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The Scriptwriter







By Robert Trainor



Copyright 2018

By Robert Trainor



Smashwords Edition



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A Man’s a Man for All That





By Robert Burns



Is there for honest poverty

That hangs his head and all that

The poor man—we pass him by

We dare be poor to all that!

For all that and all that

Our toils obscure and all that

The rank is but money’s stamp

The man’s the gold for all that



What though on homely fare we dine

Wear coarse grey and all that

Gives fools their silk and knaves their wine

A man’s a man for all that

For all that and all that

Their tinsel show and all that

The honest man though ever so poor

Is king of men for all that



You see yon fellow called a lord

Who struts and stares and all that

Though hundreds worship at his word

He’s but a fool for all that

For all that and all that

His ribbon, star, and all that

The man of independent mind

He looks and laughs at all that



A prince can become a knight

A marquis, duke, and all that

But an honest man is above his might

Good faith—he mustn’t fail that

For all that and all that

Their dignities and all that

The pith of sense and pride of worth

Are higher rank than all that



Then let us pray that come it may

(As come it will for all that)

That sense and worth over all the earth

Shall bear the prize and all that

For all that and all that

It’s coming yet for all that

That man to man, the world over

Shall brothers be for all that



CHAPTER ONE: AN UNKNOWN AND TROUBLED COMMODITY



Late on a summer afternoon, I drove from my motel to a famous art museum that was located in northern New York along the shores of Lake Calumet. I’d been vacationing in the area for a few days, and before I returned to Massachusetts, I made the almost obligatory sojourn to the Perryman Art Gallery, which was world renowned for its extensive collection of paintings that traversed virtually every style and every century and every medium—at least that’s what the twenty-dollar brochure for the museum claimed.

I use the word obligatory because not only was I an amateur artist, but some of my friends were also artists, so naturally, it would have been rather odd if I had avoided the museum, but to tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that keen to pay the fifty-dollar admission fee plus the twenty-five dollar parking fee so that I could wander around and admire paintings from the past.

My lack of enthusiasm was probably just a case of having slept wretchedly the night before, along with the usual pangs of professional jealousy that I almost always felt when I saw the work of another artist. I suppose it was nothing but the manifestation of subconscious prejudice, but I almost always felt that my paintings were far superior to those that I encountered in museums. That’s the trouble with being an artist—you put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into a painting, and afterwards, it’s hard to accept the fact that the appraisal of a work of art is dependent on a lot of things that have nothing to do with the actual merit of a painting. My writing friends tell me that it’s even worse in the literary world where best sellers are created not by literary merit but by the powers of advertising.

I was standing in front of a Van Gogh painting, but I had pretty much daydreamed my way back into my day-to-day reality in Boston where I was still hoping that the woman I had been obsessed with for the past three years, Zena Lambert, would finally show some real interest in me.

“Hello!” said a pleasant voice that immediately distracted me from my reverie about Zena.

I turned to my right and saw a younger woman, maybe twenty-two or three, with curly dark blond hair that fell to her shoulders and bright vivid blue eyes. She was somewhat short, maybe five feet three, and was wearing black jeans, a green blouse, and a wide-brimmed straw hat. When my gaze met hers, she stared at me inquisitively for a moment before turning her gaze towards the Van Gogh.

“I don’t think I like him so much,” she said.

“Why’s that?” I said.

“I like paintings that are a little more direct—I think delineation is the word.”

“Are you talking about paintings that remind you of photographs?”

“I guess you could say that,” she said. “I mean, I’m not one to talk because I’ve never tried to paint anything since the sixth grade.”

I thought it was odd that a woman of her age would strike up a conversation with a guy who was almost ten years older than her. “Do you live around here?” I said.

She gave me a strange smile before she said, “You might say that, but then again, you might not. What’s your name, anyways?”

“Brian.”

“My name is Anita,” she said, as she walked up to the painting and studied it closely. Only now did I notice that she had a rather large backpack strapped to her back. “All this stuff in here is so weird,” said Anita. “I can’t imagine sitting around and painting things like this—the only reason I ended up here is because my grandmother gave me a ticket a while back, and I thought I should use it before I disappeared.”

