Author: BriAnna Monique

Mirror

Mirror, mirror, set before me

Show me the things I dread to see

That at heart I can be naïve

My melodramatic side

Is a genetic trait I cannot hide

And all these pet peeves I have about my own flesh and blood

Are the very traits that stream from my soul like a flood

This mirror called my family

They are everything I am

The good, the bad, the ugly, the sad

For some wild reason seeing this truth left me grateful and glad

How blessed I am, not cursed

To be the product of such diversity, immersed

In the likeness of generations pasts

With an inherited lens from ages that has managed to last

And many could say that I am stuck with this carnal nature of my DNA

But there is another NAME of a family to which I belong

And by that NAME I’m a new creature, not perfect but strong

I’m not ashamed, filled with guilt, or wrecked with pain

I see the world with nothing to lose but with everything to gain

Not for a lifetime of glory that will fade like a vapor before the mercy throne

But for eternity with stored treasure called souls, like jewels in the crown of the greatest love I’ve ever known

Mirror, mirror, my kin

I’m not held in chains by your sins

The next generation that I will bear

Will not be caught in death’s snare

Designed by the blood oath of our fathers and their fathers

But instead the next generation will have the lineage of a different Father

The bloodline of a King

The best part makes me want to sing

All that gunk I mentioned before

All the stuff I saw in my reflection that displayed who I am to the core

Will still be a part of me, free from the shackles of carnality

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the sad

Will be balanced and be as they should, so well it will look like a fad

So thanks again and again a thousand times yes again and again

To God be the glory forever and ever, AMEN

“Mirror, mirror, on the wall”

I see the woman who answered the call

A call to be part of the Christ’s Bride

A call to be a child of the Most High

Above all, to know the one who created me to be HUMAN

The creature I see staring back at me is  NOT…

A beast

A monster

A harlot

And definitely NOT- QUOTE – “ONLY HUMAN” – END QUOTE, which is really SUB-HUMAN

I am Human-Female

There’s nothing gray, twisted, or wrong with that

Mirror, mirror, I am beautifully sculpted, totally original, by Creator God- Father, Counselor, Friend, and Lover

No other created thing could be any better

Than the Self-Existent One

Spirit of God make me more and more WHOLE like YOU, WHOLE as shown in the life of Jesus, Your Son

 

 

Because of Faith – 6

I sat inside an old office space supposedly transformed into a black box theatre. The stage was a plank of mahogany wood a few inches off the ground.  The entire platform may be the size of an apartment living room. On a built-in extended wall, were two doors, one on the left and the other on the right as the only stage entrances and exits. I haven’t been backstage but it must be cramped.

The walls are pitch black. Black drape hangs from the ceiling on each side of the stage. The seating are black, pleather cushioned chairs and divided in three sections around the stage. A part to the left, the largest part in the center, and the smallest part to the right.

The house seats are spackled with a sparse crowd. Mostly silver-haired folks, which are probably the season ticket holders that keep this hole-in-the-wall theatre operational. The young faces in the room seem familiar. I think I’ve seen them around campus or at the bar.

As the house lights go down, I hear, “I’m here!” Gracie just arrived. I look over my shoulder and see her apologizing to the House Manager for being late and pleading to be seated. He obliges her and lets her in. “Thanks, Ricky!” She whispers loudly.

Gracie runs down the aisle and plops down on my lap, at the end of the third row, to climb over me to get to her seat. I would have stood up to let her in, but she acted too fast for me to move.

The potent aroma of lilac and honey engulfs my nose. She smells great and even though its dark, I can make out she is fixed up to impress someone. She straightened her wavy locks and the contour on her face makes her look grown as opposed to her natural youthful self. Restraining myself from hitting on her will be difficult tonight.

I did ask her if she wanted me to pick her up. I figured we could have grabbed a bite before coming to the show. She said it sounded too much like a date and therefore declined my offer.

I remember clearly a few weeks ago I was a potential boyfriend in the hallway at school. She and David whispered about me assuming I was soundly sleep. I give up. Let her keep me in the friend zone, but I really do need to find a girlfriend… I’m not only lonely but dirty videos aren’t anything like the real deal.

Gracie put her hand on my thigh, a little higher up than usual and she leans over to me and whispers, “I’m excited.”

The actors take their place in the ghost lights and Gracie decides to rest her head against my bicep, if she were taller her head would be on my shoulder. Okay, maybe she changed her mind… I’m still boyfriend potential?

The lights go up and down center stage stands the most beautiful woman in creation. Kelsey Cadence. I hold my breath without understanding why. Around a month ago, she was physically in my living room, suffering from the walk-of-shame as she waited for her ex-boyfriend to pick her up. I still can’t believe my brother betrayed me and slept with her.

The play opens with Kelsey’s character giving a monologue that’s like a prayer out loud. She could look anywhere in the audience, but she chose to look at me. Our eyes lock, and I can see the fear in her eyes. Her character needs to get far away but she’s broke, isolated, and she’s never traveled outside her little town. She’s interrupted, by David’s character who looks sharp in a mid-1960s suit.

“There you are Faith!” David-in-character says rushing over to her.

Turning toward him in a flirty way, ‘Faith’ acknowledges the man approaching her, “Deacon…”

Only three cast members ever take the stage. The third member a man with blond hair and blue eyes called Canon.

The lighting sticks to blue hues. For the set, big black blocks are staged to be a staircase upstage left, a bench centerstage, and a ledge downstage right.

Deacon is a guy in seminary school, but he’s a rapist. He lures women with his bible talk and good guy act, and rapes them in a park. Faith suffered physical abuse from her mother and sexual abuse from her father as a child. When she meets Deacon, she runs away with him hoping to escape her terrible life. Cannon narrates majority of the story. He mainly whines about how there are more posers in the world claiming to be children of God than actual children of God… he also kind of serves as Faith’s guardian angel. At the climax of the play, when Faith thinks about killing herself, Cannon appears and gives her hope.

However, Deacon appears to spoil the hopeful mood. In a struggle for the gun, between he and Faith, the gun goes off and Deacon ends up dead. Faith flees and returns home. The play ends with no real resolution. She’s on her knees praying for forgiveness and a chance at a better life. Then right before the lights go out, Cannon appears, standing behind her. This time she can’t see him. His final monologue implies she’s pregnant and that the child is her second hope next to her faith in God.

Okay… between the lighting, the staging, the set, and the acting it was entertaining and it wasn’t total crap. If anything, it was immensely thought provoking. Cannon made some interesting points about religious people, yet he and Faith were so faithful to a flawed system. I think I kind of liked it. A unique Theatre-of-the-Absurd-Genre production.

After the show, out in the lobby the cast came to mingle with the audience over wine and mini-snack-foods. Gracie got trapped into talking with her acting instructor from childhood, Vera. As a little girl, at the Invincible Theatre, Gracie took acting classes during the school year and was involved in Theatre Day Camp over the summer.

Vera’s dried out, matted umber brown hair stays up because a crown of pens locks her hair mats in place and though she’s really fit physically, her tanning-booth darkened skin looks rough like leather. When the woman laughs, she sounds like a goat with a duck vocal box… I think. I am just annoyed. And she smells like incense… I hate that smell.

I’m a good six feet away and I can still smell Vera. The merlot’s not bad. I love how no one carded me. I barely look legal. Then again, I only card people at the bar I think are at risk getting caught by their parents or the law, other than that Deus doesn’t really care if I card customers or not. The goal is getting the coin and cash. He only cares about the money.

“Gray!” Gracie calls me over. Only because she’s my friend, I drag myself over to her and the strange woman.

“You rang,” I joke…

Gracie laughs flirtatiously and then explains why she summoned me, “I was telling Vera you did stage crew back in high school… Funny thing… she’s looking for a stage manger to help with all the children’s theatre productions.”

No. I’m definitely saying no. “Kelsey and I are helping too as teaching assistants.” Gracie adds. “You should join us.”

“Grady?” I hear a half-excited, half-shocked shrill from behind me.

I turn around and Kelsey Cadence rushes to wrap me in her arms. Sighing partly with relief and partly with enthusiasm, Kelsey confesses, “I’m SO glad you came!” Abruptly, very repentantly, she removes herself from my person and asks, “Did you come with a date.”

“Ah…” I sigh. Not entirely sure why.

“Kels, you know Gray?” Gracie asks Kelsey.

While I say, “Sort of,” Kelsey talks over me to say, “Kind of…” bugging her eyes out in a comical fashion. I think she’s a little nervous.

“I always thought Gray was short for Grayson.” Kelsey admits combing her fingers through her voluminous dark hair. Then she crosses her arms cloaking herself with a subtle attitude towards me and Gracie. “Well, um…”

“Wait,” Gracie’s countenance grows confused. Baffled she points at me and says to Kelsey, “This is the guy who pretended to be Irish and lured you into a one-night stand?”

“Whoa!” I snap snatching her pointing finger. “Lower your voice and actually—,” before I could defend myself, Gracie aggressively frees her hand from my grasp, takes both Kelsey and I by the arm and drags us back into the Black Box Theatre for privacy.

She sits us down in the front row, in the center seats. Little Gracie clings her torso by crossing her arms and she stands before us on the stage, with her hips cocked to one side.

