The Perils of Louella:

Chapter 175: Louella Visits The Harbor

by A.C. Cherbonnier
     THE CRUSH of the crowd outside the new Planet Hollywood restaurant at Harborplace was almost more than Louella could take. Who are all these morons? she fumed inwardly. They’re hogging all the space and they’re probably not from Baltimore at all!
     Beside her, Carol, Louella’s fellow Giant Food cashier and sort-of friend, was staring glassy-eyed at the red carpet where the big-name stars were soon to strut.
     Look at her! She really thinks this is important! Louella marvelled. Lesser luminaries strolled by to increasingly enthusiastic applause. Then Carol squealed and started hopping around. “Look! Over there! I think it’s--it’s--it is! Bruce Willis!”
     Louella tried to look interested. Was his head shaved? How bald was he, anyway? But the actor was wearing a baseball cap. Pretty easy for him,thought Louella resentfully, stroking her carefully tended and well-conditioned long red curls. A man can get bald, get wrinkles and a gut, and the women still scream. Even the men scream for this one. It’s amazing. I’ve never screamed for anybody.
     Willis started singing with a band. Louella had no idea he could sing. Kind of like watching a dog walk on its hind legs,she thought, reminded of a funny saying. It’s not that he’s good at it, it’s that he’s doing it at all.
     Suddenly Louella missed her sister, the wise-cracking Candy, who would’ve been much more fun to hang around with. But now that Louella had evicted Candy’s deadbeat son there was bad blood in the family.
     They hadn’t given Louella any credit at all for keeping the cops from doing a drug search of the formstoned Highlandtown rowhouse. She’d argued to the cops that Mason and his girlfriend and baby did not live in the house. This had been technically true: all their belongings were already stuffed in a U-Haul.
     Only Louella had realized the house could be confiscated if drugs were found in it. At that moment she decided she was going to sell the house. No more renting! You can’t even trust your own family, so how can you possibly trust total strangers?
     The cops had their dog sniff around the trailer, but found nothing. They took down names, gave Mason a significant look, and left with their siren blaring. Everybody had breathed again and resumed mutual hatred.
     “Probably got the wrong address,” Mason had muttered uneasily. No one had answered. Jerk! Louella had thought, looking daggers at him. You’re dealing, you scumbucket!
     “Isn’t this great?” enthused Carol, bringing Louella back to the present. “And look! See all those Orioles over there? And oh, wow! Isn’t that Luke Perry? And Stephen Baldwin? Am I right? Huh? Huh?”
     Louella, ignorant, nodded as if she knew all about them. Amazing. Carol must be 35 years old, and she has a kid in junior high, and she still thinks this stuff matters.
     But staring out into the sea of eager faces, Louella felt lonesome. Maybe they know something I don’t,she thought sadly. But she couldn’t begin to imagine what it was.


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This story was published on July 29, 1998.