Chapter 21- Somewhere Beyond The Sea
Friday, the 30th of July, 1965
Lane Pryce's hair was off today. He had attempted to part it to the left: something he should never have done. His wife had always done his hair; telling him what looked good, what looked crass or offensive, and what looked neat and perfectionist. He was slow to rise from bed today, and took a risky chance which didn't pay off.
Pryce pulled his glasses off, and standing at the mirror in his office, he took an old black comb, smudged some oil onto it, and parted it back to the right. He smiled in content when he saw the old wave appear. It's almost as if hair had its own memory system, and if you play around with that, you'll end up with an odd do. He placed the comb back in the drawer and set his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
His intercom buzzed a moment, and he went to receive the call.
"Yes?" his accent, impeccable.
"Mr. Pryce, Mrs… well I guess, Ms. Holloway would like a word with you."
"Send her in." he answered. It took a moment but the door swung open and Joan entered. Lane stood from his chair to greet her.
"Good morning." He smiled.
"Good morning." She replied, returning the gesture.
"You look just dashing today may I add, black looks well on you."
"Why thank you." She blushed slightly. "I don't mean to jump from a compliment, but it is important."
"Yes? Well, have a seat." Lane sat back down. "What is it this time?"
"The election is next week today, and I'd like us to be prepared on all fronts."
"How can I help?" His hands opened in faith.
Suddenly she was cut off by a buzz. Lane looked from the intercom to Joan.
"Do you mind?"
"Not at all." She waved it off.
"Yes Linda, what is it?" Lane leaned over to the box.
"Michael would like a word."
Lane looked up to Joan for an approving glace, which he received.
"Send him in." he replied.
Michael Falco stepped into the office with a grand footing. He was wearing a dark suit; a red tie, and his shoes shone like newly polished silver.
"I didn't mean to intrude." He ran his hand through his blond hair.
"Quite alright, what is it Michael?" Lane began.
"Well it's about the election; I was thinking we could have a get together, here, with your approval of course."
Joan grinned and commented, "That's actually why I came in here as well."
"Great minds think alike." Lane laughed. "Alright, I say go. Who is leading this charge?"
"Well we could divide up the duties, but I feel like Joan should be at the helm." Mike spoke up. "If she has time."
"Joan?" he looked wondering at her.
"I do have the time, and I would be honoured Mr. Pryce."
"Then the decision is done. Ms. Holloway, you have your party." He stood from the large chair. "On a simple condition, that it's semi-formal. The rest is up to you."
"I hope you'll be attending." She stood from the opposing chair.
"Wouldn't dream of missing it."
Mike held open the door for Joan, and he followed her out. Once they were in the hall, she turned while walking.
"Thank you Mike." Her smiled made him giddy, like a young boy again.
"It was a good plan without me in on it; I'm sure Lane would have given it to you without doubts."
"I know, but it's always nice to have the extra push."
They walked through the doors of Joan's small office. Mike grabbed her from behind and kissed her neck. "You're welcome." He muttered. She spun slowly to face him and laid her hand around his neck.
"I'll need some help with the planning: Getting people to come, sending invites."
"I'm your man!"
"Much appreciated." She bit his lip playfully and then kissed him for a long moment. Then she lowered her arms and sat down in her desk, sprawling out some papers.
"Joannie, would you go as my date to the party? I mean it doesn't have to be over obvious but it would be nice to actually be somewhere with you, instead of just knowing that we are both there separately." His boldness was a triumph in itself, catching Joan off guard; she turned slowly in her chair.
"What would everyone think? I don't know Michael. I want to, but I wouldn't want to raise suspicions. Greg and I just split."
"Suspicious of what? Of things that I confirmed in the hall?" his brazen grin was changing her heart.
"Mmmmm…" she hummed in thought. "Convince me."
"I'll buy you dinner."
"Any man can buy a woman dinner." She scoffed
"I'll cook you dinner, me, myself and I. Celebrated with Don Perignon. Does that suit your fancy." Mike brought his face within an inch of Joan's.
"I'm intrigued." She laughed.
"Is that a yes then?" he stood up
"You better look good if you're walking beside me." She leaned back, crossing her arms.
"I'll go shopping over the weekend." He began walking out.
"That's better." She picked up her gold pen and began writing. Mike smirked and pursed his lips together; he closed the door quietly behind him.
