Tuesday, August 24, 2010

327 Chesterfield Road - Part 2

The next day on the way home from school Jack stared at the window; really stared, as if willing the light to come on to prove he hadn’t imagined it. Nothing happened. He really wanted to tell the guys what he thought he saw. He didn’t know why he was afraid of them thinking he was an idiot. They were his best friends. Every other day one of them thought the other was an idiot. What did it really matter if today was his day to wear that badge?

“Guys,” said Jack. “Stop a second.”

Henry and Kevin stopped where they were. Henry took out a pack of cigarettes and lit one as they waited for Jack to tell them why they were stopping.

“Did either of you happen to notice anything weird last night?” asked Jack.

“Weird? Like, what?” asked Henry in reply to Jack’s question, exhaling smoke. Kevin stood there with a look on his face like he was trying to remember what he had done last night and what he would have seen while doing it.

“Last night when we were running away from 327, I turned around and thought I saw a light on in the middle window. Did either one of you happen to see that?”

They both shook their heads. Henry: “Dude, I didn’t turn around, I was haulin’ ass to get outta there.” Kevin: “Me, too. Sorry, bro.”

The reaction was nothing like he thought it would be. Actually, they both seemed to believe it was possible that a light had been on in the window.

“You really think you saw a light in the window?” asked Henry. His curiosity peaked. Jack could tell by the way he was looking around to see if anyone was near them when he asked the question. “I’ve always been curious about that place man.”

“Me too,” Kevin joined in. He was never one to be left out even if he was a little bit scared of the house.

“I’ve never heard anyone talk about that old place. It just seems to be an abandoned house that everybody accepts,” said Henry.

“Do you think it’s possible that somebody was in there last night? I mean it could’ve been a reflection from the streetlight, but it looked like it was coming from inside,” said Jack.

"We've traced the calls...they're coming from inside the house!" Henry said the line from When a Stranger Calls with whispered creepiness that only needed a campfire and glowing flashlight under his chin to make it creepier than it already was.

A little freaked out, Kevin said, “I don’t wanna start being the voice of reason guys, but.” Henry and Jack started to laugh at the words “voice of reason” coming out of Kevin’s mouth.

“What’s so funny?” asked Kevin.

“Dude, you and “voice of reason” are not two things I would put together in the same sentence,” laughed Henry as he and Jack high-fived followed by their signature fist bump finger explosion.

“Okay, okay, I get. So I’m not always the smartest guy, but let’s face it, do you think somebody was actually inside that creepy place? I mean come on. It’s probably full of rats and spiders and it’s probably crumbling inside,” said Kevin.

He did have a point. I mean they were 17 years old and that house had looked like that ever since they could remember. Which means it was deteriorating, year after year. It probably was crumbling in there. Who knew if there was even a way to get to the second or third floors of the house?

“I have an idea,” said Jack. “Why don’t we sit out here on the sidewalk tonight after dark and see if it happens again?”

Henry and Kevin looked at each other. Kevin had already decided that he would do it if Henry did it. Henry gave a shrug of his shoulders and said, “Why not.” Which prompted Kevin to reply that he was also game.

So it was settled. The three of them would meet on the sidewalk, opposite side of the street from 327, 9pm. They didn’t know if anything would happen, but Jack hoped to see the glow of light again.

At 9pm, Henry and Kevin joined Jack who was already sitting, staring at the house. Jack was anxious and excited. Maybe it was because it was getting him out of the house. Maybe it was because it was something different to do besides homework and old movies. It didn’t really matter. He was there with his two best friends. They hadn’t thought he was an idiot. In fact, they were indulging him in what might be a waste of time and a silly plan. It didn’t matter. Hanging out with each other was never a waste of time in any of their minds. Sitting around, doing nothing was a perfect use of time for the three of them. And, truth be told, any time spent with Henry outside of school was exciting for Jack. Not that Henry could know that, but still.

“Hey guys,” said Jack as they stopped next to him. He was sitting on the sidewalk looking up at the two of them. He watched as Henry looked across the street at 327 and them back up the road to see if anyone else was out-and-about. The street was deserted

“’Sup,” Kevin sat down next to Jack.

“Hey,” Henry sat down on the other side of Jack.

“How long you been out here?” asked Kevin.

“Just about 5 minutes,” replied Jack. “I was excited; couldn’t wait.”

Henry pulled out his cigarettes and offered one to the other two guys. With nothing better to do but sit and wait, they each took one. Henry lit all three of the cigarettes. They took a nice deep inhale and exhaled the toxins that continued to give them a rush. Kevin pulled out the flask. He still had it from the night before. He had never put it back in his father’s drawer. It seemed only natural to bring it with him on a night like this. If for nothing else, he would probably need the calming down the amber liquid inside could provide for him.

“Dude,” said Henry, holding up his hand for the “nice job” high-five. “Pass that over.” Kevin was always so proud of himself when he received any kind of praise from Henry. This was one of those moments. Kevin’s sense of belonging there was apparent on his face as he passed the flask to the one of them that he looked up to the most. His shoulders relaxed as he settled into the moment.

Henry took a swig and then offered the flask to Jack. Jack bit down on his lower lip, nodding his head, a smile forming on his lips as he took the flask and took his own drink. He grimaced. Every time, he grimaced. Whiskey was bitter and rough and it burned. It was a good burn though. Cigarettes and whiskey; euphoria was underway.

They sat there for what seemed like an hour smoking cigarettes and taking sips from the flask. They were talking about girls and about biology class and the tastefree food they had eaten in the cafeteria that day. Jack started talking about the Beowulf poem they had been assigned to read in english class. The other two guys looked at him with the same squinty-eyed, gaped-mouth look. He was the center of their “shut-up-or-I’ll-kick-your-ass” sandwich. He laughed a little and immediately changed the subject back to girls. He didn’t really get much action himself, but he had listened to Henry and Kevin tell enough stories to be able to at least start the conversation and then let them take it over. They did think they were experts on girls after all.

Just then they noticed an orange glow in 327. It wasn’t a light coming from the window on the second level. It was a glow coming from the ground level. It looked like a light that was covered by a very old, yellowed shade. They could see it to the right side of the front door. It looked like the light a person might turn on if they were walking up or down the stairs at night. The boys just sat there watching it. They didn’t even blink. They were mesmerized by the fact that there was indeed a light on in 327 that had not been on just moments before.

Without looking away Jack asked in a very steady voice, “Do you guys see that?”

“I see it,” replied Kevin. He was scared of the house already and the light only made it worse.

“Me too,” said Henry. “Do you think it’s on a timer?”

“I don’t know,” replied Jack.

If anyone had driven by at that moment, they would have done a double take at the three boys sitting on the sidewalk, unmoving, unblinking, staring at the house across the street.

Then the light went off. There was no movement inside the house. There was no movement on the sidewalk across the street from the house. The boys just sat there.

