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.
Living in the moment is a very lovely sentiment. There’s a lot to be said for being present. However, it never hurts to plan ahead. A bit of strategic thinking is often a wise idea. Otherwise, it can easily happen that you wind up facing retirement at warp speed, without an exit plan. Visions of working at Walmart, or getting into elder porn start drifting through the mind. This usually happens due to a lack of planning, coupled with poor choices. But, of course circumstances and plain bad luck often play a huge role as well. This is a story about a woman in such a scenario, and how she handled her situation.
Let’s flash back to the beginning. Desiree came to LA at the tender age of nineteen. Typical story. She had been homecoming queen back in a small Iowa town, and she came to LA to become a movie star, model, or at least a tv sensation. Well, fast forward 10 years. 29 being a magic number in a mysogynistic place like LA. No longer young enough to play the “ingenue”, but she still looked good enough to continue getting roles as the ‘sexy’ so and so. Finally, Desiree landed a recurring role on a soap opera as a lonely housewife, where she was constantly getting entangled with hot young neighbors, and other women’s husbands. They say that life imitates art, or is it vice versa? I forget. Anyhow, jump ahead 5 years, and Desiree, now 34 is starting to wonder if she was ever going to find Mr. Right, amongst the string of Mr. Right Nows. Low and behold, on a commercial for vacuums, there he stood. The man of her dreams. Love at first sight. They chatted on set, he wooed her for weeks, and she knew, this was it. He was a director. Wealthy, a bit older and established. She had hit the jackpot. Not only was it love, but she, being an opportunistic gal, knew that he would be able to connect her and help her career. She was being strategic.
They married and honeymooned in Tahiti, her dream vacation. Champagne and caviar. She moved into his home in the Pacific Palisades and got so comfortable, she stopped working altogether, and focused on trying to have a baby. It seemed to be the next thing to do. Her husband, Dean, was a workaholic, but an excellent provider. He had a bit of a reputation as a ladies man, but Desiree knew that she held the keys to his heart, credit cards and castle. The following year, she had a baby boy. They named him Devon. Dean, Desiree and Devon lived their “perfect” life for many years. He lavished her with cash, gifts and cars. In return she tolerated his rumored infidelities. She had nannies and housekeepers. With more time on her hands than she knew what to do with, she felt she had achieved the life a princess would only dream of. Shopping, being pretty and well provided for. A blonde haired princess from Iowa. Just like her parents had always told her.
Fast forward 10 years. Desiree turned 39. Her years on tanning beds were beginning to surface. She looked in the mirror and noticed things she didn’t like. She began to get beauty “treatments” done by a famous Beverly Hills plastic surgeons. Just small tweaks here and there. The credit card had a high limit, and she just told her husband she needed a mole or two removed. Precancerous things, you know. Dean was oblivious, and told her to do whatever she needed to do. Their son was now in private school, and the nanny took him to his after school programs for hours. The only time they were together as a family was occasionally for a half hour or so at bedtime. Often, Dean would stay “on location”. Needless to say, Desiree started to get very lonely.
She started to go take yoga at a small private gym. This is where she met Mack. Yes, the personal trainer. So cliche, I know. Trust me, this is a scenario that plays out over and over and over again. She started to “train” daily. Her body felt better than ever, and she was glowing. One night when her husband came home, he commented on how great she looked. He made sexual advances in the kitchen, something he hadn’t done in a very long time. As he pressed her up against the counter, her cell phone received a text and then another. Her phone happened to be on the counter directly in his line of vision. Desiree wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and she had neglected to set her phone on private. Dean leaned closer to her, stroking her neck, while staring over her shoulder to view the incoming messages. Desiree squirmed, trying to get his attention. The stream of texts continued. Dean’s breathing got heavier. He pushed Desiree in front of him, grabbing her by her arms shaking her violently. He asked her what was going on. Who the hell was Mack? She started to shake and cry. She told him how sorry she was, but she had been so lonely. She cried a lot, but he just pushed her aside and stormed out, down the hall, into his office and slammed the door shut. Desiree sank down onto the kitchen floor, head in hands. She reached up to grab the cell phone and read the messages that Dean had viewed. They were completely incriminating. Explicitly sexual, and solid evidence of an affair. She turned off her phone and sat there bawling on the kitchen floor until she could drag herself to the plush white leather sofa where she fell asleep.
