Thursday, August 16, 2007


This is adapted from the opening section of a chapter in my novel, We Danced to Ray Charles, a 92,000 word, coming-of-age, mainstream love story. The central plot is a love triangle, set against a background of growing racial tension and social change in a small southern town in the summer of 1968.

Anyone wishing to read the novel on-line should e-mail me for the secret codewords to gain admittance into the mystic, password protected blog wherein it resides.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Bayou Bill


The Seducers
by Bill Fullerton

Velma Meeks sat enthroned at one end of the worn couch in her messy, haphazardly furnished living room. She lit a fresh cigarette with her old one, made a token attempt at crushing the butt, then left the still smoldering stub in the overflowing ashtray. Taking a deep drag, she leaned back and let the smoke come out in a long, thin stream. With her smoking chores completed, she propped her bare feet on a Sears catalog spread open on the crowded coffee table and prepared to wait for Bebe's return.

Waiting in patient silence was not her style, however. She turned her head toward the empty doorway to the kitchen. "You know it's hard for me to believe you're this screwed-up. You've always been so self-confident. Now, it's like you don't know whether to shit or go blind."

Bebe came back from the tiny kitchen carrying a Tab and a package of peanut butter crackers. "It's not that bad, really. I've just got this feeling, call it a hunch, that something's not right and I don't know why or what to do about it."

She reclaimed her spot at the other end of the sofa and found a place on the coffee table for the bottle. "The thing is, Mark and I went out a couple of times last weekend. One was a real date. On the other we just went swimming. Both times he seemed, well, sort of distracted. Like, it was nice to be with me, but it was no big deal, either."

"You think maybe he's just jealous and pouting because you went out with Darrell Ray?"

Bebe shrugged and reached for her own cigarettes. "Could be. That's what I'd hoped for. But now I'm not sure. He's never even asked about what I did while he was gone. At first, I figured it was because somebody told him about my dating Darrell Ray and, like you say, he was pouting. But now, I'm beginning to think he just doesn't care."

"I doubt it," said Velma, leaning forward to see if the new coat of bright red polish on her toenails was dry. "Maybe he's just trying to act cool. But judging from what you've told me, I doubt that, too."

Bebe squirmed in her seat. "Oh, did you hear about the crap he pulled this morning?”

Velma shook her head. “Not a word. What happened?”

“Seems he and Amy Marshall showed up at the courthouse with Willie, that nigger friend of theirs, and some nigger gal no one recognized. They talked about being old friends and wanting to register to vote together. Well, the nigger girl didn't, but the rest of 'em did."

"What happened? Was there any trouble?"

"Not a bit." Bebe sounded disgusted. "Sissy Bullock phoned right after they left and told me all about it. According to her, Mac Stringer, she called him an old fart, vanished and nobody could find the Sheriff. Seems like everybody knew what was going to happen, everybody except Sissy and me. What's more, that creepy D.C. Wright was there taking pictures. I guess for next week's paper."

"Mark didn't say anything to you about this?"

"Well, yeah, he kinda did. But he didn't make a big deal out of it. And to tell you the truth, I wasn't paying much attention. Like I said, he was acting so weird. I thought he was talking about politics or just his registering to vote."

There was a brief lull as both women smoked and pondered the situation. Velma sat up and started rummaging around on the coffee table. "You haven't seen my nail file have you?" She paused and looked over at Bebe. "You know, I just had a thought. Was he that way, you know, distracted like, when he picked you up? What I'm asking is, did something happen during the date that might have caused this?"

"Well, he seemed all right at first, I think." Bebe picked the file off the floor and handed it to Velma. "But I was carrying on, doing a lot of the talking. You know, trying to act like I was interested in what he’d done down in Baton Rouge. So I'm not sure. The one thing that was different from any of our other dates was those two damn niggers almost running us off the road."

Velma's eyes widened. "When did that happen?"

