Dennis Dubois is loading a stack of .45's into the 1963 Seeburg jukebox in the corner, debating between replacing the Everly Bros.' "Bye Bye Love" with Peggy Lee's "Fever" or Sam Cooke's "Twistin' the Night Away". Even with the momentary break in the music, there is a general hum of noise from the after-lunch/pre-Happy Hour crowd. Suddenly, silence falls on the Tavern and Dennis looks up from studying the flip side of the Lee platter ("Alright, Okay You Win") to see what's going on. What he beholds is the grande dame of Cliffton making a grand entrance into his roadhouse to the dumbfounding astonishment of everyone present.

Carlotta Cliff takes up a position by the bar and appears to be awaiting the attendance of Dennis, at whom she casts an imperious and expectant look. Moving none too fast, Dennis finishes his work at the jukebox, closes it up and programs it to play "Leader of the Pack" before crossing the room to greet Carlotta with:

DENNIS
So sorry, Mrs. Cliff. Our Maitre D' called in sick today. May I show you to a table?

CARLOTTA
Please, Dennis. For two. Relatively private... relatively clean.

DENNIS
Right this way.
He leads her to a booth which, after inspecting the table and banquettes, Carlotta finds acceptable. She takes her seat and then the menu Dennis hands her and checks her watch to announce that...
CARLOTTA
She's late.

DENNIS
Can I get you a drink while you wait?

CARLOTTA
I assume you can, and you certainly may. I'll have an Absolut martini, very dry, straight up in a large stem glass, with a twist, a glass of ice on the side...

DENNIS
Certainly.

CARLOTTA
And a glass of cold water, no ice.
Carlotta checks her watch again and then slides out of the booth. As she walks across the Tavern, presumably en route to the ladies' room, the other patrons part like the Red Sea before Charleton Heston. But she's not headed for the facilities, after all, as is made clear when she takes a cue from the rack on the wall and steps up to the pool table.


Clutching the cue in her gnarled, arthritic hands, Carlotta proceeds to call and make shot after shot. Finally, with the flourish of a behind the back shot from a position poised on the edge of the table, one surprisingly shapely leg dangling in full view given her hiked-up skirt, Carlotta completes her run. Spontaneous applause and cheering break out from the appreciative crowd who had gathered. Carlotta hadn't even noticed that her daughter had arrived and is sipping a beer in the booth, but now the old lady hands off the cue and returns to the booth, her drink and Charlotte.
CHARLOTTE
Have you ever thought of teaming up with Rad? He could finally become a consistent winner with you hustling for him at poolhalls and bars from coast to coast.

CARLOTTA
I don't consider his addiction to gambling a suitable subject for joking, Charlotte. Besides, if he's true to his genetic predisposition, he'd never last backing a winner like me. But, for a change, it's not he about whom I'm worried right now. What are we going to do about Carly?

CHARLOTTE
Gee, Mother, I don't know. What can we do with a kid like Carly? First in her class with a perfect 4.0 average... beautiful... responsible... devoted to volunteering several hours a week to the kids at the AIDS hospice... talented enough to get the lead in a school production of "Pygmalion" without even wanting it.... What on earth are we going to do about a rotten kid like that?!

CARLOTTA
Don't be facetious, Charlotte. You must know I'm referring to her undesirable relationship with Dylan Atkins.

CHARLOTTE
Apparently Carly doesn't think it's undesirable. And, to be honest with you, I trust her judgement. Mother, why can't you just let the bartender assemble your drink for you?
This is prompted by Carlotta action-- she has poured the straight martini over the ice, added a splash of water and is now stirring it with her finger, which she licks dry in order to savor that first taste of vodka.
CARLOTTA
They water the drinks if you give them a chance. Now, back to Carly. Charlotte, you know as well as anyone that even the most sensible, intelligent, concientious and proper young lady can jeopardize everything for her need to satisfy her desires. Or have you forgotten...?

CHARLOTTE
Really, Mother... what are the odds of my forgetting? It's just that I also know what the cost can be of forsaking one's own desires just to fulfill yours.

CARLOTTA
I don't want to discuss the past, Charlotte. But, I do know how painful it all was for you and I want to prevent any similar tragedy from occuring in the future, that's all. I would have thought that you'd be eager to protect Carly from the heartbreak you suffered. After all, she's the closest thing to a daughter you'll ever have.

CHARLOTTE
I suppose so. The thing is, I'm not even convinced that Dylan's so terribly inappropriate...

CARLOTTA
Really..? He's Tom Atkins' son, dear. Need I say anything more?

CHARLOTTE
But he's Melinda's son, too. It's not as if he were that smarmy little hairdresser.

CARLOTTA
Well, of course not. That would be entirely too disgusting to even contemplate for a member of the family.

CHARLOTTE
I only wish Anais could see it that way. But she seems besotted...

CARLOTTA
I know how fond you are of that girl, but she's not really family. So... what are we going to do about Carly?

CHARLOTTE
I think we should give it a little time. If he really isn't right for her, she'll find out soon enough. I did.

CARLOTTA
Not really quite soon enough, dear.
Mother and daughter look at one another for a moment and then, both discomforted beyond words, they simultaneously gesture to Dennis to bring another round of drinks.

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