Jack felt relieved that he had seen another light in the house and Henry was intrigued by what the light meant. Kevin was just scared.

The three of them got up from the sidewalk and walked back to their respective homes. A little faster than normal, but still a walk. They didn’t really talk about the light as they walked the block. Jack’s was the driveway closest to the beginning of their road. He was the first one to leave them.

“You guys saw it right? That orangey colored light really came on?”

“Yeah bro, I saw it,” replied Henry. Kevin just stood there nodding his head.

“Okay,” said Jack. “See you guys tomorrow.”

“Later,” said Henry and Kevin in unison as they walked home themselves.

Part 1

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boozy, Notorious & a bridge to Brooklyn

"The day Boozy and Notorious walked across the Brooklyn Bridge." Sing that using the melody from "Ode To Billie Joe".

I planned to go to the gym this morning, but just didn't get around to it. I chose instead to enjoy my morning cup of coffee watching last Sunday's CBS Sunday Morning and repeats of The Golden Girls alternating with reading the latest copy of Entertainment Weekly. Okay, so I should have gone to the gym, but it was a lovely way to spend the morning of a day off. I knew I was going to get exercise anyway.

At the subway, the first train to arrive was the M. I took it to Queens Plaza and waited to transfer to the R. I was paying no attention when I got on an E. I was typing directions for the day on my Blackberry. Thankfully, I looked up and noticed the E before the doors closed. It wouldn't have been horrible to be on the E. The R just puts me closer to where I was meeting Boozy.

When the R finally came, I played seat hockey, briefly, with an older man. I started to sit then thought he was planning to sit. Being a southern gentleman (laughter is not permitted here) I was going to let him sit. He chose to stand so I took the seat. The next thing I know we're hearing the sounds of someone informing us of New York City's hunger problem and wanting donations. Quickly, I started hearing the jazz sounds of the smooth-voiced Melody Gardot. I gotta block that shit out most of the time. I agree that there is a hunger problem. It's not limited to NYC. I just don't give money to solicitors on the train. There are organizations for that kind of donation. Sing it all away for me Melody.

The day was absolutely gorgeous. White cumulus clouds dotted the blue sky like cotton balls on a piece of light blue poster board. The temperature was in the mid 70's. There was a slight breeze. It couldn't be more glorious. There was peace in my soul as I waited for Boozy to join me for our adventure. There wasn't a hurried desire to get to the Bridge, only a desire to allow the day to unfold. That is not something I do often. It's a good feeling. I should allow myself the experience more often.

We stopped at Jamba Juice before getting on the N train toward Brooklyn. Boozy ordered the Mega Mango and I the Peach Perfection. We each added a free shot of vitamins to our smoothie. With our batteries charging from the smoothies and the vitamins, we stopped by an ATM so that we could pay for our adventure. We then made our way to the subway station at 49th Street.

I realized quickly that the N train we were on was not going to stop where we needed it to - City Hall. We transferred at Union Square to the 6 express train to Brooklyn Bridge. Five-7 minutes later we were at our destination. All these years I've been in NYC and I never realized how quick and easy it was to get to the Brooklyn Bridge. I feel like I've wasted a lot of time thinking it was too far and too much time on a train. Somebody find me an "idiot" badge.

As we emerged from the underground station to the visions of blue sky, I turned to Boozy and asked, "Why don't we live down here." It was beautiful. Beauty accented with white tiles, green trees, and colorful fabrics. We found our way onto the bridge and began our journey across. You have to be aware of the cyclists. Boozy informed me that they get angry with the walking tourists. We were tourists today. So we stayed out of their way. However, being New Yorkers in reality, we weren't enjoying the walking tourists either.

It took no more than 30 minutes to walk across the majestic Brooklyn Bridge. Even pausing for pictures of the water, Brooklyn and Manhattan views. It was such a lovely walk. Slathered in sun screen and enjoying the shine.

We made our way to Old Fulton Street and joined the line of people on the sidewalk waiting for a taste of coal brick oven pizza from Grimaldi's Pizzeria. They don't serve slices and they only take cash. It's a New York destination. A fixture on the Brooklyn Bridge experience. (Thank you Boozy for that description.) Of course, I have to be honest here. I had never heard of the place. Boozy was the one who knew of it and suggested we go there.

Okay, so I don't really know how long we waited in line. It could have been 30 minutes it could have been 45. Time flies when you're having fun. We looked at all the pictures I had taken so far and talked. When we finally made our way to the front of the line, we were shaded by a big, old, beautiful tree. And just like that, we were being called inside.

Can you say crowded? Every red and white-checkered tablecloth covered table was filled. Elbow to elbow. 1950's rock n roll was playing loud on the sound system. I looked around for the jukebox. One wall was full of Frank Sinatra pictures, posters, memorabilia. It was a pizzeria where American Graffiti met film noir. The history was apparent. There's no telling what stories these walls and tables could tell. We ordered beer and pizza. Peroni for Boozy, Amstel Light for me and a large regular pie for us to share.

There are no pictures of the pizza because we devoured it. Boozy mentioned this to me and thought it would be funny to take a picture of the empty pan. No such luck. The second the last slice was taken, a waiter swooped in a took the pan. Two beers each and a whole pie later, we paid our $32, cheap, bill and headed back into the sunshine in search of ice cream. There will be no judgment allowed at this statement. We had already consumed beer and pizza in the middle of the day. There is nothing wrong with adding ice cream to the mix. Hell, it's almost called for. Bad is bad no matter how little or much you consume and all of this bad was really good.

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory was located a mere 351 feet from the door of Grimaldi's. How do I know that, you ask? Well, Boozy's phone gave her directions with distance in feet. It was at the end of Old Fulton Street. Before indulging in the ice cream, we walked along the water at Brooklyn Bridge Park. I had no idea there was such beauty simply across the bridge from Manhattan. The view of Lower Manhattan was breathtaking. Thirteen years later and I still feel amazed that I live here. It was smile inducing. After we had tired ourselves with the walking and the food and the beer and the park, it was time for a little sugary goodness. Boozy got Peaches and Cream on a sugar cone and I got Vanilla on a waffle cone. We started our trek back to the bridge. Remember what it's like when you have an ice cream cone in the sunshine? Good! Then you'll have a excellent picture of me trying to keep that ice cream from running down the cone and dripping off my hand.

As we started back to Manhattan, I noticed a large digital clock. It said 5:01pm. We had spent 3 hours in Brooklyn. We walked back across the bridge, facing the oncoming deluge of tourists. None of them seemed to get the concept of moving out of the way as we passed one another. There was no sense of shared space. Three people shoulder-to-shoulder, filling the space, and as Boozy and I approached, we were the one's who moved. It happened more than once with the same outcome each time. Annoyed, I just stopped moving out of the way. If we ran into each other, so be it. The southern gentleman from earlier in the day had given way to my true identity. For the record, it took us about 20 minutes to walk the bridge this time.

