Saturday, May 21, 2011
Wanderlust part 66 "Big, bad, tortured Johnny Rose was happy."
Ah...before you tell me this could never happen. I'm here to tell you that it could. But some of you realize that life is full of little oddities so you do not question me. There is a very thin vein of reality running through this tale. One of the brightest spots is here.
Anyway, enough cryptic chatter. I am about to go yard saling and blue dye shopping and all that jazz. This weekend look for more Wanderlust (yes, I'm breaking my own rule) and more cover pieces to my upcoming paranormal and maybe another little morsel.
by Sommer Marsden
“Where are we?” I opened my eyes and we were parked on a shallow roadside. To our left was the ocean. I smiled.
“We are where I wanted us to be.”
The sun was not down but was close. The sky was a periwinkle strip of sky with a pink and yellow layer of icing.
“This is Palos Verdes. Ever heard of it?”
“I think so. Not sure.”
“You awake?” He turned to me in his seat. The car was quiet. Johnny had at some point flipped the music off. Traffic flew past us, but no one paid us any attention. The beach below, which I could barely see, was deserted.
“Yep. I am awake. Confused, but awake.”
“Come on.” He leaned in—so huge, I realized for the millionth time—and kissed me gently. Then he squeezed my hand and unlocked his door.
It was at the edge of the road that all the spit in my mouth dried up. “Um…are you going to kill me?”
He laughed, a big booming sound that was so genuine I felt a sparkle-stab of tears in my eyes. He was happy. Big, bad, tortured Johnny Rose was happy.
Below my flats was a cliff. Not a tiny cliff. A cliff-cliff. A horror movie cliff. A hey-let’s-dispose-of-the-body cliff.
“Do you have sneakers?”
I nodded, not liking where this was going.
“Yeah, but surely there’s an access road. A parking lot? A normal entry to a normal beach.”
“Yes, but we need to go this way. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
I swallowed hard. It was one thing to believe that on flat land where gravity wasn’t trying to steal your soul. A completely different thing to believe it when you were doing your best impression of Spiderman.
I blew out a sigh and turned to the car. “Come on, help me find my shoes before I chicken out and run like the wind.”
It wasn’t as bad as I thought. There was a definite path along the rocks that made up the cliff’s face. Some parts you had to climb. Some parts you could shuffle-walk. At one point only did I slip and start to fall and Johnny—true to his word—caught me by the back of my shirt and held me tight.
“Careful, my ass,” I laughed. “It’s your fault I’m even doing this.”
But I wouldn’t change it for the world. The space inside of me that usually felt so narrow and cramped felt huge and expansive. I had wings. I had hope. I was high on adrenaline and the climb and the huge man who was keeping good time on my heels.
I was high on the fact that for the first time in my life when I heard the word love, I fucking knew what it meant.
The beach was more pebbles than sand. It seemed endless now that we were on it. Endless, roughly smooth, forever.
He held my hand. It was a sweet gesture. He’d grabbed, tugged, yanked, caught and gripped my hand before. But this gesture was entirely new. The way he held it, the softness of the motion. I felt like we were being joined by something much bigger than us, bigger than the sky or the pebbled ground we stood on.
“I think I’ve lost my mind,” I whispered.
He couldn’t hear me. The ocean, she roared louder than a stadium full of applause.
I repeated it, shouting this time—throwing my voice to him so he could know what I was feeling.
His face broke out in a smile and he leaned in so that his lips grazed my earlobe and he still had to speak up. “It’s called euphoria, Really. You’re as sane as you ever were.”
That made me laugh so hard I snorted. “Wasn’t very sane to begin with.”
“You are saner than most.”
We sat on the pebbles and waited. I was content to wait and not ask or pry. I wanted to see whatever it was he wanted me to see.
And then the moon rose up, a white puncture in a black blanket. It lit up slices of ocean in tendrils of milky glow.
“I once came here and…”
I knew what this was. This was where he’d planned to end it. This had been his exit.
I nodded. Squeezed his hand.
“This was supposed to be the end for me. But I was too much of a coward to do it.”
“Good,” I said. “I’m glad. I don’t want it to be the end.”
“It’s not now. Now it’s the beginning.”
Xerxes Avenue. We drifted onto it and we were done. No more gas. No more nothing.
A man was nailing a sign up outside an apartment building. I watched him, feeling true fear.
I still had the credit card in my purse. I could call Bren at any time—collect—and ask for help. But I didn’t want to. That was more the impetus for the fear, I thought, than not having anything.
“What now?” I whispered.
He put his arm around me and I leaned into him. “The beach is straight ahead a few blocks. Public shower, all that jazz. We have snacks in the car, we can sleep in here. We just need to move around a few times a night. They have street sweepers here,” he said and pointed to a street sign stating days and hours for no parking.
“They clean their streets,” I laughed. “God, back home that would be downright surreal.”
I opened the car door, flinging it wide, letting my anxiety out of the car. I followed it. I put my forehead against the roof and tried to breathe. “It’s fine,” I said, more to me than to him.
This was real life. This was what I wanted. It would be fine.
He came around to me, despite the man across the street staring our way, and put his hand on my head. “No worries, Snowflake. It’s fine. Tomorrow I’ll find some work, you can look around too. They usually pay cash at the end of the day and then you show up the next day at the same spot—or you don’t. We’ll at least be able to rent a flea bag on a night to night basis.” He pulled me to him and hugged me. “Nothing but the best for my girl,” he said.
I could hear the smile in his voice and I started to laugh at the irony of it all. “I should have taken the whole account when I had the chance,” I said. “It’s my money. Not his. He can’t’ touch it.”
“Then soon enough—say, when we have gas—we’ll find a branch out here and see about getting the money. Whatever you want.”
“Problem?” We both turned to face the openly curious and seemingly nice older man.
“We’re fine,” I said, wiping my nose.
“Sorry, sir,” Johnny said.
I barked out a laugh and then to my surprise—and horror—a fresh rush of tears overtook me. “Yeah, um, I’ll be in the car,” I whispered to Johnny and climbed back in before I actually managed to embarrass myself to death. If that was possible.
I watched through my bangs and my lashes as I slowly leaked tears as Johnny talked with Mr. Nosy Sign Man.
“Go away, go away, go away,” I chanted softly.
After a few minutes, they shook hands and the man left.
“Oh, thank god!” I burst out.
Johnny opened the door of the Chevy and leaned in, grinning like the cat who ate the canary.
“What?” I yelped. “What? Why are you doing that?”
“Calm down, Really. Grab your stuff.”
“Why?”I said again. “Are we being rousted? What does rousted mean?”I quickly added.
He hung his head and I couldn’t see his face but I could tell he was laughing at me.
“No, Really. We have an apartment.”