SHE’S LEAVING HOME. BYE, BYE!

Melanie! Breakfast is ready. Better hurry or you’ll be late for school!” Evelyn Coe yelled up to her daughter from the bottom of the stairs.

Frank, I don’t know what’s gotten into Melanie lately” Evelyn complained to her husband. “I can’t keep up with her mood swings.”

Remember when she was dating that loser Jeffrey and we insisted she end the relationship?” Frank asked. “I wonder where he is and what he’s up to. You don’t think she’s still seeing him, do you?”

Last I heard he was selling used cars. Melanie said something about him working at that lot on Matthew Street near the Cavern Club, I think. I hope she didn’t go behind our backs and continue seeing him. She wouldn’t do that to us, Frank, would she?”

Stubborn girl!” bellowed Frank. “Don’t forget how she fought us about going to public school with the ‘cool kids’ instead of attending Rigby Academy! She has never wanted for a single thing her entire life. She takes everything for granted. She’ll be going to college in a couple of months. Hopefully she’ll get her head on straight.”

You’re right, Frank” Evelyn agreed. “But now she’s talking about taking a break before college to ‘find herself’. I can easily find her; she’s upstairs sleeping!”

Evelyn marched to the stairs and called out: “Melanie! You better be down here in two minutes or I’m coming up!”

“There’s no way in hell Melanie is taking time off to go gallivanting around God knows where!” Frank threatened. “Tonight we’re going to have a serious conversation. She’s had a very privileged life and if she thinks she’s going to take advantage of our generosity, she better think again!”

I’m going upstairs and dragging her out of bed.” Evelyn thumped up the stairs to Melanie’s room but moments later came running into the kitchen clutching her handkerchief, tears in her eyes.

“Frank! Melanie wasn’t in her room. I found this letter. She’s gone! Our baby’s gone!” Evelyn wailed.

What do you mean ‘gone’? Let me see that” and Frank snatched the piece of paper from Evelyn’s hands. He read out loud:

Mother and Father.
I’ve run away with Jeffrey. I want my freedom.
I’ve lived under your thumbs long enough and
for the first time in my life I’m doing what makes me happy,
not what you want me to do.
Please don’t come after me or try to find me. Goodbye, Melanie

Running out of the house, Frank yelled for Evelyn to call the police. When he returned he breathlessly informed his wife that Melanie’s car was gone.

The police arrived soon after; Detective McKenzie asked the usual questions: Did the Coes think Melanie was forced to write the note? Did she leave against her will? Were any of her things missing?

Tearfully Evelyn answered the detective’s questions. “Her suitcase and some of her clothes are gone. She wasn’t forced to leave. She left us for Jeffrey. She did this to hurt us!”

I’m sorry, folks, but unfortunately we have to wait 24 hours before filing a missing persons report. My hands are tied” Detective McKenzie replied sympathetically.

God knows where they are by now!” Frank exclaimed.

I can’t believe she would leave us!” Evelyn lamented. “She has everything here; a nice home, lots of clothes and her own car. Why would she treat us so thoughtlessly? How could she do this to me?”

We never thought for ourselves. We worked so hard all our lives to get by. What did we do that was wrong?” Frank cried in desperation and frustration.

Hundreds of miles away Melanie and Jeffrey were speeding down the highway heading for a new life.

Any regrets leaving home like that?” Jeffrey asked.

None!” Melanie replied without hesitation. “I’m finally having fun and that’s the one thing my parent’s money can’t buy!”

She snuggled close to him and they sped away without looking back.