Facing towards me but with her gaze looking down, Gracie says, “This is why I was hesitant about dating you. You drag everyone to hell with you and I didn’t want to be one of them.”

“What did I do?” I ask her. Trying to assess what is going on I ask Kelsey, “What’s happening right now? I should have said this at my house but Kelsey—,” and she cuts me off mid-confession that I did not sleep with her. 

“I’m pregnant.”

That is definitely something no single man wants to hear in his last teen year.

Involuntarily I say, “And you think I did that to you?!”

The back of Gracie’s hand smacks me like a freshly fired paint ball pallet in the shoulder. Clutching my shoulder I cry, “Ouch,” even though the blurb of pain is several seconds gone now.

Tearing up, Kelsey explains, “My fiancée and I weren’t together that much in that way… when we did we were safe you know… and well, that night I don’t remember much…”

“No one raped you okay,” again, my lips have a mind of their own. Why am I defending my brother? I don’t know what he did, or what they did that night… Other than the fact he used my name to pick Kelsey up.

Wiping her eyes with her hand, she sniffles, “I’m not saying you did… like my ex was at that party and I saw him with another girl… the girl he cheated on me with… and I wanted to make him jealous, so I got drunk and I was determined to hook up with the first guy that flirted with me… Or at least make Felix think I was going to hook up with a total stranger…”

“Kelsey…” I say, pausing trying to figure out how I can explain my brother knocked her up if it wasn’t her ex Felix.

“Kels,” Gracie says stepping over to Kelsey and crouches low at Kelsey’s feet, “Grady can be a jerk sometimes… He learned from his prick of a brother, but deep down,” she reaches to take my hand and caresses the back of my hand with her thumb, she comments, “he’s the sweetest, most faithful guy I know.”

“Kelsey… I should have been honest back at my house, but we didn’t spend the night together… My brother…”

“I may not remember a lot but I vaguely remember a Grady picking me up with an Irish accent.”

“Birdie got picked up by your brother,” Gracie chimes in, “She’s really upset he hasn’t called her.”

“Why would I lie? If anything I would say, ‘Yes, I’m the father’ so I could have a chance with the girl—,” I stop myself before my lips could get me into trouble with Gracie before we ever finish our first date?

Gracie furrows her brow and glares at me, “Kelsey is the girl you were madly in love with in high school? The one that had no idea you existed?”

I forgot I told Gracie about Kelsey a few times, without dropping her name.

“Yeah, okay.” I say.

My stomach tightens and I feel like my heart lodged itself in my throat. I can’t be here. I have to go.

“Don’t lie,” Gracie orders.

“I don’t think he’s lying…” Kelsey says.

“Yeah… my brother brought you home and asked me to see you out… He’s a jerk… sorry…”

“We went to high school together?” Kelsey questions not remembering me at all.

“You were in the same class as my brother. I was two grades behind you.”

“You kind of look like this kid from stage crew, Timmy, but he was skinnier and wore glasses.”

“That’s me. Grady Timmins, aka Timmy.”

Suddenly her eyes got huge like an owl and she forced me into an unexpected hug, “Timmy! You dated Miranda. She did say you were a sweet guy.”

Her hug is unique. Snug like being wrapped in a blanket and peaceful like my mother’s embrace. She backs up to let me go, but I keep holding on a little longer. I didn’t realize how much I missed my mother’s hugs…

When I finally let her go, she wonders, “How do I get a hold of your brother?”

Good question. He didn’t pay his phone bill. I can’t even get in touch with him and I haven’t heard from him since he left. He could be lying dead in a ditch somewhere.


#storysunday_rol

COMING SOON “B/C of Faith” on Audio, until then read Grady’s Saga piece by piece.

Because of Faith – 5

Deus, who’s actual name is Tom, pats me on the back as he tells me congratulations. As I walked in the door, he just decided to promote me to bar-manager/bartender. He’ll pay me a couple more dollars an hour and he feels comfortable enough to leave me alone to handle the Dive, the name of the bar, on my own. What is it with everyone abandoning me today? At least here I’ll be surrounded by drunks.

            Deus, if you couldn’t notice by the name, is cock-headed. He thinks highly of himself and as the most dedicated atheist I know, he lives not only to discredit religion but to mock God as if he’s almost real. What Deus thrives on more is pissing people off. If a court would allow him, he’d change his name to God or Deus, but no judge is that immoral. Out of respect for peoples’ religion, I call him Tom, and he’s okay with it. Aside from his son, I’m the only who can call him by his birth name.

            Well into his sixties, he sports a long white beard, and shoulder-length predominantly white hair. And usually always wears all-white. White slacks, a white short-sleeve button shirt, and white flip flops. I think he takes the mockery of God too far, but I think what once was a gimmick to him became his notoriety. I once went to a hardware store with him, because he had to make a few repairs at the Dive, and workers and customers at that place knew who he was. People will do anything not to be forgotten.

            “The place is all yours Demi-Deus Dos,” Tom chuckles handing me a set of keys, “Tonight should be slow and clean up should be quick. Lock up will be a breeze.”

            I watch him leave the Dive a little stunned. I haven’t worked here a full three months and I’ve been promoted. I didn’t think I’d actually get the bartender job. I applied for the heck of it. I wasn’t even sure I was legally old enough. Some people say you have to be 21 in AZ, others say 19 is okay. If Tom was a normal human being and not the freak he was I would rest easy that bartending age is 19, but Tom doesn’t exactly follow the law on a daily basis. The only statute he follows to a T is the status of the Dive’s liquor license.

            “Can I commit commandment 6?” April, a loyal drunk, asks from her usual seat at the bar behind me.

            Yes, Tom is that sick. He’s dedicated a drink to each ten commandment. Thou shalt not kill is an easy one to figure out: Bloody Mary.

            April, who’s old enough to have given birth to me, flirts with me as I make her precious drink. Telling me about how she goes wild for Irishmen and the thing or two she could show me if I give her the chance. I guess it’s really not flirting… She’s blatantly open and honest about things she wants to do to and do with me.

            The woman’s a heavy smoker and reeks of cigarettes, her dark, black hair is frazzled and thin, and she’s covered in faded tattoos. I’m not really into girls with tattoos. They’re gross. I’m definitely not in to women who smoke, double gross! I loved my mother, I still do, but I never had the desire to screw her, therefore I will never screw that woman. But I do let her think she may get somewhere someday… Did I mention she’s a mighty generous tipper?

            As I tune April out, talking about her days as a stripper, I look around the bar and there are only two other people around. Both regulars: Harold and Shannon. Harold’s a navy vet from Vietnam, so he didn’t see much action, but he sure acts like it. Shannon is a dude, and if I had a girl’s name I’d drink a lot too. He wears black attire; he never takes off his shades, and drinks nothing but Jack Daniels. I think he’s trying to be the incarnate of Johnny Cash. Instead of singing a song about A Boy Named Sue, it can be a song about The Man Named Shannon.

            Only a few more customers stroll in out before close. The loyal drunks, by no surprise, are too wasted to drive home. I had to confiscate their keys and call all three a cab. Cab drivers will drive drunks home for free and then the next day, drive them back to their car for free too. I always feel bad the cab drivers have to do all that work without pay, so I just give them fifty bucks from the tip jar. Tonight, since business was slow. I’m only giving out twenty to each driver.

            Clean up was easy. Quick restock of the bar. Quick wipe down of a few tables. And lastly a quick mop. Lights out, lock all the doors, and I was home a little before two in the morning.

            My alarm goes off at six, as it always does Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning, but I don’t get out of bed until 6:45 am. I don’t bother to shower. I might even skip food, but when I step into the hallway I smell the makings of cooking pancakes and frying sausage, which means Peg is here. Entering the kitchen, the strong aroma of French Vanilla Roast coffee engulfs my nose. A mug filled with fresh brew is offered to me by Peg, who I might add looks beautiful this morning. Her sun-kissed blonde hair braided into a fishtail. Her face made up with light blue eye shadow and a glossy, glittery rose pink lip balm gives her thin lips some volume. Wearing her own pair of tattered, faded blue skinny jeans, she wears one of my brother’s green Henley’s, the sleeves are scrunched up above her elbows, and the bottom hem of the shirt nearly meets her knees like a super short dress.

            I can’t refuse fresh brew, especially when tiredness threatens to take me back to bed.

            “Sit down. Let me fix you a plate.” She says.

            Why resist her hospitality? I take a seat at the bar counter, on a comfy, cushy stool instead of the table. Leaning forward, propping myself up on one elbow, I slowly sip the dark, yet smooth roast. Again, I’m King Odd… I love the bitter, tart taste of coffee.

            Seconds later, a plate piled high with five, fluffy pancakes and four big patties of sausage I try not to have a heart attack prior to my first bite. Peg sets the bottle of cold syrup in front of my plate. She remembers that I’m the only person on the planet that doesn’t like hot syrup.

            As I wolf down breakfast, determined to leave at a decent time so I’m exceptionally late to class, I just have to know, so with a mouthful of food I ask, “Why are you back together with my brother?”

