Archive | June, 2014

Chapter 21: A Southwest Air Stalking

19 Jun

The Tampa airport was frenetically busy at what I considered to be an ungodly hour of the morning. For many writers, 7 a.m. is still the middle of the night. I am one of those writers. The alluring smell of fresh brewed coffee from Starbucks was almost enough to make me brave the line that stretched around the kiosk and halfwaydown the terminal…almost.If I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the two and a half hours of sleep on the flight I still so desperately need. I love my Starbucks…and not just because there are (so-called) rumors of it being laced with methamphetamines.

Starbucks-Schiphol

I’ve always wanted to be three things in life: a morning person, a black coffee drinker, and someone who can function perfectly on four hours sleep. I will never be any of these.

If I don’t get enough sleep, I literally feel hung over; nauseous, weak, foggy, and my head pounds. I’ve been on crazy wrestling tours where we didn’t catch more than a few hours sleep between a show the night before and getting on the tour busthe next morning to travel seven hours to another city. I was always deathly afraid I was going to drop someone on their head if I was sleep deprived.

It only happened once in my fifteen year career, but it DID happen – and it was bad. I was in Japan and jet lagged as hell. It was my first show on the tour. My opponent jumped off the top rope and I barely caught her in time; then I fell on top of her, snapping her ankle in several places. She needed surgery with metal rods and pins to put everything back together again. It is something I’ve always felt reallyhorrible about. I’ve also given myself several concussions by landing stupidly because I’m not all there while in the ring. Due to these things, I’ve managed to train myself to sleep anywhere in any situation. I know I have to when traveling in order to function.

I walked past the airport gates to find a water fountain for my refillable bottle. I’d love to say I’m environmental – and most days I am – but in this case, I’m just cheap. I refuse to pay $3.50 for water. Remember when water was free and you paid for porn?

An exhausted mother, herding three small children wearing Dora the Explorer backpacks and faces full of crumbs ran into me, her arms overloaded with diaper bags and…stuff. She apologized and I waved it away, asking her if she needed help. Her voice said “no, thank you”, but her sagging posture suggested otherwise. My heart went out to her. Then I secretly prayed if they were on my flight that they would be located far, far away from my row.

As I made my way back to my gate, a giant Mr. Olympia sized bodybuilder openly stared at me. Shaved head, shirt that was too tight and jeans that barely made it around his Hulk legs. He wasn’t bad looking, but he made me uncomfortable. He looked at me as if I was a steak and he hadn’t eaten in a week – and he didn’t stop staring. So, I kept walking.
I’m generally used to stares. But this guy started to follow me.
Sure, we are the same breed of alien gym rat. I’ll admit: our kind is rare. This does not mean I’d like to share my genetics with him to create miniature gym rats.

seriousFuck. I realize that he’s on the same flight I am. Southwest Air’s open seating policy makes people rush to board instead of clogging aisles trying to figure out what side A or D is on like aimless idiots. Most days I’m a huge fan of this concept…not today.

Naturally, Mr. Olympia was in “A” boarding as well and with nothing but open seats, he headed straight for my row. He and his much smaller friend squashed in, with him taking the middle seat.
Even the most petite human being will not willingly take a middle seat with other rows open. I was definitely being stalked.

He graciously allowed me half my window seat since his 300 pound frame and one leg took up the other half.

As if on cue: “You’re really vascular,” he stated. Vampires, athletes and Homeland Security agents looking for people carrying drugs love vascularity. I’ve learned to suffer the long sleeves in summer when returning through North American customs and immigration to avoid being “randomly selected”. 

“Um…yep.” I made a big show of opening my book wider and turning towards the window.

“You look great. I’m a personal trainer, so if you ever want help with your diet or anything, that’s what I do,” he volunteered.

“Ah.”

Him: “We travel to see Rush. Been to all their concerts. They’re playing in Philly tomorrow night. Do you like Rush?” I fucking love Rush. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer and Limelight got me through endless I-95 drives lasting twenty-two hours, between parental visits from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Enterprise, Alabama.so-i-see-you-do-gym-tell-me-more-about-how-u-lift-things-up-and-put-them-down1

“They’re okay,” I replied.

