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…?”
“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.
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?”
“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.
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.