            Peg chuckles obnoxiously as she starts cleaning the dishes she made. For a moment, she ponders over the question staring at the running water from the faucet. Finally she admits, “I don’t know.”

            I nearly choke trying not to laugh. After I endure a coughing fit to preserve my life, I chug some lukewarm coffee to wash down the remnants of food. As I finish up my food, I listen to Peg rationalize her decision to get back together with Alastair.

            “When we met for coffee last Saturday, he told me how lonely he’s been. That he hasn’t even been able to use his childish antics to chase after other girls. That I’ve been the only one on his mind for the past few months… It was the most honesty I’ve ever seen come from him, and somehow I just knew things would be different this time.”

            Wow, my brother is the god of bullshit. He told Peg exactly what she wanted to hear to swindle her back into his arms. If hell is real, there’s a special place waiting for him there. I don’t have the heart to tell her that Alastair picked up two chicks Friday night… one right after the other… I’m not going to focus on how disgusting that is… She could be right, things could be different this time. They could break up even faster once she learns the truth.

            Alastair walks into the kitchen and waltzes over to Peg, folds her into his grasp, and kisses her without taking modesty into consideration. Peg starts tittering from embarrassment over their PDA and she gently nudges him away. Still hugging on her, gearing up for another kiss, Alastair says, “The van’s all packed. We just have to go pick up Dougie and Sly.” Sly’s the second guitarist for the band. Traveling the country in a Dodge Caravan with four people and a bunch of music equipment is going to get cramped. Glad I’m not going.

            I don’t really do well with goodbyes. Finished with breakfast, I stand up and try to take my dishes to the sink, but Peg races over to me to steal my dishes. As she cleans them off, Alastair squeezes me into a quick, snug embrace. After a couple pats on the back, he releases me. I guess we’re both not good with goodbyes. He doesn’t say anything to me. Walking away he informs Peg he’ll be in the van waiting for her.

            Drying off the dishes she just cleaned, and putting them away, one after the other, Peg says, “He’s gonna miss you. You’re the most important person in the world to him.”

            “Huh,” emits from my lips. He may say that but he never really shows it.

            Peg takes a second glance to make sure she didn’t miss a dish. Satisfied, she follows me to the front door. Seizing the opportunity, she too hugs me goodbye and says, “I’ll make sure he calls you.” Softly, she pecks me on the cheek ending the hug.

            I take a moment to watch them drive away before I get into my car. It’s official… I’m a loner now.

            Circle time just began when I burst loudly through the door. It’s not like I could help it, the door is loud. Gracie gestures me to join her side. Then she’s fast to boast about her friend, David Marchetti, being in a Late Night Show at the Invincible Theatre, and that her and I are going opening night of the 27th of this month.

            “Cool, what’s it called?” Geoff asks.

            I shrug my shoulders because I have no idea. I met two people in the production and they left out the title.

            “Waiver… as in a waiver you would sign to relieve any responsibility for a sky diving company if you get injured or die.” Gracie explains.

            “Is that what it’s about?” Geoff wonders.

            “No… It’s about a woman struggling to break free from a life of abuse and reconcile her faith. I hear it’s a little Theatre of Absurd. I just know the acting is going to be phenomenal!”

            The remainder of class muddles along. As does the rest of my day, and day after day, week after week here after, I go through the motions slightly detached from the world. If I could, I’d sleep all day and all night. I’d sleep my way into a coma if it was possible. Keeping the house is more important to me than my own sanity, therefore attending school and work outweighs my desire to escape life through R.E.M


Coming Up w/ Grady from B/C of Faith

Suddenly, a presence looming behind me makes me feel self-conscience. Am I standing in a weird position? Does my hair look alright? A deep gurgle vrooms from that looming presence and a question follows, “You don’t like the script, huh?” I here David ask.

            He steps around me and stands beside Gracie. She reaches out to him and he swoops in her an embrace, lifting her high off the ground. Once he sets her down, talking the speed of a fret train, she tells him everything she loved about the play, which is everything. Once David confesses how he struggled for months to write the script, I suddenly know why Gracie loves everything about it. He also directed the play… no real surprise there. Some actors aren’t meant to write and direct… they’re just meant to act… but some think they can do it all.

            “Grady?” I hear a half-excited, half-shocked shrill from behind me. I turn around and Kelsey Cadence rushes to wrap me in her arms. Sighing partly with relief and partly with enthusiasm, Kelsey confesses, “I’m SO glad you came!” Abruptly, very repentantly, she removes herself from my person and asks, “Did you come with a date.” She looks around past me, directly at someone, and gazing over my shoulder I notice she’s eyeing Gracie, probably wondering if she’s my date.


Thanks- Grady


Hello! As mentioned earlier, thank you for partaking in #StorySunday.

Grady Timmins, Tasha Turner, Ann Taylor-Talmadge, and Cleo Swan are some of the recent characters featured in stories @ briannamonique.blog …

I’m BriAnna Monique, the author of every original story, and if you enjoy what you read on #StorySunday, I’m glad and that warms my heart.

Come back every Sunday to read more!

If you’re a fellow saint, I pray the Father keeps you. If you’re not a saint yet, I dare you, ask God if He’s real and I know He’ll reveal Himself to you.

Be blessed,

BriAnna Monique Williams, blogger

Because of Faith – 4

Leave it to my brother to throw a small soirée that lasts until early dawn. When I get home after work, the living room reeks of reefer, booze, and odor-neutralizer. I walk through the door and my brother and Peg are cuddled up on the couch, feeding each other chocolate chip cookies, and stoned out of each other’s mind. Dougie, the bassist for Fintan’s Flood, is crashed out in the recliner chair. A few other people I don’t know are scattered on the floor drugging out on whatever they took. By the looks of it, it looks like they’re tripping on acid. A girl hollers as she rolls along the tile floor to “get the fire out” kind of confirmed my suspicion. Or she could be on crack? I don’t really want to know. I do know I want everyone out of my house. Alastair knows better than to use the house as a druggy den. But how practical would it be to send stoned fools out into the night? The last thing I need on my conscience is one of these idiots killing someone on their drive home.

First, I drag the girl on fire to the bathroom, shove her in the tub, and run cold water on her from the shower head. That calms her down enough that she falls asleep. I would leave the water running, to ensure the fire stays out, but knowing her she could drown from running water, hence why I shut it off. Second, I pick up all the trash from beer cans to junk food bags and packets. Any remaining remnants of drugs I find goes down the toilet. Third, I scan the living room to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Loudly, my brother whispers to me, “Good news bro!”

I’m not really in the mood to hear his hogwash. But he doesn’t let me ignore him. He manages to snatch my arm, and I’m not sure if it’s just because he’s my big brother, but his grip is like bear-strong.

“What?” I hound very agitated, quite ready to punch him.

“Fintan’s Flood is going on tour bro…” He snickers with delight in his high state.

A little surprised, I double check, “You’ll be out of the house for a few weeks?”

He groans a lowly, “No,” and huffs, “a few months dude…”

A while ago, just after Peg left the band because she broke up with my stupid brother, he said some guy from a label in L.A. was interested in signing the band. When Alastair failed to bring it up again, I assumed it wasn’t legit, but I guess it didn’t go through because Peg wasn’t a member anymore. I’m about to tell my brother congratulations, when I wonder about the security of his job.

“What about your job?” I ask.

Without both of our jobs we can’t afford our living expenses. We can’t cover the mortgage… I swore I’d never lose the house, even if it meant me working three jobs or becoming a drug dealer, I’ll live in this house until I die.

Alastair forces Peg to move over, to lie between him and the back of the couch, and he digs into his pocket that faces the open. He pulls out a huge wad of cash and slams it in my hand as best he can. It’s an awkward position for his arm since I’m standing close to his head.

“You should be good until I can send you more dough.”

I’m hoping this money is from a signing bonus and not his side job. The income of his side job buys all his music-related needs. I know I’d said I’d do anything to keep this house, but I couldn’t really ever be a drug dealer… like my brother… Okay, he’s not like a legit dealer… I’m not sure how he gets his inventory, I just know he doesn’t pay anyone to smuggle it over from Mexico and he doesn’t grow it himself. But he makes money selling it at parties and in the parking lots of bars and clubs.

In my room, I count the money roll; it’s nearly 6k… I could pay four months’ worth of mortgage payments with this alone, if I use parts of it to go half and half with my share, I’ll be fine for three-fourths of the year. Knowing that I’m taken care of should bring me some relief, but only more worry stirs in my heart. Yes, it will be epic to be free from my brother’s crap, but I’ve never been all alone in my entire life. Since my birth, it’s been me, him, and mom… with mom out of the picture, it’s me and him… without him it’s just me… Would if I go crazy from living inside my head too long? I do that when I’m alone a lot. My mind climbs into a think tank and I overthink everything. I even attempt to get deep. Such as what’s the meaning of existence? When will all of humanity figure it out and instead of destroying the world, we build up the world to last until the sun gives out on us? And if we’re so unified, could we solve the solution to a supernova sun or could we find a new world to start again?