Back on Manhattan soil, we decided to walk to Chinatown and catch the R train at Canal Street. We stopped at an outdoor seating area to rest and drink a little water. We were giddy. Kinda punchy with laughter. I think it was happiness. Yes, I was happy and Boozy was happy. We had a fantastic day doing something neither of us had ever done before. The experience was perfect.

Photo Album

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Really, An Animal?

I am so frustrated today. So angry. So sad. So fascinated!

I am so tired of the people who live in fear of something that they don't understand and don't take the time to understand. People who just accept what their church leaders or political leaders tell them without questioning their own beliefs.

When are people going to stop equating same-sex marriage with utterly ridiculous things that they pull out of their asses. How do you make the leap that if I, Michael Rohrer, want to marry a man, a man that I love, it will open a Pandora's Box that one day allows men to marry their dog, cat, or horse? That leap is the most stupid justification for being against same-sex marriage I have ever heard.

I have a straight friend in my life with two divorces under his belt and a third marriage pending.

I have a gay friend who just celebrated his sixth anniversary with the man he loves. Legally married, thank you Massachusetts. They are the most normal of couples. They show affection, they pay their mortgage, they argue, they buy groceries, they clean their house.

I think it's about sex. We are hung up on the sex act in this country. There is a perception that homosexuals are just consuming debaucherous amounts of alcohol and having raunchy, promiscuous sex. Well, you know what, some homosexuals do, but not all of us. And here's a spot on your pretty, unblemished idea; some heterosexuals do to. There are many people in this world, gay and straight, who experiment with sodomy, fellatio, cunnilingus, drugs, alcohol, fetishes, etc. Wake up people. Do you really know your neighbor's or friend's bedroom habits? No! Nor should you.

When are we, the people, going to realize that homosexuality is not a choice? I'm very proud of who I am. I wish I had more courage, but I'm proud nonetheless. However, do you think, given the choice, I would have chosen to be gay? Why would I choose to live a life surrounded by so much hate? My life is my life. I was born with it. I carve out my path daily, yearly, as I grow and learn more.

I'm not crazy. I don't need to be cured. I can't, nor can any other homosexual, recruit your child. I was not recruited. I grew up in a loving, church-going, home with parents who still love me. I wasn't molested. I felt my attraction to the same sex when I was still in the single digits. I don't want to have a relationship with an animal. And contrary to what some men think, just because you have a dick doesn't mean I want to sleep with you. Get over yourself. I am a normal man, a human being, an American, just living my life and hoping to meet the right man and fall in love. And guess what, I believe God made me this way. "Created in his image." And I believe God loves me. After all, isn't God love? I don't know the God who the people, holding the signs, that say "GOD HATES FAGS" worship. I thought hate was a sin and that God and Jesus were sin free.

Relationships are about so much more than sex. I want to know what there is to fear if two men, that you don't even know, have never met, or will ever meet, love each and want to get married? How does it affect your life? Your marriage doesn't affect mine.

Give peace a chance. Give love a chance. Start thinking for yourselves. Wake up!!

327 Chesterfield Road - Part 1

As Henry, Jack, and Kevin walked home from school, they did the same thing they did everyday – they crossed the street. About a block away from their own street, they had to pass a house that was largely overgrown with weeds and almost completely hidden by trees. It was just a matter-of-fact occurrence that they crossed the street. No explanation necessary. Henry was dribbling a basketball as they crossed, listening to Jack and Kevin talk about some girl they’d seen walking down the hallway today.

“I’d never seen her before,” said Kevin. “Unless I’d just never paid attention.”

“Well, it’s possible that you just never paid attention,” replied Jack as he lit a cigarette. He inhaled and then offered it to Kevin who declined with a shake of his head.

Henry reached over and took the cigarette from Jack. If Kevin wasn’t going to take a toke, he sure was. “What did she look like?” asked Henry.

“I didn’t really get a good look, honestly,” replied Jack.

Shaking his head with a smirk across his lips, “You never get a good look,” replied Kevin. Jack shrugged his shoulders. “You’ve always got your head down or in a book.” Henry laughed and faux punched Jack’s arm with a 1,2,3 punch in agreement with Kevin.

“She had long blond hair and a butt that looked great in her tight jeans,” continued Kevin. “She has to be new. I mean I can’t believe that I wouldn’t have noticed someone like her if she’d been in our class forever.”

It would have been possible to not really know everyone in his class. They went to a large school. Each grade had several homerooms and those classmates were the ones that you shared most of your classes with. It was possible to graduate only knowing a select group of people’s names. Truth be told, the girl wasn’t really that important. She was a distraction. Something to focus on for the rest of the day instead of math and biology. She was just one of the mundane things to talk about as they walked home.

As they passed in front of the house at 327 Chesterfield Road, they stopped talking. It didn’t matter that they were on the other side of the street. It was almost like they didn’t want to attract attention to themselves. It wasn’t even dark outside. It was late afternoon, but the house always made them uneasy. It was creepy even in the daylight. Forget about it after dark. Most of the time they just kept their heads down and walk a little faster especially if they were alone.

The three boys had grown up together in Astoralyn, NY. They had been school chums and neighbors for as long as any of them could remember. Henry and Kevin had always lived on Westshire Street, a cul-de-sac that branched off of Chesterfield Road. Jack had moved on to Westshire when he was only three. They had become fast friends. A small gang. Henry was the unspoken leader. He was tall with red hair. He had a little bit of the temper that seemed to go along with being a red head, but he was also strong and cocky and just a little bit debonair. Kevin was the goofball of the group. He was Henry’s sidekick. He was medium height with medium brown hair and a slight paunch that would go away if he would lay off sneaking his dad’s beer. He was cute, but his sense of humor is what attracted the girls. They both got a lot of action for sure, but if Henry was the ladies man, Kevin was the sexy joker. Jack was his own person. He was shorter than the other two and much smarter. He enjoyed hanging out with the two guys, but he also enjoyed spending time alone. The same can’t always be said for Henry or especially Kevin. Jack was much more the strong silent type who enjoyed reading a good book. He also had a slight crush on Henry, which was something he didn’t want either of his two best friends to find out.

“So, are we gonna meet on the corner here and go to the game together?” asked Henry.

“Same as always,” replied Kevin.

There was a basketball game tonight at their high school. It was the first home game of the season. They were playing a team from a second rate school in the region. Their team always won when these two schools played each other. It wasn’t going to be an exciting game so the reason for going was to hang out. Maybe see if the blond girl showed up.

* * *

Nothing happened at the game. It was predictable. The home team won and the blond girl was not there. The three of them managed to step outside and enjoy a cigarette and a swig of whiskey out of the flask Kevin had taken from his father's drawer. The real excitement happened on the way home.

Kevin sighed a heavy sigh. He was walking with his head down, hands in his pockets. The silence was chased away by the rocks he kicked up the street. Jack and Henry looked at him and then at each other. Jack lifted his eyebrows as if the say "You do it," to Henry. Henry rolled his eyes.

