Friday, April 2, 2010

The Very Last Teaser

Dreyton: Chapter 5 (Excerpt)
Perhaps it was understandable that Antonio found it difficult to sleep. This place was unfamiliar to him, and more importantly, he was lying only inches away from a woman who drove him insane. He took a look at his watch—nine-thirty, he noted—and he rolled out of bed quietly, so that Leah could continue to rest. After all, he thought, given Leah’s choice of professions, the young diva probably made a habit of sleeping passed noon. As Antonio slipped into last night’s attire, he looked back to the sleeping beauty and smiled. He could not help but to wonder if, for him, this moment would amount to another missed opportunity. But what could he do about it? A gentle kiss, a stroke of her soft hair, or even a loving gaze—any move that he could have made would have been unsolicited and truly out of character. He would have been lucky to walk away with just a slap. And so, with a sigh, Antonio urged himself to have patience, and he left the room.

An enchanting harmony drew him into the living room of the apartment. It was probably Lisa Gerrard or Enya or some other excellent vocalist, Antonio guessed, and it was truly a far cry from the pulsating, dance music that he heard here a few hours ago. There was no one in sight, but Antonio knew that someone had been moving about. He ventured into the kitchen, where he smelled a freshly-brewed pot of coffee and where he found a copy of the morning newspaper on the table. 
Upon further inspection, Antonio discovered a short note to the girls from Robbie, explaining that he had to leave abruptly, and quite curiously, that they should read the newspaper. The main headline above the fold caught Antonio’s attention: PROMINENT FAMILY MURDERED IN ACT OF RACISM. Stunned, the young man read further that several members of the Ming clan, well-known for its ties to local politics, were brutalized in their eastern Dreyton home. According to a police quote in the article, it was “an act of hate associated with the Asia Scare”.

“This is terrible,” Antonio uttered, while shaking his head in disbelief. Then he immediately remembered attending high school with two of the Ming children—third-generation Chinese-Americans, he believed, but Americans, nonetheless. Unable to continue reading the article, Antonio returned the newspaper to the table, and simply continued to just shake his head.

“What’s wrong? Nothing worth reading?” Leah’s roommate asked as she bounced into the kitchen.

“Oh, good morning,” Antonio replied. He could not believe that Alicia had so much energy, but it helped him to understand how she and Leah managed to be friends. They were so alike, he thought. “Um, your friend left this note.”

“Did he?” Alicia asked, sarcastically. She was actually more interested in finding food. “What’s it say? ‘Something came up’, huh?”

“Well, yeah, that’s what he wrote.”

“Oh, well,” she said, continuing the hunt. “It’s a generic excuse. Dreyton’s own DJ Robbie Havok always sneaks out of here, leaving those sad-ass notes, and he tries to make up for it with soft music and breakfast.” Then she turned backed to Antonio with a carefree grin. “And this time he did not even make us breakfast!”

Antonio did not know very much about Alicia, but for the most part, she seemed like an interesting girl. A little aloof, to be sure, Antonio told himself, but far from intolerable. And perhaps what was more important, at least to a young man at his sexual peak, was the indisputable fact that Alicia was a true vixen, blessed with a physique that left him staring.

“So what do you do for a living, Alicia?” Antonio finally took a seat, while watching Alicia resume the search for breakfast.

“I’m a waitress, actually,” she told him, while she tried a handful of apparently stale cereal. “It’s okay. I mean, the job—not this crap. The money ain’t everything, but I needed the change of scenery from my old job.”

Antonio recalled Leah mentioning—albeit very briefly, before they climbed into bed—that Alicia, too, had been a stripper, but that the young woman was now “trying her hand at a new profession.”

“Damn it! What do I want to eat!” she cried out. Then she quickly smiled at Antonio to underscore the humor of the moment. “I am sorry, baby. What can I fix for you?”

“Nothing,” Antonio replied. He could not think of eating anything, especially after that late-night meal with Leah. “So how long have you known Leah?”

“Since last summer, I guess. We stripped together in Dallas and became good friends. When she decided to leave that abusive cowboy, she asked me to come with her.” Alicia spoke with a sincere casualness, as if none of this information should have been new to Antonio, when, in fact, he never knew that the girls met in Texas. “I guess I didn’t know it, at the time, but she helped me by getting me out of that town. Had I stayed there, in Dallas, by now, I’d be some cracked-out whore.” Then she shifted the focus of the conversation. “So you go to Georgetown?”

“How did you know that?”

“She has mentioned you more than a couple of times.”

“Has she?”

