Time (part 11)

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“Kelly,” I said.

The other me turned around and looked at me dropping her popcorn when she saw me.

“I…..I’m ….”she gasped.

“It’s okay. Let’s just go somewhere and talk,” I said.

We exited the theater silently and began walking down the street. I noticed that she was shaking life a leaf.

“Is there a coffee shop around here, “I asked.

“We should just go to the park” she said. “We shouldn’t be anywhere where there might be cameras.”

We walked a few blocks to a small park and sat down on what I’m pretty sure was not real grass.

“What year are you from,” She asked me.

“October, 13th 2013 sort of…” I began.

“That’s where I came from,” she said.

“I know I originally came from 2014…it’s….I. I was in 2014 when I discovered the time machine. My …our life was a mess so I went back to 2008 to change a big mistake we made.”

“What mistake,” she asked.

I proceeded to tell the story of how we had the successful psychic business and the secret blog. About how we met a boy who was an auto mechanic, who was mean to us and eventually dumped us and how he outed us as being a fraud on the internet and we ended up losing the business and ended up as Tom’s roommate rather than his girlfriend. I told her that I went back to the past and simply sat in our apartment and did nothing on the day I had bought the car that would lead to meeting the mean boyfriend, figuring that if I never bought the car I (we) never would have met him.

“When I got back to 2014 I went to check my Facebook to see if what I did had changed things. I saw that I still had my ..our business but I noticed that the last post was on October 13th 2013 and so was my last email and my last tweet.”

“That’s weird” she said.

Tom and I went back to October 13th 2013. We found out we were boyfriend and girlfriend and we found your note saying what year you were traveling to and the name of the shop you were going to. I followed you.”

We sat in silence for a moment as she tried to comprehend everything.

“I guess I should thank you,” she began. I’ve always traveled to the future in the time machine. At first Tom was against my selling things, but I thought it made for a good retirement plan. I mean, we’re going to need it being in business for ourselves.”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier to just go forward a day, buy a paper, get the lottery numbers and win the lottery? That’s what I ….I mean or we…” I began.

“I know, exactly. I always wanted to do that but Tom wouldn’t let me. He was very paranoid about that kind of thing.”

“How did you …did we get together with Tom?”

“He came to a party where I was doing readings. He said he wasn’t doing well at work and needed to make a sale or he would get fired. I told him that I sensed a company in the valley needed a new camera equipment provider. Actually, I knew they needed one because I did a reading for a man from that company. He called them and made the sale. I saved his job.”

“I see. “ I said. “Well, if you’re selling things, isn’t he afraid that you will accidently pass money from the future,” I asked.

“I haven’t been saving money. Just buyer points.” She said.

“I noticed something about that on my Subway receipt. What are those?”

“It’s a long story, but from what I have learned since I’ve been here it’s part of a new world order. In 2014 Sony was hacked by North Korea because of the movie The Interview…” she began.

“That was on the news the day I found the time machine,” I interjected.

“Well once the movie was actually released it was a huge hit. It broke all the records. North Korea got even angrier and began hacking into all kinds of American businesses. At around the same time there was a terrorist attack on a French satirical magazine by radical Muslims. Pretty soon there were more attacks on satirist and writers all over the free world by both Muslim and North Korea and it went on for ten years. They would hack attack us and we would bomb them. They eventually formed an alliance. ‘The War Against Humor’ the media called it. For a couple of years it looked like we might go to actual war. President Clinton attempted to impose more sanctions.”

“Hillary?” I asked.

Yes, well, congress blocked the sanctions and she lost popularity because of her inability to stop what was happening. Sarah Palin got into office and we send troops into Korea as well as several Middle Eastern countries and this brought about worldwide economic devastation. That was when the UN had a summit and decided that countries should work with each other rather than against each other. It was decided that each country would do what it did best. Japan and Israel invent things, things are manufactured in developing nations and most of the Middle East is a prison. It is the job of Americans to consume things and buy things. We now have one world leader that was elected by the UN. They appointed Apple Paltrow in part to appease the Koreans as she is genetically incapable of humor.

“Wow, people didn’t protest?”

“A few did, but the media didn’t really cover it. There’s nothing about it at the library now,” she told me.

“So basically it’s everyone’s job in America to buy things and you get points when you do?

“Yes, you used to be paid for the point in money, but they are phasing that out. Everyone will have their points loaded on to their arm GPS and everyone has to get one by January You can just take your receipts and they put the point on. So I won’t be going any farther into the future than that. I’m saving the points in a drawer at home.”

“Were you planning on quitting social media as of today or something?” I asked. “I mean today in 2013?”

“No” she said.

“Well then, I think for some reason you came to this day and didn’t get back. Is there anything that could have stopped you?”

“I don’t think so, “she said.

“I think we need to find out,” I said getting up.

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Time (part 8)

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I took the card from Tom. On the front of the card was a picture of a hundred or so lifesavers. When I opened it it said “Happy Birthday to my love and my lifesaver. Love, Tom.”

“Maybe you saved my life, “he said as if he were trying to explain the relationship to himself.

“Maybe,” I said. Oh, wow I really did do a reading for Tamera Kelly.”