"On the way to the Catfish House. It was on that stretch of road with all those hills and curves. We were coming around a really long curve when this over-loaded pulpwood truck with two big niggers in it started coming right at us. I mean they were way over on our side of the road.”

“Damn. What’d y’all do?”

“Mark managed to dodge 'em, somehow. But it was close. I tell you, it just about scared me to death. I flat-out freaked and started yellin' that he should chase those niggers down and teach 'em a lesson. Then I noticed him giving me a kind of funny look and something told me I better shut up. He shook his head and said he'd rather spend his time wrestling with me than those pulpwood haulers."

Velma hooted. "You got to give him credit for coming up with a good line. I just wish you'd noticed how he was acting before then. But I doubt if it matters. I can't see something like that changing how he feels about you. Do you think something might have happened while he was in Baton Rouge, you know, with Amy?"

"I've been wondering the same thing. But I don't think so. Still, with her anything, and I do mean anything, is possible."

"I suppose there could be more going on between them than we first figured. They might of gotten carried away, you know, at one of those parties he told you about. If that happened, maybe he's feeling guilty and all."

Before Bebe could respond, Velma continued, "And while we're on the subject of getting carried away, I take it you two still haven't done the dirty deed?"

"Not yet. The timing just hasn't felt right.” Bebe winked at Velma. "Why do you think I went out with Darrell Ray?"

They both giggled, then Velma said, "Well, honey, maybe he's just getting tired of waiting for some action. Look, even if that's not the main problem, I promise you, a little back-seat boogie session will get you his undivided attention."

Bebe hoped she didn't come off sounding like a kid to her older friend. "You're right, of course. But what if the problem’s something else? Isn't there a chance doing that too soon could make things even worse?"

After lighting another Parliament, Velma said, "Not if you play it right. How you handle a guy after you do it the first time is super important. Nothing personal, but whatever you do, don't try pulling your roommate's old rejuvenating virgin stunt or, even worse, pretend it's your first time. It's 1968, for God's sake. You know better, I know better, odds are even Mark knows better. After all, he's bound to have learned something in college."

Bebe had to grin. "At least a little something."

"The trick is," Velma continued, "to act just a little confused and vulnerable, like it was so incredible you feel all shook up. Instead of saying you've never done it before, you say you've never 'felt' like this before. It's a sneaky little way of suggesting that, even if there might have been one or two others, he's the best."

Down at the other end of the couch, Bebe pretended she was taking notes. "Act confused and say, 'felt.' Is that right, Professor Meeks?"

"You got it. That way he'll get all full of himself and want to be your knight in shining armor and go around saving your honor—for himself, of course. Once he's your big, brave protector, you start hinting around about how it might be nice to have some sort of casual, just for the summer type, understanding. Maybe say something about how that way you'd have a good excuse to say no when guys like Darrell Ray ask you out."

"Velma, you won't do. Does any guy ever have a chance around you?"

"Not if I have my way, honey. They never have and never will. Just ask poor Buddy."

"So you think it's time I got it on with Mark?"

"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do," said Velma. "And just between you and me and the walls, I've heard some girls say it’s kinda fun."

Bebe grinned, then checked her watch and stood. "I've gotta scoot. But do you remember that joke, the one you said you told Buddy, about how you were giving up sex because it was too messy, too much work, and the position was ridiculous?"

"Oh, yeah. I had Buddy going for a minute. You should've seen his face."

"Well, to tell you the truth, that's pretty much how I really do feel. I love everything leading up to it. You know, the flirting and the dates and even making out. And there are times when I do get a little turned on and really want the guy. That’s when doing it can be fun, at least for me. But most of the time, it seems a lot more about his wants and needs than my feelings. Still, I suppose if it has to be done, it has to be done."

"That's the spirit, girl.”

"Because I promise you," continued Bebe, in a voice that left no doubt about her sincerity, "there's no way in hell I'm going to let anyone, most of all Amy Marshall, keep me from winning this time."

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