She turned her gaze from the painting and walked back towards me. After a few moments, I said, “You’re disappearing?” What, I wondered, did that mean?

Before saying anything, she stared into my eyes for a couple of seconds. “Yes,” she said, “I think I’d better. Otherwise, who knows?”

On the surface, at least, Anita seemed like a reasonable, well-grounded person, but by now, I was beginning to wonder. It’s not every day that a woman comes up to me and says that she’s disappearing.

“Do you feel like going outside?” she said. “It’s so stuffy in here—this place reminds me of the nursing home my grandmother lives in--only here, there are a lot more paintings on the walls. You’re about the only young person I’ve seen in here—that’s why I came up to you.”

Anita and I walked out the front entrance and ended up sitting on a bench in a small park that was adjacent to the museum. As we walked to the park, Anita seemed to be deep in thought and didn’t say anything until we were seated on the bench. “I don’t really want to disappear,” she said, as if to herself, “but I think I have to.”

“What’s the matter?” I said.

“It’s because of my boyfriend—I think he wants to kill me. Or maybe he doesn’t want to kill me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.”

This kind of drama was a little bit more than I had bargained for when I bought my ticket to the museum. What did this woman want from me? And, as my mind raced ahead with an obvious paranoid fantasy, what if her boyfriend decided to include me as he doled out his retribution to Anita?

“Maybe,” she said, in a shy way, “you could be my protector.”

“Ahh…no, I don’t think so.”

“You’ll just throw me to the wolves?” There was an earnest expression on her face that was difficult for me to ignore.

“I mean…what can I do?”

“You could,” she said, “be my knight in shining armor. Haven’t you ever done that for a woman in your life? Wouldn’t you like to do that for me?”

I looked into her eyes for a few moments, but in the end, I averted my gaze without saying anything.

“Look,” she said, “couldn’t you at least give me a ride somewhere? I don’t even have enough money for a bus fare.”

“Where would you like to go?” I said.

“Anywhere—it doesn’t matter.”

“OK, tomorrow, I’m driving to Boston, so—”

“That’s where you live?”

“Yes, so I could give you a ride to anyplace between here and Boston. We could meet here around nine tomorrow morning.”

“That’s good,” she said, “but I don’t have any place to stay tonight.” Anita reached into her pocket and pulled out a five-dollar bill, two one-dollar bills, and some change. Looking down at it, she said, “This is it—the sum total of my worldly possessions. I have some clothes and stuff in my backpack as well as quite a few things at the apartment, but I can’t go back there anymore.”

“What about your parents?”

“I’m a runaway. I left home when I was thirteen and don’t even know where they live anymore. I’ll be honest with you, Brian—the reason I came up to you in the museum is because I’m really desperate, and you look like an OK guy. I know you’re probably spooked because of all the things I’m saying, but…I guess I could hitchhike out of here, but nobody picks up hitchhikers nowadays, or if they do pick up someone like me, who knows how that’s going to turn out? Plus, my boyfriend is probably out searching for me in his car. You don’t know how desperate I am—I feel like some little animal that’s trying to cross an expressway while the cars are roaring by every which way.”

Anita put her hands over her face and began to sob in a gentle way. After a few seconds, she looked up at me and said, “I keep having this premonition that I’m going to die—the other night. I had a dream where I was stabbed to death with a knife—there was blood everywhere.”

“Your boyfriend would really do something like that to you?” I said.

“I just found out…somebody told me that he might have murdered his last girlfriend. But if he did, I think he would have shot her because he’s always bragging about this gun that he owns. But…I don’t want to talk about him right now. OK?”

I still didn’t want to commit myself. I’ve never been one to trust strangers--it wasn’t that I sensed Anita was lying, but she might be for all I knew. It was all very perplexing to me—from out of nowhere, as I was minding my own business in an art museum, life had tossed me this unexpected problem. Because, right now, Anita seemed more like a problem than anything else.

In a gentle voice, Anita said, “Do you know this area at all?”

“No,” I said, “it’s the first time I’ve ever been around here.”