“Really,” Tom said leaning in over my shoulder to get a look at the blog.

Well, I call her Kamera Felly on my blog, but I noticed we had become Facebook friends and what I wrote here describes her physically.”

I sped-read through a few more blog post. It was full of my usual sarcastic observations about my clients. There were only about twenty posts since 2010, it had only been an outlet for my most frustrating emotions.

While I read my old blog Tom found my day planner in my desk. It occurred to me that I should feel invaded or offended or something, but the truth is I didn’t. It was like he was looking at a stranger’s planner. I didn’t know any more about what was in it than he did.

“Do you have your own shorthand or something,” Tom asked.

“What do you mean?”

He handed me the planner and I looked at the day’s agenda.

“T’s feed turt get wi and crack,” it said.

“Well I would guess that I need water and crackers for something.”

“Did you check your Facebook page?”

I went to Facebook and looked, but I did not see any events coming up. I checked for friends events, but there were none that day.

“Let’s check your Facebook,” I said may be they’ll be a clue or two there.

He reluctantly logged on and we looked at his page. His profile picture was of him holding a turtle. There was a picture of the two of us stand in front of the Staples Center in his albums. Other than that there were no pictures of me.

We scrolled down and found that he was going to North Carolina for a few days for work. Most of his post were links to music he liked and a few random articles. He scrolled back several months, but there weren’t really any clues to where I might be. He slowed his pace when he came to a post that said January 11, 2012 became friends with Kelly Peirce.

“Go to Tom’s to feed Turtle, pick up wine and crackers.” I said finally able to understand my note.

“Do me a favor,” I continued, “look to see if we have any mutual friends. There were several one was my neighbor Gina, another was a guy named Frank Peppers who neither of us knew and then there was Katrina Fuller.

“Do you actually know Katrina Fuller,” I asked.

“It sounds vaguely familiar.”

I clicked on Tom’s private messages.

“Hey, what are you doing? He said.

“I wanna see one thing.”

I scrolled though his messages until I got to one from Katrina.

“Why settle for ramen when you could have steak…just sayin….”.

I thought I saw a small smile play on Tom’s lips. I felt jealous, Katrina was pretty.

There was only one other brief exchange in which they discussed a movie they’d both liked.

“Where do you know her from,” I asked.

“Look, Kelly I don’t know what happens in the future, or I mean what happened in the past or I mean, I mean, it’s not like I can answer for my actions in this case and it’s not like we are really together.”

“No, it’s not that. That woman had been emailing me repeatedly asking me to work at a party, I never mailed her back and I don’t know why.

“I seem to remember her having something to do with work, like I trained her on some software, or something. Look, I hate to say it, but it sounds like you might be at my house feeding my turtle, maybe we should look for you there,” Tom suggested.

I grabbed a hundred dollars out of my old cookie jar stash and we took a cab back to Tom’s place. We were relived to find his key worked. We entered and found the turtle tank in the kitchen. He had two small bowls that were already full of food and water.

“Goddamit,” Tom said. “You’ve already been here.

“Wait there’s a note,” I said.

“Hon, I went to 2040 to sell some antiques at Luther’s. Be back tomorrow.”

“Is that your handwriting,” Tom asked.

“Yes.” I said.

“Maybe you’re lost in the future.”

“In 2040?”

“Maybe,: he said.

“It makes sense, I mean I didn’t have a lot of close friends except for apparently, you it only stands to reason that you wouldn’t report me missing considering the time machine and everything.”

“Right.”

“Tom, I’m gonna go to 2040 and look for myself. I ‘m gonna go to the ATM first. I think about $500 should do for a couple of days. Do you want to come with?”

“No, I’m good.” Tom said.

“Are you going back to 2014,” I asked suspicious that he might try to go back a few months and “fix” things.

“Yes, but you go first.”

After a sojourn to the ATM and a trip to the 7- 11 for sundries I packed a small bag with the few clothes I had at Tom’s and got in the machine.

“It’s already set to June 10th, 2040,” I told Tom as I entered the machine.

“Have fun.: He shut the door and I pushed the button.

Time (part 6)

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The first thing I saw when I came to was Tom concerned face bent over me, he handed me a glass of water and sat me up.

“Where am I, “I asked.”

“You’re in the other room watching TV.”

“Oh, did I say anything about what year I was from?

“She…I mean you said she came from 2012, Then 2015 and now she’s here. Do you want to go in and talk to her?”

We walked into the spare room where I was quietly sitting on the bed and drinking a glass of water.

“Hi I said to myself.”

My other self got up and started to come towards me with her hand extended.

I cautiously took it, wondering if something bad could happen if we touched.

“I don’t even know what I should ask first,” I began. “How did you first discover the time machine?”

“I went to bed one night, in my….our apartment on June fourteenth of 2012.”

“The one in Beverly Hills,” I asked wondering just how much my little trip had screwed everything up.

“Yes. I went to bed and when I woke up I was here in this apartment and the year was 2015.”

“Did you freak out, I mean I think I would have.” Tom said.

