Blu clears his throat.
Blu: I heard you met your hubby at Bianca Monica’s wedding…
Continuing to giggle in a gentle manner, she divulges details−
Cleo: If she were here, she’d be like, “Yes! That’s the power of prayer, y’all”!
Blu: What? You-ALL… does anyone even say that anymore?
Hanging her head for a second, she admits−
Cleo: Okay, she may not say the “y’all” part… Um… But, yes, I did. I wasn’t very interested in him when we met because he wasn’t my date to the wedding.
The crowd gasps at Cleo judgmentally, like she did something wrong.
Cleo: Well, maybe I was a little interested. I did initiate a moment for us to get to know each other better. But it’s so funny because Bianca always said back when we worked together at a movie theater, she was praying I’d meet my husband at her wedding.
Blu: So, she knew your husband way back then?
Cleo: No… She prayed for me to meet my future husband at her wedding to her future husband she had not yet met at the time… right?
She thinks to herself for a moment−
While they’re on the subject, Blu goes on to talk about Bianca and her.
Blu: Did you know, people call you and Bianca the modern Tim Burton and Johnny Depp? But get this, instead of being called creative freaks with an emo, punk twist the two of you are being called religious freaks, but in a good way…
Cleo’s shock of such news reads transparently on her face.
Bianca wasn’t taking no for an answer, she was going to clean theaters, not even Lanny could stop her! She encouraged Cleo to come clean theaters with her. Cleo figured Bianca wanted to boast about how awesome it is to listen to God and how she’s on a new level with Jesus and it’s incredible… But to Cleo’s surprise, as they grabbed dust buckets from the closet in the nearest men’s restroom, Bianca wanted to know how Cleo was doing.
“So…?” Bianca ’s vague inquiry confused Cleo. What did Bianca want to know? She just stared at the black woman like she was crazy. After all the woman was significantly slimmer and looking good, maybe she lost some marbles too. She hadn’t even been back a full week to work and she converted two employees to Christ… The darkness in the theater had been lifted and even weirder… Lanny attended church. He even had a girlfriend!
Then it clicked in Cleo’s brain! “Oh, yeah… so… I’ve been praying scripture over Caleb for like six months now and he’s finally going back to being super close to Jesus like he was. I don’t get why Josiah will talk to him more than me… We used to talk about everything, and now, Josiah acts like he just puts up with me when I’m in the room.”
“Well, you did dis the woman who is having his baby…” Bianca reminded Cleo.
Cleo rolled her eyes, “Huh,” she sighed angrily. She argued, “He explained how she got pregnant, and that− that− WOMan, God bless her soul, took advantage of him. In my book, she raped him. And I mean, my brother was finally thinking of going for it and going off to Marietta to go to school, where he would totally be more Spirit-filled and now he can’t go because he’s going to be a dad…It just sucks and I h− ha−,” by Bianca ’s expression that Cleo should know better than what she was about to say, Cleo decided not to say what was on her mind, hoping to change her own attitude toward Paris. Hardly bearing the ability to make the statement, Cleo said, “I must pray for Paris,” in a monotone voice.
“Nobody’s perfect, Cleo.” Bianca said as she flipped on the lights to theater four, now that it was empty.
“I know… And when Josiah moved out last summer… I knew he was going to change, maybe backslide a little… But he won’t go to church at all! And I know he’s only marrying Paris because of the baby… There’s really nothing I can do anymore, because I’ve tried to talk to him, but pray for him…” Cleo shared her frustration.
“Yeah, I’ll be in prayer for him too. I’ll ask my mom, Paul, and−,” Cleo cut Bianca off.
“So, when are you going to marry Paul?” Cleo teased.
“He’s like my best friend… for now…” Bianca responded in a slightly serious way.
Totally stunned, Cleo asked, “Is he really your future husband?”
“We’re waiting for confirmation from God, but even all our friends joke we’re made for each other. So, we’ll see…”
“But, you haven’t even known him a full year, how can he be, like, the one?” Cleo asked, sweeping the last row to be cleaned.
“Says the woman living with her boyfriend after dating for like a month,” Bianca was the pot calling Cleo the kettle black.
“I do not live with Mark!” She argued.
Which was true, they both live with a roommate in a three-bedroom house. Both her and Mark have separate rooms, and her Fun Park boss’s son lives in the third bedroom.