"Dude, what's your problem? You've been completely quiet and that sigh is bringin' us down."

"Sorry," replied Kevin sounding just a little defeated. "I was just hoping to see that chick from the hall at the game tonight."

"Man, you don't even know if she was real," said Jack.

"I know she was real, Dickwad," he said pulling his arm back as if he was going to punch Jack. However, he almost fell when he stepped on his untied shoelace.

Jack cracked up, followed by Henry. With the tension completely broken, Kevin started to laugh too. They were laughing so hard they hadn't even noticed that they had neglected to cross the street. They were standing right in front of 327. That’s how they referred to the old house – 327. Jack looked up and realized they had stopped right in front of the gate. He took off running. The other two followed quickly. Jack turned to see if they were following him when he noticed a glow in the middle window. He had never seen that before. The house always appeared empty and silent. There was even a "No Trespassing" sign. He couldn't imagine that anyone was inside. When he stopped to catch his breath, he looked again. All the windows were dark. He must have imagined it. He told himself that it must have been a reflection from the streetlight.

He thought about telling the guys what he thought he saw, but realized they would probably think he was an idiot.

"Later guys," said Jack as he turned into his driveway.

"See you tomorrow, Jack," said Henry.

"Later," said Kevin

"Hey Kevin," Jacked yelled over his shoulder, "Maybe you'll see the blond in your dreams tonight."

"Dickwad," replied Kevin.

They heard Jack laughing as he shut the door to his house. Henry laughed as he and Kevin did a fist bump with exploding fingers and a shoulder shrug.

As they walked up their respective driveways, they said their “goodnights” and “laters” and headed inside for homework then sleep.

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ocean Point - Part 5

Bethany stood there staring down at his body lying on the floor. She took a second to look around room. She was going off the cuff now. She wasn’t exactly sure where she was going to restrain him. And then she spotted the grate. Of course, how could she not have remembered? There were grates in all of the rooms. They weren’t used for anything anymore. She didn’t even know what their original use had been.

She bent down and grabbed Christopher under his arms. It was adrenaline again that helped her as she dragged him across the room. There were three grates in the salon, one by the door, one by the window, and the third on a wall with no exits. That’s the one she chose. She went back to the closet, where she had been lying in wait for him, and retrieved her purse. Not only did she have the vial and the syringe inside, she also had a pair of handcuffs. She tightened one cuff around his left wrist and attached the other to the grate.

There was nothing to do but wait. She walked over to the table by the door and picked up her glass. She went back to the cabinet and refreshed her bourbon. As she made her way to the sofa, she saw an issue of Town & Country magazine. It seemed like the perfect way to pass the time while waiting for Christopher to wake up. She had bourbon and a magazine. And without even realizing it, she had Journey. She heard herself singing along. As the song ended, she realized her heart rate was only slightly elevated. She turned off the power to the entertainment system. She would be back to normal in no time. All she needed was a good article in the magazine and the drink in her hand.

Waiting was the hardest part. She’d been waiting for 10 years. It hadn’t taken her 10 years to recover, but she hadn’t had the strength or courage to face him until now. She had been afraid to see him again. She wasn’t afraid that he would hurt her; she just thought it would break her heart. It took the years of creating her new life, keeping her gnawing past at bay, to finally make her snap. It was like waking up one morning and deciding that enough was enough. She had suffered enough at his hands and she was tired of it. It was time for him to suffer. She needed to move on with her life.

Christopher moaned as he started to wake up. He wasn’t out for very long. She hadn’t given him a full dose, only enough to knock him out for about an hour. She didn’t want this to take all night.

“Ivy?” he said as he began to sit up.

“It’s not Ivy,” said Bethany. She watched him for any recollection of the voice.

“Who then?” he said struggling to get out the words. “What do you want, money? I have money.”

“I know you have money, Christopher, but I don’t want any of it.”

“Help me,” he said trying to lift his head and see his attacker.

Bethany was sitting on the sofa directly across from Christopher. She wasn’t moving. She was just waiting for the realization to sink in. She knew his memory would come back or his vision would clear and he would see her.

She could see it happen, the fog in his brain clearing, because he started to struggle with the handcuffs. Then he looked directly at her.

“Bethany?” said Christopher, disorientation and confusion turning to realization.

“I’m sure you must be surprised to see me,” replied Bethany as she sat there staring at him. “You see, the man you used to help you ‘fix’ all of your problems, your mistakes, he was also a friend of mine.” Bethany took a drink from the glass she was holding. “He couldn’t carry out your wish to hide me somewhere and leave me to die. But see, because you didn’t want to know any of the details, he wasn’t obliged to tell you that he had actually taken me to the home of a doctor friend of his.”

“Bethany,” he started to cry. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” replied Christopher through his tears.

“You’re sorry? For what, Christopher?” she paused for thought. “That you strangled me? That you hit me in the head? That you told someone to dispose of me? That you married another woman? That you continued to live your life?” Again she paused. “Which is it Christopher?” She nearly spat the words at him. “Maybe you’re sorry because you have to face me.”

“No. I’m sorry that any of it happened,” cried Christopher.

“I want you to tell me why Christopher,” said Bethany. She was angry, but calm. She just wanted the answer. “Why did you try to kill me?”

“I freaked out. There’s really no other explanation,” said Christopher. He was fidgeting with the handcuff. “The first thing that went through my mind was that you’d divorce me. I-I snapped. I-,” he took a breath, “I didn’t know how I would survive without my money,” He blurted out the words. “I know that sounds shallow, but I’m being honest.”

“Good, I want you to be honest because that’s exactly what I’m going to be,” replied Bethany. “I suffered Christopher. Not only did my marriage end, my life ended. At least my life as I knew it. My life as Bethany”

She watched him sitting on the floor, crying like a defeated child.

“Do you know how long it took to regain my memory, to fully start living again? Sometimes I’m thankful for the year of amnesia. It allowed me a small amount of protection from you. I struggled, physically and mentally, to get well enough to live my life again.”

“I’m sorry, Bethany.”

“I still suffer, Christopher,” said Bethany as a single tear rolled down her face. She shook her head and she wiped it away. “I can’t believe I’m crying. You don’t deserve my tears. I’ve cried enough over this.”

“What can I say, Bethany? What can I do?”

“Nothing! I wouldn’t believe you anyway,” replied Bethany. She put her hand to her mouth as if to stop her chin from quivering and looked away.

Without looking at him, “How did you explain my absence?” she asked. As she completed the question, she turned back to him. She wanted to look him straight in the eye when he gave his answer.

“I told the police, and our friends, that you went out for a drive and never returned home,” said Christopher.

“That must have been difficult for you Christopher,” said Bethany with honey soaked sarcasm. “You had to play the sad, worried husband in public while counting your money and having sex with Ivy in private.” She paused. “Must have been tough,” she added in a whisper with a heartless edge.