“It’s very rural—I’m sure you’ve seen that. It’s kind of odd that they built an art museum here—I’ve heard that a rich woman who lived in the next town died back in the seventies and left all her money so that the museum could be built. Have you been to Harrisville?”

“No, I’m staying at a motel in Culver.”

“Culver is a big deal with the locals—it must have a population of at least twenty thousand. There’s an old general store that’s been there for a couple of hundred years and most everybody likes to hang out at the place. The problem for me is that everybody knows everybody and gossip spreads real fast. I know Jake is looking for me—that’s why I came to the museum because this is about the last place that he’d look for me. He’s the kind of guy who would feel contaminated if he walked into an art museum. But I know he’s out looking for me because that’s the kind of person that he is.”

“Why’s he so mad at you?” I was stalling for time as I tried to figure out what to do with her. I had this bizarre wish that someone else would come along, some friend of Anita’s, and take her off my hands. I just didn’t want to get involved with such an unknown and troubled commodity. I know that sounds rather heartless, but I’m sure a lot of people would react the same way. They’d probably try to ease their conscience by telling Anita that she should go to the police, but if Jake hadn’t actually done anything to her yet, then that wouldn’t help much.

“Jake is…it’s a lot of things, Brian. He used to be a fairly decent guy, but then he got involved in cocaine and started hanging out with some really bad people. This whole area is drowning in coke and pills and unemployment. And…then all these things happened, which I don’t feel like talking about right now.”

Suddenly, Anita jumped off the bench, turned away from me, and went behind a large oak tree that was about twenty feet away. Occasionally, I could see her peer out from behind the trunk of the tree, and when I turned and looked in the direction that Anita was looking, I could see two men who were standing about a hundred feet from us. They were both smoking cigarettes and seemed to be having an argument. Finally, after another couple of minutes, they split up with one of them heading to the parking lot while the other guy went in the opposite direction towards the main road.

After they had vanished, Anita reappeared. As she sat down beside me, she was quite fidgety and appeared to be frightened. “Can’t we get out of here, Brian, and go somewhere? The guy who walked down to the parking lot is one of Jake’s dealer friends. I’m scared—real scared. As scared as I’ve ever been in my life.”

A lot of things were going through my mind. Maybe I could forgo my last night at the motel and leave town immediately, with Anita, and return to Boston. But since it was already five-thirty, I wasn’t in the mood for a very long drive, mostly at night, back to Boston. It was now that something that had been mostly in my subconscious came floating up into my consciousness. If Anita stayed with me at the motel tonight, what would be the sleeping arrangement? There was only one bed in the room plus a couple of chairs. Anita was attractive, but it seemed like a dangerous kind of attractiveness. Maybe I only felt that way because of all the things that she had told me about herself, but still…the sandy blond hair that fell to her shoulders, the inviting and sensuous lips, the way she maneuvered her body around on the bench so that sometimes she came quite close to me, while at other times, she drew away as if I had disappointed her. Those vivid, piercing blue eyes…the obvious desperation…the kind of fierce hunger she seemed to have for me to protect her—everything about her made me hesitant to make any kind of commitment to her. It was all very confusing to me, and I had this persistent feeling that I was being dragged into something that I should avoid.

“Please, Brian,” she said, “don’t throw me to the wolves. I’m begging you…I’m begging you with all my heart to help me. Just for tonight—just until we get to Boston.”

“OK,” I said, “I’ll do what I can for you.”

“So…can you drive me to Boston tonight?”

“I could, but I’d rather not. I’ve got another day left at the motel, and I don’t feel like driving that far tonight—it’s almost four hundred miles and takes about six hours.”

“I can stay with you at the motel?”

“If you like.”

“I don’t really have a choice, Brian. It’s either that or I sleep on this bench, and with the way that the mosquitoes are this year, there might not be much left of me in the morning.” With a kind of odd smile and a wink, she said, “Are you planning on taking advantage of me?”

“No, I wouldn’t—no.”

“You could if you wanted to—it would be kind of like having me pay for the ride. It’s alright with me if that’s what you want to do.”

It had been quite a while since I had gone to bed with a woman—like a little over three years. But I was far too wary of Anita to cross that threshold—who knew where it might lead to? “I don’t think so,” I said; “we’ve only known each other for about an hour.”