Melanie Coe

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Countless numbers of people are familiar with the song “She’s Leaving Home” by The Beatles. In 1966 Paul McCartney read a newspaper story in the Daily Mirror about a girl named Melanie Coe which inspired him to write the song. Although most of the content in the song was embellished, McCartney said that a great deal of the story about Coe, who was 17-years-old at the time, was accurate. Coe left with her boyfriend, a croupier; she did not meet a man from the motor trade (as the song says), although her boyfriend previously had been in that business. She left in the afternoon while her parents were at work while the girl in the song (and in this story) left in the early morning as her parents slept. The names of Melanie’s parents, Frank and Evelyn Coe, as well as her boyfriend Jeffrey, are fictitious. Coe was found ten days later having previously mentioned where her boyfriend worked. When she returned home, she was pregnant and her mother took her for an abortion. An update on Coe appeared in The Guardian in December 2008 and she was interviewed about the song on the BBC program The One Show on November 24, 2010. In May 2017 Rolling Stone magazine carried an interview with Coe to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles album, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

NAR © 2020

SEPTEMBER SONG

I’m reposting this story for Moonwashed Musings, The Limelight’s –
Autumn Prompt.

When I was younger I remember my grandparents dancing in the living room to some of their favorite ballads: “I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time”, “As Time Goes By”, “I’ll Be Seeing You”, “You Belong To Me”. They would drink a glass or two of sherry and talk about “the good old days” and how quickly the years pass. There was one song in particular that always made them somewhat melancholy. They’d sit side by side near the fireplace just listening to the words and holding each other close:

When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game”

I was just a kid and I couldn’t understand why a song about weather and time made them sad. That’s the way it is with kids; time means nothing. If someone is 25-years-old, that’s practically ancient! We’d watch shows like “Father Knows Best” and “The Donna Reed Show”; the actors were probably 40-years-old, if that, but they looked decrepit to us. The concept of aging was nonexistent.

You just blink your eyes once and you’re suddenly in high school. Then before you know it you’re married with kids of your own. Wait a gosh darn minute! When did that happen? Funny how time has a way of creeping up on you. One day you’re sledding down a giant snow-covered hill and the next you’re taking your own kids sledding down that same hill.

Your little Katie with a head-full of golden curls is now a teenager and you hear yourself saying the exact same things your parents said to you. And now your parents are the ones sitting by the fireplace listening to “September Song”.

Then one morning you wake up and it’s Katie’s wedding day. You catch a glimpse of your reflection in the mirror and your wife says how dashing you look, still so handsome in your tuxedo and you tell her she’s radiant in her gown, always the prettiest girl in the room. And in each other’s eyes it’s the truth; you haven’t changed a bit since your own wedding day.

You think about your grandparents, gone for a long time now, and you remember the call you got from your mother last week:

“Oh, dear, we’re just heartbroken over this
but your dad and I aren’t going to be able to make the trip
up to Vermont for Katie’s wedding.
Lord knows, we hate to miss it but we’ll be there in spirit.
Please give sweet Katie-Girl all our love.

You understand; they’re 80-something and need to take it easy. It’s a long trip from Florida to Vermont and they can’t handle the cold weather. Still you feel very sad knowing they’ll miss their granddaughter’s special day.

What a beautiful bride Katie was! Doesn’t her wedding photo look lovely on the mantle next to yours and your parents and your grandparents? Now it’s just the two of you in that old, empty house. Once upon a time, when you and your brothers and sisters were kids, the house was filled with your laughter. But wait – it’s suddenly not so empty and quiet anymore. Where’s all that noise coming from? And you take a peek around the corner; there are your grand kids in the living room near the Christmas tree. There’s some rock and roll song on the record player, the 12-year-old twins are playing “Yahtzee” and your 15-year-old granddaughter is furtively sharing a sweet kiss with her boyfriend under the mistletoe.

C’mon, kids!” Katie calls out from the front hallway. “Your dad’s got the car all packed up and it’s time to go. Say goodbye to Grams and Gramps.” And she gives you both a kiss on the cheek promising to call soon.

