I Will Possess Your Heart

Last time with Helene Troy: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/18/two/

The street light in front of Mickey’s bar was broken. A pall of darkness greeted Helene and Xander as they walked out to look for a cab. Helene’s drunkenness caused her to stumble over the curb and drop her guitar case. She laughed, shot Xander a mischievous grin and sang out.

“Dark in the city, night is wire!…steam in the subway, earth is afire!”

Her voice, despite being under the influence, was pitch perfect and rich. Xander leaned over and picked up her guitar. Helene grabbed the small end of the case. Shadows moved around their faces. Xander spoke.

“Who doesn’t love a little Duran Duran? Helene, maybe we should go somewhere and get you some coffee. We could talk about music or whatever.”

She rolled her eyes and turned her back to him with the case in her grasp. She moved to within a few inches of his face and ran her her right hand over his chest.

“I don’t drink coffee. There’s an apartment 15 blocks from here where I can drop my guitar and backpack. You want to come with me?”

Helene’s tipsiness made it hard to focus on Xander’s facial expressions. She reached out and touched his right hand and pulled him close to her body. He replied.

“That’s a great idea. Um, let’s run by your place. I can’t wait to see where you dream up your songs.”

The next block had a working street light. Helene looked over and saw Xander’s Death Cab For Cutie t-shirt. She squinted then cringed. Xander caught her look.

“What? Death Cab offends you? They don’t rock hard enough?”

Helene bit her bottom lip and wished she could have thought of a fair response. She failed.

“They really like playing their instruments, don’t they? I mean 8 minute songs about stalking is a little much don’t you think?”

She chuckled as she spoke but as the words carelessly left her mouth she could feel tension form. Xander released her hand. She braced for a pithy reply. He didn’t respond. They walked for a couple of blocks without speaking. They passed in front of  a liquor store and Helene took a couple of steps toward the front window.

“I’m stopping here. You want something?”

Xander slipped his hands into the back pockets of the blue jeans and shrugged his shoulders. His dark hair flopped over the left side of his frowning face. Helene rolled her eyes again.

“What’s your deal, dude? You had balls the other night when you gave me your number after I threatened to kick your ass. That was smooth. Tonight you act like some missionary in town to save my pathetic soul. Fuck that, okay?”

Helene sighed and threw her shoulders around to walk into the store. Xander right hand touched her left arm and his voice cracked.

“Helene, I’m sorry. We’re getting off on the wrong foot here. I think you’re great and unbelievably talented and my God, gorgeous, I’m….”

Helene liked the way he touched her. His hands were warm and his skin glowed in the streetlights. She realized he wasn’t meant to be her distraction. He was better than that. She leaned into his ear and whispered.

“I’ve had a really bad day and I just need to forget it. I shouldn’t have called you.”

Helene walked into the store and bought another bottle of Jack Daniels. She walked out and Xander was waiting on the stoop. They exchanged smiles. He took the guitar case.

“You need someone to be there while you forget. I’ll take the gig. All I ask is dinner later this week, sober, with a rousing argument about the awesomeness of Death Cab For Cutie.”

Helene looked into Xander’s dark eyes and dimpled cheeks. She relaxed her body and took his free hand. They walked another block.

“You’re trying to romance a drunk girl. Consider my mind blown, Xander. Completely blown.”

A yellow cab met them at the next street corner. They waved it off and kept walking to Helene’s apartment.

****blogger’s note****

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. There’s no prompt, just story. You can find the rest of it, so far, here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/

Today’s song is perfect for this moment between Helene and Xander. The lyrics and the tone are moody and foreboding. Here’s Death Cab For Cutie’s I Will Possess Your Heart/…..

Two

Last time with Helene Troy: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/11/onlywomenbleed/ 

Helene was drunk at work. Several hours into her shift at Mickey’s Bar’s the bottle of Jack Daniels she hid in her backpack was empty. She felt no guilt. Business was slow and her boss wasn’t around.  Helene’s booze-fueled sullenness generated enough sway to keep her co-workers distanced from her. No one, except patrons, spoke to her for most of the night. Some regulars sitting at a table close to the stage waved her down.