“True,” she said reflectively, “but I am grateful to you for not throwing me to the wolves. I wouldn’t mind showing my appreciation—don’t worry, I won’t ask you for anything else.”

“Let’s not talk about it,” I said.

Anita reached down and plucked a long blade of grass from beside the bench and put it between her teeth. “Why not?” she said in a whimsical way. “I guess…maybe you’re afraid of me?”

“Some…like I said, I don’t know you at all, and it makes me kind of wary.”

“Ah yes, I’m the evil woman who’s spinning her web.” She had a pleasant smile on her face as she said this. “Maybe I shouldn’t say something like this,” she said, “but having sex with strangers is a good bonding experience. Actually, it’s probably a better bonding experience with strangers than it is with those who you’ve gone to bed with before.”

I looked at her and smiled. “Let’s get out of here, Anita.”

“By all means,” she said. “The farther I get away from this place, the better.”



CHAPTER TWO: MEMOIRS OF A WAYWARD CHILD





On the way back to the motel, I stopped at a convenience store and bought some food for the two us, which we ate in my motel room. Anita and I were both famished, so it didn’t take us long to wolf down our dinners. I had been planning on going into Culver and eating at a restaurant there, but Anita was still acting like her life was in danger, so any trips outside the motel were not an option for her. She had even used one of my jackets, which was on the back seat of the car, to cover her face as she dashed into the motel. But once she was inside the room, she seemed to relax some.

I had bought a six pack of beer, so after our makeshift, bandit-like dinner, I asked her if she wanted a beer. “Trying to get me liquored up, are you?” she said, in a joking way. “Luckily, you don’t have to worry about my age--I’m old enough to consent to just about anything.”

“How old are you?” I said.

“Twenty-two, but I’ll be twenty-three in a month. How about you?”

“Thirty-one.”

“So I guess you have a lot more experience than I do.”

“I don’t know how much help experience is,” I said.

“When you don’t have it, you miss it,” said Anita. “I know a lot of my mistakes have come from inexperience. I’m always jumping into things that turn out badly—I suppose by the time I’m your age, I’ll be a timid old soul. By the way—I never asked you: Do you have a girlfriend?”

“Sort of.”

Anita gave me a funny squint—as if she were a detective trying to unravel a complex mystery. “I wonder what that means?” she said, in a reflective way.

I finished off my beer and opened a second one. “Well?” she said. “You haven’t answered my question. What’s her name, anyways?”

“Zena.”

“That’s a strange name.”

“Zena isn’t her real name,” I said. “Her real name is Stacy.”

“Then why do you call her Zena?”

“That’s what she wants to be called—the word Zena actually means a child of Zeus, which was the name of the God in the ancient Greek religion.”

“So I guess Zena is a goddess,” said Anita. “Maybe I should change my name--Anita is like a name that should be given to grandmothers.”

“I don’t think it’s a bad name.”

“So what’s Zena like?” said Anita. “Is she really beautiful?”

“Yes, she is, but I’d rather not talk about her.”

“How come you don’t want to talk about her? I’m not trying to pry into your life or anything, Brian; I’m just curious—that’s all.”

“I don’t really like to talk about her because…”

“Because why? Are you ashamed of her or something?”

“No, not at all—I just don’t like to talk about her with other people.”

“Would she be upset if she found out that you and I were having a conversation in your motel room? And that, afterwards, I’d be spending the night in your motel room?”

I laughed. “Probably.”

“Only probably? That’s interesting.” Anita finished her beer, and I opened up another one for her. “Brian,” she said, “I can see that there’s only one bed here. What are we going to do about that?” She was looking at me with wide-open eyes and a curious look.

“I don’t know,” I said. “What do you think?”

“I think we should cut the bed in half and move each side to the opposite ends of the room.” Anita laughed at her joke before she said, “You didn’t happen to bring a saw with you, did you?”

“No, I don’t carry those when I travel.”

“Well, Brian, unless you make me sleep in one of these chairs, I think it’s going to be a crowded bed tonight.”

“The bed is plenty big enough for two.”

