I remember being surprised when I received a birthday card on my eighteenth birthday,
the return address typed on a large envelope. The card just said Happy Birthday and it included a copy of Tina’s will, naming me the beneficiary of her insurance policy. I did not know that she had died.
It was the first time that I didn’t throw the thing away.
I was living in
, with a couple of friends, all of us looking for fame and fortune. On my birthday, we did the same thing as any other day. We stood on Sunset Blvd. and hoped to be picked up and driven to somebody’s party where the booze and the food would be free. We all had odd jobs, waitressing, working as cashiers at drive-ins, housecleaning. At night, we were starlets in the wings, dressed in our best, looking to be discovered. We were just a couple of days away from the big break. After all, that’s what got us all here in this town, in the grimy Hollywood that looked and smelled worse than the barn I had left behind in a hurry. Hollywood
The letter from the lawyer explained that Tina had died of stomach cancer, an illness that took a sudden turn, the note said. A four-thousand dollar check was stashed between the birthday card, and some papers I needed to sign and return. The last time I saw her was the night in Willow-Creek when I took her money from the sugar bowl, the money that was going to pay for our trip back to Italy one of those days, and left for good.
I was fourteen, and angry, and it turns out the same age she was when she became pregnant with me with an American soldier.