Tremulous

Now that you’ve seen the worst I can come up with in that last post, let’s see just how far I’ve come, shall we?

The following is a short story about love, life and other catastrophes. I am calling it TREMULOUS for the time being, until a better title presents itself. Maybe y’all can help me with the title if you have something better…

Anyhoo… Check it out, leave me some notes, help me make it better so that I can feed the Baby and put some new hotpants on the Wife…

                                 – TREMULOUS – 


Bryans mind was pent in, surrounded on all sides, trapped by a single word. It was a feeling more than a word, but there was a term for it. Tremulous. He wasn’t sure that it was the correct word (it probably wasn’t even close), but it sounded right – like a lone, tiny leaf – the last leaf on the tree, hanging on for dear life against the constant flap and flow of a powerhouse wind, unsure of exactly how many seconds it can continue to ride the very branch that gave it life. Tremulous, that’s how
Bryan felt staring at the phone.

 

Melissa had given him the number almost a month ago now and it had sat, undisturbed, in the middle of the otherwise deserted coffee table, right where Bryan had discarded it, immediately after writing it down. He felt it there, every time he entered the room, staring, judging, eyeballing him as he watched TV or studied pages of script as if it were his 9th grade History homework. It called out to him, spoke in whispers as he tried to relax, shifting in his usually comfortable wingback, listening to old vinyl L.P.’s. It dogged his nights and followed him through his days, haunted his writing and left him daydreaming through script meetings. He heard the echoes of it at the Starbucks on the corner – using a tall vanilla latte as an excuse to hide out. He found himself avoiding home, avoiding the constant nagging of that little slip of paper that dared him to make one simple phone call.

 

Melissa had called on a Sunday, their one day off from the studio. They were good friends, spent a lot of time together during the work week, but had a long-standing tradition of non communicado on Sundays.
Bryan was first worried, then slightly annoyed when he saw her number on the caller I.D. She opened the conversation with some vague “shop talk” about a scene that was already in the bag and then quickly segued into the real reason she was calling. It was a setup.

 

            “She’s really a lovely girl, Bryan.”

 

“That always means that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them, doesn’t it? Is it like that girl Tera? Remember? The closet fruitcake evangelist? The one that got up and started preaching Revelations and distributing anti-Semitic pamphlets… in the middle of dinner… at Goldbergs?”

 

“Yeah, yeah. I didn’t know she was a flake. She was a cousin of a friend of a friend. You’re going to hold that over my head forever?”

 

“Yes. Yes I am. I used to be Jewish, y’know!”

 

“You converted just long enough to get married and tell one off-color Rabbi joke at your wedding.”

 

“Touché.”

 

“What about Amy? She was cute.”

 

“Very cute, until she got wasted, fell 3 feet from my deck and tried to sue me. Now honestly, what’s the matter with this one? Hare lip? Morbidly obese? – Is she a 400 pounder?”

 

“You’re an asshole.”

 

“Really? What could possibly be the cosmic flaw this time Mel? I.Q. of 36? Daddy issues? Leprosy? Does she have a penis?”

 

“You’re the one with the low I.Q., Bryan. Maybe if you weren’t so wrapped up in all this bullshit about your past you’d be able to date like a normal person…”

 

“I don’t want to be a normal person, why would I want to date one?”

 

“I know, I know. You want Wonder Woman, thigh-high boots and all. Lucy is not coming back. You need to move on, and for some masochistic reason, I feel the need to help you. Gina is a funny, intelligent and very beautiful woman. Besides, after she meets you she’ll probably never want to see you again… ever.”

 

“True.”

 

“So what are you so afraid of?”

 

“Gloria Swanson.”

 

What?”

 

“In Sunset Boulevard. If this Gina is so great, why isn’t she taken?”

 

“What does that mean? Gloria Swanson?”

 

“How do I always have to explain these references to another screenwriter? What are you? Thirteen? Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard… She was a clingy, manipulative, psychopathic harpy, who eventually kills William Holden because he tries to leave her.”