“At first I just thought I was having a strange dream. Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom and that struck me as odd because I’ve never had to do that in a dream before. Then I crept back to bed and took a good look at you expecting to find someone I had a crush on. But, well even though I thought you were cute and everything. I realized I had never seen you before. I thought that was weird because it was unlike me to dream about being with a stranger.”

“”You mean we were…I mean you were…I mean um.” I said pointing at Tom, than to me than to her.

“Oh. My God are you guys ..I mean, you’re not together yet?”
“We’re roommates, sort of. I mean we were roommates, Tom let me use the time machine I went back five years and screwed everything up.

“So anyway, go one with your story,” Tom said clearly wanting to ignore what he just heard.

“So I nudged you and you woke up. You kissed me and you asked me if I was going to work. I slowly began to realize I wasn’t dreaming. I asked you who you were and you told me you were Tom, my boyfriend…”

Tom and I gave each other and embarrassed sidelong glance.

“You didn’t seem the least bit shocked that I didn’t know you and seemed disoriented. You told me about the time machine and I didn’t believe you. You showed me where it was I got in it and before you could stop me I got in it and set the dials. The next thing I knew I was here.”

Tom and I both just stared at my other self for a moment, uncertain of what to do.

“You said you came from 2012,” I said.

“Yes, that’s right. That’s where I started anyway.

“How was the business doing?”

“Okay, a little slow, but not bad.”

I fought a smile.

“Did you, I mean did I have a boyfriend?”

“Np, not a recent one.”

“Do you remember a boyfriend named Steve? He was a mechanic.”

“No, I never dated a Steve.”

My smile broadened and then I remembered that I still didn’t know how I had ceased to exist.

Time (part 4)

 

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I got up at six and took another shower with the lilac soap. I started to cry not wanting to leave and go back to the tiny room in the shared apartment. I considered staying, but I remembered what Tom had said.

I ran to the train station and jumped on the red line. I made a run for the new apartment. I raced up the stairs and knocked on the door and hid in the stairwell, but no one came to the door.

I tried my key, but it wouldn’t work. I went back to the stairwell and sat there until I heard someone coming. I hid around a corner and saw the woman I’d seen coming out of the shower  yesterday. She was coming upstairs with a small dog. She went into the apartment for a second and came out carrying a bag of garbage and made her way down the stairs again. I ran for the door and was thrilled to find it was unlocked.

I ran into the closet as the dog barked. I pushed aside the large box blocking the door to the room. I pulled on the nob but it was locked, I panicked as I heard the door to the apartment open and footsteps coming to the door. I tried my apartment key in the door and it worked. I closed the door and locked it. I set the dials and pushed the start button. The room shook for a moment and then stopped.

I opened the door and stepped out into Tom’s closet.

“Tom ,” I said. I opened the closet door to find him stark naked and dancing around his bedroom.

He saw me and stopped dead in his tracks.

“I…”I began.

“What the fuck,”  He screamed.

“Tom, I’m sorry what time is it?”

“How did you know my name,” he asked throwing on a pair of jeans.

“Oh my got what day it. Or should I say what year is it?”

“You came in the machine,” he said trepidatiously.

“Yes,” I said relieved that he understood something. “what day is it?”

“It’s October 21, 2014.”

“And you don’t know me?”

“Should I?”

“I’m your roommate, I moved in a couple of days ago.”

“My new roommate is a guy and he isn’t supposed to move in until next week.”

For a moment we just stared at each other. I felt a bit happy, maybe what I had done made everything okay after all, maybe I could just go home to Beverly Hills.

“Can I use your computer?” I asked.

We went into the living room and turned on Tom’s laptop.

We went to Google and before I typed anything in I told him some of my story; that I had been a semi successful psychic to the somewhat well-known going by the name of Bethany Gayle which was a combination of my middle name and my mother’s maiden name. I told him that I had bought a used car and that it was a lemon that was a lemon that was always breaking down. I told him I’d taken the car in to have the transmission worked on. I told him that was where I met Steve, the man who was to eventually ruin my life.

We went to my old company web page and found that it was still there. I breathed a sigh of relief. something must have changed, because before my trip back in time for non-payment. I went to the old company Facebook page and found it still intact. The Twitter page was still there as well.

“Hey, look at something,” Tom said. “Your last Twitter post was October, 4, 2013.”

He went back to Facebook.

“And your last Facebook post was October 5th.”

“Can I look in something in private for one sec…just for one sec?”

“I guess so he said. He went into the kitchen to get something to drink. I attempted to go to my old secret blog, but it had been taken down.

I went to my old e mail and found that the last one I’d sent was on October, 7 2013.

Tom came back into the living room and I told him about the email.

We decided the best thing to do would be to go through each email looking for clues. There were a hundred and fifty of them and it only went back a month.

Most of them were just work orders, people asking for party bookings. From what I would tell I was still doing about three parties a week. We noticed there were about three E mails from a Katrina Faller that I had never responded to they were all just party requests.

“It would have been very unlike me not to respond.” I said.

He laughed and started a Google search under my stage name.

Time (part one)

 

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I felt hopeful when we saw the ad for a roommate in North Hollywood. My unemployment check did not begin to cover the rent on my Beverly Hills studio and what little I made from audience work and blogging just barely made ends meet.

