Mrs. Marjorie Pickens pulled the collar of her black wool coat tightly under her throat. A chilly wind blew litter and leaves under her feet. She kicked at them absentmindedly with her black knee-high boots as she headed down the sidewalk after leaving her daughter's warm apartment. The bus stop was located two blocks away and the bus was not due to arrive until 3:13 P.M. The time was only 2:00. She carried a brown paper bag which her daughter, Suzette, had handed her in the apartment. Suzette had told her not to open it until she got home. It did not feel not too heavy and it smelled like freshly baked bread. Marjorie wanted to to open it and tear off a piece. "Maybe I should at least wait until I get to the bus stop." She knew she should wait until she got home, as her daughter had requested. It had always been an issue between them: Marjorie never listening to Suzette or respecting her wishes. "Just for once, just this one time, do what she would like you to do ... and wait," Marjorie pleaded with herself.
From the window of the ground floor apartment, Suzette watched her mother make her way down the street. She knew her mother would open the bag and tear off a piece of the perfectly formed whole wheat loaf. Would she have the discipline to wait … after all they had discussed?Just one time! " She thought to herself, " Do this one thing for me … one, two, three, four, five, six …" But, there it was: The lifting of her arm and and the sliding of her hand into the bag. She watched sadly as her mother's black figure walked down the street...eating the freshly baked bread.
Suzette was a young woman of 23. She had sensed something about her mother and it seemed disturbingly familiar. She could not and would not handle it any longer. She would leave. She knew her mother was addicted to bad relationships and it was more than she could bear. "Let her go, Suzette," she told herself. "Just let her go. Maybe she'll hit rock bottom." But, I will not wait for that to happen. I'll find my own life," she confirmed. "Its about time."
She sold or gave away all her possessions and within a couple of weeks, she moved out. She boarded a flight at LAX with a couple of suitcases and left Silver Lake where she and her mother had lived all their lives. She was tired of the grubby streets, the shabby Hollywood crowd and the loony-tunes her mother so easily attracted. Oh my gosh, so many crazy characters had come in and out of her life. She would find a place to live where people were normal. She had plenty of money since her father, a minor Hollywood screen actor, had died. He had left her a good amount in his will. Her mother's account contained more than enough for her crazy lifestyle for awhile. But, how long would it be before she would spend it all? The plane took off and the cars and houses became more and more like the toys of children. They couldn't be small enough for her.
Meanwhile, Marjorie had met the man of her dreams. It happened at the bus stop. She had taken off her black coat and sat contentedly eating the bread her daughter had baked earlier that day. A man riding by on his bike caught a whiff of the freshly baked bread. As he passed, he saw the person of Marjorie. She had taken off her tortoise shell glasses and let down her beach blond hair and there she sat in a yellow sundress. He circled the bike around and jumped off. He gracefully slid next to Marjorie on the bus bench, introduced himself as Ellis and asked if he could have a piece of that delicious smelling bread. She smiled at his tan face and pulled off a piece of bread. They sat munching as the traffic whizzed by and the afternoon shadows grew longer. It was love at first sight for both of them before any conversation.
And the plane Suzette was on got hijacked. The Russian hijackers were intent on taking this particular airliner to Siberia. Suzette was horrified. Luckily she brought along her winter clothes as she had been headed to New York. But Siberia? A gruff black-masked man grabbed her arm and said something in Russian which meant "Shut up!" He continued in a language she could not understand… "Be glad we are not blowing this rig up! Lucky for you, we are not stupid Jihadists!" He continued in surly anger. "Don't worry, you will keep your precious life!" And then he proceeded carrying out his kidnapping and hostage-taking. There were five of them. How did they make it on the plane with so many regulations in place before boarding?
