Thursday, July 28, 2011

Drive or Drivel?

I’ve been spending a lot of time wondering exactly what I have to offer visitors to this blog. I’d love for this space to always be creative and informative – for readers to leave with knowledge or inspiration that spurs them on to further success, wealth, happiness or self-discovery. Alas, for better or worse, I’ve embraced this place is mostly my playground and a source of entertainment. -- At least, I hope it is the latter for you. (Please don't burst my bubble. That stuff is really tough to get out of my eyelashes.) 

I present my latest short story, “Drive.” I hope you like it. (Sorry, Anthony’s not in this one.)

“Drive”

Instantly, as Jimmy touched his trembling foot to the pedal, he knew it was far too late to turn back. His journey had begun. His lust for the road subdued his intermittent fear of the future. Images of murderous hitchhikers emerging from his mother’s frightening tales of misfortune disappeared. Echoes of piercing, insufficient cries for help escaped earshot — despite their repetition and paraphrasing. 

The warnings were designed as a safeguard for the fairly na├»ve son Kate worried would endanger himself. But, his biggest threat, thus far, had stemmed from sleeping in his own soiled sheets. He’d learned the laws of the land. He always surrendered the right of way when it was warranted. He signaled before every turn. And over time, he’d grown especially proud of his expanding experience with parallel parking. He’d yet to scratch his paint. 

Still, the young traveler’s knuckles stiffened at the sight of an unexpected pothole. He tightened his grip and grimaced — anticipating damage far more reaching than any spare could fix. Jimmy was much too anxious to even look behind him. Aghast, he pictured flashing police car lights. An angry cop would ticket and arrest him — lock him up, impound his vehicle and toss the key. Possibly for speeding.

Despite his vast knowledge of dos and don’ts, Jimmy had no proper license. And his mother knew it. He wondered why she’d even let him leave. Surely, she’d recognized the call to explore had overpowered his capacity to resist, he believed. His response to obvious temptation needed to be tested, he suspected. He was clearly failing. But, undaunted, he decided to proceed.

Abruptly, Jimmy slammed on his brake — stopping only inches from a passing couple with no crosswalk. “Stupid pedestrians,” he muttered beneath his breath. He sounded just like his dad, he thought, and donned a twisted grin. Memories of his father’s shaking fist and the car’s horn blasting inattentive plodders made the unexpected encounter almost enjoyable. “Look where you’re going,” he yelled. He didn’t want the walkers to realize that he’d been easily rattled.

“I’ll just go down to the corner and get some gas,” he announced to no one in particular. He had no willing passenger. But, when he eventually arrived at the station’s location, the ground was occupied — by a fair queen and her massive castle. The grumpy monarch calmly bid him adieu before ordering sizeable guards to chase the traitorous trespasser who’d rather drive than work for her.

“Dinner!” Jimmy’s mom shouted out his bedroom window.

He wasn’t allowed to pass the edge of the parking lot. And the loyal servants were forbidden a voyage which included invading Mr. Connor’s decorated porch by the base of the concrete steps. A formal declaration of war would have been required. Jimmy stuck out his tongue.

“Wait till recess,” Tommy said.

As he picked up his plastic bike, Jimmy hoped his schoolmate’s memory remained short during the glorious day. Then, he’d brave the roads again with wavering confidence. — All first grade royalty and commoners alike were condemned to separate homes or the protection of an ancient peacekeeping escort after dark. 

So there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Checked Out

I was talking to my mom yesterday. And she was encouraging me to write something new — specifically something different from what I normally write. (How’s that for a vote of confidence?) But, with unfinished projects already on my plate, I wasn’t really looking forward to adding anything else. Then, I started writing. And what you see below is the result. I’m not quite sure it’s what she had in mind.


“Checked Out”


I never did like him. Well, I liked him. But, I’d never let him know it. Otherwise, he’d get that smirk — that knowing, “I knew you wanted me” look. The look that made me want to punch his smug, little face. That beautiful, masculine, chiseled face. High cheekbones any woman would envy. Eyelashes that were thick and curled. Lips which put me into a permanent, internal state of pucker. Oh, how I hated him. With his “I didn’t even try to look good” snug tee shirts and blue jeans which were never tight, but never baggy enough to make you question if there was something good going on inside them. You knew. And he knew you knew. That’s why I punched him. Okay, I only decked him in my mind — before I undressed him.

Don’t get me wrong. Anthony was conscious in my fantasy. My strike barely left a mark. He looked at me with passion. I could’ve sworn I saw his nostrils flare. He drew me into his arms. He peered deeply into my eyes — and saw who I was. He loved the real me. He wondered how he could’ve gone all that time without realizing I was the one. Silly boy.

He caressed the small of my back with his left hand and lightly stroked my cheek with his right. His lips parted slightly without his knowledge — willing him to satisfy their thirst for mine. I waited. I knew in a few seconds he wouldn’t be able to deny their request. I closed my eyes and tilted my head a little to the right. Then I woke up. My head was still tilted. He’s coy and likes to toy with my emotions. 

Who does he think he’s fooling with that seemingly effortless laugh and superficial familiarity with the fluctuating price of produce and the unpredictable weather? He flashes a smile, a wink. He dips his head and looks up with those big, green, bottomless moons. Probably green with envy of all the people who didn’t get by based on surface appearances. People who had to work to become breadwinners. People with substance and character. People who have stories to tell that don’t involve designer labels or chichi restaurants. But, he keeps coming back again and again — to taunt me or because he needs someone who’s a tiny bit sincere. Who could blame him?

You’re not all that, I told him — in my mind. Sure, you’re rich and gorgeous. You’re charming and friendly. You even have a healthy diet and obviously take somewhat good care of yourself. But, you’ll never have me. Chew on that, playboy. With that, I handed Anthony his paper and plastic — and slid his platinum card across the counter. What? The customers’ credit card reader was out of order. At least, that’s what the Post-it I’d scribbled earlier said.

“Have a great day. I’ll see you soon,” I mumbled. Removing the note, I continued with my day. The shopper behind him smiled — showcasing a piece of something black in her front teeth. Way to make an effort.

“You’re fired,” my manager said at the end of my shift. He’d been writing me up for months — just looking for any excuse to spend more time with me. But, he can never come between me and Anthony. Jealousy’s an ugly thing. I hope, one day, he gets the help he clearly needs.

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