Rachel and Paul had been together for six years. They assumed one day they would marry, have kids – the whole nine yards – but life has a funny way of taking twists and turns. Their romance and dreams just fizzled out but they remained very close and relied on each other for guidance – from the job scene to the dating game.

One night Rachel texted Paul: “Hey, babe. Ella & Sam set us up with blind dates for Fri. U in?”

Paul: “Y not? No plans anyway!”

Rachel: “Great! Emilio’s @ 7. Glad U R my back-up!”

Paul: “Ditto, babe! C U there.”

Both kicked themselves for calling the other “babe”. Old habits die hard.

Friday night the foursome met at Emilio’s. Paul and Rachel exchanged looks; her eyes were screaming “WTF!” Dinner was quick.

As soon as Paul got home he called Rachel: “What just happened?!”

Rachel howled: “A TOTAL FREAK SHOW!! Your date was downright scary! She looked like Vampira and I swear her eyes were red! She wore a black cape – with a hood, for Christ’s sake and her steak was so rare it was practically throbbing!”

And what about YOUR date?!” Paul exclaimed. “Wrist-to-neck tattoos, facial piercings, boots with spikes and a ‘Carcass’ t-shirt! He downed a bottle of beer in two gulps and belched like a bloody Viking!”

I’ll never let Sam and Ella play matchmakers again. I’m sure they thought it was hysterical” Rachel quipped. “So … my mother set me up with her friend’s son, ‘The Doctor’, for next Saturday. If you get a date maybe we can try this again.”

Sure. Nothing could be as bad as tonight” Paul replied. “I’ll call ya.”

A few days later Paul called to say he had a date for Saturday – a friend of his cousin. “But she said ‘drinks only’ and she’ll take a taxi.”

Fine” Rachel agreed. “If it’s another debacle we can all go our separate ways.”

Arrangements were made to meet at ‘The Aviary’ in Central Park. Rachel’s date was Wesley, a gynecologist/obstetrician. He was handsome, tan and suave. Paul’s date was Ginger, a salesgirl at Victoria’s Secret with modeling/acting ambitions. She was a vivacious redhead with mischievous green eyes.

The hostess seated them at a semi-circular booth; Ginger smoothly slid in between Wesley and Paul. With each sip of her martini Ginger inched closer to Wesley, asking risqué questions about his practice; he was more than happy to oblige. Before long they were blatantly flirting, leaving Paul and Rachel dumbfounded. Giggling, Ginger excused herself to use “the little girl’s room”. The trio sat in awkward silence until Wesley’s pager beeped. He announced he had an emergency at the hospital, apologized and left.

Well, there’s no point in me hanging around” Rachel said glumly. “Ginger should be back any second.”

As Rachel got up to leave she glanced out the window and saw Wesley and Ginger getting into his car. “What the hell, Paul! We’ve been dumped!”

Arm in arm Paul and Rachel started the slow walk of rejection through Central Park.

Do you think we’ll ever be as happy as when we were together?” Paul asked quietly.

I don’t think that’s even remotely possible” Rachel sighed.

In the loneliness of the park they held each other tightly, sharing a warm familiar kiss in the moonlight.

Why the hell did we ever break up, Paul?”

I have no idea” he replied wonderingly.

Take me home, babe” Rachel whispered. “I miss us.”

Fingers entwined, they climbed the stairs and went inside, locking the door and the world behind them.

NAR © 2020


Attribution, retribution, convolution, resolution! All I am saying is give Reese a chance!”

Sprawled out in the stern of our cabin cruiser, my wife Reese drunkenly belted out her version of John Lennon’s hit song. I was piloting the boat on our return trip from a weekend wedding celebration on Catalina Island; Reese’s sister Margaux had gotten married … again.

Like her sister, Reese had a terrible track record in the marriage department. She was on her third husband – recording industry mogul David Hamlin – when we began our affair. I was a confirmed bachelor living very comfortably in an exclusive penthouse in the city. After her divorce I moved into Reese’s mountain-top estate in Bel-Air, California. I had the dubious distinction of becoming husband number four.

I’m Dr. Jeremy Phillips, plastic surgeon to the rich and famous in Beverly Hills; Reese was one of my patients. As her doctor and lover, I learned her deep dark secrets: her expensive cocaine habit, compulsive shopping on Rodeo Drive, her penchant for Grey Goose and an addiction to plastic surgery. She was beautiful in everyone’s eyes except her own. She wanted me to turn her into a goddess, which I did.

When drunk Reese could be either a sexy vixen or a slutty bitch; tonight was definitely the latter. She struggled into an upright position, slowly got to her feet and staggered toward me, one hand grasping the boat railing and the other a bottle of vodka.

