Narration of one of my short stories, using GarageBand. (images are not mine – they are simply “place holders” until I create my own) I’d love to hear your feedback! xo
Not in the mood to read? Here’s an “Audio-Visual” story I’m working on. Images are “placeholders”, but the story, voiceover, and effects are mine.
“You must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss…”
Do you remember your first kiss? I do. I was about 12, and it happened under the stairs in middle school. It was very awkward and involved braces, bumping eye glasses and noses.
Kiss of Death.
And so on…
She preferred fantasy to reality. The modern world bored her to tears. Marguerite was a Parisian girl at heart. Growing up in a run down midwestern town, she had always gravitated to all things French. She’d spent hours and hours at the local library, devouring French culture, history and fashion. At thirteen, she began styling her hair like a coquette, and sewing her own clothes. Her Grandma’s basement was a treasure trove full of all sorts of fabrics, buttons, and best of all, old photos. She didn’t know much about Grandma Ceci, because she had died days before Marguerite was born. The story went that she had grown up just outside of Paris, and had studied to be a couturier at the most prestigious design school in the “City of Lights”. At 18, she left her studies to marry an American military man, and relocated to this tiny midwestern city, where she quickly acclimated to American life, and focused on raising a small family. No matter how much Marguerite pressed her mother, she really couldn’t find out more about her Grandma. From the old photos and items found in dusty boxes, she pieced together a life imagined.
These days, Marguerite lives in New Orleans. She fell in love with the city on a weekend visit, and never went back to her small town. She lives in an apartment close to the French Quarter, and designs dresses that she sells on Etsy. She’s been studying French for a while now and uses it as often as possible. Her entire apartment is filled with antiques found at thrift shops around town. An antique record player spins french ballads. She had her mother send all of the old photographs from her Grandma Ceci’s basement, which decorate the hallway entry. At night, she dreams of being in Paris with a dark-haired man. He wears a suit, pocket watch and felted hat. He takes her hand, pulls her close, and whispers to her to stay with him in forever. Her heart hurts as she watches him disappear behind a wall of thick icy fog lifting off of the Atlantic. The blast of a steamship’s horn wakes her abruptly, her damp cheek pressed into a pillow drenched with tears.
You might call this entry a “Fantasy”, but I like to call it a “Feel Good” story. Either way, it’s a mini escape, and perhaps a bit of “food for thought”. Enjoy, xxoo.
They had always had access; access was easy. It had been a not-so-secret secret for decades. The tunnels were intricate, yet direct. Once under the main source, it was a vertical climb up to the White House kitchen, where stealth moves were required to sneak beneath tables, alongside blazing hot stoves, towards the massive mother-load. The pantry was easy to raid. Entire loaves of bread could go missing, without anyone noticing. They were careful to avoid leaving a crumb trail, and the growing rat family stayed healthy and happy.
Every few years there was a turnover, and the food staples would change. The rats were overjoyed that the prior host was finally gone, as there had been a severe shortage of starches and junk food for far too long. Eight years to be exact. The new tenants were a welcome supplier of white bread, processed crackers, and yellow cheese. To top it all off, there was a delightful supply of fast food to be pilfered from trash bins. Fries, burger buns, and the fried chicken were absolutely irresistible. The rats gained weight, and within a year, a few had become too fat to get through the tunnels. This was when a disaster occurred. Two of the rats got jammed inside the mainline to the kitchen, causing a major back up. They needed help, and they knew just who to call. Sure, they’d risk losing the two fat buddies, but collateral damage was a burden they’d simply have to shoulder. The boa constrictors resided in the sewers of the surrounding city. Long ago, an escapee from the zoo had mated with a female who was let loose by a lousy pet owner. They had bred, and now the family of snakes had countless cousins, all living within the under water system of Washington D.C..
As the oversized elderly rat informed the snake boss of their “clog” problem, the big boa gathered his extended family around. Eagerly, they slipped away into underground tunnels with ease, until they reached the trapped rats. After devouring the “blockage”, the boas swiftly continued along route towards the jackpot. Upon arriving in the kitchen, they glided in silence behind the walls towards the pantry. By now, it was late, and there were workers busy stocking shelves, so they decided to bypass the kitchen and check out the second floor. Silently, they headed up a narrow opening behind an ancient dumb waiter, and emerged onto a dim upper hallway. In the stagnant air, the snakes detected a strong scent of chicken. Slithering along dark red Persian carpets, they felt their way against plastic gilded moldings. It was well past midnight, when the lead snake paused, startled by an electronic pinging sound. He slowly headed towards the noise, which was coming from behind a door. A weak stream of light seeped through. The smell of chicken filled his nostrils. He waited there for his partners to catch up. They gathered by the base at the door, contemplating how to flatten enough to slide beneath it. Aligning themselves, the five snakes pressed together as one.