“He’s one of my roommates…” Laughing to herself, “In a sense, I live with my birds more than I live with Mark.”
Realistically, Cleo saw her parakeet, Rabbit, and her cockatiel, Leaf, more than she saw Mark, let alone spend time with him. Both she and Mark had two jobs. Therefore, they were too busy or too tired to hang out. So far, they both had Sunday mornings off, but he went to mass with his family and she went to The Church at the high school. Last weekend, they had the house to themselves for the first time. But Mark’s big brother was in town, so he was mostly at his family’s house, which left Cleo home alone mainly with her birds. As a couple they’re a lousy one, but if she was honest with herself, Cleo wasn’t that sure if they were dating…
Like, they went out a few times last month before Mark graduated from high school. At work, Cleo threw out that she needed another roommate because bills went up again. Mark hit it off with the roommate she already had, and without even thinking or talking about it, a guy she really liked and was developing feelings for, lived in her house.
After checking the next theater to see if it was clear to clean and as Bianca flipped on the lights, she asked, “You’re still going down to Tucson next year, right?”
Following Bianca into the theater, dragging her dust pan behind her on the ground, she sighed at the thought. Josiah and Paris just found out the sex of the baby, it was a girl… And Cleo really wanted to be around and be the cool hands on aunt. If she lived in Tucson, she couldn’t do that. But, if she did live in Tucson, she could live with her best friend, Ashley, and Mark will be there going to the U of A, if they’re an item. What she truly needed clear direction from God, but deep down in heart, she feared the answer. What if God led her elsewhere, to a place she never imagined she’d go, like He did with Bianca?
“Caleb is super on fire for God. We talk all the time… Josiah won’t even talk to him a lot, that’s how on fire for God Caleb’s gotten, and all of Caleb’s other friends have abandoned him too. I’m like all he has…” Cleo found a reasonable excuse for why she should stay in the White Mountain Area.
Smirking, Bianca stopped sweeping and asked, “You still like Caleb?”
Almost embarrassed to confess it, Cleo hung her head, “I do… I never stopped really… And not that he’s sold out for Christ, this is weird and I hope it’s not gross, but he could not be more attractive than he is now… I’m not sure it’s sexual though… I think I just want more of him and I can’t get it just being his friend, does that make sense?”
“Oh yeah, you recognize he’d be a good spiritual leader for the home and you want to fall under that spiritual covering… I completely understand… when you meet Paul… No words to describe how I feel about him, yet those feeling for him are only a fraction of what I have for Christ…” Bianca continued sweeping, “I will pray for you about this whole Mark v. Caleb situation, and about Tucson for you.”
“Thank you,” Cleo said collecting big stuff like half-eaten large popcorns and watered-down soda in soggy cups from melted down ice. Changing the subject, “Enough about me, more about you… Are you any closer to becoming a famous actress?” Cleo brought up in a half-mocking tone.
Bianca’s boastful side finally emerged. She bragged about her extra slot in a film that will start production when she gets back to Ohio. The shoot will occur in Cincinnati, she will be required for three days of the project. The Christian Film will be Alex PenaVega’s directorial debut. Bianca got an audition for a major role, but she didn’t get it. But during the audition, before she left, Alexa had a whole conversation with Bianca. She walked out with Alexa’s personal contact info and an implication they will work together more in the future! If Bianca could find time, after being an extra, she could intern the rest of the project, Bianca couldn’t due to school.
“But I don’t know… It would be so cool to see what it’s like making a real movie… I have to pray about it.”
“That’s awesome! God is good!” Cleo proclaimed.
“Yes, He is!” Bianca agreed.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could be like Johnny Depp and Time Burton one day?” Cleo mentioned.
“If you got serious acting chops, you can certainly be the Johnny Depp to my Tim Burton-ness.” Bianca promised.
Cleo felt the Holy Spirit rest upon her, which made her smile with the hope such a thing was possible.
Finally commenting on being compared to such great artists, she says−
Cleo: Really? That’s awesome…
She blushes bearing through such a self-conscious moment.
Inquisitively, Blu asks−
Blu: It’s because of Bianca Monica you are the star you are today, right? Your first screen role ever was in “The Real Roe: Norma McCorvey”. You played a young woman who got an abortion and Norma McCorvey, the famous Jane Roe from Roe v. Wade, was a staff member at the clinic who held your hand through the process, correct?
END OF PART 2
*Edited by Kristen Wenneborg