Disclaimer:Characters from Breakfast at Tiffany's aren't mine, including Madame Sapphia Spanella, who was in Truman Capote's original book but not the film. Other characters do belong to me, but they don't really matter in this.
Author's Note:Okay, I only wrote this because I wanted to set up a Breakfast at Tiffany's category and hopefully *crosses fingers* get other people to write some more BaT stuff, because it (book and movie) totally deserves one.
So, come on: get writing! I want this fic to be shown up!
New York, New York
Mr T F Stanford was flying home to see his family. Only he hated flying, almost as much as he hated flying out to LA for pointless business meetings. The best way to get through the flight, he had discovered, was to sit back, ignore the stewardesses, the movie, everything. That is, everything, but a little brandy.
"Darling, would you mind awfully if I just had a tiny sip of that brandy?" Mr T F Stanford, flask in hand, turned the young lady next to him, blinking owlishly behind thick owl-glasses. The young woman smiled, a bright toothpaste smile. "I've been trying to get the stewards attention for just hours," she continued, her eyes bright and fixed on his, "but the beast is just ignoring me!"
"Not at all," he said finally, smiling back and pouring the brandy into her eager glass.
"Thank you ever so much," gushed the woman, barely more than a girl. "A girl just can't fly without a little brandy to set her off, can she?" She gave a little bright laugh and slugged back the alcohol easily, and then making a little face. She glanced out of the window and then turned back to Mr Stanford.
"Can I ask why you're flying to New York, Mr-?"
"Stanford. Terence Stanford," he choked out, a little intoxicated by her perfume and voice.
"Mr Stanford," smiled the woman, her voice soft. It seemed to agree with him, promising that whatever he said, it would be just what she wanted to hear. Mr Stanford swallowed. "Well," continued the woman, her voice raising a little as she brandished the glass about, "what's taking you to New York? I mean, besides this plane of course!" She laughed and several people turned around.
"Well, I'm actually flying home to see my family-"
"Yes. It's my daughter's eighth birthday tomorrow…" Mr Stanford trailed off a little uncertainly: her eyes had frosted over slightly, as though she were deciding what to wear the next day. "I'm sorry, am I boring you?"
"Oh no!" cried the girl again, her eyes suddenly window-clear again. "It's just that it's so difficult to get sentimental about someone else's kids, when you haven't got any of the little things yourself. I just can't relate to it. Tell me," she added, resting her arm on his armrest, "what do you in New York? Are you in stocks?"
Swallowing, Mr Stanford nodded and thought of his wife and little Eloise's birthday. There would be cake, and balloons, and a clown had been hired (he hoped, otherwise he would be donning the costume again), and-
"Really? Are there many men in New York who work on Wall Street? I men, are there any rich ones?"
Blinking, Mr Stanford frowned. "Why do you ask?" he asked.
She laughed again, a high tinkling laugh that rose high over their heads and to the young men sitting in front, who turned around and observed the young lady with interest. She took no notice. "Well, darling," she said, winking and helping herself to a little more brandy, "my personal opinion is that every woman has a little of Lorelei Lee in her – you know: diamonds are a girl's best friend, and all that jazz? As a matter of fact, I think that everybody is, only some are better at gold digging then others, don't you think?"
"My sister's just like that," said a man with red hair, leaning over the back of his seat to join the party. "She went out with this jerk for two months, just 'cause he drove a fancy car."
"That stinks," said another man.
"Do you think so? I think that's exactly what every woman should do. I mean, sure you need happiness and all, but it's much harder to do that when you or your beau is as poor as a bum." The young woman smiled and sat back, crossing her legs elegantly as the ever-growing circle of admiring male faces surrounded them.
"Say lady, what can we call ya?"
She laughed again, and Mr Stanford took a swig from his brandy. Think of little Jimmy's baseball game-
"Well," she said, winking at Mr Stanford (Think of Margaret's cooking, think of how much you love her, how nice the house is), "I guess you can call me Miss Lee!"
Mr Stanford sat back, took another swig of brandy and put his headphones on, trying to ignore the party that seemed to be going on around him.
"I hate flying," he murmured to nobody in particular.
'Miss Lee' held court for the entire flight, laughing and making promises to meet up with so and so at whatsits bar at anytime, day or night seemingly. By the time the plane actually landed, Mr Stanford felt quite exhausted by the endless prattle and chatter of the younger generation and he eagerly ran from the plane, to customs and then outside to call a taxi.