“Helene! You singing tonight?”

She smirked then hissed.

“Of course. Your little monkey girl’s gonna dance for you.”

She turned and bumped into a tall blonde woman. The woman’s amaretto sour spilled on Helene’s waist wetting the bottom of her t-shirt and top of her jeans. Helene cursed.

“Shit! This is the third shirt of Ramona’s I’ve trashed. Damn it!”

Helene stomped to the bar, made another drink and grabbed her acoustic guitar. Walking back to the woman’s table, she spotted Xander at the front door. She handed the drink to the woman and slinked to the stage, biting her bottom lip and smiling at Xander. Leaning into the microphone, she imagined that Xander was the only person in the room and cooed, “This is for you.”

The light strums of “Two” by Ryan Adams echoed through the hushed bar. Helene began to sing.

“If you take me back
Back to your place
I’ll try not to bother you I promise
‘Cause it’s cold in here
And I wish it was hot”

Helene saw Xander walk a few steps toward the stage area, riveted by her performance. Helene’s drunkenness overwhelmed her personality. She grinned and flirted through the song’s intimate lyrics. As she played the last chords, the bar patrons stood and clapped. She murmured “thank you” and walked over to Xander.
 
“Thanks for coming.”

She smiled and pulled strands of long brown hair behind her left ear. 

“So, you want to go get in some trouble?

Xander shook messy dark bangs from his face, blushed and responded.

“Absolutely.”

***blogger’s note***

This is a new story episode of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of the story, so far, here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/ This is also a an answer to Trifecta Challenge’s one word prompt “Sway” http://www.trifectawritingchallenge.com/2012/01/week-ten.html

Today’s song is from one of my favorite artists. Ryan Adams’ newest album is amazing. Two is from his 2007 Easy Tiger record, also good. This song is perfect for this moment with Helene and Xander.

Friday On My Mind

The menu hadn’t changed for 24 years. Every Friday, the nursing home served flounder filet with tartar sauce on the side, corn giblets, pears, and tapioca pudding. I tried to sneak in food like cheeseburgers or pizza but it became pointless. His attendance was required at 5pm in the main dining hall, so we just fell in line.

“What is that in your hands, Trent?”

The front desk nurse stopped me. I knew it was her job to be nosy and authoritative, but good grief, it’s his birthday. Some chocolate cake isn’t going to hurt a 90-year-old man. I faked a smile and responded to the six-foot-tall dark-skinned woman with black-rimmed glasses.

“He’s 10 short of a century, Ruth. Let’s let Bobby enjoy himself.”

Ruth didn’t undo her frown as she walked around the formica topped desk and placed her extraordinary large hands on my right elbow. Her grip was oppressive. She led me down the hall to his room. Even in heelless white Keds sneakers, she still towered over me by at least 3 inches. As we stood in the threshold, she leaned over and her onion-coated breath wafted over my face. I held a gag.

“If any of the other residents see that cake, I’ll have a serious problem. They act like children when they see sweets. Just keep it in his room.”

I thought about her words through the stench. Two Fridays before, Mary Ellen, the lady six doors down, had a visit from her grandchildren. They brought cards and balloons for her birthday. One of the little kids had a cupcake. It was everything I could do to keep Bobby from leaving his room and knocking the kid down for the pastry.

I shook my head in agreement and walked inside.

“Happy Birthday, young man!” 

Bobby remembered me most of the time. Today was one of coherence. His wrinkled face of heavy jowls and half-smile lit up a little when I placed the cake on his television tray.

“Oh boy, you remembered….” His voice trailed a bit on the last couple of syllables.

My birthday was a few weeks earlier, Bobby had a bad day and forgot. I got over it. Had things gone slightly different 50 years, 2 months, 14 days, and about 6 hours earlier, I’d be in that bed, struggling to hold on to memories.

“Trent, there’s never anything on the tv on Friday nights. Remember when we used to watch Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in the Army. Those girls could dance their asses off, couldn’t they?”

We laughed. The lines around his tired gray eyes engulfed his lashes and the gleam appeared for a moment.

“Trent, get me up. I want to cut the cake after you help me to the damn bathroom.”