I’m not even alone yet and just the idea of loneliness is driving me toward madness. I know it’s late, but Gracie sometimes struggles with insomnia, maybe I’ll be lucky and she’ll be up. I text her a random hello, hoping she’s up. The disgusting habit of chewing my fingernails has returned. I thought I conquered that nasty nervous tick when I began acting, but tonight, when faced with mental peril, it returns. Is it odd I like the taste of my fingernails? What isn’t odd about me? I’m like the king of oddness!

Staring at my phone doesn’t manifest the desire of my heart. Gracie doesn’t text back. The healthy thing to do would be to drink some chamomile tea and at least try to get some shut eye, but the idea of lying in bed alone… a predecessor of lonely days to come in this house… I have to get out of here and go somewhere with people, but where?

As I exit my room, with my wallet in my pocket and my keys in hand to go out to a place booming with people… a whiff of musty, dull potpourri caresses my nose and a vision of mom flashes to mind from the recesses of my memory. The potpourri in her room should be stale by now and scentless. Unless a part of my psyche aches that deeply to be connected to someone, I’m imagining the aroma that once potently came from her room. I turn toward the end of the hall. I face the very last door at the end. Drawn to the room I walk down the hall. The closer I get to the room, the stronger the vision of mom comes to me.

It’s the last time I saw her smile. She was in her room, lying in bed, propped upright due to a mound of fluffy pillows. She wore a pretty puce head dress to cover up her balding head. Alastair was sitting at the foot of the bed smoking a joint with her. They tried to hide it when I walked into the room. Mom knew I was okay with her smoking her legal medicinal marijuana, but she knew I had a problem with Alastair joining her. The comforter began to smoke because Alastair foolishly hid the joint beside him, on top of the bed. Alastair alertly squirmed to his feet and patted the smoke out with his gray, tattered sweater before the smoke sparked into a flame. They were already laughing and mom endured my half-serious, half-joking lecture about allowing Alastair to smoke with her. I used to remember her response and the tone and pitch of her voice perfectly… but now I remember neither.

All I remember is her lifeless skin, nearly gray and very pasty. Her peach lips cracked and chapped; the yellow, sickening hue of her teeth, and the immense exhaustion in her pain-stricken ice blue eyes. She stretched out her arms to me and made me sit beside her on the bed. Holding my hands, she smiles at me. As clear as if she’s with me now, I see her mouth the words I love you. Then she reels me into a hug tight despite her frailty.

Now I’m sitting on her firm, king size, mahogany frame bed, made with her favorite floral bed-set. Crème flannel sheets with tiny little pink flowers with sage little stems. The matching comforter satin-like on top and silky underneath… The pillow covers and the throw pillow cover patterns a perfect match. To most people, a bed set like this would be boring or bland, but my mother insisted everything matched. She was a little OCD about it.

The memory of her hug isn’t enough. I clutch a throw pillow into my embrace and immediately the indescribable scent makes me feel young, vulnerable, and naïve yet somehow strangely secure as if my mother were near me now, which is impossible because she’s gone and dead in the ground and I’ll never see her again, although I would love to… if I could… I would sell my soul to see her in person and give her a real hug.

Tears flood from eyes and a pain jabs in my heart. The overwhelming need for my mother to comfort me weighs me down. Lying on the bed, I curl into a safe ball, and cling to the puffy, light throw pillow as my lifeline. If I were to let go, I think I would die of some sort of spontaneous combustion or severe heartache.

Even though I’m wallowing in loss, I feel less alone. I feel more connected to family than I do to my living brother when he’s around. Here in this room, the terror of lonesomeness flees and a little ray of peace finds me.

Shutting my eyes, I recall the feeling that stirred inside me when my mother tucked me into bed. An emotion that could only be labeled as contentment found me again. Focusing all my thoughts and energy on that simple memory of such a feeling weaves a dream state in me so deep… I can actually sleep.

I wake up a quarter past ten in the morning, my mother’s throw pillow soiled with a small pool of my own drool where my mouth met the cover. In a half awake, groggy state I’m not ready to go anywhere. For me to make it to my Introduction to Acting Class on time I should leave now. But with the desire to sleep, the unwillingness to be a functioning member of society, I turn the throw pillow over and lie back down to sleep a little more.

An alarming sense of danger wakes me a second time. With one eye open, I stare at a bleary, golden, pointy object about to poke my eye out. I tilt my head back a bit to notice my house key threatening to gouge my eye out. The urge to stretch forces me to sit up and I stretch for the ceiling until the compulsion to reach high leaves me.

In the kitchen, I notice the time on the stove clock and it’s safe to say I missed both of my classes today. I might as well eat, shower, and got to work. Tending bar ought to be fun… There will be some fool that will make me laugh on the inside.


PREVIEW OF FUTURE CONTENT, from B/C of Faith

Suddenly, a presence looming behind me makes me feel self-conscience. Am I standing in a weird position? Does my hair look alright? A deep gurgle vrooms from that looming presence and a question follows, “You don’t like the script, huh?” I here David ask.

            He steps around me and stands beside Gracie. She reaches out to him and he swoops in her an embrace, lifting her high off the ground. Once he sets her down, talking the speed of a fret train, she tells him everything she loved about the play, which is everything. Once David confesses how he struggled for months to write the script, I suddenly know why Gracie loves everything about it. He also directed the play… no real surprise there. Some actors aren’t meant to write and direct… they’re just meant to act… but some think they can do it all.

            “Grady?” I hear a half-excited, half-shocked shrill from behind me. I turn around and Kelsey Cadence rushes to wrap me in her arms. Sighing partly with relief and partly with enthusiasm, Kelsey confesses, “I’m SO glad you came!” Abruptly, very repentantly, she removes herself from my person and asks, “Did you come with a date.” She looks around past me, directly at someone, and gazing over my shoulder I notice she’s eyeing Gracie, probably wondering if she’s my date.


Thanks- Grady

Because of Faith – 3

Because of Faith - Blog Graphic

Mondays… I wish we could eliminate the day. Terminate it from existence, the only down side would be the year would be shorter, and in turn life would be shorter too. Would that be bad though? We would definitely have fewer chances to screw up the world.

Getting off work at one, and then getting home at two, and waking up at seven to get to West campus by eight is torture. I’ve had three cups of coffee and I’m still not fully awake. I just urinated a lot.

While I’m reaching for the sky, to stretch out all the stiffness in my body, I feel a small hand slap me in the butt. In a knee jerk reaction I spin around to find Gracie running away from me.

            Oh, I’m gonna get her!

Chasing her around the wide open space of the black box, she’s too swift and agile for me to get my hands on. The weird, indie music cuts off and Geoff, our instructor for Voice and Movement for the Actor, clears his throat signaling it’s time to form a circle on the floor. Here’s where we have a heart-to-heart-session about our lives and talk about what’s going on in our lives. I never get too personal, or at least I try not to.

Elle, a nickname for Danielle, since she’s one of three in the class and the entire Student Community College Theatre Department, talks first. She’s talking about her boyfriend, who plays football for the U. She won’t say who, but by the way she talks about him, it has to be Felix Salinger. She says they just became an item a week or so ago. He left his ex to be with her. Anyhow, they got an argument last Saturday morning because he ditched breakfast with her to go to the aid his ex-girlfriend. The seething, outraged jealousy screams in her eyes, although the rest of her countenance seems relaxed. As she goes on to talk about the daily drama of her life, I could care less. The amount I care about her hogwash is like not even the size of a crumb.

Gracie, who sits beside me, pokes me in a rib. The urge to react in a faint laugh from the probe of her finger begs to escape my lips, but it would be rude and childish to act out while Miss Gossip complains about her “so called life”. Pressing my lips inside my mouth tends to help, but of course I can’t resist the reaction to smirk and poke her back in the shoulder. She flinches with a loud movement darting away from me, after my poke of course, which unfortunately got Geoff’s attention.

            “Guys, please… stay focused.” He says.

Like good “little” students, we tuck our hands in our lap and we pretend to listen. Circle time sucks up a lot of time for an hour long class that dismisses ten minutes early. Ten minutes of stretching, twenty minutes of talk, twenty minutes of class work, and then we disperse. Why am I complaining? I did not pay money to talk. I paid money to learn how to use my voice as an actor and how to move on the stage like a professional actor.

Granted I’m not an actor. I’m not even a tech guy anymore. I’m a business guy, but businesses love to hire Thespians. Apparently, we can think outside of the box. Little do they know, we think very much inside the box, we work with what we got and use it in a way no one’s ever thought of until they’ve seen us do it. If that’s being a genius, I’ll take the credit for it.

I never thought of acting until I came here. Gracie made me audition with her last year for the Spring Play. I forgot to check the box where I was just auditioning for fun (experience as it said on the form), and wha-la, I got cast as Florizel, the young prince of Bohemia, in The Winter’s Tale. Gracie got cast as Perdita. Apparently, our chemistry was SO GOOD people really thought we were an item. Some people like to argue the fact we are. I’ll admit, I thought at one point we might become something more. The feelings were all there. We even talked about it, but then it came down to one statement: “We’re unevenly yoked…”

Damn Christians! They’re all such hypocrites with their high and mighty attitudes on Sunday and their sinner attitudes the rest of the six days a week. Gracie swore though, that no matter what, she’d always love me. I believe her too.