Silently, they burst through, and into the bathroom where they saw a large fat man in a white hotel robe, hunched over on a gold toilet. His eyes were closed, as he ate KFC from a box on the shelf. While chewing loudly, he hummed in a monotonous tone, gripping a phone in his free hand. He was too busy to notice the snakes heading towards him. Suddenly, one gripped each of his legs, and wrapped tightly around the limbs, as the other three slid up behind the toilet, winding effortlessly around his thick neck. In unison they began to squeeze. The giant lurched forward, and tried to yell, but no sound came out, other than a loud belch. A half- eaten chicken leg dropped to the gold tiled floor, followed by his cell phone, which shattered into pieces. His heavy head flopped down, a stringy yellowed hairpiece flapping forward over a distorted face. Large dirty dentures clattered to the floor. The man’s stomach bulged, and he let out a long fart. The snakes untethered themselves, and snatched the remaining fried chicken. With that, they seamlessly slipped under the door. Making their way down the halls, they passed a few of the rats along the way, and shared a swift knowing glance. With a low hiss, they headed towards the exit tunnel, disappearing back into the underworld of D.C.
I had forgotten about the DNA test for so many years, that by the time my nephew contacted me wanting to know the details for a paper he was working on, the password needed to be retrieved. After a few frustrating attempts, and denied access, magically the page opened, and a full inbox stared at me. Thirty-six unread messages! After swiftly filtering through the obvious spam, I kept the 7 remaining for review. They were all from one individual, who claimed to be a long lost relative living outside of Napoli. Massimo Gardino. Well, that had been my grandmothers maiden name, but really this seemed like a long shot. A wave of irritation swept over me, as I slogged through the long winded messages regarding locations and people I had never heard of. He wanted to connect, because all of his relatives had passed. Even those he knew who had emigrated to the U.S. were deceased. There was that one half-sister living in Spain, but he claimed she was a whore, and he didn’t want to have anything to do with her. He begged and pleaded that we make a familial connection, and after reading the 7th message, I caved.
Massimo and I became acquainted, via emails, and soon I found out that he was a widowed gentleman, and a very distant cousin of my grandmother. He lived in a mountain town in a dilapidated castle. An actual castle! He sent photos of himself, a cute petite man, with a shrunken apple face.
There was a family resemblance to my grandmother. There were photos of idyllic gardens and fields, where various cows and chickens grazed. Mountains sprang up behind pastures, and the rolling grassy hills were punctuated with small stone buildings, and narrow cobbled streets. Finally, there was a photo of the castle itself. The image was an old one, and I noted a few turrets peaking out from behind foliage. It was hard to see much else. So, when he extended an invitation to come visit the old country, I was more than intrigued.
The flight from NYC to Rome was easy enough, and I opted to take a train down to Naples, followed by a bus to the small mountain village. After the ardous but invigorating journey, I finally arrived at a small bus station around 6 am on a Sunday. The smell of fresh baked bread infiltrated my nostrils. A small stand was open, where I ordered a cappuccino, and carefully balanced it in one hand, while wheeling my trusty carry-on bag towards a roadside bench. Quietly, I waited for the car to arrive to take me to the castle, where Massimo would meet me. On the way up the mountainous roads, the driver and I shared our conversation in broken English and my awkward Italian. He seemed to be very excited about the castle I was headed to. I dozed, my head jolting side to side around the hairpin turns, waking, only to fall asleep again due to sheer exhaustion of the trip. The car slowed, and I felt the driver tapping my knee to wake me. “Ahhhh Eco’La!”, He exclaimed as we rounded a curve. I peered over his shoulder, and there it was on the horizon. Perched on a precipice, a large, stone castle , surrounded by olive and citrus trees. A few ancient cypress stood guard along the back cliff, which looked out towards even higher mountains. Shuttered windows swung open at the upper floors of the castle, sheer lace curtains breezing through the openings.
I gasped at the sheer majestic beauty as the driver pulled up in front of the main entry. Massive wooden double doors parted, and a small woman wearing what appeared to be a uniform waited for us. The driver came around to help me out with my bags, and we walked up the steps.
