Mid-Week Blues-Buster Week 28

Welcome to the Mid-Week Blues-Buster Flash Fiction Challenge, Week 28.

This is a flash fiction challenge.  The prompt is a song.  You are not required to write about or even mention the song.  It’s there only to get the ideas moving around in your brain pan.  If you want to write about the song (or the video- it’s all good here) go for it but don’t feel like you have to.

The rules;

500 words, but it’s a slushy 500, meaning you can go up to 700 or as low as 300.

Post your entry right in the comments section of this post.


The challenge starts whenever I post this on Tuesday and ends at 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday.  You read that right.  Pacific Time.

I’ve decided to stick with the movie motif for this week’s song prompt.
We’ll be using a tune sung by Italian crooner Fiorello, with Jude Law and Matt Damon riding shotgun, ably backed up by the Guy Barker International Quartet, from, “The Talented Mr. Ripley”.
The song is; “Tu Vuo’ Fa L’Americano”.  Here’s the link; http://youtu.be/MXtxR1gHZIk

This week’s Judge is author, mentor, and friend, KD McCrite!

So you’ve got all the particulars.   The challenge is open from the moment you read this post until 4:30PM Pacific Time on Friday August 30th.

Now go write!!!!!


Posted on August 27, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Carlo walked into the club, wearing his best American attire. Three piece, gray, pinstripe suit, white shirt, black leather shoes, black socks, black leather belt, black silk tie, white gold cufflinks, and a white gold watch with a matching band.

    His attire stood out like that of a black American Cadillac SUV in an ocean of Italian micro cars and scooter. Our world was tie dyed, his was black and white.

    Concetta took one look at him, smiled at me as she shook her head, placed her elbows on the bar, and said, “You were right. He needs my help.” She studied Carlo for a time. “Poor boy.” She ran her fingers through her long, fiery red hair, making sure to drape some over her shoulder. “He has forgotten what it means to be Italian!”

    I laughed. “And you are the pulcino caldo to remind him, eh?”

    She swayed her hips, pressed her fingers to her lips, then pressed them to a hip as she said, “Shhhhhhh,” then showed me the most playful grin, “Naturalmente!” And off she went.

    I watched her sashay over to Carlo’s table, wondering how long it would take for Concetta to restore his Italian soul to life. Five minutes? Ten? How long could Carlo resist her color, her flair, her sultry, smoky ways.

    I watched, and listened.

    Concetta made sure Carlo saw her hips sway as she walked to his table. Her skin-tight, too short, bright yellow skirt stayed glued to her hips, making every movement more noticeable. She propped her elbows on his table, leaning her shoulders forward, so her matching yellow vest opened a touch, providing Carlo with a view of acres of her chest.

    Carlo almost crushed his glass. He quickly placed his drink back on the table, and tried not to stare at her. Especially at her chest, as it hung, just above the table. “Concetta. How are you tonight?”

    “I’m thirsty, amico.” She gently grabbed his hand, letting her fingers drag across its back, before they interlaced with his. “Care to buy me a drink?”

    “What would you like?”

    “Something… Italian…” She rested an elbow on the table, and her chin on her hand, revealing even more of her skin. “Something… With soul…”

    Carlo tried to walk calmly to the bar. He failed. He leaned over the bar, and hissed at me, “Angelo! Help! She wants something Italian! With soul!”

    I nodded, and fixed two Sgroppinos, one for each of them. “These,” I whispered knowingly, “Are one of her favorites.”

    And off he went, like a little boy, about to lose his virginity. It would not take long at all for Concetta to awaken Carlo’s Italian soul.

    They had their drinks, then Concetta took his hand once more, “Dance with me, amico!” And she danced him out to the floor, where she opened his suit coat, loosened his tie, and handed him his cufflinks in the first three minutes. He melted into her on the floor, running his fingers through her hair. Crushing her chest to his. His hips locked into the same swaying motion as hers.

    She spent the evening melting his American image into a puddle at her feet. Leaving his Italian heart and soul revealed for all to see.

    543 Words

    AIEEE!!! Where is everybody???