The sun was brightly shining on Don's face as he walked down the boardwalk, looking out onto the sea. The smell of salt filled the air and he could see many boats, dotting the horizon. It was late afternoon, and the sun was just dipping into the deep curve of the west. His aviators blocked the blinding rays just enough for him to comfortably walk towards his destination. A few people strutted along with him on the wide sidewalks. He smiled as a little girl walked past him, and he was reminded of Sally.
"Don!" a voice shouted. He looked further down the way and saw Katy Konstantine leaning off of the boardwalk rail. He smiled and quickened his step.
"I've been waiting for you." She smiled.
"Sorry, I got lost in the view. Sometimes you spend too much time up in those high rises and not enough time truly realizing where you are."
"True, and I'm glad you made it." She nodded
"I am too." He chuckled. She led him by the hand down the boardwalk towards a small restaurant call Julio's; it was harder to find for foreigners, and so most of the patrons were regulars. They walked through the small glass door and into an equally small restaurant. A short man with a dark moustache and glasses approached her. His thick Spanish accent played out as he spoke,
"Katy! It has been a while."
"Tony! Yes it has." He leaned in and pecked her on both cheeks.
"Who is your friend?" he asked.
"This is Don. Don, this is Tony, he's the assistant manager here."
"Nice to meet you." Don extended his hand and shook Tony's.
"Your regular table?" Tony asked.
"Of course." She smiled.
Tony motioned for them to follow him as he walked to the corner of the restaurant where a large window was, with an open view of the sea and the setting sun.
"When you'd like to order, just wave me over." Tony walked over towards the kitchen. Don took a pause and looked around, then peered outside.
"I thought you said you didn't really come to the city?" this came as a statement more than a question.
"I didn't, except for this place. The best Spanish food in all of New York, hands down. It doesn't look like much, but on weekend nights you need to reserve weeks ahead. Tony and Julio lived on my block as kids, naturally I stopped in when they first opened a lot. Now I get reserved seating." She grinned widely.
"Well, I see you have some connections."
"Indeed. You have to try the scallops, they are to die for." She snapped her fingers and Tony ran over.
"Could we get two orders of scallops in the Béarnaise sauce? And a bottle of Bordeaux, anything from before 60'."
"The usual." Tony laughed as he returned to the kitchen.
"How do you know I'll like them?" Don raised a curious brow.
"The old Don I knew loved seafood. Even worms from the puddle down the road from school." She laughed and Don blushed as he remembered the silliest dare he ever partook in.
"How do you remember all of these things? It's charming, really."
"I just have a good memory for good memories. It was a special time in my life; those days. It seems like everything was so carefree."
Don sat and pondered a moment before replying. "Yes, I guess they were."
Tony walked out from the kitchen with an uncorked bottle of red wine in his hand. He poured some into their glasses and gestured for them to take a sip. The wine was very smooth but thick in taste. It had real body and a deep satisfying finish. Don motioned for Tony to fill his glass which he did.
"I've been to Bordeaux, you know." Katy said, sipping the red liquid.
"Really? When was this." Don followed suit.
"A few years back… I guess ten now actually. I went on an exchange trip with some of the students from the U. It was amazing really, just the culture shock. I'd been taking French for 4 years by that point, and had ventured up to Quebec, in Canada, but the French of France is so different, such a completely different ideology there. You drink and eat and feast all day, you work to live, unlike here, especially in New York, where you live to work."
"Sounds boring." Don smirked to get a response. Katy scoffed and replied,
"Well some people enjoy that sort of thing, you know vacations. All work and no play makes for a very long and boring day."
"Just depends on how you see work. Sometimes work can be very rewarding."
"Did I say it wasn't?" she retorted.
"No, but aren't you on a vacation now?"
"Sabbatical. I've been working too long and too hard for just a vacation. They should owe me years of paid vacation days by now. I spoke with the dean and he allowed me three months."
"I see." Don took another sip of wine. "And how are you enjoying your sabbatical?"
"Quite. It's been eye opening, just seeing the things I haven't seen, being places I haven't been in years. I think for the last few weeks I'll fly out to France and drink Bordeaux right from the barrel." She laughed heartily and Don broke a teeth filled smile.
"How very Katy Konstantine of you." He mused.
"I like to think so!"
Tony appeared from the kitchen in a flurry; bringing two plates of fresh scallops covered in rich yellow Béarnaise sauce to their table.
"Enjoy!" he shouted.
Katy was the first to grab her fork and knife, but before she cut the first white chunk in half, she raised her wine glass in the air.
"To?" Don inquired.
"Friendship." She stated.