Entering into the foyer, the woman and my driver shared some hushed words in a dialect I couldn’t understand. They were friendly, and it was apparent that they knew one another quite well. I was far too mesmerized to pay much attention to them. Looking around at the grand entry, I gasped with awe at the ancient tapestries flanking the walls. The tiles on the floor were well worn, yet spectacular in design and detail. A massive Egyptian urn with remnants of gold inlay, stood proudly in the center of the vaulted entry way. Wandering in a daze, I passed the urn, and out another set of doors into an overgrown courtyard. An alabaster fountain featuring a goddess on a clamshell was the centerpiece. Although she was covered with moss and mold, I heard and noticed a stream of water trickling down over the smooth stone body and into a small pool below. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I sat down on a small stone carved bench to take it all in. A few birds flew to bathe in the water. Just then, a small black cat slithered past my leg, purring and pausing to lean against my bag. The driver and the woman came into the courtyard laughing and flirting with one another. He yelled out, “Massimo! Ma Dove Sei?” From afar I heard an old man’s voice straining to yell,”vengo adesso.” Then, from a distance, down a long passage way, echoed the footsteps of an old man shuffling in our direction.
“Tesora! Finalamente incontriamo! ” The man smiled revealing a couple of remaining teeth. His blue eyes sparkled in the morning light. The heavily lined face revealed a life well lived, and his thick tanned skin was testament to his farming years.
He embraced me and we laughed. The driver and maid were now sitting adjacent snuggling on a small bench under a tree. She let out a cascade of giggles, sounding like a schoolgirl, even though she appeared to be around 80.
Massimo rambled on and on about how delighted he was to finally meet a long lost relative. Looking at my tired face, he smiled and insisted on showing me to my room for a rest. The two lovebirds remaind in the courtyard exchanging glances and bursts of laughter which echoed off of the ancient limestone and marble. Massimo had a firm grip for an elderly man as he guided me through the corridors and continued to recite all of the various relations, as well as famous and infamous individuals who had passed through these halls.
He told me to close my eyes as he scrambled through some heavy metal keys. I heard a heavy sounding door being unlocked, and creaking open. He put his hand over my closed eyes, and I could smell the scent of ancient garlic and lemons. “Apri!” He exclaimed as he released his hand. Opening my eyes, I saw a fantastic, deep red velvet covered canopy bed fit for a queen. Mahogany furnishings adorned the chamber. An intricate small desk sat in front of a picture window looking out to the Cyprus row in front of the mountain. I sighed with amazement.
“Viene. Viene.” he said. At the edge of the bed, Massimo sat down, and patted in a motion for me to sit next to him. Putting his frail yet strong arm around my waist, he firmly looked at me. He told me he needed to talk about something very important.
He proceeded to inform me that he had cancer, and not long to live. He was going to go live at a home where he could get proper care. With no relatives, he didn’t want to leave the house empty. This was the reason he had been so eager to meet me. He went on to tell me that he was giving the castle to me because if he didn’t, that maid, the one downstairs, flirting like a whore with the driver, yes that one, well, she had long ago been a lover. When the rumors got to be too much, he tried to get rid of her, but she wouldn’t leave, so he allowed her to stay on as a maid. At this point, she had stayed so long, that she would be the one to inherit the property upon his passing. He just could not accept that, especilly since she had been cheating on him for years with every man in town. She had made a fool of him, and there was no way he would leave his family heirloom to such a “strega”!
I was overcome with emotions. Excitement at this sudden incredible opportunity, stress at the thoughts of how would I manage a property from afar, and the question of this maid.Massimo sensed my apprehension and took my hand gently in his crinkled soft palm. “Non ti preocupare…..daverro.” I sighed. I told him, of course I would accept and anything to help him out at this point in his life. He went on to tell me the maid, Rosa, was old as well. He said I probably wouldn’t need to put up with her for too much longer. But, he did tell me she would not be easy. She had a terrible reputation and she had a vicsious streak.
The day passed quickly. Massimo showed me around the property and the gardens, where we picked fresh vegetables. For dinner we sat outside watching the sunset, enjoying fresh greens, rustic bread, cheese, olives, and local wine.