Sylvia, who directed the Spring Play, was brilliant. With our huge height difference, she made it barely noticeable. If using the term “she’s the cat’s meow” were still cool to say, that’s the way to describe her. The woman gets it. She’s 50+ with a Southern Baptist background, but she’s far removed from it now. I mean, I think she believes in God, I’m just not sure she believes in the Christ Avenue anymore and if she does, she doesn’t give that impression. It’s hard to describe how she is, she just has a vibrancy about her that perks up the atmosphere when she enters the room. And there’s this comfortable unspoken expectation of excellence. There isn’t any fear of letting her down, but you know you don’t want to let her down. And her smile warms your heart when she directs it at you. The woman is insanely cool and the most collected person I know. If I were a woman, I’d want to be like her, minus the whole God thing.

        “Anything else?” Geoff inquires, waiting to see if anyone wants to spread gossip about their personal lives. Nobody says anything.

Like we’re following a game of Simon says. We all stand up and do as he says. We begin a warm up game of categories, he, as always, starts. The first category is “States”. He says California to Michelle, Michelle then says Ohio to me, I say Oklahoma to Gracie, Gracie says Maine to Elle, Elle says Colorado to Dani, Dani says Washington to Danille, Danille says Montana to Colby, he says New York to Stefan, Stefan says Indiana to Ike, and lastly but not least Tyler, then Tyler wraps it by saying Hawaii to Geoff. We repeat it one more time, but faster to make sure we have it down.

Geoff begins the second category, right after he re-launches the first for a third time. He says California to Michelle and “1984” to Gracie.

            Is the second category random years, year of graduation, or book titles?

Gracie says “Hunger Games” to Dani. Geoff smiles with delight rubbing his hands together in victory, because Gracie guessed right. He was going after book titles.

Michelle says to me for a third time, “Ohio” and I quickly pass, “Oklahoma” to Gracie. Suddenly Tyler says “Catcher in the Rye” to me.

            I haven’t been keeping track! Who’s gone and who hasn’t?

Just going with the flow, I say, “Speak” to Ike. He passes on “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to Elle. So thankfully I avoid humiliation by choosing someone who hasn’t gone yet.

After finishing both cycles, Geoff restarts them starting with the first and the second back to back. Then he launches the third, by saying, “Apple Juice” to Elle. Elle says, “Grape Juice” to me right when Tyler feeds me “Catcher in the Rye.” First I tell Ike, “Speak” even though my brain is on the brink of drawing a blank and desiring to come up with nothing, I think TOMATO JUICE! But “Tea Juice” comes out while I’m looking at Stefan. I notice Gracie focused on me trying not to laugh as Stefan tells her Orange Juice, and she keeps it going.

When all the talking over each other simmers down and silence falls in the room. Geoff keeps the silence for a second. Then he informs us, “I got them all back!”

It only took three classes, but we finally mastered the warm-up game of CATEGORIES. Excitedly, we reward ourselves with cheers of joy and pride. Gracie mouths the words tea juice to me with puzzlement. I shrug my shoulders. I didn’t mean to say that. It just came out. I’m functioning on just barely five hours of sleep. The fact that I can speak at all is a miracle.

We spend class playing theatre games. I just fumble through the motions best I can. Each passing second lingers like a slice of eternity. When class is dismissed, Gracie takes me by the hand and drags me out into the hallway. She shoves me onto a bench, and plops beside me. Twisting her legs into a bow, on the bench, she says, “Thank you…”

            “For what?” I wonder.

          “The other night… who knows what might have happened if you weren’t there.” She confesses genuinely convinced my presence at that party was a matter of life and death for her. I can tell by the expression on her face.

            “I always got your back.” I say.

My body slumps toward her, and in a very uncomfortable position my head ends up on her petite shoulder. Though my body’s under torture, I find rest. Being with her makes the rage within me cease.

 A rage I rarely give in to, a rage I fight every day to keep at bay, a rage that’s origin is unknown. But I’ve had it for so long I can’t remember when it began. A rage I wish that would subside but it won’t… A rage I want to explain, but can’t. But with her, as if for her namesake, Gracie calms the beastly fury in my heart. My heart, by the way, happens to be made of coal, so it just fuels the outrageous undefined anger.

            “Do you work tonight?” She asks.

            “Yep, right after my last class.”

I feel her lips press into the scruff of my hair. Stroking my hair, she says, “You can take a nap. I’ll watch over you until my next class. Lie down, get comfortable.”

I scoot down and stretch out over three benches and rest my head in her lap. I look up into her beautiful mocha eyes. The ringlets of her cherry-wood curls dangle down in a spectacle of sorts as she looks back at me. Perhaps in a different life, if I were someone more her type, we could be together…

            Ugh! When did I become such a girl?

 Alastair would beat the crap out of me for such romantic thoughts. He’s a firm believer of young men in their prime sewing their wild oats. I was a bit surprised when I found Peg making breakfast in our kitchen yesterday morning. Alastair sat at the table, which we use for a shelf more often than an eating surface, reading the paper and drinking a cup of coffee.

For a moment, I believed my brother got soft and found true love. He lived like a settled down man right then. But while we all ate breakfast together, Alastair started talking about the band. Now that Peg and he is an item again, she’s back as the drummer and backup vocalists for Fintan’s Flood. And the only thing Alastair is in love with right now is his music. And if fame could be the offspring of him and his music, he’d be a very happy papa.

Peg was more thrilled about being back together with Alastair. She looked forward to seeing him fulfill all the promises he made to her. It took everything in me not to laugh.

I also had to restrain myself from punching my big brother. I love him. He’s the only person, aside from mom, I haven’t fallen out of love with, but I hate the things he does.

Very few people have that intangible quality that shouts “world-changer” and he’s one of them. But he spends too much time, changing himself to be something the same ole world wants. Once upon a time ago, he was a unique individual, and now he’s a typical pot-smoking, partying, struggling, starving (occasionally) musician. He once refused to be a walking billboard for ginormous, money-grabbing, name-brand companies by not wearing commercial clothing. He bought expensive, American-made clothes to protest child labor in third world countries. Green-conscious due to his faithful practice of recycling, water-harvesting, organic gardening, and outspoken against the brainwashing of industrial psychology Alastair Timmins was destined (not that I believe in it) to change humanity for the better. Now he’s just part of the disease that’s killing humanity: corrupted selfishness and it makes me sick.

Right when sleep seems forthcoming, Gracie squeals, “David!” excitedly. My eyes snap open as I lose my pillow as her legs slide out from underneath my head. Tilting by head back on the bench, with upside down vision I watch Gracie get scooped up by David’s statuesque arms to swing her in a tight circle.

Immediately, Gracie complains about not seeing the made-for-Hollywood actor with his Charlton Heston-like voice and George Clooney-like looks in forever. The common inquiry of what he’s been up to lately comes up. He mentions he’s doing some late night theatre with a show the opens on the 27th of September.

“O my God! We’re going.” She declares.

“Who is this we you speak of?” David asks melodramatically.

Gracie charges over to me, takes my hand, and forces be to get up and stand before her friend. Holding my hand firmly, she says, “Me and him.”

David holds out his hand to me as he looks at Gracie with a suspicious gaze. I can only imagine he’s wondering if we’re a couple. I shake my hand held hostage by Gracie free to shake David’s hand, it forces him to use his other hand, but at least he’ll know we’re not anything serious.

“Grady,” I introduce myself.

“David Marchetti,” he states proudly.

Once he releases my hand, Gracie guides him to sit down and she sits on his lap. I go back and lay down trying to fall asleep but the caffeine finally gets to work in my system and I’m wired. Still, I pretend to be asleep for my ease-dropping to go undetected.

They talk about the old days… high school days… Then they move onto relationship status updates. David’s no longer with Blake, he’s with Taylor now. David was bummed to hear Gracie and Dylan broke up. In David’s opinion, Dylan was the groom-to-be for Gracie, but Gracie nearly broke out into a gospel song of freedom to signify how happy she was to be free from that relationship.

Whispering, as if he suddenly cares now about me trying to sleep and didn’t earlier, he asks Gracie if I was a potential mate. Gracie takes a long pause of silence prior to answering, but she says… “Maybe…”

My heart skips a single beat. Suddenly, my Monday is AWESOME! I’m a candidate in the campaign to win Gracie Gomez’s heart. I guess, it’s an honor just to be elected by the conservative conscience of Gracie, considering the fact I’m way liberal as far as anybody is concerned… Well, I’m not totally left-sided… I’m not a commie.

Now all I have to do is wait for the perfect moment to ask Gracie out… the moment where there’s no risk of absolute rejection… the moment I’ve wanted since I first formed feelings for her.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of Faith – 2

            Miranda and I are walking hand in hand as we walk Beau in the park. A Border Collie with assembly line markings of his breed. Black and white long, flowing fur with beady but wise nutmeg colored eyes. He doesn’t need a leash. He stays in front of us, scoping out the land with his sniffer. Making sure the way before us is safe to travel.

            Sonoran desert sunrays warms the skin with nearly flame hot heat, but the huffy, warm air takes away the sting of the heat a little. Every time I look at Miranda, her beauty mesmerizes me. If I didn’t know her so well, I’d be speechless.

