Entertaining Welsey Shaw - A Novel (first three chapters)

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Her famous blonde locks are tangled and wet. That's the first thing I notice. That and she appears tired. And perhaps still a touch angry. Her eyes are puffy and a bit bloodshot. The face is flushed, but maybe that's because she just came out of the cold. The most shocking thing about Welsey Shaw as she talks to me right now—quietly, to avoid being noticed—is how different she looks from when she's on the screen. An intricate scarf covers her face, a face that without makeup is actually small-featured and maybe even plain. This is a far cry from how I imagine her, not that I imagine her much. I'm not a fan, nor a reader of the tabloids, where she is often seen walking, running, head down, eyes shielded. On one occasion, or maybe ten, a finger has been extended to the cameras. Once or twice, fists—those of hired bodyguards, reportedly—have bruised the faces of paparazzi.

I have to admit that even now there is something about her, something luminous, something effortless. A born star. Or should that be with a question mark? I'm not sure. This time she has actually removed her sunglasses, and I can see the eyes are a little small. Or am I just used to them appearing bigger—maybe a foot across on the screen? For someone who has achieved stardom through her "richly-nuanced performances," they remain oddly expressionless. And there are her lips, tight, seemingly slightly amused at something. Being a writer I despise clichés, but Mona Lisa smile describes it best. So shoot me. At least she doesn't have Bette Davis eyes.

I am inhabiting a slightly surreal world, even though I'm inside an everyday Starbucks in the middle of Manhattan on a rainy Wednesday. It's one of those days where a cup of coffee seems like the best idea in the world to everybody right now. There are people here on the move and people who sit all day, nursing their French Roast. Before me is someone who does everything in her power to avoid unscripted, unarranged contacts, because, well, it's almost impossible for a celebrity, especially this celebrity, to have a normal conversation with regular people. True she has one foot and her right hip positioned toward the door...

But her sunglasses are off. And she is apologizing. To me.

Welsey Shaw is not as tall as you would think. Five-seven, five-eight maybe. Thin, but hippy. Porcelain-perfect skin that seems lit from within. Okay, maybe she is beautiful, but not the way she is on screen. She has an interesting walk, energetic, not elegant, a little jerky but she makes it work.

I'm sitting by myself, leafing through a picture book bought after a long meeting and a longer lunch. If anyone were to look up, they might notice that Welsey Shaw is standing here. True, she's in faded jeans, scuffed brown flat boots, purple scarf and green sweater. Someone at a table behind her gets up and shoves his chair right into her buttock. He excuses himself without really looking at her face. He and his companion, a matronly Asian woman with short, spiky hair that belongs on her daughter, leave their cups and teabags on the table. She folds up a laptop much newer and sleeker than mine, sticks it into a fancy blue bag, and they are off.

I blink, and Welsey Shaw is still there.

"I want to apologize for what happened earlier today," she says, voice light, almost musical. "I was rude, and I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I should apologize," I hear myself saying, though I don't know why.

"How's your hand?" The "musical" goes out of her voice now.

"It's fine."

"You're sure." -More of a statement than a question.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to sue you," I say for some reason. She's being too nice and it just comes out. For the second time today I'm an ass.

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