The Limbs Page is where you will find the ARMS, HEADS, LEGS of Stories.
She gargled her last sip of the Pinot Grigio her husband bought her for Christmas. The house stank of lies, and since it was the holidays she felt it necessary in her drunken state to air all of her grievances to the voices in her head.
“Where are you going?” She asked.
“Out” was the reply.
She put on her favorite CD,Toxicity, and got focused. Amelia was only concerned with one thing, Beauty.
This was the seventh year that Frank hadn’t made it home to see the children open their gifts.
This was the seventh time she had made a Christmas Turkey with all the trimmings and he decided he had something better to do.
This was the seventh time that she had purchased an expensive yet thoughtful gift for him, that he wouldn’t open with the family.
Amelia wasn’t angry.
She was mad. Amelia was only concerned with one thing, Beauty.
She had given up her life for him and the kids. In 2003, she was poised to become the most wanted , most decorated, interior decorator at Exquisite Inc. In 2003, she had no kids, no husband. To be honest in 2003, she didn’t know what sharing was but she knew all about commitment. She had been studying design religiously to become the best. She had committed herself to making any space beautiful. And nowshe wasn’t using any of her training. Her own house looked like the inside of a Greyhound bus station. Because that is how he wanted it.
He didn’t want anything glamorous, even though when he met her she had on a Tiffany bracelet.
He didn’t want anything fancy, even though before Amelia, he had never eaten his now favorite dish, Sushi.
“When will you be back?” She asked.
“Later.” was the reply.
She danced around the cramped apartment furiously to the beat of her favorite songs. He wasn’t there again to tell her to turn down the rock music. He wasn’t there again to tell her that Jazz or R&B was better. Amelia was only concerned with one thing, Beauty.The children, Michael and Daisy and Frank Jr. were outside showing off all of their presents to the neighborhood kids. Pretending mommy and daddy didn’t fight on Christmas eve.
Pretending that Daddy didn’t leave again in the morning because mommy was too opinionated. Frank Sr, had been so kind this year too. He had heard her when she said that she wanted the Toxicity Cd. He had heard her when she said she loved Pinot- but he was gone now,and probably not coming back until New Year’s Eve. She had killed her wine and blared her tracks and was thinking of what was next. Knowing him, he was at his new girlfriend’s house, eating some of her store bought pumpkin pie. He always had anew girlfriend around this time of year.
Amelia had taken a cooking class. Knowing him, he was at the horse track with his no good friends’ betting their savings on a long shot. His no good friends and his new girlfriend.
Amelia had given him a lifetime subscription to a popular gambling website so he wouldn’t leave.
But it didn’t work. Nothing was working.
Amelia decided now was the best time to get dressed. She had a long red dress from her previous life. The life where she was going somewhere, doing something. The life before she was a wife and a mother. A long sequined red gown, with a high slit on the left leg, and no room for imagination when it came to how low the cut was on the klevage. She had worn it to a Christmas party at Exquisite. Frank was her date. He was so cute then, not knowing the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork.
Not knowing the difference between business small talk and a real conversation.
She curled her hair, and drunkeningly applied the last of her makeup. Amelia was only concerned with one thing, Beauty.She put on the tiara that she had worn on her 21st birthday when her friends that she hadn’t kept in touch with since 2001 were in town. She looked special and beautiful- but with no where to go.
“I love you.” She said.
“Uh huh.” was the reply.
She put the turkey in the oven and packed the rest of the fixings into the fridge. The Cd seemed extremely loud and inappropriate to their snooty neighbors so they politely knocked on the floors and walls of the condo to get her to turn it down so they could hear Nat King Cole and The Temptations. They were all at dinner tables. They were all drunk off Egg nogg and revelry. They all felt sorry for her. And she knew it. She yelled fuck you at the walls. She yelled fuck you into the carpet. The banging did not stop, and she knew that at any minute, one of them would call the police. It would have been better if she had gone off to Paris. Exquisite said they would pay for the relocation, so that Amelia could have learned from Fashion masters. But she met Frank. Frank- with his drunken philosophy and nonchalant demeanor, had pulled her away from her dream. Only because she had, had another one. To be Frank’s doting wife and lover.
To be a mother.
Why not ?
To maybe start her own interior design business with his blessing. Why not?
To live the good life with the man she loved.
And after seven years he was sleeping on the couch.
