One bright morning last June, she tossed and turned in her sleep. Something crowding and intrusive clamored at her brain.
Her eyes opened to see six people in the room and some older guy in the corner observing.
“Who are you people? What are you doing here? Where did you come from? Why are you here?” Another dream; no need to panic.
A young man with longish hair sat crossed legged at the end of the bed glaring at her. She could tell he had more chutzpah than the rest of the group. “We’re your new characters and we want you to write our stories. I’m Joey.”
The woman wiped sleep from her eyes and squinted in the sunlight streaming through the small window high on the wall. “What the hell are you talking about? I do write sometimes but six new characters at one time…. and who the hell is the old guy standing in the corner near the closet?”
“I’m Nate,” he said, stepping away from the wall. “I own the deli where these, he spread his arms, young people meet on Saturday mornings. I make sure they keep in touch for their entire lives. I’m the glue that holds their stories together. I’m more important than any of the others.”
“Wha..wha… you mean I have to write a story about six people I’ve never met and carry them along for 30 years? You nuts or something?” The author, for that’s what she supposed she was, sat up, punched the pillow behind her, placed her glasses on her nose and stared at them.
Another young man, Black, dragged his eyes away from the window to the right of the bed. “Your neighbour there sure has been busy in his yard. I am Charles and of course you know us. We didn’t spring out from the thin air.” His disgusted tone was punctuated by his curled lip, not quite a sneer.
“Okay, then how do I know you?”
“I’m based on Charles from grade six who your friend Barbara had a crush on. Of course it was impossible. I’m Black, though we called it Negro in the 50s when the stories start. Her parents would never approve.” Charles chuckled quietly. “You write that I marry a white woman.”
A red-haired girl turned away from the window on the other side of the bed. The voice startled the sleepy woman who hadn’t noticed her. “And you know me. I’m you in fictitious form. You name me Carole, your middle name.” The bespectacled woman, gobsmacked, just stared.
Then she heard a voice in a foreign accent come from below. Craning her neck she pinpointed the sound from yet another youth sitting on the floor in the doorway. “I’m José and Hispanic.”
“Is that right? I don’t even speak Spanish.”
“Si. Writing my story will be a challenge.”
In a resigned tone, the woman replied. “I’m sure it will be.”
A blonde, stocky woman sat on the chair. She had moved the clutter of the writer’s husband’s clothing and they now lay piled on the floor. “I’m Laura and you do know what happens to me. Even though I’m not based on anyone you ever met.”
“Of course I do.” The bedroom’s owner fiddled with the blanket and didn’t look into Laura’s eyes.
Another voice came from the left. The author swiveled her head surprised to see a beautiful youth perched on the edge of the bed. His hair was similar to the writer’s devil character and his pools of deep brown eyes were also like Gideon’s. The boy looked at her with pleading eyes. “You thought of your old classmate Gene for me. I don’t know why. I’m nothing like Gene. But I beg you to talk about me with love and kindness.”
From below stairs, a voice roared into the room. “Are you coming down for breakfast or what?” She jumped out of bed and sped into the washroom. “I’ll be down in a minute!” She turned but the room had not changed. They were all still there chattering amongst themselves. She heard the words, “…have to convince her…” before she slammed the bathroom door. I hope they leave soon. I don’t want my husband to know what’s going on behind closed doors.
The diner’s door banged open and blew in a cold wind and a breathless Joey, glad for the shelter.
“Shit. It sure is miserable out there.”
Mopping his hair away from his eyes, he turned right and looked around at his friends seated in the large, red vinyl booth by the window.
Her fingers stilled. “Mopped? Is that the right word? Joey, why do you wear your hair so long?”
In mid motion he ceased wringing out his hair and glared. He sure glares a lot— must be his normal expression. “You stopped typing. What’s the matter now? I’m a J.D. I wear my hair long. I’m a bad kid. What’s your problem? Keep writing.”
“But you’re not a bad kid.” The typist furrowed her brows in concern. You’ve seen the end story I wrote. Why do you insist on playing the bad boy?”
“You know why. Continue writing.”
“You all sit in the same booth every week at the deli how come no one sits at the tables?” The scribe took a drag of her fag and watched the plume of smoke dissipate in the air while she waited for his reply.
Joey relaxed his stance threw up his hands in exasperation – “Nate, explain it to the dumb broad.”
Nate walked toward the front of the restaurant where Joe stood. “Now, now that’s not nice to call the author a dumb broad. Where are you manners?”
“I don’t have any. That’s why I’m the bad one.”
Laura yelled out – “Joey leave it go and close the damn door. We’re freezing in here.”
Joey scuffed over to the booth and sat giving Laura a nasty glare.
Charles smiled his sweet grin. “Joey you’re always late. It’s okay.”
Silence descended on the key board. “Why are you so sweet-tempered Charles? You’re always so patient even with Joey. Though sometimes not so much with me.”
“You know why. Remember what I was like in grade six. Something about me stuck with you.”
“Yeah okay.” Once more the keys danced.
Rain pounded and splattered in the street and against the glass panes providing back ground music for their vibrant voices.
Carole peeked over the author’s shoulder. “Hey that’s nice. You can write when you put your mind to it. Too bad your poetry muse is still MIA.”
“Gee thanks Carole. Coming from a car mechanic, not sure it’s much of a compliment.”
“Hey don’t give it away! That comes much later.”
Gene muttered, “I was late today too”
Laura’s eyes studied the muscular guy. “Yeah but when someone looks like you do they can get away with most anything.” Her hand snaked over to caress his face. Gene cringed further back into the seat.
The writer shook her finger at the blonde girl. “Behave yourself Laura. You can’t have everything you want, yet.”
“Ay dios mio. The crying you people do. If you want a sad story read mine. José’s soft eyes bore into Laura.
“Enough whining from all of you – José stop it and it’s time for your shift at the Cuban* restaurant.”
“I’m sick of all of you!”
“I give up. Never fight an inanimate object.”
The writer shut down the computer.
“Where’d you go?”
“You’re not done yet.”
“Come back here!”
“That’s not nice to shut down right in the middle…”
“Now who’s the one whining?”
Dedicated to Ruggi, another regular contributor to Blogophilia. He knows why
Blogophilia week 16.5 – “Behind Closed Doors” Bonus Points: (Hard, 2pts): use a quote from P.J. O’Rourke (Easy, 1pt): include a spring break destination * Many Canadian students go to Cuba for spring break