Posts Tagged shower

Excerpt 144

The frigidity stung her skin as she slapped handfuls of water against her face. Some of the water got into her eyes, which caused rapid blinking. What Arlene said couldn’t matter after everything that had happened.  After all, she could’ve been planning to take the wallet herself, if Danno hadn’t first.  Ala never had asked him how he got her wallet, most likely because she didn’t want the answer to be that he stole it.  He should have told her about it, of course.  And then she wouldn’t have had dinner with him.  And she certainly wouldn’t have him now.

She blubbered loudly, realizing she hadn’t even filed the report with Arlene and now the little boy had no chance of escaping his rotten mother. It was all her fault, but she couldn’t face Arlene again.  It made her insides shake to think of speaking to anyone right then.

Grabbing a brittle paper towel from the overstuffed dispenser forced it to tear out in pieces.  She rubbed the paper against her skin until her nose and cheeks were inflamed, then stepped back from the mirror, smoothed down her hair and left the bathroom.  She walked across the promenade toward the clubhouse, wondering if she had unplugged all of the gadgets in Emmanuel’s house and also if she’d turned off the lights.  She had left most of her things at her parent’s house and would have to decide if she wanted to go get them and risk seeing them in the middle of another unnerving gathering.

The bar was empty, besides Glenny wiping down the bronze cash register. She spotted Danno sitting at a patio table on the terrace.  The wind had picked up, forcing the petals of the gardenias in the arrangement on the table to flutter, along with his hair.  She could see that he had ordered a drink, and was halfway through it as he watched the horses trot around the circle with his back to her.  A chill invaded her, as she considered turning and leaving, without saying anything to him.

Her ankles felt heavy and the ceiling seemed to be lowering slowly to eventually press her into the ground.  She wobbled to the closest booth and climbed into a fetal position to rest.  Glenny either didn’t see her or didn’t care. She assumed he would have had to learn to mind his own business working at a bar in a racetrack.  She tried to keep her eyes closed to invite the illusion that she was getting rest.

She could hear several pairs of footsteps coming over, then bodies shifting into the booth next to the one she was trying to nap in. There were a few male voices discussing money, women’s bodies, who was going to win Friday’s fight and other topics that seized Ala’s interest enough to keep her from sleeping.

Her phone began to ring and she heard the men pat their pockets to check if they were getting a phone call.  She sat up and dug her phone out of her purse. Danno was calling her from the terrace outside. She ignored the call and climbed out of the booth.

“Hey,” a ruddy faced man wearing a pinkie ring said, “We didn’t know you were in there.  We would’ve watched our mouths.”

“Oh, no, it’s fine, I must have fallen asleep,” she said, pulling her bag over her shoulder.

“Well, now that you’re awake,” the other man with hair plugs said, “come have a drink with us.”  He motioned her over by cupping his hand and wiggling his fat fingers.

“No, that’s alright. Thanks though,” she was hoping Glenny was watching the interaction, but his head was down as she swept behind the counter.

“Come on, one drink won’t hurt. Let us get to know you. You seem like fun,” the first man said, wiping sweat from his forehead with a cocktail napkin.

“It’s the hair,” the second man said, “That’s a hot, wild look.”

Her face burned with detestation for them and she turned to walk away. She thought of the man throwing clumps of hair he hacked off as she trembled in her underwear.

“Guess we won’t find out if the curtains match the drapes,” one of them said, causing his friend to erupt with laughter and hit the table.

“Hey, don’t walk away when we’re talking to you.  Mangy slut.”

Before her next breath, Ala was back at the table, and in what seemed like a second, had picked up a full glass, smashed it against the booth and was holding the serrated based near the ruddy man’s neck.

White light flashed in front of her as someone was pulling her away from behind.  She turned to see that it was Glenny, whose frail frame was surprisingly strong.  Danno must have rushed inside when hearing the commotion because he was now covering his eye with one hand and examining the bloodied knuckles on his other hand.

The scene was quiet except for the piggish man, now on his feet and screaming in Danno’s face, with dark blood running from his nose.   His friend was on the phone, most likely with the police. Ala dropped the glass and let Glenny walk her away toward the bar.

“I would suggest leaving,” he said.  She watched as the man wound up to punch Danno, who hit him in the stomach before he could, causing him to fall back into the booth.

Rushing over, he took several hundred-dollar bills out of his wallet.  Glenny shook his head in protest, but Danno shoved the money into his apron.  He grabbed Ala’s hand and jerked her out of the bar.