“You don’t have to be so mean, Bethany,” replied Christopher.

“How long did people search for me? You must have been so relieved that my parents were dead so that you didn’t have to contend with them searching for their little girl, and all the questions they would have asked.”

“The case is a cold case that is closed as far as I know,” said Christopher. He couldn’t look at her. His head was hanging in shame.

“That’s good. That means aside from you and Ivy and our mutual friend, no one from here knows where I am, or if I’m even alive.”

“I could tell the truth,” said Christopher. His voice had an air of pleading to it and hopefulness as if his idea of telling the truth would actually set him free.

“Don’t you want to know where I’ve been all this time?”

He didn’t reply.

“It doesn’t matter, I’m going to tell you anyway. There’s no reason for me to keep it secret,” said Bethany. She took a deep breath and released it. “The doctor, whose house I was taken to, had connections at a hospital in Delaware. I was airlifted to Sussex County General and admitted under an assumed name.” She took a sip of the bourbon. It was harder than she thought to reveal the privacy of her new life to him.

“Our mutual friend helped me slowly empty my bank accounts. Not that you would have cared or even noticed it was happening. I didn’t know who I was at that point. He repeated my history to me daily. He convinced me that I could trust him and he would take care of me.”

She took another sip of the bourbon and leaned forward toward Christopher. “I’m not really sure how he did it, and I’m not sure I really want to know, but slowly, without raising suspicions, he emptied the accounts and opened new ones in Delaware for me.”

“Why are you telling me this?” questioned Christopher.

“After I fully recovered, I went back to school. I became a counselor. I gave advice to people about how to deal with jerks like you.” She laughed a little to herself. “Isn’t that funny?” No comment from Christopher. “It wasn't fulfilling though. I finally realized it was because I had never dealt with you.”

The silence in the room was interrupted by Christopher’s sobbing.

Bethany continued. “I use the name Kate Bennett now, Katie to my friends. I’m still in Delaware. Milhaven, Delaware. After leaving my position as a counselor at Sussex County General, I decided to use my money to do something I thought I could really enjoy. I opened a wine bar. What do you think about that?”

Christopher said nothing, but managed to look up at her. In his eyes she could see his sadness.

She ignored the sadness. “It’s called Pinot Noir.” She laughed a little at her own cleverness. “I thought that was a perfect name, classy yet relaxed.”

Christopher seemed to have stopped sobbing. He sat in the floor, looking defeated.

“I’ve made new friends and created a wonderful life for myself. I just thought you should know that.” She searched her thoughts, making sure that she had said all she needed to say. “It may not be the life I thought I would live, but it’s surprisingly fulfilling and normal.”

Shaking his head and looking at her through squinted eyes of questioning he asked, “Then why are you here?”

“I’m not afraid of you knowing any more,” replied Bethany. “That I’m alive or where I’m living. You don’t get to have that power over me, Christopher. You’re the only baggage I have left and it’s time I got rid of it.”

Bethany stood up from the sofa. She finished the remainder of her bourbon. She walked over to the cabinet and placed the used glass back inside then closed the door. She walked over to where she had hung her portrait. She took it off the wall. She walked back to the sofa and anchored the portrait between the seat cushion and back. She picked up her purse and looked inside. She took out a small box.

“Bethany, what are you doing?” asked Christopher in a quivering voice as though fear had just swept through his body.

“The same thing you did to me,” replied Bethany with a sense of calm that she didn’t even know she could possess. “I’m leaving you to die.”

Bethany struck the match and threw it at her portrait. It immediately started to burn. Christopher was crying and struggling to break free of the grate. In some ways, the painting was the perfect image to sum up the moment. She had turned her back to the painter just as she was turning her back on Christopher. Her reflection in the mirror was like one last look through the window before turning to walk away.

The sofa was beginning to burn when she made her way out of the room. She didn’t look back. She didn’t want the image of Christopher seared into her brain. His screaming, crying and begging, coupled with the sound of the flames was enough to haunt her dreams for a lifetime if she would let it. As she made her way across the grand foyer, that single tear reappeared on her cheek. This time she didn’t wipe it away. She walked through the parlor and slipped out the side door into the garden, into the night.

She cautiously walked up the driveway of the mansion next door. She waited for the right moment to inconspicuously join the crowd and present the valet attendant with her ticket. As she waited for him to retrieve her car, she wondered how long it would be before the smoke was visible, curling in the sky.

Once behind the wheel, she drove down the driveway and back toward her life, already in progress. A life now free of the past and open to new possibilities. As she passed Ocean Point, she looked in the rearview mirror. She could tell the flames had engulfed the salon. As old as it was, Ocean Point would burn quickly. What had once been beautiful to her would soon be nothing more than orange glowing embers. Grandeur and memories reduced to ash. She couldn’t stop herself from hoping that Christopher had passed out before the flames reached him.

She turned on the radio. A female singer was singing a song she had never heard. Something in the lyrics caught her attention:

All of the things that I've done
Terrible things...you would never believe

She smiled and sped up.


Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ocean Point - Part 4

Before Bethany even knew what she was doing she had picked up the crystal candlestick and was running toward Ivy. There was no sound. The pounding of her heart in her ears left nothing but a throb. Even if Ivy screamed she hadn’t heard it. It was all happening so fast. Ivy’s eyes were wide as Bethany approached her. She seemed frozen to the spot where she was standing. Bethany did hear Ivy suck in one breath before bringing the candlestick down upon her head. Ivy crumpled to the floor. Bethany’s heart was pounding faster than she even knew was possible. She couldn’t let Ivy ruin her plan.

As fate would have it, Ivy fell inside the door leaving no trace of blood in the hallway. Tapped into the adrenaline, Bethany used all the strength she had to pull Ivy into the bedroom. She dragged Ivy to the foot of the bed. This wasn’t part of the plan, but she would have to improvise. She decided to leave the light on behind the closed door. She would use Ivy to her advantage. She wondered what Christopher would think when he saw the thin line of light at the bottom of the door. Where would his mind go when he opened the door and saw Ivy lying on the floor? Bethany thought her own image would inevitably be conjured in his mind. She found this new plan delicious and exhilarating. In the hallway, there was no evidence that anything out of the ordinary had happened.

After shutting the door behind her, Bethany walked downstairs. She didn’t know why Ivy was home and she didn’t know when Christopher might return. Now that it was upon her, things were happening quickly. She had to take a moment and regain her control. She walked into the salon and straight to the cabinet where Christopher kept the liquor. She opened the cabinet and scanned its contents. There was nothing cheap inside, but there was good and then there was best. She found the best bourbon in the cabinet and poured herself two-fingers worth.

She was decidedly calmer than one should be in a situation where the current wife of your husband is lying on the floor bleeding from a wound to the head, but then again, she was calm about what she wanted to accomplish. The bourbon didn’t hurt.

