Steven & Kitty (a nugget of fiction)

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Winter.

Nine o’clock Saturday morning. Wind-driven mean cold washed through the streets of Pearl River. Winston’s Newsstand opened at five a.m. Seven days a week Steven Winston opens the shop promptly at five a.m. Steven is twenty-six. He is the fourth-generation owner. His great-great grandfather, Marcus Winston, opened the shop in 1918. After the great war.

Like most places in life, things you could really count on were often in short supply. However, residents of Pearl River could count on Winston’s Newsstand.

Winston’s Newsstand had the best coffee in town. Common knowledge. Marcus Winston used to say: “Life is tough enough. No one should be shorted on a good cup of coffee.”

No one argued.

Steven Winston was a stocky five six, dark chocolate eyes. Wore glasses, a reality he hated. He’d been next in line to run the family store, another reality he hated. It wasn’t that he hated the customers or his family or the store. What he hated was being stuck in Pearl River.

The only good thing about living in Pearl River was he was in love with Kitty Delia and she lived in Pearl River. He’d been in love with Kitty Delia since kindergarten. She was good enough to tolerate him back then. Kitty, with the famous Delia chestnut brown hair, then and now past her shoulders: thick, shiny, glorious waves. Good enough to eat. Her eyes dark, deep-set, glistening. Chocolate brown. Her face a soft oval, her lips, further evidence Michelangelo had ample reason to sculpt the human form. Now, at twenty-six, she was as beautiful as ever. More so in Steven’s eyes.

They had never been an item.

But toleration turned to a real friendship after Kitty’s house caught fire. Kitty was seventeen  and suffered third-degree burns on her left arm. Many neighborhood boys who’d nearly begged for the chance to go out with her disappeared,  some casting petals of pitiable expressions in their wake.

Not so Steven Winston.

He really did love her and care about her and made a point of visiting her in the hospital and when she was recovering at home.

The first time she put on a sleeveless dress after the fire, exposing her badly scarred arm, she called Steven and asked him to please come over. When he got there, she showed him her arm and asked him how she looked.

“Don’t lie to me, Steven. Tell me the truth.”

And he did. He told her the truth. “You look beautiful, Kitty.” He meant it.

“People are going to stare.”

“The hell with’m. Let’m stare. Hell, if those burn patterns were on canvas someone would call it a great abstract painting about the storms of life and pay millions for it!”

She laughed. “You know, you’re right.” She looked at her arm and said: “I name thee, Pompeii.”

He smiled. “You’re beautiful, Kitty.”

 

 

Marty & Sheila (a divertimento in the key of dialogue)

  • No, Sheila, it’s not that. I want to know for a couple a reasons.
  • More than a couple.
  • No doubt, no doubt. I just need to know if I am the only one in this experience. Think of it as an alignment thing. If I’m out here standing on a rock by myself, having this experience, okay. I’m not worried about me, per se, but it’d be helpful if I could understand how I got standing on this rock by myself. I’m in my sixties. The mind can go, you know. I’d like to try to keep mine in the front yard. If I’m not standing alone on the rock, or you’re in sight of it, how do you explain this?
  • We’re friends, close friends. What kind of rock is it? Is it a nice rock?

Marty’s knees (a romantice divertimento)

Marty knew it made no sense and couldn’t possibly be true. That it felt true was besides the point, (almost). Because oh man, were he to believe it, live it, and be wrong? That shit would knock him down. Like most, Marty was tired of getting up one way or another in life. I’ve donated enough to that cause. This is precisely what Marty thought when he realized some bizarre shit was going. Had to be. He’d fallen in love with Sheila and that couldn’t possibly be right. He’d known her for more than a decade for fuck’s sake. It wasn’t like her beauty — admittedly the kind known to buckle knees when first observed by even the most casual observer — was anything new to him. His rational side, what was left of it, understood this. But, there was a problem. You don’t know somebody for more than a decade for shit’s sake and suddenly, badabing-badaboom, you’re in love. It doesn’t work like that, or so he’d always thought, until now that is. Somehow and in some way she’d become an anomaly. What the fuck’s up with that? Had he missed something all these years? Did some part of his mind simply leave the area when he wasn’t looking, knocking his understanding of reality out of alignment? They need body shops for the mind, he thought, not for the first time.

And if all this wasn’t enough to make his head spin, a new Sheila reality was on the scene. She made his knees weak.

Relationship Jail Cells

Many years ago I wrote a script that went nowhere called It Was Your Heart I Wanted. The story was about a woman confronted with the possibility of entering a relationship but found herself fearfully hesitant because her last relationship had been such a brutal one. An all too common reason for hesitancy many have when facing the possibility of new love. And so, in a very real way, they are trapped in the jail cells of prior relationships. I called the piece It Was Your Heart I Wanted because I do believe most of us can say that and mean that when we enter into a relationship.

But there is another kind of relationship jail cell. The relationship we are are already in, we know are not happy, and yet we stay in them anyway. The love may be gone, if it was ever there, and the environment is toxic, but we stay. Blessedly, I am not in this situation and after nearly seven years of sobriety would disengage from a situation like this were I in one. But, believe me, I’ve been in toxic relationship jail cells before.

I know a few people who are in them now.

I know one extraordinary person who is an American History buff. I mean this is someone who really knows and loves American History. But their spouse stops them from any involvement with history clubs or other people who love history. I know another person who is in a relationship with someone they like but don’t love but figures the person is good to the kids so why not.

I level no harsh judgment towards anyone who is trapped by their history in a way that stops them from daring to love and daring to be loved. What I will say is this. All of us have the right to love and be loved, and no one’s history deserves so much say it stops them from experiencing the heart-and-soul wonder of a relationship that works gloriously, and believe me, there are relationships like this in the world. I know people who are in them.

I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll take the risk of loving and being loved. My history be damned. If the possibility of a deep-in-the-heart relationship is there, I don’t want to miss it, at least not because of my history.

Tell the Truth and Don’t Dribble

– She’s a kneebuckler, I’m sure of it.

– A what?

– Kneebuckler, you know kneebuckler?

– Not personally.

– No no. A kneebuckler is a woman so beautiful in who she is she buckles your needs. Retaining the ability to stand can be an issue.

– You mean it’s more than looks.

– Can be, of course.
– So meet her sitting down.

– That’s not all though.

– All what?

– That’s not all kneebucklers do to you.

– I don’t understand.

– When you meet someone you’re supposed to talk.

– That’s what they say.

– Who says?

– I don know, it’s an expression, that’s what they say, an expression.

– You’re supposed to talk –

– When you meet someone.

– Right. But if she’s a kneebuckler that can be difficult.

– Talking?

– Apparently you think I’m a kneebuckler because you’re not having an easy time talking yourself right now.

– I don’t think you’re a kneebuckler. Nobody’s think that.

– Then try concentrating on what I’m saying here.

– Okay.

– You meet a kneebuckler, retaining the ability to speak coherently is at risk.

– So what do you do?

– Try not to stare.

– That doesn’t make any sense, you have to look at her.

– I know I have look at her, but I don’t have to stare.

– Stare meaning…?

– Your eyes glaze over, you hope to God you’re not dribbling. And you try to remember to nod when she says something.

– What if she asks you a question?

– Tell the truth, always tell the truth.

– Tell the truth and don’t dribble.

– There ya go.

– Then maybe that’s the way you approach things like this.

– Tell the truth and don’t dribble.

– There ya go.
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