When I’m writing, especially if it’s going well, I’m living in two different dimensions: this life I’m living now, which I enjoy very much, and this completely other world I’m inhabiting that no one else knows about. ~ Jennifer Egan
“I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t remember what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose.”Source
― P. G. Wodehouse
[I]nstead of being completely overwhelmed by the things that happen to us. We are, by the writing of that story, by the way that we tell what’s happened to us, giving it back to ourselves instead of being powerless within it. ~ Jeanette Winterson
There are stories that you can write, and there are stories that you can’t write. And, in the end, you write the ones that you can, and that allows you to bear the ones that you can’t. ~ Jeanette Winterson
A New Fun Fiction Read Featuring Gillis and Pickle, Two Bumbling, Stumbling, Insensitive Police Detectives, Begins in 5 Days.
After J and I broke our kiss and embrace neither of us said a word. We closed the office and walked to the elevator. The elevator stopped at the 2nd floor. Carlos stuck a leg in, followed by his head sporting a gold canine and five tooth smile. J slid over to the door opening and gave him a look that peeled the paneling off the sides of the elevator. Carlos stepped out before having his nose reshaped without the benefit of a plastic surgeon. When J turned to press the close door button, Carlos flipped me a thumb’s up.
We walked the two blocks to the corner of Loomis and Ocean Drive. Maxine’s Deli sat on the corner as it has for the past forty-three years. Zagats gives it a five star rating.
I turned to J and said, “I’m getting the pastrami and sauerkraut rueben with Maxine’s special dressing on marble rye and I’m passing on the dill pickle. I’m going to have a bottle of the oxygen infused water.” I tossed in the last item to show J I was health conscious,
J said, “I’ll have the same.” Her words were spoken with the same emotion one might have waiting for the light to change from red to green.
I passed on the dill pickle. I didn’t want to take a chance on pickle or garlic breath. J did the same. It spoke volumes to me. We walked side by side to Ocean Drive. We crossed the street and picked up the pedestrian path that curled at the edge of the cliff overlooking the reserved beaches and ocean. The firs three benches were occupied, I pointed to the fourth, “Is this okay?”
J nodded. She didn’t speak.
We sat. I opened the bag, pulled our a rueben’s out, and unfolded the wrapping paper half way around the sandwich. When I handed it to J, I said, “Mustard packet?” Mustard packets are always a good way to break the tension. I think I’ll stop by Maxine’s on the way back and grab a handful for the next group session.
J gave me a smile carried by a love beat. She said, “Yes, thank you.”
My heart was in rhythm with the ocean waves lapping against the shore. We ate silently staring out at the ocean. A cool ocean breeze, the sun at our backs, and my black Venus next me made this the most perfect moment of my life. I wanted it to last forever.
J only ate a half of her sandwich and wrapped the rest up. She handed it to me. I placed it back in the bag. I was still hungry, but I wasn’t about to ruin the moment, I did the same with my sandwich.
A brief moment later J said, “What happened? Explain it to me?”
I said the first three words that came to mind, “I love you.”
J turned turned toward me and took both my hands in hers, “M, I fell in love with you the moment I saw you. I fought it. You’re filthy rich. I grew up dirt poor. You’ve never worked for anything. I’ve had to struggle to get this far. I still owe over one-hundred thousand dollars in student loans for college. Your white. I’m black. You don’t have a serious bone in your body. I take life very seriously, it’s the only way I survived. Mama can’t stand you. I can only imagine how your mother and father will react when they see me. Do you understand all this?”
I stared into her eyes, I know she was speaking to me, I didn’t hear a word. I only wanted to look at her and hold her.
“Well? Speak to me,” said J.
I said, “I love you.”
“You didn’t hear a word I said, did you?” said J.
I nodded my head and gave her a silly grin.
“Oh M, you are like a comfortable shirt I want to toss out, but I can’t get rid of it.”
I leaned toward J, closed my eyes, and kissed her. Some moments later when we broke our kiss, I said, “Seriously, will you marry me? I don’t have a ring with me. I’m serious. I’ve never been more serious in my life.”