I’d only met Tom, my new roommate briefly. Tom’s last roommate had run off without paying the rent and he was desperate to find someone new. I noticed that he was kind of nice looking, tall with dark hair and around thirty five. I’d felt a bit inferior being short, a little plump and pimply with hair that refused to do what I told it to. He told me he was in the business of selling travel packages and I told him I was unemployed . I decided not to mention my former career until I got to know him better.

I drove the rental car that was loaded with all my worldly possessions to the small two bedroom on Van Nuys Blvd. A few days after I moved in Tom went to Arizona on business   and I had some time to set up my room, unpack my things and snoop though Tom’s room.

At first, I was a bit disappointed. There was a plain storage bed with a non-descript blue bedspread flanked by two night stands. I snooped through the draws and found tee-shirts and blue jeans, a few Playboy’s, condoms and a copy of On the Road.  There were pictures of family and a movie poster or two on the walls. In the drawer there was a picture of Tom shaking hands with a young Andy Kaufman and a poster from a Dali exhibit in San Francisco.

I entered the closet only to find, a couple of nice suits and many button up shirts and Dockers.  I moved an empty suitcase out of my way and that’s when I saw a door with a golden nob. I opened it and found myself in a small booth. On the wall of the booth were three dials one said day month and year, another said time of day and another still said location.

I quickly shut the door and replaced the suitcase. I went back to my room and thought about what I just saw. It couldn’t be. It had to be some sort of joke. Maybe the apartment had been used in a movie.

The next day I went to a French fry tasting focus group. I got back, with $75.00 in my pocket, feeling very full and wanting a nap. I realized Tom would be home in the morning, so I snuck into the room for one more look.

I opened the closet door and went towards the booth. I heard the apartment door open and shut outside.  I started for the door of Tom’s room, but it was too late. He opened the closet door and saw me.

“Tracy,” he said confused.

“Hi, I just…I um …I … I mean um…I want you.” I said.

“What?”

“I want you…I was just I was going to you know sleep in here be here when you came back.”

“It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and I wasn’t coming home til tomorrow morning; you were going to stay in here the whole time?” He eyed me suspiciously as he came towards me.

“What were you really doing in here, looking for money,”

“No, I swear,” I said.

“You want me? Okay, fine…Let’s go.”

“Well, I . I mean um. Okay um…let me just jump in the shower I guess.”

“Oh relax, he said. You obviously know about it.”

“What is it? I mean it looks like a replica of a movie time machine.”

“It is a time machine…a real one.”

“Oh come on.”

“No, really. I found It here when I moved in.”

“How does it work? I mean if you have to be in the booth to use it, how do you get back?”

“That’s the frustrating part. You see it has limited abilities. I can travel back in time but the place lever is stuck in Los Angeles and not only Los Angeles, but this particular apartment which was built in 1976 .

“You can’t go back further than 76,” I said disappointed that I would never meet my uncle Marty.

I can’t travel anywhere on a plane or rent a car because my driver’s license was issued in 2014. I’m afraid to spend too much money for fear of calling attention to myself.”

“Cant you just go back a couple of days. I mean you could win the lottery. In fact today is Friday, the lottery is on tonight. I said hopefully.

“Look, Tracy I know it probably sounds a little silly, but I don’t want to mess with fate.”

“What makes you believe in fate?”

“The same thing that makes me believe in time machines.”

“oh.”

“You can try it if you’d like. I would just ask that you tell no one and that you don’t do anything that could affect history too much.”

I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of tea. I could go back to any time in my life after the age of one. The possibilities seemed endless. I decided to go back five years when I had made a terrible decision to buy a used car that was a total lemon and that I had totaled in an accident.

Tom set the dials while I watched. He exited the tiny room and closed the door. I pushed the start button and the room started to vibrate. There was a loud screeching noise and then, nothing.

“Tom, I think it stopped,” I said.

There was no response. I stepped out of the tiny room into the closet. This time it was packed full of women’s clothing. I crept to the door and opened it to find a very pink bedroom decorated with elaborate pillows and a Johnny Depp poster.

I walked out the door and started towards the living room. I was stopped when I felt a pair of eyes on me. I turned to see a red-headed woman wrapped in a towel staring at me in horror.

“ I….I said I’m sorry.”

I ran out the door and into the street toward the train station.

Joan Rivers and The Ultimate Ugly Duckling…

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I can’t even remember the first time I was teased at school or for what. There were so many things to be made fun of, the pale skin, the frizzy hair, the learning disability. When I look back on it I get lost in a daze of blackouts and denial. What I do remember was a television movie called The Girl Most Likely to …… starring Stockard Channing which was about an ugly, picked on girl who gets, plastic surgery, becomes beautiful and then gets murderous revenge on everyone. Although it wasn’t critically acclaimed, the film offered me the comfort that no school counselor, religion or friend ever could.

The film begins with heroine Miriam arriving for registration day at the fifth college she has attended in her search for a husband. In spite of her being smart, helpful and amusing she is repeatedly rejected by her classmates and is the victim of many a practical joke. One night, when she is furious after a prank she gets into a car accident and when they take her body cast off she had been transformed into a beautiful swan.