After seven years they barely spoke if the kids weren’t in the room.
After seven years she had no time to design between lunches, and school plays, and hospital visits and she felt empty. She had disappeared. She lined her lips in red and smoked a cigarette. Amelia was only concerned with one thing, Beauty. When Frank met her she smoked, and he thought it was sexy for a designer and now he abhorred her for it. Now when she smoked, he just shook his head in disapproval like she was beneath him. She had graduated highschool and he hadn’t. She had gone to a presitigious art school and he hadn’t made it through one semester in any college. But now he had the upper hand. Now she was his slave. She belonged to this man who clearly didn’t want her. She was sick. She had won awards for her work and he was still hoping to win the lottery. Amelia stared at the reflection of her self in the mirror with hate. The woman looked familar but didn’t seem intimate. She was a shadow, an outline of someone else. Fortunately Frank had thought it would be smart for her to get a gun. He thought it would be a good idea if she learned how to shoot. Pretty girls like her needed to know how to defend themselves, he said, from predators. Especially when no one was around. And Frank was gone, to one of his mistresses tiny apartments, to eat Turkey and celebrate the holiday with her kids instead of his own. Because this mistress was more like him an Amelia was.
Because this mistress was young, and impressionable and stupid like him, Amelia thought. Because she ran when he called.
Because she didn’t know what individuality and beauty was.Because she was low down trash like him.
Amelia took her silver 22 from the dresser, cleaned it, and put in one dainty silver bullet.
Merry Christmas Frank she wrote on the bathroom mirror in lipstick.
She stood in front of the christmas tree,decorated with the kids ornaments that they had made in school and flashing red lights, put the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
Just then , Frank walked in the condo
.Frank walked in, with a dozen roses for his beloved wife.
The red blood that pooled around the base of the tree was beautiful.
“I gotta go.” She whispered in Ronlan’s ear. She turned on the bedroom light unashamed of her nakedness, for once. Ronlan was asleep. She was sure they were all congregating in their yards already, waiting for her to emerge, so they could shake their heads and whisper.
Waking up with a hangover the morning after a sex marathon, lying in bed next to Ronlan, was always the worst. Tora hated any moment that didn’t involve sweat, cigarettes or cumming. He kissed her on the eyelid and rolled over on top of the sheets onto his stomach letting out a little fart and yawn at the same time. Tora lit a cigarette and sighed heavily staring at Ronlan’s thinning red hair. His hair wasn’t much thicker when she met him. Fortunately for him it had never mattered. She ran her fingers through it and smiled, sad but satisfied. She dreaded the trip home. Ronlan moaned a little. It wasn’t love at first sight between them, it was love at first conversation. It was amazing how much they had in common once they talked to each other- they liked the same movies, same books, same music- they had the same sense of humor… they just meshed. They were the same person. And they both had the same healthy love of sex. Once that topic came up, they couldn’t stop themselves. Ever.
Tora had kissed Antonio good bye on the cheek just 24 hours ago. Now her lips were numb from kissing Ron all over his body.
“Don’t go yet, T.” He mumbled. He put his arm over her waist like a seat belt. Tora laughed a little at his subtle form of restraint. She was already miles away.
She wished that she had a teleporting machine like in the science fiction movies- a magic button she could push on her cell phone and automatically be at home in her own shower. She would wash Ronlan off again and lie in her own bed to sleep off the whiskey. But that was only fantasy. Tora knew that she had to do the walk of shame first and there was no way out of it. She had to get fully dressed in different clothes from the ones she wore to his house the night before. It was such a hassle. She had to do all of this because Ronlan’s neighbors in the cul de sac were so fucking old ,conservative and nosy that they demanded explanations whenever she was in his house over night. The nosy nobodies would always tell Ronlan at their neighborhood association meetings that they were concerned about her visits because the two of them weren’t married, and Tora was spending a lot of nights alone with him. Tora smoked her cigarette and glanced around Ron’s perfect room. Ronlan must have been proud of the fact he was bothering his neighbors ,she thought, because there was really no other reason to tell her about it. But Tora knew they were truly only concerned because she was Black and Ronlan wasn’t.
Tora was born there so she knew the drill. The fact that it was 2011didn’t matter one bit. For most people in Greenwood, Indiana, it would always be the 1950’s. Ronlan told them she was his maid as a joke. She thought they were secretly jealous of their little affair and made it a point to scream louder than she had to when they made love. Tora put her cigarette out and kissed Ronlan on the neck.