“Don’t sound so surprised, baby. You ought to be happy that you made an impact on a woman like Leah,” Alicia told him. “Hell, in truth, every woman kind of wants that—some knight in shining, golden armor. Every woman wants that man who will come along and sweep her off of her feet. God knows this white girl has been looking for him.”

“What about Robbie?”

“What about him? He’s good for the one-night thing, but that is it. He’s not my version of you.”

Antonio was admittedly confused. Is this what he had done? In his attempt to keep his distance, to avoid getting hurt, did he actually make an impact on Leah Kemp? Was he just that good? Instead of asking those questions, though, Antonio simply watched Leah’s roommate begin the dubious task of mixing a morning cocktail. A subtle combination of scotches, chilled on ice—and even though Antonio was no avid connoisseur of the spirits, he knew this one was called a Rusty Nail. “Well, I imagine that beats breakfast food any day,” he joked.

At first, Alicia only sipped her cocktail and smiled, but she really shocked her houseguest when she lined up six shot glasses and filled them each with tequila. Then she laced the contents of each glass with a strange, pink powder that she retrieved from a nearby drawer. “Care to join me?” she asked.

Antonio’s curiosity led him to approach her slowly. “What is that poison?”

“It’s called Decimation,” she answered, while taking a sip of her cocktail. “Everyone has their own mix, but this is only crushed biscuits and tequila. You’ll hardly taste it, but a few shots will make you feel pretty good.” She handed Antonio one of the shot glasses, which he accepted without trepidation, and she grabbed one for herself. “So what are we going to drink to?”

Before Antonio and Alicia were able to lift their glasses, an unmistakably feminine voice broke into their conversation. “Hopefully, you guys toast nothing without me.” The two were surprised to find Leah approaching them. Courteously, Antonio offered the young diva a shot of the tainted liquor, and she graciously accepted with one condition. Leah pointed to two of the unclaimed shot glasses still on the counter, and she looked at Antonio, while saying, “You have to drink those, too.” And he quietly agreed with a nod and a smile.

“I think we are going to drink to, um, the bold women of the world,” Antonio spoke. The shot glasses rose. “May they forever amaze a simple, little guy like me.” And with that, Antonio and Alicia inhaled the alcohol until five of six of the shots were gone. “Wow!” he shouted.

“Now I need some music!” Alicia told the others, and she pranced out of the kitchen with her Rusty Nail.

For a moment, Antonio simply looked around. He could feel something happening, but he was not sure if it was the effect of the MDMA, which was not known to have such a quick physiological reaction, or if it was just the three shots of tequila, which were potent enough on their own. Once he found the ability to endure this strange intoxication, the young man turned to Leah. “Maybe I went too fast,” he said, smiling.

Leah was genuinely concerned. “Are you okay?” she asked, as she gently stroked his cheek. “Can I get you a glass of water? It may help.”

“No, I am okay,” he insisted. “I just need to stand very still for a moment—and adapt to this.” Then he paused to look into her eyes. “So, Leah, you think about me?”

In the wake of the question, there was a moment of awkward silence. Leah could not believe that Antonio had maneuvered to pierce the veil of their rediscovered friendship in such an unexpected way. But there really was no turning back now, she thought; she had to give him an answer, even if its implications were so enormous that they scared her. And so, Leah prepared herself to tell him, hiding her fear behind a warm smile. “Yes, Antonio, I have thought about you.”

“Often?” he asked, boldly.

Leah only laughed.

“Y’know, I love you, Leah,” His eyes were locked on hers. “I have for a long time.”
“Antonio, I think we had better stop this. The euphoria of your intoxication is causing you to say things that you may have never intended to say.” Leah was becoming nervous.

“I don’t think you understand,” Antonio said, as he took her hand. Indeed, he could feel something new, something uncommonly powerful, happening to him, but he was determined to get his words out, before he became too drunk or too blown up to do it with any coherence. “Even if I never intended to say this—doesn’t mean that I don’t feel it, even right now. I just was too stupid to say it before. But, Leah, I am doing it now.” The young man could feel himself ceding more and more control to this strange deluge of sensations. It was wild, he thought. “I love you, Leah.”

“No, you do not. You cannot,” she vehemently resisted his words, but noticeably never retracted her hand. “Antonio, you do not even know me anymore. You do not know anything about me. The girl that you allegedly care about—the one that you knew—she is gone. She does not exist anymore.”

“Why are you doing this—saying this?”

“Because it is the truth.”

“I…I don’t understand.”