“I can see that, but what about Zena? I have a feeling she’s going to be taking up a lot of space—she’ll be between us, and I can already tell that she’ll be putting up a force field to keep us apart. But maybe we could figure out a way to break through the force field. What do you say?”

“I don’t think so,” I said.

“Why not?”

“It just doesn’t feel right to me.”

Anita sighed. “Such a fuddy-duddy. But it’s OK, Brian—I can see that you mean well, but…never mind. It’s not fair to try to talk you into something that you don’t want to do. Anyways, it’s been a long day for me—what do you say we finish these beers and then lie down and watch some TV before we go to sleep?”

“Sounds good to me,” I said. “What are you planning to do when we reach Boston?” The reason I asked her this question was because I wanted to make sure that she wasn’t going to try to cling onto me.

“I have no idea,” said Anita. “That’s been kind of a cloud that’s been hanging over me ever since you offered to drive me there. It’ll be scary when I get out of your car and start walking down the street with my backpack and seven dollars. But I’ve done that before—when I was fifteen, I took all my money and bought a bus fare from California to New York City where I arrived with exactly fifty-five cents in my pocket. And boy oh boy, when that bus landed at the terminal, I was one scared kitten when I got off the bus. Like where was I going to go? I couldn’t just stand there by the bus—I had to actually go somewhere. It was such a strange feeling.”

“So what did you do?”

“I left the terminal and went out on the main street and after a while—it was around five o’clock on a summer afternoon—I came to this park where a lot of people were hanging out. So I just sat down on a bench and put up a big sign that said HELP ME! It wasn’t a real sign, of course, but if you believe that people can see things that aren’t really there, it was real enough.”

“It must be weird to have no place to sleep at night.”

“I know all about it,” she said. “This could be my last night under a roof for a while.”

“So what happened while you were sitting in the park?”

“It was kind of strange because I was picked up by a lesbian. That was something…it wasn’t very enjoyable for me, but she wasn’t violent towards me or anything. After about a week, she threw me out of her place because she said that I didn’t turn her on, but by then, I knew my way around a little bit and ended up in a homeless shelter for a few weeks before I got this god-awful job for minimum wage as a dishwasher at a greasy place on the outskirts of Harlem. Actually, the manager of the place was a gross, foul-smelling white guy who couldn’t keep his hands off me. Not like you at all.”

Anita took a large gulp of beer and then said, “It’s so much fun to be relaxing like this. If I ever get my life together, I could imagine this kind of evening as being about the best that I’ve ever lived. You really don’t know what you have until you’ve lost it. And then it’s like ‘Oh brother, what do I do now?’”

I was beginning to feel a kind of fondness for Anita, but to be honest, it was the kind of fondness that one might have for a stray animal. It wasn’t like a man/woman thing at all—more like I was beginning to realize that she was an interesting person who had been through a lot of difficult experiences. But still, I was wary of her and worried that she might try to attach herself to me somehow.

“Where’d you meet Jake?” I said.

“At a bar in New York City a couple of years ago. I was in between relationships at the time and living on the street. Mostly, I spent my days panhandling and sleeping at shelters or abandoned apartments. To tell you the truth, I was really down and out in those days because I was drinking too much, but that led me to a rehab center where I was able to stay for six weeks. It’s nothing to brag about, but it is my autobiography. Maybe a good title for it would be Memoirs of a Wayward Child. It would be a wild and crazy story if I could ever get it down on paper.”

“How come you ran away from home?”

Anita furrowed her brow and sighed. “Maybe I shouldn’t have left my parents’ house because that’s when all my troubles began. But I still think I did the right thing. What happened was that my older brother, who was my most favorite person in the whole wide world, went over to Afghanistan and died there in some military operation. It was all my father’s fault—he had been in the military and was really gung-ho and stuff like that, so I blamed him for what had happened to my brother. And then, when he began to push my younger brother to go into the Marines, I just freaked out. It was really bad, Brian—really bad.”

Anita and I were both well into our third beers by now. “Maybe it’s better if you don’t talk about it,” I said.