The plane landed to refuel in New York. Suzette grabbed one of her suitcases and decided she would try to escape. She did not care what happened to her. She had to get off the plane. At this point she had a very bad case of cluster-phobia. She started screaming in panic and rage. This unnerving behavior earned her a push out the plane door. She fell and fortunately the suitcase broke the fall. Unfortunately, she did not hang onto her purse which contained her wallet, ID, ATM card, credit cards and cell phone. She looked at the plane as it fired up and took off for the rest of its flight to Siberia. The jetliner became smaller and smaller as she watched it disappear into the vast night sky. She got up, dusted herself off and went to report the incident to the authorities. It was dark and cold. She felt miserable.
To make matters even worse, she discovered she had grabbed someone else's suitcase. She couldn't believe it! She wandered into the JFK International Airport, (on Jamaica Bay in the southeastern section of Queens County, New York City, 15 miles by highway from Manhattan,) and tried to tell someone that the jet she had been on had been hijacked and was presently on its way to Siberia. They checked the computer. They told her she was scheduled to land "here at this airport around this time...and you have! We see no problem …" They easily dismissed her and carried on with their busy evening dealing with customers. How could this plane have landed, refueled and then taken off again with such ease?
By now she decided she better report it to the police. She trudged all the way to a police station near the airport. "ID please. Prove you were on this jetliner. Which one?" "Boeing 747-8, Flight 294, United Airlines," she reported."We will report it to JFK International immediately." Behind their formal politeness they were laughing and she perceived they did not believe her, either. She told them she needed to call her mother in California because she had lost everything on that plane. "Sure you did, Miss..." She waited while they patiently dialed the number. No answer. " I'll wait over here," she said glumly. "Can I try later?" "Of course!" the deputy replied.
If she knew her mother, she would be out until 2:00 A.M. It was only ten o'clock P.M. New York time, so it would be a long long night of waiting for her mother to answer either the house phone or by some remote chance, her cell phone. It was usually in her purse turned off when on a date and why would she answer a call from New York on her cell phone, anyway? Out of curiosity, maybe? Exasperated, she borrowed a coat from one of the clerks and slumped on a bench.
Meanwhile, back in California, Marjorie was having the time of her life with her new friend. Ellis had bought her a $1,036.00 Solomon solomo bicycle 8 c road bike modern double 12 and they went riding almost every day. During the following month her legs toned up and her health improved. Ellis influenced her to eat more vegetables, cut down on dairy products and eliminate alcohol or substances of any type. She lost weight, gained muscle tone and slept better than she ever had. He told her to stop bleaching her hair and let it be natural. She would no longer be a blond, but she would not miss the tedious regimen of bleaching and dying her hair. Ellis explained that it subjected her brain and kidneys to all those chemicals and bleach. "Look what it did to Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield ... and all my old girlfriends," he had declared. "They all became as nutty as fruitcakes!
And where was Marjorie the night Suzette called? Sleeping. Soundly and peacefully sleeping with her cell phone turned off and her landline ringer off as well. On that night, she was not even aware that her daughter had left town, as it had only been a week since she visited her at the apartment, the day she met Ellis - nor did she hear from Suzette for twelve more months.
It had taken Marjorie two weeks to realize her daughter had moved out of the apartment, leaving nothing, not even a forwarding address! She began calling Suzette's cell phone over and over, frantically dialing day after day. Once, a gruff sounding foreign voice answered and yelled at her from the other end. After that, nothing. This incident was alarming to say the least. She contacted the authorities and reported her daughter missing. Eventually, the authorities informed her of the kidnapped plane and the passenger list that included her daughter's name. The Boeing 747-8 had safely landed on the shore of the Black Sea. They explained to Marjorie that the kidnappers had been arrested, all the passengers accounted for and finally brought back home. All except Suzette Pickens from California.
This news left her mother completely devastated. All she could do was hope for the best. Ellis felt so sorry for her that he proposed. By the day of the wedding, Marjorie had still not heard one word concerning the whereabouts of her daughter. Oh, where was Suzette?
