just like it happened the first time, maybe it'll take some sleep and a day or two to work," said Espie.
"I hope so," said Viola.
"In that case you should sleep in a bed, so if you wake up, you'll be comfortable," said Espie.
The room had only one bed. It was a large one though.
"I'll sleep next to you," whispered Viola. Her heart was pounding.
Espie turned her beautiful face and looked out the window. The sun was streaming in.
"We still have plenty of time to see Paris if you'd like. The thug can't know that I'm the one who has you. You can stay hidden in my pocket and I'll go wherever you'd like."
Viola tried to cheer up. Inside she was heart broken. What if tomorrow she woke up and she was still two inches tall? But she determined that she was going to make the most of it. She was going to enjoy herself with Espie. At least she got to be with her. Espie was so fun, so beautiful, so fun-loving and kind. She was everything Viola ever wanted in a person. Viola began to acknowledge feelings inside of her that she had kept hidden. Love. She felt love for Espie. Even though she knew there was no chance. How often are movie stars lesbians? And there was so little hope if tomorrow she did not wake up her regular size. She was so worried about it she didn't think she'd be able to sleep at all. She wanted to be her regular self so she could talk to Espie as an equal. So she could hold her and touch her. So she could kiss her. It was astounding to Viola to feel this way, but that is how she felt and she wouldn't hide it any longer. At least, not from herself. All this happened in a flash for her. It was all in that beautiful turn of Espie's head. It was in the sound of her voice, in her gentleness, and in her kind offering to lift Viola's spirits. But she knew her chances. There was so little she could do. But she had to try.
"Espie, what would you like to do today?" asked Viola.
Espie was surprised. Her light eyebrows went up and an easy laugh came out.
"That's simple. I want to stroll along the Seine invisible, just like anyone else, and maybe pop into the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa again. Also the Impressionists, which are here for a while."
"That's a great idea!" said Viola brightly. And it was. It sounded like a perfect day.. with Espie.
"Well if that's all we're going to do, let's do it!" said Espie happily. She started humming and looking for her makeup bag.
"I use makeup and wigs and different, regular clothes, and usually I can get by without people noticing who I am," said Espie.
"Let's do it!" said Viola excitedly. "I'm going to change into some of the clothes I brought, if you don't mind."
So Viola was put on the dresser and the pouch that held the clothes from the doll house was unzipped. Viola tried on a number of dresses and finally settled on a light peach one. It was beautiful on her, and yet a simple, everyday sun dress. She chose soft sandals that she had snatched from the doll house closet.
While she dressed Espie was putting on her makeup. She put it on in such a way that her features seemed to change and went from beautiful cover girl to just-exotic-enough to blend in. She put on a dark wig. Espie and Viola laughed at the final look.
"Gorgeous," said Espie. And she kissed her finger and touched Viola's hand. Viola's heart swelled.
Twenty-eight ~ A Day in Paris
Espie strolled along the Seine and told Viola about her childhood.
"I was here when I was only seven for a movie," she began. "My dad was my manager, and my mother home-schooled me. So this means I missed a lot of the regular school experiences that most kids have."
"That's OK," said Viola. "Working in theatre at a young age is a good education in itself. And kids who are in theatre are more confident."
"I don't regret my life at all. I have a great life. But I did make sacrifices. I never had a prom."
"But you do support yourself as an actress," said Viola. "That's quite an accomplishment."
"What did you do before Viola? Before you were shrunk to two inches and found your way into my pocket?"
"I'm a teacher. Second grade."
"That's great!" said Espie. "Fulfilling work."
"Tiring, but yes, fulfilling too," said Viola.
"Let's stop in that cafe and get something to eat," said Espie.
They went in and Espie ordered a non-fat latte and a small salad. She asked Viola what she wanted to eat.
Viola laughed. "Just give me a bite of what you're having. But I don't drink dairy, so no latte."
They went outside. The cafe was crowded and the tables and chairs outside were full.
"Let's go to a park," said Espie. She went back in and ordered her food to go.
In the park Espie found a bench. She set Viola down beside her on a napkin. She added a bit of salad for Viola to nibble on.
"So why don't you drink dairy? Are you allergic?" asked Espie.
"No, I just learned about dairy and how casein, which is the protein in dairy, causes cancer cells to grow in rats. Ever since I read that in this book called The China Study, I haven't wanted to drink dairy," said Viola.