It seems like just yesterday but you realize eight years have gone by since you left Vermont and retired to Florida. You think about playing golf but your rotator cuff has been hurting a lot lately and your wife isn’t quite ready to hit the links so soon after her hip replacement. Well, let’s not think about that now. There will be plenty of days for golf. So you pour yourself another cup of coffee and work on a crossword puzzle while your wife knits a blanket for Katie’s grand-baby – your very first great-grandchild.

Now in the evenings you sip sherry in the living room. “There’s nothing good on tv these days. How about we listen to some music? Well, look what I found!” and you blow the dust off an old forgotten record laying on the shelf.

What memories that song brings back!” And you sit holding hands, gazing at faded family wedding photos on the mantle, listening to Sinatra sing:

“Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September”

And you give your wife a hug and a gentle kiss on the forehead.

NAR © 2020

https://amanpan.blog/2022/10/10/the-limelighters-autumn-prompt/.

I WANNA ROCK!!

“‘Cattle Decapitation‘?! What the hell kind of music are you into now, Colin? Sounds like another really depraved rock band from Sweden or Britain – that’s what you’re listening to these days, isn’t it? Like that other group you worship – ‘Liquid Graveyard’. What the hell does that even mean, Colin? Your mother and I have had it with this heavy metal music, if you can even call it music, which you insist on blaring throughout the house. You play it at all hours of the day and night and we’re losing our minds. You have absolutely no respect for anyone else. Your poor grandmother is afraid to come out of her room and eats all her meals behind her locked door. Frankly it’s nothing but head-splitting noise and I can’t blame her one bit for keeping herself locked away from you. I mean it was bad enough when you were into ‘Motörhead’ and that Lemmy freak but we kept our mouths shut; kids go through phases, I know that. Then you started getting into some pretty disturbing stuff, groups like ‘Autopsy’ and ‘Cannibal Corpse’. Really, Colin! It’s damn upsetting to the whole family and we’re seriously on the brink of kicking you out of the house. What do you have to say for yourself? What do you want to do with your life?!” Colin’s father, Mark, was apoplectic with rage.

I WANNA ROCK!!” Colin wanted to scream at the top of his lungs but he wouldn’t give his father the satisfaction. Instead, he looked up at his father from the recliner in his basement bedroom and calmly asked “Are you done spewing your uninformed and ponderous statements, Dad, or do you have more to say? If you’re done, I’m gonna ask you to leave my room and let me enjoy my music. If you’re not, feel free to continue your rant. You don’t mind if I put on my headphones, do you?” Colin knew he was adding gasoline to the fire but at this point he didn’t care any more. Obviously his father had been going through his stuff; he never takes the time to listen to what he has to say and has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about. Actually comparing ‘Cattle Decapitation’ to ‘Motörhead‘ – what a pedestrian misconception!

“Why you little son of a bitch! You’re telling ME to get out of YOUR room? This is MY house; I just let you live here! We fixed up the basement for you when your grandmother moved in. We could have easily had you share a room with Kyle but we realized you needed your own space, being five years older that your brother. And how do you repay us? By turning this place into a shit hole! Look at your crap – magazines, posters, CDs, video games, boxes of God knows what spread out all over the place. No wonder your mother practically has a panic attack every time she has to come down here to use the washing machine. She’s almost as scared as your grandmother! It breaks her heart seeing what you’ve done to this room. You know, she always wanted to make this her arts and crafts area but gladly gave up the space to accommodate you. Have you ever shown your appreciation, even once? No, you haven’t! You’re such a selfish and spoiled ingrate!” Colin stared at his father, fascinated as he watched his eyes bulge with every word and the throbbing veins in his neck looked like they were going to explode.

“Since we’re talking about me, Dad, other than my taste in music and the fact that you think I’m a selfish ingrate, have I ever done anything youre ashamed of? I’m a good student and I’ve got a job. All the stuff you call “crap” – I bought everything you see here with my own money. I never asked you for a dime to buy CDs or video games. That’s a lot more than you cay say about other kids my age but you‘ve never acknowledged that. You just constantly browbeat me about my music.”