  2. To be American is a frightful awful thing. It is the opposite of meaning.

    Meaning, the direction of unified factors, a square, a trapezoid, shadows of the fifth dimension. A life devoid of panache, the eagle above the cloud. Lateral pressures in a raging stream, debts in torrents, drowning men.

    Kids. Children. Young men. The procession of ages stops and staggers and races past.

    The last day of summer. Pick-up games at the Pony League. Afternoons of clouds and eagles and my dad’s ‘62 Chevy.

    “You ever think about the future?” I asked aloud.

    “Nah,” they answered. And I agreed.

    The light of the world was polarized.

    How could we see the world at forty-five degrees? We knew nothing but the days in the sun, dauntless days of chasing geese on the lake and shagging flies in the dirt, days in quarter arcades, sweet taffy, grilled burgers, and eight millimeter film; days in the clouds and nights in the stars; days of stolen centerfolds and copping feels; days without end, dying embers and dreams of youth.

    We piled into cars and raced the block. The block, the square, a flat plain in planar space. Locality intertwined. Leaves fell, clouds burst, we huddled behind bleachers, trading cards for ancillary light.

    The grounded state. The end of everything and the beginning of nothing. Days of summer into Fall. What would we do, when the square became the cube? Where would we be? Who would we love? Would we still play ball? Would we still race cars? Would diffusion of perspectives correlate our distances and time?

    In the end, there was nothing. We were sucked into the cube, its entanglements paradoxical and dark. The eagle skimmed the clouds. The books became our games, and flies changed into ladders.

    “I want to play here when we’re fifty,” I said, teasing my words with fingertips as they slipped beyond the light.

    “I sure hope so,” they replied, words drifting into night, the upper slit of continuity where dreams of children dissociate and die.

    I reversed my baseball cap, stretched out my arms at ninety degrees, and closed my eyes. Particles and waves surrounded my senses, backwards moving and incoherent, adrift in seas of light, discontinuous and irreversible, intuitive and non-distinct. Unbound, I disappeared, a distinct memory through time, where time and distance were the same.

    390 words. @ducknado


  3. Silvia was late. If she rushed it might not be noticed. As she neared the entrance to the club she slowed from a flat out run to a fast walk, straightening her skirt and primping her hair as she approached the door.

    The club was in full swing, the music blaring out onto the street, and as she skirted the queue, Don opened the door for her whispering, ‘Hurry’ as she passed. This made her stomach clench; if Don knew she was late then everyone did, which meant he’d been looking for her.

    She pushed through all the bodies hanging around the cloakrooms and went into the club, circling the edge where there were less people and scanning the tables facing the stage. She spotted him, sitting proud, arm over an empty chair next to him, foot taping to the band, but not as enraptured as those around him, instead looking round – looking for her.

    When Johnny spotted her, she smiled, but he didn’t. She squeezed passed the other tables and finally reached the chair he’d kept for her, sinking into it.

    “Hi Honey.”

    “Where have you been?”

    “I was getting ready, but lost track of time. I’m so sorry.”

    He eyed her without smiling, and then leaned over. She thought he was going to kiss her, but his nose went to her neck and sniffed. She shifted in her seat, resisting the urge to pull away.

    “You’ve bathed to cover the smell, haven’t you?”

    Her eyes shifted to the band for a second before she replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “If I find out you’ve been with him, I’ll kill you both. You know that, don’t you?”

    Silva didn’t speak, only looked at him wide eyed. His glare didn’t falter. She held it, refusing to back down, until a waiter interrupted with a bottle of champagne.

    Once their glasses were filled they were joined by the rest of his entourage, and Johnny behaved like all was fine with the world; laughing, joking, and pretending he was one hell of a guy. Silvia knew it was far from over, but his vengeful plans wouldn’t come to fruition tonight.

    When Marcus came in and joined them at the table Johnny was all smiles. Silva paid little attention to Marcus, sipping her drink and focusing on the band, not wanting to spark any more suspicion in Johnny’s paranoid mind. But when the cue came and Marcus dropped his wallet on the floor, she practised what they’d rehearsed and swiftly slid under the table.

    The gun fire came from more than one direction and she covered her ears until it stopped. As they’d agreed, she waited for a hand to come under the table and fetch her out to give her the all clear. The band started up with something fast and furious to quell the customer’s nerves, as people returned to their tables, and sure enough a hand appeared.

