Hello, It’s Me

“Nem toda a gente pode ser comprado,” she said.

Vivian didn’t believe that, in Portuguese or English. She crossed her legs but didn’t lift her peach-colored dress over her knee. She knew how to distract the two men sitting six feet away. The one doing most of the talking ran his right index finger and thumb over the pencil-thin lines of his dark goatee. Bald, but still holding on to his thirties, he squinted as he spoke.

“I know who you are, Millicent Stingley. You’re a killer, like me.”

She’d lived the past few months knowing this could happen. The world was smaller because of computers. But Vivian Alves thought law enforcement would come to the door of her Sao Paulo dress shop using her other name. She didn’t allow herself to squirm or sweat, but spit words, back.

“Then, telling someone, Tomas, would hurt us both.”

He stroked his goatee again, and muttered to his cohort.

“Ir buscar o dinheiro.”

As the other man unlocked the shop’s door, Tomas scooted his metal chair closer to Millicent. The sound of metal on concrete jarred her. The invasion of her personal space didn’t intimidate her. It drew disgust and anger. She imagined him choking to death on something she could make from her back room refrigerator.

“Listen, Millicent, Vivian, who gives a shit about your name? We’re business people, right? We kill when we have to. I’m going to leave the money. You help me move the product and we both get to live in peace. Okay?”

His smirk made him face smaller and more sinister. To her, being a drug mule for a mid-level criminal felt gross, but better than solitary confinement in an Atlanta prison. She uncrossed her legs and stood. It was time to redistribute power. He tried to stand, too, but she touched his left shoulder, pressing Tomas to the chair.  The curvy, tan, easy-going Vivian became the southern United States ice queen, Millicent.

“My shop opens every morning at 9. If I see you or your errand boy, here, after that time, I’ll make sure you know why both of my names exist. Deal?”

Feeling his dark eyes on her breasts, she leaned down then picked up his chin with her left hand. Tomas’ associate returned, delivering a small, black neoprene bag. Tomas opened it, removed cash, and counted it on a small table.

A female voice called from the doorway.

“Viv, you alright?

Vivian looked up. Her eyes widened and her a smile spread across her face. Her excitement couldn’t hold the name from leaving her mouth.

“Paulette!”

Tomas stared at his helper and then at both women. He let the money fall onto the table and walked out.

****blogger’s note*****

Inspired by my friend and writing partner, Tara’s, quick return to Pauley and Millicent this week http://thinspiralnotebook.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/girl-from-ipanema/  , I did the same for Write On Edge’s “Money” prompt http://writeonedge.com/

You can read the story Tara aka @tara_R and I wrote here: http://thinspiralnotebook.wordpress.com/pauley/

a href=”http://yeahwrite.me/speakeasy”>

Today’s song played in my head as I wrote this. Obviously it’s about a love affair between Todd Rundgren and whoever was enjoying him at the time. This is more of a sweetly ironic nod to the weird friendship of Millicent and Pauley. Here’s Hello, It’s Me, by Todd. Great song.

Whatever

Cynicism can only exist if there is an absence of ideas, like love.

Thoughts sprint through mind, a number two pencil, onto a green notebook after I lower all four windows and turn off the engine. The air-conditioning cocoon evaporates. Brutal humidity of early September Georgia shows truth. Natural light reflecting off the blue car and white Old Towne Tavern paper cup half-filled with three-hour old sweet tea provides perspective. The line to pick up teenage girls from Lanier High School cheerleading practice is more significant that it seems.

Sugar Hill is as much of a state of mind as it is a place to live. Twitter, Facebook, newssites, talk radio, and this person’s bumper sticker in front of me that reads – “Nobama this time” – and the one behind me that read – “Keep your hands off my goodies, Republicans” make me wonder if moving is a better option.

The little sapphire-eyed blonde in the passenger seat interrupts thoughtful silence.

“Hey Ashley! Hey Lauren! Look daddy, it’s Tay Tay!”

Teenage girls that fill my life with joyous, innocent energy file out of the brick constructed cafeteria that’s connected to the gymnasium where they practice backflips, chants, and clapping in unison. They acknowledge my youngest child with smirks and grins, then their eyes dive back to their iPhones to text their friends. Happiness fills the cab of the car as one daughter excites to see another. My pencil and notebook are shoved under the seat.

