Chloe was a lifesaver. She had comfortably sold off almost all Sheila's properties in less than 3 hours to the highest bidders. The money Sheila had in her savings and the money realized from the sales was more than enough to pay off all the debts and even leave her with something tangible to get by for the rest of the year if she could manage it well. She had cleared all her debts but had lost everything: her job, houses, cars. The only property she had left was a small house she had bought in her first month as a model and a small salon car. That was how she went down and like most celebs who suffered from similar fates, she got forgotten quickly. Even Charlotte's sympathy towards her had been short lived. Charlotte had gotten her another car and an even better house but started reminding her constantly that she was unemployed. Why did you get a new car? Don't you know you're without a job now? A hamster? Can you handle the expenses of taking care of it? Oh Sheila, you didn't have to get real diamond, its too expensive and with your current situation, I don't know... Charlotte had been right all along, she was gradually running out of money but what annoyed her was the fact that Charlotte addressed it so plainly not knowing that the only reason she was in this mess was because she decided to put Charlotte's own life over her job. Sheila could remember vividly the conversation she had with Charlotte a week after the termination of the contract. She had gone visiting Charlotte on a Tuesday which was unlikely of her as her usual schedule that day was tight.
"Shei? A pleasant surprise", Charlotte had said on seeing Sheila that day. "What brings you over on a Tuesday?"
"Well, my contract got terminated last week, remember" Sheila shrugged.
Charlotte laughed and led her in. "That's true. I never asked. What happened?"
"I showed up late to work", Sheila said.
"So you're telling me that SPICY terminated the contract of their number one model because she showed up late to work? Interesting"
"...wasted", she added. "I was fucking Frank Sinatra at work and I'm not talking music"
"So you got terminated because you showed up late for work with a bottle of whiskey and a pack of cigarettes in hand", Charlotte asked.
"That's not all", Charlotte said.
"You won't want to hear the rest, trust me", Sheila smiled.
"Say it. Just say it", Charlotte shouted at her.
"I fucked with the director in my office!", Sheila shouted back. "He was so loving, passionate"
Marty who was reading a comic book on the dining turned to look at Sheila briefly before running upstairs to his room.
"I've told you before Sheila. Children don't easily forget what they hear", Charlotte said angrily.
"You asked for it", Sheila shrugged.
"I didn't tell you to shout it!", Charlotte shouted
"But you're shouting", Sheila laughed.
"Out of my house. Don't come back here again till you learn to put a leash on your mouth", Charlotte said standing up.
"And also get serious with your life, get a new job. I don't want your bad influence around my son all day", Charlotte added.
"You want to know how I really lost my job?", Sheila asked dead serious.
"No, I don't want to. Please leave." Sheila stood up and started out of the house but paused when she got to the door.
"You'll find out one day Charlotte. And the guilt would eat you up."
Sheila spent the rest of the day dejected in her salon car. It rained cats and dogs that evening so she decided to remain there just outside the gates of the Reeves family mansion. For the first time in years, she felt like a refugee once again, a rejected orphan from the slums of Mexico struggling to fit in to life in America. It was hard for her coming to terms with what Charlotte had done but Sheila was not one to keep anything at heart. The next couple of days they were back talking as freely as ever and in that instant they both forgot that brief ugly episode. But trust Charlotte with her overly principled life. Sheila knew very well that it would be only a matter of time before something of such happened again and she was not surprised this time...
Her car screeched to a halt just outside the building and she came down to assess it. She was not in the least impressed by the building before her. It looked almost like an 18th century family house that had dilapidated over time and needed lots of renovations. This was where she was going to be modeling, if they even decided to take her. After her termination at SPICY, speculations had gone round that she had suddenly ran out of luck as a model and began to draw losses towards the multi million dollar company. It may have been false news but which manager would like to test the viability by employing her and risk losing millions, not to talk of this one in particular who from his building didn't look like he even had a few hundred thousands to lose. The situation was almost hopeless. Doesn't hurt to try anyways, she thought.