 

“So you’re afraid that you’ll be sucked into a relationship?”

 

“No, dumbass, I’m afraid you’ll hook me up with another nut job, like Karen? With the knife collection? Maybe this one will finish the job.”

 

“You are a prick, and I’m hanging up. Now, would you just call her? Please? If she kills you, I’ll take total responsibility.”

 

“Nice. That makes me much more comfortable with the idea. I’ve gotta go, somebody’s at the door. Goodbye Mel.”

 

“Up yours, Drama Queen.” Click.

 

That’s how it had started. After a few more phone calls, a couple of coffee breaks and one questionable Sushi dinner, Bryan had finally relented just to get out of the restaurant and on his way home to the relative safety of his own commode.

 

The first few days, the tiny slip of paper held no interest to him at all. He forgot it entirely. Then, a week after the Sushi incident (as Bryan would refer to it) a 30-second blip gave life, and a voice to the inanimate scrap of pulp. Double Jeopardy had left a nebbish Mormon nuclear physicist in the lead. Bryan was slowly nodding off, his third scotch & soda evaporating in his hand, when the Life insurance commercial came on. It was the usual pre-primetime type of infomercial. A traditional American family cavorted in slow-mo happiness as a steady Midwestern voice blathered on about term-life and the importance of coverage. Then, out of nowhere, like a sudden pounding heartbeat, there she was. Lucy. It had to be. The long auburn curls, the smoky eyes and those lips – like some ripe exotic fruit, ready to burst with sweet, red juices at any moment. The girl on the TV, his Lucy, twirled around and around in a field teeming with flowers – bluebells and white daisies, some other flowers, yellow and red – a softly wavering sea of kaleidoscopic heaven. It swayed softly with her every movement. It moved for Lucy; with Lucy. Lucy with the deep amber soul; the symphony of curves; the softest, tiniest wrists Bryan had ever touched.

 

 Then she was gone. As quickly and mysteriously as she had appeared, she flickered away, leaving a big green logo and a screen full of writing too small to read. Bryan was on his knees, palms on the screen in supplication to the gods of the airwaves, begging without words for her to come back, to reappear with that genius smile, beaming for him and him alone. He stayed on that station for 14 hours waiting for that commercial to play again. He parked himself in front of the TV with every spare moment. Flipping, ever flipping. He was frantic and oblivious to everything and everyone else. Eventually he gave in to the realization that he was not going to see it again and it may have been a figment of his drunken imagination at that.

 

The next few days were unsettled. No sleep, little food, no conversation and unable to work. Bryan spent an eternity inside his head, reliving every minute of his life with Lucy. Replaying a thousand instances of affection, a hundred episodes of absolute bliss. Ten beautiful months full of tranquility and warmth, the kind of surety and unconditional love a sleeping baby finds in his mothers arms. She was inspiration, she was Life, she was Lucy. The only person he ever really loved, in that silver screen, romance novel, Shakespearean sonnet way that only Pinot Grigio and Van Morrison seem to replicate.

 

Lucy was everywhere. He saw her in the corners of his vision, in every reflection on every window, in every woman walking carefree down a crowded street.

She was his ‘soul-mate’; something he had always presumed was nothing more than a cheap literary convention.

 Bryan St. James had never been a ladies man. In his childhood he was small, awkward, weak – an easy target for the boys and, at best, a subject of piteous adoration for the girls. He was no more interesting to them than a puppy, a baby or an injured bird, just an excuse to pretend at Motherhood. In his teens he was scrawny, tall, even more awkward and covered with the boiling red curse of pubescent acne. It wasn’t until College that he had his first “girlfriend”, and several of those before he got beyond heavy petting or became any more involved than as a friend who kissed with tongue.

