This is a deleted scene from my novel The Opera. In fact, the character Zola has been deleted from the book altogether. I never thought I’d delete Zola, but she’ll live here on my blog. I thought she was significant or symbollic or added to the strife of the protagonist, but essentially she was just a subplot. I’ll be posting a few more parts to this extended scene.
Allow me to offer some background on the story first. Jack Mariano is a celebrity, an A-list actor who is on sabbatical and taking respite in a small New England city. He walks around disguised, with longer hair, facial hair, not dressing Hollywood, and donning a red sox hat and dark sunglasses. While in this town he meets Zola, who works in a health food store. Her name means “uncertain.”
I have edited the scenes in order to eliminate any reference to the story that would give the plot away. So if there’s an occassional choppiness it’s because I took some information out and didn’t necessarily bother with a revision for fluidity, since it’s being discarded anyway.
Zola part 1
…Jack says he’s going for another bike ride, partly to separate himself from the tension between him and Irene, but there’s another reason. He rides to the health food store. The store is busy, so Jack takes out a business card he’d grabbed from there and calls. A man answers.
“May I speak with Zola please?”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Um, tell her it’s…Music Man.”
Zola picks up after a short time.
“Hey there, Music Man. You’re calling me. That’s cool.”
“Yeah, I’m outside in the parking lot and I didn’t want to come in. Pretty busy.”
“Understandable. What’s going on?”
“Well, I was wondering if, as a friend, you’d like to go out to dinner with me tonight?”
“I would love that.”
“When do you get off work?”
“Seven. Are you going to risk going out to a local place without your disguise?”
“Well, I thought of that, and we could go to Boston if you’re ok with that.”
“I wouldn’t mind. But how about you have dinner at my place? I’ll cook and I’ve got some bottles of organic wine, if you drink. I live near the police station, where does Sable live–I’m assuming you’re staying with him?”
“Yeah, I am. He lives near the station too. I’ll ride my bike over at about 7:30?”
“Do you have everything you need? Can I bring anything?”
“I just need to grab some things here.”
“Come out to the parking lot.”
“Just come out.”
Zola glides out into the parking lot barefoot in a long flowing skirt and wearing a bandana. She looks like a dirty-blonde dread-locked gypsy. She squints a little as she approaches Jack because the sun is hot and bright and glares directly onto her face. Her facial features are not fair and delicate, but a feminine combination of strong yet soft fluidity, consisting of high cheekbones, a straight nose, rounded at the bottom, full lips, and almond shaped eyes, the color of Spanish olives. Her skin isn’t pale, rather it is a luminous rich cream, and it glows because she is healthy. She wears no makeup apart from red lipstick on occasion. Jack watches her approach, without her awareness of his looking her up and down, eyes lingering at her feminine endowments, as he is wearing sunglasses, dark as they come. She is small, about 5’3”, and Jack likes that. He becomes conscious that he needs to be careful not to allow his lust for her to make itself evident.
“Here.” He gives her money. “Get whatever you need.”
“No Jack, I don’t want to take this.”
“Take it. Get what you need and I want to help you cook.”
“You cook? How does that not surprise me.”
“Yeah, I cook. And I like organic wine. I don’t drink unless I’m away from Sable because he’s an alcoholic.”
“Oh I didn’t know that. Will it be ok if you go home smelling like alcohol?”
Jack takes note: no offer to spend the night. “He’s been around alcohol, so hopefully it’ll be ok. I’ll bring my toothbrush.” Jack smiles.
Jack takes note: maybe the potential for an offer.
Zola tells him her address, much closer to the station than Sable’s, and watches Jack ride off on the bike. He turns to wave before he exits the parking lot…