Posts Tagged relationships

Vignette…Testament to Love, KC Novella Chronicle

12 July 2010

(Artwork: Artist Unknown. Valentine-cupid-cherub-with-swallow)

You know that I love you, right?  But you know what really makes me mad? The fact that it’s always been so damn one-sided with you.  I used to believe that maybe someday you’d come to see the error of your ways. Realize that we were right for each other.  Cut from the same cloth.  As true and binding as a covenant burned onto a stone tablet.  But I need you to see it, too.  I’ve recently had a feeling that something soon will come between us.  Remember what I once warned; ‘I’ll be devastated, but you’ll be the one with regret.’  I know it sounded cursed, but it was a warning of what I saw coming.  I’d like to say I want you to be happy, but I’m not going to lie.  I do want to see you content, but feel the misery without me.  I’m too selfish to want for your happiness without me there to have it with you. There. I said it.  Sorry if this rubs you the wrong way.    Brandon 

Any girl would be ecstatic to receive a letter as emotionally charged as this (outwardly enraged, but inwardly flattered, secretly delighting in the fury steaming from an infatuated admirer).  But this is Brandon we’re talking about.  And I’m not just any girl.  So naturally while reading through it, I react with that all too familiar feeling of worry and annoyance that has plagued me since the beginning.

      Brandon, please.  Don’t do this to yourself.

      We’ve been through this so many times already.  And don’t talk about fate.  For one thing, I’ll decide my own fate.  It’s bad luck to assume something is destined before you’ve seen the outcome. It’s like mocking Providence. Only in hindsight do things appear to be preordained.  It’s another thing to assume you’ve won the grand prize.  It only dooms you the opposite.  Almost analogous to proclaiming the next engineered cruise ship to be unsinkable, then deigning to name it Titanic.  In life where the gods keep vigil on our egotism, rarely can we afford to esteem ourselves in such high regard.  

      Starting from our teens, my friend Brandon and I developed a tradition of writing letters that has lasted to the present day.  Whenever one of us had something raw to share, you can be sure we’d end up losing sleep over it scripting an epistle.  We held fast to this method, un-swayed by the convenience of modern Email, each of us refusing to let the Internet age intrude on the habit.  A letter, scripted by your own hand felt permanent.  It committed you to your actions.  The very effort sent the message that you cared.  That you meant business.

      Brandon had been my next door neighbor and best friend since our early teens.  For that reason, it was easy to pop letters in each other’s mailbox whenever one of us had the ‘urge’ to ‘purge’ and get something off our chest.

      You can tell them off.  You can say all the things you wouldn’t have had the guts to say if you’d had them standing in front of you. 

     I knew he’d seen me kissing Devin from the front porch, a man I wouldn’t torture him into meeting at this point.  The swift drop of the curtain from behind the arched window told it all.  The spectacle instantly starving any hopes he’d nurtured on me for so many years.  I’m guessing it prompted him to write this letter where he poured his guts out for the umpteenth time. 

      And my heart ached for him now as it did from the very beginning. 


Vignette…Betrayal, KC Novella Chronicle

27 May 2010

Layla stormed ahead of me into the house, slamming the door behind herself, forgetting in her tantrum that I was just a moment in her wake.  The door would’ve banged hard against my face with an explosive strike had I not reached my hand out in time to stop it.   The momentum she threw into it found another circuit, my arm of course, sending a jolt of pain that spiraled its way up my neck, catching the pinched nerve that cramped my herniated disk.  Bitch.  That one really hurt.

I know that relationships can be hard, which is why I kept my judgements in check.  Not to mention, even if by all rights I criticize her, it always comes back to me in the worst way.  I take a deep breath and steady my anger, careful not to throw the lighted match to the puddle of diesel fuel.  She didn’t slam the door at me.  In spirit, she slammed it at that jerk Tommy Skade.  She was imagining the wooden door busting hard and fracturing against his smug face.  She was rightfully pissed, especially after what he did to her earlier this evening.  Seriously, he is a repeat offender.  When will she ever be done with him?  She was so used to his constant disappointments that she no longer cried.  Her tears, like molten lava erupting from deep beneath the earth’s crust, hardened like volcanic resin.  So instead of crying, she got angry.  On the upside, I saw it as progress.

The night started off promising enough.  Layla and I met up with Marlene and Dorna to watch FourPlay (if you can believe the name) perform at Rottweilers in downtown Elmont.  The line was long, snaking its way around Church Hill Road.  Fortunately, Layla knew Merill, the bouncer who’d been tending the door.   He took one look at her platinum red, fire engine hair, recognized the long-legged girl he’d been crushing on since last summer and nodded her in, the gesture instantly accomodating the rest of us into the invite.  Her beauty was like a VIP boarding pass, giving her free admission wherever she made an appearance. 