    Silva grasped it and her smile grew as she looked forward to finally embracing the man she truly loved. But it died on her lips when she came face to face with her husband. Johnny’s wasn’t smiling.

    “You thought I didn’t know? You thought the two of you would get away with it? Not tonight doll, not ever. He touched what wasn’t his, he paid the price.”

    Silva’s eyes flitted to Johnny’s right, the crumpled body on the floor still seeping blood. A single tear fell from her left eye and rolled down her cheek. Johnny caught it with his thumb.

    She whispered, “And me?”

    Johnny smiled then, but only with his lips.

    “Don’t worry, sweetheart, you’ll be paying too, but not until later.”

    614 Words


  4. Family Calls

    He could not understand how a city he’d been gone from for five times as long as he’d ever lived there could call to him so, but call it did. The garish, omnipresent lights flashed and flickered. The sounds of a thousand thousand car horns assaulted his ears. The rain-slick greasy smell of the pavement wafted up to him mingled with the vehicle exhaust, the exotic scents of half a hundred different cuisines and the less-appealing odors of those things to be found discarded in any city of such a size. The enormity…the unpredictability…the unfamiliarity of it all suffused his every sense and fired every cell of him with a curious unknown energy.

    He fidgeted nervously as the taxi driver wended his way through the cacophony of Midtown with practiced skill. Beside him, his cousin Lorenzo, no..Enzo he’d insisted, clutched his shoulder in a warm embrace. “So, cousin, is it all you remember? All you expected?”

    Andy had no idea how to respond. To find that he was not, as he’d always thought, Andrew Napler but, in point of fact, Angelo Di Napoli was a blow from which he was still reeling. His mother had never spoken of his family other than to tell him they were long gone. He had been raised the fatherless son of a diner waitress and had never expected things could be any different. That had all changed mere months before when his mother first told him of the tumors they had found within her….tumors from which there could be no reprieve.

    Over the very short time left to them, she explained to Andy…Angelo…the truth of his heritage. She was, she told him with a grimacing smile, what the movies would have called a Mafia Princess. As the only daughter of the “infamous” DiNapoli Family, she wanted no part of it. She had not run, but walked away from them all and never looked back. But as far away as she had believed herself to be…she owed one last obligation to her family.

    With trembling hands she gave him a velvet box containing the most glorious ring his eyes had ever beheld. In a labored voice, she implored him to go to New York…to her…no their…family and return the ring. It was a family heirloom she would not…could not take to her grave. Two days later, she was gone and so many unanswered questions remained.

    Now, he sat in a cab with a man who was blood to him and yet entirely unknown with the ring box seemingly burning a hole in the cheap cloth of his coat. Enzo had met him at JFK and whisked him through the bustle of it effortlessly. They were, he’d been told, en route to a “small welcoming soiree” in the city. Enzo assured him there would only be family and select friends in attendance. They all understood Angelo’s discomfort and so wanted him to have an opportunity to meet the younger generation of the clan before facing, what he called, the stodgy set. Andy could scarcely argue against it. But as the cab veered to the curb and they left its confines, he reconsidered the point.

    Even from the streets the raucous music blared and the sights, sounds and…smells of the city were multiplied a thousand fold. As if sensing indecision, Enzo took his elbow in a forceful grip and they waded into the fray. Andy’s eyes goggled as he took in the sight of over a hundred…no…more people dancing. A glass of very sweet red wine was thrust into his hand before Enzo made a sketchy introduction to Marcello, another cousin. Before Andy could speak, Enzo launched himself onto the stage and became, not just a participant, but an instigator to the infectious merriment about them.

    Andy sat numbed as the music washed over him…primal, earthy and the legacy of more cultures than he could imagine. Enzo gestured, Andy found himself stumbling onto the stage and unsure what had overcome him, he joined in it all. Shouting exuberance to the night, he realized while this was not the home he’d dreamed of as a lonely young boy, perhaps it was the life he was born to lead.