            I tell her a joke I think she’ll appreciate.

            “How does Moses make his coffee?” I ask.

            “How?” She inquires.

            “He-brews it.”

            Laughter escapes her lips signaling that she enjoyed the joke. She slaps me in the shoulder and tells me that joke was cheesy.

            Her long, dark brown hair glistens a faint redwood hue under the sun’s light. That red hair of hers beaming with such a heavenly glow that makes her embody sheer gorgeousness. Her narrow, pensive brown eyes gaze at me lovingly as she notices my staring eyes.

            Beau barks ferociously to direct our attention to what’s before us. It’s Felix Salinger, dressed in his high school football uniform. The entire cheerleading squad surrounds him, hanging all over him like slutty vampires waiting to sink their teeth into him. His camera-ready-face with his strong Latin jaw and flirty Spaniard countenance taunts me. Miranda lets go of my hand and takes off running toward Felix, shouting his name like she’s about to have an orgasm. And the closer she gets to Felix, Beau turns around barking at me and nipping at my feet. Right as he pounces to attack, I wake up to my blaring phone alarm set for six in the morning.

            I forgot to turn off my alarm from yesterday. Well, now I’m up to enjoy something I haven’t seen in a while. Saturday Morning Cartoons! Sweet!!!

            I throw on some briefs, a T-shirt that doesn’t smell funky so it can’t be dirty, and I grab a mixing bowl full of knock off brand fruity pebbles. The only spoon clean is a big cooking spoon. It shouldn’t be too difficult to eat from. I plop on the couch and turn on the TV as a proud couch potato and flip to channel eight to veg-out to the dumbest, wackiest cartoons ever created.

            In the middle of my favorite one, about the faster than light hedgehog, Alastair emerges from the hallway and plants himself in the middle of my viewing point. He’s half dressed with his ratty, patch-less pants on and socks on his feet. Nervously, he looks over his shoulder, back down the hallway, right before he slips his greasy, dingy muscle shirt on. If it doesn’t look clean, it can’t pass for clean. He should wash that.

            “Will you get out of the way already!” I yell at him.

            Shushing me loudly, he crouches low as he rushes over to me, and leans into my face. Putting a hand on my shoulder, I have a feeling of what he’s about to say.

            Brother…

            “Brother,” he says. He pauses to glance over his shoulder.

            Do me a favor…

            “Do me a favor why don’t you?” He asks.

            Take care of the girl when she wakes up

            “See to it, when the girl wakes up that you take care of her and let her know that things are cool…” He licks his lips anxiously, “But make sure it’s clear there isn’t going to be a next time, alright?” He pats me on the face as if he’s being encouraging.

            Revoking the opportunity for me to accept or reject, he stands up and says, “Thank you, brother. I owe you.”

            By the door, he hurriedly slips into his shoes. He doesn’t even untie the laces to slip them on easily. He opens the door, and outdoor daylight beams in like blinding stage lights. Spotting his shades on the coffee table he snatches them quickly, and staring into the light he puts on his big, bulky, golden aviator shades.

            “Where are you going?” I manage to ask before he closes the door fully.

            Poking in his head back through the door, he whispers loudly, “I’m meeting Peg for coffee.”

            “You’re back together with her?” I ask already feeling sorry for the sweet woman.

            “No.” He admits. Then snickering he adds, “But I will be, after coffee.”

            The sound of a female yawn wisps from down the hall. The girl he banged last night is up, which means I have no time to ask if it was the black dream from the monastery. Like a scared little boy, Alastair escapes out the door, yanking it shut behind him.

            I figure I should at least look descent. It’s not the first time I’ve let girls off easy for my brother. I set my nearly finished bowl of cereal on the floor next to me. The sugary, pinkish milk is the best part when it slides down the throat all creamy with the grit of left over pieces of cereal. Stroking my hair to lay flat in all directions, I figure my bowl cut must look halfway presentable now.

            Yawns are contagious. I yawn as I hear barefooted steps head toward the living room down the hallway. I open my eyes as my yawn ends, the footsteps have stopped, and I’m shocked to see Kelsey Cadence.

            A seething rage forms a stuffy energy to encase my heart and if my brother were here I know for a fact I’d strangle him. I wouldn’t kill him, but I’d sure as hell get close…

            Ten… nine… eight…

            Counting backwards from ten sometimes helps with the anger. I think it’s working or maybe it’s just being in her presence that’s calming me down. Now that I think about it, it’s not like my brother knows I have a huge crush on Kelsey. I never told him. When he pointed her out last night, he was just thinking she was a random girl he could entice me with to be his wingman.

            Her gaze is fixated on the terracotta tile floor. The language of her body is tense with shame and embarrassment as she slouches into the support of her crossed arms. The perfect Lara Croft braid she had last night is a mess now, with strands sticking out every which way as a crown of frizzles stand at the edge if her hairline. Her wrinkled strapless, pink and green floral dress serves as a sign that she slept in it. Her black, dance flats tucked in her clenched, underarm grasp. Clearly, one night stands aren’t her thing. I hope it’s what she wanted, well, I hope at least that she was a willing participant.

            To break the awkward silence, I clear my throat. The gurgled noise causes Kelsey to look at me, and just for a second her shame falls as a coy smile posts on her face. She seems happy to see me.

            “About last night,” I say and quickly confusion encompasses her face.

            With angry pursed lips and a raised brow, she asks, “What happened to your accent?”

            Trying not to laugh because she fell for his gimmick, but she thinks that I’m Alastair. She must have been pretty drunk.

            “You couldn’t tell the accent was phony?”

            Kelsey marches up to me, she gets as close to my face as she can, “What kind of jerk goes around picking up chicks with a fake accent?”

            Chuckling a little, I admit, “A big one.”

            Moaning in angered unbelief she turns away from me. Restraining herself from trying to hit me with one of her shoes, holding both shoes like twin daggers equipped to strike at any moment.

            “Look, I don’t normally do this sort of thing.” She says.

            I give a typical, “Mmhmm,” so it seems like I care, but amazingly enough I don’t. I do feel a little sorry for her, but then I remember she’s an idiot when it comes to reality. She should learn how to detect a@#holes on her radar.

            “I’m just gonna go.” She blurts as she darts for the door. She steps into her shoes, one at a time, and then she walks out the door closing it gently. At least she has manners.

            The door slowly creeps back open. With humiliation lathered all over her, from her facial expression to the way she moves, she lunges back inside, she hurries down the hallway, and moments later she comes back out toting a big, gaudy, purse made with black patent leather. Again she exits the house, only to come back inside.

            “Can I wait inside for a ride, after I call for one?” She asks holding up her smartphone to prove that she plans to call someone.

            I want to say no and make her wait in the hot sun, but I don’t have the right to be angry with her. It’s not like she knows I like her in that way. And now my chances are absolutely blown with her… since I’m a big jerk that used a ridiculously terrible Irish accent to pick her up and have hot, meaningless sex with her.

            “Sure.” I say, offering her a seat in the recliner by pointing at it.

            Of course, I could explain my brother’s the jerk while she waits for her ride. Then I would kind of be throwing my brother under the bus.

            “Thanks Grady.” She says sitting into the rocking recliner.

            What?

            “Your name is Grady isn’t it?” She double-checks.

    Curse that brother of mine! He stole my identity too to score with the chick. I’m definitely going to strangle him now.

            “Yep, it sure is. Grady Timmins…”

            She scrolls through her contacts and then makes a call. Right when the other line picks up, she asks, “Can you come pick me up?” Listening to whoever she called, she rubs the back of her neck. “Where am I?” she questions. Then she looks at me to clarify she was actually asking where she’s at geographically.

            As I giveaway my address, number by number, letter by letter, Kelsey repeats all the info to her rescuer on the other line.

            Then for a long period of time, she listens to the person she called. She must not receive the most positive attitude from that person by the glum look on her face as she takes in every word.

            “You said if I ever needed anything, I could call though. I have no one else to call.” She defends herself.

            She listens to the other person response. Before she hangs up she says, “Thanks… I appreciate it.”

             I sit back down on the couch, I pick up my bowl of milk, and we wait. Our eyes both fall on the TV, but I wonder if she’s like me. I can’t stay focused on the program. The uncomfortable atmosphere of this slice in our lives makes it impossible to concentrate on anything.

            I think of all the ways I could hurt Alastair, aside from strangling him. I could castrate him, but then he’d be a whiny eunuch and knowing him he’d pick up more women with his vulnerable-guy-act with a sob story. There’s beating him to a bloody pulp and then throwing him in a tub of ice to dull the pain. The latter idea is growing on me.

            “I saw the guitars in your room, do you play?”

            Seriously, she’s trying to make a small talk with me. Yesterday, I would have killed to have small talk with her. I might as well embrace the moment… and enjoy it a little bit.

            “A little, it’s my brother that has the passion for it. They’re probably his guitars. I was just messing around with them the other night, I think.”

            “I love the guitar. I learned how to play my freshman year of college.” She begins to unbraid her hair. “I’m a novice really, but at least I’m an all-star vocalist.” She titters.