The next morning, Desiree woke up to her husband standing over her. He gave a weak smile and told her he understood. He confessed that he too had been having an affair, and in a way this was all kind of a relief. He had met an actress on set, and it had gotten quite serious. He was planning on telling her, but he just hadn’t had the opportune moment. Desiree felt her heart sink. She went numb. Sure, she had been having an affair, but it was just sex and she had never had the intention of getting more serious with Mack. However, her husband was telling her a different scenario. He told her that he would be going to his lawyer during the following week to file the divorce papers. He said that he was going for full custody of their son, with visitation rights for Desiree. He claimed that she was an unfit mother, focused on her plastic surgery more than on her son’s needs. He warned her not to contest it. He reminded her that he was a powerful man, with powerful connections. She was shocked and defeated. Her heart hurt. He told her she should start getting ready to move out. Devise an exit plan, he told her. Finally, he told her she would be able to have the BMW, and he would give her a sort of “severance” deal, but because she had racked up so much on his credit cards, she was lucky to get anything at all. She gasped, taking it all in.
During the next few weeks, she spent her time going through her clothes, and jewelry, bagging it up for consignment shops. She sold what she could, stashing the cash for emergencies. She started to look at apartments, and living situations, but they were all so expensive. She would only be able to survive for a few months on her finances. She had no concrete job skills, and no connections left. At this point, the idea of going out on auditions, facing rejection, seemed terrifying.
One day, while getting the mail, she saw a paper leaflet on the ground at the end of the gravel driveway. She picked it up. On the front was a photo of a handsome long haired man. “Divine Heights, A New Lifestyle” was printed in bold purple script. She opened the pamphlet and read inside. It described a permanent “retreat”, in the countryside, where it cost nothing, but you were provided with everything. A healthy cooperative community. Welcoming to all, no matter what financial status. There was a phone number at the bottom, underneath a photo of a group of laughing people in a tent. She went back inside, glanced around the huge luxurious white living room, walked over the the giant fur chair, plopped down and dialed the number.
A woman’s voice answered. Hello, Divine Heights, Althena speaking. Desiree paused. Then she started to ask questions. Where was this community, what was the lifestyle, and what was the cost to become a part of it. The woman explained that it was a healthy community in the hills of a remote town in central california. They welcomed all. Depending on budget, there was a nominal “buy-in”, but once in, the only cost was labor and participating in events. The founder, known as Chino, was a leader and a man of many talents. They practiced daily meditation, along with coop gardening, and cooking.
Desiree decided to take the “tour”. She drove her BMW up the coast and headed inland towards the dry desolate looking mountains. It seemed like a very long drive, hours and hours. Finally, down a long dirt road, she saw ahead, a compound. Looking like an old military camp, she noted people milling about, doing repairs. She parked at the end of the drive and got out of her car. A tall dark haired familiar looking man looked in her direction, waving her over. She walked towards him. As she got nearer, she noticed that this was the man on the cover of the pamphlet. The man introduced himself as Chino, reaching out his hand to hers. He gently pulled her in for a hug, whispering “welcome”, softly into her ear. She smiled. She told him she was there to take a look at the Lifestyle. He invited her into the building where there was a simple set up of rustic furnishings. He guided her to a small wicker couch and sat down right next to her. He was wore jeans and a loose fitting shirt. His scent was masculine and deep. He pressed his knee against hers. She felt chemistry. He was a powerful man. She liked him. He put his arm around her, holding her close. He told her he knew she was searching. He knew she needed shelter and love. She had to look no further. She smiled, and felt his lips kiss her neck. She pulled away. He looked her in the eyes, and told her she was welcome here. There would be no charge for her. She thought to herself, this was it. He got up and took her hand. He lead her down a long hall towards a small room. Through the tiny window, enough natural light streamed in to see a clean and simple setup. A single bed, sink and toilet. He told her this would be her personal quarters. The rest of the place was shared. He told her he felt the connection too. She smiled. It was her moment. A culmination of her life’s choices. This was it. She had her exit plan.