    700 words @klingorengi


  5. My favorite thing about the rougher bars in Latin America is the violent press of anonymity wrapped in passionate music. Every time I find myself in the area, that’s where I go to forget the business at hand. Once you know the lingo and the locals, a guy doesn’t even stand out anymore.

    I knew there was at least one newcomer who hadn’t figured it out yet, though, when the band started playing their “Americano” song. From my corner by the door, I could see a guy with glasses getting the tourist treatment. First there is a beautiful woman flirting, kissing him, and distracting him with whirling emotions. Next, the gang spins him up on stage for all to see. By the time they are done with him, the briefcase he had walked in with and anything of value on his person will be long gone, and his drink will have become a contaminated concoction of drugs that will rob his memories or even his sanity. Poor guy will be lucky to make it back across the border with all his organs.

    Unfortunately, that guy is exactly who I am supposed to be meeting. Also, according to the contact that set up the meeting, the briefcase essentially is the job, since it’s supposed to have information and a device that makes the whole thing possible. The worst part, though, is that if he trips and falls into a shallow grave somewhere, he won’t be able to pay me. I can see the snatch of the case clearly, though the maneuver is hidden from the mark by spotlights and from the crowd by the distractions. With a crisp $100 bill in hand, I cut through the crowd and meet the carrier, surrounded by dozens of unseeing eyes. “Cambio?” I ask, letting him see the cash, at the same time clearly indicating that it is not a request. He nods curtly, and the choreographed handoff of the distrustful leaves me with the simple black briefcase.

    Moving again through the noisy bar, I make my way out the alley door just as the host of the evening kisses the mark on the cheek and twirls him into the waiting arms of the original senorita. She will dance with him to the next song before she kisses him passionately until he runs low on air and then drags him through the cheering crowd toward the back alley. There, on any normal night, he would find himself the victim of her “boyfriend”, who would demand payment for her time. The game is based on easy targets and a lack of risk. Tonight, though, I drive the boyfriend away with a stern look. Having any other parties involved means they will look elsewhere for their easy prey.

    She bursts through the door, his arms wrapped around her. I let them kiss for a few minutes. After all, he should enjoy himself a little while in town. When I interrupt them, her eyes widen when she realizes that I am not her partner, and that the night isn’t following their plan. Holding out my hand, I growl the word “Cartera.” She nods, handing his leather wallet to me before fleeing the alley. There’s no reason to hurt her, she probably really needs the money. Before handing the wallet and briefcase over to the mark, I pull out twice the money that I spent tonight, between the drinks and the briefcase. After all, it wouldn’t be right for him to get away with being careless completely.

    Finally realizing his mistakes, he takes back his recovered possessions, and checks the contents of each there in the alley. Something in the case lights up the alley just before he closes the case and locks it again. As he determines that everything is in order, I smile at him disarmingly. “I believe that should confirm why you hired me. Shall we go somewhere quieter to discuss the rest of the details?”

    660 words, @bryanthetinker


  6. Rimini, Italy – It was the perfect place for Miranda to hide away, with row after row of hotels and beach umbrellas. She spent the afternoon lounging in the bright sun, pretending to be just another tourist on holiday. No one really noticed her and only a few men gave her a glance as they walked by; her bathing suit made a perfect disguise as she blended with the scenery. When the sun finally set, she made her way back to the rented villa. She selected a deep red dress and her best ruby earrings then made her way back down into the street. She walked casually, looking for a good spot. She passed an open door with laughter and jazz music spilling out along with the slightly drunk patrons. This was it; a perfect spot to blend into the crowd.

    Miranda caught site of him from across the crowded room. His eyes grabbed her attention first. The bright green flared when he laughed, looking more like emeralds than eyes. She liked that. She knew he wouldn’t be able to understand her; she was a tourist in a foreign land after all. Her body should be enough to overcome verbal communication issues. Given the playful party atmosphere around them, she knew he would understand her initial desires.

    She moved closer, migrating casually into his vicinity. His laughter erupted again, infecting those around her with jubilation. She couldn’t help but smile herself, the overall feeling of happiness washing across the room like a wave overtaking her just as it did the others. He was magnetic and the whole space pulled in toward him and his flashing green eyes. She was certain he didn’t spend many nights alone.

