THAT'S THE SPIRIT - a seasonal short story
What follows is the product of some modification to an adaptation. Make sense? Else where in this blog, intrepid readers will find, The Seducers. That was a 1600 word adaptation of a scene from my second novel, We Danced to Ray Charles.
When the challenge went out from Celina Summers http://shootthemuse.bravehost.com/ one of the regulars at Absolute Write http://absolutewrite.com/ to come up with a seasonal poem or story under 1000 words, I responded by "adjusting" the time frame from summer to winter and deleting about a third of the original story. A few other modifications were also made, but those were the two biggies.
The next toughest part was finding a new image. The face and pose of the model in the one that appears at the beginning of, The Seducers, is perfect. But she's wearing short short, in fact, very short shorts, and a halter top. Having, as I do, just a touch of OCD, that hot-weather ensemble struck me as strecthing the bounds, not only of reality, but even of verisimilitude. So I searched the great information highway until I found the one above.
Hope y'all approve.
As always, any comments, whether they be in the form of bouquets or brickbats, will be appreciated.
THAT’S THE SPIRIT
by Bill Fullerton
Velma Meeks sat enthroned at one end of the worn couch in her haphazardly furnished living room. In the far corner, a small, artificial Christmas tree flickered alone and unobserved.
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. After a deep drag, she leaned back and blew out a long, contended stream of smoke. Smoking chores completed, she propped her bare feet on the crowded coffee table and waited for her friend to come back from the kitchen.
Waiting in silence, however, was not her style. The thirty-something bottled-blonde looked around at the empty doorway to the kitchen. "You know it's hard for me to believe you're this messed-up. You've always been so self-confident. Now, it's like you don't know whether to fish or cut bait."
Bebe Boudreaux, the petite object of many local male fantasies, came back from the tiny kitchen carrying a bottle of Tab. "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. "The thing is, Mark and I went out a couple of times last weekend. One was a real date. The next day we did some Christmas shopping at the mall. Both times he seemed, well, sort of distracted. Like, it was nice to be with me, but no big deal, either."
"You think maybe he's just jealous and pouting because you went out with Darrell Ray the week before?"
Bebe shrugged and reached for her own cigarettes. "Could be. That's what I'd hoped for. This casual dating is getting old. But now I'm not sure. I mean he never even asked what I did while he was gone. At first, I figured somebody had told him about my dating Darrell Ray and, like you said, he was pouting. But now, I'm beginning to think he just doesn't care."
“I doubt it." Velma leaned forward and inspected the second coat of bright red polish she’d just applied to her toenails. "Maybe he's just trying to act cool."
The women smoked and pondered the situation in silence until Velma started rummaging through the clutter on the coffee table. "Have you seen my nail file?" She paused and looked over at Bebe. "You know, I just had a thought. You think it might be something that happened during the date?"
Bebe picked the file off the floor and handed it over. "Well, I might have carried on more than usual, you know, showing how much I'd missed him and all, doing a lot of the talking, trying to act like I was interested in that fancy ball. Other than that, nothing.”
“You told me his old buddy, Amy, was also there. The two of you aren’t exactly best friends. You think she might have put a move on him herself just to spite you?"
"Maybe. Who knows? With someone like Miss Society, anything, and I do mean, anything, is possible."
“Speaking of anything,” said Velma, “I take it you and Mark still haven't done the dirty deed?"
"No, not yet. The timing’s never felt right.” Bebe tried to act nonchalant. "You don’t think I went out with Darrell Ray just to make Mark jealous, do you?"
They both giggled. "Well, honey, maybe old Mark’s getting tired of waiting for some action. Look, even if that's not the main problem, I promise you, give him a little lovin' for Christmas and you’ll get his undivided attention."
Bebe grinned. "I would hope so."
"The trick is," continued Velma, "to act just a little confused and vulnerable afterward, like it was so incredible you’re all shook up. Say you 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 to take notes. "Act confused and say, 'felt.' Is that right, Professor Meeks?"
"You got it, girl. 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 say something about Darrell Ray, and then start reeling old Mark in."
"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 my poor husband."
"So you think it's time I let Mr. Mark have that special present he’s been wanting?"
"A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And just between you and me and the walls, some girls say it’s kinda fun."
Bebe laughed, then checked her watch and stood. "I've gotta scoot. But do you remember that joke you said you told Buddy, about how you were giving up sex because it was too messy, too much work, and the positions were ridiculous?"
"Oh, yeah. I had him 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 making-out. And there are times when I do get a little turned-on and really want the guy. But most of the time, well, you know. Still, I suppose if it has to be done, it has to be done."
"That's the spirit.”
"Because I promise you," continued Bebe, in a voice that left no doubt about her sincerity, "there's no way in hell that damn Amy Marshall is going to keep me from marrying her best friend."