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SOMEONE LIKE JANE / Willoughby Johnson ELLEN GLADNEY, STARCHED AND jewel-bedecked, swooped suddenly upon DeUa and Katy, who were mopping up spilled punch. "No!" she insisted, "MeIUe will do that. Stop right now!" Mrs. Gladney then paused a long moment to look DeUa up and down. "Now DeUa dear, don't you look pretty? Where's your date?" DeUa's eyes darted to the floor. "And Katy, where is your date?" Katy shrugged. "What sort of boys are these? Who is your date, Katy?" "Billy BerkhaU," Katy responded, too happy to be free of DeUa to be annoyed at Mrs. Gladness intrusion. "Why," Mrs. Gladney said, "there's Billy now." The unsuspecting boy had happened by the French doors to the patio at just the wrong time. "Mister BerkhaU!" Mrs. Gladney caUed. A süght, pale boy with wispy blond hair that had begun to recede, BUIy sauntered over. Cozy under his arm was a teddy bear he'd won knocking weighted milk bottles over with a basebaU. "SweU party, Mrs. Gladney." "BiUy, what would your mother say about you leaving your date all alone Uke this? I'm of a mind to teU her. Did you win that bear? Give it to Katy this instant." With a giulty look, Billy handed over the bear. "Now come along, DeUa, and we shaU find your . . . who did you say he was?" "Terry Dodd." "WeU, we'U just have to find Mr. Dodd, won't we?" Mrs. Gladney hurried DeUa off toward the garden, leaving BUIy BerkhaU dazed in her wake. It was often said, with a hint of scandal, that EUen Gladney was the most fashionable woman in Kansas City. No matter how daring the latest style, EUen Gladney approached it without hesitation: ten years later, she would be the first woman in Kansas City to wear beU bottoms, and three years after that, the first to declare them appalling. It was something akin to her zeal for fashion, a playful love of show, which determined Ellen Gladney that July 12, 1958, her daughter Welch's sixteenth birthday, would be remembered as the date of the sweetest and most spertacular (for those words were closely connected in EUen Gladness mind) sixteenth birthday party any girl ever had. 56 · The Missouri Review "Um, Mrs. Gladney? Mrs. Gladney!" DeUa tugged at Mrs. Gladney's hand. The woman stopped and glared at DeUa. "What is it, dear?" "I think Terry's fine, I think he just went off to have a dgarette. I'm sure he'U be right back." DeUa saw Terry out of the corner of her eye, taking aim at a row of mechanical ducks. "You're sure, dear? I won't have those boys leaving their dates in my—" Just then something caught Mrs. Gladney's eye. DeUa turned to look. Mrs. Gladney gazed on her daughter Welch, surrounded by a group of boys eagerly playing for her attention. "Oh, look," Mrs. Gladney sighed. "Do you think she's enjoying herself, DeUa?" "It looks Uke she is." "I hope so. My sixteen was such a disaster, darling." Mrs. Gladney's hand tightened ever so sUghtly on Deüa's. "Mrs. Gladney?" DeUa said. "Yes, dear, what?" EUen Gladney said, returning to the surface. "I think I'm just going to powder my nose." "Yes dear, yes, you do that. Now you're sure your date, this Terry—" "Yes ma'am." On her way to the washroom, DeUa paused before the wide walnut staircase. Portraits lined the waUs up into the darkness, but they were of HeUers, not Gladneys. Mr. Gladney had made a fortune during the war, and in 1946 bought the mansion from John HeUer, whose grandfather had built it. DeUa put her hands around the walnut orb on top of the stairpost and was reminded of a recent dream in which she had stood at the base of a similar flight of stairs, waiting to be introduced at the Crown BaU. She had noticed that, unlike the other girls, she didn't have a bouquet of roses. When the crone at the top of the stairs didn't call out her name, but instead caUed out the name...


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