More Tales of the City (Tales of the City Series #2)by Armistead Maupin
The tenants of 28 Barbary Lane have fled their cozy nest for adventures far afield. Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with a forgetful stranger, Mona Ramsey discovers her doppelgänger in a desert whorehouse, and Michael Tolliver bumps into his favorite gynecologist in a Mexican bar. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of… See more details below
The tenants of 28 Barbary Lane have fled their cozy nest for adventures far afield. Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with a forgetful stranger, Mona Ramsey discovers her doppelgänger in a desert whorehouse, and Michael Tolliver bumps into his favorite gynecologist in a Mexican bar. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of all—without ever leaving home.
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SHE WAS NOT MOVING BACK TO CLEVELAND. SHE WAS NOT running home to Mommy and Daddy. She knew that much, anyway. For all her trials, she loved it here in San Francisco, and she loved her makeshift family at Mrs. Madrigal's comfy old apartment house on Barbary Lane.
So what if she was still a secretary?
So what if she had not met Mr. Right ... or even Mr. Adequate?
So what if Norman Neal Williams, the one semi-romance of her first six months in the city, had turned out to be a private eye moonlighting as a child pornographer who eventually fell to his death off a seaside cliff on Christmas Eve?
And so what if she had never worked up the nerve to tell anyone but Mouse about Norman's death?
As Mouse would say: "Almost anything beats the fuck out of Cleveland! !"
Mouse, she realized, had become her best friend. He and his spacy-but-sweet roommate, Mona Ramsey, had been Mary Ann's mentors and sidekicks throughout her sometimes
glorious, sometimes harrowing initiation into the netherworld of San Francisco.
Even Brian Hawkins, an oversexed waiter whose advances had once annoyed Mary Ann, had lately begun to make clumsy yet endearing overtures of friendship.
This was home now-this crumbling, ivy-entwined relic called 28 Barbary Lane-and the only parental figure in Mary Ann's day-to-day existence was Anna Madrigal, a landlady whose fey charm and eccentric ways were legendary on Russian Hill.
Mrs. Madrigal was the true mother of them all. She would counsel them, scold them and listen unflinchingly to their tales ofamatory disaster. When all else failed (and even when it didn't), she would reward her "children" by taping joints of home-grown grass to the doors of their apartments.
Mary Ann had learned to smoke grass like a seasoned head. Recently, in fact, she had given serious thought to the idea of smoking on her lunch hour at Halcyon Communications. Such was the agony she suffered under the new regime of Beauchamp Day, the brash young socialite who had assumed the presidency of the ad agency upon the death of his father-in-law-law, Edgar Halcyon.
Mary Ann had loved Mr.Halcyon a great deal.
And two weeks after his untimely passing (on Christmas Eve), she learned how much he had loved her.
"You stay put," she told Michael gleefully. "I've got a valentine for you!"
She disappeared into the bedroom, emerging several seconds later with an envelope. Mary Ann's name was scrawled on the front in an assertive hand. The message inside was also hand written:Dear Mary Ann,
By now, you must need a little
fun. The enclosed is for you
and a friend. Head for some
place sunny. And don't let
that little bastard give you any trouble.
"I don't get it," said Michael. "Who's EH? And what was in the envelope?"
Mary Ann was about to burst. "Five thousand dollars, Mouse! From my old boss, Mr. Halcyon! His lawyer gave it to me last month."
"And this 'little bastard'?"
Mary Ann smiled. "My new boss, Beauchamp Day. Mouse, look: I've got two tickets for a cruise to Mexico on the Pacific Princess. Would you like to go with me?"
Michael stared at her, slack-mouthed. "You're shittin' me?"
"No." She giggled.
"Will I go? When? How long?"
"In a week-for eleven days. We'd have to share a cabin, Mouse."
Michael leaped to his feet and flung his arms around her. "Hell, we'll seduce people in shifts!"
"Or find a nice bisexual."
"Mary Ann! I'm shocked!"
Michael lifted her off the floor. "We'll get brown as a goddamn berry, and find you a lover-"
"And one for you."
He dropped her. "One miracle at a time, please."
Now, Mouse, don't be negative."
"Just realistic." He was still stinging from a brief affairette with Dr. Jon Fielding, a handsome blond gynecologist who had eliminated Michael as lover material when he discovered him participating in the jockey shorts dance contest at The Endup.
"Look," said Mary Ann evenly, "if I think you're really
attractive, there must be plenty of men in this town who feel the same way."
"Yeah," said Michael ruefully. "Size queens."
"Oh, don't be silly!"
Sometimes Michael was sensitive about the dumbest things. He's at least five nine, thought Mary Ann. That's tall enough for anybody.
FRANNIE HALCYON WAS AN ABSOLUTE WRECK. EIGHT weeks after the death of her husband, she still dragged around their cavernous old house in Hillsborough, wondering bleakly if it was finally time to apply for her real estate license.
Oh, God, how life had changed!
She was rising later now, sometimes as late as noon, in the futile hope that a shorter day might somehow seem fuller. Her languorous morning coffees on the terrace were a thing of the past, a defunct ritual that had failed her as surely and swiftly as Edgar's diseased kidneys had failed her.
Now she made do with a languorous afternoon Mai Tai.
Sometimes, of course, she drew a glimmer of comfort from the knowledge that she was soon to be a grandmother. Twice a grandmother, actually. Her daughter DeDethe wife of Halcyon Communications' new president, Beauchamp Day was about to give birth to twins.That had been the latest report from Dr. Jon Fielding, DeDe's charming young gynecologist. DeDe, however, begrudged her mother the simple indulgence of even discussing her new heirs. She was downright sullen on the subject, Frannie observed. And that struck the matriarch as very strange indeed. "And why can't I dote a little, DeDe?" "Because you're using it, Mother." "Oh, piffle!" "You're using it as an excuse toI don't know-an excuse to keep from living your own life again." "I'm half a person, DeDe."
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