I am the first one to the Layover Suite, which is no surprise; I’m always the first one here. I switch on the lights and open the blinds. It’s about 3:30pm in Los Angeles.
We’re not supposed to be here at this time; we should be down on the platform, waiting for the train. But we don’t go; we know it won’t come. Since France and Germany are both asleep, there’s little reason to go to the platform anymore. They are our best bet these days, yet even they have started leaning towards conventional.
The recession in America is lasting longer than anyone expected. That coupled with the impending national election, has the country being pulled apart once again. You’re lucky to get a group of Americans to agree on anything, let alone something that doesn’t fit neatly into a preconceived notion. No, we will all be here for a while longer.
“Mr. Taylor, how do you do? My name is Mr. Trent. I’m the Lead assigned to your Experience.” Trent walked in, extending his hand to a rumpled Mark Taylor filling up the entirety of an oversized chair. “Has someone offered to get you something to drink?”
Mark nodded, “Yes, thank you. I mean, they offered… but I said no. Maybe I should have some coffee?”
Mr. Trent shook his head slightly.
“I… I didn’t sleep much last night.” Mark added nervously.
“Is this room acceptable?” the other man asked.
“Uh… yes. I guess. I didn’t really understand what they were asking about the rooms.”
“We offer several different environments for your Experience. We suggest the environment in which you would likely feel most comfortable.” Mr. Trent explained.
“Oh, well, this one is fine.” Mark said looking around. He laughed once, “It looks like my shrink’s office.”
Mr. Trent looked at Mark intently. “I can show you some other rooms.”
To know Shakespeare’s words – to truly live them, you must drink them in, swirl them around like intellectual mouthwash and allow the greatness to run down your throat, filling every cell of your being with the heartburn of his genius. Some spit out the heady liquid into a spittoon of ignorance, followed by a swig of mind-numbing pablum to remove the lingering taste of the mysterious and, to them, the forever unknowable.
Shakespeare is no franchise, dear Reader; he is a singly owned, top of the line, trendy boutique that never closes.
To demonstrate Shakespeare’s luminosity, I present the Tome of Preeminence that is: Macbeth, the Naughty Scot. Stick with me, dear Reader, and remember: what doesn’t give you a migraine makes you insufferably literary.
Nicole wasn’t a big fan of her name, something she was reminded of every time she said it aloud. She didn’t hate it; it just lacked a sense of the exotic – much like her. Her family called her Nic, which was okay, although she thought it sounded too masculine when outsiders said it. She could have gone the Nicky route. Nicky would have been peppy and maybe worn a side ponytail and made sad faces when she told other girls they didn’t make the cheerleading team. At the very least Nicky would have dated a jock and worn his letterman jacket. She could never pull Nicky off. Nicky hesitated to give an opinion and that was something Nicole never did.
Nicky would still wear the same size as she did in high school though, that’s for sure.
“Listen, Di, I know you’re busy but I’m in a real pinch here,” Amy said through the phone.
“What’s up?” Diana asked while holding her index finger in the air to indicate she would return to the clients in front of her shortly.
“I need you to pick up Therese. I’m in Northbrook and won’t get back in time.”
Diana and Amy started down a familiar path of excuses and pleading that both knew would end with Diana flying off to get Therese despite her protests. Thirty minutes later, the Blumes were shaking Diana’s hand and thanking her for all her hard work. Diana was effusive as she struggled with her coat. She threw her purse on her car’s passenger seat where it tipped, spilling the contents onto the floor. She groaned and pulled out of her parking space more quickly than she should have.
Amy was a blast but she had to get her shit together when it came to scheduling.
An editor of See You There magazine held two stories in his hand. One was about an actress named Shelton Wade and the other was about a TV star, Krystal Adams. The editor called in a columnist passing by.
“Hey, Jane – help me with this. I need a filler piece to follow the Espinoza’s divorce drama article. Here I have that Shelton chick’s new house. I think it was once Orlando Bloom’s bachelor pad or something, okay?” He put one set of sheets down and picked up the other. “Over here I have Krystal Adams doing a vodka launch. It’s not her line, she’s just there. What’s His Name isn’t there but she is falling out of her dress and I have some shots of her dancing provocatively with another guest – which should I go with?”
“Shelton,” Jane said.
“Okay, but the other guest Krystal is grinding against is a porn star,” the editor added.
Jane took the photos and pursed her lips as she looked at them.
“Yeah, I’m still going with Shelton. She just got a part in the new Malick film – doesn’t deserve it, but got it. Krystal can’t even get arrested,” she said, handing the photos back to him.
The editor put the Krystal piece in the drawer. “Okay, Shelton it is.”
In Krystal Adams’ bathroom, Krystal herself let out a deafening scream as a deep line etched itself to the left of her mouth.
Three days ago, Christopher had pointed his truck towards the inside of the United States and driven it until it stopped, which was here. He had no idea how far he had gotten nor had he noted the state markers as he passed them. His location didn’t matter; his would be an unmarked grave wherever his body fell. He left the keys in the ignition and removed the shotgun from the back rack.
His ambling route had taken him through many of the towns that had been abandoned over the last few decades. Every year cities were being reclassified by the census bureau to “Uninhabited.” Living cities were being stretched to capacity with hoards of people fleeing their homes without giving much in the way of explanation.
Strangely, Christopher’s hometown was still a living city in which he could no longer live.
He refueled enough times to be truly lost – only purchasing gas if there was a working station nearby when the truck ran out. Coughing its last gasp of fuel here, the truck came to a standstill. There was no working anything, only carapaces of beautiful homes, some with their front doors standing wide open. In the middle of the eerily quiet residential street, Christopher reviewed the neighborhood and selected a house that vaguely resembled the county library from his hometown. He went in, leaving the doors open in the hope that his blood would attract a few of the animals.
Many years ago, during high school, I helped my girlfriend Samantha and her mother Barbara with their garage sale. Barbara, an admirer of antiques, had carefully scoured sales such as hers to decorate her house. Her prized possession was a marvelous oak queen-sized bed, lavish in its intricately carved design. Alas, having recently remarried a man who stood 6’5”, with a son on the way and a newly purchased home, a queen bed would no longer suffice and all was to be sold.
In great condition, the bed was priced accordingly.
Barbara would not budge on the price, not for anyone. Soon after the garage sale got into full swing, a lovely lady perusing the wares stopped short upon seeing the bed. Barbara and the lovely lady spoke animatedly about its beauty and Barbara desperately wanted her to have it; but the price was prohibitive.
A relationship with a mistress is a labyrinth of emotional pitfalls. Your heart can surge in a moment, only to be mutilated in the next.
She can vex you again, and again, until there is little heart left.
In the wake of her loss, you selfishly lean on your spouse; who can do no more than shake his head. You beg him to pick up the pieces your mistress left strewn about. But of course your spouse won’t help; he has no compassion for you. You asked for this. You returned to her. This is your choice.
But it is not a choice. It is a bond forged before even your first breath. You stood before God and vowed to stay with your spouse until death. But the vow you made to your mistress was made in silence – carved, not signed.
Her grip on you can be as icy as it is intoxicating.