Suzette got up eventually. She had been trying to get a hold of her mother at the police station, but got tired of ringing the cell-phone in her mother's purse in vain. She wandered out into the night with someone else's suitcase. She strolled into a restaurant, sat down at the bar and watched the people of Queens. She had nothing and suddenly felt a feeling of pure freedom. She did not have an identity, she did not have a cell phone. She did not have money. She had absolutely nothing. She embraced the moment by hugging herself. She told herself how much she loved herself. And that was a feeling she had never felt before. She was strangely filled with joy. She could not explain it. Tears of joy came to her eyes and she just sat there in the noisy restaurant at the bar. It was two A.M. Didn't these people ever go to bed?
She struck up a conversation with a couple of men who each offered to buy her a drink. She decided to have fun with this. She had always enjoyed acting and with no identity she could could take on any identity she liked. So, with the first gentleman, she was Arlene. She laughed gayly and talked about her life in Georgia. She gave herself a bit of a southern accent and pretended she was from a large estate owned by her wealthy father, Peter Asken. "Have you heard of him? Everybody in Georgia knows Peter Asken!" She explained how he had inherited a peanut plantation which he subdivided and sold. She herself had two horses and he owned several champion race horses. "Oh, how I love horses!" She declared in her southern accent. At his point the first man got up hastily saying he had a plane to catch.
The second man, she decided, would meet Monique. She pulled her hair back and put it in a tight bun. She refreshed her lipstick and pretended to be an airline stewardess. She chatted about her travels and explained how she almost ended up in Siberia on one flight. Eventually, she revealed her true dilemma; that she needed a place to sleep for the night for she had left her purse which contained her wallet and credit cards on the plane of her last flight! "I don't know what to do for the night!" she blurted out.
At this point she was no longer acting and he sensed the urgency in her voice. He politely offered to drive her to his house just outside the city where she could stay the night in his daughter's room. She was away at college. He explained he had a live-in maid who would be happy to serve her breakfast in the morning. He was older, mid 60's. He had lost his wife recently. She was struck by his sincerity and warmth. She asked him what he did for a living and told her he was a university professor. He taught English and English Literature. She trusted him enough to take him up on his offer. His name was Jake Ellsworth. "I really appreciate this, Mr. Ellsworth." she said. "I would not be so forward as to accept your generous offer in any other circumstance! But, as I do not know what else to do... Thank You!" "Happy to help," he replied. "You will be comfortable my daughter's room."She told herself that sometimes fate offers solutions and you just have to trust your gut. As she hoisted the large suitcase she had been lugging around, (still unopened,) into the car, she climbed in. Something about him reminded her of her father, and a tear slipped onto her cheek.
She woke up the next morning yawning and stretching luxuriously. She felt as if she had never had such a wonderful sleep! She sat up briskly surprised to see a little alarm-clock's face of 12 noon. Where was she? Who's room was this? Whom had she met last night? She had had more than a couple sips of each drink offered her, so the night before was a little hazy. She couldn't believe she had trusted a complete stranger! Well, so far so good. Nevertheless, she had to get out of there! That familiar feeling of cluster phobia came over her. But, she forced herself to calm down… "After all, you have no identity or identification, or money or transportation!" She remembered she had given him a false name, what was it? Oh yeah, Monique. And what was his name… ummm... Mr. Ellis?
She looked around the well furnished and beautiful room. It had been decorated in pink, green and blue tones. Who's room was it? She decided to find out. She ruffled through some school papers sitting on the desk. The name on the papers was Janet. Janet Ellsworth. The picture on the wall showed a pleasant girl about 21, in a graduation cap and gown. She had obtained an AA as evidenced by the certificate next to the picture. It appeared she was a child development major. She felt sorry for her in a way.