I pull out of the parking lot and wind around around orange-coned lanes, then turn left. I arrive sit at a red light next to the large Exxon gas station. Kids that live nearby cross the street and patronize the place so the local supplies of Doritos and vitamin waters can be depleted. In between texts to her friend who is a boy and waves to her buddies across the street, my backseat daughter tells me about her day in one-syllabled words.

Sugar Hill provides, or whatever.

****blogger’s note****

Leeroy is still in the shop. I stole my wife’s computer this morning to write for two prompts – Trifecta Writing’s “absence” http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ and Write On Edge’s “local items/flavor” http://writeonedge.com/

This really happened. Names were changed because I don’t like getting sued by parents of children that are not mine. I live in a town called Sugar Hill with a high school called Lanier, Hook “Em (Long) Horns!.

Today’s song is something i woke up to today. Happiness comes in small does with me so enjoy this smiley post. Yes, I’m an Oasis fanboi and this is one of their early hits. Here’s the Beatles derivative, but a good one, Whatever:

Rise Today

With bloodshot eyes and a persistent itch on my left arm, I slumped in the backseat of the van taxi hoping no one would notice. It was two hours til my flight left Los Angeles for Atlanta. I needed sleep. A tall, expensive-suited men dumped his suitcases behind me and climbed in the vehicle. He stared then recognized me.

“Lance! I’m been hearing about you all week. Glad we’re sharing the ride to LAX. So, I hear you got a tattoo out here? You’re not putting that on your expenses are you?”

His laughter was deep and intimidating. He was my boss’ boss. A wrong word, a  misunderstood facial expression, or just about anything and I could be out of work, three thousand miles from home. Whatever color was left in my face after four days of work conferences and almost no rest during the nights, disappeared. I forced my face to form an awkward grin.

“Yes I went to the Sunset Strip and picked up a souvenir.”

He laughed again. I winced. The sting from the artwork done to my left bicep was new.

“I’ve got some Tylenol in my briefcase. So, can I see it? Heard you went to Kat Von D’s place on La Brea.”

I mouthed “yes”, removed my sports coat, pulled up my  shirt sleeve, and released the bandage. There was no way showing your boss’ boss your new tattoo was grounds for dismissal, I thought.

“Lance, that’s great! It is something you planned? I never saw you drinking.”

I’d been sober when I walked into High Voltage Tattoo and asked for a circular Phoenix, representing my rise from the ashes of divorce.

“Yes, it means a lot to me so I took my time making the decision.”

The powerful man took out his phone. The van pulled out of the hotel lot, heading to LAX. He spoke to my boss.

“I’m with Lance. You’re right, I like him. Let’s get him on the Southern California project, soon.”

*****blogger’s note****

This is a true story of last last hour of a trip to Los Angeles for work in october, 2007. While there, I got this tattoo at Kat Von D’s place, and a promotion to work on a project in Southern California in November and December 2007. I eventually turned down a chance to move to San Diego in January of 2008. Four months late, I met my wife and two of my three kids.

This is for two prompts – “FLIGHT” by Trifecta Writing http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/  and “PHOENIX” by Write on Edge  http://writeonedge.com/

I hate Creed, but three of the guys broke away from Scott Stapp in 2004. They made two okay albums then got back together with Creed and I disowned them forever. The song Rise Today was something in head while this episode was happening.

London Calling

Looking over the Thames river, he saw water rising to take it’s revenge. The pharmeucutical-induced lethargy ushered hallucinations. He rolled off the queen- sized mattress, shaking. Feeling dirty, shag carpet on his bare back, he peeked out a tiny window watching yellow-eyed zombies.

Their marching wasn’t the living dead normal. It was purposed; an army of single-minded killers of rebellion. He knew they’d come. It’s why he’d hid and drugged. The door shook.

“Turn down that Crash music, your sister’s sick too!”

He pressed stop.

“It’s The Clash, mom!”

He turned up another cup of medicine and left for London.

****blogger’s note****

It’s a busy week and I’m finishing a book so I combined three prompts, Velvet Verbosity’s 100 word “Lethargy” http://www.velvetverbosity.com/ , Trifecta Writing’s “normal as noun” http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/ , and Write On Edge’s 100 word sprint kinda sorta set in or to London http://writeonedge.com/2012/07/going-for-the-gold/

This is in my top five list of favorite songs of all-time. The Clash is my favorite band and they were at their peak with London Calling. I may or may not have duplicated this “scene” in my bedroom growing up. We’ll call it fiction to protect reputations and feelings. Some of you should relate to this 100.

Here’s the only band that mattered.

