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Archive for March, 2012

Easter Sunday

 

Steven woke up earlier than normal and with an intense feeling of melancholy. Looking over at his alarm clock, which was illuminated by a ray of sunlight that was streaming in through a one inch margin of space between the black window curtains, hanging behind the bed’s headboard, on the right-hand side of the window frame. The time read 6 am. As Steven remained there in bed, he pondered the events he had scheduled for the day. In a few minutes he would be getting out of bed and knew that it meant he would eventually be facing the headstone over Mercedes’ grave. Steven made plans to accompany Susan to the Palm Sunday Mass at 5 pm and therefore had plenty of time to visit the cemetery; however, his mourning had begun last night. Moreover, he was not entirely comfortable with the idea of attending Mass with Susan at the same church in which he was married; he felt as though he was somewhat insulting the memory of his late wife. 

The one consolation was that his daughter and son-in-law had driven down the night before to spend Easter with him. He stomach was already craving the breakfast he had pre-planned the night before and thus became the innervating factor which gave life to his long legs. Steven stood up next to his bed, slipped his feet into their slippers, then headed over to the closet where he fetched his black Polo Ralph Lauren cotton robe with windowpane patterns and slipped it over his matching pajamas. One of the luxuries Steven indulged in was the finer clothes his salary afforded him; well worth the eight years he spent taking courses in college to earn his four degrees, all leading up to his Ph.D. in 20th Century American Literature.  

Upon entering the kitchen, Steven took out a bag of gourmet hazelnut coffee beans and opened the bag. The fresh aroma of the Arabica beans filled his nostrils with delight. Steven opened the coffee maker lid and continued to scoop five tablespoons of beans into the built-in grinder, filled the container with six cups of water, then pressed the start button. The grinder began shredding the beans into fine granules of coffee, then slowly brewed the steamy, hot water through the filter and down into the carafe. The room began to smell like an inviting café. Steven opened the stainless steel refrigerator door and took out a dozen organic eggs held in a brown, cardboard carton and placed them on the countertop. Then he extracted a thin, rectangular, yellow box with sausage links inside and set them next to the eggs, followed by a package of diced tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. He slid open a compartment which held packages of shredded cheddar cheese, sliced Muenster cheese, and a variety pack of sandwich meats, taking out the shredded cheese to use for the omelets he was about to prepare. Lastly, he opened the freezer and took out a package of frozen biscuits and removed four, which he then positioned an inch apart in two rows on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Everything was in place to begin working on his masterpiece. America joined her father in the kitchen.

“Look at you, working hard in the kitchen. Good morning, Daddy.” She leaned over and kissed Steven on the cheek.

“Good morning, sunshine,” he responded. “How’d you sleep?”

“Like a baby,” she replied. “It’s good to be home again. I’ve missed you, Daddy.” America walked over to where her father was busy mixing eggs and chopped veggies in a stainless steel bowl with a medium-sized whisk and wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug that melted Steven’s heart. He rested the whisk against the bowl for a second to pat her arms to gesture his appreciation of the embrace, then went back to cooking.  

Summoned by the commotion, Leo decided to join the family, “Buenos dias, everyone!” Leo was wearing a smile from ear to ear, and not much else. He wore a pair of light blue boxers and a white tank top. His dark, tan legs were covered with curly black hair that matched his muscular chest, broad shoulders and thick, toned arms. The tank top followed the contour of his ripped abs. Aside from spending most of his time at work Leo made it a point to spend the first two hours of the day at the gym. Making eye contact with her husband, America smiled and began walking over to greet him with a kiss.  

“Good morning, honey!” She welcomed his lips against hers for a kiss, her fingers running briefly through his hair. Then she turned back towards her father and escorted Leo to the breakfast bar where they sat down and waited for breakfast to be served.  

After breakfast, America and Leo left the house to make the usual rounds of visiting with friends and relatives. Whenever they drove down from Jacksonville for a weekend, they would start by checking in at Steven’s house, followed by a visit with Leo’s parents. Next, they would pick a restaurant on Lincoln Road in South Beach, generally somewhere between Washington and Michigan Avenues, to have lunch with some of their closest friends. Today they were going to have Sunday brunch at Nexxt Café with Leo’s brother, Sammy, his girlfriend Lazara, and America’s best friend, Sandra. Sammy had been telling his brother about the café and insisted they order their delicious buttermilk pancakes with sautéed bananas, pecans, drenched in a caramel topping. Everyone but Sandra ordered the same plate, who insistently held out for her favorite dish – strawberry French toast.  

