[Okay, so this is not the last excerpt that I'll ever post from my writing project, Dreyton, but it is one on which I could use some help. I would appreciate every thought you have about this short piece, particularly female perspectives. And so, do feel free to share those thoughts abundantly. That said, please note that I do not intend to post any comments that are downright nasty or unrelated to the current subject matter. LOL...Just be constructive, and point me in the right direction on this.]
Amanda could not find one star in the sky above her. Rather unfortunately, the lights of the downtown buildings seemed to drown out their gentle twinkles. She gave up her brief search, simply to drop her head onto Bryan’s arm, as they strolled down Draper Boulevard. The relative, late-night calm was a sharp, but welcomed, contrast to the carnival of sound that they had left behind a block ago. Oddly enough, she did not remember parking so far away from the club, but the walk did not bother her—nor did the occasional gusts of chilly air that penetrated her coat.
"At last," Bryan said, when they arrived at his car. He deactivated the anti-theft system, and like the perfect gentleman, he opened the passenger door with a gesture for her to climb in. "Is there anything you’d like to do now?"
Amanda strapped herself into her seat and simply dropped her head with a deep breath. "Yes," she told him, "sleep."
"That sounds like the perfect plan." Bryan replied. He politely closed the door and raced to the driver’s side of the vehicle. Then as he climbed in and engaged the ignition, Bryan looked to his tired fiancée for a moment. "I might be getting too old for this. Maybe I ought to leave the 3AM partying to the likes of Patrick Dutton."
"Now I don’t think you believe that." Amanda was hoping that she would not have to expound on her statement, because her words had the capacity to offend. She knew that Bryan longed to be more like Patrick in so many ways. And even though the young Kennedy was not inclined to admit it, she could see the admiration in his eyes—the unspoken desire to deny a world of responsibilities and to live for the moment, just for once in his life. Thankfully, Amanda reassured herself, Bryan did not possess the gonads to be so stupid.
Bryan pulled out of his parking space and began the drive home. "You’re right; I don’t believe that," he replied. "The truth is, I probably need more nights like this one, just to remind me that I am too young to take life so seriously." He paused for a second, looking puzzled. "Y’know, it’s odd how everyone went their own way tonight. I guess I didn’t expect the evening to end like that."
"Well, in all fairness to Antonio and Patrick—you are talking about two attractive, single men who are at the prime of their lives. The laws of nature, I’m sure, dictate that they are going to act the part, especially when they are presented with an opportunity to do so," she replied.
"That is true, I guess." Bryan simply grinned without thinking too much of her words. He was making the turn onto Jackson Boulevard and passing the Kennedy Palmer building, which was tranquil and lifeless at the late hour.
"Besides, it was nice to see Antonio with Leah Kemp after all of this time," Amanda went on, as if she never noticed the tower. "But of course, there is no telling what Patrick took home. As usual, he must have been bottom-fishing."
"You refuse to ever give him much credit, huh?"
"Credit is something that’s earned, Bry—and quite honestly, so too is a reputation."
"Well, admittedly, Patrick doesn’t have the best reputation, but as you and I know, that’s just his way. And far be it for him to give a damn about what anyone else thinks these days."
"Good for him, because he’d be firmly disappointed, if he did."
Bryan foolishly wondered if Amanda could be any harder on his friend. Patrick was the only person to whom she rarely ever extended an iota of compassion, and she cited his vulgar, playboy mentality as the reason for her ill feelings. Bryan noted that, for the most part, the two of them got along, but then he also thought their kindness was fraudulent and solely for his own benefit. "Sometimes I wish you both would quash this tension." His words never rose above an inflectionless mutter.
What followed was a long impasse of silence between the two of them, and it began to make Amanda uncomfortable, prompting her to search for a distraction. When looking onto the relatively deserted streets of downtown Dreyton failed, she maneuvered for something else, something soothing—perhaps, she pondered quietly, a little music. Without a word, Amanda reached into the center console for a compact disc, but what she found, instead, bewildered her. Tucked between the miscellaneous items in the console was a small, plastic pack of white powder, which she removed for her own examination.
"Bryan, what is this?" she inquired, her eyes locked in a studious gaze on the peculiar parcel of in her hand. Unfortunately, Amanda never got an answer from the young Kennedy. Rather, she only found Bryan’s face stamped by a dismal expression that she had never seen from him before—an expression of fear. "Bryan?"
