Friday, October 23, 2009

Out for a beer - #fridayflash

“But man, how are you going to make it work? You’ve been with her for a few weeks and she thinks she’s in love with you,” the bartender said.

“I’m just told her that I was just going out for a beer. Now I’m going to have her old boyfriend, Steve, call her. She’ll realize how much she misses him and I’ll be off the hook,” Doug told him.

“Didn’t they have a really bad break-up?”

“Yeah, so once I found out they had split, I kind of moved in to comfort her and that’s how we got together.”

“Won't he hold that against you? If you call him isn’t he going to be really pissed at you?”

“Nah. They were made for each other. They just needed a break. I could tell when she cozied up to me so fast that her heart wasn’t in it. She just needed a shoulder to cry on. Besides, she was hoping Steve would find out and be jealous and come running back.”

“I heard he’s the jealous type. I mean, if you call him he might want to kill you or something. I saw him get into a brawl here once. The bouncer had to break it up.”

“I'm not worried. He met this gorgeous blond and couldn’t keep it in his pants so he was a pretty happy dude. That’s why he and Deb broke up. Turned out the new girl was just having some fun with him and moved on to the next guy after a couple of weeks. Then he realized how much he missed Debbie.”

“How can you be so sure this is gonna work?”

“Trust me. It’ll work. He knows he blew it and thinks she’ll never take him back. When I tell him that she’s miserable, he’ll call.”

He dialed the phone. “Steve? How’re things going with you and your new chick? I heard she’s really hot.”

“Man, she is really hot, but not for me. Not anymore. I can’t believe that bitch seduced me like that and broke up my engagement and then dumped me. Boy do I miss Deb.”

“I’ll bet. You two seemed like you were made for each other. But how could you let yourself be tempted so easily if you’re so in love? The old hormones kick in?”

“Yeah. That was part of it. I think I got cold feet. You know, with the engagement and everything. Suddenly it became so real. I wasn’t sure I was ready. That blond girl was my easy way out and I took it.”

“If it was so easy, how do you know it won’t happen again? I mean, if you and Deb got back together and some other hottie came on to you the way that blond did? Do you really think you could resist? I’m not so sure I could.”

“First place, Deb would never take me back after what happened. But if she did I would never do that again. Now I realize how much I love Debbie. And you have no idea how hot she is in the bedroom. I know she looks like little Debbie Homemaker but that’s part of the fun. In the kitchen she wears her little apron when she’s cooking but in the bedroom she wears only that little apron and really gets cookin’!”

Hmmm, he thought. She never put that apron on for me -- not in the kitchen or the bedroom. Maybe I should just leave this beer and go back to her place, he thought. If I stay with her a little longer she might show me what she’s really got going on. We’ve only been together a few weeks.

“Wow, Steve. Too bad you blew it. Sounds like you two had a great thing going. After what you did, you’re probably right. She’d never take you back. Chicks can be funny that way. Once you do them wrong they never forgive you. It’s always in the back of their minds that you might do it again. Even if you did get back together, you could go through a lifetime of marriage and every time you went out for a beer she’d wonder. I’m really sorry things worked out this way. Sometimes, ya don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.

After he got off the phone, he clugged what was left in his glass and went back to the apartment. Deb was lounging on the sofa watching TV. He wondered how long it would take ‘til she recovered from her break up and started wearing that apron.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mrs. Leroy Cooper

Clemmie & Leroy Cooper, (c) Charles Wells Photography 2007

It was a joy working with Leroy Cooper and becoming close friends with him as he told me his many stories. Leroy was such a special man. It should have come as no surprise, then, when I got to know his wife, Clemmie.

The first time Leroy saw Clemmie's picture he said he knew she was the one. He had probably known many women before her and had been married and divorced twice. This time, he had seen the woman who captured his heart and soul. Getting to know Clemmie these last few years, I could understand why he felt that way.

They had been married over 30 years when I met them and his face still lit up when she entered the room. When she spoke of him her eyes brightened and she consistently said, "What a sweet man." She was delighted by his smile, his demeanor and his music. And he was absolutely taken by her beauty, gentility and loving ways. If any two people were meant for each other, Leroy and Clemmie defined those terms.

Imagine being Leroy, a member of the Ray Charles band in 1977 when the band was beginning to peak. Then meeting a woman that affected him so much that he would quit the band and take a job at Disney where people didn't know who he was or anything about his musical background. To be with Clemmie, Leroy took that leap of faith and never regretted it for a single moment.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Cross – All rights reserved

Friday, October 16, 2009

Daisy, Daisy - #Fridayflash

Using her key, Sarah opened the front door and entered the living room. Softball practice had been cancelled because of bad weather and her girlfriend’s mom had dropped her off. As a result, she was home earlier than expected.

Her father, Joe, must have heard her come in. The doors to all the rooms were closed out of habit since they had gotten the puppy. She was surprised that little Daisy didn’t come running as she entered the house. When Sarah didn’t see anyone in the living room she reached for the door to her father’s bedroom. Before her hand made contact the bathroom door opened and her dad stepped out.