Meanwhile, as Mr Stanford was speeding his way back to little Eloise and the rest, 'Miss Lee' was exchanging numbers and promises with the young men she had passed the flight with.
"You be sure to call now!" said one robust man teasingly as he headed off, leaving her alone.
"Of course," she said smiling in a way that said that maybe she would, maybe she wouldn't. "I don't suppose you've got a bit of spare change you could lend a lady, do you?"
"Sure thing, doll!" He winked again and fished around with grimy hands in his pocket, finally depositing a fistful of change into her eager hand.
"Thank you so much," she said, voice full of sugar. He winked yet again, and turned to find a cab.
'Miss Lee' rolled her eyes. "Doll?" She clucked her tongue, and pulled out her compact, reapplying her lipstick. She pulled her pair of dark glasses out of her purse and headed off to find a payphone. She dialled the number carefully: the rat hadn't given her all that much change. She'd be lucky if it was enough even if she did get the right number.
"OJ Berman here." Oh, good. He was in.
"OJ?" she said. "It's Holly."
"Holly? Honey, where are you? You sound so far away."
"I'm in New York," said Holly brightly.
"New York? Honey, what are you doing in New York when the screen test is tomorrow?"
Holly bit her lip. Poor OJ. He'd pulled an awful lot of strings to get that test, he'd straightened out her accent, taught her French… She owed him an awful lot. She gave herself a little shake. "I'm in New York because I've never been to New York before."
"What do you want?" Holly felt a tiny spark of anger at the sound of his "business" voice: he was going to try and make her a deal. Well, no way Jose. She was in New York, and New York was where she was staying.
"I don't know," she said lightly, tugging on the phone cord irritably. "But when I find out, I'll let you know." She hung up before he had a chance to reply and stepped out of the phone booth. She dug around in her purse for a cigarette, hailing down a passing businessman for a light.
"You just arrived in New York?" he asked, a smug little smile lighting his features. Holly smiled tightly. Honestly. Wasn't there a man anywhere who didn't want to try and get something from her?
"Actually, darling," she said, her smile widening, "I'm here to visit my fiancé. He's a boxer you know: gonna take on Sonny Liston pretty soon."
The businessman's eyes widened. "Really? Well, uh, I'd better let you, uh-"
"That's right," she said gently, trying to smother the giggle working its way up from her stomach.
"Want me to call you a cab?"
In answer, Holly put two fingers to her mouth and whistled piercingly. The businessman jumped and then hurried off with a mutter as the cab pulled up. The driver jumped out, an old, sharp-nosed man with a flat cap that was at least two sizes to big for him perched on his head. He picked up Holly's cases and slung them haphazardly in the boot, making Holly very glad that she had nothing very breakable.
"Where to miess?" the driver asked as she sat down. He had an odd accent that made his voice sound strangely rodent-like.
"Well, I... I don't really know," said Holly with a light laugh. "I'm new here in town, Mr-" she glanced at the ID badge hanging from the dashboard. "-Jaegar."
He waved his hand. "Jacek, please, meiss."
"Well, Jacek, do you know any nice places where a girl can get a nice, cheap flat, right near to where everything happens?" Jacek, took off his cap, and scratched his thin hair thoughtfully. He gazed at her sharply, almost suspiciously and Holly gave him her most charming smile. This seemed to settle something in the man's mind because he nodded.
"I take you to brownstones. East Seventies. Very cheap, everything nearby. Bars, dancing. Very fun." He winked. Holly nodded.
"That'll do." Jacek grinned, displaying a set of rather brown teeth, and pulled the cap down almost totally over his eyes. Holly was just wondering whether she should take this as an ominous sign, when Jacek started the car. Almost immediately they shot forward, narrowly missing a couple walking across the road, took a sharp left turn and then a right one quickly after that. Holly grabbed hold of the door handle and cursed. Jacek smiled cheerfully at her through the rear-view mirror.
"I take shortcut, yes?" he asked wavering dangerously across to the wrong lane. A bus bore down on them from the opposite direction, but Jacek pulled the car back into the right lane casually, still looking at Holly through the mirror.
"Whatever you like!" cried Holly. "Just please look where you're going!" Jacek chuckled and focused his attention back on the road, swinging them around a corner and through a set of red traffic lights.