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m…an accountant.” I deliberately picked the least interesting career I could think of on the spur of the moment.

“Oh? That’s interesting,” he said.

“Really, it’s not.”

“I love your hair. Can I touch it?”

“What?”

My copper red hair hit the back of my jeans in length. At the moment, much of it was on the armrest. He picked up a handful, rubbed it thoughtfully and then – SMELLED IT.

I snatched my hair back. “Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m just going to read and sleep.” I dramatically put earplugs in and made my 5’8”, 150 pound frame curl up as small as possible against the window.
I could tell I wouldn’t be allowed to sleep. Hell hath no fury like a bodybuilder scorned. He fidgeted around and continued a loud running commentary which included something about A playlists versus B playlists for Rush concerts for the duration of the two hour and thirty-eight minute flight. I wanted to ask him if he minded shutting the fuck up, but had a feeling it wouldn’t matter. I began to wish for the mother and her backpacked toddlers. At least they tend to fall asleep at some point after the seat kicking wears them down.windowseat

Damn. I had to pee, but would face the sticky issue of getting out of my row.Do I turn my ass or front to pass the guys? Forget it. I’ll just hold it.

“So, do you want to meet us for the concert in Reading Thursday night? I can probably get another ticket for that show.”

I looked at him and said, “Sorry, I think I have to return some videotapes.” He looked confused, thus confirming that the only thing we had in common were dumbbells.

“Uh, no. Not my thing. I’m not much of a concert goer.” Unless you count Kid Rock, Reverend Run, Greg Allman, Def Leppard, Coldplay, Madonna, Blue Oyster Cult, Whitesnake, Great White, Guns n Roses,an awesomely absinthed night at the Stone Temple Pilots, The Trailer Park Boys live, nearly every Cirque du Soleil show…I pushed my earplugs in deeper, turned into the window and tried to ignore his jostling leg up my rear. My throbbing forehead pressed against the cold window and I desperately wished for a pair of those expensive noise cancelling headphones and sleep.
When you don’t sleep on a flight, it seems long. Really, really long. This was clearly one of those flights.

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Eventually, it was time to get off the plane. Or as the airlines call it in their made-up word, “deplane”.
Mr. O eyed me as I stood up, looking like he may make one last desperate attempt. With a big smile and a warm tone in my voice I told him, “Touch anything on me and my fist will ‘Rush’ into your face, sweetheart.” He went silent for the first time in hours.

I stepped past him and shook out my hair. He took a step back and made room for me to pass. Victory. Exhausted victory.
Pee or Starbucks? I desperately needed the bathroom, but Starbucks was………Closer To The Heart.

 

COPYRIGHT APRIL HUNTER. NO PART OF THIS BLOG MAY BE USED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Truth or Lies?

3 Jun

lie

The problem with being around a writer is that you never know how much they’re taking from you. I steal – or am “inspired” – from many around me.

I take from people’s stories, personalities, problems and conversations.

Anything and everything can be material; I’m always observing. Nothing is off limits.

Bad decisions make the best stories.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been with friends who have begged: “Please do not write about this, April. Okay?”

Or someone will hover over my shoulder as I’m writing. “What are you…?”

“Nothing.”

“Yeah, right. Let me see…”

“You smell like drama and a headache. Get away from me.”

So, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.    

 

April 054

 

There is a fine and sometimes blurry line between fake fiction and real non fiction.

 

“She kissed him and tasted cigarettes and disappointment.”

“Are you taking your medicine?”

“No.”

“But you’re depressed.”

“Good. That means I’ll be inspired.”

—-

Being single at fifty-two was confusing. She sipped her wine. Looking at the online dating sites seemed unreal. Half the men her age seemed on the defensive, clearly having been hurt before.

The other half looked like shit.

—-

“Mom died. You need to come home.”

That’s how he had ended up back in the tiny house, in a tiny Nebraska town full of tiny minds.

—–

Florian was only culturally Hispanic, because she found she’d had to translate a menu for him in the restaurant Paella. It was a culture Abby had quickly learned to appreciate after a small town, white bread upbringing chock full of aprons and meatloaf. His was one of café Bustelo and cigar factories.