 When he was 26, had sold his first script and become a young up-and-comer in Hollywood circles, Bryan finally hit his stride with dating. He had been working out with a trainer, eating well at restaurants, took ‘spa meetings’, everything that goes along with being a
Hollywood player. With his newfound wealth and fame, the women began to seek him out, aspiring writers, lonely producers, hangers-on and actresses angling for parts. Pam, his first wife, had been a 21 year-old ingénue when they met. He easily fell for the bottle-blond starlet who dazzled him with her body and courted him around town; showing him off to the Beautiful People and making him feel popular, successful and desirable for the first time in his life. It ended 9 months later when he realized that she was only using him for production clout and she realized that she was quite taken with her new costar, a bodybuilding pro-wrestler with an I.Q. of 65. The second time around,
Bryan had been determined to learn from his mistakes and find someone more cerebral – artistic, instead of another talking head. What he ended up with was a brunette version of Pam, but a better actress. This one lasted a full year before he realized that she was cheating and making him a laughingstock in ‘the industry’. Finally, a few years and possibly a hundred ‘girlfriends’ later,
Bryan thought he had found real love and companionship. Josephine LaFontaine was a fellow writer, had traveled the world, written 7 books, had a Masters degree in Literature, and yet still ate at McDonalds, wore ratty, fuzzy slippers and a bathrobe whenever she was at home and laughed at Adam Sandler films. Josie was wonderful. They were great friends, enjoyed every minute together – as friends. The physical end of the relationship had fizzled and they rarely shared intimate moments.
Bryan began to feel the same way he had in College, as if he were merely a partner by default. By their first anniversary it was fairly evident that they would not continue as man and wife. They split up, amicably, and remained in constant contact until the divorce was final. A few weeks later she disappeared.
Bryan worried, searched, and eventually resigned himself to the fact that she was not coming back. He found out months later from a friend of a friend that she had gone to
France with her lover, the lover that
Bryan had known as her best friend… Marnie. Thus was the love life of Bryan St. James, ever the jilted bride… Until Lucy.

Lucy came late to the game, following three weddings, three ugly divorces, and a dozen other failed ‘romances’.

 

They met during a casting call for an Indie film that
Bryan was consulting on. The film was a nouveaux-noir set in a
Kansas dustbowl town. During casting,
Bryan was engaged to read with actresses who were trying out for the female lead. The character, Delia, was meant to play as a man-eating bitch in the guise of a desert flower. Two full days of auditions and some 120 actresses came and went, none of them any good.
Bryan was about as bored off his ass as he had ever been. Then came Lucy. Average height, a nice curvy figure, not quite hourglass – her hips were just barely wider than her shoulders and her ‘bosoms were ample’, as the saying goes. Despite the fullness of her form, she was obviously fit and well muscled, with the graceful, confident movements of a lifelong dancer. Her feet were dainty and her hands were small, with slender arms tapering to finely boned wrists that belied a girlishness that she would never outgrow. She wore a simple flowered sundress, exactly as you would imagine a small-town farm girl would wear. Her hair was a chestnut brown, naturally curly, tied up in some kind of twisted plait behind her perfectly proportioned skull. Wisps of brown ringlets fell around her delicate neck and framed her soft face. Like her body, it was a contradiction in beauty. Her face was full and smooth, and
Bryan expected her to smell of fresh peaches and sweet cream. She had powerful cheekbones and a megawatt smile set between a pair of the fullest, roundest lips ever laid on a woman. Her eyes were deep and brown, rimmed with gold, which shone like the sun peering through clouds when she grinned from ear to ear. He was immediately and irreversibly smitten.

 

She performed her piece well, filled the words with passion and zeal, but that lovely face never stopped beaming. She was magnetic and forceful and exuded otherworldly energy. She drawled out pure Southern disdain in perfect tones of dulcet disgust and honey as if she were Blanche DuBois herself, and yet the lack of any semblance of Poker face made it impossible to see her as the devilish femme fatale they needed for the film. Brian was overwhelmed with affection for this girl. He was devastated at the thought of destroying her dreams of stardom, but it wasn’t his film to cast. He spent days guilt-ridden, hating himself and berating himself for not fighting for her, even though he knew she wasn’t good enough for the role. Eventually he went to the casting office, got her number and called her, under the guise of conducting a phone interview for a callback on a different part.