He dropped his pride when I was around. The nurses told me he’d refuse help, even when he couldn’t make it to the bathroom. He was scared of them and they’d never understand. I’d known him for over 70 years. I was the only one left he’d ever trust.

After he flushed, I heard him mumble.

“Come show me, Trent.”

I walked in the bathroom. Bobby leaned against the porcelain sink. He was weak. He looked like he was about to cry.

“Show me what I should have done with my life.”

This was an exercise in humiliation for him and embarrassment for me. He looked 90, I looked 40. What was the point? I unbuttoned my red flannel shirt. He stared at me with sadness and offered his right hand. I gently grabbed it and put it on my chest. He ran his calloused, wrinkled fingers over my right breastbone and felt the artificial heartbeat.

“You were always the smart one Trent.”

I pulled Bobby from the sink and walked him over to the cake. I saw a tear form in his right eye.

“I’m sorry, Bob, I should’ve made you go through with the experiment.”

He grinned and handed me the knife and fork.

“Trent, you know I shouldn’t touch these. Cut me a big ole piece.”

****blogger’s note****

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Pamela http://wordsandthoughtspjs.wordpress.com/ challenged me with “A man growing old becomes a child again – Sophocles” and I challenged Carrie http://viewsfromnature.com/  with “a short skirt and a long jacket”.

Today’s song is one of David Bowie best covers. The Easybeats first did this in the 1960s. Bowie rocked it up a bit. Here’s Friday On My Mind

World, Shut Your Mouth

Don’t ever elect me to public office because the impeachment process would start IMMEDIATELY. The United States of America is honoring a man of great ideals, Martin Luther King Jr., by taking the day off. Children are out of school, the banks are closed, my job is shut down, and I’m pretty sure my garbage won’t be picked up until it’s rotting the neighborhood. If I were in charge of the this country, we’d all be working and studying and striving for excellence even harder to show reverence to Dr. King.

Since December 19th my children have been in school a total of 9 days. America, for all her faults, is a country founded on hard work, discipline, and drive. In the past fifty years, or so, we’ve become removed from the idea of sacrifice and determination.

Dr. King believed that education and commitment to principle could overcome racism, bigotry, violence and laziness. He was right. Yet, for some reason, that I can’t understand, we don’t listen to him or anyone else that matters.

My friends at Write On Edge posted this picture and asked me to write something.

The first thing that popped into my head was the song Freebird by Lynyrd Skynyrd. What you’re looking at, is the launch of Space Shuttle STS 96 in May of 1999. On the final day of wake up calls for the crew, NASA played Skynyrd’s epic rock ballad. I thought it was a great choice because, as child, I admired the space program and stayed glued to the television when launches and re-entries occurred. Astronauts and engineers are the ultimate dreamers, making things that fly into the skies. These days, NASA is talked about as a burden and even unnecessary. I assume this is from people who like to take time off from work and school.

One of my daughters talks about being an astronaut. I told her that to train for that, she’d need to go to school a really long time. Her initial reaction was….

“Ugh, I go to school enough. Maybe I’ll be something else.”

This crushed me inside. Fortunately, she came to her senses and said…

“I’ll go to school as long as it takes. I want to be an astronaut.”

 I hope she keeps this attitude. Of course, she’s off today, probably playing video games.

To really recognize Dr. King, and the many others that made this country enviable in so many ways, I propose we start honoring them by working, going to school, and finding ways to be better.

Don’t worry, I have enough skeletons in my blog and my closet to prevent me from ever being elected to any office. All I’m really saying is shut your mouth and get to work; doing whatever it is you do or want to do.

Today’s song is from Julian Cope. It’s more about the maroons some of you watched on the Golden Globes last night. I interpret it in a different way. Here’s World, Shut Your Mouth….

Let’s Go Crazy

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing we call life….

electric word LIFE, it means forever and that’s a mighty long time….”

It wasn’t much after 1984, the year Prince’s Purple Rain album was released, that I realized my real talent may be harnessing my neurosis into something palatable for normal people to handle. It took a while, over twenty five years, to reach my goal.