She felt the heat emanating from his body as his full lips bit hers and brushed softly against her ear. He wrapped his hands in her hair and pulled her roughly into him in full view of whoever cared to watch in the busy parking garage. He pressed her against the car, burying his face in her neck. She liked the way he felt. She liked his dark eyes and aquiline nose. She liked his passion for life.

The next day Abby returned his text in Spanish and said, “I’ll make you learn this.”

“I know…I’m a bad Latino. I’m sure there are many things you can teach me. That’s why I’m keeping you.”

“Oh, are you? We shall see about that.”

“See we shall.”  

“Mind the gap.” The tube doors slid open and people rushed in as we shoved our way out, surfing along with the teeming throng of black and grey clad bodies pushing up the stairs. The grey-white tiled walls dripped with dampness…

She’s  late. Again.

Not because she’s high maintenance. Because she doesn’t want to go.

Procrastination. Stomach churning. She hates this.

Self revolving, self serving, selfish. Me, me, me. That is what she sees when she looks at them.

Far too stupid to be whores. They’d rather give it away like sluts. For attention.

“Look at me! How fabulous I am, right?”

Stupid, stupid girls.

Narcissism. Borderline personality disorder. Mommy and daddy issues. Undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  All rolled into one room multiplied by 35.

This is the entertainment business.

It won’t make you crazy. Crazy makes it.

He wrapped his arm around her from behind and in the filtered twilight, she could make out several skulls and the Virgin Mary on the colorful tattoo that ran from his shoulder to his wrist. One of many he hid under his crisp suit and tie during the week. He wasn’t one for words or sentiment. When he did speak, it was matter-of-fact, blunt and stoic. 

His was a character of contradictions. Punk rock and golf. Independent art and million dollar contracts. Athletism and exhaustion. Chaste and carnal. Impatience and biding. Supercilious and open minded. A love of food and an empty refrigerator.

She found him brutally direct and completely unreadable.

He dumped the Big Gulp cup with change out on his tatty blue blanket and counted. Thirty-eight dollars. Not bad for the day, but not good either. Most of it had been earned on his last trick, a coup des gras magic levitation combo. He’d waited until the New Orleans streets were packed with happy drunks. Timing was everything.

“I wish we could make more money,” he said to the scruffy brown mutt lying at his side. Sam was never far from his side. Her bushy tail wagged easily despite the conditions they lived in.

“Do you?” 

Rodney looked up. An old black man with a milky eye that stared off to the left stood before him. He wore a starched white uniform and had a Creole accent. Sam didn’t growl, which surprised Rodney. “I’m Claude. I work at La Richelieu and I enjoyed your act.” He reached down and scratched Sam behind the ear. “Tell me…have you ever thought about voodoo?”

Her eyes adjusted to the darkness and a large medieval contraption was before her. Leather straps, metal, cuffs. A sign read “Please tip your attendants. These rooms are not self cleaning.” In the corner, a blond was kneeling in front of a middle aged man sitting on a dark purple vinyl couch with khaki pants around his ankles and his hands on the back of her head.

She worked with the church, spending her nights taking calls and heading into the cold to pick up strays and search for lost pups. On this night, she’d found a little white dog with big, brown eyes and took him back to her place. He didn’t stop trembling until she wrapped him in a blanket and fed him.  He ate like there was no tomorrow and wriggled into her ankle afterwards in happiness. He wasn’t in bad shape, really. He couldn’t have been out there long because he was still groomed. She pet his soft white face, cradling him as he kissed her cheek and nose. Walking outside, she crossed the dusky yard to a sizable wooden pen. As she neared, the barking and snarling coming from it hit a fever pitch.

She kissed the little mutt on the head and then dropped him into the pit bull den as bait.

The left side showed me immediately why she’d survived and I hadn’t. A truck carrying long metal tubes had lost several.  One went through my windshield. The glass was a crumbled spider web splattered with blood and bits of skin. The metal was perfectly intact.

And it could be found pierced straight through my chest.

Mark Twain’s advice is to “write what you know” – which can be taken or mistaken in many ways.