"How long have you been a cab driver?" called Holly as another bus blared its horn at them.
"Two years, meiss. I love my job!" he said happily, narrowly avoiding another driver, who shook his fist at the wandering cab.
"That's… very reassuring." Holly settled herself back in her seat and tried to relax. If he'd survived this long, then she probably had nothing to worry about: maybe he was one of those indestructible freaks you heard about occasionally: they could throw themselves off a twelve-storey building and get barely a scratch.
As they made their haphazard way across the city, Holly found herself thinking about OJ. More precisely what he had said.
What are you doing in New York?
What was she doing in New York? It had been such a spare of the moment thing… To become a movie star you had to want it to be good. Sure, acting was a laugh, but to do it all the time? What a bore. She took a long drag on her cigarette, ignoring the no smoking signs. Besides, Jacek wasn't paying much attention: he was too busy having spirited arguments in Spanish with another cab driver. She started humming that old Frank Sinatra song under her breath. If you can make it in New York, you could make it anywhere. Wasn't that what old Blue Eyes had sung? Well, she was sure that she could make it here. After all, if the plane trip and that sleazy businessman were hints of what New York men were like, why she'd have no problems! Bat an eyelash here, flatter them a little, ask for a little change for the powder room (another girl OJ had been promoting alongside Holly had taught her that neat trick), and before long… She sighed. She and Fred, riding on the beach, the surf splashing at them…
The cab hurtled to a stop at a red light. Holly, lost in her sun flecked daydreams was flung forward, banging her shins against the back of the drivers seat. Glaring at the back of Jacek's head, she sat back, rubbing her shin. She looked out at the people crossing the road in front of them. So many people… She shivered. They were like ants, all swarming about, doing god knows what, who knew when. A tiny finger of doubt edged itself into her brain. Think you're going to make an impression here? it said meanly. Think you're going to make it here? Be top of the heap, queen of the hill?
But of course. Why, she was Holly Golightly!
Lulamae Barnes, you mean. Little Lulamae, running through the briar patch stealing milk and turkey eggs. They don't like your type here. New York doesn't accept runaway wives from Tulip, Texas.
No,no,no! She was Holly Golightly-
-the failed actress-
Failed nothing. Why, she'd chosen not to be an actress. She was going to get the money-
-By whoring yourself?
If I have to.
You will. What else can you do?
Holly was shaking now, sweat beading down her back like crawling summer insects. Something bad was going to happen, she knew it. Jacek would crash the car. He wouldn't crash the car and she'd have to fight her way through this city, through this life. She wouldn't be able to find an apartment. She would and it would be too expensive or horrible, or-
"Stop the cab!" she cried suddenly. The car screeched to a halt, nearly causing a pile up behind it.
"Yes, meiss?" asked Jacek, his little eyes, looking at her pleasantly. Holly suddenly felt foolish. Foolish for letting herself get carried away again, for allowing her fears to surface. Foolish for still getting the mean reds after all this time.
"I-" She looked about, grappling for a lifeline, an excuse. She'd only been in New York for an hour and already she was making a fool of herself. Her wandering search alighted upon a quiet, proud looking building on her left. Carved onto the old grey stone was one word: Tiffany's. "I just need to go in there," she said, finding the excuse she needed. "Wait here, I'll be out in a moment." She jumped out the car quickly.
"Will cost you!" Jacek called, and she waved her hand vaguely at him, forcing herself to take measured steps towards the building. She reached the revolving doors at the same time as another young couple. They smiled and gestured for her to go in first. Holly smiled back and stepped through the door.
The first thing that hit her was the quiet: not the oppressive sort of silence that had driven her mad on Doc's farm. No, this was… gentler somehow. It was dignified. Customers and employees alike held their heads high, nodded politely to each other. A man at the nearest counter to her, looked up from the glass he was polishing, and smiled kindly.
"May I help you, madam?"
Holly smiled slowly back at him. "No, thank you… I'm just looking."
"Ah," he said and he gave her a little bow before returning to the glass. She smiled, charmed by this little show of courtesy and the fact that he wanted nothing from her: that was indeed refreshing.
Holly started to walk slowly around the cabinets, exchanging smiles with other customers and employees. She barely noticed the way her pulse slowed and the cold sweat dried on her back. She could only think how charming everything was: the smell of silver and alligator wallets, the prim little scuttle of the elderly ladies buying diamonds with their silver-haired husbands, the quiet revered murmurs, as if this were some holy place.
