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A Short Story In Long Form (Chapter One)

June 25, 2009

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Her eyes opened that morning and winced as she saw dawn’s first light creeping through the curtains.   At first her mind was blank, as it always is after awakening from her nightly comas.    No thoughts.  It was empty; vacuous and she loved it.   She loved not being aware of all the things of which her life forced her to be aware.    

You see, life’s never easy for an ambitious daughter who was raised by an alcoholic mother and a father that walked out on them 22-years earlier.  It’s always been hard for her to have dreamed her big dreams, but suffer the consequences because she didn’t have the emotional skill sets to bring them to reality.   She was limited by her own self-induced limitations.

And that meant her life existed in a constant state of frustration;  an excercise which allowed her to go nowhere fast.  She choked down disappointment hourly and the worst part about that, she knew could change her situation, but felt powerless to do so.    Having been the daughter of an absent father and an mean, arrogant drunk only made matters worse.  As a child, she was often the victim of neglect, along with physical and emotional abuse.     She was a study in passive/agressive behavior as well; to the point where she’d hide her drunken mother’s bottle of Scotch; only to succumb to berration, so much so that she’d make the effort to buy her mother a recplacement fifth.

But her morning allotment of blissful ignorance was short lived.   It always was.  Life beckoned; and she was had to acknowledge her contract with humanity to go out in the world and live; for one more day, she’d  have to fine a way to survive and thrive.  But first things first.

Black coffee.

Check computer.

Read emails.

Shower

A feeble attempt at applying make-up, to red, swollen eyes.   She’d fallen asleep crying the night before…. just as she’d awakend to the day, 18 hours earlier.  Sleep was also an extravagance in her world.

Her drive to the radio station which was located some 20-miles outside the city,  was typical;  uninspired and boring.   She passed skycrapers which housed the brain trusts behind some of the world’s most successful companies.   That world was alien to her.  She knew broadcasting and no matter how expanisve that world seemed to the outside; she knew its limitations.   Her limitations, really.   She had to traverse through these man made canyons everyday to get to the small radio station so far away. 

It was the oddest station in the world.    The structure was built on stilts.  It had to be raised because  it stood in the middle of an old rice paddy which during the rainy season,  was always flooded.    The owner of the station, who was as frugal as the day is long, placed it there because he already owned the land.   It only made sense to him, mainly because he rarely came to the station.   If he would’ve visited, he would’ve had to wait on the banks with his employees and visitors alike.  Everyone had to  wait on the bank .  To let the receptionist know they were there and waiting to be  ferried to the station, they’d have to ring a  bell supended from a post.    That signaled Abner, the station’s dim-witted factotem,  to board a small john boat and row out to the banks to fetch his human cargo.  

Odd yes;  small time to be sure, but this is the waybroadcasting life played out for this woman and her charges: rain, shine, sleet or snow.   Drought was the only seasonal blight that proved positive for radio station, KKAL, 760 on your AM dial.   You could walk to the station during the dry season.   Jumping over the occasional mud puddle and crawfish hole was the only excercise some of the staffers ever got. 

Her drive continued.   She knew better than to listen to the radio station she managed; it would just in furiateher further.  Her newsman insisted on saying, “green witch mean time” and he’d always call the “Show Me State”, Missourah..as if it ended in an “a”.    Henry Strong – Newsman, was how he’d introduce himself, even in casual settings.  He was anal, territorial with regard to “his newsroom and generally annoying.  This was usually the immediate response generated by everyone he ever came in contact with.   Henry Strong – Newsman,  was everything that TV’s Les Nessman aspired to be.   His only claim to fame was a brief stint working overnights as a DJ at a small AM station in Waco, Texas  back in the early 70’s.  He’d laud that over people like it was some thorny crown of success.   The truth is, his attempts at employment one-upmanship was laughable really,  but aside from his frequent mispronunciations; he wasn’t entirely hideous as news anchors go and he was willing to work for a paltry 12-dollars an hour and a very early morning shift.

She wasn’t happy with her job.   She managed a station that had few bones and even less meat in terms of content and community contribution.  It was staffed by little people with even smaller dreams.  They were content to stay with the status quo and although she longed to work at a big station in the city; she was terrorfied by the thought.  But it was a job and the one thing she was able to do there that was completely self-serving was convincing the station owner that he should include a very limited play list of pop oldies:  music only from 1969 through 1973.  

You see, she had lived so much of her life in the past and the music from this period coincided with the last time she was really happy;  the last time she felt innocent and safe.  That was when her family was the quintessence of  “a nuclear unit”.    They were together.  Cohesive.  When her father walked out on the family when she was ten,  everything shattered.  Nothing was   the same and it felt like it could never be the same again.  It was a painful time for her.  Her mother, too but she coped with it with mind-numbing alcohol. 

“I’ll never be like my mother”, she always insited.   “I won’t drink and no man will ever walk out on me.   I’ll be too successful to worry about a man anyway”.  

