Lyrical Fiction Friday | “His Carla”


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This week’s lyric prompt is:

“…6:00 in the morning yawning and laying down next to you…”

For the rules, click on the lyric above. 

This is the last Lyrical Fiction Friday challenge. Many thanks to Marquessa Matthews for challenging writers to dig deep for the story. I missed a week or two and still have one continuation to complete so there will be more LFF posts from me coming soon.

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I did a thing again with this week’s writing. Thank you, Mr. Migraine. At least you let me write something.

Instead of posting the same short story for Lyrical Fiction Friday and #52weeks52stories, I took the same characters… and went in two different directions. It’s so much fun being me! Enjoy!

~~~

Pat Sinclair made the last few entries in his case file notes. He emailed a copy to his sergeant and to himself, and finally to the queue of the records department.

With his latest case closed and files done, fatigue to bore down on the fifty-two-year-old detective. He eased his bulky frame from his chair and stretched. The aches and pains of age joined in with the past job-related injuries and scarring to once again bring thoughts of retirement to mind.

Why do I keep doing this shitty job? I’ve put in my time. Served my community. Tried to be a good cop and make things better. Twenty-seven years is long enough. Let the new guys have it.

Sinclair thought of the kids coming into the department… with four-year college degrees and not a single clue in their designer-hairstyle covered heads.

Most wouldn’t make it a decade and almost none would get as far as he had. The pay would drive most away. Gen Xers and millennials felt they deserved condos, sports cars, and fancy vacations—things a cop’s salary could never cover. Especially if they had a family.

Family.

The thought made him smile as he bagged the remains of an hours-old sandwich, dropped it in the trashcan and headed for the elevator.

He knew he was a blessed man.

Five great kids with no major problems, and his youngest would graduate from college in five months. He was a good, supportive dad, but he also knew he couldn’t take the credit for such an amazing family.

That honor went to Carla Sinclair, his wife of thirty years.

Pat grabbed his coat, needing to get home to the love of his life.

He’d witnessed many marriages implode over the years. Being married to a cop wasn’t a walk in the park. Resentment could grow in even the most supportive spouses and partners after years of the job coming first.

But not his Carla.

Despite the missed dinners, abrupt exits from school events, and canceled vacations, she stood by his side, never complaining.

The irony was the Sinclair arguments were almost always started by him because of his guilt for working so much. But his Carla was still the voice of reason.

“When we got together, I knew I’d have to share you, although back then, it was with the military. But I knew you were that guy… the guy who lives to serve and protect… the hero. And while others may not see you as a hero, you’re my hero and you always will be.”

His steps quickened when he exited the elevator in the lower level parking garage. Raising his hand, Pat clicked his remote starter as he walked down the ramp. He heard his GMC Terrain roar to life and was grateful to find the air blasting from the heater already warming when he climbed inside.

Chalk up another one in the win-column for the all-knowing Carla Sinclair.

The remote starter was her Father’s Day gift to him, so he wouldn’t have to sit in a cold vehicle until it warmed up.

She was always thinking of him.

He’d learned years ago he couldn’t keep up with her, much less, outdo her, but Pat Sinclair was no quitter.

While his coworkers funneled their overtime dollars to weekend camping trips and tech-inspired man-caves, Pat left his overtime pay… in addition to his regular pay, in the business-savvy hands of his Carla. Combined with her pay as a billings manager for a busy vision-care center, she paid the mortgage, household expenses, notes and maintenance on two cars, clothed and fed five kids, and made him look like a million dollars. When they sat down together each month, Pat beamed with pride at all she’d done, and still manage to squirrel a few dollars away into their savings.

Which was why Pat never turned over all his pay. He had his own small savings account for one reason only… his Carla. Whenever he managed to get two or three days off together, Pat would take her to dinner at an upscale restaurant or to a show. Whatever she wanted. Planning was difficult in the early days when the kids were small but one of their mothers or his aunt Joyce would come to his rescue.