“I suppose. I used to have a lot of problems with my temper--like everything would be going along fine, and then, after something bad happened, I would flip out. But,” she said with a smile, “don’t worry, Brian—I haven’t had a real meltdown in at least a year, and that’s saying something when you’re sleeping in the same bed as Jake Holmes. How I ever put up with him over the past six months is beyond me.”

I finished my beer and said, “Let’s watch some TV.”

“Sure—you must be bored with me talking about myself constantly. Sorry about that—I don’t get to talk to many people who show any interest in me, so when I meet someone like you, my life history can come pouring out.”

I switched on the TV, and we both lay down on the bed. Anita placed herself on the edge of the bed, which was a king-sized bed, and after giving me a sly and funny look, she patted the space that was between us and said, “You see how nice I am, Brian. I’m leaving plenty of space for Zena.” Anita took her hand and tried to move it towards me, but when she was about a foot away, her hand stopped and collapsed onto the mattress.

Anita appeared to be annoyed. “That woman of yours does project a powerful force field, Brian. If only I could break through it, the two of us could have a really good time, but I guess we’re just stuck in two different universes. You’ve got your Zena, and I’ve got…actually,” she said with a really mirthful laugh, “I don’t have much of anything—just seven dollars and a backpack filled with unpleasant memories from my last existence.”

Sexually, Anita was becoming tempting. After all, when a man and a woman are lying on a bed in a motel, certain things do come to mind, especially when the woman has made about twenty hints that she’d like to make love to you. Should I let her? All it would take, it seemed, would be a casual remark or a dusky look and the whole powder keg of sexuality would ignite.

But it didn’t seem right—she was so much younger than me, and also, she was obviously desperate and just throwing her body at me so that I might do something more for her than just give her a ride to Boston. And although she seemed rather lighthearted, especially after all the bizarre experiences that she had been through in her life, there was no telling how she might react if we became physical with each other. Fatal Attraction hadn’t only happened in the movies.

“What are you thinking about?” said Anita as I surfed through the channels with the clicker.

“Not much, actually.”

“You keep a lot of things to yourself, Brian. Or maybe you don’t really trust me.”

“I trust you well enough to sleep next to you, but…”

“But what?”

“You want to really know what I think?”

“I sure do,” said Anita.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on us because we know that we won’t see each other again after tomorrow.”

“No, I suppose not,” she said.

I turned on my side so that I could face her and said, “It’s such an odd relationship to have with another person—we met around five this afternoon and have said all these things to each other, but by five o’clock tomorrow afternoon, we’ll have vanished out of each other’s lives. That’s something that hardly ever happens. I mean there’s lot of times when you meet a person and never see them again, but the thing that makes it so unusual in our case is that I kind of took you under my wing, brought you to this motel, and then we talked about your life and everything.”

“And after all that,” said Anita, “we ended up on a bed staring at each other.”

“That too.”

Anita, who had also turned on her side to face me, now lay back on the bed. “Why don’t you turn the TV off, Brian. I’m not really in the mood for it—perhaps we can just talk for a while before we fall asleep.”

I switched off the TV and Anita said, “It is kind of sad, really, because I wouldn’t mind seeing you again, but I know that’s not in the cards. Gosh, I’m really beginning to feel drowsy—it’s probably because I only got about two hours’ sleep last night.”

After adjusting the pillow under her head, Anita said, “I wonder what I’ll use for a pillow tomorrow night? Probably my backpack or something.”

I turned out the light, took off most of my clothes, and got under the covers. Everything became quiet, almost strangely so. Finally, after a couple of minutes, Anita said, in a soft and shadowy voice, “Do you believe in destiny, Brian?”

“I’ve never thought about it much—I don’t even really know what the word means.”

“It’s kind of like…like maybe everything in your life was planned out beforehand and all you’re doing is following the script. It might seem like you have choices, but in the end, you choose the path that the scriptwriter chose for you.”

“Why would you think that, Anita? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Who’s going to bother writing out a script for my life? What would be the point?”

After a long pause, Anita said, “But things are fated, you know. And destiny is what points us towards our fate. I guess you probably won’t agree with me, but I think you and I were fated to meet today. It was just so weird the way I felt when I was walking through the museum today—like I was looking for someone I knew. And the moment I saw you standing in front of the Van Gogh, I knew that I had found the person I was looking for.”