Now, there are many ugly duckling stories out there. The fat pimply girl grows tall and thin with perfect skin and takes off with the one man who was always kind to her, or the one who never noticed her. Or, the fat girl who is taunted by the crowd, but loved by the cutest boy in school. There is the Cyrano story, where the ugly person loves the beautiful person entirety for their looks and impresses said beautiful person with their words. None of these fables resonated with me in the way that I wanted.  As much as I wished I could grow up to be tall and thin and gorgeous, I suspected it wouldn’t happen. I was to learn that most men are far too shallow to love anyone for their personality. I found the Cyrano story to be too hypocritical to be enjoyed.

The Girl Most Likely To …was different. Although Miriam certainly transforms, it is revenge and not romance that is on her mind. She doesn’t want the love and admiration of those who wronged her, she wants their blood. She knows that men are stupid and they like big breast, so she points her newly enhanced boob at her victims and points them right in the direction of their demise, She gets a plumber to drown himself, a quarterback to sky dive to his death, arranges for surgical accident for a doctor (Gopher, from love boat) and has a cheerleader backflip right out the window. I loved it!

I had come home from a hard day of being teased to find I had a new friend – or a friend. Miriam was smart, sharp witted and self-deprecating. Her suffering had built her character and her power of observation. “

I wished that Miriam was real and I fantasied that we’d go on missions together. Whenever I was laughed at, I would think of what she would say. I fantasied that we got a particularly mean classmate of mine to do a handstand on the el tracks.

In a few years I would learn that she was, indeed real and her name was Joan River’s. Ya see, Joan co-wrote the script for the movie. The film is laced with running themes from Joan’s stand up routine. She has a slutty roommate named Heidi (Abramowitz?) She realizes all men care about are looks, “The only one to ever ask me to go to bed was my mother,” and of course she ends up getting life changing plastic surgery.

When you are homely and picked on adults are quick to tell you that you are not homely and the other kids are just jealous of you. After they finish lying to you about how pretty you are they will then proceed to tell you that looks don’t matter and its inside that counts, which is bullshit. Oh don’t get me wrong its inside that SHOULD count, but it doesn’t, just turn on the TV and tell me I’m wrong.

I would watch TV at night and I was always thrilled when Joan was on The Tonight Show. She was like the adult role model I’d never had. She told the truth about the way things were when everyone else tried to make me think it was all in my head. It made me feel strong, smart and observant- like her.

“No man ever put his hand up a woman’s dress looking for a library card,” she once told Johnny Carson.

When Joan died last week I felt like I’d lost a friend. Although I didn’t like it much that who she was wearing had a face, parents and a central nervous system, I still admired what she had done. It wasn’t just that she was a woman who was salty, it was that she was a person who was honest and showed us that truth was painful and the only way to deal with that pain was to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Her strength in the face of her critics was amazing. Most people would have backed down and said they were sorry for offending people, but not her. This is remarkable, because, given the amount of plastic surgery she had, her attention to fashion and her need for fame she clearly cared what other people thought. She was willing to stand up for her right to say anything she wanted even though it must have terrified her to do so and that is the definition of courage.

Much has been said this week about how she paved the way for a lot of female comedians, but none of them were really in the same class as she was. Kathy Griffin makes fun of celebrities, but she often predicates her insults, by saying that she love or admires the person. Sarah Silverman is really risqué, but she is definitely playing a character on stage. Chelsea Handler merely takes cheap, unfunny shots at the physicality of a little person and expects us to be shocked at the fact that she drinks, sleeps around and admits it. But, Joan took no prisoners, she meant everything she said, she wasn’t playing a character her humor came straight from her own pain and rage. She might have been crude, but she was also quick witted and observant in a way that is very rare.

No one will ever be able to break ground the way Joan did again. Female comics have become bawdy to the point of being tiresome. She once told a reporter she believes in reincarnation and she wanted to come back as her dog. So if you see a poodle puppy walking down fifth avenue in high heels barking at everyone, don’t be afraid to laugh – that’s the way she would have wanted it.

The Ringtone

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Belinda lay in bed staring at the ceiling. That morning marked her third straight month of unemployment. She was reviewing all the interviews she had in her head and wondering what she did wrong. Her benefits would run out soon and they weren’t really enough to live off of. She realized she should probably plan on going to sell plasma that afternoon.

She heard her phone buzz and she fished it out from under the bed and looked at the text. “I might not make it tonight…may have to work, Bill” the message said. For a moment she was confused; she didn’t know a Bill, it was obviously a wrong number.

“I really want to do this, would tomorrow night work?

 

She chuckled a bit she wondered what the circumstances were. He was Identifying himself, so whoever he was texting was obviously new in his life or he would be programmed into the phone he was attempting to text. She wondered if it was a date, or maybe a special professional meeting.

“Let me know,” said the next message.

She realized that she should text him and tell him he had the wrong number. She decided she’d do it as soon as she officially got up. She fell back to sleep for a bit. Then she got out of bed made coffee and took a shower. While she was showering she imagined what Bill must look like. She envisioned someone not very handsome, but very well groomed. Possibly the sort to wear designer clothes, go to the gym daily and get $100 haircuts on his balding head. She was sipping the coffee and looking at Indeed.com when she heard her phone buzz again.