 

 She answered after 9 or 10 rings – no machine. Who the hell didn’t have a machine in
L.A.? He apologized and gave several lame reasons why she wasn’t cast as Delia. Lucy Ames simply laughed it off and made small talk and eventually asked him out for coffee. They made a date for the next afternoon and that was that. The next day, as he circled the block around the Coffee Shop, reluctant to commit to what this beverage sharing might lead to,
Bryan fought with a self-doubt and permanent loathing borne of a hundred failed romances. Eventually he parked and sat in the haze of the late afternoon smoglight, watching her through the window as she sat waiting at a small table drinking coffee with 2 packets of Sweet N’ Lo. As he watched her, his anxiety melted away and his mind began to wander, inventing episodes in a shared life that had yet to happen. Somehow he imagined himself lying against her, an old man fading away into a peaceful death. His pale, wrinkled and hard-weathered face resting against her breast. He smiled.
Bryan realized that it was the first time he had ever imagined dying happy. He also realized that he was sitting in a parked car, daydreaming about a woman who must have been getting increasingly irate at the prospect of being stood up by an idiot like himself. As if it was meant for him alone, the radio began to play “Hey Jude”.
Bryan made it to the first drum rise before the bridge and realized that he could do this. He could sit and drink coffee with this young goddess. By the chorus he was turning the key and stepping out into the street. He straightened his sport coat, dusted the legs of his pants like an umpire about to crouch behind the plate. He took one solid, cleansing breath and waded into his own future.

 

The next 45 minutes were as beautiful and moving as any moment
Bryan could recall in his entire Life. She spoke passionately about being a 3rd Grade Teacher, about Dance, Art, Travel… She was amazing. There was nothing in this world that Lucy felt was outside of her ken. She could, would and did do anything and everything. She was only 30 and had lived a full lifetime beyond
Bryan. She had been a troubled teen, drugs and alcohol, rehabbed by 20, traveled most of the world by 25, seen things and done things that most only imagine or see on Discovery Channel. She’d swam with sharks off the coast of Peru, danced atop a volcano in Bali, climbed Egyptian pyramids and outrun the bulls in Pamplona. There were no regrets for a girl like Lucy. She unraveled her entire story to him, a stranger, someone she had only known for a few hours of her amazing Life. He felt woefully inadequate. What had Bryan St. James really ever done with his time on this planet? Sure, he did the usual things, he had seen a few friendships come and go, a few relationships that he recalled fondly, very few people that he would say he had actually loved, even in the most familial way. He had been married, divorced, trial-separated. He had given most of his life to creating the stories of other, make-believe people. Lucy had spent her Life exploring, expeditioning, experiencing everything. Bryan had simply sat at a computer making things up.

He felt a void in the pit of his stomach, as if he ended at the waist, half a man, dissolving away from lack of use. It was a thoroughly surreal thought that, somehow, did not seem entirely out of place on such a surreal afternoon.  She was so unlike any other woman he had ever met. An actress uninterested in the
Hollywood game? A young, beautiful girl unmoved by wealth, fame and the trappings of
L.A.? Was it even possible? Could such a creature even exist in the nouveaux cultural wasteland of Li-Lo’s and Paris Hiltons? Especially here in the heart of LaLa? Bryan resigned himself to enjoying the afternoon and soon found that he was having what quite literally seemed to be the ‘time of his life’.

 

Even now, sitting in the dark, the steady neon fuzz of the TV glowing in the corner of the room, Bryan could remember exactly the tingling excitement of that afternoon. The sweaty palms, the nervous laugh, the trembling nerves that quickly settled into a low thrum as he became genuinely taken with the girl with the big brown eyes. All of this flooded back to him as he sat waiting for her to appear on his television and save him from his own wasted life.