“Your breath smells like Bacardi and old shoes.” Ronlan teased.
“Well, your neck smells like salty wet ass.” Tora responded. If she didn’t fuck him all of the time she thought he might be gay because his housewas decorated like the cover of a Country Living magazine. Tora wished Ronlan would move into the city, but he loved his trees and fresh air and wooden picket fences.
“Stay T.” Ronlan begged. Tora wanted to but she knew she couldn’t. It was always an even bigger hassle to get the taxi back to the airport for her mid morning flight to Las Vegas. People in Indiana tend to assume that if you are flying to Vegas, you’re going there to be a loose, irresponsible, drunken slut for the night. Little did they know that was the reason she flew to Indiana.
“When you coming back?” He asked rolling over.
“Maybe a month. I have a writing conference in New York so I was hoping I could stop in and see you then.”
“My girl will be here Tora.”
“Fine, Fuck you, you drunk bastard.”
“You just did, all night, now I’m sore and drunk, thank you very much.” Tora took a pair of jeans, white tennis shoes and a basic grey teeshirt out of her suitcase and laid them across the bed.
“Well I guess that should hold you over until I come back, right?”
“No, it won’t. Don’t put that shit on, come here.” Ronlan grabbed Tora by the waist and pulled her onto the bed. He playfully unfastened her bra and as she pretended to resist as he covered her mouth with his hands.
“Stop laughing.” He said. “I’m trying to fuck you right now dragon breath, this is serious business!” Ronlan threw Tora’s clothes on the floor. This was one of those moments when Tora wished her world was different than it was. Whenever they were together, she wished that she never had to leave Ronlan. They always had the best time. She wished that they were married and they could spend every day teasingeach other and making love.
But there would be none of that.
“I gotta go, Ron.”
They had met 5 years ago when they both worked for a big bank in town. Tora was writing instructional materials then and Ronlan was a supervisor. Only problem was Ronlan was engaged when they met and Tora was married. It just wasn’t in the stars. Not for the real thing. But somehow they always ended up in each other’s arms over the years. Both obsessed with their addiction- one another.
“I love you Tora.” Ronlan said with a mouthful of bra strap.
“I love you too Ron.” She responded happily.
Just then, Tora’s cell phone rang.
“Hello?” Tora answered out of breath and trying to refasten her bra with one hand. She sat on the edge of the bed.
“Ms. Barton, Hey this is Judy Carmichael. Are you ok, honey, you sound out of breath?” Tora looked down to see Ronlan’s face buried deep between her chocolate thighs. He was making a loud obnoxious slurping noise and Tora could barely hold onto the phone. She gripped the edge of the bed and tried to catch her voice.
“Hey Judy!” She stammered, gripping Ronlan by the hair to pull him away, but he just moved his tongue into her harder and deeper.
“Well I won’t keep you, I know you are on your way back from visiting your mother out in Indiana but I was going to say,darling, that you can take a few more days if you would like. ”
“Not necessary,” Tora said, her voice wavering trying as she tried desperately not to moan into the phone, “I’ll be there tonight actually.” Ronlan gripped Tora by the ass and pulled her into his face.
“Well its just that the board is making a decision on a permanent position.” Judy said. “You have been freelancing articles for us for a long time, and the board is considering making a regular column for the right person.”
“That’s great! Tora screamed. Ronlan pretended that she was screaming for him and pushed her down flat onto the bed. He pulled off his boxers and caressed her breasts with his tongue as he lay on top of her warm body. Tora took a deep breath and tried to exhale it but she ended up coughing instead when he moved inside her.
“So they don’t want me to come in while they vote…is that what you mean?” She asked panting.
“No, thats not it, darling. They are trying to decide how many pieces left they want you to do before they hire the new person…Are you sure you are ok?”Judy asked.
Ronlan lifted her hips and then Tora pulled away. She got up, grabbed a pillow and hit Ronlan in the face. She motioned STOP with her hands. Ronlan made a face at her, grabbed the cigarettes and moved to the other side of the bed, and flopped face down again like a bad child on punishment.
“Why a new person, Judy?” Tora asked wiping her face with her arm.