Everybody Knows

Last time with Trever Hoyt: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/

Groggy and sore, the melodic crunch of shattered glass under his dark blue neoprene bodysuit startled him. He sat up, as if awakened in a coffin, and stared at the night sky blotted by thirty stories of a high-rise office building. His last memory was fighting with Kagan, pulling him away from Ingrid and over one-hundred dinner guests.

He placed two fingers on Kagan’s neck. There was no pulse. The sirens of police cars and ambulances competed with a stiff breeze in his exposed right ear. Part of his cowl was cut away. A police car swerved into the alley. It’s headlights invaded his sight.

“Freeze! Police! Step away from the body with your hands on your head.”

Finding Ingrid and a safe place to hide were his only concerns. He heard guns drawn and calculated less than two seconds to bound over the car. After clearing the police cruiser and landing a hundred feet away, he was at the intersection of the alley and the main street which ran in  front of Ingrid’s building. By the time he arrived at the revolving front door, a crowd of over several dozen people populated the lobby.  The mirrored vestibule and large windows showed how much of his mask was torn away by the glass. Panic set in and he turned to run. A woman’s muffled voice came through.

“Don’t go, Trever! Everybody knows who you really are, now!”

He stopped, as if Ingrid’s sob-filled shout was a brick wall. Trever turned back to the stunned audience inside the building and traveled through the circular entrance. He was no longer anonymous in shadow. The throng of onlookers circled around him. Trever Hoyt pulled the rest of the mask from his sweat-glistened face and stepped toward the open arms of a tearful Ingrid.

*****blogger’s note*****

I’m headed to see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. In preparation and spirit I thought I’d revisit the superhero character I created for Trifecta a few months ago. I get so sick of the characters in the superhero movies having obvious alter egos and the people not figuring them out. So, here’s a twist. Everyone knows the superhero actually is. It’s also in response to Write On Edge’s Robert Frost poem prompt for Red Writing Hood “We dance around in a ring and suppose But the Secret sits in the middle and  knows? http://writeonedge.com/2012/07/red-writing-hood-prompt-the-secret-sits/

One of the most underrated bands ever is Concrete Blonde. Here’s a song I played often in college. Everybody KNows. It fits the story and the prompt perfectly. This song was in the movie Pump Up The Volume. Johnette’s voice soars.

I’m Free

The best aspect of being a writer is the freedom of time, imagination, and wonder. You can write four stories simultaneously.

Helene walked past smiles, head nods, and mouthed “wows” of the other musicians. She unstrapped her electric guitar, pulled it off her right shoulder and turned look at the stage. Sadie couldn’t contain her embullience.

“Leney, you did it! You just played Madison S…….”

“Daddy, I changed my mind, I’m a little hungry I want cheese ravioli too.”

Millicent rose in front of the judge. Her posture was and her face was stern but proud. She ran her manicured hands over the front of her Versace business suit, smoothing out tiny wrinkles. Her attorney, Reeve Mattox gave her left hand a gentle squeeze, but Millicent pulled away and smirked. The judge sighed and began reading.

“Millicent Stingley, on count one, murder in the first degree, the court finds you……”

“Daddy, can you open the basement door. We want to get our scooters out.”

Jake realized how importance of his relationship with Violet. Two weeks apart, under such strain and conflict had hurt him almost as much as Camille’s death. He read Mallory text one more time.

“Jake, I’ll be whatever you want me to be. I’m at The Ritz Carlton, room 327. Please come.”

He stood in front of the Hotel and dialed his phone. Violet answered.

“Vi, come home, I’ll be…..”

“Hey, um, can I go across the street to the neighbor’s house for like an hour? You’ll have to watch my sisters.”

Caleb and Breann stood in the hallway of the Hospital. Several nurses ran by and Breann saw Ava carrying a baby, swaddled in a gray blanket.

“Caleb, surely not! Not again!”

Caleb ran after Ava. She threw her right hip into an operating room door. Calen heard a lock move into place. Through a small window, Caleb saw Ava hand the infant to a nurse, who then unwrapped the child to ready for surgery. Caleb clenched his left fist and hit the window with he bottom of his hand.

“Ava! Open this door!”

Ava shook her head and walked to a green curtain and pulled it around the surgical area. Breann joined Caleb at the operating room door.

“Caleb’s what are they doing?”

Caleb’s face turned pale. He embraced Breann and whispered.

“The same…..

“Hey honey, it’s me. Just wanted to hear your voice. You can put the chicken back in the freezer. We’re eating at mom’s tonight.