            I find myself chortling with her. I agree with her, “That you are…”

            “OH GOD!” She shrieks as she covers her face with her loose crinkled hair strands. Looking at me with one eye open, “Did I sing while we were… you know… doing it?” She recloses her eye as if she could shut out the potential future embarrassment. Wow, she sings during sex. Now I wish it was me instead of my brother. Not that I think I’d be turned on by it, but it would be fun to witness in action.

            For the heck of it, since I’m knee deep in this lie, I say, “Yes, yes you did.”

            “Uh!” she groans disappointedly. Lifting her face out of her hair, she questions, “Do you think I’m a freak?”

            I try to get her to relax. “Like I’m any less a freak,” I say.

            We both laugh at our circumstance. In that instance, the awkwardness between us dissolved and a natural flow of conversation sprung. We talked about theatre and the numerous types. The motion of time became irrelevant. Missing my Saturday cartoons didn’t bother me. I, at last, converse with Kelsey Cadence.

            I allow her to talk mostly. She talks about her last stint of auditions for the U. She didn’t research any of the plays in the U’s season. Unfamiliar with the characters and completely clueless of the plots in each play, her nerves almost put her body in shock. She doesn’t even remember how she performed her monologue. She couldn’t recall if she nailed it or bombed it. That’s why she was surprised to be the lead in two of productions this year. In Nov. she’ll be the lead in the U’s new segment of main stage originals, the first of student work to be produced on a grand scale by the U. Then, in April she’ll be a weeping leading lady in a Classical Greek Tragedy. Right now she’s finishing up rehearsal for a late night show, at a small local theatre. The production is four nights only opening Friday Sept. 27th at 10:30 pm., on Saturday night at the same time too, and then is closes the following weekend on Oct. 5th. If all goes well it might get picked up for a couple extra nights on Wednesday and Thursday of that first October week.

            Kelsey finally gets to finish fixing her hair. Kelsey combs back her frizzy hair and loose strands with her fingers, and wraps the long tail of trailing hair into an imperfect, swirly bun. Stretching her neck, by cocking her head side to side in even-timed-intervals she sighs in relief as the tension loosens in her neck and shoulders.

            “You should bring a date or someone and come to opening night. And tell like everyone you know to come.” As she stretches her arms up and back behind her head in a long reach. I have a guy moment and stare at her perky breast perched out as her back arches the harder she stretches.

            “That wouldn’t be awkward for you?”

            Her bashfulness emerges as she comes out of her stretch, and curls her arms close to her body, by resting her clasped hands in her lap. Again her line of sight falls on the ground. Biting her bottom lip she says, “Not really.”

            Interesting…

For being a wonderful actress onstage, she’s a wide open book with a horrible poker face in real life. I would genuinely be interested in going. And I know without a doubt it wouldn’t be awkward or weird for me. I love to see her onstage. Gracie would probably want to go check it out.

            I tell her, “Maybe.”

            “Seriously though, if you don’t go, tell like everyone you know to come, k?” She pleads as subtly as she possibly can or as I assume as much.

            Her phone rings, the chorus to the Rhianna song Stay blares. She answers the phone.

            “You’re here?” She asks and listens. “What do you mean you’re lost?” She tells her ride to hold on. “How does he get here from Nolan St. and Rhodes Ave.?”

            Him…? Did she call her dad or something?

            “Tell him to take Rhodes to Pearce, turn left and take Pearce to Longo, take a right, and we’re the third house the left.”

            Kelsey stares at me blankly. She didn’t pick up a word I said.

            “Don’t leave! Hold on,” she barks into her phone. Agitatedly, she forks her phone over to me to give her personal taxi directions.

            I take the phone.

            “Kels! I don’t have all day.” I hear Felix Salinger hound. “I have a flight to catch in two hours for the game tonight.”

            He begins to rant, calling Kelsey vulgar names. When he hears me clear my throat he falls silent. Then he questions who’s on the line with him. I ignore that inquiry and give him directions to my house. I stay on the line with him.

            “Is yours the house with the old lady car out front?”

            He’s referring to my moonglow Prius C. With the gas guzzler he probably drives, he’s probably just jealous I get crazy good gas mileage. I open the door and wave to him in his old school, hulky crème Escalade.

            Kelsey joins me at the door. I hang up the phone and hand it to her. For lingering seconds, we gaze into each other’s eyes. I have no idea the thought floating through her head, but I wonder if I’ll ever see her again.

            Impatiently, Felix honks his horn. Startling us both, this then causes us both to focus on everything around us. Kelsey’s reflexes must be wired to react to his demands. She exits the door toward his SUV parked by the curb.

            Since high school, I’ve wanted to find a way to tick this guy off. Now I finally have the chance. I grab Kelsey by the arm, and reel her back inside. Cupping her face cautiously, but quickly and without flinching I kiss her long and tenderly, drawing out as much time as I can. I kind of want to puke knowing my brother touched the tongue my tongue now touches, but I keep my mind on the reward. A long, eardrum rattling, honk blares from the Escalade. I could keep our kissing session going, but out of politeness, Kelsey and I mutually pull away from our lips’ embrace. Not-so-coincidentally Felix’s horn stops honking.

            Walking backwards, Kelsey timidly waves goodbye with a smile of bliss on her face. Once she turns around, she runs ever-so-girly to Felix’s Escalade. She climbs in and before she fully closes the door he speeds off revving his engine down the street.

If everyone wasn’t up this Saturday morning, they are now. What a selfish punk… I hope she makes it home sane. I guess with that kiss I didn’t really think about her, I just thought about me.

Still, it felt great to piss off that son of a b@#%*! And if she wasn’t cool with the kiss, she would have pushed me away, right? I hope she would have.


Thanks- Grady

Because of Faith – 1

1

People… the sewage of the planet… everything we touch turns to crap. I’m ashamed of my own species. In another life, I’d prefer to be a roach over a person again. Look at us, on a Friday night, midnight creeping upon us in a couple hours and majority of us are stoned, or drunk, or both. We are bringing the house down to Hades in a place I envision more as a monastery. Probably in the old west it was one.

The white paint on the wall is blotchy and chapped in various places. In a few spots, the paint is completely peeled away to revel the cement underneath. The dark brown, just a hue away from black, wood ceiling looks rough like dead bark— feels like it too. I know because I scraped my head on the door post, which is made from the same wood in the ceiling, when I walked inside. All the doors are for somebody about 5’9” which poses a problem for a man as myself that stands at 6’5”. All the windows are crystal stain class with a Spanish cross design dead center. The perimeter wall, white as well, has evenly spaced intervals of simple crosses hollowed out like glass-less windows. Can you say religious?  An archway on the roof, near the front, suggests at one time a bell hung from it, but now it’s an empty space for the wind to rush through. And here we are… in this musty, dusty house of God, a house built for the purpose of spreading the plague of organized religion,  now  celebrates pride and rebellion to the corrupt rhythm of dark, satanic forces.

Really… what does God, if such an entity exists, think of this house now? Probably every soul in here tonight is damned to hell. Well bring on the fire! Let this house burn down to the dwellings of demons! I’ll make my bed with brimstone and my covers with maggots.

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…

Alastair puts his hand on my shoulder as he places a red plastic cup filled with cheap booze into my hand. Pot smokers don’t need aftershave; they just use odor-neutralizers that mimic the scents of clean linen and/or a tropical breeze. A potent combo of stenchy, skunk-like odor and a chemical-made aroma of lavender engulf my nose. Redness sulks in the whites of his eyes and a carefree smile serves as a billboard of his cloud-nine mood.

Not that I’ve ever drank piss, but as the expression goes, “this beer tastes like piss” and smells like lemon flavored vomit. But YOLO right? I wonder how many beers it will take to get me drunk?

“So mate, whadda say ‘bout bein’ me Dublin wing man?” Alastair says squeezing my shoulders. As if the force of his hand will make me say yes.

Pretending to be Irish to get numbers from girls used to be fun. Majority of the time, Alastair and I would find a lot of good laughs out of it. We couldn’t believe women actually fell for our bull crap. Then Alastair discovered American women loved mysterious foreigners. So being an Irishman was no longer a silly game to dupe girls in a non-harmful way, it became a game-changer in the hunt for picking up women and taking them to bed for the kill. I of course never had the balls to something SO LOW, but leave it to my brother to break the world record for being a jerk.

“Pass.” I answer.

“Eelp a bbrrrothereh ouh mahe?” He says, still keeping his melodramatic Irish accent in tacked.

He sounds more Australian than Irish, but better some girl find him out and throw a drink in his face. It’ll be so worth watching that disaster.

“Like I said bro, I’ll pass.”

Cursing under his breath, he leans into my ear. Whispering, he tells me to, “Look at the bird in purple by the stairs.”

Casually, I look over that way, turning my head ever so slightly so I’m not caught staring at a stranger like a stalker freak. A beautiful black woman, with a  rich, deep complexion blemish free stands clothed in a “Barney” purple, skin tight, cocktail dress. Her legs mighty like Serena Williams, but with a more delicate weight resembling the legs of Beyonce. Her on fleek, long black hair rests on her shoulders. I can see why Alastair wants her, she’s his fantasy come true. All the bumps, as in chest and rear, are in the right desired areas.