J let go of my hands and turned back and looked out toward the ocean seeking an answer. I turned toward the ocean and tried to use my highly limited mental powers to detect any good karma I had floating through the universe. This was one of the times I wished I watched the PBS special on developing good karma. Twice I tried to start a conversation, twice J shook her head. I sat and stared and waited.
Fifteen minutes went by before J turned toward me. “M,” she said. “I know I love you. I don’t know if I want to marry you.”
I blurted, “Is it the sex. You want to discover if I’m great in bed. I have great reference.”
J started laughing the deep laugh I heard when we first met. I started laughing too until tears were running down my cheeks. J dabbed at them with Kleenex from her purse.
Eventually a moment of calm occurred. J said, “M, I want you to introduce me to your parents. Not tonight. Tomorrow night at dinner at your house.”
“Not tonight? What are we going to do for the rest of the day?” I said hoping J was going to say make non stop passionate, unbridled love until we passed out from exhaustion.
Instead, she said, “I’m going back to the office and canceling group for tomorrow. I am going to the salon, then the spa, and you can pick me up at my apartment tomorrow for dinner. It’s 2342 Center Street, apartment 301.”
“What am going to do?” I asked.
“How old are you?” asked J.
“Thirty-three?” I said questioningly.
J said, “It’s time you figured it out if you really want to marry me.”
J was giving me a look I can only compare to a Discovery Channel show about ravenous mountain lions. I tried to smile but my lips felt glued shut. J said, “I advise you not to interrupt me, make a smart ass remark about sleeping with you tonight, or ask me to run off and marry you within the next five days. We are going to have a talk after the group is finished. We are not going to a restaurant. We are not going to a bar. We are not going to a coffee shop to have this talk. Do you understand me?”
I nodded. A sudden impulse I can only attribute to the goddess of love forced me to speak, “Does this mean you’ll contemplate marriage after five days?”
J rolled her eyes.
I wasn’t through. I said, “I’ll take that as a yes. Next question, You didn’t eliminate deli’s and eating on a bench overlooking the ocean? I take the pout on your beautiful pouty, kissable red lips as a definite yes.”
“You are hopeless,” said J.
“Well? Can we,” I said in a pleading tone.
“I will say yes to the deli and the ocean side bench. Not to marriage in six days.”
I started to speak and stopped when J shook her head and turned away from me. I was only going ask her if seven days would work.
As J was leaving my office, she turned and said, “Get ready for group. I hear them in the reception area.” J closed the door to my office and I imagined us making out on the bench overlooking the ocean after we finished our meal.
From the receptionist area J gave a quick hell fire sermon, “You better find a bra or you’re going to find a knuckle sandwich.”
I have to ask J, when we were sitting on the bench overlooking the ocean, if she is open to conflict resolution with Amber. I rolled my chair from behind my desk to the top of the semi circle formed by the group’s chairs. I hadn’t thought about the group since I last I saw them. I suppose I should prepare, but I don’t believe in preparing for group sessions. It’s my scholarly opinion based on hours of research at Foxy’s Sport’s Bar with my friends, that non preparation is the best preparation. When you non prepare, you then prepare for any circumstance. It’s counter intuitive. In non preparation for the group, which will be entering any moment, I took a nail clipper out of my pocket and began trimming my nails. I wasn’t quite finished when they marched in led by their drill sergeant, J.
I looked up from trimming my nails and was disappointed when I realized no one was missing. I went back to trimming my right thumbnail. Mother always said, trimmed nails on a man are a sign of good breeding. When I finished trimming my nails, I crossed my legs and removed my right foot Nike and sock. My intention was to trim my toenails.
Amber spoke, “Would you like a pedicure, Doctor Sanderstfuff?”
From the outer office J’s voice bounced off the walls in my office, “Strike two.”
I thought this might be the perfect segue into dynamic group growth. I stretched my leg out so that the bottom of my right foot faced the group. I said, “What do you see?”
