The couple in the next room fight all the time. Through paper-thin walls, my husband and I hear the shouting, the insults shot bullet-like back and forth. Invisible weaponry in a largely invisible war.
Usually we have the music on, or the TV, so we can drown it out. But it’s in the silence between songs or when the conversation drops during a movie that the fighting in the next room catches us off guard. A yell. A thud. The sound of a sobbing child. Piercing the solitude in our home, setting our teeth on edge, making us nervous for reasons we can’t quite explain.
At night when my husband switches off the TV and takes me in his arms, the sound of our quick breaths and long sighs fill my head, leaving room for nothing else. But later, when we lie in bed with nothing to distract us, we listen quietly as the shouting continues into the night. I can see worry lines deepen on my husband’s usually smooth forehead when he hears the little boy pleading with his parents to stop, the babyish voice heavy with tears. I jump involuntarily as the sharp sound rings out – a hand striking soft skin. The crying is silenced.
I reach to hold my husband but he turns away and I know he’ll be awake long after I fall asleep. I know he wants to interfere somehow to help the little one in the next room, but he never does. No one interfered for him.
* Continue reading The Next Room.
There’s no aphrodisiac like loneliness,
Truth, beauty, and picture of you.
…continued from My Funny Valentine III.
Red curtains of hair fall away from her face as she looks up into his eyes. His heart aches at the hunted look in those blue eyes, the immense guilt.
Everyone described her in static colour. He could never understand why. Red hair. White skin. Blue eyes. Primary colours. Translucent shades. Hard beauty. Always beautiful, but always hard, as if beauty was an inanimate object; as if beauty wasn’t alive and dynamic.
There was nothing about her that was hard. Her hair wasn’t fire, it slipped softly through his fingers and tickled his face when they slept.
Her skin wasn’t lifeless porcelain; it was alive with colour and texture. Her arms and thighs were smooth, her palms were rough from a life of hard work, the backs of her legs were hard with muscle from her dancing days, her back was seared with cuts from her husband’s knives. What skin! He worshipped every inch of it.
Her eyes were the most expressive part of her. She could break his heart and mend it with a single look. When they made love, he couldn’t look anywhere but into those eyes. They would burn into his, telling him ageless secrets as the sensations swept them away. Continue reading My Funny Valentine IV
…continued from My Funny Valentine II.
She knew he would be but just seeing him again makes her catch her breath. She struggles to remain calm, to control the blush in her cheeks, the light in her eyes at the sight of him. But she is out of practice. Just another crowd. Just another day, she tells herself. She keeps up the charade, smiling coyly at the rapt crowd but watches him from beneath lowered lashes.
He looks good. Dammit. He always did.
He’s not smiling. Just looking at her in that way of his that made her feel as if she was the only woman in the world. She was used to men looking at her. Men had looked at her all her life. But no one had ever looked at her like that before.
Doesn’t he know he’s being set up?
Why is he here? He must have seen the posters. But he knows she’s not allowed to perform. Why is he here? Continue reading My Funny Valentine III
…continued from My Funny Valentine I.
The minutes tick away on the old dusty clock in the corner and as the night wears on, the music switches to blues.
The stranger remains where he is, consuming his Vodkas slowly but steadily. His neighbours at the bar look on with a mixture of interest and admiration. Here’s a man who can hold his liquor.
There’s an unspoken cue and as an old favourite comes to an end, the lights dim and the music stops. Suddenly, the entire club plunges into inky blackness when the lights go off. There is a smattering of noise as worried customers call to Jack for assistance but he is uncharacteristically unresponsive.
In the darkness, he smiles in secret.
He knows what’s next.
* Continue reading My Funny Valentine II
The club’s almost empty tonight.
It’s a Saturday and around this time, Jack’s usually got his hands full up at the bar.
But today’s different. Odd.
Missing are the members of the Family in their nightly finery. Missing are their expensive sidekicks, the oily gangsters playing cards in their pin-striped suits. Their exquisitely tailored cloth hiding cold pistols and jeweled knives that could be whipped out and used with deadly force in a matter of seconds. The place seems quiet without their boisterous laughter and thick New York-Italian accents dominating conversation.
Jack’s on edge. He’s not used to business being slow on a Saturday night and his waiters are getting lazy. He barks out an order at one of them to keep them on their toes. These youngsters. No sense of responsibility these days.
He glowers moodily as he leans forward on the bar, watching the entrance.
But for what?
* Continue reading My Funny Valentine I