Ever since he could remember, women had fawned over him. He was a real head turner, and he knew it. The ladies loved him, and he loved them back. Again, and again. And, again. Years passed. He fancied himself a player for life. Love ’em, and leave ’em was his motto. Even if it meant shacking up with one, while managing a few on the side. Sure it became work, but he preferred to consider it a “lifestyle”. A few more years passed, and eventually, juggling so many women began to consume him. It became a full-time job. So much so, that his actual career as a science lab manager went into a downward spiral. He wound up with a menial position at a pet store, where he got fired for trying to seduce a customer by putting a snake inside her blouse. Fortunately, he was still living with a clueless “girlfriend”, and she was all too happy to support him, since it gave her a sick sense of self-control. Self-control was the very thing he lacked. Not long after he lost his job, she came home from work one day to find him in bed with a wealthy elderly neighbor. Needless to say, she kicked him out immediately. He vanished without a trace.
These days, you can find him lurking around Trader Joes parking lots. Wearing a fitted t-shirt and jeans, pretending to be on his phone, he looks slightly lost and confused. But as soon as he sees a single lady headed to her car with grocery bags, he shifts into high gear, and heads towards her with a studied swagger. Giving her his hungry eyes, and a slight smile, he pauses, then says, “excuse me, but you are so beautiful, I just had to tell you.” Usually, the woman swiftly slides into the vehicle, and backs out at high speed. But, occasionally he has a lucky day, and she pauses long enough for him to engage her further. He runs his fingers through his albeit thinning hair, like he’s seen men in cologne ads do. He’s still got it. Trader Joe’s parking lot has been good to him. There are lots of single ladies. and they definitely have food and a car. Soon, he might need to find a new location. He’s considering Home Goods or TJMax.
Veronica was a very cool chick. She managed to make juggling a high-pressure PR job alongside a packed social life look effortless. Her jet-black hair was always perfectly cropped. A fringe of bangs grazing her almond-shaped, kohl rimmed hazel eyes. She was into music, and going to see bands play was her thing. Not only for the music, but for the musicians. Veronica loved musicians. In fact, she would only date men in that category. Exclusively musicians.
Over the years, there had been quite a few of them. There was the guitar player from a German punk band, an aging but still relevant American rock superstar, and even the lead singer from a very famous British pop group. However, nothing had ever panned out into a long-term relationship, and she was getting to the point in life where she craved more stability. For this, she knew she would need to expand her horizons.
One of her close friends was doing the on-line dating thing, and raved to her about how much fun it was. She told Veronica that there were so many cool guys out there, and she should really give it a try. Veronica was not interested, but she did reluctantly take a look via her friend’s profile and she noticed that yes, there were some cute guys on this thing. While browsing, there was one in particular who caught her eye. Her friend told her she could use her profile to hit him up. And, this is how she met Fabrizio1.