Mark was momentarily caught off guard; he’d never heard Colin talk like this before. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time they actually had a civilized conversation; they always just screamed at each other. Who was this kid?

Dad, let me ask you a question. Didn’t you have your favorite groups when you were my age, maybe even some your parents didn’t approve of?” Colin asked.

“Of course we did, Colin. We listened to lots of different groups like ‘Guns N’ Roses’, ‘Mötley Crüe’, ‘Whitesnake’ and ‘Quiet Riot’, among others, but that music is no comparison to the crap that’s out today, especially this garbage you listen to. Yeah, maybe my father gave me some grief now and then – it’s a father’s job to keep his kids in line – but back then the music we listened to was really good. You know, your mother still loves The Beatles? You can’t get any better than that.”

Colin inched to the edge of his chair. “Dad, do you honestly think you’re telling me anything new? I know all about those groups you used to listed to. You think I’m only aware of what’s popular now? Give me a little more credit than that! At least my mind isn’t closed off like yours. I like ‘The Beatles’, ‘Stones’, ‘Led Zeppelin’, ‘Deep Purple’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘AC/DC’, ‘Metallica’, ‘Rush’ – should I go on? I accept the fact that my music isn’t for everybody and you should at least acknowledge that and try to be a little more broadminded instead of sticking it to me every chance you get. Did you ever think the reason I stay down here listening to my music is because you and I never just sit and talk about stuff?”

Mark exhaled deeply. “You make some valid points, Colin, you really do but at least the names of the groups we were into weren’t twisted. Tell me, what the hell kind of name is ‘Cattle Decapitation’, for crying out loud? It’s not normal! What the hell am I supposed to make of that?”

Come on, Dad. It’s just a name. Didn’t you listen to ‘Poison’ and ‘Fine Young Cannibalsand ‘Nine Inch Nails’? And since you mentioned “twisted”, what about ‘Twisted Sister’? What kinds of names are those? Besides, you don’t know the first thing about ‘Cattle Decapitation‘” Colin replied.

Well, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what the name means, Colin. It’s repulsive!”

And there you go again, making a judgment call with no real information to back it up! Dad, can you cool down long enough to give me a minute to tell you something about them?”

Mark sat down heavily on the side of Colin’s bed. “Go ahead, Colin, but it’s probably not going to change my mind.”

‘Well, you might be surprised, Dad. And I’m not making any of this up. It’s all on the internet so Google it if you don’t believe me. ‘Cattle Decapitation’ is an American group, not Swedish or English. That’s rightfrom right here in the US of A, just like your good old boy Ted Nugent! And they aren’t famous for cutting off the heads of innocent cows or sheep. Their music isn’t heavy metal – that’s what you listened to. Their music is called ‘death grind’ which I know you think sounds really sick; it’s like a fusion of death metal and grind-core, not that I’d expect you to understand that but it wouldn’t kill you to look it up. You just might learn something. Their songs actually protest the mistreatment and consumption of animals. the abuse of the environment and other subjects such as misanthropy and genocide. Much of the band’s music is based on putting humans in the same situations that animals are subjected to like animal testing and brutality. And I’m sure you’ll be shocked to hear” Colin continued “that the members of the band are vegetarians, just like me – or haven’t you noticed I gave up eating meat two years ago? They aren’t savages. When you think about it they’re not all that different than ‘that fab little group’ Mom loves so much; they’re just expressing themselves in a different way.

Mark looked at his son with skepticism. “I don’t know, Colin. That just doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, listen to them; that lead singer sounds like he’s possessed by demons!”

“That’s because they’re angry about the situation of the world and they’re trying to get our attention! Their song ‘Bring Back the Plague’ is all about COVID-19 and is the painful, truthful humor we all need right now. And it was filmed responsibly on cell phones while the band was in self-isolation. Do us both a favor, Dad” requested Colin. “Forget the music for now and just read the lyrics to their songs, then compare them to the groups you listened to. That’s all I ask; think of it as a compromise. After that, if you still want to kick me out of the house, that’s your right.”