Her plan had already gone slightly off course so she thought about making one more change. She sat the drink down on the table just inside the door of the salon before she left the room. She walked back upstairs to her “shrine”. She slowly opened the door and peaked into the room. Ivy was still lying on the floor, unmoved, barely breathing, still alive. She could see the rise of Ivy’s chest with each shallow breath. She felt mostly nothing as she took a moment to just stare at the body. Mostly nothing. There was a small bit of sadness. Maybe it was merely the image of seeing a body lying at the foot of the bed where she had lain. That sadness, no matter how small, is the only thing that kept her from being truly insane. It was the one thing that kept her human.

She walked over to the fireplace and took a moment in front of the painting. It was a beautiful piece of artistry. She remembered sitting for it. It wasn’t a painting in the traditional sense. She didn’t just sit in a chair and stare at the painter. She wanted to do something different. Since people didn’t really sit for paintings anymore, she wanted it to be something unconventional. She had so admired the painting Venus at a Mirror by Peter Paul Rubens. That’s what she wanted. Her back to the onlooker while her face was reflected in a mirror.

While considering the painting, she delighted in the dress she had chosen to wear. It was a 20’s style, golden green satin gown - haute couture by Dior. It was stunning, with a low draped back made to show skin, the color perfect for her brunette hair. As her face was only a small reflection in the mirror, it was important to her that the gown be a piece of art in itself - simple, but worthy of a second glance. She no longer owned the dress. She had donated it to a charity auction to raise money for the Somerston Public Library after the painting made its debut.

She took the painting off the wall and made her way down the stairs. It wasn’t as cumbersome as she thought it might be. She wanted the painting to be in the salon, but not immediately apparent. She wondered how long it would take Christopher to notice something in the room was different. If the painting were hanging in its former spot in the salon, it would seem natural upon first sight. It was sure to get some kind of reaction.

Bethany realized she didn’t know where she had discarded her purse. The last time she actually remembered it was when she was searching for her invitation so that the valet would park her car. She sat the painting down and paused. She went back to the parlor, the room where Christopher had almost caught her. She hoped she had left the bag behind the sofa.

It was indeed there on the floor. She picked it up and took a moment to marvel at the room she was in. It was still so lovely. She and Christopher had once made love in this room. Really it was probably more hot sex than making love. It was a moment so intense and passionate they couldn’t keep their hands off of one another. They barely made it into the mansion before they started tearing each other’s clothes off. It had been fast, but good - an explosion of desire. They both were so out of breath, lying on the floor, that they started laughing at how hard they each were breathing. She laughed a little to herself even now at the recollection.

The room was also tainted. It was the room where Bethany had seen Christopher kissing Ivy. She didn’t want to be in the parlor anymore. In fact, she really didn’t want to be inside Ocean Point. She wanted - needed - Christopher to come home so that she could get on with it, get done with it.

She took a breath, turned the light in the parlor off and made her way back toward the salon. She wanted to add a little extra kick to Christopher’s psyche when he saw the portrait. She walked straight over to the entertainment system. It didn’t take long to find what she needed. Christopher did like to keep things alphabetized. She put the CD into the player and set the controls to play over the entire house. She then picked up the remote control and put it in her purse.

She heard keys in the door. She didn’t have to wait much longer, but she wasn’t exactly ready. Her mind was plying her with conflicting thoughts. She turned off the light.

“Ivy, honey, I’m home,” said Christopher as he shut the main doors. “Ivy, are you awake?” He put his keys down on a table in the grand foyer and started removing his tuxedo jacket. “It was a dreadfully boring party especially without you there.”

Bethany stood just inside the doorway of the salon, out of the grand foyer’s light, watching Christopher starting up the stairs.

“Everyone was talking about the same things they talk about at the country club,” Christopher rattled on undoing his tie. “They all asked about you. I told them you were a little under the weather.” He stopped at the top of the stairs. Bethany could barely see him from where she stood, because of the angle of the staircase, but she could see him. She saw him notice the thin line of light shining underneath the door to their old room.

“Ivy?” He paused. “Hon, are you in there?” said Christopher as he walked toward the door. “Are you alright?” He knocked while opening the door.

“Oh my God! Ivy. Ivy, baby, can you hear me?”

Bethany could no longer see Christopher, but she could hear everything he was saying. She didn’t know what he did inside the room. She took an apprehensive step beyond the cover of the shadows that the dark salon provided. She saw him as he started running down the stairs. Her breath caught in her throat as she stepped back into the room with the gentle precision of someone avoiding a landmine. Now was not the moment for Christopher to discover her.

“Hang on baby. I’m calling an ambulance,” yelled Christopher.

Bethany quickly hid inside a closet located in the salon. She had just managed to close the door, with a slight ajar, when the light came on.

He ran to the phone and picked it up. He stopped before dialing. He noticed the portrait. It was reflected in the mirror that hung above the mantle. He put the receiver down as he turned in disbelief to stare at the portrait of Bethany. Through the crack she’d left in the closet door she could see his face full of confusion. She pulled out the remote control and pushed play. Journey’s Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ began playing over the speaker system. Christopher broke his gaze from the painting to look up at the ceiling as if he could see the noise that was now filling the mansion. She thought the line about the lover not coming home because he’s out lovin’, touchin’, squeezin’ another was appropriate, but she thought Christopher was too stupid to connect the dots and see the brilliance in her choice of song.

Bethany continued to watch him. He made his way back to the phone and lifted the receiver. Before he could dial, Bethany walked up behind him.

“Hello, Christopher,” she breathlessly whispered in his ear. If they had still been lovers it would have been an intimate moment.

He looked up and saw the living, breathing Bethany reflected in the mirror this time, but could do nothing before he felt the pain of the puncture from the needle she stuck in his neck. His hand went to the spot as he turned and stared at her.

With wide-eyed shock he tried to say her name but could only manage “Beh” before collapsing to the floor…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

©2010 Michael Rohrer

Monday, August 2, 2010

SYTYCD in Boston!

On Monday, I called Neal and asked him if he had plans for Thursday. He said he had to work. I said I knew that, but what about Thursday night, do you have to go to the gym or do you have homework? He said he did need to work on a project. Why I was asking?

Well, I had Thursday night and Friday off. I suggested that I come to Boston to watch So You Think You Can Dance with him. Actually, I asked if he would be willing to not watch Wednesday night so that we could watch the 2 hour performance and 1 hour results shows together.

He agreed that that sounded like a plan. I sat down at my computer and purchased the tickets. Nothing like a 4 hour bus ride to watch a little tv with a friend. I mean, why not?

I made a fantastic summer salad with pasta, cucumber, orange bell pepper, purple onion, corn and feta cheese, tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, along with a fruit salad of mango, strawberries and blueberries. Healthy and so good. Neal didn't eat any of it. He's having a throat issue and is being very particular about what he eats. Neither of us had an issue with the homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies though! Nobody's passing that up.