“Don’t open that door,” her father said firmly. Sarah pulled back her hand and looked blankly at him. He had not spoken in a loud or threatening voice. He was a gentle man and his voice had always matched his demeanor.

Joe was dressed in his usual paint-covered jeans. He spent his days off painting. Not walls but portraits or landscapes. Occasionally he would attempt to paint a vase with flowers or another still-life object but his preference was to portray life with his tiny, impressionistic brushstrokes. Life represented the opposite of death and death was a subject he wanted to keep buried deeply.

Then Sarah heard Daisy whining. She looked toward the kitchen and saw that the gate was up. Daisy kept leaping but was too small to jump over. Sarah grabbed the leash off the front door knob and walked toward the kitchen.

In the instant that her back was turned, Joe slipped back into his bedroom. He emerged shortly thereafter, quickly closing the door behind him. Sarah looked at him while Daisy licked her fingers hoping to find some taste or scent that would stimulate her senses.

“What’s going on, Dad? Are you working on a new painting?” Sarah asked.

Without waiting for him to answer she said, “This gate is great. We should have gotten it sooner.”

Joe looked distracted. Then he responded to Sarah’s comment, “You’re right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it when we first got her.” He had ignored her first question.

Sarah heard a sound coming from her father’s bedroom. The door opened. As if it were perfectly normal, Sal, the man from down the street came out. He was tall and skinny and walked more like her mother had when she was alive than her father. His hips swayed reminding her of a model on a TV commercial selling jeans. Although two years had passed, every detail of her mother’s movements still lived in Sarah’s vivid memory.

Sarah remembered laughing at how much Sal resembled her mother. Sal was a natural brunette. Her mom told her that she had mousy brown hair until Sal dyed it to a rich color similar to his. Sal was a hairdresser and her mother starting letting him fix her hair. Occasionally he commented on her mother’s clothing and she would take his advice and buy a blouse similar to a shirt he wore saying it went well with their shared hair color. Sarah used to tease them about looking like twins although her mother’s body was shapely, not angular like Sal’s.

Sal had been her father’s friend when he met her mom. The three of them used to watch old movies together sometimes. Her mother used to tell her about it and how she wished she had more time alone with her dad, but she didn’t want to be the kind of wife that broke up a friendship.

Sarah was startled out of her daydreams by Sal’s voice. “I really should get going,” he said, glancing at Joe. He greeted Sarah with a friendly smile as he always had before. She thought his lips appeared to be just a little darker than usual – almost red.

Sal was wearing slacks and a long-sleeved salmon colored shirt. Sarah’s mother used to have a blouse that color. Joe loved seeing his wife in that blouse. Sarah was suddenly uncomfortable when she realized how much Sal reminded her of her mom.

To escape the situation, she stepped to the kitchen and opened the gate. Daisy came rushing out. The puppy ran straight to Sal, her little black nose sniffing at the cuffs of his pants. Sarah’s eyes followed the puppy’s movements. That’s when she noticed it. Sal was wearing pantyhose, or stockings or some kind of women’s knee-highs.

“Get down, Daisy,” he said firmly. “No. No!”

Sarah turned to her father. He looked down at Sal’s ankles and the muscles of his forehead creased. His eyes opened wider as he realized what Sarah had seen.

“I’m taking Daisy for a walk,” she said and walked out the door. It was confusing. Why was her father in his bedroom with Sal and why was Sal dressed to look like her mother? Her dad had loved her mom. None of this made sense. She couldn’t get her father’s expression out of her mind when he saw her looking at Sal’s ankles.

As Daisy pulled Sarah along a smile spread across her face. Her parents were married less than a year before she was born. Her dad worked long hours and no longer had time for painting and he missed it.

It seemed so obvious to Sarah now. He had never had a chance to paint her mother’s portrait and that’s why Sal was dressed like that, wearing her mother’s blouse and lipstick, with stockings on his feet. Dad was just missing mom, too. He was using Sal as his model. Sarah felt like she had solved a giant jigsaw puzzle.

“It’s okay, Dad,” Sarah said when she got home. “I understand.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Photography by Charles Wells

Photo of Leroy Cooper taken in the studio, copyright Charles Wells Photography

Writing for a magazine on a monthly basis is almost like having a 'real' job with a flexible schedule. In my case, almost all of the stories (they don't call them articles anymore) that I wrote were the result of my pitches to the editor and were featured in the Arts & Entertainment section. Fortunately, I had a lot of ideas and contacts in the music business, but I ventured out into other areas of A&E to mix things up on occasion.

As I've said before, I've interviewed many celebrities and written stories/articles about them. In some cases, I worked with publicists and attended concerts in order to provide my editor with a review and supporting material about the artist.