 

He pulled himself out of his big leather wingback, muscles sore and joints creaking, reached out with the remote in his hand and the room went black. He set the remote on the table in front of him and stumbled off through the darkness to find his bed, hoping only to find a dreamless rest for his aching body and troubled mind. What he found waiting for him in the bedroom was more Lucy, a year of perfection played out in his mind as he flipped, twisted, wrapped himself in sheets damp with his sweat and guilty tears.

 

They had their coffee that day, and again the next, followed by several dinners, a couple of movies and, after a month of old-fashioned courting, a quiet evening in Lucy’s apartment. She cooked him a Balinese meal of shrimp satay, grilled fish in banana leaves and a coconut cake called “Pancong”, which Bryan only remembered because of its approximation to “pancake”. They listened to some strange World music; she showed him her collection of paintings and artifacts from her travels, knick-knacks from
Egypt,
Sudan, and
Switzerland. Tiny sculptures from Turkey and Spain. Blankets and tapestries from South American countries he’d never even heard of.
Bryan felt as if his eyes were opening to the world for the very first time, like a child’s first trip to the museum, giant bones and murals of exotic, seemingly imaginary places, firing off shotgun blasts in his soul. Lucy thought his lack of comment was boredom. When he began to try to explain how moved he was by her world, Bryan began to stumble, stammer and stutter, until she silenced him with a deep, passionate kiss. Bryan had never felt so right, so perfectly suited to a place, a time and a person as he did in that one singular moment. They continued to kiss for a long time, there on her third-hand futon, fumbling at each other like High School kids under a Mexican blanket covered with eagles and Aztec warriors. They moved into the bedroom and she took off her clothes. Bryan had never seen anything so breathtaking. She was a perfect woman. They made long, exquisite love, many times, and in the morning, after a short replay of the night before, Lucy made him eggs benny and Turkish coffee.

 

They carried on for weeks, nearly inseparable, with Bryan making fewer and fewer trips into the studio to work. Rumors began to circulate, and soon he was getting calls from the head of production, wondering whether he really wanted to keep his job or ever see another one of his own scripts produced. Bryan didn’t care. Lucy kept her schedule and went to work every day but Bryan was so comfortable with her, among her things that he didn’t want to leave her apartment, he sat there, read her books, looked at her pictures, examined her trophies and keepsakes, absorbing the essence of her life. When he did go back to work, the suits were waiting, ultimatums in hand. A film he had written had become another huge hit, there was talk of an Oscar nomination, and
Bryan was a hot commodity again. The studio wanted a rock solid commitment for his time – guaranteed 10-hour days, face time at events and premieres, with starlets of their choosing. Bryan hated these games and wanted nothing more than to go back to Lucy and leave Hollywood behind. When he talked to Lucy about it, she told him to do the junkets, play the game, be seen on the town with the young ingénues and enjoy it while he could. She only wanted a promise that he would come back when it was over. He made the promise and went back to his life as a celebrity screenwriter, wading through the media insanity, thinking only of going back to Lucy and her little apartment that seemed to hold the world inside.

 

They talked on the phone every night, from everywhere around the world, and Bryan tried to sneak away as much as he could, seeing the sites and trying to do what he imagined Lucy would want to do in his place. Museums, historical sites, temples and monuments. Unfortunately, his schedule was tight, and the studio handlers would send him with the young star of the film as an ‘escort’. Monica Moenett was blond, thin, pretty in that vacuous 16 year-old cheerleader way. Bryan couldn’t stand her. She was pushy, obnoxious, thought the world should bow down at her feet and she had the intelligence of a seemingly drunk Lhasa Apso, the shaggy little yap factory that she carried with her wherever she went. Its name was Cheeto. Bryan hated every minute with them, but he smiled, he waved, he mugged for the cameras. All of which led to the tabloid reports of their ‘love connection’, something which made him physically ill to think of. Monica, on the other hand, played it up at every turn, jumping into his lap, kissing him on the cheek, putting her hand on his ass when they walked down the red carpet. When the three month press tour was over, Bryan was looking forward to nothing more than seeing Lucy, sitting still and, hopefully, never seeing Monica Moenett, or her annoying little shitbox of a dog again. He stepped off of the plane at LAX, hightailed through the concourse, ran to the limo and paid the driver 500 bucks to take off that second. He left his luggage behind. He could call, report it lost, get it back in a week or so, nothing important in there. He had planned his escape well, kept everything he needed in his carry-on.  When he got home, he dropped the knapsack at the door, grabbed the phone and headed for the kitchen to grab a glass, some ice and a bottle of scotch on his way out to the back deck. Lucy was still at school, but he left her a message, told her he was back, that he loved her and that she should come straight over after work. He sat down, polished off two drinks and went inside to take a hot Jacuzzi bath and give himself a shave.

