Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Untitled and unfinished...

...and depending on your comments, may stay that way:

Insane jealousy, a natural (if unfortunate and ill-advised) corollary of passionate love, yields none of its power to reason or recognition. In fact, often it is strengthened by the light, usually to the long-term benefit of neither faction directly involved with events occurring immediately after discovery.

“Why, that dirty bastard!” Rage flew from Joan Underwood’s mouth like energy from a broken steam line, invisible but none-the-less lethal. Now standing with her hands on the table, Joan stared at her sister, her grotesquely contorted face and suddenly wild and dilated eyes signaling her threat to attack anything that moved.

Chance Marie Calder diverted her eyes to the utensils on the table long enough to see if Joan intended to grab one. Their history, though loving, contained enough drama and strife to warrant caution. “Joan, you need to sit down. Please… you’re making a scene. Do you want the whole damn town to know your business?”

For her part, Joan continued to seethe, teeth clenched and her body beginning to shake in mini-convulsions that started in her face and radiated throughout her torso. Moving her head across the table to within inches of her sister’s, and taking long, slow breaths through her nose deep enough to cause her breasts to heave, she glared and spat, in a voice barely audible, “Who is she?”

“Joan…” Chance said, her voice still calm and resolute, “sit… down. I refuse to be party to a meltdown. If you can’t control yourself, get the hell out of here. I’m not your keeper or your whipping boy.”

Einstein would have been proud. The dining area, now only a quarter the size it’d been before relativity took over less than two minutes ago, now contained tables and booths filled with diners whose ears had increased in size the four-fold inverse of the room’s diminution. As Chance looked around and moved her head signaling Joan to do likewise, she silently sent the signal Salvador Dali would feel right at home here. Now, how do you want to proceed with this freak show?

Movement, as reported by any measure of visual acuity, momentarily halted. All eyes now focused on Joan Underwood, virtually expecting all hell to break loose in the vicinity of the booth in the back corner, Server Station A1. Joan closed her eyes and held her breath, hoping to slow her heartbeat and respiration. Pursing her lips, she rapidly expelled all the air her lungs contained and sat down, brandishing a sheepish mea culpa expression and cheeks stained with unwanted tears.

When the inertial protraction refused to die, Chance shouted at no one in particular, “Hey! Eat your damn dinner, show’s over! I guess none of you have any problems?” Instantly, forks tinkled against plates, conversations spontaneously generated and servers hustled coffee pots and dinner checks to waiting diners. At Server Station A1, Chance Calder walked around the table and aided her sister’s re-seating and resultant decompression, her arm hugging Joan’s shoulder and shielding her from prying eyes while she wept.

“Listen to me, Joanie, you’ve lived through worse than this. Do you recall the events surrounding your fiasco with Dutch? At least this time, you weren’t a punching bag.”

Joan raised her head and wiped tears from her cheeks. “Is that supposed to be re-assuring? The son of a bitch didn’t hit me so I’m supposed to filled with gratitude?”

“Of course not! You know damned good and well that’s not what I meant. I’m just happy that he didn’t…” The sentence needed no ending. “Come on, what do you say we go back to my place and drown our sorrows? I’ve got a half-gallon of Captain Morgan that’s begging for a little abuse.”

“Chance, I gave him $25,000 less than a week ago.”

Now it was Chance Calder’s turn to lower her head. “Oh my God…” was all she could muster. Only one thing was certain at this point—she needed to get her sister out of here…quickly.

Without speaking, she reached into her purse and fumbled with her wallet. Producing a ten-dollar bill, she placed it on the table and tugged at the shoulder of Joan’s coat. “Come on, let’s go.”

“But, we need to—“ Before she could finish the statement, two zombies stood up from the booth and walked toward the exit, totally disregarding the disdain created in their wake.