 The group engaged in people watching as tourists strolled along Lincoln Road, shopping, dining, or searching for a hot spot watering hole where they could wet their palates. Lazara was “checking-in” on Facebook via her Iphone 4G network, while Leo was answering emails through his Ipad 3, which had not even hit the market, but was made available to him through an inside connection; he had a friend who worked in the corporate office – the VP of Development. The others were chatting about this-and-that.  

Meanwhile, Steven had already been over to the local floral shop on SW 8th Street and was headed over to the cemetery to place flowers at the family plot. He purchased white roses for his mother and father, and red roses for Mercedes. There were several people visiting the resting places of their loved ones today, something very common on Easter Sunday; otherwise, it was typically abandoned. Steven was surprised to see the condition of the property in good order. During his previous several visits, he had made notice of the consistent missing vases, presumably stolen, the dirty, or sometimes broken, plaques on the headstones, the overgrown lawns and weeds, all of which gave concern about the cause of such shoddy maintenance of the facility. Steven recalled filing complaints, both in writing and in online reviews, the latter of which was most likely the stimulus to incite the recent manicured landscaping. Finally the perambulators could appreciate a saunter past the cemetery.

Addressing his parents’ resting place, where he spent much time reflecting on his adolescence – one which consisted of salubrious memories of fishing, camping, horseback riding, canoeing, attending performing arts concerts, Christmas and Hanukkah celebrations, playing chess with his grandfather at the park, and numerous other recollections which amalgamated his mind, Steven presented the white roses to his beloved parents in honor of their lives, their love, and the wonderful memories they left behind. Wiping the tears from his sullen eyes, and with a heavy heart, Steven stepped sideways over to where his beloved wife was laid to rest.

Mercedes had a beautiful marble headstone which bore the Holy Cross at the center and was inscribed with the following epitaph:

“She filled every second of her life with laughter, love and happiness. The saddened hearts were healed in knowing the pain of life is over and the beauty of the soul revealed.”

Steven lingered at the site for hours, weeping and mourning his beloved Mercedes, the woman who gave him two decades of happiness, the woman who taught him to be a better person, the woman who had mothered his beautiful daughter, America. His mind was flooded with sweet memories and bitter-sweet regrets; there was so much more that he wanted to experience with her. Now he regretted not being more attentive to her passions and interests.  

“I’m sorry I was always so career-minded, honey. I know you wanted to explore the world. You had visions of walking the Great Wall of China and of experiencing a Chinese New Year Festival in Shanghai. You wanted to meet the Aborigines in Australia and hear first-hand accounts of their walk about. You wanted to spend a summer on a vineyard in the Tuscan region of Italy. But I didn’t let you do any of those things. And for that I’m eternally sorry, my love. If I could just go back in time I would make it up to you, I swear.”   

Steven paused for a moment to consider the dreams he recently had of her and decided to address her about them.  

“Honey, I’m not sure if you can hear me. But I want to ask you about the dreams I’ve had. I’m not even sure if it’s possible for someone to leave Heaven to visit their loved ones. But if possible, if what I think was a dream was somehow real, then you’ve got to visit me again. I can’t bear to be without you – and it’s been weeks since my last vision of you. Please, dear. Please come back to me. I miss you so much it hurts.”   

Steven knelt down beside the headstone and whispered to his wife.  

“I don’t know how long I can keep this up. My heart is in agony and I don’t think I’ll be here much longer without you. So, I’m worried about America. She seems happy and all. But things are bad down here. You know how many relationships end in divorce? Over fifty percent! That’s one out of every two. I just hope they’ll be able to sustain their marriage through these troubled times of apathy and self-indulgence. But I’ve got my own problems to consider, like being without you. Don’t worry about Susan, honey. She is trying to cultivate a relationship with me. I could never love another woman the way I still love you.”

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Hi Folks,

While I sat here writing the latest scene in chapter five, I was inclined to mimic my character and cook breakfast. Sir John Gielgud phrased it right when he postulated the question, “Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?” I think we do both. 😉

When I first decided to write this novel, around August of 2011, I thought it would be a clever idea to create a blog where friends and family could follow my progress as I delved into this new and exciting venture. I wanted to catalogue the ups and downs of writing and, selfishly, to have a form of accountability to keep me on-task. However, I’ve come to remind myself that I have not kept up my part of the bargain, that is to say I have not been posting the nuances of writing, the times were I have felt discouraged and insecure in my skills for writing. Nor have I shared the fun times of writing either, when ideas flow freely from my mind and I can’t seem to put the pencil down (or stop typing the many ideas which flutter my mind).

Sometimes I get so caught up in character development that I feel like I could get lost following one person for chapters, which is when I stop to reflect about the direction in which I pre-planned in my storyline. Sometimes I feel compelled to break away from it and go in a new direction. And to be honest with you, I have wondered off the reservation a bit. But I decided to follow my original storyline as best I can in order to finish this project in a timely manner, lest I get caught up in an ever-changing fictional story without end.