 

By the time
Bryan had finished his cleanup, gotten dressed and checked his machine, it was close to six, Lucy would be arriving any time. When the doorbell rang he practically sailed down the stairs and almost crashed into the wall at the bottom. When he opened the door and saw Monica, and her foul shaggy squeak toy, he was beyond upset, he was livid.

 

“What do you want” he asked her while holding the door in her path.

 

She pushed past him anyways, calling his bluff, put the dog down and traipsed into
Bryan’s house without a pause, as if she owned the place, the same way she did everything.

 

“I thought we could have dinner tonight darling.” She called everyone ‘darling’, as if she were a 60 year-old society matron. One of a thousand little ‘quirks’ that made her the most insufferable person
Bryan had ever met.

 

Bryan looked down at the hairball sniffing his Oriental rug and cringed.

 

“Get that fucking thing off of my goddamn floor and get out of here Monica.”

 

“Oh, don’t be like that Bry. Cheeto loves you; he wouldn’t do anything to your nasty old carpet.” Almost on cue the dog stretched forward, leaning in to relieve itself on the antique carpet. She paid no attention and cast her sunglassed gaze around the house with disdain.

 

Bryan was shaking. He could feel veins in his temples pulsing against the skin of his forehead.

 

“Monica, get the fuck out of here right now. I swear to god…”

 

“But honey, haven’t you read the news? We’re the new ‘It’ couple. I thought we could make it official. Might as well get our rocks off if everybody thinks we’re doing it anyways.”

 

Monica casually reached down and pulled at the loop on the front of belt on the waist of her overcoat. It was one of those little feminine raincoats that you imagine fashionistas in Paris wearing in the winter, when it drizzles.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Giving you what every man in
America wants.”

 

She pulled the belt loose and dropped the jacket. She was stark naked.
Bryan was shocked, repulsed and speechless. She was bone-thin, ribs and collarbone poking out of translucent skin, small breasts staring off in opposite directions and a Hitler-size moustache on her crotch. She stood with her hands on her bony hips, head thrown back, still wearing the oversized black sunglasses and looking off to the side as if she were waiting for him to grab her, which is what he did. Bryan grabbed her roughly by the shoulders and shook her.

 

“I am not your boyfriend, we are not together and you need to leave, RIGHT NOW!” He shoved her off towards the door and her lousy mutt who was now sniffing around the dark puddle of urine that was steadily spreading on the rug. She stumbled over her spike heels and ended up on the floor in the doorway. Bryan turned away from her and picked her jacket up off the floor.

 

“Bryan? What the hell is going on here?” It was Lucy.

 

Bryan turned to see her standing in the doorway right behind Monica, who stood, turned shamelessly and looked Lucy up and down. She snorted at Lucy.

 

“This is the bitch you’re leaving me for?”

 

 Monica laughed, grabbed her jacket from
Bryan and stomped out the door, shoving her way past Lucy. The dog waddled out behind her. She pulled the jacket on, threw the dog into her convertible and stepped in, without buckling the jacket, threw her hand up with the middle finger extended and tore away sending a cloud of dust mushrooming from the driveway.

 

“Who was that?” Asked Lucy, staring at Bryan with tears in her eyes.

