Shiny Things

Short Fiction for Guests of the WordFeeder
Sunday, May 15, 2011

His handwriting was something you had to learn to read. It was quick, the way he talked, going this way and that, often without stopping between the words. Slightly out of control, but in an artistic way. And so began another entry, the way he started all the others.

“This is the Journal of Jason Sinners,” he wrote at the top of a fresh page. “Wednesday, April 20, 2011.” He’d be given a beautiful leather bound diary, but preferred to write on single sheets of copier paper he kept in a drawer, still in the torn paper the ream had come wrapped in, next to an open box of his favorite pens. He like the gel kind, black ink, with the medium tip, that moved effortlessly across the page. There was a notebook computer, screen up, to his left on the table he used as a desk, but there was something about drawing his thoughts on paper that he preferred.

Rubbing the pen for a moment, he let his hand settle into position and wrote, “She was a girl who liked shiny things.”

I was walking by myself back from a movie the other night, my friends having gone their own ways, thinking about everything, but about nothing in particular. It was unseasonably cool which could have been why I wasn’t feeling tired even though it had be one of those days. The cool air on my face and hands felt good. It had been one of days. Hell. Who am I kidding? It’s been one of those years. I thought the movie would help, but all it did was blow two more hours of my life. I was listless, the first time in my life I’ve had a good excuse to use that word. Nothing I had been doing lately, by “lately” I mean for months, seemed to be something I wanted to be doing, no matter how much sense it seemed make when I thought I wanted to do it.

I don’t drink much, but felt the gravity of laughter drawing me through the double doors that swung both ways into and out of “The Corner Bar, No Grill,” so sign said along the side of the building. I wouldn’t usually go there alone. Too much chemistry in the room to be the odd guy out on some stool, but I figured I had nothing to lose with nothing to prove and no one to prove it to.

So I walked in, a few feet past that annoying poll just inside the doors, beginning to think maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all. I don’t know how long I’d been standing there when I heard her voice.

“You can sit with me if you like,” she suggested nervously, catching me by surprise.

Turning to see the voice, my eyes wouldn’t let me speak.

“Com’on,” she said, grabbing my hand. “There’s a little table,” she pointed across the crowded room, “that’s perfect.” And off we went, talking and laughing without the slightest pretence for what was left of the evening. It was effortless and there was none of that out-of-body experience crap, you know, where I talking to someone, but also standing there beside myself, watching what’s going on, rolling my imaginary eyes, making disapproving looks.

Her hair was frosted. The colored beads of her necklace were almost luminescent, daring anyone to call them or her “cheap.” And woven into the light top she was wearing, somehow, flecks of something gold that sparkled, flashing at me with every move she made. Gold chain bracelets that fell perfectly across the back of her hand when she stroked the condensation off the side of her beer. Full breasted, and I like those things, but tonight I almost didn’t notice.

We’ve had a few dates since then. Learning what we like to eat. Work, family. The usual stuff. Holding hands. Walking. Endless talking about everything, much of it drivel, but neither of us cared. Turns out she lives nearby and has since before I moved in a couple of years ago. We’d just never run into each other before. Too bad, but maybe the time wasn’t right.

She’s gone back to her place, so I’m writing these notes before I hit the sack.

We were going out again tonight, and planned to meet in the small park outside my building, go out to dinner, someplace close where we could walk. Eat some great Italian, and maybe, finally, stop dancing around the chemistry that we’d been holding back. There’s only so much standing close to a person you can do with your clothes on before you risk breaking something.

An hour to go before meeting her… Her name’s Evelyn, by the way, which, for some reason, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned before. Hmm. Anyway, it was an hour to go before meeting her. I was in the shower. It’s a large bathroom, one of the cool things about my condo, with an open shower, water falling from a rainforest gizmo above me. No curtains or glass. The extra wide door, which I always leave open, makes it seem almost like part of the bedroom.

My back to the door, my head rolling, I was enjoying the warm water hitting my face.

“Hey.” It was her, Evelyn.

I opened my eyes, and then turned, slowly rubbing the scented bar of soap I’d been holding. She was standing in the doorway, her right hand touching the frame. I could see the clothes she’d been wearing lying on the hardwood floor and Persian rug behind her. No bracelets or rings this time. Nothing but the short, fine gold chain necklace with the name, “Jason,” I’d bought her for fun the day we went to the beach.

“You left your front door unlocked,” she said, not the least bit nervous. “Mind if I join you?”

“To be honest, naked women interrupting my shower haven’t been a problem, until now. …Maybe I need a security system. What do you think?”

“Not to worry,” she said, walking toward me. “I locked it behind me. One naked woman in your shower is all you’re going to need.”

Well, that shower took longer than usual, that’s for sure. She took care of me first, which was easy, too easy, and then I did her which, to be honest, didn’t take all that much longer. I guess it’d been a while for both of us. A couple of hours later, after polishing off the Chinese delivery we ordered, we did each other, together, the way it’s supposed to be, and that was the one that counted.

Maybe Saturday, when my daughter and her husband stop by for lunch, I’ll invite Evelyn to join us.


Driving through the gates to meet her father, Amy Manning, Jason’s youngest daughter, parked their wagon in the visitors’ section, just inside “The Village” walls.

“Com’on guys,” she ordered their kids in the back seat. “Everybody out!”

Her husband, Bill, waited and closed the back door on his side after their son and daughter were clear. “Hey. Look out for cars.”

“Really, Dad?” their oldest, Alice, said sarcastically. “What cars?” Except for the ones coming and going into the parking lot, “The Village” senior citizens community didn’t allow more than golf carts inside the walls.

“Yeh, really.” You and John go on ahead to Granddaddy’s apartment. We’ll catch up.”

Grabbing her husband’s arm, Amy and Bill took their time walking down the middle of main street while their kids ran ahead.

“You know,” Bill was sincere, “this is a really nice place, all things considered. ..I like the way it’s laid out like a little town, with shops and townhouses, and interesting condos, instead of just some boring building with numbers on people’s doors.”

“A grocery store that gives cooking classes. And I love that little movie theater,” Amy pointed down a cross street at the 50’s style marquis, “and that bar on the corner. ..Yeh, it is nice.”

“So you’re finally okay that we talked him into doing this?”

“Yeah, I’m okay with it, mainly because he’s been sounding a lot better lately.” Amy was busy with her jobs and the kids, but still managed to talk or at least email her father every few days. “I know he’s pushing 80, but moving in here after Mom died and he stopped working was harder for him than I expected. To be honest, I thought he’d be done for by now.”

“Done for?”

“To be honest,” Amy confessed, “I didn’t think he was going to make it, but lately…”

“I’m guessing it’s because he’s been hanging out with Mrs. Goldberg a lot lately,” Bill speculated with a smile, “you know, the woman we met last time.”

“Yeah, I wonder what that’s like,” Alice responded, mockingly grabbing her husband’s tush, looking up at him, trying to visualize her father and the one of his lady friends together.

“A tad too much jewelry for my taste,” Bill volunteered.

“But not too much perfume, which tells you that at least her nose still works.”

“And no hairspray. Now that’s a real bonus. I hate hairspray. ..I don’t even like the idea of hairspray.”

“Okay, already. I get it that old people make you nervous.”

“At least she didn’t try to hug us.”

“Since when does hugging make you nervous?”

“I think hugging leads to sex.”

No response.

“Well,” Bill reacted to Amy’s putting her arm around his waist, “the main thing is that your Dad seems to like her.”


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