Ok, Colin, I’ll take a look but I can’t promise anything.”

Mark went to the fridge and grabbed a Bud Light. He climbed the stairs to his den, flipped on ‘Metallica‘ and started Googling ‘Cattle Decapitation‘, death metal and grind-core.

Well, I’ll be God damned! he said after reading for half an hour. “The kid actually knew what he was talking about.” Mark switched off ‘Metallica’ and searched YouTube for ‘Bring Back the Plague’. Putting on his headphones, he took a swig of his beer and for the first time in ages he actually paid attention.

NAR © 2020

Submitted on this day in 2022 for Fandango’s Flashback Friday — September 16th

GUEST POST: THE POIGNANCY OF A DYING SWAN

It’s a privilege to present to you a poem by my friend, Colin Cameron. I just came across this poem written by Colin on September 11, 2016 and was struck by the beauty and depth of this composition. The fact that this poem was originally written on September 11 is most profound indeed. Colin can be found on Facebook and is a member of Carefree Writers, also on Facebook. Check out his vast collection of poems on all subjects, from the ridiculously funny to the sublimely poignant. You will not be disappointed.

September 11, 2016

There’s nought so poignant than a dying swan

When such beauty wanes, like faded silken chiffon

A life of magnificence, dressed in majestic and Royal regalia

Of which only nature breeds others so familiar

No judgement on the world to bestow

Rose above the melee, so far, and way down below

In silence and romantic hue, with mate espoused for life

Intertwined necks and wings, as one they swam the lake no strife

In flight they were in unison, spans of angels wings

In jealous admiration, larks and starling sings

The ugly duckling story, fulfilled from page to fact

Remembered well, those cygnets, from eggs lovingly hatched

And now the song is almost at an end, full cycle but far too soon

Her mate succumbed to leaded weights, and fell to deathlike swoon

Solemnity overtook the swan, in her chest now beat a broken heart

Never had she loved so pure, they were destined never to part

And when she closed her eyes, for that final time

She cursed bitterly, that fisherman and his bloody line

ALL ABOARD!

Cattle, not people! That’s what it felt like to me when I was riding the subways of New York City. Just when you think another person can’t possibly fit, at least a dozen manage to squeeze their way in. It’s kind of like the clown car at the circus, only not the least bit amusing.

The first half of my morning commute from New Rochelle in Westchester County into “the city” was quite pleasant. I’d buy a muffin and a freshly brewed cup of coffee at Britain and McCain’s, then hop on the Metro North New Haven line. At the time I worked on Church Street in the financial district of lower Manhattan. The 7:18 AM train was brightly lit, clean, perfectly climate-controlled and the seats were nicely spread out making for a comfortable and relaxing ride. I’d always see the same friendly faces, fellow suburbanites with their briefcases and newspaper tucked under an arm. A nod or a wave was all that was necessary; no need for casual conversation as everyone was looking forward to a peaceful trek to work. It was all quite civilized. It took 40 minutes to get to Grand Central Terminal where I’d then hustle to catch the subway to Church Street.

Grand Central – an awe-inspiring wonder of architecture and one of the busiest terminals in the world – has always been a whirling hub of activity with harried commuters scurrying about like so many little ants rushing to catch their train. Finding a seat on one of the countless subway trains was a continuous battle. Any shred of human decency was discarded at the terminal doors as people trampled each other in the hopes of securing a place to sit or, at the very least, a spot against a wall on which to lean. If you were unable to find neither seat nor wall, you’d have no choice but to position yourself in the aisles where you could hang onto the hand straps suspended from the ceiling or stand shoulder-to-shoulder like disgruntled sheep crammed in a stall with no place to go. And if anyone should stumble and fall, God help them because no one else would! Livestock on the road to the slaughterhouse; is it any wonder so many people were frustrated and disillusioned by their daily commute and in turn hated their jobs?