I say all of this because I feel like it’s high time I share some of these thoughts within the mind of the artist. On the outside, I am fighting a head and chest cold since last Friday (the worst part is that I’m on Spring Break from both work and university and stuck indoors.) My son, who is visiting me for the week, has been very attentive and caring; for which I am most grateful. As I write, I am slowly sipping on a warm cup of green tea.

(taking a sip)

Here’s a picture of my workstation where much of the writing/posting takes place:

As you can see, it’s a bit of a mess.

Well, I’m eager to finish writing the segment I’m working on so I will bid you all a great day! Stay tuned for my next post which will include more of Faithfully soon.

Cheers!

Jack Morgan

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Saturday Morning

 The moment I woke up this morning I could sense there was something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I had a strange dream of seeing my boyfriend kissing someone else; it was awful to watch – it felt like I was standing right there across from them, but they couldn’t see me. At first I wasn’t sure if it was James, but then as I got closer, I could see that it was definitely him. I wish I could have seen who the girl was. That’s why I’m so confused about the dream; I’m not sure if it was some kind of premonition or a manifestation of a hidden insecurity that I’ve been harboring in my subconscious mind. I think some music would be soothing to my soul right about now.

Kristen reached for a grey and black remote control resting upon one of the two single-drawer Senopati night stands adjacent to her queen-sized bed, all of which she acquired from a local Pier One Imports furniture store. Kristen admired the hand-crafted mahogany, bamboo and rattan headboard, which had been imported from Indonesia, so much that she decorated her room around it. A matching bench, positioned at the foot of her bed, gave the room a palatial, yet exotic, feel. A six-drawer dresser and Batik lingerie chest, also imported from Indonesia, crested with colorful drawings of flowers and dragonflies, completed the ensemble of furniture.

Standing in the corner of the entrance to her walk-in closet was an oversized, flared-top bamboo laundry basket, which was partially concealed by a six foot tall Indian “Bollywood” themed dressing screen which filled the area with complimentary earth tones of red, orange, beige, blue, and brown. In front of the screen, there was a large fluffy, puffy, quilted Indian sitting pillow. The bed’s pillow-top mattress was adorned in white pin-stripe Ralph Lauren fitted bed sheets and covered by a 600 thread count, white goose down comforter, fit for a queen. 

With the remote in hand, Kristen depressed the red power button. The stainless steel face of the stereo, now illuminated in neon blue lighting, gave life to the sleek, modern electronic equipment. Kristen pressed the CD button and selected disk three. The sound of shifting was heard for a few seconds before the disk was fully loaded, then the countdown clock followed the song’s timing with the start of the first track, a song called Turning Tables. The mellow, yet somber melody of the piano began streaming across the air and into the heart of Adele’s one-woman audience.

What if James met someone at the party last night? He could have had too much to drink. ‘Alcohol always corrupts a man’, that’s exactly what my Grandmother used to say to my Mom when my Grandfather had too much scotch to drink. We’ve been together for two years now; he wouldn’t throw that away, would he? Think about it, Kristen! He has been hanging out with his friends more than he has with you lately. Maybe he’s grown bored of me. This sucks! How could he betray me? I’ve given him the best of me. Okay, Kristen. Don’t get too carried away, at least not yet. Just pick up the phone and call him.

Kristen reached for her cell phone, sitting on the night stand by the remote control, unplugged it from the charger, and dialed Jason’s number. After three rings, he picked up the call.

Good morning, sunshine! Are you awake yet, sleepyhead? How are you feeling this morning? Got a little bit of a hang over? I’m fine, I’m just worried about you. I just woke up a few minutes ago and wanted to hear your voice. How was the party last night? Oh really? Who all was there? Um, no, I don’t think I’ve met them. Did you see my friends there? Sarah, Ashley and Nikki said Parker invited them, so I assumed they were going. Oh yeah? So they did go, that’s cool. I wish I could’ve gone. My Mom had me on lock down for this report, she totally crushed my plans.

Well at least you guys had fun. What time did you get home? Oh really? So what were you doing up so late? Did you dance with anyone? Or should I say, who did you not dance with last night? I know you, mister. You danced with Sarah? Oh, that’s cool. What about Ashley? Ashley Scott or Ashley Shakelford? Yes, there is a big difference. Ashley Scott is twelve years old, she’s incapable of being bad even if she wanted to. It wasn’t Ashley Scott. I’m asking because Ashley Shakelford is such a big flirt most of the time. Yeah, we’re friends. But I’ve seen the way she looks at you. It’s like she wants to eat you with her eyes or something.