“I just,” she stuttered.

“Don’t talk right now,” he said.  Her whole body was quaking with adrenaline.  She nearly slit the man’s throat or at least could have cut him severely.  They ran through the parking lot to the car.

“Get in the back,” he yelled.


He grabbed her arm.

“Get in the backseat and lie down.  You’re going to have a heart attack,” he said, opening the door and shoving her in.  She folded herself onto the hot leather seat, like she had in the booth, and checked her arms for any blood.  She was clean. Danno sped out of the lot, swearing under his breath. She heard the click of the automatic locks.  He thought she was insane and was going to throw herself out the moving car.  She felt like a caged animal and wanted to claw through the interior. “We’ve got to get cleaned up,” he said.

“Can’t we just go?”

“No, we’ll get too much attention.  And I still have work to do. I wasn’t planning on running out of there.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“You’re not sorry.  You’re not yourself. Just rest back there.”

She was herself.  There was nothing wrong with what she had done.  She tried to be polite, but those men had tried to rape her with their eyes and words. And she couldn’t let that happen.  One by one, she bit all of her nails off and spit them onto the tattered car rug.  The car stopped and she sat up to look out the window.

They were at The Daschund, a five star hotel Ala had been to only once for a luncheon during her mother’s charity work.  The carport had an ornate gold fountain with stone cherubs that spouted water.  Danno took one suitcase from the trunk, opened Ala’s door and handed the keys to the valet.  He handed her a plastic key card.

“Go up to room 530. I have to make a phone call.”

“Don’t we have to check in?”

“No,” he said as he headed toward reception. The lobby housed a giant chandelier and lounge with plush ivory armchairs.

She found the elevator bank and went to the fifth floor. She walked slowly down the hallway, looking both ways, with the feeling that someone was going to kill her.  She bolted the door behind her and got undressed. She didn’t even bother looking at the accommodations, which was always her favorite part of staying in a hotel.

The hot shower brought such instantaneous comfort that she let go and sobbed again, startled that she could feel so melancholy without any medication.

Heavy pounding on the door made her heart pulse swiftly, and she left the shower running and went to the door without a towel. It could be one of the men from the bar. It could be the man from the house she was locked up in. It could be Bruno. It could be Emmanuel. It could be Gene. It could be her parents.  She crouched into a ball on the carpet.

“Ala, it’s me,” Danno said coolly. “You bolted it.”  She used the knob to pull herself up and opened the door.  He wrapped his arms around her.  “Don’t answer the door without clothes on,” he said.  “I made you an appointment downstairs.”

She walked back into the shower and finished washing the cold sweat away.  She got dressed and helped Danno clean the cut around his eye with the corner of a damp washcloth.  Remarkably there was no discoloration, only some swelling.  She didn’t want to know how many times he had been hit.

“You don’t sell tapestries or whatever,” she said. He kissed her hand.


After he showered, they lay in bed under the sheets not talking until it was time for her appointment.  Then he walked her down to the lobby.

“I’ll be right out here waiting,” he said, which made her smile.

The stylist, Raffi, was petite and talked with his hands, which interrupted the work her was doing on her hair, stretching out the appointment and her patience.

“So was this a dare?” He said.

“A dare?”

“Did someone dare you to let someone cut your hair?”

“No,” she said.

“So, you’re in a band?”


He laughed and coiled pieces of her hair in between in fingers before letting them fall.

“So, what are we doing?” He asked, grinning.

She looked at her whole face in the mirror, turning her chin every way her neck would allow.  She looked terrible, like she had been wrung out and beaten with a paddle.  Her skin was sallow and her eyes were muted, like she was waiting to die.

“Do whatever you think will help,” she said.

“Girl please, you’ve got great features,” he said, squeezing her shoulder.

“Good. Then use them,” she said.

She kept her eyes closed during most of the appointment, but still answered all of Raffi’s questions, mostly with lies.  She could tell her was coloring her hair when she felt the warm globs nearly run into her eyes.  He talked about being from the West Coast, following a man here, being broken hearted when the man had a child with a woman, and now was ultimately grateful because it led him to his dream career.

The whole charade sounded exhausting and Ala sucked in breaths to keep from yawning. She supposed that her stories about the men in her life sounded the same way. The sleepless nights she had because of Jase’s behavior. The confusion and self-doubt she felt because of Gene.  She couldn’t even think about her father’s contribution to her distrust at this point.  And of course, to a traditional person, the relationship with Danno would sound preposterous and completely out of control.