Most days there were unexplained delays and the 20-minute ride to Church Street took much longer than that. The unvoiced question dangled in the stifling air: how long will we be stuck this time? People would hang their heads in defeat and heave a sigh of resignation knowing they were at the mercy of the subway puppeteers. I stared at this sign for so many mindless hours I can still recite the entire message in both English and Spanish:

For people with claustrophobia, just being underground is a nightmare; similarly being jammed on a subway is a hellish experience, especially in the heat of summer. The worst part was when the train would stall in the tunnel and all the power would go out – no lights, no air conditioning, no nothing – just the overwhelming conglomeration of the stench of body odor, bad breath, urine and other bodily secretions along with the complaining gripes and groans, pisses and moans of those stuck in the train. And as if that weren’t bad enough, you’d suddenly become aware of the alarming feel of creepy, unwelcome hands fondling your ass or some horny pervert rubbing against you – and you were incapable of moving an inch. I recall being frozen in place praying for the lights to quickly come back on and the train to start up. For any normal person, being groped regardless the situation is a humiliating and despicable ordeal; having it happen while trapped in a dark, crowded, sweaty, smelly subway car is indescribably terrifying – enough to put anyone over the brink. I came close to losing it more times than I care to remember. Crying out “Get your filthy hands off me!” would generally elicit snickering, laughing or the occasional tsk of commiseration and disapproval.

That was the typical morning subway expedition; by the time I arrived at the office I felt like I needed a shower. When the workday was done at 5:00 PM, the mass exodus would begin and the subway horror show would start again. It didn’t take me too long to realize I couldn’t endure these conditions indefinitely and I discovered an unusual survival strategy; I started taking the train four stations deeper into the bowels of Manhattan from Church Street to Canal Street, a 10-minute subway ride in the opposite direction from Grand Central Station and further away from the comfort and serenity of the New Haven Line. My reasoning behind this backwards maneuver was really quite simple: Canal Street was the originating point for the trip to Grand Central and I would always find a seat. If I waited to get on at Church Street the train would already be full. I’d head straight for the somewhat secluded two-seater in the corner. I didn’t care how long the trip took, how crowded the train became or how many times we got stuck; as long as I was sitting in the corner I felt safe. I could close my eyes and pretend to be asleep or hide my nose in a book; I finished quite a few chapters on that 30-minute ride while tucked away in those coveted corner seats.

For some reason, though, I would inevitably attract the undesirables. Many a ponderous man would wedge himself into the seat next to me, breathing heavily and reeking of garlic. Why, when there were plenty of empty seats, would I end up with Jabba the Hutt plopping down next to me? I would stay put and do my best to cope with a most unpleasant situation. There was also the occasional sicko (although one is more than enough) who would position himself directly in front of me, his manhood at full attention mere inches from my face. Those were the times I prayed for death. If I could have hung myself from one of the ceiling hand straps I gladly would have done so, drifting off into unconsciousness while visions of Lorena Bobbitt danced in my head. Instead I would prop my briefcase vertically on my lap and hide behind it. By some source of divine intervention the lights never went out during one of those close encounters of the worst kind.

It’s been more than 40 years since I worked in Manhattan; I loved my job and the people I worked with but after seven years I’d had enough of the commute. Kudos to those who travel the trains for twenty or more years; I have no idea how they do it! I don’t miss riding the subway one bit and if I have to go into Manhattan these days, I drive. I’ll gladly take on any maniac behind the wheel of a taxi or a truck rather than deal with the neanderthal subway passengers. I’m just thankful my days of riding the New York City cattle cars ended while I still had my dignity and sanity intact.