"To friendship and more." Their glasses clanged together and he drank quickly. After retrieving his fork and knife from the napkin, Don cut a scallop in two and took the first bite.
The sweetness and freshness of the fish was warmly complimented by the sour yet creamy taste of the Béarnaise sauce. Altogether, it was absolutely delicious, he had to admit.
"This is really good." He said between bites.
"I don't lie." Katy quipped. After a moment she said,
"So how is Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, the mega-corporation on the comeback: the underdog rising to the occasion, the Phoenix from its ashes?"
"You make it sound like we are destined for greatness."
"Aren't we?" Katy grinned.
"Well I hope so." Don put his fork down and patted his mouth with the napkin. "It's good. Michael and Peggy just helped shoe in Lincoln. That really boosted our sales, and we're really glad for that. It seems we'll clear quota."
"A celebration is in order then." She tipped the wine towards Don.
"You could say that." He paused a moment to drink and then continued, "The Governor's Election is next Friday."
"Yes I'm reading this all around the city. I also see your name in writing on the corner of all Rockefeller's billboards. Friends in high places?"
"Actually he approached me, while I was on vacation no less. He wanted someone to cover his election; I guess we were his choice."
"Well." Katy looked impressed. "Don Draper is rubbing elbows with the big boys these days."
Don just laughed quietly and ate more of his food.
"So word is spreading around the office of a party, nothing too big or too formal, invite only, of friends of the staff."
"Oh really?" he had Katy's attention.
"Yes, and I was wondering if you would like to join me." He breathed out, his heart pounding in his chest.
"Are you asking me on a date?" Don tried reading her face but it only held a blank expression of confusion.
"Yes… yes I am."
Katy took a deep gulp of Bordeaux, finishing off her glass before replying.
"Then my answer is yes." She smiled. The words set in, and Don's expression immediately shifted to elation.
"And so we'll dance." He laughed.
Roger Sterling was dressed his best this particular Friday. Jane had made him wear a nice grey tweed suit and vest, with matching trousers. What Jane didn't know was that he absolutely hated tweed. He wore it for her anyways.
He didn't know why he was dressed his best, but he felt assertive and more authoritative than usual, which isn't really a surprise.
Roger opened the door to Don's office after having a brief chat with him and walked into the creative room to see how the peasants were working out their ads. As usual not much was being done, except for the girl who always had her nose in something. He slightly resented her, for working so hard. He could always harp on the men for slacking but, to be honest, she barely every slacked. After fetching a drink, Joan caught his eye through the vertical window in her office. She was knee deep in folders and paper, glasses straddling her perfect nose; eyes were glued to the paper, and her gold pen waiting in her hand.
Roger waltzed from the creative room and knocked on Joan's door.
"Come in Roger." She said quickly. As asked, he walked into her office.
"How did you know it was me?" he slyly inquired, sitting into the chair opposite her desk.
"I can see you in the corner of my eye." She looked up slowly from her work.
"So you're watching me?" he cocked a brow.
"You were watching me. You stood there a lot longer than you thought you did." She smirked connivingly.
"Alright, but can you blame me?"
"I'm like your mother's vase now Roger; Look, don't touch."
He let out a bold laugh and said; "Ouch, I thought we were friends."
"We are Roger, and let's keep it that way." She began writing once again. "What did you need?" she didn't look up from the paper.
"Lane tells me that you are leading the charge on this party next Friday."
"On Falco's suggestion."
She put the pen into its slot around her neck and removed the glasses from her face. Roger shifted almost uncomfortably in his seat.
"Yes, Michael suggested I take charge. I am the Director of Agency Operations, and this is an agency operation."
"I'm just saying." Roger sighed indifferently.
"Saying what?" Joan raised her eyebrow and pursed her lips looking angry.
"Nothing, look forget I said anything okay?" he leaned back in the stout chair. "Have you got catering in yet?"
"No I haven't called anyone yet, I will this afternoon when I have time. Right now, I have too much on my hands."
"Let me do it." Roger stated.
"Really?" she seemed surprised.
"Why not, I'm free all afternoon. It takes a load off your back."
"Alright." She smiled. "Nothing too fancy; Lane wants semi-formal."
"Done." He stood from the chair. "Oh and Lane wanted me to give you this."
Roger reached into his vest pocket and pulled out a sealed envelope with some writing on it.
"It's from the partners. Hope you like it." He smirked and left Joan's office.
Inside the envelope was one small business card. In bold writing there was,
And succeeding below, were the words,