She picked up her phone to see yet another message from Bill.

“Please do let me know if you’re getting these texts,” the next message said.

‘God, desperate much,’ she thought.

“I got them,” she texted back.

“Cool, is tomorrow okay?”

“Are you sure you won’t have to work again,” she wrote back.

“Yes, this was a one time emergency. Thanks for being cool.”

She wondered if he was being sarcastic or if he was simply trying to kiss her ass.

“It’s just that I canceled plans for tonight.”

“It’ just that I can’t do six. I can do eight if I drive like a maniac?”

“eight is fine.”

“Still want to go to Zorba’s,” he asked.

“Tots” she wrote back with a wink and a smile.

She went back to applying for jobs and surfing the net. She walked to Walgreen’s and bought some Dryel sheet which she used to clean her best interview dress. She put it on and drove to Zorba’s where she arrived at 7:50.

The bar was sort of dead that night two old men sat at the bar not speaking to each other. There was a married couple having dinner and talking about their lawn behind her and there were two women at a booth chatting quietly. One of them, a pretty, thin brunette was devouring an enormous piece of cake and appeared to be quite drunk. Her plump blonde friend appeared to be comforting her. Belinda attempted to eavesdrop on their conversation.

“It’s better to find out now than once your actually..” the blonde’s voice drifted off into the distance.

Belinda strained to hear what the brunette said, but only heard part of it.

“…took one look and walked out?”

With this a tall thin man with brown, thinning hair walked into the bar. He was wearing a nice suit and seemed to be in a big rush. He glanced around the bar looking right past her as he went. He walked over to the two woman.

“Bethany,” he said to the Brunette just as she was stuffing a giant piece of ice cream and fudge covered cake into her wide open gape.

“Bill,” she said when she could speak.”

“I’m sorry, if I’m a little late there was traffic and..”

“A little late, try two hours.” The blonde said. “I’m sarah.”

“”I thought we said six,” Bethany said.

“No, I texted you and told you I couldn’t make it until eight?”

“I never got it. Why didn’t you just Facemail me?”
“I don’t know I thought that since you gave be your cell I should just text, besides I…”

”You know what, Bethany exclaimed. I really don’t want to hear it. I’m really sick of cyber dates that I never hear from again. And every single plan being tentative, and saying lets hang out instead of do you want to go out with me? I’m sick of saying ‘it’s no big deal’ when it is a big deal. I sick of sleeping with people and acting like I wasn’t expecting anything. I ‘m sick of it! How dare you be two hours late, you dumb schmuck! What’s with the suit? You want everyone to think you have money? Learn how to spell if you want to impress people.  I’ve never texted with anyone who made so many mistakes.

Bethany got up and through some money on the table. The two woman stormed out. Everyone stared at Bill. He checked his phone and pushed a button. Suddenly a National Anthem ringtone went off.  Belinda instinctively turned to reach into her purse, but then realized she couldn’t answer it. Bill hung up and dialed again, this time when the Anthem played he looked around the bar, his eyes landing on Bethany.

He hung up his phone and the ring tone stopped. There was dead silence in the bar everyone stared at Bethany as he began to walk towards her.

Casual Encounters?

 

 

 

craig

Melody took a deep breath and pushed the elevator button. Her heart raced as the elevator rose to the tenth floor. She’d made sure to take a picture of the hotel and post it on her Facebook page with no comment, she wanted to let people know where she was without telling them, just in case anything went wrong.

She was fairly new to Craigslist. She’d looked for jobs there before, but she’d never looked at the personal ads. It had been almost a year since her horrific break up with Sam and she still could not stomach the idea of having an actual boyfriend again. For several weeks all she could think about was sex or her lack of it. She spent her evening reading Erica Jong and Anais Nin and trolling the internet for subtle but thought provoking videos. She’d started reading Craigslist casual encounters the week before. At first she’d just looked at them never intending to do anything. At night he would fantasize about doing everything in the ads. She imagined the men as being ruggedly handsome, not wanting to think about what the men looked like in real life.  She realized that it was just a fantasy and she was sure a murder, rape or mugging awaited anyone who would answer such a thing.

Then on Saturday she saw an ad that she couldn’t get out of her head. “Let’s just make out I’m in town for a week, come to my hotel room! I’m staying at the Plaza.”

Something about the ad sounded safe and sincere. They had exchange e mails. He had sent her a picture of himself, but it was very shadowy and distant and in it he was wearing a “No Fear” T-shirt. She’d asked how recent it was and he admitted it was ten years old. He told her he was forty and she’d confessed to being thirty five. They arranged to meet the next afternoon at one. She’d told him she was too paranoid but described herself, a petite brunette, considered fairly attractive.

She got off the elevator and walked towards his door. She stood there for a full five minutes before getting up the courage to knock on the door.

“Come in, “a voice said.

She walked into the room leaving the door wide open as she went. There, in bed, wearing a vintage Spud’s Mackenzie tee shirt and acid washed jeans was Ryan Bisc a partner in the law firm where she worked.

For a moment they did not speak. He looked as though he was trying to place her.

