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Exeunt: Stage Centre
by Jonathan Yip

"This is Jarod Jennings for Channel 9 news. Good night." He fiddled with his papers until the "on air" light went out.

"Good job, Jarod" commented an attractive blonde woman. He grinned. "Thanks. Join me for a cappuccino ?" It was her turn to smile. "Sure"


"I’m tired of it, daddy," Miss Parker paced back and forth in her father’s elegantly appointed office.

"So take a vacation, Angel," her father consoled.

"I don’t need a vacation. I need out !"

"Out of the Centre?"


"But we had a deal."

"I don’t care. I want out." Her green eyes flashed with intensity.

The elder Parker looked down at the papers covering his oak desk. "I knew that this might happen someday."

She heaved a sigh of relief. "So you will support my decision."

He met her gaze sadly. "No, I won’t. A true Parker always puts the Centre first."

She stared at him in shock. "You… won’t let me leave ?"

"You may leave. But you will leave with nothing. No money, No job. No family."

Tears began to well up in her eyes. "Daddy…no!"

"You know the way out." He swiveled away from the sight of his disbelieving daughter.


"I can’t believe she’s actually gone, Syd."

"I know what you mean, Broots. It was quite a shock."

The technician fidgeted in his seat. "What do we do now?"

A voice startled both of them.

"Same thing as always, luv."

"Brigitte !" exclaimed Broots.

"That’s right, Mr. Broots. I have been assigned as a replacement for Miss Parker." She paused to lick her lollipop. "Maybe we will actually apprehend Jarod."


(low income hotel: NYC)

She inserted the key into the slightly rusted lock. A quick twist of her slender wrist and she was in.

She surveyed her dismal surroundings. The bed had a slight sag in the middle, and all the chairs were threadbare.

"Well, you get what you pay for." She sighed and sank into one of the chairs.

Another day had passed, a day spent in futile pursuit of work. Her body ached from walking around New York City. It had been the same story everywhere.

She flipped the TV on to drown out her inner voice. The usual assortment of sports, game shows and B- movies filled the twenty channels of basic cable. Her thumb stopped on a news show, then she settled back with a cigarette.

Just as quickly, she sat back up.

"Jarod," she hissed as she reached for the phone.

The receiver dropped back onto the hook. She rubbed her eyes, then the bridge of her nose. "No more," she whispered.

The phone rang with a god-awful sound.

She snatched it up. "What ?"

"Giving up on me, Miss Parker ?"

"Jarod ! Nice suit."

"Thanks." She could almost see the boyish exuberance on his face.

"Are you dressed ?"

"What do you think I am ? Your phone sex partner ?"

"Just go outside." He hung up.

She rose from the chair and headed toward the door. Her hand dipped into a drawer and pulled out her sidearm.

She slid back the bolt and opened the door. Her gun swung up…

"Sydney !" she cried in surprise.

The Belgian smiled. "Hello, Miss Parker."

She threw her arms around him and gave him a huge hug.

Surprised, he almost dropped the leather attaché case he was carrying.

"May I come in ?" he gently asked.

"Of course" she stepped back into the room. "It’s not much, but…"

His eyes took in the dismal motel room. "How are you doing, Parker ?"

She lit another cigarette and sat down on the bed.

"Not good, Sydney. I can’t find work anywhere."

"I would suppose that being a cleaner is a very low priority skill."

She nodded. "Why are you here, Sydney ?"

"Jarod sent me to see how you’re faring on your own."

Parker jabbed her cigarette into the ashtray. "So wonder boy is my nanny now ?"

Sydney wisely left that comment alone. "He also told me to give you this." He swung the attaché case up onto the bed.

She worked the catch until it sprang open. Thick wads of cash rolled onto the bedspread.

"Oh my God !" Parker exclaimed as she fanned the money. "There must be $5,000 here, Sydney !"

"You have Jarod to thank for it."

She dug through the bag until her hand fell on something else. Upon closer examination, she discovered round trip tickets to Los Angeles.

"What’s this about, Syd ?"

"Jarod said he had something to share with you."


She settled down in her first class seat. Her eyes fluttered close. A gentle tap awoke her.

"What ?" she demanded.

The nervous stewardess jumped slightly at her tone.

"A man left this message for you."

Parker took the folded piece of paper from the young woman.


Jarod dialed the number on his notepad.

"Hello, Hollywood Limo service ? I’d like to rent a limo and chauffeur for the day."


She followed the directions on the note. Dozens of taxi and limo drivers lined the sidewalks with their signs. Parker scanned down the line, searching for her driver.

"That son of a…"She stormed up to a young man and yanked the sign form his grasp. She tore the sign twice, then deposited the remains into a nearby receptacle.

She whirled back to the startled driver. "The name is Miss Parker. Nothing more, is that understood?"

"Yes… ma’am. Right this way."


Jarod smiled as the limousine drove up to the elegant hotel. He left a note at the counter, then proceeded up to the top floor.

She stepped uncertainly into the tastefully decorated lobby. Marble tile paved the way to the reception desk.

"I’m looking for a message for Parker."

"Ah, yes. He just left this for you."

She popped the seal on the envelope. A card and a key fell out. She quickly scanned the card, then headed for the elevator.


Jarod strew rose petals about the room. He glanced at his watch, then stepped out of the room.

Parker pushed open the door.

"Rose petals. Nice touch."

She began exploring the room when the television flickered on.

Jarod’s visage appeared on screen.

"Happy Birthday, Miss Parker."

Her head snapped around as she glared at the TV.

"Yes, I know it's your birthday. That’s part of the reason why I wanted you here."

She paced around the room waiting for the voice to continue.

"Go on over to the refrigerator for your gift."

She yanked the door open. The cool air escaped rapidly, leaving a jade necklace and a golden key.

Parker grabbed the items. "What the hell are these for?"

The TV Jarod grinned widely.

"The necklace is what you’ve become, Miss Parker. The young girl I once knew has become an Ice Princess. The key unlocks what you were."

She stood holding the two gifts, waiting for more instructions.

"Your last gift is under the bed."

She kneeled down and searched under the bed. Her hand grasped an object which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a beautifully crafted wooden box. She inserted the key and turned it until the box unlocked.

She pulled apart the tissue paper and lifted several small books out.

"Herein lies truth," concluded the voice. The TV flickered off.

Parker slowly opened the first book and began to read.

The diary of Catherine Parker, 1959-1960.

The book slipped from her hand onto the floor. Tears streamed down her face and splashed onto the page.

She turned her face upward.

"Thank you, Jarod. Thank you."

Jarod pulled away from the door. A smile lit up his face as he made his way to the elevator.


© 1998 Jonathan Yip

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