Untitled Book Project #1

4 July, 2019

I first started this novel many years ago and unfortunately, have not finished it. In the last few years I've gone back here and there and done some minor edits but have not been able to finish the story itself. In my head I know where I would like this story to go, but with a full time job and family at home, time always eludes me. Here's an excerpt that I hope to go back to and complete into a full novel soon.

Isabel: Brooklyn morgue.


Isabel: Just kidding.  It’s me.

Eddie: Hey me.  What’s up?

Isabel: Hey you.  How goes it?

Eddie: Okay, how are things with you?

Isabel: All right I guess.

Eddie: What’s wrong?

Isabel: You know, the usual- broke, no money and missing all the sales.  Just scrappin’ by, getting the rent together and supporting VISA.

He laughs softly.

Isabel: So what’s doin’ with you?

Eddie: Do you miss me?

Isabel: Wow, it’s not like you to get to the point in under a minute.  What gives?

Eddie: You didn’t answer my question.

Isabel: Okay…I could say I’ve been keeping busy and haven’t had much time to turn my attention to it…but that’d be a lie.  I could tell you I’ve been fine but that wouldn’t be entirely truthful either.  Or I could say – 

Eddie: Now who’s not getting to the point?

Isabel: That in all honesty I’ve missed you outrageously.  That on several occasions I almost broke down and called you.  That I’ve thought about you and even had a very naughty dream about you.

Eddie: Really?  Maybe you’d like to share this dream with me?

Isabel: Maybe I won’t.  Listen, we’ve had good times but that’s it.  Let’s not wreck that.

Eddie: I broke up with her.

Silence.  What does one say in a situation like this?

Isabel: Oh.

Eddie: Mujer, te extraño y te deseo.  Ven a mi casa que quiero estar contigo.

            And so I went and we picked up where we’d left off.  I’d missed him so much and I was just so happy to be with him again.  

            We settled into our routine – I’d go and wait for him a few blocks from the office. When he came, we’d take a cab or a train to his place.  Sometimes he’d cook but most times we’d just devour each other.  Some of my favorite parts were the times after our lovemaking when everything became still and quiet.  We’d talk about everything- the job, current events, childhood memories, music, television, friends, family, and neighbors, even politics.  On the times he’d fall asleep, I’d stare at him, wondering what our life could be like. I always wondered if our relationship would go on to the next level.  Yet part of me was weary. He was capable of cheating on a partner, could I completely trust him? Should I be giving him all of me? I could have held parts of me back but chose not to.

            Then, suddenly, something happened.  He started calling less and we’d see each other less.  At first he blamed the job and I believed him.  He’d always been honest with me before.  Then I noticed his distraction.  When he was with me, he’d be distant or preoccupied.  It was so bizarre but when I questioned him, he denied it.  He said nothing was wrong and I believed him.  Why would he lie? But he had and eventually I found out.  I was devastated but I played it off like no big deal; as if I had been waiting for it to happen.  This made him stay longer because he really did believe the stories of his escapades didn’t affect me.  The story of some 19 year old he met at the Laundromat, the stewardess on his British Airways flight, his roommate’s old college friend, his niece’s Sunday school teacher who had also been a Miss Norway.  Meeting me and breaking up with his girlfriend had been exactly what he’d needed.  He now had the confidence to be the conqueror, a role he relished and played as if his life was a theatrical production and I a mere stagehand.  He had no idea how his words slayed me. How every time he told me about one of his conquests, a piece of me died a slow and painful death. I was caught in a riptide of anguish and agony but kept quiet because I thought he would eventually see that he and I were destined to be together.  These dalliances were just that and in the end, his eyes would open and he would really see me and know that I was the one. My silence killed me but I reasoned that in the end, it would have all been worth it.