Her career path never quite made her as busy as she would’ve liked and a future beau would soon send dash those hope.     Understandably, she didn’t like change.  She liked what was familiar and even though having this unwavering attitude was much to her chagrin, she felt powerless to change it.  It had become a part of her very being.   

But her parents and her family situation were only part of her life’s derisivness. .  She’d only been in love once.  His name was Robert and she never intended to fall for him, but she did and her involvement in the relationship had become her life’s blood…something completely uncharacteristic for a woman who so loved being in control of everything and everyone around her.  She finally allowed herself to fall and fall hard for this man and eventually, her role in this relationship had settled into a comfortable place.   It was becoming  enduring and abiding.   She was happy for the first time in decades and loved the feeling it gave her.  She was starting to trust him; an emotion  that had always been very difficult for her to even entertain,  much less feel and express.   Robert seemed  committed to what they had as well,  even though he was often called away by frequent business trips that took him away from Houston for weeks on end.   Luckily, his absence only enhanced their time when they were together and when they were, life seemed  damned near perfect.   She was in love, she felt sure he was, too and they began having discussions about spending their lives together.

Until she found out he was married. 

 The news devastated her.  Men leave.   That’s it; they leave.  She was covinced of that.  This betrayal of trust and love broke her heart irreparably.  Because of the heartache she already endured, Robert’s lying to her only made her harden.  She prayed to get to the point where she could merely feel jaded.   And her prayers were answered.  The relief of apathy and feeling noting at all soon crept in and  Robert exited her life as he entered it…in a virtual flash. He went back to his wife , their two kids and their sham of a marriage; something of which his wife was completely unaware.    

It gave her a very cold and aloof demeanor.  After that, she let no one in her life and no one dared to even attempt.   They knew it would be a futile effort.  With the exception of feeling perturbed, she never showed any emotion.   In that respect, she seemed Teflon coated.  Nothing ever seemed to bother her, except when she was angered or annoyed.   Her staffers called her, “The Ice Queen”.    Men never got involved with her because she wouldn’t allow them the chance to get interested.   She was scared of love.   It had never failed to fail her.

She finally arrived at the station a little later than normal    Traffic congestion  had slowed her down a bit.  She parked her car and noticed the water.  It had rained a great deal the week before and the water was at least two feet high in the old rice paddy.   She rang the bell, hoping Abner would hear it on the first ring.   He didn’t.  He probably couldn’t hear the bell. Abner often fancied himself as a disc jockey and on days when he had little to do; he’d go into a back production room and pretend to be spin a little wax.   He could never one of the people with whom he was  so enchanted.  His limited faculties, plus a lisp was so strong it was off  putting,  would prevent him from ever becoming one, but because of his mental impairment; she and the other managers indulged him.   

She rang the bell again.    No response.    She rang it again, even harder and screamed Abner’s name.   Apparently Melva, the station receptionist finally heard the bell, then screamed Abner’s name down the hallway several times.   This voice only intercom system gave her another “green witch mean time” feeling.  She held her head down and shook it a few times.  She was embarrassed by the station’s lack of progressive thinking and and its equipment.  Most of which had been considered state of the art during the Carter administration.

“A jobs a job and I love my job”, is what she’d tell herself over and over again.

Her mantra was disturbed by Abner bursting through the back door, hustling down the stairs and jumping in the boat.   She hated having to talk down to him sometines, but she often felt there was no other way to get a point across.    Abner was a kind man and a gentle one, too.    But she didn’t have to time to consider his qualities when she needed him to handle his tasks at hand.  

“I’m coming ma’am!!”m he screamed as he rowed toward her.   This made her feel awkward.  Abner was at least 15 years older and 30-years younger in terms of mental capacity.

It was late spring and warm and humid that morning.   Sweat, soap, deodorant and perfume seemed to create an irritating polymer that flued everything together.   The mugginess was opressive.  It was often so uncomfortable, it was difficult to breathe.

Abner finally reached the bank and awkwardly, with his help,  she entered the boat.  

“Thanks Abner”.

“Oh, you’re Miss Anna, ma’am.  I wanted  to row real fast to ya ’cause you’ve got a guest settin’ outside your office and he’s waitin’ to see ya.”

“A guest?”

“Yes ma’am.  It’s a guy with some news bidniss or somethin’.   I don’t know nuthin’ else ’bout him, ceptin’  he’s waiting for ya and has been, say for about 10 minutes or so.”     

Abner had about 15 feet to row before docking with the station.   She watched the feeble man’s forehead bead up with perspiration.   He just let it trickle down his face.  He was rowing as fast as he could

She thought to herself, “but I wasn’t expecting any guests today.”

She wasn’t, nor was expecting the things that were about to enter her life, the minute she exited the boat.   She’d soon encounter something she hated and feared more than anything in the world….

Change.

Chapter 2 will be published no later than Friday.   Please check back periodically.  

Thank you,

LK

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