What I’m about to do, is build the kind of blog I would want to visit. It would be a place where content is expressed within stories; dramatic, suspenseful, and meaningful stories. It would be a destination where everyone’s ideas are as important as the site’s host. And it would be a forum where people can talk about what people do and why they do it; not as objects of gossip, but as human beings with feelings.
So I’m nervous about this blog. I’m not going to pretend I’m not. I am. In fact, I’m intimidated by the bar I’ve set for myself. And for you too. I don’t know if I can pull this off, writing a story segment a week that has sophisticated depth about situations and characters, and then asking YOU to figure it out, and talk about what it implies on a global scale. In essence, you and I will be co-writers, which means this blog is not about me. It’s about YOU, and your ideas.
So here’s how we’ll begin. I’ll start the discussion by writing a few scenes each week. They’ll be episodes of a longer story. They might emulates a scandal that’s hitting the media, or they may come from a personal situation I’ve gone through myself. After each weekly segment, I’ll invite you to publish your opinions about why the characters are doing what they’re doing and saying what they’re saying. If I’ve done my job, the scenes should reflect a life situation that relates to you or someone you know. And by discussing the theme and implications, we’ll explore twists and turns of the mind and how it leads us into dark caves or toward the light of wisdom. It’s an amalgamation of a book club party, a writing class, and a group therapy session. We’ll exchange ideas and absorb the communal wisdom, week by week. I’ll write – you’ll leave a reply – I’ll write – you’ll comment, to me, to each other. The story grows, the characters grow, WE grow.
Okay. So where shall we begin? I’ve chosen a subject that keeps coming up again and again: Men with power crashing when breaking the rules, specifically with women. I didn’t make up the “rules” nor do I agree with all of them. But when a public figure crosses that moving line and it goes public, his or her “Oh God, I DIDN’T!!!” mistake makes headlines. Why? Because we’re interested. It’s drama. And that’s what we fiction writers do – write about drama. So here goes, ready or not. Here’s my kick-off story, starting with Ronnie’s side, which explores: How good girls get into trouble.
IS THE RISK WORTH IT? Even when you’re broke. [Part 1 0f 8]
The room could more tidy. Actually, a lot more. So could the bed and the gal lounging on it, uncased pillows bunched up behind her back softening the space between her half robed, curvy body and the hard metal headboard in need of a dusting. An open MacBook Pro lies open on her lab. Her long bare legs extend toward the foot of the mattress, toes bending as she scrutinizes her layout of a wire framed website in progress. With five quick clicks she imports the skyline of an American metropolis into the header box. Below that photo she types: MAYOR JONATHON STEADMAN – OFFICIAL WEBSITE. She reaches for a half eaten banana lying on a stack of books next to the bed. No table. Just a stack of thirty hardcover novels re-purposed into a night stand.
Her Mac dings, an alert that signals an email just flew into her life. She brings up the new window, reading: Hey babe! How’s the site coming? Wondering… When’s the ETA? Let’s meet. Love to see the new theme over late lunch. Near my office OK? The Hilton, great menu, private booths for your show and tell. 2:30 pm. Quieter then. Let me know. Jonny. Sent from my iPhone
“Not again…” she sighs. It’s his second advance. This time even more blatant.
She glances at the clock under the harsh white light of the plastic Walmart lamp standing on her table of books. It’s 8:48pm, which means, he’s either leaving the office, at home with family, or someplace else. Where would that someplace else be? Just who is this man who seems so noble on TV? Is he another horny dude with a trust-me smile and great PR campaign? Or is truly he the man-of-the-people with a few quirks?
If he’s just another pushy guy, Ronnie knows about that breed. She’s been dodging them since the tenth grade. It’s not easy being smart, young and a women when you’re afflicted with DDG; as in, drop dead gorgeous. Once seen in the flesh, her art school sculptures and paintings fade behind her perfect shadow, as well as her A’s in math and science. All people see is a face and a figure.
“Oh, you should be a model, or an actress,” was a comment repeated again and again as she grew into womanhood. And sure, she test drove her tight new body and showed it off in her teens and up into college. But wearing eye-candy costumes eventually got old, and she came to realize she wasn’t connecting to the type of boys she liked. And later, the young men she wanted.
Two thousand and nine was her year of awakening, the spring she graduated the university into an atrophied job market and a pool of poverty seeping into her future. Boyfriends quickly sunk in priority as she applied, endlessly, for any job that might match her degree and help pay off college loans. There wasn’t much out there. No surprise about that. But what she didn’t expect, or rather what she denied to be true, is that pretty girls have an advantage. They can always get hired, doing something. In corporate, it’s called “FOA” – front office appeal; a meet-and-greet minimum wage do-nothing job that places pretty girls square in the sights of every gent who steps into a lobby and asks, “You gotta boyfriend?” Yep, there’s always a demand for eye candy.
More sounded alerts, now from her phone nowhere in sight. Covers get tossed. The tones carry on. She leaves the bed and sprints her twenty-four year old frame to a cluttered desk next to tall, filthy windows. City lights twinkle below through the smudged glass. RING…RING…CLICK, followed by, Hi, It’s Ronnie. Can’t answer so leave a… Message stops. Ronnie found her phone, and she knows who called. “Hi Beth…”
“Did he send another one?”
“No. But now he wants to meet me at some restaurant at the Hilton. He says it’s business.”
“You gonna do it?
“I don’t know. I don’t know what to do. I need this job so bad…”
“It’s gonna finish, isn’t it?”
“I’d go. It’s the friggin’ mayor!”
“You know. Keep it going ‘til you get paid. Maybe you’ll meet somebody else. You always do.”
“Okay. Not your style. But at least see where it goes. Let him know, like in a nice way, that you didn’t like the picture.”
“I didn’t like his picture?”
“You know what I mean. That you’re…different.”
“This is not helping.”
“All right, subject-change. Did Rob call?
“No loss. He was another loser. Why do you fucking always go for ass holes?”
“Because YOU introduce me to them.”
“They don’t start out that way!”
The conversation went nowhere, ending five sentences later. Back on the bed, Ronnie reopens her app to reopen an earlier email. This one shows a close-up photo of a man in a beach volleyball game. He’s wearing skin-tight Speedo trunks, plainly revealing…well, what do you think? Caught in stop-action returning the ball, this ‘manly’ photo is all about Sausage-in-a-Blanket. And he sort of pulls it off. For his mid-forties he’s almost buff. Almost, despite a balding head and bow legs.
Under this photo show the words: ARE YOU SPORTY? Jonny.
She clicks back to his last email, reading: The Hilton, great menu, private booths for your show and tell. 2:30 pm. Quieter then. Let me know. Jonny.
What to do? She needs this job. If it goes, it’s over. As much as she hates this one room shelter, she’ll lose it. And she can’t go to her folks. Well, she can, but she won’t. They’ve got money problems too. Always have. So, no. Plan B does not exist, except to look for more work, which she does everyday.
Her gaze shifts to the glowing night sky, and the distant purring din of traffic outside her windows. She’s sinking into emptiness, into that place where all joy and the reasons to get out of bed get sucked from the soul: the Soul that’s whispering, ‘Don’t do it, Ronnie.’ But she has to answer him, one way or another. So her eyes return to her Mac, and to the name Jonny, and to his Hilton invitation. She hits REPLY, and starts typing.
To be continued…07/22/2011
So what is Ronnie about? Do people misjudge you because of the way you look? Have you had to take a job when you knew your boss had other intentions? Or disliked you from the get-go? Let’s talk about it.