Katie Berger-Jones-Burg is a modern New York kid. She has a comfortable life; but her mum, Mimi, keeps getting divorced, remarried, divorced. Each time poor Katie is lumbered with a new name. And her dad has moved on to a new, younger wife. The only person who really seems to care for Katie is Dolores, the housekeeper. And with Dolores, it’s tough love.
Katie spends a lot of time in her bedroom. It’s very pink. I confess. I always wanted a pink bedroom. My teen lair had a Kelly green fitted bedspread, and curtains featuring large orange peace signs. But then I grew up in California in the era of peace.
Katie’s mother has bolted, the housekeeper is yelling at her, and her bedroom is her only sanctuary – and she hates pink. But the bedroom is the key to her time-travelling adventure – so pink or no – it’s a great place to be.
The Greek guy in the shoe repair shop was now tapping
on his window, so Katie moved on towards home. Mimi
liked to keep her busy, as this kept Katie out of her way, but
for once Katie didn’t have ballet lessons, tennis lessons,
yoga or t’ai chi. She ducked under the awning of her apartment
building, nodded to the doorman and punched the
elevator button for the eleventh floor. As she turned the
key in the lock, the sound of a Spanish soap opera greeted
her, loudly. Mimi couldn’t possibly be home, if Dolores had
the sound up that high.
‘Hey, Dolores,’ she called to their
long-time housekeeper ‘Qué pasa? No Mimi?’ Dolores had
set the ironing board up in the kitchen. In front of her was
a small television, making big amounts of noise. On the
screen was a young woman with a serious hairdo and lots of
eye shadow. She was crying and screaming as two solid,
expressionless policemen led her away. ‘What’s the crime?’
Katie asked. ‘Did she rob a bank? Or murder her boyfriend?’
‘This show is not for you,’ Dolores said, without taking
her eyes off the screen. ‘It’s for grown-up people who know
about these things. And don’t go saying “hey” to me. Hay
is for horses. Mimi says you’re way too slangy.’
Katie looked in the refrigerator: macrobiotic crackers,
Swedish seagrass yogurt, freeze-dried salt cod, and a jar of
Mimi’s face cream. Turning from the fridge, she rummaged
through Dolores’s handbag and found a Snickers bar.
‘Mimi’s not here,’ Dolores added.
‘That’s obvious,’ said Katie, ‘we’re both having way too
much fun. So where is she?’
‘Well, baby,’ Dolores said. This was not a good sign.
Dolores only called Katie ‘baby’ when she felt sorry for her.
‘To Acapulco. You know that therapist she’s been seeing,
Dr Fishberg? You know how she’s been saying, at last here’s
a man who understands her? Well they seem to have
become real good friends, and…’
Suddenly the Snickers bar didn’t taste that great.
‘Oh Dolores, she can’t run off to Acapulco and get married
again!’ Then something even worse dawned on her. Katie
Berger-Jones-Burg-Fishberg. Picking up her rucksack of
books she fled to her bedroom. This one she could never
Katie’s room looked nothing like Katie. While Katie was
tall and awkward with her father’s bushy black curls, this
was a room designed for a very different child: a small, delicate
golden-haired child – the child of Mimi’s imagination.
‘Think pink!’ had been Mimi’s motto when briefing the
decorator. The carpet, the lampshades, the curtains, the
cushions spanned the hues from candy-floss pink to sunset
rose – or, as Katie saw it, from pale vomit to inflamed
sunburn. Katie could have lived with it, except for the
wallpaper. Hundreds, but hundreds of whimsical fairies
fluttered across Katie’s walls. These fairies were very busy
indeed: waving their little sparkling wands, hovering over
large (pink) flower blossoms, standing on tippy-toe and
giving each other big wet kisses. Katie had spent endless
hours, throwing a baseball against the wall, attempting to
knock out the fairies one by one. While many of them
sported a black eye or a broken wing, Katie had barely
made a dent in their sweet little world. She looked at the
carpet. It might be pink, but at least it didn’t have a bunch
of fairies kissing on it.
‘Now, this Dr Fishberg,’ Dolores was yelling from the
kitchen, ‘he doesn’t seem half bad. At least he’s not that
yoga instructor she was mooning over last year. Breathing.
All he ever talked about was breathing. As if we didn’t
know how to breathe. We wouldn’t be alive if we didn’t
know how to breathe.’
Dolores was right. Mimi’s men were as wide-ranging and
temporary as the rest of Mimi’s enthusiasms. There had
been the tennis pro, the enema expert, the guy with the
flotation tank and then the professor upstairs – the one
who went on and on about parallel being and the temporal
psyche of history. But still – Fishberg!
If that doesn't get you excited about The Queen Must Die I don't know what will! Keep an eye out of it in shops. The next blog tour stop is at