Experience taught him in order to keep his job from cutting into his time off, Pat needed to leave town for special time with his Carla… so he did. Whether it was live theater in the city or making love all weekend at a tiny bed and breakfast two towns away, it didn’t matter to him as long as they were together.

Turning off the thoroughfare, Pat entered Crestwood, the family neighborhood he and Carla had lived in for all of their married life.

Many of their friends from the early years fled the congestion of the city for ranch-style homes in the suburbs, but Pat and Carla loved the big, rambling colonials lining Graves Avenue and stayed put.

He pulled into the driveway of house number two-forty… home.

In an instant, too many cases, not enough manpower, and the many stresses of his job faded from Pat’s mind.

He looked up at the weather-beaten roof. He was thankful it didn’t leak but tiles slipped out of place with each storm. The black shutters adorning each window were now grayer in color thanks to the heat of summer and winter’s freezing temps. Pat cringed as he noticed even in the dawn’s muted light, he could see paint curling around the windows. The house had last been painted when Trevor entered second grade, and in a few short months, he would be a college graduate.

Making a mental note to sit down with his wife and make a list of needed home improvements, Pat exited his SUV, house-key in hand. He had thoughts of retirement daily and he knew Carla was ready to explore a home-based business. With no more tuition payments to make, they could take care of the home repairs and settle into a more relaxed way-of-life.

Letting himself in, Pat grinned at a familiar sight… a note from his wife.

Over the years, Pat’s erratic schedule and caseload might see him home long enough only to shower and change clothes. He could miss seeing Carla or their kids depending on the time of say.

So, Carla left him notes.

Some were obvious—on the hall closet door, the stove, or the bathroom mirror.

Others were not—in his underwear drawer, their medicine cabinet, or the jacket pocket of a suit coat.

Carla’s notes would update Pat on mishaps and ER visits for the kids, upcoming school events, or just that she loved him.

Pat Sinclair loved her notes and saved everyone. His favorite was when after a stressful evening of nursing four kids with the flu while pregnant with a fifth, Carla’s note left on the hall closet door informed him she was running away to join the circus.

“I vowed to love you for better or for worse, but I’m drawing the line at projectile vomiting.”

He laughed at the memory while grabbing the latest note from the closet door.

“There’s stroganoff on the warmer or a turkey and Swiss in the fridge. Also, cold beer or lemonade. And because I’m an awesome wife… and somewhat fond of you, there’s a German Chocolate cake on the counter.”

The corners of his lips quirked into a light smile and he raised his eyes heavenward, thankful for having this amazing woman as his wife. His Carla.

His stomach considered the food she’d left for him, but his heart propelled him toward the stairs, which he took two at a time while turning off his cell phone.

Entering their bedroom, Pat’s heart swelled when his eyes rested on his sleeping wife. She lay on his side of the bed, clutching his pillow.

Tearing at his clothes, he rushed into the bathroom for a five-minute shower to remove the stench of the last twenty-four hours.

After toweling off, Pat crawled into bed behind his wife, pulling her back against him.

Stirring, Carla nestled against him, looking over her shoulder.

“Excuse me, sir, but have we met?”

He kissed her temple.

“Yes, ma’am. Just over thirty years ago at a summer carnival. You sold me popcorn.”

She smirked. “Thirty years ago? You expect me to remember that?”

Pat pulled her closer and rested his head on the pillow. “You don’t have to. I remember everything.”

Carla turned in his arms, laying her head on his chest. After a few minutes, she glanced up. “Is everything okay.”

He kissed her forehead. “It’s 6:00 in the morning, I’m yawning and laying down next to you. Everything’s fine in my world.”

They were both asleep in minutes, Pat Sinclair holding onto the woman who made it all make sense. His Carla.

Lyrical Fiction Friday | “His Distraction”

So sorry I’m late with this, but I have the flu. And a migraine. And I had to go out for more COFFEE. And my socks don’t match. And a Unicorn ate my first draft. 😀


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This week’s lyric prompt is:

“…I met this girl…she ruined my philosophy…my heart skips a beat when she comes around “

For the rules, click on the lyric above. 

My mind was all over the place with this prompt. Of course, that could have been due to ridiculous amounts of cold medicine. But where I finally landed surprised even me.

Blog followers will recognize Jonathan Pratt’s distraction–Lenore ‘Lennie’ Porter from Free, a Novella, a free read on this blog, and the extended versions in ebook and print. Can you say Story tie-in?