That raw confidence was absent when she spoke again, and she was fully aware of it. “Look, Antonio, you probably do not mean what you have said. You have done some crazy amount of X, and you are probably beginning to feel it, in addition to the alcohol. So you just think you love me, when, in fact, you would probably have as much love for a vending machine, right about now.”

“Okay, um…I’ll bite,” he said, struggling. “Maybe—just maybe—I don’t mean it. Maybe I am fucked up. But you can’t tell me that you don’t care about me. Can you, Leah?”

If there was only one limit to their conversation, then Antonio discovered it and crossed into forbidden territory simply by asking Leah to bare her feelings. Quickly, the young diva retracted her hand and turned her head. There was no way that she would make herself vulnerable to him, or to any man, ever again, and she was adamant in that belief. “Yes, Antonio,” she uttered, lowly, “I can tell you that.” Leah stepped away, as her “friend” dropped his head in disappointment. She knew that even his inebriation could not lessen the pain that she had inflicted, and she could not help but to wonder about the thoughts going through his mind. But then, she told herself, this was necessary, because she could not allow herself to care.

Leah left the kitchen without another word, and Antonio found himself alone, contemplating what had just transpired between them—or, more aptly, what had not transpired between them. Even this strangely euphoric state of mind could not disguise the fact that he had been summarily dissed by such an amazing woman. “Dammit, Antonio,” he mumbled. “Why did you? Why did you have to push the issue?” Then he quickly realized that there was no time for regrets; he could not change anything with worthless rehashing. Instead, he had to save their friendship—or, given his condition, put up a decent fight—before it was woefully affected by his stupidity and her denial. “Leah!” Antonio called out, as he proceeded to follow her.

Antonio went into the living room, where he found the two girls dancing to the same hard-house tunes that were playing when he arrived here. To be sure, the music was still a little louder than what was appropriate for even this hour of the morning, but in sharp contract to last night, that same music seemed to have a much different effect on him now. It was driving his senses to new heights and challenging him to move in tandem with the beats. It seemed to be calling to him, just like it had called to Alicia and Leah. Fortunately, though, Antonio knew his limits, especially when it came to cutting the proverbial rug, and he refrained from embarrassing himself. Instead, he kept to the sidelines, only bobbing his head and pumping his fists; this way, at least, he could still look good as he cheered on the girls.

Those girls, for their own part, commanded the floor of their small living room with the same flawless grace that they would have exerted in any nightclub. Their little show began rather innocently, while no less enticingly, but it evolved into something totally unexpected. After removing a form-fitting t-shirt to reveal her topless upper body, Alicia granted Antonio a confident smile. Then her attention shifted to Leah, who had already begun to disrobe, as well, and with a seductive gaze, the girls grew closer to one another. Their pas du deux left Antonio in awe; for a moment, he seriously questioned whether or not he was hallucinating. But few delusional episodes could have been this good, the young man told himself, as he continued to watch from afar. The music went on—and so, too, did their fondling and kissing, until Alicia looked to him and extended her hand.

Antonio did approach the girls, albeit nervously, and took Alicia’s hand. His fingers moved across her firm breasts, as he began to kiss her. Now he knew that the drugs were working—or, at least, that was the excuse that he would espouse, in the event that his actions were ever called into question later. He turned back to Leah, to the woman that he was so crazy about, just as Alicia reached into his trousers, and tightened her grip. At first, Antonio was lost in the sheer intensity of the moment, but he still managed to call out to Leah. The young woman did not waste a single second; she moved on Antonio quickly, pressing her mouth against his own, while her roommate dropped to her knees before him.

“Are you okay?” Leah asked him. She was using one hand to guide Alicia’s head and the other to caress Antonio’s face.

Antonio cupped Leah’s breasts in his hands, and he spoke softly, “Yes…yes…I am.”

“Good,” she replied, with a smile, “because this about to get very interesting.”
Actually, if anything, her words were certain to be an understatement.

© 2010. All Rights Reserved; G. Harrell Literary Properties, Inc. Reproduction and unauthorized use are strictly prohibited.

19 comments:

Kayla said...

OH MY GOD!

I don't have anything else to say to to you.

OH MY GOD! BAD GARY!

John said...

I always liked your writing but I did not know you were doing it like this too. Good piece of work. You know you are going to catch hell for this though.

Ryan said...

As always, you have a knack for writing. I know this is an excerpt and taken out of context so it makes it a little confusing. Also, what are biscuits? never heard that one before and you know I am the expert in that field, haha, or was. Another thing, it kind of went from unsolved mysteries to cheesy soft core fluff in the excerpt, at least to me.

Digger in LV said...

