CHARLIE'S LOVE NEST
Orson Welles owns these haunting, enigmatic characters, not I. Please comment nicely!
Emily Norton Kane was more than just a society woman. She was a woman of principle. She knocked on the door of the cheap flat with an expression of grim determination.
"Whaddaya want?" The baby-faced blonde was still in pajamas, rubbing her eyes as though she'd just awoken. But her bleary blue eyes went wide as she recognized Emily. "Oh! Hello, Mrs. Kane. How do you do? Won't you come in?"
"Thank you." Stripping her black leather gloves off slowly, one finger at a time, Emily entered her husband's love nest. There was an overpowering sweet smell of face powder, stale perfume, and chocolate. The bed was unmade. Everything was rumpled. Even the sofa was a mess, covered with tattle magazines and the latest scandal rags. And of course, the latest edition of her husband's paper.
"I take it you've seen the headlines, Miss Alexander?" Emily asked, her eyebrows raised and her voice sharp and cutting. She seated herself with dignity in a creaky old rocking chair, the one piece of furniture that didn't seem stained with sin.
"Yeah, I saw it, but Charlie says – I mean, Mr. Kane says they can't prove nothing, cause we didn't do nothing. It's all lies, Mrs. Kane, honest!" The girl squirmed in open distress.
"Can you tell me then, exactly what my husband was doing here in your flat until four o'clock in the morning last Friday?"
"Well . . . I had a toothache, that's what! And Charlie was making me laugh so's I'd forget about it. And then when I was feeling better, I played the piano for him, and we sang some songs. That's all that happened, Mrs. Kane, I swear it." The rosy blonde flopped onto the sofa, her pajama top falling open so that her plump, firm bosom nearly spilled into view.
"I find that difficult to believe, Miss Alexander." Emily allowed her intense dark brown eyes to burn into the girl's enormous blue ones. It was easy to dominate such a weak personality. The girl showed no sign of character, courage or integrity. Only a complete lack of firm principles, and a frightened desire to please.
"You aren't . . . you aren't going to divorce Mr. Kane, are you Mrs. Kane? Just think what it would mean to his political future. Just think what it would mean to your little boy!"
"I'll worry about the Kane family, if you don't mind, my dear." Emily gave her another sharp look. "The question now is what is to become of you."
"Me?" The little blonde squeaked. "Charlie says he's gonna take care of everything. He's gonna make me a famous opera singer!"
"And what are you going to do in the meantime?" Emily asked. "Lie around here in your pajamas while my husband throws away his career? Reporters will be here soon – are you ready to talk to them? Are you ready to sing in front of huge crowds of people who know what you and Charlie did?"
"We didn't do anything!" The girl looked scared. "I can't talk to those people. I don't want to get Charlie in trouble. If only there was someplace I could go, someplace real quiet!"
"I know just the place," Emily told her.
Charles Foster Kane had never felt better in his life. Despite the whiff of scandal, the people of the state had finally realized how much he loved them . . . and how much they loved him! His election victory made him happy, and dancing with his wife at the inaugural ball was a small price to pay.
"Do you realize what this means, Emily?" He asked, holding his wife close in a possessive way that masked the lack of feeling between them. "The end of government corruption. Boss Jim Gettys will be in Sing Sing before the year is out!"
"I shouldn't be so hasty, Charles," Emily Norton Kane told her husband. "Mr. Gettys has conceded defeat in the election. Apparently he means to retire and spend the bulk of his fortune on useful public works. He's even building an opera house! Perhaps you and I might attend the premiere."
Kane felt a fleeting sense of guilt at the mention of opera. "Let's forget about it," he rumbled, kissing his wife's cheek. "Firm principles are good, but so is forgiveness, Emily dear."
Later that night, as her triumphant husband was making love to her for the first time in months, Emily Norton Kane reflected on the value of firm principles. Big Jim Gettys had no interest in opera, but he did own a construction company. The cement foundation of the new opera house contained a vault, and in that vault were the remains of Susan Alexander.
Emily had kept her promise. It was a very quiet place.