For fuck’s sake, Jeremy, why do you always have to wear that ridiculous outfit? You look like a stupid overgrown kid playing dress-up!” Reese slurred. She drained the bottle, dropping it on the deck.

This is proper nautical attire, darling, perfectly appropriate for every occasion” I replied. “But you don’t know the meaning of proper and appropriate. You’re all but falling out of your dress.”

Reese ran her hands up and down her tanned body, laughing as she hiked her dress up around her waist revealing her perfectly sculpted derriere. She wriggled herself between me and the steering wheel and lowered her top; her magnificent breasts shimmered in the moonlight.

What’s wrong, Captain? Don’t you like the way I look? All the other men do” Reese purred tauntingly. “Margaux’s new husband loves every inch of me. He can’t get enough! You know, Jeremy, you always were a lousy lay. Maybe that’s why you got this big bad boat – to compensate for your tiny dick!” and she laughed again.

Darling Reese, you’re nothing but a drunken whore. You disgust me!” I snarled and she reached up to slap my face. I grabbed her wrist and she looked up at my enraged face, her eyes wide with uncharacteristic fear. And in that moment she knew.

I shoved her out of the way and she fell, hitting her head with a sickening thud. Putting the boat in neutral I quickly checked on Reese; she was dead, a large jagged crack in her forehead oozing blood. Carefully I adjusted her dress and looked around the boat making sure nothing was out of place.

We were near Marabella Marina but just out of earshot. Heading for the dock I placed a frantic phone call. “Mayday! Mayday! Emergency on board the ‘Nip Tuck’! We need an ambulance at Marabella. My wife is badly injured. Hurry!”

The police asked me a few routine questions but it was obvious Reese’s death was a tragic accident. My wife clearly had too much to drink; she lost her balance and fell. It happened so fast I couldn’t prevent it … even if I wanted to.

NAR © 2020


Attribution of my fear to all things nautical haunted me for years. The cause of this anxiety seemed so near – that feeling you get when a word is on the tip of your tongue but the answer is just out of reach. I finally solved the puzzle quite by accident one day while in an elevator. The song “Tara’s Theme” from “Gone With the Wind” was playing and suddenly the floodgates opened and so many memories came rushing back to me.

When I was a child my family enjoyed watching a television show called “Million Dollar Movie”; the music I heard in the elevator happened to be the theme for that show! The format was to feature popular movies which would run for an entire week, airing twice nightly; after one week a new movie would be shown. For some reason many of the films were scary and rather traumatizing for an impressionable ten year old.

One of the first movies I recall was “Creature From the Black Lagoon”, a dark tale of a strange prehistoric beast that lurked in the depths of the Amazonian jungle. I would scream and huddle close to my father every time the creature appeared on the screen.

Then there was “Journey to the Center of the Earth” about a deranged professor/explorer who led his intrepid party on an expedition in search of the mythical buried city of Atlantis. It was rife with monsters, evil sorcerers and dangerous crystalline mines. I would have nightmares about being trapped under water in one of those mines; I’d wake up in a cold sweat yet I couldn’t resist watching the movie whenever it was shown.

An annual family favorite was “The Ten Commandments” – a cinematic masterpiece by Cecil B. DeMille. As a kid I loved Bible movies! Moses and the Israelites were fleeing Egypt with Rameses and the Egyptian charioteers hot on their heels. Upon reaching the Red Sea, Moses raised his arms and commanded the waters to part, leaving a clear dry path for the Israelites. Taking advantage of the opening, Rameses ordered his troops to continue their pursuit. Suddenly the waters began to churn and roil. Waves as tall as mountains came crashing down on the Egyptian soldiers, swallowing them up like children’s toys. While it was unquestionably one of the most spectacular special effects of all time, the only thing I could think about was how terrifying it must be to find oneself drowning, knowing that death was inevitable and imminent.

Water and all its dangers played a major role in most of the movies that caused me great anxiety. I never had a close encounter with drowning so I just chalked it up to an inexplicable phobia; somehow coming to that realization eased my mind. Years later when my parents invited the family on a cruise to the Bahamas, I admit to having some trepidation but it was our first cruise and my parents were very excited.

Our ship was enormous – the equivalent of a floating resort. Everything we could possibly want or need was available to us from bowling to casinos to Broadway musicals. It was perfect – until we ran into stormy weather which forced everyone inside. I was feeling rather uneasy so I decided to stay in my cabin and relax. Turning on the tv I settled in to watch the movie of the night which happened to be “TITANIC”!! Are you kidding me?! What programming idiot thought that was a good choice?? I spent the last two days of the cruise in my cabin!

That cruise experience pushed me over the H2O edge and I didn’t go anywhere near the water for a while. Who could blame me? That didn’t last long, though; being a true Pisces, I can’t stay on dry land for too long. I’d be like a fish out of water!

NAR © 2020