The difference was, that she was choosing every step with him. She couldn’t blame him for anything that she wasn’t happy about. Even if he wasn’t honest about everything, she didn’t feel like he was trying to manipulate her emotions.  Her reactions were very real and didn’t require the drama usually injected into relationships to keep them exciting.  She didn’t want to question everything about him. She didn’t want to think about the whole of her future.  She was just happy to be with him.

“Open your eyes beauty queen!” Raffi squealed.  She looked in the mirror and liked the black hair he had cut so close to her scalp.  Anyone who had known her for years would be very alarmed, and might even think she was a mental patient.  “Let me do your lips,” he said, applying a shade of red so bright that she looked like a ventriloquist dummy.

She waved Danno inside, who didn’t even look twice at the transformation. He paid Raffi, tipping him well over the cost of the makeover.

“Enjoy this one,” Raffi said, winking at Ala. She couldn’t tell if he had thought Danno was attractive, or if he was attracted to his money.

“I got the bags,” he said. “Let’s go.”

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Excerpt 140

He didn’t flinch, but took her hands and nodded.

“I thought I wasn’t going to see you again,” he said.

“How long was I away?” She asked, and then stepped away. “Never mind, I don’t want to know.” Finding out the days she lost would make her angry and she had to focus. “Emmanuel could be coming back today for all I know. Let’s just get out of here.”

“Go get your stuff together.  I’ll take care of everything else.”

Ala went from room to room, folding clothes she forgot she owned and stuffing them into her suitcase.  She was so relieved to be leaving this house. Danno stacked all of the mail and left it on the kitchen counter.  He then put on a shirt and started up the lawnmower, a cigarette dangling from his lips.

She left hot water steam the surfaces of the bathroom before getting in the shower.  Even though someone had bathed her at Bruce’s house, she had not felt clean in what seemed like weeks. She coated herself in soap, scrubbed until her skin was red and lathered up for a second time.  Her wet hair felt foreign in her hands, as it was a third of the length she was used to.

The lawnmower died down as she toweled off and dressed in clothes that hung on her svelte body.  Her stomach gurgled and even though she wanted to go to the airport as soon as possible, she feared fainting in the security line. She also wondered if she should let Gertrude know her plan to leave.

She sat down at the dining room table to begin a note to leave for Emmanuel.  She would have to say that someone in her family died and she was leaving town.  But then he would inquire with her parents and they would all know she had lied.  She needed another excuse.

Her phone rang in the bathroom and she answered without checking who was calling.


“Ala, it’s Gene,” he said quietly. It sounded like he was holding the phone away from his face.

“Oh,” she sat on the edge of the tub. “What is it?”

“I need to talk to you. Can you come outside?”

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Excerpt 95

Ala didn’t remember washing, throwing wrinkled clothes back into her suitcase, or even locking the front door.  She sat on the rubbery blue bus seat and let her head rest of the cold glass window.  She was going to Boston and didn’t want to think about what she would do when she arrived.

Danno was quiet that morning, awakening her with nuzzling and then slipping into the shower.  He asked nothing about where she was going or when she would be back, which to her meant it did not warrant a discussion, which made her feeling desperate to want to talk about it.

She had not told her parents she was leaving town.  Her mother would ask too many questions and would say it looked pathetic that she wander off in a moment’s notice to be with someone she was not seeing anymore.  Her father would have no opinion.

What was most alarming was her carelessness toward the house.  The garbage had not been taken out.  The housekeeper had not come and Ala had not inquired.  That could all be dealt with upon her return.

She decided to have a drink in lieu of breakfast.  The dining cart was open and serving breakfast burritos with egg whites tucked inside, or cereal.  She ordered a Bloody Mary.  It came think and lukewarm, tomato juice and vodka with a dash of pepper.  She tried to drink it as quickly as possible.

A man wearing a leisure suit took the seat next to hers.  She quickly stood and went to find her seat.  After reading two pages of mild erotica from a book Gertrude had leant her, she fell asleep.

The sound of luggage being dragged out from the bottom of the bus awoke her.  She stumbled out onto the sunlit sidewalk and waiting for her bag to be passed from smudgy hand to smudgy hand before finally reaching hers. She did not look to see if Jase was waiting for her and climbed into the first cab she could find.

The restaurants and parks held no reminiscent feelings for Ala.  They pushed into one another as the cab sped past them.  She wrestled with her purse to find her comb and compact.  She was sweating between her legs and down her back, but did not have time to change clothes.  Even though she had not set or confirmed a meeting time with Jase, her instinct was pushing her to arrive as soon as possible.