It sounds crazy, but I think that it is. A little temple for diamonds.Holly smiled in a satisfied way, hugging herself happily. She wondered if maybe she had time to have a better look around, maybe even buy something, when she remembered the cab waiting outside and the fact that she only two hundred dollars with her. If she weren't careful, the cab fare would take that. She hurried (or walked as however fast one can hurry out of a temple) back outside, blinking in the sunlight and got into the cab again. Jacek turned around and gave her a toothy grin (although she really wished he wouldn't: people with teeth like that shouldn't be allowed to smile with their mouth open).
"Is alright, meiss?"
Yes, thank you," Holly said, finding her compact in her mirror and scrutinising her reflection. She powdered her nose quickly and smiled. "Carry on," she commanded, snapping the compact shut. Jacek obligingly swerved the car out into the traffic and continued his haphazard way to the East Seventies and the brownstone apartments he'd promised. Holly glanced out of the back window as Tiffany's lurched away from her. She'd go back. It was reassuring to know that there was a place for you. Especially when you're all alone in a big, cold city.
Jacek was right: the apartment was quite cheap. It turned out that the reason Jacek knew about the apartments was because he knew a lady how lived in Apt. One on the ground floor: Madame Sapphia Spanella, a coloratura and roller-skating enthusiast, who gave Holly the telephone number of the land lord, and let her into Apt. Two, which was, luckily, vacant. She did this grudgingly: apparently, her relationship with Jacek was not a happy one, for although he sent constant winks in her direction, she pursed her lips and ignored him. Holly didn't blame her: she was rather relieved when after lugging her cases up the stairs and showing her how everything in the apartment worked, like the world's most enthusiastic hotel porter, he finally swerved off down the street in his cab, clutching $50 dollars in his filthy pockets.
Later that evening, Holly took a walk down by the river. Later, she would go out to some bars, scout out the lay of the land so to speak, but for now she felt perfectly content wandering along that strip of tarnished water. New York lay nearby, like a vast, glittering insect, humming faintly with traffic and drunken laughter. She walked in silence for a while, and then started singing quietly to herself.
"Start spreadin' the news, I'm leavin' today. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.."
Some beady-eyed seagulls glared at her, before trying to drown her voice out. Holly sang louder, adding some high kicks when any errant birds got in her way.
"These vagabond shoes are longing to stray. Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York"
Out the corner of her eye, she saw a pair of lovers out for a quiet stroll give her bewildered looks. She flashed them a bright little smile and sang even louder. "I wanna wake up in a city that doesn't sleep.
And find I'm king of the hill, top of the heap"
A sudden growling cut her off. Just as she tried to work out what it was, something red flashed past her legs and scattered as congregation of seagulls, who scolded as they resettled on the water angrily. The red striped cat, looked triumphantly at the birds and meowed, before turning back to Holly.
"Hi cat," she said, bending down and holding out her hand to it. It came forward, sniffed her fingertips and nuzzled her knee. "Hi cat," Holly said again. "You got a name, tough cat?"
The cat sniffed her fingers again, no doubt hoping for some food: it was a ragged, scrawny looking thing.
"No," said Holly a little sadly. "You're another no-name like me, aren't you? Only I can make up my name: I don't suppose cats can." The cat put its front paws on her knees and touched its nose to Holly's. She laughed and stood, picking up the cat, holding it up away from her so she could examine it.
"Hmm. You're not fighting me, are you?" The cat gave her a doleful look. "I guess we're both the same, you and I. A couple of drifters, no-names and slobs… Wanna come home with me? I could sure use the company." In reply, the cat wriggled its way free from her grasp and set off down the path, back the way Holly had just come from. It walked a little way, bottlebrush tale high in the air and then turned around and looking at her. It meowed. Holly laughed and then caught up with it, swinging it up onto her shoulders. It wound its claws through a few tendrils of her hair and gave them little tugs. In response, Holly scratched its back and carried on singing.
"These little town blues are melting away. I'll make a brand new start of it, in old New York. If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere. It's up to you , New York, New York!"
The odd couple, the girl and cat from nowhere and everywhere, made their way home
A/N:Apologies if I didn't get Holly and OJ's conversation down correctly – I leant my copy of BaT to a friend and it hasn't come back yet. *whimpers*