“Do you work for me?”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m Melody, I work in research”

“So you saw my picture and you decided to come and maybe work some kind of deal or something?”

“No, the picture wasn’t very clear and it was old. I work in a different part of the building and I only see you like one a month. I thought you said you were from out of town?”

“I guess I just…I’m sorry. Could you close the door.”

Melody closed the door and sat down.

“Are you married,” she asked.

“Why do you ask?”

“Because, I don’t know I just thought that…”

“Are you married,” he asked.

No, I’m not even…no.

“Well, I should go..”

She got up to leave and he walked her to the door. On impulse, she grab him and kissed him. He resisted and first and then pulled her towards the bed. Suddenly his cell phone went off.

He jumped up and answered it.

“Uh, huh…..Okay…okay. Did we ever get the witness statement? Well, it’s a lot different if she actually broke something. Before we were told she just had a black eye….uh huh….uh huh.”

Melody sat up. She tried to signal to him she realized they were talking about the Robinson file which was sitting open on her desk. She tapped Ryan.”

“Ryan, I…” she began she slapped a hand across her mouth.

“Well get it to me as soon as research finishes it.”

He hung up the phone.

“Were you working on that file.”

“Yes, I have the witness statement on my desk.”

“Oh well the defendants attorney needs to see what we have,” he said.

“Um, I said I would be back from my dentist appointment at 3:00.”
“Oh, yeah I guess it would look kind of suspicious if you went back now.”

They sat there in silence for a moment.

‘Dentist” he said with a chuckle, “did you ever see the movie M.A.S.H?”

“I didn’t.”

Oh, Well you should.”

She looked at him confused.

“Wanna watch a movie,” he asked her.

They sat on the bed and watched Rain Man until it was time for Melody to go to work.

When she got home she went on Craigslist again, this time looking in the legal assistance section.

Luck

pills

 

 

Jennifer Pallyworth sat in the passenger seat of her agents care texting her boyfriend. She glanced up at the rear view mirror to see the camera crew following several cars behind her.

‘On way to tard’s see you tonight,’ the text said.

‘XOXO weer the red pantees,’ her boyfriend wrote back.

“I talked to her mother this morning, she said the whole family is really looking forward to meeting you,” her agent said.

“That’s cool,” Jennifer said looking back down at her phone.

“We got a call from Time they want to do a feature story on your work with CP kids.”

“Oh, I mean …they want to talk about the CP thing….what about the show?”

“Well, oh course you’ll talk about the show. You’ll talk about your work with CP kids and then the tie in to the show.”

“What tie in,” she looked up from the phone.

“When Trisha comes on the show, there’s gonna be an episode about CP. You guys are gonna go visit a farm and the daughter is gonna have CP.”

“Whatever,” Jennifer said.

They rode for a moment in silence.

“It’s just that it seems like it would really, I don’t know that it would make people uncomfortable, ya know. I mean they come home and they just want to relax or something and then …they turn on the show because they wanna look at hot people and then there’s this I don’t know like handicap person and so they get get depressed and watch something else.”

“Well for your information, there have been several shows that have featured people with CP . Facts of Life, that Life Goes On.”

“I thought he had Downs Syndrome,” Jennifer said.”

“Oh, well sorry they’re basically the same thing.”

“Well, did they have one on Friends, no Will and Grace, no How I Met Your Mother, no. People hate reality,” Jennifer said. “I’m just sayin. It’s not the 80’s anymore no one wants to think about that shit.”

“Honey, It’s probably only gonna be for one episode.”

“Why can’t I just do the Ice bucket thing? I paid a lotta money for my tits, ya know? Plus it takes like two minutes and it doesn’t cost anything.”

“That ALF.”

“What the fuck is ALF?”

“I have no idea, but it is not CP and our contract is with the CP association.”

 

“Do you have any Ambien,” Jennifer smiled.

“That’s my girl,” her agent said reaching into her purse.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

Trisha looked out the window of her bedroom. She wondered what was keeping them. She just wanted to get this over with. The SAT’s were in a week and this was cutting into her study schedule. She had watched Day Job’s last night and she had been horrified at its moronic humor. She wished she’d never agreed to meet Jennifer Pallyworth, but realized it was the only way to put her branch of Students with Physical Challenges on the map. She needed this for her extra-curriculars. If she could be the first high school SPC president to get on national television she was certain to distinguish herself from the other applicants. She headed downstairs carefully griping the railing tightly as she went.

“She’s late, “she said to her mother.

“Five minutes,” her mother retorted.

“Did you see the show last night, did you watch it? It makes Saved by the Bell look like a cinematic masterpiece.”

“Honey, it’s a great way to raise awareness…”

“She must be a true intellectual to participate in something like that.”

“You’re participating in something like that.”

“Well, it’s not like I can go out for track.” Maybe she’s not dumb maybe she’s just a sell out.”

“Maybe she’s just an actor trying to get her foot in the door,” her mother said.

“I’m going to the bathroom,” Trisha said.