She threw a balled up twenty-dollar billed toward the front seat and ran around to the trunk to pull her suitcase out.  The ivy on the side of the building had some new growth and the block smelled with damp grass, as it always had.  She opened the heavy glass front door and opened the mailbox that had always had the defective lock to find the extra key Jase kept inside.  She let herself inside and hobbled up the three flights of stairs with her bags.

The door to the apartment was open.  She smelled dust and saw that the floors hadn’t been cleaned in awhile.  No one was there.  He wouldn’t have gone into work if he knew was coming, but she couldn’t remember whether she had said she would come for sure or not.

She took off her clothes and found a dress to step into.  The weariness of the bus ride without fresh air hit her and she crawled into the bed she had spent two years sleeping in.  The sheets felt rougher but otherwise the room looked the same.  They had never put a lot of thought into what the space looked like.  They didn’t entertain because they preferred being at home alone either locked in the bedroom or reading in the sunroom.

She buried her head under his pillow.  The smell of his face was there and it sent cold prickles up her back, but she did not cry.  She closed her eyes and thought of coming home to Danno.

What must have been a few hours later, she heard the door open, but was so relaxed she could not force her body to get up.  The footsteps were steady until they reached what must have been where she put her suitcase, and then they increased rapidly until Jase was in the bedroom and taking off his shoes.

She turned over just as he climbed into bed next to her.  He put his hand up the front of her dress and began pulling down her panties.  Her mind was three steps behind and trying to register.  She turned to face him and he kissed her very hard on the mouth.  His arm wrapped around her and brought her on top of him.  He pulled her dress down and began touching her.  She could feel him beneath her and put both of her hands against his chest.

“Jase.” He didn’t say anything, but unzipped his pants and turned her so he was on top.  She closed her eyes.  She did not want this to stop. She had dreamt of this moment when he would realize that he was wrong and had made a mistake.  She thought of Danno and the immediate cosmic ease she had felt. “Enough,” she said, rolling out from under him.

She stood and put her dress on, then looked down to find him red-faced and crying with one hand covering his face.

“I’m sorry, Ala. I can’t believe I just did that.”

She sat on the bed next to him and took his hand.

“Where is your mother?”

“At the hospital.”

“I think we should go.”

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Excerpt 92

The hot water hit her square in the face. She coughed and adjusted the shower nozzle.  She tried not to think of what she had just done and kept repeating “It’s only two days. It’s ONLY two days”.

Streams of dirt ran down the drain as she shampooed her hair and cleaned underneath her nails.  She had gotten a faint sunburn on the apples of her cheeks that stung when she washed her faced.

She wrung her hair of the hot water and carefully stepped out onto the rug that felt like cashmere under her swollen feet.  She didn’t even want to look at the blisters from the hike and knew that as soon as she put on any pair of shoes, there would be traces of blood.

Her clothes were still in a disastrous heap but she managed to untangle a stringy halter-top with satin butterflies stitched across the neckline.  She fumbled with her makeup and had to start over twice because her mascara was winding up everywhere except on her eyelashes. She hurried downstairs and could not find Danno.  She looked out the window and saw that the lights on in the car and someone in the driver’s seat.

She got in beside him.  He had changed into a navy blue button down and tan pants. He took her hand and kissed it.  

“I’m going to drop off the money at the track.  I thought we could eat in the bar.”

“That sounds good.” She was very hungry, having only had the bread with the preserves. She leaned her head on his shoulder and closed her dried out eyes until she heard the horns from the parking lot at Pilkington. There were cars crawling in line for a spot.

“It’s so crowded,” she said.

“It’s a huge night. Stowaway’s in town. This horse has 27 starts, 12 wins, 6 seconds, 4 thirds and has won over seven million dollars throughout it’s career.” She looked at him and he nodded. “He’s made a lot of money for a lot of people.”

He drove to the clubhouse and left the car with a valet.  He lead her up the steps into the bar. There was a limber, cross-eyed older man playing the piano and a young lady, wearing a heavy beaded shift dress, singing with a drink in her hand.  Glenny was behind the bar pouring while another bartender made change for a couple.  Danno waved to them and walked to the back section they had sat in only a few days ago.

Ala climbed into a booth and Danno signaled to Glenny for menus. A runner greeted them and handed them maroon books with all of the specials written in gold script inside.

