Monday, March 03, 2008

Jen's Elusive Story, Part 2 (and an explanation for Part 1)

There was some confusion on Thursday or Friday (whatever day it was that I posted the first part of this story) as to what it was all about, why it was here, what was the point, etc... The only thing I can conclude from these questions is that my post regarding that story that I have stuck in my head and cannot get out has been forgotten by those who regularly read my blog. It's OK...I'm not feeling offended or anything...but as an explanation, the story is finally coming out...and faster than I thought it would. My problem was that I was convinced the story I wanted to tell was a children’s story and so I was mired in the thought processes of trying to get my story across to that audience, telling it from the perspective of a couple neighborhood kids. The more I looked at it, though, the more I realized I had more to say than would be reasonable for a children’s story and also, that I was “dumbing down” what I was trying to write – and that is why I was stuck. I expanded my horizons, looked at things from a different perspective and bam!...things just started coming together. I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this – although the basic premise for the story has not changed. One of my friends at work seems to think this story is somewhat dark, and is worried that the woman is going to die. She is the central focus of the story and therefore, she cannot die or there would be no story. As for it being dark? It may be...I haven’t decided yet how best to pursue the angle of the tale. Anyway – I’m posting another section of the story today and maybe one or two more...and then I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Let’s just hope that I don’t get too consumed by this, because that woman is SO REAL to me – she absolutely does exist – and I hope that I don’t become so involved in her life, that I forget to live mine. (Isn’t that a danger with writers?) THE STORY, PART 2 Officer Fred Romani sat at the end of the cul-de-sac in his squad car with one thing on his mind: the enormous sandwich in the paper wrapper on the seat next to him. He was as far away from anyone who knew him as he could get, yet still close enough to his jurisdiction to be available if he was needed. This was a strategic plan. He was taking no chances that anyone would report back to his wife. That sandwich, he knew, was strictly forbidden but he was sick of the rabbit food he’d been forced to eat for the last five months. He needed substance and if he had to sneak food to get it, then so be it. Six months ago, Romani had suffered an acute myocardial infarction. At least, that’s what those damn doctors called it – he just called it a heart attack. I call ‘em like I see ‘em, he thought to himself. He was much heavier than the department’s weight guidelines allowed, but he was a good cop, so the Chief let him slide. Besides, he’d been on desk duty for four months now – how can they expect his waistline to shrink sitting on his rear end, shoveling papers all day? Even with the rabbit food! As he sat behind the wheel, the sun streamed in the driver’s side window making his dark blue uniform uncomfortably warm. Romani cracked all four windows slightly to allow the cool, spring air access to the stuffy interior of the police car. He felt sleepy, heavy and lethargic, and his mind drifted off, but stopped just short of actually falling asleep. He didn’t want to neglect his duty, even if it was technically lunch time. Looking out the windshield of his cruiser, he admired the neatly manicured lawns of the ten or so houses on this short, dead-end street. All the houses were essentially the same, but you could see that each owner had done his best to make his own house distinguishable from his neighbor’s. Aside from the wide variety of hues, there were also structural differences – major and minor – that characterized each individual home: a dormer window here, a wrap-around porch there, ginger bread trim, a stone chimney. Not to mention the flourishing gardens that graced the fronts of each property. Nice place, Romani thought. Maybe the wife would like this neighborhood, since she don’t seem too thrilled with where we are now. You can’t afford much more on a cop’s salary. One house stood out from the others, though. It looked neglected and run down, almost abandoned, and totally out of place among the perfect “Leave it to Beaver” houses that surrounded it. There were shingles missing from the roof, shutters askew, paint chipping, and a screen door that looked ready to fall off its hinges. The fence surrounding the front yard was missing pickets in places and looked like it needed a few coats of fresh paint. The saddest thing by far, thought Romani, was the lonely bench swing hanging from the ceiling of the sagging front porch. It made him imagine a young couple, sitting side-by-side, wanting to be closer to one another, but stiffly avoiding contact – saying all they needed to say with their eyes. Even from this distance, Romani could see a straw hat and a pair of shoes carelessly abandoned on the seat of the swing. The flower bed was the only thing that hinted at the house being inhabited. Though far from the beautiful gardens in the yards of its neighbors, there were small spaces on either side of the front porch steps which were pruned and weeded to perfection. He briefly wondered about the person who lived inside that house, and wondered why they had let it fall into such disrepair – but his stomach made a dreadful lurch and pulled him out of his musings and back into his hunger. He quickly glanced around the little street to make sure no one was watching him, and, assured of his privacy, he lunged for his sandwich and attacked it hungrily. The first bite was absolute bliss and though he chewed too quickly, he was aware that his taste buds were getting a thrill they hadn’t had in far too long. The second bite was good, too, but not nearly as pleasing as the first, and he chewed more slowly hoping to savor the experience of this prohibited meal. By the third bite, guilt had set in as well as another emotion he could only label as fear. He could feel his wife’s eyes boring holes into the back of his skull, and though he knew she was nowhere near him now, he felt her presence as acutely as if she were sitting in the seat next to him. He felt scolded, like a little child. Disgusted, he put the sandwich down, swiped at his face with the back of his hand and checked the time: 12:13 PM. He was amazed that he’d been sitting here for only 13 minutes. What a waste of a good sandwich. What a time for my conscience to rear its ugly head, he mused. With another visual sweep of the tiny neighborhood, he started his engine and headed back toward the center of town. (Written by Jennifer Shell, February 29, 2008)

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