Standing ahead of us in line were eight people who, from what I’d gathered, had been waiting to get into the pub for at least twelve minutes prior to our arrival.   But Merill knew Layla, was utterly besotted with her, and like all fools who throw caution to the wind when love pollutes their judgment like an oil spill in the Gulf, didn’t care for the gripes they hurled at him when he let her pass through.  It lasted only briefly.  Merill was 180 pounds of Gold’s Gym and Whey Protein, with a bull-dog face to match, the ugliness suiting him handily in his line of duty.  No one wanted to risk angering him too much, so the insults traded were kept to a minimum, just enough to make their point.  They complained within their rights, but stopped just short of pissing him off.  Layla walked by them with an air of confidence, secure by the watch of Merrill’s guard and grinning with depraved humor as the women she passed hissed and bared their canines like jealous felines.

That was early on in the night; when the evening was in sharper focus and full of promise.  It always is in that first half-hour on a Friday or Saturday night, take your pick: when you’re freshly dressed in your sassy-ist attire (whatever in your wardrobe gives you the guts of confidence), perfumed spritzed, and strutting the cat walk of aplomb that only the spike of a three inch heel Manolo can deliver.  

The vibe followed us from The Crossing all the way to the bar in Rottweillers.  We’d taken our first salutory sip of our Martinis, the buzz effect whirling our minds when Tommy came in on the scene.  I was the first one to spot him, and like the good friend I am, pretended not to see him.  In my aim to find my own crush (another story altogether), my gaze landed on Tommy by accident.  It always seems to happen that way, doesn’t it?  The ones you want are never around, but the ones you try to avoid never seem to leave your radar.  Somehow, Tommy navigated by use of his own sonar, because he managed to spot us.  And he always brought trouble with him, along with several accomplices to carry out the undertaking.  From across the room, he’d spotted me, and with his sly, trademark tilt of the head that he mistook for sexy, grinned cunningly at me with a smart wink.  Code for hey cookie, tell Layla I’m here. 

My eyes darted away, retrieving another, more distant object in the room to gaze at before I slowly pirouetted around.   Selfish as it seemed, I wanted her to myself tonight.  I didn’t want to deal with the intrusion of male company, especially not his, which, I do realize, defeats the purpose of going out at all.  I mean, part of the whole gambit is the social interaction dancing between the two sexes, which is why women spend hours getting ready.  Yet interestingly enough, once I’m out there, I find myself in swat mode, spraying on the attitude like an insect repellent to keep the guys from biting.

We were hanging out, enjoying ourselves, when the cool, circumspect greeting of “Hey, Layla” sounded off from behind.

Tommy, bringing along his posse of friends.

Dorna, Marlene and I looked uneasily at each other, each of us awash with a cold apprehension as Layla, ravished by his presence and smiling widely with unabashed pleasure at seeing him, gathered him in the welcoming fold her arms.  Tommy, realizing the rest of the female pact was more discerning and feeling the arctic chill draft his way, regarded each of us with a tight-lipped smile that bordered on humility.  Eventually, Layla pulled Tommy aside, much to his satisfaction at having usurped me, and went to work on her.  As usual, and in his bidding to deploy his envoys, he left behind two of his friends who introduced themselves as Ernie and Al, neither of which had anything interesting to say other than to warn Marlene not to get citronella up her nose when she used the nearby mosquito-repellant candle to light her cigarette.  Smoking was something she did on social occasions, though Marlene was never avid in pursuing the habit outside the scene.  

Ten minutes later and still, no Layla. Followed by an even longer period of about twenty.  I looked up and around Rottweilers, crowded to the hilt, finding no sign of her or Tommy.  I darted my attention between Ernie, whose rambling of mucus congestion from a bout of bronchitis he just kicked, has tranquilized me quicker than an overdose of Tylenol PM, to a futile scan of facial recognition for her in a crowd of over two hundred people.  Forty minutes later and Layla is still MIA.  Whenever she’s alone with him for any length of time, it never ends well.  Naturally, I worry, since her dilemmas become an inevitable part of my problem. 

At which point I interrupt Ernie with an “excuse us”, taking both Dorna and Marlene by the hand and leading them to the doorway. 

“I think they left,”  I announced, setting a new purpose to mind, “let’s go look for her.”  No one argues to the immediate plan of action.  We head past Merrill and out onto the sidewalk where the line of patrons (convinced that Rottweilers is the only game in town) has since stiffened and stretched up and around the curve of Church Hill Road.