Let's see what we know, so far. In Dreyton, there is a big difference (and a river) between the rich and the poor, and a lot of people try to keep it that way. There are bad and violent gang members that come out of nowhere and kill everybody in their path. There are drugs everywhere. And there is lesbian sex that just happening out of nowhere. And then at some point the whole place goes to shit. Gary, are you sure that you were not modeling this place on Vegas? I cannot wait to read the whole thing. When will you finally get it published.

Digger in LV said...

Good choice of songs.

That is what the book is saying to you. Can't you hear it?

"I SAY RELEEEEEEASE ME! CAUSE I'M NOT ABLE TOOO RELEEEEEASE MYSELF!"

Mashoud said...

I thought the story-telling was pretty good, but I did feel like I had started reading the book from the middle. The dialogues were solid and I like how you paid attention to small details like what they were doing.

I did think that Alicia character was probably not the kind of person I'd like to be around for more that a few minutes, and I am not sure I saw anything deep that makes her and Leah friends, other than the sex. You also say she's a "vixen". Did you introduce her and her description elsewhere before this?
If not, you should do so here, because she needs some redeeming qualities, even if it's just good looks.

Leah seemed to be a smart girl, just emotionally scarred and way too confused. That's what I got from it. I noticed that there was no mention of her actually taking the shot, and that made me curious. I suspect that she may not have. I don't even think she's a real bisexual; her whole personality doesn't even match her lifestyle. But maybe that's the interesting part.

And Antonio is a character I seriously don't like. He seems like a true follower. "Sure I will take all these shots of tequila laced with ecstasy! I want to do anything to impress Leah!" What a dumb dude.

It will be interesting to see how all of that ties into your bigger story. Good luck with the publishing.

Anonymous said...

To me this story is modeled on city in America. It does not matter where you live now. Everybody seems to have trashed their morals and replaced them with a love for violence, drugs, greed and gay sex. I just wonder if stories like this one only just encourage that kind of behavior.

Bridget said...

Anonymous, if this story encourages you to commit an act of violence, do drugs, or have gay sex, you need to see a psychologist. This book is not written for individuals who are not mature enough to claim responsibility for their own behaviors.

Bridget said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bridget said...

It has come to my attention that some people are choosing not to use commas when listing a series of items or actions. This practice is incorrect. When three or more things are in a series, they are separated by commas.

Incorrect: The street was filled with angry protesters, shouting spectators and police.

(Leaving out the last comma makes it look like the police were shouting, too.)

Anonymous said...

How many people do you know taking responsibility for their own actions today? Not very many.

I do not mean to offend anybody. I think the writer is talented and I know he's a good person. That is what makes this tougher. If he wasn't, then people won't care. But all I was saying was that books like this might be glorifying immoral behavior. It is not the first one, and we all know we have too much of that. Maybe talented people like him need to understand the role they play on other people that don't take responsibility.

John said...

Good reply, Bridget. I think the piece is good, but it's not good enough to make me run out to do drugs. It's just a story for crying out loud!

Cedrick said...

I agree with Mashoud. These characters make you wish everyone got mandatory counseling when they became adults. The sad thing is that you know real people have these kind of tragic lives, and we all know people like this.

I can't wait to get my own autographed copy of the book before it becomes a bestseller. So when Oprah Winfrey tells people to go out and pick it up, I will have already read it.

You better get ready for your book tour, G-man!

Anonymous said...

We are wishing you a lot of success. Good luck, Gary.

W&N

Taylor L. said...

I did not like either of the women in this scene. One was too dense; the other was too cold. I hope that there are stronger women in this book. (I will not comment on the ending, because I don't have anything decent to say, Gary.)

Antonio in the story is an interesting character. I do not agree that he's a follower. I get the impression, instead, that he is not good or evil, or that he even much cares to be either. I find it neat that you have a major character that is not a hero or a villain.

One thing about this scene, though. I remembered reading in another excerpt that something happens to Antonio, and so, I went back and read the excerpts from Chapters 4 and 6. Yes, there's a brief mention of a car crash in 6. So this scene is part of the run-up to that. It's going to be cool to see how it all plays out.

gina34 said...

Gary, I thought it was great. I will defiantly go back and read the other excerpts to catch up,yeah i know i should have read those first ;)I will defiantly be waiting for my copy of the book when it comes out!!! Anyone that thinks this will lead to drug use and violence must not turn on the television!

Robert S. said...

Man Gary, WOW! This was f#%king good storytelling. It ended too soon but it was damn good!

Tyler L. said...

I want to know how you think of all this stuff.

Shannon said...

Good writing but it's a vulgar scene. Somebody needs to wash your mind out with soap.

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