She cat walked into the building, wearing the same confidence she had on a few years ago when she cat walked into SPICY. She was not expecting an applause from the workers or other models but she did it anyways. On entry, she was greeted by a poorly lit abandoned hallway and a daunting rodent nibbling at a piece of cheese right in front of her. It's confidence eating comfortably in her presence could tell only one story - GLAM had been its home for years and no one was a threat anymore and that as well could tell only one story - the people who worked there had tried unsuccessfully to evict it for too long and now they had gotten used to it's presence. Just as she thought, a horribly dressed man with an overgrown beard walked right up to her ignoring the rat.
"Sheila Mendez?", he asked, boredom and lack of interest written all over his face. He was to Sheila a typical definition of "I hate my job but i need it to get by."
"Sì", she replied calmly.
"We speak only English here...and fuck off Gail!", he screamed at the rat that had temporarily abandoned the cheese and had started nibbling at his shoes. Sheila stared hard at his old and worn out shoes.
"You can't blame it", she shrugged. "I'd eat those shoes if I was a rat".
"I don't like you, Miss Mendez", he frowned.
"Neither do I sire", she smiled. "Now take me to the owner of this shithole."
He smiled in agreement with her perception of GLAM and led her towards a dark staircase.
"Careful", he warned casually. "We've lost potential models on these stairs. We won't mind adding you to the tally" Sheila took his words seriously and put on the little torchlight she had kept in her bag. The hand rails of the stairs were broken and more than half of the steps were missing. Sheila was thankful she had put her torch on because there was no possible way she could have made it up there without proper lighting. Her companion who was obviously used to the routine climbed up expertly, jumping and doubling over the places that had no steps. They got to the end and she followed him closely as he turned and walked through a dark alley and straight through an open door of what looked like an office. She entered the office and he closed the door behind them.
"We're here", he announced. Sheila squinted forward and saw the man he was addressing at the far end of the office.
"I see", the man replied and gulped down half a bottle of scotch before talking again. "So what next?"
"Your orders sir"
"Bring her closer yo fool", the man cried. "I can't spank her fucking ass from there, can I?"
He turned to Sheila. "He's all yours. Try not to get him too angry."
He turned and left the office, shutting the door behind him. Sheila walked up to the man and stared him down. He looked vaguely familiar to her, maybe because she had grown up around people like him or something but she could almost say a name.
He was short and very fat judging from how the buttons of his vintage shirt struggled to keep his protruding stomach in check. He would have been handsome if not for the many scars that criss crossed his face. His nostrils were wide and from what Sheila saw in there, it made no sense that he didn't have a single hair on his head or under his chin. His eyes were golden bright, sparkling unusually with a gleam that Sheila had never seen in the eyes of other alcoholics. They usually tended to be bored with life, dull and unhappy but this particular one seemed happy and had the spark of a five year old kid promised a new toy in his eyes!
"The real Frank Sinatra", she thought.
He nodded as if reading her mind and pointed at a portrait on the wall behind her. She followed his eyes and met the painting on the wall.
"Sinatra... my role model", he said. "With liquor of course", he added. "Bet I could scare that rodent away if I started singing."
"Then maybe you should start singing", Sheila suggested.
He laughed for sometime and then started coughing hard and long, long enough to make Sheila consider leaving his office to avoid being the prime suspect of a murder. Luckily for her, he became stable again.
"Alberto Moraéles, founder of GLAM", he said. "Name?"
"Sheila Mendez", she replied.
"Why did you get fired at SPICY?", he asked.
"I can't answer that", she replied.
"What would you be adding to GLAM as a model?", he asked.
"I'm not sure", she replied. "My experience?"
"You've failed two questions already", he said. Your last. What do you want?" The question took Sheila by surprise and she stuttered trying to find a suitable answer.
"I...I..I just want to blow again", she said finally finding the right words. Alberto's eyes sparkled and he grinned devilishly.
"That.. , he replied unzipping his trousers. "Depends on how well you can blow."