“Where do you think she is?”  Dorna asked, clapping her heels loud against the pavement in similar dedication to find her.

No need for an answer.  Like a mother on instinct, I rounded the corner, heading with determined purpose to the Auto Repair Shop parking lot where Bikers park their Harleys on weekends after hours.  Sure enough, there was Layla.  And Tommy. 

And Serena.  Dear Lord, did she have to be here tonight?  Tommy’s on-again, off-again girlfriend.  It’s never good when she makes an appearance.  I wonder where and when she came into the picture tonight.  Apparently, somewhere in between the time from when they parted ways in Rottweillers to this moment. 

Layla’s eyes are bloodshot red, her chest heaving as she struggled to control her temper between each round of slur she pummelled at him.  Every colorful, adverb of insult pointing to the most conspicuous explanation of what had transpired in our absence.   

“You bastard!”

“You prick!”  The p shooting spittle from her lips.

“Liar! Cheat!”

Marlene stepped forward, using the same courage as one would an untamed tiger still in training, and took hold of her flying wrist.  The one she was about to level hard across his face.  Dorna and I stood close on cue, allowing her to empty her final round of ammo before my soothing voice of, “Let’s go Layla,” brings her back to reason.

Not even ten minutes pass, and we are piled in Marlene’s car.  I am sitting in the back with Layla, my lap pillowing her head, whereupon collapsing into tears once again, she’d since sprawled across the back seat.  Dorna and Marlene take the bow of the ship and are seated in the front: Marlene at the wheel, tasked to bring us home, leaving me to manually labor to Layla.  Dorna glanced over her shoulder every twelve seconds, unnerved by Layla’s vehement reaction, uncertain how to initiate the proper response in this crisis. 

Her grievance only escalated by the time we reach the Crossing.  Fresh tears continue to spill forth -two hours worth from when Marlene dropped us off.  We were both sitting cross-legged on her bedroom floor, leaning up against her bed, a scattering of sodden Kleenex tissues collecting on her carpeted floor.  She leveled herself with a deep breath that seemed to assuage her misery before plunking her head on my lap again, grabbing a throw pillow from atop the bed and using it to cushion her head.   

There was a soft, patter of knocking on the bedroom door to the strokes of my finger tips on Layla’s scalp.  The kind of knock that feels awkward in making its intrusion.

The door tentatively opened.  Alfred.  Layla’s older brother stepped forward.  One of the many benefits of being Layla’s best friend. Being the genteman that he is, he stops short of entering, choosing instead to stand within the door frame.  He is visually appealing, so evocatively attractive you could develop an instant crush by just one glance.  The kind that could lead to an obsession if you’re not careful, or a heartbreak if you’re not his type and disillusioned enough to think he might still consider you.  Every time I looked at him, my thoughts wandered in a scandalous detour down ‘fantasy’ lane.  Dorna once admitted to this tendency as well.  The imagery becomes so vivid, you feel ‘caught’ when he looks right back at you.  Depending on what, exactly, you were thinking when he cut a look your way.

He is a parallel rendition to his sister.  Each of them was blessed with a generous portion of beauty bequeathed upon them through their geneology, neither one of them more genetically favored over the other, as mother nature tends to do so often to siblings on cruel occasions.  This time, she doled an equal portion, making both brother and sister exquisitely and equally comely, yet not without allotting the curse of being envied and admired, rivaled and supported by peers and foes alike. 

Tonight his light hair altered his irises to a shade of jade, the Tiffany lamp on her bureau coloring them to an amethyst.

“Is she okay?” he asked, his sympathy of emotion on his sister, his eyes pinned to me.

Oh Alfred, with you in my backyard, why look elsewhere?

“Tommy.”  I mouthed.

His brow-line crunched,  “Who?’

“Tommy.”  I said aloud, causing Layla to sob harder and louder at the mention of his name.

After successfully coaching her to calm again, she straightens her posture, and her vision, once crossed-eyed with grief, becomes instantly aligned as she fixes her eyes across the room.

Vignette…Knights of the Round Table Discussion, KC Novella Chronicle

27 February 2010

“Oh, for Pete’s sake, no one is expecting me to climb the Calaveras Dome.”

“Some people just might.”  Jackie broke off a piece of her cookie and popped it in her mouth.  “I know Craig used to go to Yosemite National Park to rock climb.” 

Craig.  He just had to go to Yosemite and show me up.

“So then how should I describe myself?”