I’m free, to do what I want any ole time.

Dude Write****blogger’s note****

This is a piece of somewhat creative nonfiction, about fiction, for Write On Edge’s “Freedom”. I hope they get what I was trying to do, here. Red ink is non-fiction.

Here’s The Soup Dragons’ I’m Free. Dance, ya’ll.

Blood and Sand

The bustle of the Atlanta airport provided cover as Millicent disposed of gloves and syringes she used earlier. Flying three times a month for work, she’d noticed that the trash cans near curb side check in were emptied most often. Millicent never broke stride as she tossed the evidence and removed her black designer Costa Del Mar sunglasses with the same hand, entering the automatic doors. Dressed in a black Armani pants suit with matching Jimmy Choo three-inch leather heels, Millicent turned the heads of the male ticket clerk and the female security guard as she arrived at the TSA line. She pulled her phone from her Prada, removed silver hoop earrings and caught the smile of a tall, attractive, middle-aged man with the hair the color of Atlantic Ocean sand in the other line, fifteen-feet away. Her call went to voicemail.

“Dad, it’s me, again. Flying to New York for my conference and my other meeting. I may stay a few extra days. I heard from your, um, business associate. I’m worried about you but, I’m going to do it, for you. Call me.”

A short, portly male TSA agent, leaned into the taller Millicent.

“Ma’am, no cell phones til ya you get to the terminal.”

She rolled her eyes, looked past him and saw the sandy-haired man, still smiling. He was broad-shouldered, confident, and well-groomed wearing an expensive gray suit. Millicent pursed her lips and shot a playful raised right eye-brow, then smiled. They flirted more during the twenty-minute security check. Not once did she worry about what was in her luggage or carry-on bags.

Millicent lost track of her paramour. She hummed a Stone Temple Pilots Song as she reached a bar. The female bartender was young, no more than twenty-three. Her gold name-tag on her white dress-shirt read Holly. Millicent sighed at the thought of Holly not knowing how to make her favorite drink. Millicent scanned the bar’s shelves for scotch, vermouth and cherries. She assumed there was orange juice. She picked up a cocktail napkin and pointed at the barkeep’s ink pen. Holly handed it over. Millicent wrote.

“I would like a Blood and Sand. Here’s what you’ll need. Don’t worry about the maraschino cherry garnish. All I have is a twenty. It’s yours, I swear.”

Holly mouthed “okay” and walked away, intimidated. Millicent felt a large hand on her right shoulder. The sandy-haired man whispered in her ear.

“Wow, I haven’t seen a woman as well put together getting on an airplane in a long time. You must be in fashion or design or shopping or something like that.”

Millicent ran her tongue along the inside of her teeth.

“No, chemistry, among other things.”

****blogger’s note*****

This is a stand alone piece, maybe, of Millicent Stingely, my “Cinnamon Girl” serial killer  http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/cinnamon-girl/ Consider it a prequel to the summer blog series I’m writing with Tara http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/06/25/hustle-and-cuss/ It’s prompted by Write On Edge’s “sand” challenge.  http://writeonedge.com/2012/06/red-writing-hood-link-up-sand/  This would fall after she kills her ex-boyfriend and his neighbor and before she meets Pauley. Millicent’s favorite band is Stone Temple Pilots. Both of us were listening to this song while I was writing. Here’s STP out Aerosmithing Aerosmith with Huckleberry Crumble.

I Wish I Was The Moon

Last time with Helene Troy: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/donttakemeforgrante/

A small piece of broken tile sliced into Helene’s left big toe as she stepped from her small, dingy shower. She was too tired to curse the poor condition of her apartment. She stopped the trickle of blood by stepping into her towel after dropping it to the floor. She hopped naked to her small black backpack next to her bed and pulled out a band-aid. Being a guitar player, she was used to damaged hands and fingers. Helene’s cell phone danced on her bed. She rolled her eyes, sat on her bed and answered.

“Can Leney come out and play?”

It was her ex-boyfriend Case. His band, The Golden Apples, were signed to a major label and experiencing the initial flashes of fame. She sighed into the phone. Music and crowd noise competed with Case’s deep voice.

“Leney, you okay? Your band is here at The Odyssey! Well, two of them! I think Sadie’s on her way! Darcy and Mara said you’re mad at them! Relax, okay, you’re the greatest opening act in New York City!”

Helene finished the band-aid application and pulled the bed sheet over her. She felt stupid, thinking Case could see her, naked, through the phone.