This morning, I walked into a convenience store, anxious for a diet dr. pepper, and freaked out when the cooler showed an empty shelf. So I fired off this tweet:

 
T Lance B

TLanceBT Lance B

 
If ur a convenience store out of diet dr pepper then change ur name 2 Satan’s Inconvenience Hellhole That Hates Babies & Puppies
 
The response was what I expected.
 

Bree Myers

Bree_MyersBree Myers

@
@TLanceB well your first issue is the diet dr pepper….. A fridge case full of it seems like the entrance to hell for me :)
 
»
 
Tom Ferda

TomFerdaTom Ferda

@
@TLanceB Last Tweet sure symptom of a DP addict….just saying….
 
It was retweeted 9 times…I appreciate those people greatly.
 
Kurt Cobain had heroin, Ernest Hemingway had whiskey; so I have my diet DP…..but they’re dead and I’m trying to get published. Maybe there’s a message there.
 
Writing every day while suffering through a social anxiety disorder and trying to be a good husband and father is teaching me how to be myself. I’m embracing my ticks and quirks such as needing bad soda, watching football and listening to five or six CDs a day. I don’t think I have addictions as much as I have neurotic tendencies that can be focused into positive ways.
 
What I’ve learned over the past few years since I went through therapy, rid myself of toxic people, and found some fellow writers that “get” neurosis and mental illness, is, being crazy is a celebration.
 
I only have one of these things we call life, to live. I’m not going quietly into that good night nor am I changing who I am to be more “normal”.
 
 
I don’t have a special place where I write and blog. I kind of do it where ever there’s a space to lay a laptop, some CDs and a diet Dr. Pepper. Today, it happens to me on the couch next to my wife and kids while they watch some teen movie called “Frenemies”. Considering my history with the internets, the movie is more ironic that you all or Alanis Morisette can imagine. 
 

Consider this post more of a neurotic fist bump as opposed to a weekend ramble.

 
 

So “come on baby, let’s get nuts!” Today’s about celebrating who I am and who your are….Let’s Go Crazy…together…thanks for being there for me, fellow crazies… 

Taylor

I cried this morning. I did it last night, too. I’ll probably break down again after I write this. I alternate between shame, pride, and satisfaction at my emotional state. I knew this day was coming. I just didn’t allow my brain to process the emotions until now.

In a few moments, after I click “publish”, I’ll walk upstairs, stumble through the darkness, step over a kitten or two, and open my oldest daughter’s bedroom door. As I do each morning, Monday through Friday, when I’m in town, I’ll press my thumb and index fingers over her little toes poking out from her blanket. I’ll say “good morning beautiful” and she’ll grumble back  “guhh mornun”. The difference, this time, will be that she’s sixteen years old.

I’ve written several times about our relationship. I met Taylor aka Tay when she’d just turned twelve. In the almost 4 years I’ve had the privilege to be her father, I’ve loved her like I loved her eight year old sister, whom I made with my DNA, and her seven year old sister, whom I did not.

To know her is to experience her. She’s a blonde ball of sunshine in my life that I just can’t describe and I’m supposed to be a writer.

I can’t write anymore, because, yeah, I’m crying.

Today is about my daughter. So, get off me about the song. Her favorite human being in the world is Taylor Swift. I didn’t even listen to it before I put it in this post. Just know, my sixteen year old daughter will eventually read this and she’ll appreciate that her, well, she calls me Lance most of the time, posted some T-Swift.

Happy Birthday beautiful. There’s a bag of flaming hot cheetos downstairs.

I love you.

Only Women Bleed

Last time with Helene Troy: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/dayoldblues/

Talking to Xander on the phone made Helene wistful of her time at the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated two and a half years earlier but the grind of working in New York City bars made it seem longer. She missed clumsiness with college boys.

“Xander, is 2 a.m. past your bedtime? Can you make it?

Helene pulled the phone from her ear and saw a dropped call.

“Shit! I can’t have a normal conversation with myself, much less some cute painter.”

With an hour to get to work, Helene saw the next stop was near Sadie’s apartment and the bodega where she had offered to take in the two kittens. She got off.