NAR © 2020

FOWC with Fandango — Typical

GUEST POST – FOUR RED ROSES: A VALENTINE STORY

Posted on February 10, 2020

It is an honor and a pleasure to present to you a slightly different spin on your typical Valentine’s Day romance story written by my friend and founder of Write Away, Simon John Wood. I loved the unique and unexpected direction this story took and the fact that it mentions the Beatles is a plus in my book. It was difficult to choose one story from Simon’s extensive collection; he’s a prolific writer, entertaining us with everything from animals to horror to romance. Please check out his blog, To Cut A Short Story Short; I guarantee you will be enthralled for hours on end!

Sandra Malone sat staring at her laptop. On the left side, a heart with a ribbon around it and the words, ‘To My Valentine.’ On the right, a blank page anticipating her inspired verse. She sighed. She’d needed the work and, as a poet – of sorts, had been recommended to Gibson’s Cards to crank out twenty Valentine verses and messages. After a morning’s work, trying to think of original lines using ‘Valentine,’ ‘please be mine,’ ‘heart,’ ‘never part’ and such, she was sorely tempted to rhyme ‘heart’ with ‘fart.’ That’d make Gibson’s sit up!Her self-published collection of poetry, Waste Disposal, a humorous – she hoped – ‘take’ on T.S. Eliot’s Wasteland, hardly qualified her to write such drivel! As for her own slim book, it had yet to reach the fifty sales mark, and, she admitted to herself, even those sales were largely down to herself, buying copies to give away to friends and family, most of whom had smiled politely and tucked the book away on a dusty bookcase, to be perhaps glanced at one day in the distant future.She stood up and walked across to a patio window, gazing across the lawn to a small group of silver birch trees. She’d become cynical since Tony had left her, she realised. Stuck on her own with Arthur, her nine-year-old autistic son. She looked at her reflection in the window, noticing a slim figure and long blonde hair, pleased that her crows’ feet and marionette lines weren’t visible. But, hey, she wasn’t unattractive. Men still made the occasional ‘pass’ at her. Just that they only wanted one thing, and it wasn’t to be step-dad to a difficult child.Barry, her last ‘boy-friend,’ though decades past boyhood, if truth be told, had been different. He’d experienced hardship of his own, losing his wife to a bizarre accident – a sheet of glass had fallen from a building, practically slicing her head off – and neither of his grown-up children would talk to him. But one day, Arthur had decided to make a rabbit hutch. Barry offered to help and was rewarded with a nail through his hand and a trip to hospital. After that his visits had diminished to zero.Sandra smiled a wistful smile. Barry’s had been the only Valentine card she’d received for several years. Even Tony hadn’t bothered towards the end, instead doubtless directing them to Irene, his ‘dancing partner,’ with whom he was now ensconced. And here she was, racking her brains over composing sentimental nonsense for the wretched cards. How ironic!The phone rang. “Hello Sandy, it’s Marge, how’re the verses coming on?”“Oh, er, OK, I’ve still got a few to do.”“What, how many? We agreed twenty; I need them by five o’clock.”Nervously, Sandra glanced at the time. Just gone three. “Oh, I’ve done, er, fourteen. I’ll have another six in an hour.” She crossed her fingers, hoping that Marge wouldn’t ask her to send what she’d done so far. She’d been told that Marge had ‘scary’ days.“That’s fine, Sandy, I’m checking the image proofs now. As soon as we get the verses, Copeland’s will get the presses rolling. Think of all those lovers you’ll be bringing together. And all those babies you’ll be making!”Sandra forced a laugh.“OK, hun, rushed off my feet here. Make sure you get them to us by five, OK? Byeee!”Sandra replaced the handset, finding her hand covered in sweat and her breath short.Sitting at her laptop again, she gave in to temptation. By 4.45 p.m. she had nineteen verses, adapted from Valentine cards found online. ‘Old verses given a fresh twist,’ she tried to convince herself. And well-matched with the images! One more to go … but she felt tired, fed up of writing doggerel.Splashing her face with cold water in the bathroom, she heard the phone ringing. It would be Marge again, no doubt. Well at least she was nearly there.Instead, a voice from the past. “Hi, Sandy, it’s me, Barry, look I know it’s been a while, er, but could we talk?”