“Case Hill, go do your rock star thing on some groupies. I’m not interested. Tell Sadie to go back home. She deserves better than that crowd.”

Before she could hang up, she heard Case scream into the phone.

“I miss you Leney! Good luck Thursday!”

She flipped the phone closed and hunted a pair of white cotton panties and Television Marquee Moon t-shirt. After running a comb through her long, wet, wavy brown hair she picked up her acoustic guitar and the half empty bottle of Bushmills whiskey then headed to the tiny patio connected to her apartment. Helene sat down in a white plastic chair and glimpsed the crescent moon peering over the sunset. A swig of whiskey soothed her throat.

“I guess it’s supposed to be this hard. But I don’t have to enjoy it.”

She strummed the guitar and played with lyrics from earlier in the day’s band practice.

“Take me to dinner, take me to bed, take me to the moon

Just show me a place, other than the hard and the rock

I need something different, and I need it soon

Just make it some place that curses the clock”

Helene stopped and stared into the sky. Her fascination with the moon started in kindergarten when she thought she wanted to become an astronaut. The stress of the band and her frustration with not being further along as a musician overwhelmed her. She wiped tears from her eyes and stretched her bare legs over the white plastic table. She started playing Neko Case’s I Wish I Was The Moon. More tears streamed as she finished the opening verse.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode from the reworked opening chapters of The Ballad of Helene troy, my novel work in progress. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This also coincides with Write On Edge’s Red Writing Hood “to the moon” exercise: http://writeonedge.com/2012/06/red-writing-hood-link-up-to-the-moon/

I’m likely headed to see one of my favorite artists, Neko Case, next month. I hope she does this song. It’s perfect for this piece. Here’s I Wish I Was The Moon.

Every Day I Write The Book

Robots, rockstars, a grieving parent, 100 Word Songs and my personal adventures as a man surrounded by women prompt a daily spectacle that over a hundred and fifty of you choose to click. Breaks at work, laying by the pool, watching sports, and stretched out on my bed on a saturday morning are how I provide something worth your internet surf. Four hundred and eighty five posts covering two years and three days later, blogging has made me a better writer and person . As Helene rocks her way into your hands and kindles, I’ll keep showing you my soul.

****blogger’s note****

May 23, 2010 I took my wife’s advice and staretd My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. I decided to recognize it in 100 words through my friend Velvet’s 100 Word challenge. http://www.velvetverbosity.com/  Her word this week was “SPECTACLE” .Thanks for reading, commenting, tweeting, the facebooking, and allowing me into your consciousness. Happy 2, My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.

Here’s the great Elvis Costello.

Bound For The Floor

Last time with Helene Troy: http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/the-denial-twist/

Helene struggled with the oppressive New York City August heat. Sun bore down on the summitt of her friend Sadie’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment building. Slipper Socks Medium’s band practice had become tiresome. Helene glared at Darcy and Mara who lit fresh cigarettes, drank beer and talked about their plans for later.

“I’m done, girls. We got three songs down and a set list for Thursday’s gig.”

Helene unplugged her guitar. Still gripping the instrument, she walked to the chipped brick edge of the roof and peered over the intersection of 48th Street and 8th Avenue. Sweat pooled over her tired hands. She watched construction workers getting off from work walk into Social Bar. Sadie’s voice carried over her shoulders.

“From up here, this damn city actually looks possible doesn’t it?”

Helene refused to turn around for fear of crying in front of her band mates.

“Sade, this place is two different towns. One’s for the people who are trying to live here and the other one’s for the people like us, who are dying to live here. New York’s going to belong to me if it fucking kills me.”

Car horns bounced off building walls. The whistles of policeman directing afternoon traffic tweeted throughout the warm air. Helene saw a green, yellow and red Nathan’s hot dog cart.

“Come on Sadie. Let’s make those other two pack up our stuff. I’ll get a couple of hot dogs and we can work on the the lyrics we didn’t get to earlier.”

 ****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of my work in progress, The Ballad of Helene troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here http://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This 250 words is part of the reworked beginning. It kind of sorta goes with this week’s “Location” writing prompt from Write On Edge – http://writeonedge.com/2012/05/red-writing-hood-location-location-location/ 

Today’s song is really good. It’s the kind of thing Helene would listen to and play. Local H was an underrated 90s era band with great guitar work and depressing songs. Here’s the riff heavy lyric downer, Bound For The Floor. Perfect for this installment.