For those of you who read the Amagansett blog, I can drink wine again. I bought a bottle of Malbec Rose. I thought Neal and I should try something new.

We had such a good time watching SYTYCD. We paused and rewound and discussed a lot. Completely what I thought it would be and completely worth the trip.

The weather on Friday was amazing. No humidity. Big, fluffy white clouds. I had to go to the beach. Having missed out on that part of my trip to the Hamptons, it was necessary. The beach near Neal's is one of my favorite places to go to when I visit Boston. It's so lovely. The water has a calming affect on me. I took off my sandals and walked in the sand. I walked to the dock that I enjoy and stood there just breathing it in. The smell of the water and the air.I decided to take photos. I started all the way to my left and 22 shots later I was all the way to the right. A panoramic view of what I was seeing.

Friday evening, I met Neal at his office and we went to see SALT. I was a little hesitant to spend 90 minutes of my short trip sitting in a movie theater, but Neal wanted to see it, and I thought it might be fun to see that movie with him. Boy was that ever the right choice. It was a roller coaster that I'm totally glad I strapped myself in for. It was thrilling and exciting and everything that a summer escape movie should be.

Post movie we went to Clarke's in South Station and had a beer and a great, honest, personal conversation. I do love that Neal and I share the history of questioning our sexuality, at the same time, in college. It's just so refreshing to talk to someone who knows me. I mean really knows me. Pre coming out and all these years post.

It's always worth the trip.

24 hours in Amagansett

Ah the Hamptons. A place of lore and wealth. At least that's what it had always been for me. My experience with the Hamptons had been through the eyes of characters while I watched the ladies of Sex and the City attend a party, Blair on Gossip Girl plan her next scheme or the Beales of Grey Gardens descend into squalor. As a resident of NYC for a little more than 13 years now, going to the Hamptons is finally something I can say I've done.

My moment came randomly. The executive director of the theatre where I work, hence known as The Boss, for the second summer in a row has taken the month of August to chill in the Hamptons. This year she was able to move in a week early and she invited the management staff to have a relaxing day at the house. None of us thought that my immediate boss would go and the other two guys I work with definitely didn't want to go, but I was desperate to go. Not desperate like "I'll kick, scream and pout" if you don't let me go, but desperate to find a way considering the most convenient opportunity ever, had finally presented itself in my life.

My boss, who is always good to me, found a way for me to be the representative from my department to attend. Excited beyond belief is how I felt. I was going to the Hamptons with friends and getting to stay in what was sure to be a fabulous home.

Departure time between 2:30pm and 3pm on Monday. I joined Ladybird, Miss JJ and Princess Fehr in a CR-V and we began our 24 hours of leisure. We faced the required traffic upon exiting NYC. It's just a fact of life. It doesn't matter at what hour you're departing, there will be traffic. It wasn't major delays, or even minor, just more leisurely than we really wanted for our leisure.

I don't want to make light of the travel or the traveling companions. There was lively conversation and music in that vehicle as we made our way toward the summer destination of many wealthy New Yorkers. However, it was just a lot of I-495 connecting to NY-27 and watching the GPS and reading the Google Maps print out before we finally found ourselves driving in what to me could be any country town in America. Seriously, I looked around at the corn fields and large pieces of empty land and thought of my own home town, Arlington. It made me think about growing up in my small town and how I knew I had to get out of there and live somewhere bigger. I always knew that. Small town life was not for me. The interesting thing is that living in the City, the first thing I think of as a vacation getaway is going somewhere that is reminiscent of the town where I grew up. It's just relaxing and I think there is a sense of safety because it's mental familiarity.

We passed many winery's on our way to Amagansett. That perked me right up. So many winery's, so little time. Upon entering the Town of East Hampton, we crossed into the hamlet of Wainscott. Nothing much to write home about there. Lot's of nursery's with beautiful landscaping. Hydrangeas are everywhere in the Hamptons. I love hydrangeas. Then we find ourselves crossing into the village of East Hampton. The village of East Hampton as well as the hamlets of Wainscott and Amagansett are all part of the town of East Hampton, I'll explain. I did a little research. So it seems that a hamlet is a term people use to reference a community within a town that is not incorporated as a village. A village is an incorporated area located within one town. Therefore, the Town of East Hampton has the incorporated village of East Hampton and the hamlets of Wainscott and Amagansett. Hope that's clear. It is for me now. Anyway, back to Main Street. It is the main thoroughfare of the small village of East Hampton. On either side of the road it looks like part of 5th Avenue and part of 57th Street in Manhattan combined and the progeny of their coupling settled in East Hampton. Cynthia Rowley, Coach, Tiffany & Co., Elie Tahari, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, BCBG Max Azria, Chloe, Michael Kors, and Tori Burch. There were also many Citarella locations, interesting local shops, and the requisite Starbucks. You just can't get away from the coffee giant's chain of stores no matter where you go. I'm sure there are stores I missed or can't remember, but it was amazing to see them there and to know that at least for the summer months, they can sustain themselves with the wealthy clientele who darken their doors.

This was East Hampton. Many of the homes had names and the lawns were beautifully manicured. Oh, and Grey Gardens is there. Those of you who know me know that the prospect of actually seeing Grey Gardens made my heart flutter.

We arrived at our destination on Scrimshaw Lane and I just felt myself relax as I looked at the house in disbelief. Simply stated, it was sprawling. It was gorgeous. I was overjoyed at the idea of staying for just one night. I couldn't imagine how The Boss felt about staying for a month. One immediately asks the question of, "How can I come back to the City after this?" Of course, we all have to return to the reality of our lives at some point. However, living in that house, surrounded by all those trees and the sounds that emanate from them, paired with the relaxing pool and nearness of the ocean would make returning to normal hard for anyone. I didn't even think about the people who live there year round for whom the beauty I was marveling at was just normal life. An everyday occurrence to be taken for granted.

I was thankful. Thankful to be there. Thankful to be invited. Thankful to work in a facility where the people truly get along and enjoy each other's company. People who get along so well that there was never a question that spending the evening together would be awkward.

The Boss showed us around the house. There were at least 8 bedrooms, with living areas, a kitchen and other rooms thrown in for good measure. Almost every bedroom had its own private bathroom. It was something to marvel at as we made our way through the labyrinth of twists and turns and stairs to levels both up and down. One could easily have gotten lost or confused. My room was off of the kitchen, through a gate, left up a set of stairs, across a small foyer, turn right and pass through the laundry room into a small open space used as a children's play area and up another set of stairs. It was yellow, my favorite bedroom color. It was lovely.