Without ever answering her, the young Kennedy pulled the car over to the side of Jenson Boulevard, put it into park, and simply looked out to the moderately flowing traffic. He could not bring himself to look to Amanda, to give her the honest answer that she deserved; he was too afraid. And rather than even shifting his eyes to the right, he would only look to the floor.
"Bryan? Bryan, what’s wrong? What is this?"
"It’s cocaine." He could not believe that those words fell from his lips with such ease and clarity. He thought briefly that he had been forced to say them, that Amanda’s persistence would not have accepted anything less. But those words were not enough; Bryan knew that, when her initial shock vanished, Amanda would have a litany of questions. She was going to demand more of an explanation for his possession for the illegal narcotic, and in turn, he was going to need every bit of courage to tell her the truth.
"This is what?"
"Stop that, Bryan. What is it, really?"
"It is, Amanda."
"Oh, you're kidding, right?"
"Then I don’t understand. If it is, why do you have it? Is this yours?"
Bryan still could not look up to her, or even answer her questions. And now he was fighting every instinctive urge to lose his composure.
"Bryan? Bryan! Damn you, Bryan—answer me!"
"You what? You can’t! Why not!"
"Amanda, please don’t do this. Please don’t let it happen like this." Bryan could not look up, because he knew that, in doing so, he would have to face the specter of that recent night.
"No, no, you’re right," Amanda replied, following her words with a deep breath. "We need to discuss this—not argue. I need to know what is going on. And if I can—well, you need to let me help you."
"Wait," Bryan insisted, finally lifting his head to see her. "I am not some fiend, if that’s what you are thinking. In fact, I am about as familiar with the drug as you are."
Amanda had never doubted the words of her fiancé before, but that fact only made this matter even more perplexing for her. "I…I don’t understand." Her soft voice faded into nothing more than a quiet exhale, as she took another look at the small pack in her hand. "Does this belong to you?"
"Yes, I imagine that it does belong to me."
"Are you using?"
"Are you addicted?"
"No!" Bryan did not mean to shout at her, but he felt as if he could not help it.
"Then why do you have it?"
"I wish I could begin to explain that to you, but I cannot do that—not now, not like this." Bryan spoke to Amanda in confusing words that were, ironically enough, more sincere than any he had ever spoken. "I know what I am saying does absolutely nothing to give you any comfort, but I cannot—should not—say anything more." The cynical, but bewildered, look on Amanda’s face meant that she was not buying it. "All I can ask you to do, at this point, is just trust me."
"And all I am asking for, Bryan, is the truth. I need to know what is going on here, so that I will know what to trust, so that I can determine how serious this is, and so that I will know what to do about it." Amanda looked away briefly, trying to restrain her emotions, but the tears still flowed. "I do not understand what would keep you from telling me the truth—or, better yet, telling me anything at all."
It was only because the truth would have shattered everything they had, he thought. "I just can’t." His words seemed to harbor a solemn message of finality, as though he was telling her to end the discussion. Very politely, Bryan took the small pack of white powder from her hand, as he lowered his window, and with very little regard, he pitched it into the street. Then, at the height of their tense silence, he began to drive again.
"Trust me," Amanda thought, repeating Bryan’s words in her head. How could she, the young woman wondered, if she did not know what she was being asked to trust? How could any woman of sound mind trust the unknown with only the untrustworthy words of another to guide her? She sat in her seat, deliberately quiet, for the duration of the thirty-minute drive to the suburbs, and even if she wanted to speak, there was not a word that she could say. Amanda was just too angry, too hurt. Occasionally, she looked to Bryan and noticed that, while he maintained a solid composure, his hands shuddered nervously. This behavior was so uncharacteristic of the young man to whom she had committed her heart, but then she could not afford to consider that separately, especially since everything about the young Kennedy now seemed uncharacteristic. When the car finally rolled to a rest in her driveway, Amanda climbed out it quickly, totally oblivious to anything that Bryan may have attempted to do or say, and she walked into her home without even a short "good-bye".
Copyright 2007 All rights reserved. Gary C. Harrell; Axiom Strategy Advisors, LLC.