As she trudged up the stairs, her phone buzzed. It was Sadie.

“Leney, I’ve got horrible news.”

She hadn’t heard from her since the Darcy drama earlier. Helene threw her long brown hair back and braced for the worst.

“Jamie hurt her knee in a pick-up basketball game this morning. We’re at the hospital. Her doctor says it’s ligament damage. She’s not going to Greece. Her room isn’t available. I’m so sorry.”

Helene felt nauseous as she reached the street. Her mouth dried and her knees buckled. She dropped her backpack to the pavement. She’d be homeless in two weeks. Tears formed in her tired green eyes as she responded.

“I’ll call you later. Tell Jamie I hope she’s okay.”

She knelt to pick up some of the items spilled from the backpack. Her pocket knife had opened slightly, enough for the top of the blade to poke. It nicked the webbing between her right index and middle fingers. Blood began to weep through her knuckles. She licked the tops of her damaged digits. The flavor of metal and salt made her cringe.

“That sexy college daydream of being a grungy itinerant musician is coming true, Helene.”

Her phone buzzed again. It was Xander. She ignored his call and walked past the bodega to the liquor store next door.

****blogger’s note***

This is a new story episode of The Ballad of Helene Troy. You can find the rest of it, so far, here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/the-ballad-of-helene-troy/   This is also a response to two writing challenge “weep” from www.trifectawritingchallenge.com and “flavor” from www.writeonedge.com Please visit them.

Today’s song is Only Women Bleed from new Hall of Famer Alice Cooper. I know the song’s about a woman in an adusive marriage but it’s tone and some lyrics fit here. I wanted something downbeat.

World Wide Suicide

A wall of noise stopped me as I ascended the stairs from the Metro. Pennsylvania Avenue was closed for the first day of protests. The scene was chaotic but impressively controlled. Thousands of people, the majority in their teens and early twenties, packed into the colony square several hundred yards across from the White House. A young girl, some famous actress, shouted into a bullhorn.

“See those suits! They hate you! They hate this country! Take it back from them!

I looked down at my chest to make sure I’d removed my tie and put it in my tote bag. I reached inside my sports coat pocket and took out my cell phone. I sent a text to my boss.

“Dressing and carrying casual today to fit in with the crowd. Please let the man know.”

I wanted to join the scene. One of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, was playing. But, I had a job to do. I was becoming uncomfortably good at it.

Moving through the throng wasn’t difficult. I looked 10 years younger than my actual age so I blended enough to not cause alarm. My phone vibrated. I made the mistake of answering.

“Hello, sir! I’m getting through some of the people and headed to security detail now! I….”

My arm was bumped. The phone fell to the pavement among dozens of feet. I panicked and peered through tennis shoes and sandals without success.

A pretty, petite young woman with curly blonde hair and an expressive smile met me at slouched eye level.

“Hey there! Is this what you’re looking for?”

She was radiant. I froze in her innocent blue-eyed gaze. The sound of cheering and police whistles overwhelmed her voice.

“Uh, yes, that’s mine! “

She bobbed her head up and down like a gorgeous puppy. I leaned into her so she could hear me say thank you. As she put the phone in my free left hand her breath wafted over the side of my face. I heard the words…

“Stay here.”

The stage the actress rabble roused from was less than 40 yards from where we stood. The band assembled. The frenzy of the crowd built. I turned to her and she placed her small, soft right hand on my face and spoke into my ear.

“I’m Justine!”

I smiled, pulled back and mouthed my name. I couldn’t tell if she understood as the opening guitar chords sonic boomed through the audience. Side by side with Justine, I moved my body in poor rhythm to the song, a blistering protest tune, World Wide Suicide. Her body brushed against me. It evoked guilt.

As the electronic feedback of the rock song’s final notes rang my eardrums, I felt my coat pocket for an ink pen. I pulled it out and reached for that left hand she had graced my cheek minutes earlier. She smiled and batted her long eyelashes, giving me permission to write on her.

“703 555 3214″

We exchanged smiles and she said waved her marked hand like a little girl. The cuteness warmed me.

I turned and started the 200 yard walk to the front door of my office.