“Why don’t you decide on drinks for us and I’ll be right back?” He said, giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Sure,” she nodded.  

The words blended together and she felt hot and then cold every few moments. She had gone through heat exhaustion a few summers before and feared it was creeping up on her again.

“What can I get you to drink Ms.?” The runner said.

“Something very cold.  A julep.  And for him too.” She gestured to the empty place at the table.

She took deep breaths and checked to see if she had missed anymore calls.  It seemed very tiresome to call anybody back and explain what she had been doing. It would be like telling all of the people she had know her whole life that she was a different person and din’t care what they thought.

The drinks came and Danno was not back yet.  She fought the urge to look at her watch, which made everything worse she was waiting for something.  She took small sips through her straw.  Glenny came over to the table when some of the crowd had broken up onto the terrace to watch the race. He smiled at her.

“The lamb chops are the best in the world.”

“Really?  With mint jelly?”

He nodded.  She could tell he wanted to sit down, but couldn’t while on duty.  He knees seemed to give out every few seconds.

“You wanna wait for him to order?”

“Yes, if you don’t mind.”

He walked away slowly and began talking to a couple of men at a different table. Ala squeezed her fists together and tried to calm down. Danno had to have been gone for at least fifteen minutes by now.  All of a sudden, she heard a screaming siren coming from outside.  There were shouts and gasps as people craned themselves over the terrace ledge to see what was happening.

She got up and went to the window.  She couldn’t see anything unusual, but heard two more sirens approaching.  She picked up her purse and walked out of the bar and down the steps.  People were pushing past her trying to get in and get out of the club house.  She nearly fell but gripped the brass railing and readjusted her shoe.

She got outside and realized she had no way of getting home.  Her phone rang.  Certain it was Danno, she ripped it from her bag and answered without checking the screen.

“Where are you?” She said, trying not to sound frantic.

“Ala, it’s Jase.”




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Excerpt 77

She opened her eyes around dawn and caught a glimpse of them in the mirror hanging in the closet.  A crumpled heap piled on the twin bed; it was hard to see where he ended and where she started.  She wanted to see his face but it looked plastered against the wall.  She lifted his arm and saw that he was still wearing his watch.  She had no idea what kind it was, but was sure it cost more than the house they were sleeping in.  She carefully removed it and tried to look at the time.  The arms weren’t moving and a fat drop of water glided over the face.  She laid her head down and laughed.  What a careless night.  An exceedingly reckless and wonderful night.   She was still tingling and had a knot in her stomach that she feared would make her self-combust. 

She peeled herself from the bed and tiptoed into the bathroom.  She found fancy shampoo in the gilded cabinet and a new sponge wrapped in plastic.  She stepped into the shower and let the water cascade over her clammy skin.  Washing her hair seemed so pointless now, but she made herself do it anyway.  She wrapped a towel around herself and walked back into the guest room.

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segment 24

She couldn’t remember stumbling home that night but woke up with her party clothes stuck to her body, as if sealed on, the next morning.  She instantly remembered leaving her mother’s shoes by the lake and the terrible fall.  She crept into the bathroom, not wanting to catch herself off guard in the mirror and opened her eyes slowly, taking in her mangled face.

She had a black eye for one, her first ever.  She had a sort of half moon scrape on her jaw that was now raised and rough to the touch.  She had a scratch above her left eyebrow.  She held her arms out in front of her. An abstract cabbage patch of green bruises covered both arms and her right palm was cut.  Her knees hurt as well and she didn’t bother looking at them because there was no point.  A quick synapse of fear raced through her. She had no idea what time it was. And she was supposed to have a job interview.  She ran into her bedroom and dumped her purse open on the rumpled bed she hadn’t bothered to turn down before collapsing on top of it.  She rummaged through the belongings, still in boxes from her move home, and picked up her cell phone.  Safe. She still had hours before the meeting.

She took a steaming hot shower and, wrapped in a towel, called downstairs to make sure no one was home.  She didn’t want her parents to see her without makeup on because her answers to their many questions would be ridiculous.

She tiptoed downstairs, ready to turn and run back up if necessary, and went into the kitchen.  A sort of sense of disarray told her that the kitchen had not been occupied since the day before.  That meant no middle of the night dish of ice cream for her father. No coffee for her mother this morning. This was impossible.  They had to have come home.  They hadn’t spent a night, outside of vacations of course, outside of the house.  She looked by the front door.  Her mother’s purse wasn’t hanging on the hook.  She screen door leading into the backyard was open as well.

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