    She adjusted her position until he took notice, eying her from top to bottom. She smiled and moved her leg, allowing the slit in her skirt to show more skin. He came toward her, those green eyes looking hungry. Miranda knew he thought of himself as the hunter; she preferred it that way. No one would notice a giggling tourist with wine reddened cheeks, especially when all eyes were drawn to him. She allowed him to dominate the evening, letting him think he was in control. She slipped the pill into his drink easily as he nuzzled her neck. Once he finished the drink, she began tugging him gently toward the door as she kissed him. He took the cue and pulled her out of the club.

    “Where is your hotel?” he asked in thickly accented English. Miranda smiled and pretended to hang on his arm in a drunken haze.

    “This way, I think.” She added a fake giggle.

    He was solidly hooked. She saw in his face the anticipation of an easy conquest with no strings. This was exactly what she wanted. He stumbled just as they reached her door. She needed to move fast before he became unconscious. She steered him toward the kitchen table. He looked confused as the plastic underneath their feet crunched. Miranda pushed him gently, toppling him onto the tabletop. His confusion changed into a sleepy smile when she wrenched his pants down. Miranda looked up to confirm her new friend was completely out. When he let out a little snore, she sighed and kicked off her shoes. It was time to go to work.


    When he awoke, he was completely nude. The gag in his mouth was secured with duct tape. His body felt sluggish, frozen even though he could feel something slick on his arms. He looked down and saw plastic wrapped tightly around his torso. He was in a kitchen on top of a table and the foreign girl from the club was brandishing an apron and a carving knife. She smiled and padded toward him with bare feet.

    “Hello! I’m glad you’re finally awake. I was getting terribly hungry. I’m excited to learn how to make Italian food,” she said as she began carving a large piece of flesh from his right thigh. He tried to scream but no noise made it past the gag before he passed out. When he came to again, he could smell the aromas of roasting meat.

    (699 words)


  7. Smoke hung heavy in the air, thick and acrid, and it surrounded me, creeping into every crevice of my cloak as I entered the room. Not for the first time, I cursed Malisa for abandoning me when I needed her. It wasn’t just that I was in this hellhole of a country by myself, but she would have cleared the air in the room with just a word, and damn the consequences. There was a singer on the stage, croaking out a song in that gibberish they called a language. I’d been here long enough to pick up a few words, but they popped out at me, jarring in their familiarity but entirely out of context.

    Just like me.

    No one was supposed to know I was here, but I was a foot and a half taller than anyone else in the room, and I wasn’t green. The crowd cheered at whatever the singer had just done, and I suppressed a shudder. If it was going to be one of those kind of nights, I hoped I could get this over quickly.

    I pushed my way up to the bar and ordered a cup of gashink. It was one of the first words I’d learned when I came here, and while fermented onion juice was as repulsive as it sounded, it kept me from thinking about the kind of things that would only get me in trouble. My nights without Malisa. The duke’s nights with her. The blood on my sword, stains no one else could see but me, stains which mapped out the swath I’d carved out in my march across the continent. And my future, a distressingly tiny and whimpering thing, sitting on my shoulder and begging me to leave this place.

    The gashink was stronger than usual, and it settled in my stomach with a welcome warmth. I did my best to tune out the singer and seek out that elusive calm that was my only hope in this place. Malisa knew the secret, but I’d only glimpsed it on occasion, unable to wrap my figurative fingers around it, and it slipped away from me, like an oily rat in a dungeon. I felt it fighting me, resisting my efforts, and I stepped back from the quest, signaling the barkeep for another drink. If I couldn’t have calm, I might as well be numb.

    In the dark and haze of the room, I knew I’d never recognize him. Probably didn’t matter anyway. Half of the people here were his bodyguards, half were his whores, and half would try to kill me just because they wanted me dead. Any path that led me out the door involved everyone else in the room dying, and whether he was first, last, or anywhere in the middle, dead was dead. I tossed back the last of my gashink and wiped my mouth on my sleeve. I just hoped I’d get him before one of these little bastards got me.

