Scene 4 - Cruising Rodeo Drive
Characters in this Scene
Sarah Paulson as Veronica Sinclair
Lily Rabe as Cathy Milton
Emma Roberts as Debbie Sinclair
For full characters and synopsis, click here (WARNING spoilers, as this contains the plot outline)
Mid-afternoon, not long after Helen Morcombe hit the bitumen outside The Ivy, a chauffeur driven Bentley pulls out from the drive of the Sinclair mansion. Veronica and Debbie are in the back seat, as wide a gap between them as humanly possible. Veronica fusses with her hair and checks a stubble rash on her neck with her compact. Both are wearing dark sunglasses. She addresses the driver, "Jesus, Barry! Could this crate go any slower, we want to make the shops in time! How about you step on it a bit, we need to pick up my sister. Sometime today would be great!!"
"Yes ma'am!" Barry picks up speed and the Bentley roars down Wilshire Boulevarde. They drive by rows of magnificent, architecturally diverse houses and green landscaped gardens. The driver turns down a side street. Outside a modern split-level bungalow they see a blonde woman jumping up and down in the rambling drive, waving down the limo. Former child-actress and America's sweetheart Cathy Milton, Veronica's younger sister, runs up to the vehicle as it slows down. The back window is wound down and she dives in. Veronica pulls Cathy inside as her legs kick furiously. They sprawl over the back seat in a tangle of legs and laughter. Debbie shifts to the opposite seat, and can't help but crack a smile too. She likes seeing Veronica like this. It's a refreshing change to the harpy that she normally has to deal with. Unfortunately though, it is only Cathy that brings out this side of her mother's nature.
Cathy pokes Debbie in the ribs playfully. "So Debbie, your Momma tells me you're going to UCLA."
"Yeah, but I really wanted to go to Berkeley."
Sarcastic laughter from Veronica. "Darling, you know that Berkeley was much too far away."
"I bet you're looking forward to living on campus and meeting all those college boys? It would be like a damn smorgasbord wouldn't it, going to frat parties and hanging out at football games."
"Like hell she is," cuts in Veronica.
"Momma and Daddy won't let me room at college, I'm to stay at home," explains Debbie.
"Really?" Cathy cocks an eyebrow.
"Well, it makes sense. We want to keep an eye on her and its ridiculous rooming when UCLA is so close and Barry can drive her every day."
"God, how boring!"
"Well, we can't have her getting pregnant too soon and marrying the first jock that comes along, can we?" Veronica rationalises coldly.
"You mean like you did," Debbie slips in.
Veronica laughs the comment off, "Since when did you get so sassy, missy?" Debbie can only talk like this to Veronica in the presence of her Aunt Cathy, knowing full well that if it were anyone else she would receive a vicious slap across the face for her trouble. "I'll have you know I was an angel before your father corrupted me," Veronica retorted. Debbie couldn't stand her prim act.
"It's true, she was," laughs Cathy, "hard to believe, but true."
The limo drops the women off in downtown L.A. where a plethora of designer label shops line the streets under lush green palm trees. They hit up a very exclusive boutique, all-white interior with ultra-modern light fixtures; gold credit card holders only. An over-zealous shop assistant fawns over them, especially Cathy, who is instantly recognisable thanks to her recent string of comedy-action movies rivalling Sally Fields. The woman stares oddly at Veronica, as though she too is familiar, but she can't quite place her. She pulls out at least a dozen outrageously expensive evening gowns for them to try on, and says to Debbie, "This one will look stunning on you with your colouring, dear." She holds up a wisp of blue fabric.
"I'm ok,"I'm just here to observe."
"Oh, for God's sake Debbie, live a little! It'll be your birthday soon, try on something nice for your party!" Veronica quaffs a glass of the complimentary champagne.
"Ooh - I love birthday parties!" chimes in Cathy.
Debbie smiles wanly, it's not like she has anyone to invite. She has memories of past birthday parties with only her parents' drunken adult friends in attendance and one or two token younger people she'd never even met before. These soirees usually ended badly, with the rent-a-crowd kids saying they had to go early and the adults often jumping in the pool naked. When she asked her mother if she could have more friends from school over for her 12th birthday, Veronica had exploded and screamed, it's not all about you, Debbie!
Debbie had once rebelled and brought home a young boy called Malcolm Connors from her class, he was the only one that seemed to genuinely like her. Veronica had come home to find them sharing milk and cookies on Debbie's bed and went absolutely berserk when she saw Malcolm plant an innocent kiss. That poor kid almost wet himself. Shortly after that incident her parents pulled her out of elementary and started having her home-schooled instead, right up until she graduated from high school.
The only time that her mother really made a fuss over her, was not her birthday oddly enough, it was for something Veronica called a "coming of age party". It was right after Debbie had her first period. Anyway, it turned out to be just as boring as the other parties with all these women dancing around in stupid robes, holding hands and singing. The only difference from before was that Debbie was now the centre of attention - but not in a good way. She felt very uncomfortable the way the women fawned over her and looked at her as though she was a prize pig, pinching the flesh of her cheeks and arms. One woman even went so far as to cup her budding breasts and feel her belly. Debbie shook the memory off and focused on the present.
Veronica now had a stack of gowns on the sofa next to her. She singles out three dresses and holds each one up against herself in the mirror, finally settling on a black, sheath-like number with a low neckline.
"I remember where I know you from!" the shop assistant snaps her fingers. "I've seen you in Beverly Hillbillies and My Three Sons! You're Veronica Milton, right?"
Veronica fluffs her hair and smiles coyly. "That was a long time ago!" She takes the other dresses off the woman and ducks into the change room.
Debbie observes all of this open mouthed. "Was she really an actress?" she asks Cathy. This new piece of information about her mother is a revelation.
"Oh yeah, she was in a couple of TV shows as a teenager. I actually got into acting because of her, they asked me to play her younger sister once and well, the rest is history," laughs Cathy.
"So, she never wanted to do what you do and go into films?"
"Nope," Cathy smiles and waves to Veronica posing in the black gown, then she turns to Debbie. "All she ever wanted was your Daddy. Besides," she whispers behind her hand, "she was a really shitty actress."