I didn’t want to rain on Anita’s parade, but it was fairly obvious, at least to me, why she had seized upon me. Desperation. “But,” I said, “don’t you think that…didn’t you want to find someone, someone who could protect you?”

“I guess so, but…I don’t know, Brian. No one will ever convince me that what happened today was a coincidence. There’s a master scriptwriter up there somewhere, and he or she wanted us to meet today. I don’t know why, and maybe I never will, but…I don’t want to frighten you, but I feel like today was the most important day of my life.”

After a few moments, Anita said, “Good night, Brian—it’s been a lovely day.”



CHAPTER THREE: SOMETHING TO REMEMBER EACH OTHER BY





When I awoke, the clock on the TV said ten to three. I could feel that Anita was close to me—very close. “I finally figured it out, Brian.”

“Figured out what?” I murmured.

“Figured out how to break through the force field. I should have known!” she said, with a light laugh.

“How did you do it?” I said, in a sleepy voice.

“You have to be naked because clothes can’t fit through the force field,” said Anita. She put her finger to my lips and said, “Just be quiet, Brian. It’s so cozy in here, isn’t it? Just you and me—meanwhile, everything else in the world has gone away.” She moved even closer to me and whispered into my ear. “We can say anything we want now because it will always be our secret.”

She moved her finger from my lips and lightly kissed my forehead. “Please don’t be scared of me, Brian—I will never ever hurt you or lead you into some place where you don’t want to be.”

“No, I don’t suppose you would.” I was beginning to yield to her desire.

“I just think we should do something to remember each other by. Don’t you?”

I was paralyzed by the remnants of sleep and the rapid awakening of sexual desire.

“Give in to me, Brian. Just this one time—I swear to you that you’ll never regret it.”

Slowly, gently, she placed her lips on mine. It wasn’t like I was a married man or anything. And anyways, married or not, I couldn’t say no to her lips.

A minute later, she pulled her lips away from mine and said, “Brian--just use me the way you want to use me, and I’ll take you to wherever you want to go.”



When I awoke in the morning, all the “afterwards” thoughts came rushing back to haunt me. Anita wasn’t awake yet, and I had plenty of time to meditate on what, if anything, the previous evening meant. I was troubled by a persistent thought that Anita had only seduced me because she wanted something from me. And what she wanted was to be saved, saved from the life of desperation and danger that was looming in front of her.

There really wasn’t all that much I could do for her. I had a relationship—sort of--with another woman, and although that relationship was hardly a perfect one, it was the relationship that I had—the relationship that I was currently involved in. I certainly wasn’t about to toss that away for a homeless woman, and there was no reason that I should. It wasn’t my fault that Anita had come up to me in an art museum and thrown herself all over me. I had, in fact, gone out of my way to avoid anything sexual with her, but when a naked woman wakes you up at three in the morning and is saying all these lustful things to you, the outcome is almost inevitable.

It wasn’t like Anita had done anything wrong, not really, but neither had I. And when all was said and done, it wasn’t going to be wrong for me to drop her off on some street corner in Boston. Perhaps “drop her off” was a bit of a euphemism—“dump her off” would be more like the reality of the situation.

Before any more sexual shenanigans occurred, I got out of bed, and by the time I was dressed, Anita had awoken. She seemed a bit startled, and after rubbing her eyes for a few moments, she said, “Oh, that’s right—you probably want to get going. Just let me take a quick shower and I’ll be good to go in fifteen minutes.”

“There’s no big rush,” I said, as I sat down on the edge of the bed near her. “This is kind of like the first day of the rest of your life,” I said to her.

“Yes—of my new life. Who knows what adventures await me? It’ll be scary at first, but I’ll land on my feet.”

I was feeling a lot more like her father than her lover. “Do you know anyone in Boston?”

“Not a soul. But there are plenty of people in the same boat that I am. We’re called the ‘great unwashed.’”

Anita laughed—a pleasant laugh that made me have a good deal of sympathy for her. But I had no idea what to say.

“That was kind of nice last night,” said Anita. “Wasn’t it?”


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