Yes, she does. You don’t notice? I’m NOT imagining things! I know what I see when I see it. Whatever, James. I was just asking if you danced with her is all; I wasn’t accusing you of sleeping with her or anything. Geez! You don’t have to get so defensive. Forget I even asked. Change of subject, what are we doing today? What? That’s great. We haven’t been alone one day this week and you’re going boating with your friends? Seriously, James, I don’t know why we’re still dating. Because, you never have time for us anymore. You always have something going on with your friends, or basketball practice, or something for yourself; it’s always about you. You only go out with me when it’s convenient for you. I don’t know anymore. Tomorrow I have to go to church with my parents, then we’re having lunch at Red Lobster. After that, I don’t know; I’ll think about it.

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Hello friends! Here’s a glimpse of the chapter I’m currently working on, I hope you like it. While you might disagree with the activities which transpire, keep in mind that it’s symbolic of the events which happen every day in our culture. There’s a moral to the story in the end, so stick with it folks, I think you’ll enjoy (or hope you’ll appreciate) the full story in its entirety. I know I will – this work of passion is a delightful journey for me, for you too hopefully. Happy reading!

Cheers!

Jack Morgan

 Chapter Five: Moonlight Romance

When I woke up this morning, I felt like such a loser. Why did I make out with Ashley last night? What was I thinking? No, really. What was I thinking? I can’t remember. I went to a party at Parker’s house.  There was a lot of booze and a lot of people. I felt cramped so I went outside to get some fresh air. The DJ was playing Some Kind of Wonderful by Michael Bublé. Ashley Shackelford and Nicole Holland were talking to some guys by the pool; I think they were in college because they looked older than the guys in school.

I walked over to say hi to Parker Scott and Tyler Withersby, whom were drinking what I later discovered to be whiskey sour on the rocks – that’s one of the reasons why my head is pounding this morning. I remember noticing that Ashley was checking me out. I mean, she was practically devouring me with her eyes. And the way she said hi to me as I was passing by was like a seductive invitation to be seduced by her. I got really sexually aroused when I passed her because she was wearing a very sexy silver sparkling dress.

I think she wasn’t wearing any negligee underneath because I was scoping her up and down and I didn’t see any lines anywhere. I think she caressed my hand when I passed by her. But I can’t remember everything yet, my recollection of everything is kind of blurry. I can’t describe the way I felt at that moment, but it was like I wanted to talk to her last night because it was so tempting. I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but the thought of doing it with her felt naughty and kinky. Okay, I remember what happened next. I was getting a drink at the bar, a whiskey sour, when she came up next to me and ordered a pomegranate martini. She skipped the small talk and went straight to the point. “I heard your girlfriend couldn’t make it here tonight,” she said.

“Nope,” I said. “Her parents are making her work late tonight on some project for school.”

“Well, her loss is our gain,” she said. “I don’t want to compromise you, but I can’t resist the urge to want to dance with you tonight. So, how about a private dance?” she said.

“Private?” I said. “Where are we going to find somewhere private in this place with all of these people here tonight?” I said.

“Easily,” she said. “The ideal place is right here. Meet me in the cabana house in twenty minutes,” she said. “And bring a bottle of champagne.

That was it! That’s pretty much the moment I knew when it was going to go down between me and Ashley, there was no turning back. I asked the bartender for a bottle of champagne and he hooked me up with a bottle of Moet. Parker’s folks must have reached deep into their pockets to spring for this event. I gave the bottle to Parker and asked him to take it to the cabana for me; I needed to be as discrete as possible about meeting up with Ashley – and Parker was able to help me do that because no one would think anything about him walking into the cabana with a bottle.

The last thing I wanted was word getting out that I was seen with another girl at the party. I trusted Parker with my life. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for me, and vice-versa. We’ve known each other since we were five, when we met in elementary school. His family was like my second family and mine was his. But we really didn’t become good friends until middle school, that’s when our parents became good friends too. We went on vacations together, spent holidays at each other’s homes, birthdays; …the whole nine yards – like one big family.

But getting back to Ashley: I remember watching Parker take the bottle to the cabana, then return empty handed. Then I saw a cluster of people slowly gather in front of the cabana at the outdoor lounge and fire pit; it was totally an awesome feature of the patio, something you’d see on HGTV. Some of the guests decided to dance to Let There be Love by Chris Botti and Michael Bublé. The ambience was perfect.

I walked over to the crowd and socialized with a few of Parker’s guests whom I hadn’t met before; there were members of his parent’s country club, from the ballroom dance academy where he was taking lessons – girls who were super hot and toned, and some of our mutual friends from school.  In the mixing and mingling, I noticed Ashley slipping into the cabana. She winked at me while she pulled the door closed.

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