“Look who she be haavin’ a chanwig witht?” He adds in my ear.

I notice the black goddess’ lips moving to the rhythm of a well enjoyed conversation, and then my eyes follow the direction she’s talking in… Kelsey Cadence.

I am a man of no faith. Nothing or no one can be trusted wholeheartedly, one hundred percent. Scientific theories are bound to change. Someone living today will die tomorrow. Humanity gets dumber and dumber with each passing generation, and who’s to say robots won’t oppress us, if we still exist, one day. I guess if I had to have faith in something. I have complete faith we’re all idiots, except for Kelsey Cadence when she’s onstage.

The real world ceases to occur for the couple hours she’s under the spotlight. Suspension of disbelief happens as she tells the story the playwright envisioned in the far reaches of his imagination. The highs and the lows of whatever character she portrays, become your highs and lows. Right from the rise of the curtain to its fall, she’s your tour guide as you take the tour of the drama you paid good money to see.

In high school, she was a bright star shinning among burnt out lights. No one had talent that touched hers. In my book, as far as the Old Pueblo goes, no one still has talent that compares to hers.

If my brother wasn’t a dweeb, and if he didn’t flunk out of high school, he would have been in Kelsey’s graduating class. I think they’re the same age with legal eligibility to actually drink what’s inside these red plastic cups. I bet if she saw me now, she wouldn’t recognize me.

She wouldn’t remember I helped build the sets her junior year of high school. She wouldn’t remember that I ran the spotlight during her stint as the “Beastly Beauty”. She wouldn’t remember I was the stage manager for her last high school production, when she was a Juliet who couldn’t compare to Shakespeare’s greatest Muse.

Rumor had it, she got accepted into Yale Repertory Theatre, on full scholarship, but she rejected it to stay in town. All because she couldn’t part from her loving boyfriend: Felix Salinger. In high school, he was the star athlete as the starting quarterback. (The star QB of a 0-win team and a bunch of loses team.) He was lucky to make second string QB at the U. It helps that his uncle is the athletic director at the U. He doesn’t have a chance at going pro. So unfortunately, off the stage and in the wake of real life Kelsey Cadence is as much a moron as the rest of us.

And for what? She’s a fool in the name of love? Love isn’t even worth it!

Miranda dumped me the day after graduation… okay, it was a mutual split because according to her we both “wanted to see other people”, but I honestly thought I’d be with her until I croaked. I even considered one day of saying the big, “I DO” to her at the altar. Maybe not at an altar because I don’t think I could resist the urge of pissing on it, but in front of a certified person to marry us. And not that I believe in marriage, because I don’t really; I would just want her to know I’m not going anywhere. That with a vow of “I do… and death do us part…” I mean it and I’d spend every day forward making her the happiest woman alive, or at least as happy I could make her as often as I could. But all of that went to crap when she dumped me… when I dumped her… when we dumped each other.

Impatiently, he barks, “SO?! R u witht me brother?” as he smacks me in the back.

“Go find Willy to follow your scheme. I said I’ll pass.”

I go find a corner to drink in solace. I try not to watch my brother, flirting with both the black woman and Kelsey, but my eyes gravitated toward them. Watching their every move, wondering what they’re talking about.

Would if Kelsey likes my brother? Would if she gives him her number? I mean, I’ve seen her track record: Felix Salinger. Everyone in high school knew he cheated on her but her. It was kind of pathetic. I wouldn’t be surprised if he still cheated on her.

I’m relieved when the black woman takes Alastair’s hand and leads him away upstairs. Poor Kelsey’s left alone to drink her cheap booze, and wait on Felix. I could go over now, and introduce myself. I could see if she remembers me. Of course, I doubt it. We haven’t been in the same room in three years going on four.

My obsessive crush formed on her the moment I saw her walk in the auditorium doors back in high school. I was a freshman, yet to meet Miranda and fall in love with her. Kelsey was explicitly late, but her very presence stole the attention away from Solomon, our Theatre Teacher. It wasn’t just because the house lights were out, making the seats dark and the stage lit up like the surface of the sun, but when she opened the door a burst of light shone in like a Hallelujah moment, and her long black hair was braided to the side, which was very Katniss. Silver, shimmery glitter dazzled her strong, Native American-like cheekbones. Her caramel skin brought elegance to her, an elegance that made her some earthly angel. What really captivated my very being were her eyes, the wide, almond shaped, ginger colored gateways to her soul. If love at first sight could be such a thing, that was the moment.

And as if that moment is revived now, she still encompasses the beauty of five years ago. I, fortunately, am less nerdy and less boyish. I could have a shot; if I went for it before I allow my nerve to reason me out of it.

I’m gonna do it! I’m going over there. I’m going over there now.

Maybe I’d get somewhere if I actually moved from this spot.

“GRADY!” A small, mousy voice screams below my line of sight. As I look down, tiny, petite Gracie gives me a hung. I can’t believe Gracie’s here and I think it’s obvious she’s had too much to drink. Looking up at me she grins at me with a glossy gaze.

“It’s sooo gooood tooooo see YOU!” She slurs trying not to appear drunk.

Detaching her gripping arms, I pretend to be mildly interested in seeing her, “Yeah… you too.”

Attaching herself to my waist again, her head nearly in my crotch, she demands, “Dance with me!”

I look over to the stairs and Kelsey’s no longer there. My window of opportunity is gone. Who knows when I’ll ever see her offstage again?

As much as I hate to admit it, there’s never a dull moment with Gracie. Might as well dance with Gracie…

There’s an area in the backyard, closer to the DJ’s space, where people jolt, jiggle, and pulse their bodies to the hard alternative rock. Almost pop punk with a little rock opera so to speak. Bands like All American Rejects, Neon Animals, 30 Seconds to Mars, Muse, Dream Theater, and Paramore. The staggered sound of a heavy electric guitar and rapid, vibrating drum beats force my body to convulse to the cadence of the rocking music. As my focus drifts into the raging melody of the sick tune I get the sweet relief of not-caring-about-anything. For now I’m alive, for now I’m free. I close my eyes and the music tastes so much richer to my ears.

In the ten second pause for a song shift, the sound effect of a puking girl, followed by the very real prop of girl puke landing on my shoes, spoils my party animal attitude. With a bit of puke, in the corner of her gaping lip, Gracie looks up at me with panic-stricken owl eyes. That’s it… I’m cutting her off and sticking her in a cab.

I pick her up and toss her over my shoulder. No one pays attention to Gracie’s kicking and screaming resistance as I carry her away. Wow, this party’s filled with bystanders! Would if I was carrying her away to rape her? I can’t believe mankind! I can’t wait until a super bug pandemic kills us all off. It will be well deserved.

We wait outside the cross engraved wall for a cab to show up. Gracie occupies the wait with puking her guts out in the dirt. She owes me sixty bucks to get new shoes. Granted, I got these for six bucks at a thrift store, but retail price for new shoes like these are sixty bucks… on sale.

The cab pulls up to the curb in front of us. Gracie’s half way into the backseat when she scoots back out to puke on the curb. The cab driver, speaking with a thick Mexican accent complains about her, and says if he drives us home, I have to pay triple the meter price, to cover the cleanup charge. I tell him he can kiss this fare up his pie-hole and I slam the door. That’s right! I don’t care if his window falls out of alignment. The cab skids his tires as he speeds off.

So much for the cab idea… I could take her home… If she pukes in my car, I’m billing her for that too.

During the car drive, she passed out, which made putting her to bed easy. I just tossed her in her bed. I placed her bathroom trashcan by her bedside, and I locked the door behind me. I left her keys on the coffee table in the living room along with a neon pink sticky note that clarifies she owes me sixty bucks. When she’s sober she’s pretty trusting, she’ll pay me without asking why.

Sleep isn’t a bad idea. I just kind of want to fall in bed as I am, but the looming aroma of ripe, cheap-booze-scented vomit reminds me to take off my shoes. On second thought, I don’t think I want to buy canvas shoes again. There’s no leak protection whatsoever. My socks are soaked with soppy, gross barf. The wet, sticky moistness left on my feet as I peel my socks off threatens to make me puke. Not looking helps. The bottoms of my jeans are ruined too. Pants-ing myself in the kitchen, I wrap the puky socks and shoes up in jeans I once held dear to my fashion style, and stuff it in the trash. To prevent the puke smell from consuming the kitchen’s atmosphere I rip the trash bag out of the can, and I set it out back.

As if the puke got sopped up by the soles of my feet and made the puke course through my veins and the complete feeling of utter grossness embodies me head to toe. A quick shower should shake the feeling.

Anxious to get out of my remaining clothes, I toss off my shirt and leave it in the hallway. I drop my boxers right where I stand in the bathroom doorway. Twisting the knob of hot water only, I step into the tub. Water flows under and over my feet as the water in the tub begins to rise. Then I pull the lever to release the sprinkling drops of water from the shower head. The piping hot water tickles my skin with a clean sensation and I haven’t even used soap yet.

Without bothering to find boxers, I climb into bed. The moment I rest my head against my cushy pillow, my eyes grow heavy begging to cast off into slumber. I allow myself to drift asleep as my body relaxes, releasing the tensions of my not-so-good night.


Thanks for reading!