“It’s not that your stuff is bad persay… don’t think that, Ms. Barton…its just not good anymore.” “What do you mean? I mean my stories get great comments from the readers!” Ronlan flopped around on the bed like a dying fish. He took a notebook page from his bureau and a stick of lipstick out of Tora’s purse and wrote Hang up the phone and suck my dick! with the lipstick. Tora tried to hide a smile, snatched the note and tore it into shreds rolling her eyes. She pointed to her phone and mouthed, this is important!
“Well yes, they used to, Ms. Barton, thats true. Lately, though…your protagonists are all depressed, darling. It doesn’t sound like they are having good exciting sex anymore, most of the time it seems like they are getting, I don’t know, raped. We’re selling erotic stories in this magazine and advertisers are threatening to pull out over your new stranger material. I’ll do my best to try to get you a few more stories if I can, but after that, I think the board is going to decide to look for a fresh new young aspiring talent, you know how it goes, right? So I will let you get back to whatever it is you’re doing for your mother and I’ll talk to you when you get to Vegas then. Take care.”
This was the exact kind of moment Tora hated.
Tora looked at Ronlan who was humping the pillow like a dog in heat.
“What’s wrong? Who was that Antonio? Still doesn’t want you to work, right? The man likes polyester for crying out loud, that ought to be enough of a reason to leave him.”
“No, Ron…actually it was the Editor of Erotic. I think she just fucking fired me. Damn it. What the fuck am I going to do now?”
“Me?” Ronlan offered flashing her his rock hard penis under the blanket.
“Why are you never serious?” Tora asked feeling scared and frustrated. She got up and started brushing down her hair. She had worked at Erotic ever since she had moved from the Midwest to the West Coast. Even though she thought the job was beneath her, after the divorce she really didn’t have much of an option. She had another mouth to feed.
“Why don’t you just move back here. You can live with me. Well not up here in the big house, I’ll clean out the shed and you and your son can live in the back..so I can sneak out and fuck you at night.”
“Shut the fuck up.”Tora said. She was stunned. It was just a few weeks ago that the magazine had loved her and gave her an award and a raise for accumulating such a huge fan base in less than a year. Knowing that she was going to lose her job now made her feel drunk all over again. She looked at herself sideways in the mirror. You are stupid. Tora said to herself.
“God, I look fat.” She said outloud pinching her stomach. Her hair felt nappy and matted all of a sudden. Her tattoos looked childish. Her feet felt cracked and ashy.
“Why are you always in a damn crisis?” Ronlan responded. ” I’m not going to see you for a month!”
“I’m a horrible person, Ronlan.”Tora explained. “We shouldn’t even be doing this. Its karma. I’m losing my fucking job because I keep flying across the country to fuck a guy who will never ever be my man instead of writing my articles.”
“Don’t blame that shit on me, woman!” Ronlan said.
“Ron, I’m fat and disgusting and stupid!”
“No, sweetheart, you are not disgusting…anymore…”
Tora stormed into Ronlan’s bathroom and closed the door.
“It’s not funny, Ron!”
“A whole month, Tora!” He yelled through the door. ” By the next time I see you, you’ll have written your great American novel and gotten a fucking book deal!””Whatever your fiancee will be here, fuck her instead.”
“Thats not fair Tora. Come on baby. You know this is just a minor setback. You’re better than Erotic right? Wait until you get your deal. You’ll probably start doing talk shows then and act like you never even lived here. Where is Indiana? Ronlan who, you will say, Watch!”
“I sure will, you asshole!” Tora yelled back.
“Stop worrying. Come back out here! Come out here or I’m going to break my own goddamn bathroom door down!”
Tora opened the door. Ronlan smiled at her like he did the first time she laughed at one of his jokes. She suddenly felt calmer. He had always had that affect on her.His eyes were green and blue. He must have been the devil. He grabbed her and hugged her.
“Its gonna be ok. Its always ok.” He kissed her on the forehead. “Now bring that fat ass over here and fuck me one more time before you leave me for good and get famous.”
“Fine.” Tora said and climbed atop her best friend to make herself feel better. She didn’t want to worry him anymore. It wasn’t his problem. And she had a four hour flight to figure out how to tell Antonio.
“You’ll always be my girl T, even if you end up jobless and homeless..” He said kissing her softly and pulling her closer to him.
“Karma.” Tora said, and turned off the light.