            It’s the Saturday of Sofia’s birthday party and I’m scrambling to get ready.  I begin my day early with a trip to the bank, followed by visits to the post office, the laundromat (to drop off), hairdresser and lunch with Sara.  I’d hoped to get out of the  last one but Sara was going through some boy trouble.  The cliff-noted version: she  hooked up with Kevin, this musician (anyone who’s dated a musician will tell you what freaks they can be).  He loved her, left her and then she discovered she was knocked up.  She had it “ripped out of her,” as Maxwell put it and almost had a meltdown because of it.  He reappears four months after that with flowers and chocolate, hoping to “rekindle their romance.”  She threw the door in his face. She’s still raw and some masochistic part of her still has feelings for him.  I want to tell her to stay away but I don’t. I’m no one to tell others how to live. All I offer is an ear to listen with, a shoulder to cry on and arms for hugging.  After lunch I rush to my date with Paola, this gorgeous Brazilian woman who waxes my eyebrows and bikini line (hey, who knows what the evening will bring, right?) to perfection.  Then it’s off to Gia who’s responsible for my toes and fingernails.  My next stop is the Duane Reade to pick up a birthday card, toothpaste, shower gel, body lotion, deodorant, AA batteries, stockings, Milano cookies and aspirins.  On the way home I pick up my wash and then go home to review the four outfits I’d selected for tonight. When I’m done I call Becky, a friend of Sofia’s that lives in the neighborhood.  We grab a quick bite to eat before heading over to the Culture Club.

            It’s only 10:30 PM, still early by clubland standards, but the guest of honor hasn’t yet made an appearance.  Becky and I hit the bar and that’s where we find Juan, Trent, Trixie, Dan, Suzette, Mireya, Ana, Corey and Scott.  For the next hour, we debate a wide range of topics from national security (most of us agreed that we did not feel so safe but we’re not going to stop living our lives or “boozing,” as Corey so eloquently put it) to hatred of mass transit trains and jobs and coworkers.  Corey related a funny story about his mid year review where his boss ever so nicely laid the blame on Corey for a few things in the office that weren’t really his fault. Corey thought he might bring in a shotgun to work one day and “blow people’s heads off” while Mireya supported a campaign of negotiations.  Corey of course was only kidding but says he would love to get even with the boss and says if he ever leaves his job, he will come up with a fitting punishment for his boss. At 11:32, the birthday girl shows up, all out of breath. Turns out she got a booty call from an old flame who remembered it was her birthday.  Her face is radiant and glowing, like all the recently laid, and somewhere inside I feel a pang of jealousy. I wish I could be like Sofia – always happy and cheerful, seeing the good in everyone, patient, understanding and accepting. I want all or nothing. I know I told Eddie that I just wanted to be friends but I lied.  I want more, I always wanted more. I thought eventually he’d turn around. I hoped he’d open his eyes and really see me, really know me and fall in love with me. There was a point where I believed it possible. But the window for this possibility was so small, almost miniscule. Two years had passed since I first met Eddie and I had refused to allow anyone else in, on the off chance that Eddie would relent and commit to me.  The more I thought about it, the more the realization of two wasted years hit me.

            As I stand there, staring at the empty beer bottle in my hand, wondering if I shouldn’t be drinking something a wee bit stronger, I have this crazy feeling as if I’m being watched.  I quickly scan but notice nothing out of the ordinary. I chalk it up to an overactive imagination and make my way to the bar. I decide to stick to beer at the last minute and order another Corona.  I get that feeling of being watched again and then everything seems to move in slow motion. I slap a couple of singles on the countertop and grab the bottle. I turn around, slowly, scanning the room and the faces, all the time trying to pinpoint why I was feeling this way.  I was raising the beer bottle to my lips when I see him. Instantly my body started to shut down. I could feel the blood draining from my head. I felt lightheaded and my vision begins to cloud over. The music and conversations all around me blend into an unbearable noise in my head as if someone has sunk an axe deep in my skull.  He comes closer, his face etched with concern. He knows something isn’t right and his strides grow longer and more purposeful toward me. I feel the bottle slip like sand through my fingers and everything else fades to black.



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