“Friendly.” Layla began.

“Conservative.” Jackie added.

        Great. Two boring descriptive’s that weren’t the least bit enticing to a man.  No guy is consciously looking for a friendly, traditionalist type of girl.  Even men carry quixotic, starry-eyed idealisms on their dream partner.  I wasn’t convinced that writing just ‘plain-old friendly’ was the best bait to lure a man.

        Jackie’s eyes narrowed as she dissected into the wording.  “For your ideal relationship, why don’t you just describe someone who’s confident.  Self assured.  Brawny.  That seems to be your type.”

        “Why,” I retorted, sarcasm saturating my voice, “so I could meet another Buzeo Degardis?” Jackie knew precisely whom I was referring to.  She eyed me contritely before dropping her eyes to her lap.

        Two weeks earlier both she and Keith arranged for me to meet one of his friends through a double date.  They called him Buzeo.  That alone instantly flagged a bad impression which sent undulating ripples of dread through me.  It sounded gruff and unpolished.  As if it belonged on a man who wiped the sweat off his forehead with the same dirty sock he’d pulled off his foot after a grueling work out. 

        But Keith vouched for him, hyping him out to be this honorably decent, straight-up kind of guy who was as open to finding a decent girl as I was to finding a great guy.  Jackie gave him glowing reviews, even maintaining that she would go out with him herself had she not been involved with Keith.  As soon as you hear that endorsement, you begin to think ‘Wow.  There must be something to this guy’.  I’d seen the people she’s dated in the past.  Although I didn’t always agree with her pick of men, there were quite a few times when the men she dated hit the Richter scale on their personality and often times, good looks.  Not that physical beauty was the only thing to go by, but it was always a comfortable start for a blind date.  And I trusted that Jackie, knowing how fastidious I was in choosing men, would have taken this factor into consideration. 

        Since Jackie had only met him once through Keith, her impression of him was limited to that one encounter.  I’m sure that in that first meeting, he was on his best behavior.  Most people usually are in the beginning. 

        She depicted Buzeo to be tall, handsomely chiseled and nicely built.  She raved about his intellect, knowing it was an attribute I highly valued, (Brandon being the seed to the valued virtue) while Keith blathered about his commanding demeanor at work.  I’m thinking… Lieutenant Karl Agathon from Battlestar Galactica -but as usual in the brutal realm of blind dating where the joke is always played on the unspected hopeful, Buzeo turned out to be the antithesis of what I had been envisioning. 

       The reality of Buzeo proved to be a harsh one. He was spray-tanned orange and un-proportionately built.  From the waist down he was narrowly tapered relative to his heavily buxomed upper half.  He was sickeningly vain and bragged about the home tanning bed he recently purchased for his bedroom.  Astonishingly, he likened himself a modern day Casanova.  I had yet to see the evidence of his mastered trade.  He talked about politics, but not from a worldly, informative perspective. 

     His opinions were naïve and his inferences on world events, ignorant.  He openly questioned the purpose of casting a vote in this country when the final count was only drowned in this stupid thing called the electoral-college.   He confused Jim Morrison with Robert Plant, wondering if the Doors were ever going to join up for a reunion tour.  I had to point out that Jim Morrison of the Doors passed away in 1971.  He was genuinely disappointed at the news.  The final insult came when I mistakenly accepted a compliment in what turned out to be an insult.  Just after I thanked him for making a flattering observation on my youthful appearance, he bluntly set the record straight by amending with “I said you look good for a girl your age.  I’m not gonna lie to you and say you look younger than you really are.”

      “All right,” Jackie unwillingly conceded, her face blushing scarlet at the memory, “he was kind of rude.”

      Layla tilted her head, her forehead warping incredulously. “He said that?”

      “Kind of?” I repeated, ignoring Layla.  I was startled that Jackie would be so reluctant to admit to such a gross offense.

      “That is rude, Jackie.” Layla supported, regarding Jackie with obvious contempt before turning to me.  “What did you say when he said that?” 

      “Nothing.” I said, somewhat embarrassed that I hadn’t taken a more indignant approach, like storm out.  “What could I say, really?”

      Layla’s demeanor turned choleric.  “I would have walked right out of there.  No…”  She declared, her attitude had a sting to it, “I would have told him exactly what I thought of him first.  Then walked out of there.”  She snapped her fingers, the loud crack somehow heightening the offense.

      I was irritated by her blatant posturing.  She always took a metaphoric stance on issues that didn’t involve her directly.  Though interestingly enough, whenever she found herself facing similar transgressions, she could be just as speechless as the next person.