It was my good fortune to work with the same photographer for most of my stories. After the first experience working with Charles Wells (Chuck), we got into a groove. I knew what photos would complement my content but conveying my ideas to Chuck could be a challenge. He stands about a foot and a half taller than I do. Sometimes I had to stand on a chair to see things from his level and sometimes he had to kneel on the floor to see things from mine. The size difference gave us an advantage because we saw the same image from different perspectives. Together we made a great team and our professional relationship was successful.

Why am I telling you this? My photo on this blog and the one of Leroy Cooper were taken by Chuck. He also took pictures of Carlos Santana and Tony Bennett (whom I interviewed) when they performed at the University of Central Florida. We worked together every month for almost two years.

Rather than describing more of Chuck's work, take a look for yourself. You will probably be surprised at some of the celebrities (musical, artistic, political, etc.) that he has photographed. To view his gallery, follow the trail of breadcrumbs that leads to this link: crumb, crumb, crumb, His photography still appears in several magazines. He also does studio work and sometimes is lucky enough to travel on assignment.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Three points for the Devil -- #fridayflash

Wednesday Elaine met Don at the bar after work. She ordered club soda. Don raised his eyebrow. Don ordered Scotch on the rocks.

“No wine, tonight?” he asked.

“Not tonight.” Should she tell him now or wait until he finished his drink? She was watching him closely, sipping his Scotch, wondering how he would react.

“I’m pregnant,” she said, drawing him back into the moment. He stared at her.

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No. I wanted to be sure. I’m definitely pregnant.”

“Have you told anyone?”


“I don’t know what to say. You knew from the beginning that I am committed to my marriage.”

“I’m still digesting it myself,” she said.

That night, Don couldn’t sleep. He was the Director of Human Resources. My God, he thought. What was I thinking? The scenarios kept playing out in his head. Would she expose the affair? Call his wife? Sue him for sexual harassment? Extort him for a payoff or child support? How well did he really know her? She was the same age as his wife, but she wore makeup and long hair, worked out and strutted around in high heels. How did she walk in those things?

There were no illusions about love between them. Elaine had been dating George, the Manager of the Sales Department, too. George was single.

Don went downstairs to his office. He sat at his desk and looked at the clock. It was just before two. He called George.

“George? This is Don,” he said. “Sorry to wake you but we need to talk.”

George sat up in bed. This must be serious, he thought.

“I know you and Elaine have been dating,” Don said. “I don’t know how to tell you this but I’ve been seeing her on the side. You get the picture. I mean, you’re dating other women, too, right?”

“But Don, you and Cathy, I thought you were happy,” George said. He was trying to picture Elaine in bed with Don. The image didn’t please him.

“There’s a situation,” Don said, cryptically. “Maybe we can help each other out.”

“What are you talking about?” George walked to the kitchen.

“Elaine’s pregnant. She told me tonight. I’m in a really bad position here. I could lose everything,” Don said. He sounded hoarse. “If my wife finds out I don’t know what she’ll do. Besides, I could lose my job. I mean, I’m the Director of HR!”

“Why are you telling me this, Don?”

“Well, I’ve been lying in bed trying to figure out what to do. I had an idea. There’s that Director of Marketing position open. I know you were hoping to be on the short list.”

George listened in disbelief. Other managers were in line who had been with the company longer. He was the youngest of the bunch and didn’t expect to be considered.

“I can make it happen, George. I make the ultimate decision in these things. How bad do you want the job? I could bump the salary up quite a bit.”

“It’s the middle of the night for God’s sake. What are you saying?”

“I want you to propose to Elaine,” Don said hesitantly.

“You what?” George gasped. “But I don’t love her and I’m not ready to get married.”

“I need you to do this,” Don said with hysteria in his voice. “If you propose and tell her you’re in line for a promotion, she’ll marry you. She’s been stalking all the executives, looking for a potential husband that could give her the life she wants. Obviously, I can’t do that.”

“You want me to marry her?” George said, stunned. “How pregnant is she?”

“A couple of months. If you propose to her right away I know she’d elope because of the pregnancy. I’d have you promoted within three months and you could buy that house you’ve been looking at.”

“Don, are you thinking clearly? Do you understand what you’re saying here?”

“This could work out best for everybody. You’d get your promotion plus a great piece of tail and I’d be able to keep my job, my family, my house. Help me out here, George. Please. I’m begging you.”

“Let me think this through tonight. Let’s have lunch tomorrow,” George said.

Six months later Randy was born. George thought he had Don’s eyes but nobody noticed. Elaine loved the house and status of being married to a Director. George loved his new home and his job which required a lot of travel.

The Devil had acquired three new souls in the transaction. George, Elaine and Don never considered that. They went to church on Sundays and life was good.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A blog for my dog

I've been thinking about creating a blog for my dog. Not about my dog -- for my dog. It seems like every time I step away from the computer she hops up into my chair. When I turn back, she is about to put her little paws on the keyboard and start typing. Although I am really curious to find out what she has to say, I think I would have to buy her a little Netbook (she's a Maltese with little paws) of her own. Besides, that would protect my laptop from any doggie diaries appearing on my own blog.