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A Star Lives On

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“Why aren’t you behind bars?!”

Betty Schaefer angrily starts pounding her small fists onto Max von Mayerling’s large three-piece suit. The butler just stands there and holds the door open with one white glove. He barely flinches from Betty’s pathetic, small blows, and glares at her with a grave, troublesome frown on his face.

“MAX! Who’s that?” hollers the voice of a female’s, someplace deep inside the old mansion home.

“Norma Desmond’s still here?” Betty stops and looks up at Max with shiny, wide eyes. “Does that mean the police haven’t arrested her yet for what she’s done?”

“Madame has done nothing wrong!” Max booms out. His heavy German accent startles Betty and makes her take a step back.

“Max! For the love of God—” Norma Desmond pushes her way to stand at the doorframe. Her pencil-thin eyebrows raise up with surprise. She looks tiny in a rose-colored silk robe with curlers still in her hair. A cold cream mask covers her face.

Norma recognizes the late Joe Gillis’s eternal flame. Eyeing Betty Schaefer with a sneer, she clutches the lapels of her robe and dramatically waves a hand in the air. “Begone! You are not welcome here!”

“I didn’t want to believe those rotten reporters that you were still living your miserable, goddamn life,” Betty snarls, feeling hot tears rolling down her cheeks. “So I had to come down here and see it all for myself! I had to see Joe’s killer walk among the free!”

“Shut that pretty, little mouth of yours, you sniveling slut,” Norma warns Betty dangerously, watching the girl wipe her wet eyelids with the heel of her hand. “How dare you come all this way to disturb Max’s daily routines, and my peaceful morning. If you wanted to see us, you must do so, properly! Not like some imbecile child!”

Betty trembles and remains quiet now. She feels Norma’s slender, bony hands grip tightly onto her shoulders and lets herself being swept in an emotional, motherly hug. Norma holds Betty so tight, she feels the girl’s tall frame collapsing; sobbing all over again. Max uncomfortably stands back with the door left open, letting the heat out.

Norma pulls Betty inside the mansion, getting some of her cream mask on the girl’s stylish tweed blazer. Max mutely closes the door and locks it, accordingly.

Oh god, I’m trapped, Betty thinks to herself. There’s no escape from the likes of them!