From the outer office, “Oh dear Lord save me from this insanity.”
I must be a great psychologist because all five members were waving their hands competing to be the first to speak. I called on the muffin top, Tito Perez, “Okay muffin top, what do you have to say. Sorry, I didn’t think to have jelly donuts for you.”
“Doctor Sanderstuff, I’m sensitive about my weight. I’m calorie challenged. It’s not politically correct to call me a muffin top.”
“I didn’t realize you were calorie challenged, Tito. Your records didn’t say anything about you being calorie challenged.”
“Thank you for being sensitive, Doctor Sanderstuff. What I see in your foot is an image of a croissant in your arch.”
“Very good, Tito. I’ll make sure we have some croissants at our next meeting for you.”
“Thanks, Doctor Sanderstuff.”
“What do you see, Jill?” Jill’s the Amber wannabe.
“I see toes I want to kiss …”
Jill didn’t get a chance to finish. She was interrupted by the one with super hearing in the outer office, “The only toes you’re going be licking will be mine and I will keep my shoe on. I hope you like the taste of leather and shoe polish.”
I was getting tired holding my leg up, I said, “Well that about wraps it up for today, we’ve had a big breakthrough. I’m glad you all could witness it.”
Prince spoke out without being called on, “I missed the breakthrough, Doctor Sanderstuff. I was thinking about something else. Can you tell me what it was?”
“That will teach you to pay attention, Prince. Things move so fast in group, it’s no telling where and when the next breakthrough will happen,” I said knowing I didn’t know what I was taking about. One of my drinking friends used the term breakthrough one night when he was talking about his relationship status. Or, was it breakup? I’m not sure. This was a good time to toss it out.
“Can I tell you want I was thinking about?” asked Prince.
“Well, hurry. I have an important luncheon date and I can’t be late,” I said.
“It’s only nine forty-five,” said The Sage.
“Did anyone ask you the time?” I said.
“No, I was just trying to help,” said The Sage.
I said, “You’re regressing. Trying to help is counter productive to helping. Wrap your peanut sized brain around that one.”
“That’s telling him,” Amber cooed.
Prince raised his hand again, I said, “You’ve already taken up too much of the group’s time, Prince. I’ll let you speak, but you can’t speak at our next meeting.”
“Thank you, Doctor Sanderstuff. As everyone here knows, I was convicted of bigamy. I had three legal wives at the same time. For my part, I only lived with one at a time. I never bothered to divorce any of them.”
“So?” I asked.
“So, I want to propose to Jill. Jill will you marry me? We can share the same cell. It will be kind of cramped, but we’re both up for full release in six months.”
“Tito?” asked Prince.
Before I could delve deeper into Prince’s proposal to be his fourth wife while he is still legally married to three other women, Amber blurted, “Doctor Sanderstuff, Doctor Sanderstuff.”
I turned toward Amber and saw she rolled up her top to the top of her bra. I said, “Nice navel ring.”
“Doctor Sanderstuff, I know you’re infatuated with Ms. J, but did you know her blonde hair is not hers? It’s either a wig or extensions.”
The door to my office burst open. J’s eye’s flashed like a pit bull’s eyes when it see raw meat. J snarled, “Strike three. All you loser but balloon breasts clear out.”
There was a mad stampede for the door. I hurried in front of Amber, I held my arms out, “J listen to reason. You don’t want to join Dante in prison, You want to honeymoon with me in Tahiti.”
J grabbed me by my arms. For a brief moment, I thought she was going to throw me out the window and Amber would soon follow. I had to do a pattern interrupt. This is another term I learned watching afternoon TV over cocktails at the club after a grueling round of golf. I took my arms and wrapped them around J and pulled her tight against my body and placed my lips on her lips and kissed her with the passion bottled within me since I first saw her. Five seconds, ten seconds and then I felt J slide into a state of relaxation and return the intensity of my kiss.
Neither one of us knew it at the moment, but Amber slid out unharmed to catch the bus ride back to the prison.