Trisha was washing her hands when she looked out the window and saw them. Jennifer was standing outside the car texting and her handler was talking on a cell phone. Her stomach knotted. She could feel the stares and the looks of pity already. Worst of all she could just hear them talking to her very slowly, widening their eyes as they talked. She always wanted to use a lot of big words when people did that, but her speech impediment made it impossible for such things to have the proper effect.

She opened the medicine chest and reached for the Ambien spilling them as she went.

“Shit,” she exclaimed stuffing them back in the bottle and swallowing one on the way.

She walked back out into the living room where the camera crew was setting up.  Phil, the director greeted her as she entered the living room.

“Hi, Trisha” he said sounding slow and surprised and overjoyed to see her.

“Hi,” she said.

“So in just few minutes the doorbell is going to ring and your going to open it and let Jennifer Pallyworth in. Okay?”

‘What’s the doorbell,’ Trisha wanted to say, but though  better of it.

“Okay,” she said. She looked out the window and saw Jennifer put her cell phone in her purse. A makeup artist touched up her lipstick. She pasted on a fake smile and walked towards the door. She seemed to be staggering a bit.

Trisha thought she was probably on something; she smiled to herself realizing this was the one advantage of her condition.

Phil yelled action and she walked to the door.

Missed Connections

craig

 

Magnolia sat in her car watching Kevin, her apartment buildings handyman change the lock on her the vacant apartment next to hers. As he rummaged around looking for the right size door knob, she noticed that his left arm sported a new Bugs Bunny tattoo. She looked at the way the imaged moved with his toned, tanned arms as he pulled out his drill.

A wave of embarrassment rushed over her as her reached up to wipe sweat out of his eyes. Her hand instinctively went up to her check, feeling the scar, long, raised and rough. She hoped he’d be done soon; she wanted to watch her show. She hoped he hadn’t noticed her siting there. She’d just pulled in when he walked up. The last time she’d seen him she’d said hello. He’d smiled politely and asked how she was, but there was a coldness in his eyes, the kind she always seen on the faces of men.

Kevin stood up and reached into his back pocket taking his phone out. He went into the vacant apartment and half closed the door behind him. Magnolia grabbed her grocery bag and made a run for her apartment, closing her door just as Kevin came back out. She put away her groceries as she heard the drill resume. As she ate dinner and watched her favorite show she heard him finish and test the door several times. She heard her neighbor Max greet him on the stairs.

“Hey, man how’s it going?”

“Not, two bad finishing up here then on my way to my second job,” Kevin said.

“Ya, still bouncing at Stella’s, Max asked.

“Still am,” Kevin said as he walked down the stairs. Magnolia she ran to the window, pulling the curtain open as he opened the door to his truck. She saw him look up when she looked out. She dropped the curtain    quickly and went back to watching her show.

She was unable to sleep that night. She was thinking of Kevin guarding the door to Stella’s. She got up and began to surf the web. She went to Cragislist’s Missed Connections and began to look at the ads. A woman with red hair had smiled at a man on the elevator in the NCR building and he couldn’t stop thinking about her. A woman who slept in a tent in her studio apartment, because she was afraid of spiders was attempting to romance a successful young business man she’d seen shopping at Ikea.

Her hands shook as she opened up the post section.

‘Kevin Who works at Stella’s on Main St.’ she began.

‘You were working the door tonight at around 9:00 you smiled at me when I walked in. I am tall with redish blond hair. I was with my boyfriend and a few other people. I couldn’t take my eyes off of you all night. E mail me if you noticed me too.’

She hesitated for a moment and then posted it using an email address she used when she wanted to remain anonymous.

She got into bed wondering if she would ever get a response.

The next morning she woke up and immediately went to her dummies email. There was nothing there. She checked it several times though out the day, but there was still nothing. She wondered if he even had a computer, she knew he had a phone.

She saw him walking around the grounds the next day. Max came out of his apartment and the two of them appeared to be joking about something.

She attempted to hear what they were saying without getting to close to them.

“Hi. Magnolia”, Kevin called to her as she rushed back to her apartment.

“Hi” she said. She closed the door and began breathing heavily. Did he KNO?. He usually only said hello to her if she walked right by him and greeted him first. She turned on her TV and tried to concentrate on the news. She went to the window every five minutes to see if he was still there. She was relieved when she heard the sound of his truck starting and saw him pulling away.

She waited an hour and checked her email. There were a few crude propositions from various anonymous men, but nothing from Kevin.

She donned her baseball cap and went out for a long walk along the river. She sat for a long time watching a family of ducks fish and drift around. Her serenity was broken by two boys walked by and made a cruel remark about her.

She walked back to her apartment and checked her e mail again. This time there was an email from KEVINHART349@hotmail.com.

“I think you may be talking about me. E mail me and we can Skype.” The email said.

She took the ad down and deleted the email account. She did not see Kevin again for several weeks. She tried to forget about the incident.

She saw him again when he came by to change a light bulb that had gone out on the property. She said hello and he grunted a greeting back.

She waited until he left and sat down at her computer. She created a new email and wrote a new ad.

‘Guy who works the door at Stella’s’ she put in the headline. I can’t stop thinking about you. Email me if you see this,’ she wrote in the body of the ad. She posted it and sat down to watch her favorite show. She smiled to herself as the theme music began.