Yes, Fabrizio1 was Italian, imported directly from Italy. Currently working in San Diego as a tattoo artist. Oh, and did I mention that Veronica was a tattoo aficionado? Oh yes. He responded to her right away and they began a chat (using her friend Viki75’s account). He didn’t spell too well, but she quickly realized it was because his English skills were not up to speed. This didn’t bother her, in fact she preferred foreign men to the average American guy. He sent her a selfie from work at the tattoo shop. He stood in front of a wall of tattoo designs and artwork. He was tall with shaggy black hair, green eyes, a sexy smile, and from what she could see of his arms, and neck, he was loaded with tattoos. Perfect. She sent back a quick pic of herself standing on the balcony at her friend’s apartment. She had her trademark heavy black eyeliner on under those sharp bangs, and he liked what he saw. He commented that she looked totally different from the profile pic and she divulged that she was just using her friend’s account. He didn’t seem to care, and he asked her when would she be free so he could take her to dinner. She lived in LA, and he told her he would drive up and meet her.
They decided to meet at a cool restaurant off of Sunset Boulevard. Veronica waited in the lounge at the bar anxiously watching the door. Under her long black sweater she wore a fitted mini-dress with thigh high boots, and her go-to black fishnet stockings. A vixen version of Stevie Nicks. She watched as a few couples walked in and were seated. Finally, in walked Fabrizio1. She recognized him immediately. Wearing a beat up vintage leather jacket, and black jeans, he was even better looking in person. He looked around the room and made eye contact with Veronica. She smiled and he walked over to the bar. He sat by her and leaned over to kiss her on both cheeks. He smiled and she noticed the gold tooth. Could he get any hotter? He was so relaxed and easy to be with. Funny and charming. He told her he was hungry, and he asked the bartender if they could order at the bar. They shared some delicious tapas and drank red wine. The conversation flowed. He told her about the town he was from, and the reasons he decided to become a tattoo artist. Fabrizio had traveled all around the world and his life story was intriguing. She was very attracted to him. As they finished and the bill was paid, he put his hand on her thigh and leaned over to kiss her. It was a soft, romantic kiss, and she noticed that his hair smelled of the sand and sea, with a touch of smoke and leather. Yum. As they exited the restaurant, he asked her where she had parked, and she told him that her car was just around the corner on Santa Monica Boulevard. He asked her if she would mind driving him to his car. Sure she would do that, no problem. He put his arm around her and they walked together. He paused to kiss her intermittently. She felt warm all over. They got into her car and she turned on the ignition. He leaned over and pushed her sweater off of her shoulders. He asked if he could kiss her some more. She closed her eyes and he stroked her neck and ran his fingers through her hair as he put his lips to hers. She felt his grip on her head get firmer and suddenly her head was being pushed down onto his lap. She opened her eyes to see his hand holding his penis aiming straight at her face. She jerked her head up and told him “ This is not gonna work”, he pushed her head down once again, and said to her with his heavy Italian accent, “no, no bella mia, it work, it work, you keep doing and it working”. She raised her head again, trying to compose herself. Looking straight in his eyes, and with a serious tone she told him, “no! this!” Pointing to his lap. “This is not gonna happen!” A sudden flash of light in the darkness blinded her for a moment, and she noticed that a police officer was walking up alongside of the car. He tapped on the window. She sharply hissed at Fabrizio1 to “put that thing away!” as she rolled down the window. The cop, peering into the vehicle, asked if everything was alright. Yes, yeah, fine, she said. Alrighty then, he told them, have a good night then and remember you need to move your vehicle by 11. He turned and walked away. Veronica waited a minute in silence. She then turned towards Fabrizio1 and firmly told him that he would have to go get his car on his own. He tried to apologize. He told her she was just so beautiful that he couldn’t help himself. He went on and on about how in Italy things are different. He begged and pleaded, but she said nothing. Finally, she looked him in the eye and said in a stern loud voice “just leave!” He shrugged his shoulders, got out of the car, and she watched him saunter down the boulevard through her rearview mirror. She could see a couple of blonde party girls teetering in their high heels towards him. He paused to flirt with them. After a few moments, and what looked like laughter amongst them, they changed their course of direction, and turned to walk with Fabrizio1 into the distance along the boulevard. The last thing she noticed was his arm wrapping around both girls waists. She shook her head and started ignition of her Charger, taking off with a roar.