Finally, back in my quarters, I was able to take a relaxing bath. I luxuriated in the spectacular, deep claw footed tub, inhaling the soft lemon verbena scented soap. In a comfortable tee shirt and shorts, I got ready for a much needed rest. Snuggling into the plush down- filled bed, I inhaled the fragrance of night jasmine as it drifted through the air. I brushed off any worries about Rosa, and only thought of the ways I could fix this place up, and how perhaps I would just stay here and never return to NYC at all. I could easily pursuade my boyfriend to come join me, and we would be able to do some sort of rental to make ends meet. I fell asleep feeling excited and hopeful for the recent turn of events, and the possibilities ahead.
I’m not sure what time it was, but the bump jolted me awake. It felt like a minor earthquake. Alarmed, I sat up in the massive canopied bed. Boooooom!!!! The bed swiftly elevated and dropped with a loud thump. I cried out with fear! Just as I was able to grab my cell phone from under the sheets to shed some light into the darkened room, it happened yet again! My heart raced and sweat beaded up on my upper lip. I cried out, “Massimo! Rosa!” The bed slowly elevated as I slid deep into the center of it. I felt something crawling just beneath the mattress….like a giant snake slithering and roiling.
I screamed and screamed, but nobody came. I cried tears of terror, but nobody came. I tried to make a call, but nobody came.
Fear paralyzed me and I held a pillow tight to my body as the bed neared the high ceiling. At that level, it began to vibrate, and I froze in horror. Just then, the door creaked open, and I saw a weak stream of light slip through. The silhouette of Rosa stood there in a cloaked robe, and she cackled loudly! “Sta Zitto!”, She cried. I screamed again. ”STA ZItt!” She yelled. I hugged the pillow, burring my head inside of it, as the bed hovered and shook pressing the velvet canopy into the ornate celing. “VA VIA!”, Rosa screamed, her voice trailing off with a bloodcurdling gurgle.
Just then, the bed lowered a bit, hovered momentarily, and suddenly with a slam, it landed on the Persian carpeted floor. Pillows scattered and I collapsed into myself, tears rolling down my cheeks. Rosa walked over and sat on the bed. Staring at me, her eyes glowed red and she smiled a toothless grin. With a low whisper she said to me, ”Adesso…..va via Tesora….Va via.” With that, as shaky as I was, I got up on autopilot, grabbed my belongings, and raced out of the room towards the exit of the castle. Oddly the driver was outside waiting, as though he had expected me. He laughed. “Andiamo.”
I got into the backseat in shock ,and he ferried me to the airport where I booked a one way flight, without ever looking back.
This story is ultra personal. It is a small event which changed the course of my life. I didn’t tell anyone until years later. I’m not one to “overshare”, however in light of recent events, I feel it’s warranted. With all of the clamor regarding old testimonies from “never mentioned” crimes, it’s easier to tune it out. But, the fact is that these things do happen. Humans are flawed, and they make mistakes. These incidents play forward until there is some sort of resolution, acceptance and forgiveness. I’ve done all three, but I can be honest enough to admit that what happened was real, and it did manifest in my life for many years after. For this reason, I believe women who come forward after the fact. And, I do believe it speaks to the character of the individual who perpetrated the incident, when they deny the fact that anything ever occurred.
The first time it happened, I was 17. It was supposed to be the best time in my life. I was in New York City, studying fashion design at a prestigious art school. I had always dreamed of becoming a costume designer and working in the world of theater or film. Finally, I was on my way.
The first time it happened, I was 17. I thought I was so grown up and sophisticated, until I arrived on that campus in Manhattan. It was immediately apparent that I was way out of my league. Girls flitted by in the latest high fashion outfits, and the boys, well, they were just as stylish. I remember suddenly feeling very small and insecure in my Macys jumpsuit, wearing one of two pairs of shoes that I owned. I always had felt confident about being able to put together an outfit, until I saw my competition.
The first time it happened, I was 17. Sure, in my small town, I had gone out on occasion. I had my first drink, when I was 14, and I continued to drink because it helped to relieve painful shyness. Even so, it was only on occasion, to get bold enough to socialize, or cut loose on the dance floor. I guess I was pretty sheltered. This became clearly apparent within a week of arriving to college. My roommate, who was 2 years older, seemed so savvy and cool, I couldn’t believe she wanted to hang out with me. She invited me to go out, and I fell under the spell of the nightlife that was NYC at the time. Swirling lights, music, drugs, and plenty of them. I was underage, but there were plenty of girls out in the clubs that were far younger than me.