    I signaled for another drink, staring at the drops in the bottom of my cup. I knew I was just delaying the inevitable, but that disembodied voice on my shoulder was a hard one to resist. It would be years before they’d find me, if I was smart, and maybe I’d meet some forgiving woman who wouldn’t see the blood on my blade nor hear my cries in the night. We’d raise some kids, and some pigs, and live decades under a roof I’d build with my own hands.

    Until they found me, and massacred her, and the kids, and the pigs, and roasted them in front of me before nailing me to a tree.

    Stupid fantasies. Closing my eyes, I sought the calm again, and was stunned to find it slip into place with ease. Time slowed down and the stench in the air vanished, taking that horrible song with it. I slipped a hand to my sword hilt and prepared to do what I’d come here for. Before I could draw, however, I felt a hand on my shoulder, a touch I’d know anywhere.

    Malisa smiled at me, silent apologies in her eyes, and I nodded. It was time.

    699 words


  8. Flipping through the New York Times trying to find the article, Was it true? Had she found out? Holy Crap!! What? It was right there in black and white. Her article about the possible use of an unsafe chemical in the water, she did not divulged how much she knew about the problem. He had to find out. She had discovered something that would damage his job and most importantly his reputation.

    The building stands tall and regal. The evening sun glares off the steel structure. Thousands of windows encase the building. The structure stands on its own plot of land but is not alone. The letters of the New York Times glow in the darkening sky. The sun sets on the busy streets of the city. A lone yellow glow shows brightly from the tenth story window. A woman sits at her desk typing a report. The deadline is next week, but she always gets things done early. She shifts in her chair and her polyester blend skirt rubs against her tan legs.

    The hard oak door is closed. The wall is filled with plaques and awards. She was not aware of her quite steady breathing only the buzzing of the computer and the sound of her figures clicking on the keyboard. She glances at the time, its 9:30pm. She yawns and stretches.

    She saves her report into her file and prints it out. The printer grunts and starts printing. It spits out the four page report, she snatches it and slips it into a blue paper folder. She grabbed her newly bought black leather briefcase then precariously places it on her lap. She slips the blue folder into the briefcase and snaps it shut. She clicks off the computer and desk light. She grabs her coach bag and flings it over her shoulder. She walks tiredly out of the office, clicks the door shut and locks it.

    Her heals thump against the carpeted floor as she walks steadily down the hall to the elevator. She steps into the elevator and pushes the R button. The elevator moves quietly up the the roof top parking lot. The air is chilly; the sky is cloudy with pollution. Walking quickly to her car, she opens the driver’s side door and throws her briefcase and bag on the passenger seat. She slides into the driver’s seat, puts her key in the ignition and starts the car. A huge explosion erupts from her green 2008 mustang. A ball of fire rises into the sky.

    A pair of eyes from a darkened window watched the flames grow higher and higher. He chuckled to himself as he watched the car burn. He felt a sense of success. He had pulled it off, all those months of watching, following and planning had finally paid off.

    The sounds of sirens explode on to the streets racing towards the tall building. Hissing steam billows from the wreckage as firefighters work to dampen the flames. The fire consumes the car entirely; there is nothing left, but some burnt rubber and blackened shards of metal.

    515 Words
    Email jenawalberg@gmail.com


  9. I’m bored. I’m bored, I’m restless. I want to jump out of my skin, and I just might. I’m tired of myself, tired of my life.

    To distract myself, I turn on the TV. I will myself not to stop on the girlie channels. I will not watch giddy brides try on frothy beautiful gowns for their big day. I flip and flip, nothing grabbing me, but I finally stop when I see Matt Damon’s face. He’s wearing giant glasses and that adorable half-quirked grin, as well as a tie that looks like it might be choking him, a white starched shirt, a dark suit.

    He seems to be in a club of some sort, sitting at a little table with some other guys, a candle flickering in the middle, listening to live bouncy jazz music that assaults my ears.

    Normally, I wouldn’t watch something like that, but I like Matt Damon, and have ever since I saw him and Ben Affleck in *Good Will Hunting*. When it came out. Whenever that was. Probably twenty years ago, but I try not to think about it. Try not think about what it means, try not to think about how old I am.

    I’m glad Matt Damon has had a successful movie career, and I wonder why I can’t seem to just call him “Matt”. It is his name, after all. But he’ll always be “Matt Damon” to me.