******



Sunlight is the natural enemy of nightmares, beasties, bleached blondes and things that go bump in the night; it is simultaneously the sworn foe of those who spend their nocturnal hours imbibing strong spirits instead of sleeping. Joan Underwood’s eyes opened momentarily before closing, her sister’s hands firm upon the bed covers that had, until seconds ago, shielded them against the invading sunbeams. “Goddamn it, Chance, get the hell out of here and let me be!” Reaching for the blanket, she lunged both arms forward, grabbing only air as Chance Calder stepped deftly backwards.

“Get up.”

“Kiss my ass.”

“We have things to do.”

“I only have one thing to do, and if you’ll give me back my blanket, I intend to do it!”

Without another word, Chance walked to the bedroom window, blanket in tow. Once there, she raised the window, calmly gathered the blanket into a window-sized wad and tossed it. After watching it drop, she folded her arms across her chest and stared back at Joan, her face suddenly transformed into the visage of their mother. “If you don’t want to be next, I suggest you get up and head for the shower. I’m just about done puttin’ up with your bullshit.”

Joan, the older of the two by several minutes give or take, tittered audibly and turned her back to her twin, raising the middle finger of her left hand in defiance. “When you walk down to pick up my blanket, try to avoid stepping in any do—”

Before she could react, Joan felt herself being pulled to her feet by her hair. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she struggled unsuccessfully against her sister’s onslaught, as the ungainly, snarling, two-headed creature began its journey toward the bathroom, where even now the shower awaited, its cold water faucet happily offering a morning tonic to the battle’s loser.

Alfred Hitchcock, in 40 years of producing psychological thrillers never once filmed a scene so chock full of blood-curdling terror as that created by Chance Calder while she held the glass shower door shut amidst her sister’s screams, kicks and fists pounding against the glass. Happily, the unfortunate Joan managed to find the hot water faucet within a few seconds and soon the caterwauling magically transformed into a litany of cursing interspersed with blubbering and the occasional terrorist threat.

Chance closed the toilet lid and sat down. This promised to be a very long day.

******

7 comments:

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

dear Jane: I'd know you anywhere. That first paragraph is a dead give-away. You can't fool me by deleting the first words in your draft which read "It is a truth universally acknowledged that..."

That said, I suggest we take a silent moment to think about Joan and Chance's unfortunate mother. The shower scene made me wince at the thought of the caterwauling that must have gone on in the woman's innards while she carried the Insane Twins to fruition.

As for the sad loss of the twenty-five thousand dollars, it strikes me as the heart of this family tragedy and one about which your readers naturally aspire to learn much much more.

Regards to Einstein and Dali (as usual)

Bubba said...

Lee-- Hmmmmm... Well, I'll put you down for a vote in the 'no' column. This is what happens every time I try to write about women. I guess I should know better after this long.

Are my beginnings really that predictable?

Lee's River/Zlatovyek said...

what no? who said anything about no? the truth universally acknowledged was right on. If all must be said Joan and Chance remind me of the twins in one of my most famous unpublished novels (as in famous in slushpiles across America)
I liked this!
note to self: keep working on those communication skills, lee

kaylee said...

I vote yes !!!!
that is to gone on,
I love train wrecks....
when they are not mine, (G)
I hope she slice and dices
the A H that took
her money.

ltyfm

klk

Scot said...

I like the ending at the first part

Nan J said...

I want to know why she gave him $25000 and why/to where he disappeared with it and who the other woman is ("who is she")--an "Other Woman" or something else? Did Chance see the guy with another woman?

I think the twins' interactions will be fun to follow. I was wondering how old they are? I couldn't tell. I was also wondering if it was a local diner where they knew people or not. Also hard to tell.

Love the shrinking dining room and expanding ears. :)

Keep goin', dude. :)

Jo Janoski said...

I want to know more about the money,too. And I agree the interaction between these two could be precious. But don't forget now, women have more dimensions than men. They wouldn't constantly battle without having occasional chick moments where they regret being that way...and then back for more fireworks because women never really forgive and forget. Grudges are us!But layered in sugar and spice...