After the tour, I quickly found myself on a plushy lounge chair by the pool with a glass of white wine in my hand and the highly enjoyable Princess Fehr sitting beside me. The stress of the City was gone. We left it somewhere on NY-27. The air was fresh, the sounds were peaceful, the mosquitoes were biting and the OFF! was being sprayed. Oh, and Eliza, the golden retriever, was wet from the pool and constantly ridding her body of the water by shaking next to Princess Fehr and me. A sight that made everyone laugh, every time. Eliza's reason for coming to us was we had made the mistake of throwing her ball, so she kept bringing it back to us. I got wise and started throwing it across the pool to the grass on the other side. It took her a while to figure out where it was and bought Princess Fehr and me some wet-dog-free time. There were moments, however, that I found myself covering up completely with a beach towel to protect myself and my precious drink from the spattering of water as she continued to shake and shimmy next to us. This elicited laughter from the crowd as well. I'm nothing if not good for a laugh.

I can't remember when in I put on my swimming trunks, but let's just say by this point I have them on.

A few more people had arrived and dinner was prepared. We had steak and ribs. That's all I can remember. Oh, yes, we had switched to Pinot Noir Rose by this point. So that's white wine and Rose so far. It's funny, but I can't remember what else we had on the table, by the pool, for dinner.

As the evening progressed we found ourselves in the pool again. We were swimming and diving and jumping. Eliza was big on rescuing. There was a moment where I was using a floating tube and she jumped in the water, bit down on the tube and began to pull it out from under me. She swam to the stairs, climbed out of the pool, and took her rescued tube to safety. This would be something we would all watch until we departed the next day. It was always funny, but there were times when we would only jump in when she was not readily available to rescue us.

There was a small group of us that had moved to the other side of the pool. The side where I kept sending Eliza to get her ball earlier in the day. We had a fire over there and chairs circled around it. We were still drinking wine. I had moved on to regular Pinot Noir by this point. That's white, rose, and red for those keeping tabs. There was a bottle of tequila, as well as other things, being passed for those who wanted to partake. There were huge marshmallows for s'mores. I made at least four myself and then started just roasting marshmallows with chocolate stuffed inside. This was not my idea. I copied it from a co-worker sitting next to me. I remember making two of those. The next day, rumor circled that I had made 12 s'mores. Lies I tell you, all lies. I was inebriated, but not that unaware.

When I went to bed that night, I was still connected to my brain enough to know that I should take a couple of Excedrin and drink some water in order to combat a hangover the next day. I slept like a rock. I barely moved. I knew this because the bed linens were barely ruffled.

I was in the room that had an Asian theme. When I found out I would be in that room, it was only natural to me that I bring my kimono. When I told The Boss I was bringing it, she burst out laughing. The kimono story made it's way into the staff meeting so everyone knew I was bringing it. So, when I got up the next morning, I emerged from my room in my kimono. There were only a few people up to appreciate it, but those who were, did. I woke up that morning at 8am. By 10am, with the smell of sausage and bacon in the air, I had to excuse myself from the table. I didn't tell anyone where I was going, I just made my way back to my room and laid on the floor. I was feeling a little queasy. It was weird. I thought I had done a sufficient amount of hangover prevention the night before. I guess I hadn't. I laid in the floor very still. I just thought, "If I lay here very still, it will pass." Eventually, I got up in order to move to the bed. Bad idea. The back of my tongue and throat gave me that old familiar feeling just before I vomit. I ran to the bathroom and found myself hugging the porcelain god. There was the coffee, the only thing in my stomach. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. My first trip to the Hamptons and there I was throwing up with a hangover. What a waste. I'm usually pretty good about knowing when to stop drinking because hangovers are no fun at all. The older I get the longer it takes to recover. Who wants to waste and entire day recovering? Not me, but that's exactly what happened.

Ladybird, came to check on me. You see, no one knew where I had gone. He came into my wing of the house and called my name. I mustered the strength to say answer him. He opened the door to find me laying on the bed. I explained my situation and he laughed a little, told me to feel better and closed the door. I continued to lay there, unmoving. He came to check on me a little later. I was still in the same position. He said that I would never live this down. I smiled as I acknowledged him. I knew that was the truth. First trip to the Hamptons. Everybody knows it. And here I am wrapped in a kimono, laying as still as possible, fighting the need to vomit, while all of my friends are out enjoying the beach, pool, weather, whatever. So smart am I.

I finally felt well enough that I could function outside of the bedroom. I made my way downstairs for the second time that day. All of the people who were scheduled to arrive on Tuesday had arrived. They all knew of my situation. All I could do was keep my dark glasses on and smile. I'm sure there were a few times I shook my head in disbelief that this was actually happening.

Ladybird, asked me if I still wanted to see Grey Gardens and if I felt well enough to do so. I wanted to, so we made our way to the CR-V. As soon as we started driving I had to roll the window down and take a deep breath of fresh air. My stomach wasn't as sure that I was ready for this as my brain was. Once the road got smoother, it was easier for me. We knew the general vicinity of where we were going, but not exactly where. The GPS was a little funky and would not let us put in the address for Grey Gardens. We made our way to Lily Pond Lane and peeled our eyes for West End Road. There on the right was #4 West End Road. That meant that the house, concealed by trees and flowering bushes across the street had to be #3. We backed up the vehicle and though an opening in the trees we could see the porch. There is was. Grey Gardens. I've seen the documentary countless times. I loved the musical and the HBO film. It's such a fabled story of two women who refused to leave their crumbling home. Two women who would rather live without plumbing and with cats and raccoons than give up the only thing that was truly theirs. Two women who had been born into aristocracy and had watched their fortune fade and their friends retreat from their lives. I was struck by the fact that I was actually there in front of the house. It was real. This was actually the East Hampton that Little Edie so despised. Even though I was still a little nauseous, I was so happy to be there and seeing that small glimpse was a highlight of my trip. I wasn't able to get a picture of the house. That is an unfortunate regret, but there just wasn't enough of the house visible. I was there though, and it will live in my memory.

Back to the house, it was time to retreat to my room once more. I needed to lay down and just sleep. I took a nap and felt better still when I awoke. I came downstairs to find food on the table. There were grilled chilled legs, grilled sirloin burgers, pasta salad, and peaches. I managed a chicken leg and half of a burger, as well as, a small portion of pasta. This was good. Finally, after an entire day, I felt like eating and was able to keep it down. There were merely two hours left of our time in Amagansett at that point.

I know that I wasted the entire day due to the previous night's alcohol consumption. I have beat myself up about that. It will just become one of the stories of my life that peppers into the conversation for humor. The story of how I had 24 hours in the Hamptons and spent most of it recovering. Ah well, that means another trip is in order. Maybe this time just a day trip on a train to the village of East Hampton. Maybe a visit to the beach or to the stores that line Main Street. I don't know. What I know is, I was there with friends. They may laugh at my situation, at me or with me, but they are my friends.

The generosity of The Boss is an amazing blessing in my life.

I laughed, I drank, I relaxed, I smelled, I heard, I vomited, I saw, I remember.

Next trip, not as much vino, see the ocean and take a picture of Grey Gardens.