"Well. Thanks for telling me."
"It's scientifically proven," said Viola.
Espie poured her latte out on the grass behind her.
After they finished the salad, they went to the Louvre. For the first time Viola saw the Mona Lisa and many other famous paintings that Espie pointed out to her. They were lovely, especially the Impressionist paintings.
It was evening when they left the Louvre, at closing time.
"Do you want to get dinner?" asked Viola.
"Actually, I do, but I was just thinking of you."
"Really, me?" Viola blushed with happiness.
"I was just thinking that here I've walked all over Paris today and all through the Louvre but you haven't had a chance to walk anywhere or move at all; you've been stuck in my pocket," said Espie.
"Yes it would be great to move about. But I can wait until we're back in the hotel."
"OK, it's up to you."
Espie picked a vegetarian restaurant, Saveurs VegetHalles. It was one Henia recommended and it was famous in Paris among vegetarians and vegans. Inside Viola was doing cartwheels.
Twenty-nine ~ Dinner
Espie ordered a hummus plate and soup of the day with a second spoon. Luckily she found a seat at the far end of the restaurant and had some privacy. She put her purse on the table and hid Viola beside it, under a scarf. This way she could pass food to her. Viola ate so little that it only looked like small crumbs anyways.
Viola couldn't help it and peeked out at one point, just to get a quick glance of the restaurant. A waiter went by with a tofu cheesecake and Viola started drooling. She sighed.
Espie laughed and ordered a tofu cheesecake.
At the hotel, Viola ran around on the bed, something that looked pretty comical to Espie. Espie left and then said, "I have an idea!"
Espie set up an obstacle course on the floor with her makeup, a toilet paper roll, hair brushes, and the tray and cups found in the room.
"Here you go!" Espie called out. "You have two minutes."
She set Viola on one side of the room, at the beginning. Viola skirted under a hairbrush and then climbed the side of a cup to jump over an open lipstick. Next was the toilet paper roll, but rather than running through it, Viola ran on top of it, testing her balance. She then ran under a shirt on the ground and then through a pair of jeans. Just then the door burst open.
Thirty ~ !
It was Pierre. He was frozen at the door.
"Pierre! What are you doing here?" asked Espie.
"Darling. Alone. At last," said Pierre.
"Shit," said Viola.
She quickly scampered out from under the jeans and sped under the dresser. Just in case Pierre or Espie should accidentally step on the jeans, with her under.
"AH!!! MOUSE!!!" Pierre yelled.
"Where did it go!?" Espie yelled back.
"Under there -- who cares?! I'll take you out of this place. This is disgusting," said Pierre.
Viola started crying.
Pierre grabbed Espie and pulled her out the door.
"What a mess Espie. Are you taking your pills?" asked Pierre.
Pierre shut the door. Viola could hear them arguing but she couldn't make out what was being said. She ran to the closed door and crawled under the space between the carpet and the bottom of the door. Now she could hear everything ~ they were fighting about Espie wanting to go back into the room. Pierre was pulling Espie down the hallway toward the elevator.
"Pierre, leave me alone, I have to go back!" Espie argued.
"Go back where?" Pierre asked.
"I'm going to my room. Unhand me!" yelled Espie.
"I can't let you," said Pierre sternly. "There is a mouse in that mess of a room. You're obviously off your pills."
"Of course I'm off my pills. I've been off Xanax for three months. I'm over you."
"You don't mean that. And I really do think you need your Xanax."
"Oh do you?"
"You're clearly not able to take care of yourself."
"Is that so? Well, Pierre, you're fired. You're a pilot, not a doctor. Now let me go!"
But Pierre wouldn't. Instead he lunged in for a greasy, wet kiss. Espie slapped him. Pierre was momentarily taken aback. This gave Espie her chance to stomp away from him. She went straight back to her hotel door. Unfortunately it was locked and the key was inside. Viola was afraid to peek out or say anything in case Pierre noticed.
Pierre's face contorted in rage. He ran to Viola and began to beat her.
"NO!!!" yelled Viola from under the door. Pierre was too enraged to notice her now.
Viola ran out from under the door and jumped onto Pierre's ankle. Then she bit and pinched him with all her might.
Pierre kicked Viola off and she went flying. Espie saw but she was already slumping. Before being able to do one of her famous kickboxing kicks, her head had been hit and she was losing consciousness.
"Viola," Espie murmured, before blacking out.