 

“That’s the crazy bitch I’ve had to deal with for the last month. Out of her fucking mind!”

 

Bryan turned from Lucy to the rug, ruined, and knelt down to roll it up. He picked it up, walked into the living room and threw it into the fireplace.

 

“Fucking bitch.” He turned back and saw Lucy hadn’t moved from the doorway.

 

“Are you coming in or are you going to stand in the doorway all goddamn night.” Immediately after saying it, Bryan realized that he was an asshole. He looked down at the floor shaking his head.

 

“I’m sorry. She just showed up here with that fucking DOG. And I…” He looked back up towards the front door and Lucy was gone.

 

Bryan sat in front of the fireplace for a long time, almost an hour, before he got up, shut the door, got the bottle of scotch and turned on the gas for the fireplace. The rug was gone when he woke up on the floor at 3 in the morning. Ashes were all that were left of his $5000 rug and his love life.

 

He called Lucy at 3AM, still drunk, and tried to apologize. She picked up, heard his voice and hung up. It was still long enough for him to hear her sobbing. He called the next morning, sent flowers, left messages explaining everything. She never called back. He went to her place, to wait for her to come home from work. She never came back. He called her friends. They wouldn’t talk to him either. He cursed his male ego, hated himself for waiting, for letting his anger get in the way and for going on the press tour in the first place. He began to blame Lucy for talking him into it. He blamed himself for falling to hard for a girl that was too young and too worldly for him. All the while he drank. He drank for two weeks straight and, when Melissa and some other friends came looking for him, he was passed out, floating on an inner tube in the middle of a pool full of leaves and scum that hadn’t been cleaned for weeks.

 

They got him sober, got the story out of him and set about trying to help him find Lucy. Melissa called the school where she worked, found out that she had taken a leave and gone to Nepal. Bryan was crushed. Mel took him to her place and babysat him 24 hours a day to keep him away from the booze. Bryan slowly came out of his funk, still unhappy and still hating himself, but at least able to go home by himself without going on a bender. A year passed and he began to laugh again. He bought new clothes and hired a housekeeper. He finished a script and sold it to the studio and threw himself into his work. Inevitably, his conversations with friends began to turn to him dating again.
Bryan adamant that he wasn’t interested; all of them still pushing blind dates and recently divorced cousins on him. The note on the table was the latest from Mel, a receptionist at Warner named Gina. She was Italian and liked old movies. Bryan had been seriously considering it, nervous and weird, knowing it was a long shot, but feeling enough time had passed to give himself another chance.

 

In the morning, after a completely sleepless night remembering the awful details of what he came to refer to as ‘THE breakup’, Bryan felt strangely rested and peaceful. It was the kind of reflective peace that comes to young men as they watch the sunrise, confidant in their future, recalling their earlier success with a girl that they believed they loved. Something intangible, yet pure and full of hope.

It was the feeling of being able to dream. Imagining possibilities in an unforeseen future. Bryan felt good for the first time in more than a year.

 

He showered, dressed, went in to the kitchen and made coffee, munching on handfuls of Texas Lone Star nuts while he waited. He idly turned on the TV to catch the traffic report and there she was, spinning in a field of blue. Lucy. Bryan smiled, turned off the television and picked up the cordless phone. He dialed from memory.

 

“Hi, it’s Bryan.”

 

 

 

 

© A.R. Howerton

2006

Creative Commons License

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2 thoughts on “Tremulous”

  1. You flatter me, sir. But it still needs a little tinkerin’. As I told you at the time, I basically finished this fucker about 3 1/2 minutes before the posting deadline for the contest, without time for a final proof-read. I think it’s not too bad for an unrevised revision of a completely rewritten version of a previously unrelated story. It went from 4 pages scrawled in a notebook to something like 223 type-written pages and then widdled down and tightened up to fit the contest parameters, with a slapdash ending hammered on at the last moment. I’m still pretty proud of the outcome. Now to revisit the other 50 or so sitting in my drawers.

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