My boss met me at the entrance of The White House and we went through security together. He teased me.

“Did you have fun out there?”

I knew what we were about to do and I felt regret. I straightened my posture and adjusted the collar of my white dress shirt and gray sports coat.

“No, sir. Fun is spontaneous. That, out there? It’s organized.”

He chuckled and opened a large wooden door with his right arm. Inside the room were 7 men and 2 women. They waited on me, my boss, and one other person to start the meeting. As we sit around a huge rectangular oak, a voice called from the entrance.

“Good morning everyone!”

We all rose. I forced a smile and joined a unified response.

“Good morning, Mr. President!”

We sat down after he took his chair at the head of the table. My boss spoke first.

“Everyone, inside the attaché in front of you is the our plan, “Distributed Computing Debauchery”. It will explain what’s going on outside and how we will control it. “

I looked toward a window and glimpsed the crowd. I thought about Justine.

For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, awesome Grace aka @octoberesque  http: http://thegraceofpirates.blogspot.com/ challenged me with “Distributed Computing Debauchery” and I challenged Kelly aka @kgwaite http://writinginthemarginsburstingattheseams.blogspot.com/2012/01/no-map-and-no-directions.htmlwith “explain how the donkey got in the bathtub”. She did a great job with it.

Today’s song is from one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam. I think it’s the best protest song of the 00s or the naughts. Here’s World Wide Suicide…play it loud, and hope it’s never controlled.

House of Cards

I brought my passion to work this morning. I like my job, at times, I’m quite fond of it; but I’m in lust over the stack of notebooks in the corner of my cubicle. My girlfriend, this novel I’ve written, is distracting me.

My wife approves of my mistress. In fact, she’s been pushing me to be more involved with her. I first crossed a line, or I should say a “t”, 11 months ago, today. In early December, we celebrated our star crossed relationship when I wrote her climax.

On breaks, when ideas strike, and maybe even trips to the bathroom, the novel and I will dalliance. She isn’t the first other woman of words with whom I’ve slept.

Fifteen years ago, I wrote a story with a similar theme – a man finds out he’s not who he thought he was – but I couldn’t consumate the relationship. In fact, in December 1996, after months of writing, I wrote a sentence that now drives me.

“By the end of 1997 you will finish your book and be a writer.”

The reasons why are moot. By the spring of the following year, I broke my resolution. There was an argument. There was a garbage can. There was a break up. The novel was history.

That episode is influencing my current state. It’s the engine that’s revving me to finish this book. What’s also happening now, is maturity, undeniable support from my wife, and, well, excuse my bravado, this novel is pretty damn good.

There are times when I want to quit. The process of fine tuning something so personal is how insanity should be defined. I’ve had to be talked off the ledge of deletion more than once. There are times when I wonder why I’m even doing this.

I thought about the broken promise to myself from 15 years earlier, yesterday, as I sat in a hospital awaiting word on a relative’s health condition. When good news arrived, I relaxed a bit and thought about what was important in achieving my goal.

I’m staring at these notebooks as if they were a house of cards. I hope I don’t pick the wrong one.

I’m lucky to have a wife that lets me have a girlfriend. These crazy robots aren’t going to publish themselves.

****blogger’s note***

This is my personal response to Write On Edge’s:  RemembeRED – Unfulfilled

Champagne Flute

In the morning, the bubbling glasses of champagne were flat and warm, scattered around without exuberant laughter and anticipation of the New Year filling the room with hope.

Welcoming in the new year brings resolutions and goals to the forefront of people’s minds; resolutions are written in secret or shouted from rooftops or proclaimed pointless.

Whether or not you’re clutching a scribbled copy of something you wrote at 11:55 p.m. on December 31st, it seems likely that, at some point, you set a goal for yourself that wasn’t realized in exactly the way you expected.

This week we’d like you to write a memoir piece about an unfulfilled goal or a broken resolution, beginning with the words, “I knew what I wanted”.

The word limit is 400 words.

 Today’s song is from the great Radiohead. It’s about an affair. It doesn’t end well. Hope mine has a better fate. Here’s House of Cards.