Thursday, April 29, 2010

Clark as in Bar

This is my #FridayFlash story for week 49. I am open to critiques and comments.

Shellie sat at the bar sipping her Stoli on the rocks following with a swallow of water with a wedge of lemon floating in it. She always ordered her liquor on the rocks with a glass of water on the side. That helped her keep track of how much she drank. The band would be starting soon. She only went to clubs that featured live music, preferably rock.

Now that her divorce was final she fantasized about what direction her life would take. Perhaps she would flee this city and start out fresh assuming a new identity. Maybe go back to using her full name, Michele, and her maiden name enabling her to disappear from her past.

The air stirred and she glanced to her right as a man pulled out the bar stool next to her and sat down. He waved at the bartender and ordered a Michelob. Shellie stared at her drink, picked it up and took another sip, another drink of water. As she put the water glass back on the bar the beer was delivered to her new neighbor. He reached for it and she saw the black leather sleeve with a ragged tattoo peeking out. She glanced at her cell phone next to her drink to check the time. As usual the band was late. She turned toward the stage and saw that they were at least standing there pretending to adjust amps and equipment.

Before her body swiveled back toward the bar, she felt fingers on her wrist. They tightened instantly. It happened so fast she didn’t quite absorb the feeling of foreboding danger. When she looked up to her right the man in the leather jacket looked her in the eyes. His greasy black hair was hanging down over his temples, parted in the middle. He had a firm grip on her now and he spoke very quietly. Then she heard that sound. She recognized it from the stairwells in high school so many years ago in northern New Jersey. Click! It was the unmistakable sound of a switchblade.

“We’re going to get up quietly and walk out of here together smiling. Understand?”

She couldn’t speak or move. He pulled up on her wrist. She looked at him trying to figure out what to do. Scream? It was pretty loud around the bar. Would anybody hear her? The bartender was busy mixing margaritas. It finally occurred to her that she should be scared but somehow her body didn’t register fear. After her violent marriage it seemed like all her fear had been used up.

He was standing now tugging on her arm. She felt the point of the knife through her tee shirt. The smile on his face was glaring at her as if he had already claimed his conquest.

Suddenly the house lights dimmed as the stage came alive with music. She was frozen. He was sneering at her, standing next to the barstool, one hand on her wrist, the other holding the knife tip against her skin. She felt a tap on her left shoulder and turned away from her assailant.

“Hey, how have you been? It’s been weeks since you’ve been here. It feels like months. C’mon, let’s dance. If I remember correctly, this is one of your favorite songs.” She had never seen this blond man before in her life. Smiling widely he took her left hand to help her off the barstool. He looked genuinely happy to see her and she didn’t have a clue who he was. Could she have met him somewhere else when she was too drunk to remember?

Her right wrist was suddenly released. The pressure of the knife blade instantly disappeared. She peeked over her right shoulder as she moved toward the blond stranger. Leather jacket looked disgusted as he stepped down off the bar stool and headed for the door.

She forced her feet to follow this blond man to the dance floor. He put his arm around her back and took her hand in his and started to dance, holding her close but not too close. He looked into her face and smiled. She looked blankly back.

“I was waiting for the bartender to come over and I saw that guy pull the knife. You looked like you needed rescuing.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“My name is Clark Graham. What’s yours?”

“What?” She thought she must have heard him wrong. The music was very loud.

“Clark Graham. You know, Clark as in bar, Graham as in cracker.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. Why would anyone make up a name like that?”

© Susan Cross, April 30, 2010

"Tomorrow" written for Poem in your Pocket Day

Copyright Susan Cross

Frustration fills my mind. My body overflows with hurt. I ask myself, is the world coming to an end?
Dressed in tank top, shorts and flip flops I walk 11 blocks east to the beach.
Sitting facing the water I wait for the waves to stop flowing. They keep slowly gurgling toward the sand.
If the world were coming to an end, the ocean would become still.
I sit for awhile listening to the water lapping towards me and then receding revealing seashells of different colors and shapes.
Eventually, I look at the blue sky, pull myself up and walk 11 blocks back home.
Tomorrow will follow today and hopefully extinguish these feelings replacing them with hope and joy.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The sound of music

I've made concert-going a priority in my life for awhile; more and more lately. Without having to leave Orlando I have seen Roger Daltry, Eric Clapton and Leon Russell in the past six weeks. I'm looking forward to the first week in May when B.B. King returns to his club here. How can someone in his 80s still sing and play guitar so well? How inspiring. It's time to check the local venues to see who will be coming through after B.B.

Now that spring is here I get to watch baseball and go to outdoor concerts again. This is my favorite part of the year. The only thing that gets in the way is the pollen count. We have a contest going on to see who can sneeze the most times in a row. My husband leads so far with seven.

Ah, but I digress. Back to the music. I had forgotten why I put my business into debt by purchasing a Bose double wave radio. It's been too long since I picked out a handful of CDs and pressed the play button on the remote. My goal is to make enough money writing this year to get my business in the black. I'm right on track.

Excuse me, please, I have to get up and dance right now.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ida'sTea Party - #Fridayflash, comments welcome

Ida was one of those 81 year old ladies who still dusted every day, especially her little hutch filled with fine china. There was a TV on top of it now but she still used the glass cabinet for her dishes. She had been single for about a year living in a studio apartment in the senior citizens building on church property. Widowed, that is. For the fourth time. Even now Ida had a new boyfriend. She swore she would not marry again because her four husbands had been fairly well off and her new boyfriend was not. It wasn’t easy to find men when you were 81 so now that she found one that was single, aware and ambulatory she wasn’t going to complain.

Playing bridge and lunching with ladies were her favorite pastimes. She tried to fit in an occasional meal with a granddaughter but she didn’t like cooking and wasn’t really a family oriented woman. Her daughters had married beneath them so she wasn’t anxious to have their children and grandchildren in her home messing up the dining room table with crayons or eating sticky jelly sandwiches.

Ida didn’t watch the news on television. She said it was too depressing to see what all those awful people and crazy politicians were doing to her country. Her son had served in World War II to fight for freedom. Twenty years later the hippies had taken over and twenty years after that, women were going to work even if they didn’t have to; teenagers were having babies that were being raised by their grandparents. Not Ida. She would have no part of that world.

Over lunch one day, her friend Catherine mentioned that she had heard about tea parties on the news. Ida was delighted. She hadn’t had a tea party in years. Her friends spent too much time with their families and besides, when she had nothing better to do, she would call Joseph and invite him over to watch an old movie on TV. Neither one of them could drive anymore so they didn’t go out much.

Ida called her daughter Marilyn and asked her to bring her a box of invitations from the Hallmark store. The next day, she filled them out, stamped them and put them in the mailbox in the lobby. Although they were all going to people who lived in her building it would be rude to just deliver them to the mailboxes without going through the post.

As she expected, three ladies out of six R.S.V.P.’d using the cards enclosed with the invitations. Her mother always taught her to invite twice as many people to a party as you wanted because only half would attend anyway.

She prepared the small table with white doilies and her china tea set. Marilyn had fulfilled her request to bring a box of crumpets from the bakery a block away. She set one on each cake plate next to the tea cups. One by one her friends started arriving dressed in their Sunday best. The table was no bigger than a bridge table.

Melanie was curious and asked Ida, “What is the occasion?”

“Well, I heard someone talking in the dining room a couple of weeks ago about the tea parties. I was so happy to hear that they had come back into fashion I thought I’d be the first in the building to have one!”