Her own aspirations were to be an actress. She had always admired her father and wanted to be just like him. Suddenly, it dawned on her; If she signed up for some classes in theater at Janet's Jr. College, she could brush up on her acting skills and eventually go on auditions in New York. Perhaps Mr. Ellsworth and his daughter would let her stay there for a year. Of course, she would find a job and pay rent for the room each month. What about transportation? She would tell him the truth about her predicament and her real name. If he believed her, he would surely want to help her… maybe there was an extra bicycle around… or a car!
Dr. Ellsworth believed her tale and was indeed agreeable to her plans and requests. She couldn't believe her ears when he explained that the car his wife drove was still parked in the garage since the last time she used it, two months ago. She promised to pay $400.00 a month to rent out the room, "If you're sure it would be alright with your daughter." He explained it would be fine, since his daughter was not due to return from her university in Scotland until she graduated in two years. Now, she had to find a job. First she would find a job and then she would sign up for acting classes in the spring. She couldn't believe her good luck. It seemed too good to be true. A tear of thankfulness slipped onto her cheek. "Thank You, Dr. Ellsworth! I appreciate this more than I can say!" Suzette explained. Jake looked up from the book he was reading as he smoked his pipe." You are welcome and I can use the extra income!" he replied with a smile.
During the next month, she applied for a new social security card and after it came in the mail, she applied for a new driver's license. After she received her driver's license she located the New York branch of her bank and finally had access to her inheritance account. Suzette would never forget the freedom of having no identity, but she felt thankful to have hers back. Now, for a job.
She decided she could waitress at the restaurant where she met Dr. Ellsworth. It was not that far away and the drive was easy enough. She was used to waiting tables, as that had been how she survived in California. She had been very careful with her inheritance money as she did not wish to waste it. She knew she should invest it, but knew so little about financial matters. In the back of her mind, if, by some remote chance, she should ever meet a knight in shining armor…"But, his armor better be very shiny! Note to self: No drinking after work, Suzette! You were just lucky when you met Dr. Ellsworth!" She continued lecturing herself: "You might not be so lucky the next time…" And then out loud with great resolve she stated: "Don't worry, there won't be a next time!"
She did not want to mess up a good thing. She would not. She could not. She shed a single tear thinking about her good fortune to have found a nice room in a big comfortable house in a "normal" neighborhood surrounded by normal people. She was far away from the life she had led in Hollywood. She felt safe and content and decided she would not even try to stay in touch with her crazy mother who had caused her so much grief after her father had died.
Eventually, Suzette wisely decided to take accounting classes instead of acting classes. She earned a certificate in accounting from a six-month program at the local Jr. College. She quit waitressing to mentor with an accountant in Manhattan. She was given a full-time accounting position and her new paycheck enabled her to move out of the home of Jake Ellsworth. He felt sad to see her go, but congratulated her for achieving success so quickly.
After moving into her own apartment for a couple of months she grew strong in her sense of independence. She felt the joy of freedom and loved her autonomy.She enjoyed her work and loved being part of the success of the company. Her Boss began to appreciate her in more ways than one! Eventually the feeling became mutual and they became engaged exactly a year after she had arrived in New York. So, yes, she did very well for herself in only a year's time.
She finally decided to get in touch with her mother to invite her to the wedding. Her mother was overjoyed to finally hear from Suzette! She and Ellis attended the wedding in New York. After meeting Ellis, Suzette, knew they were a perfect match. Her mother seemed so different form her old frazzled self. She seemed much healthier and apparently had finally settled down. The reunion of mother and daughter washed away all the tragedies of the past, including Suzettes's resentments and Marjorie's year long agony of not knowing the whereabouts of her daughter.
The reunion was as happy as the wedding was beautiful. The two couples got to know each other while sightseeing New York and Manhattan, with Bob Wright as their tour guide.
Suzette and Bob eventually bought an old historic Mansion in Atlanta, Georgia. Later in life, Marjorie joined Suzette on the estate, when they were both quite old, after their husbands had died. And they lived happily ever after.