    The dim lights of the club bounce off Matt Damon’s hair, sending little blond sparks around the room. He grins as he watches the performers – two guys with their arms around each other, singing something in a foreign language. The only word I catch is “Americano”, repeated several times.

    Then they say “whiskey and soda”, and I’m hooked. I put the remote on the couch beside me, lean forward. I’m mesmerized by the mostly-unseen crowd, by the guys singing, by the trumpet players, and above all, Matt Damon’s reaction to the scene. He’s bouncing a little, his mouth open, his head up. Like he wants to actually move, actually dance, but maybe thinks he shouldn’t. Despite all the pulsating bodies around him.

    Without realizing what I’m doing, I find myself up off the couch, moving along with everyone, wishing I could grab Matt Damon’s hand and we could dance together. The music is just that infectious.

    And then Matt Damon – who is apparently, in this movie, an Americano – gets pulled on stage, under the blue, red, and yellow neon announcing it’s a “hot Jazz” something or other. I can’t quite make out the third word.

    Compared to the two singers, he looks stiff, uncomfortable, but willing.

    I put my right hand on my hip, my left up on the air, and dance some more, facing the TV. What will Matt Damon do? Will he get into the spirit of the music, of the club?

    He does. He bounces and up down, sings “Americano” along with one of the musicians – somewhat awkwardly, but I can tell he’s having fun.

    The camera switches to show a beautiful girl, her dark hair pulled back with a sparkly pin, dancing and singing along. Oh so joyfully. How I want to be her. I want to be in that club. How I want to smell it, feel the music in my bones.

    I close my eyes, and pretend I am there, and not here in this shit-hole of an apartment, in this shit-hole of a life, wearing shitty clothes.

    I close my eyes and dance. I sing along, though I have no idea what I’m saying. I dance, though I have no idea what I look like, nor do I care. For a moment, I’m that girl. I’m wearing pretty clothes, red lipstick, sparkly jewelry. I’m not Jessie Miranda Cooper. I’m someone else entirely. Someone happy.

    Then the song ends. I open my eyes. Reality knocks me over. I sink to my knees, and I weep.

    658 words



  10. Cigarette smoke billowed through the orange-tinted spotlight, taking on strange undulating shapes as the dancers shimmied their way through the clouds.

    The haze obfuscated the true self. Everyone became better looking, more cool, more charming: the ineffable boost that a buzz of booze and a good smoke could confer.

    Except for her boyfriend. He oozed through the crowd and managed to look just as sleazy as he was. He grabbed her around the waist and swung her into the crowd, using her as a wedge to lever his way over to Marco, a prospective client.

    The club squealed along with the trumpet, wailed along with the clarinet, throbbed along with the deep thrum of the slap bass. The overhead lamp swung with the bounce of the beat, gleaming off Eddie’s sweaty bald forehead.

    Naples wore its most vivid colors tonight. Lemon yellows crashed into avocado greens; her subdued cream dress drowned in a sea of feminine attention-seeking. The heat was oppressive; even the walls of Perma-Stone siding had beads of sweat sliding along its face.

    “Eddie, I wanna go,” she mumbled.

    “Naw, Betty baby, I’ll show him the American way of doing business.”

    He pushed her further into the crowd. Her heel caught in a crack in the terrazzo and she stumbled right into Marco’s arms, knocking his partner into another couple.

    “Perdono, signore.” she stuttered. She had bumped her nose on his tie-tack, set with a ruby as big as her thumbnail.

    Eddie was on them before she could even straighten the hem of her dress, “Mister Bertolazzi, I just wanted to introduce myself, Eddie Mayhew (rhymes with achoo). You won’t want to forget it because I’m going to show you something that’s gonna save you a lot of money.”

    Marco held up a well-manicured hand to Eddie and turned to Betty. “Are you right?” he asked, in perfectly Italianate-accented English.

    “Yes, thank you,” she said, flustered, retrieving a tissue from her handbag. “Please forgive my clumsiness.”

    He offered his arm and escorted her off the dance floor, leaving Eddie in the wake of fifty other jostling couples. “I hear Americans are good to do business with.”


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