He must have the radio on, she thought. In the background she could hear The Beatles. She hesitated, “Barry?” Then she had a sudden inspiration. “Just a minute.” She went to her laptop and, opposite an image of four red roses, typed, ‘All You Need Is Love.’ Simple, but it would do nicely! Pressing ‘send,’ she returned to the phone. “Hi, Barry, how’s your hand?”

SECRETS ON MYLAR

Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Free love and hooking up. No strings, no regrets, no jealousy – just consenting adults getting stoned and getting it on. There was a clear understanding: never get romantically involved with someone else’s spouse.

The year was 1973.

Four young friends, Nathan and Brooke and Michael and April, lived in an apartment building in Riverdale. The girls were sexy and fashionable in their halter tops, tight low-rise jeans and platform shoes. The guys were good-looking and cool in their faded jeans, crisp white t-shirts and leather blazers. They had many similar interests and traveled in the same circle of friends.

Brooke and Michael broke all the rules. Their attraction was instantaneous. Everyone else was so out of it they never noticed that the duo always ended up together.

Brooke was one of those girls who was innately sensual and completely oblivious to the power she had over men. She was electric. Michael was handsome, smart, funny, sexy and vain, confident and fully aware of the effect he had on women.

Michael was a photographer; Brooke taught piano. They had the luxury of working locally while their spouses April and Nathan worked in Manhattan. It was very convenient for Brooke and Michael to get together whenever they wanted. He loved taking photos of her – hundreds of erotic nudes. He even let her take one of him, something he never let anyone do. She kept the photo tucked away in an inconspicuous compartment in her wallet.

For April’s 25th birthday she and Michael had a party with a lot of guests which gave Michael the opportunity to display his new photographs. One piece was an intriguing black and copper image on glossy Mylar poster paper. As Nathan and Brooke admired the print, Michael sidled up to her and whispered “That’s you.” She stared intently, tilting her head a bit. Then she saw it – the sultry vision of a face and woman’s body! Brooke was annoyed that Michael would display something so personal but also felt a rush; only they knew about the image hidden on the Mylar.

Time passed as it always does, lifestyles changed and the four friends slowly drifted apart. Brooke got pregnant and she and Nathan moved to Connecticut. Michael and April got divorced. Out of the blue one night Nathan and Brooke got a call from April: Michael was dead; he crashed his Corvette into a tree, dying on impact. The news was devastating, especially for Brooke. She barely slept that night thinking of all the times she shared with Michael.

A few days later Brooke received a package in the mail; a neatly typed address label was attached. Removing the wrapping, she was shocked to see Michael’s Mylar poster and the image of her naked body. Taped to the back of the poster was a large manila envelope full of Brooke’s nude photos and a note: “Consider this a gift; the negatives come with a price. Imagine Nathan’s reaction.”

The note freaked her out. Who sent this? There was no return address but the postmark read “Riverdale”. Brooke immediately thought of April and knew she had to get the negatives from her, regardless the cost. Nathan could never find out.

Brooke gathered everything, grabbed her purse and started driving towards Riverdale, towards April. All she could think about was Nathan and getting the negatives back. Michael promised he would destroy everything and she couldn’t believe he would lie to her. April must have known found the photos while going through Michael’s belongings or she knew about Brooke and Michael’s affair all along. Her mind on the past, Brooke almost missed the Riverdale exit and swerved erratically back onto the highway. She never saw the oncoming truck; Brooke died instantly in the crash.

At that exact moment Nathan sat in his Manhattan office opening a large manila envelope with a neatly typed address label. Stuffed inside were hundreds of negatives.

One must wonder which was more devastating for unsuspecting Nathan – the shocking news of his wife’s death or the gut-wrenching revelation of her infidelity?

NAR © 2020