The first time it happened, I was 17. I had never had a real “boyfriend” during high school. You could say I was a loner. I guess the combination of shyness, coupled with the fact that I wore thick glasses up until 11th grade didn’t help. I was still a virgin, and I secretly longed to find that special someone to share the first experience with. I wished to find that “true love”. The first month passed quickly at college. The soft summer air chilled to a crisp. It was time to break out fall fashions. Sweaters, boots, scarves, hats and gloves.
The first time it happened, I was 17. My roommate coerced me into going out to one of the last standing monsterous clubs of the moment in midtown Manhattan. I wore a vintage 60’s hot pink fitted shift dress, with a black fake fur cropped jacket, fishnet tights and pointy patent leather pumps. My friend wore a black sharkskin fitted men’s suit, with nothing under the jacket, along with red shiny booties, and her trademark black beret. She styled my hair into a sexy tousled mess, added heavy black eyeliner and hot pink lipstick. As we headed downtown in a cab, drinking vodka from a bottle, the interior filled with a cloud of Aqua Net and cigarette smoke. I was already tipsy by the time we got there. Standing in line behind the velvet rope, we were immediately selected to enter. My friend was strikingly beautiful, with her wild curly black hair, green eyes, and androgynous style. As soon as we walked in, the music took me over, and I headed to the dance floor, as she went off on her own. The place was a vibrating cavernous, multi-level extravaganza. A sensory overload. I lost myself in the music and danced for what seemed like hours. Intermittently strangers would come up and dance with me. It was a different time. People used to dance, and it was all very sexually charged, mixed up, and fun.
The first time it happened, I was 17. It was 3 am in the club. The place was still going strong, but I was ready to leave. I walked over to sit in a banquet, and moments later, a handsome stranger sat down close to me. He was well dressed, in a Wall Street sort of way, but friendly enough with his sweaty bangs falling over crystal blue eyes. He asked if I wanted to party with him, and laid out a couple of lines of coke before I even had a chance to answer. He snorted it quickly, and asked if I wanted any. I had never done drugs, but I was curious and I thought, well, why not. I took the rolled up bill, and he held my hair as I leaned over and snorted a line. As I let the cool burn slide down my throat, I could sense a shift in my body. Now tingling and alert, I told the stranger that I wanted to dance again. He slid his arm around me and told me that he wanted to take me to an after hours club where we could dance till dawn.
The first time it happened, I was 17. Riding in a cab through midtown, after midnight, with a stranger. High on cocaine, and giddy with nerves. The stranger was funny and charming. We made out in the cab. I asked him where the after hours club was. He told me we needed to go to his place to pick something up first. I was too out of it to protest. We headed over to the east side, and the cab stopped in front of a fancy brownstone. He took my hand to help me out. I followed him up the steps to the big wood entryway. Once inside the luxurious apartment, he invited me to sit down on the sofa, while he went into the kitchen to make drinks. He returned with two drinks on a tray, along with a pile of white powder. I took the drink, but declined the coke. He just laughed and said, “more for me.” I was starting to come down, and felt very tired and weak.
The first time it happened, I was 17. I was falling asleep on the sofa, and I told him I needed to go home. He had been yammering on and on about some deal he had made on Wall Street, and how much he was going to make during the next year. He reached over and grabbed me as I started to get up to leave. I told him I had class the next day. No, no, he said. I’ll send you home in a cab in the morning. Stay. Stay. I told him I couldn’t. He kept persisting, his sweat dampened hair dangling over wild looking, bloodshot blue eyes. As he tugged on my dress, he tried to slide his hand up my thigh. I firmly gripped his hand to stop him. I told him I couldn’t sleep with him because I was still a virgin. I told him I was saving it for that special someone. I told him I wanted to leave. He grabbed me, and kept kissing me, even though at this point, I was not reciprocating. He was in a coked up frenzy by now, and suddenly I was very sober. I pushed him away and told him to stop it. He pushed me back down on the sofa. Tears welled up in my eyes. He was so much stronger than me, as he pushed me down, I heard him unzipping his pants. Tearing at my stockings, he told me to lie still, and urgently forced himself upon me, heaving and breathing like an animal. Hot tears flowed down my cheeks, pooling at the side of my face, as it was crushed deeper and deeper into the velour pillow. Physical pain was dwarfed by my emotional agony. Then, suddenly, I felt myself floating upward and watching this event from above. I disconnected and became numb. Nothing could touch me now. I became smaller and smaller, fading away into the distance, until I finally disappeared completely.
The first time it happened, I was 17.