When sixteen-year-old Brooke Bentley's green convertible and cell phone conk out during a tropical rainstorm, she believes it's just bad luck. But when she darts through the dark to a dilapidated Victorian she thinks is the home of a friend and is invited in by a butler in a faded black tux, Brooke knows it must be karma. Because how often do you meet a reclusive 1950's movie star who thinks she's actress Terry Moore? And how often does someone as charming as eighty-year-old Laura de France insist on transforming you into a movie star, too? How can something as simple as a dress control your life? It can if it's the famous green toga worn by actress Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra and you'll do anything to wear it.
"Reading 'Double Take' reminded me of my teen years at MGM studios where I had the good fortune to go to the Little Red School House with such young talent as Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney."
– Sharon Randall, formerly Janice Chambers, ninety-year-old singer/actress.
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When I think back to how the Green Lady broke down in front of 1950’s movie star Laura de France’s creepy old Victorian, I can’t decide whether it was just bad luck or karma. Maybe it doesn’t matter, because either way, the undeniable fact remains that somehow the reclusive actress ended up controlling my sixteen-year-old life.
It was a Saturday night and I was driving home from my job at Surf’s Up surf shop on the sponge docks when the rain came out of nowhere. Not just the little pitter-pat kind of drops like those that we sometimes get in Coral Cove, but a raging Florida storm.
Squinting through the windshield of my convertible, I crept down Dodocanese Boulevard toward home. By the time I’d crawled six blocks to Spring Bayou, streets were flooded and my brakes were gone. So was my power steering.
I rolled curbside, stopping at a jaunty angle.
Okay, Brooke, don’t panic. Just call Dad.
I rummaged through my Andy Warhol Marilyn purse for my cell. But instead of connecting with a warm, fuzzy parent, it did nothing. You didn’t have to be MENSA to size up the situation—dead car, dead cell, tropical storm and total dark. I needed a plan.
Through the dark, towering Victorians lined Spring Bayou looming against the sky like a row of white wedding cakes left out in the rain. It was simple. Unless I wanted to be held hostage in a soon to be leaking convertible, I’d have to make a run for it. Didn’t Mom’s friend Elaine live in one of those old monstrosities?
I pulled my jacket around me and tore out of the Green Lady into the torrent, landing on the porch of the nearest relic. Shaking droplets like a stray Water Spaniel, I peered up at the neglected house. A grey shutter hung precariously from its hinges, strips of peeling paint fluttering in the wind, waiting to fly like tiny bats.
Please God, let this be Elaine’s. Please! I peeked through the cracked, oval-glassed front door and pushed the doorbell. It rang a simple little ring. No fancy ding-dong, ding-dong, no “Yellow Rose ofTexas,”or Beethoven’s Fifth like at my house. Just Ring! Ring!
Maybe Elaine’s not home. Or maybe it’s not Elaine’s at all, but some crazy axe murderer’s digs! An image of the guy in Psycho flashed through my mind. New plan—sprint for 7-Eleven. But it was too late, because at that exact moment the humungous door creaked open.