———

As usual, Claire Pratt’s cocktail party was the place to be.

Jonathan Pratt marveled at his sister-in-law’s handiwork as he strolled through the seven-bedroom showplace. Only Claire could take leaves, tree branches, and pumpkins and put an elegant spin on autumn decorations.

He recognized a few of the faces from past parties, and there were several from the old neighborhood. While they were affluent, like him, Vernon and Claire would never forget their roots and where they came from. They were all part of a small group which paid into a fund so the daycare centers and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club in the old neighborhood didn’t have to worry over the paltry few dollars from the national charities.

Leaving the sunken living room, Jon headed for the family room where he knew Vernon had set up two kegs of beer… much to Claire’s dismay.

He had one foot in the doorway of the family room when he saw them. Hannah and Liz. Jon did an about-face so fast, he made himself dizzy. There was nothing wrong with forty-two-year-old Asian-American Hannah Nakuru, who ran her own high-end catering business or forty-year-old African-American Liz Brent, a web designer from Vernon’s firm. But both women admitted to being ready to try marriage again after five failed marriages between them… and the forty-nine-year-old confirmed bachelor had no interest in being a candidate.

He headed toward the dining room and Claire’s elaborate wine bar instead.

A dozen people milled around the room chatting in hushed tones. Jon found his favorite Moscato and reached for a glass.

As he poured, he glanced around the room at the well-heeled group… and froze.

She was across the room next to the window talking with two men.

Her emerald green cocktail dress complimented her caramel skin tone and shapely figure. Her thick, chestnut brown hair was pulled back into a loose, but neat French braid held in place by an ornate hair clamp.

“Whoa, dude!”

Jon looked to the young man next to him who pointed at Jon’s wine glass.

He stopped the pour just before the pale pink vino flowed over the edge of the wine glass… and saved himself a ton of misery. Claire would not have been happy if he ruined her snow-white table covering.

“Hey, thanks, man. Guess I got a little… distracted.”

Staring at a woman in a form-fitting red dress near him, the man tilted his head with a knowing smile. “Yeah, I get distracted too,” and he walked over to introduce himself to the woman in red.

Embarrassed, Jonathan gulped the wine down to a reasonable level. Then, trying to look nonchalant, he strolled to the other side of the table before fixing his gaze on the woman in green.

She was stunning and his jealousy flared as he wondered if she was with either of the men.

He guessed she was near his age, not because she looked older, but her posture and mannerisms spoke of a mature, confident woman comfortable in her own skin.

Averting his eyes, Jon gulped his wine again while his mind raced.

Stop acting like you’ve never seen a woman before! Walk away!

His feet, however, didn’t care for that idea and stayed firmly planted.

Still in a mental battle with himself to leave the room, his brain lost the battle when his eyes were drawn back to his distraction.

She laughed at something one of the men had said and her laughter traveled across the room, wrapping Jon in a tight embrace.

His chest and slacks tightened.

Her laughter was deep and throaty. Warm and soothing. Playful and seductive.

He never wanted it to end.

“Hey, bro? You okay? How much wine have you had?”

Startled, Jon whipped his head around to a grinning Vernon Pratt.

He ducked his head, rubbing the back of his neck.

“No, I’m good. This is my first glass. Think the time zone change is messing with me.”

Vernon gave his shoulder a tight squeeze.

“Okay, man. But don’t overdo it.”

As Vernon looked over the wine selection, Jon figured it was now or never.

“Vern, who’s that?”

He responded while reading a wine label.

“Room full of people, Jonny… could you be more specific?”

“The woman over there… in the green dress.”

Vernon looked up and gazed around the room until he found the ‘green dress.’ He smiled.

“Oh. That’s Lennie.”

Jon frowned. “Lennie?”

“Yes, Lennie. Or rather Lenore Porter. Bobby’s cousin.” Bobby was Robert Pearson, also from the Pratt’s old neighborhood and Vernon’s best friend. Bobby and his wife, Gayle, owned El Encanto, an upscale eatery.

Jonathan’s frown deepened to confusion.

“Wait. We’ve known Bobby since grade school. I thought all his family lived here in Pittsburgh?”

Vernon chuckled. “They did for the most part. Bobby and Lennie are second cousins on his mom’s side. They met once or twice as kids but didn’t get to know each other until Bobby took his mom to Lennie’s mom’s funeral a couple of years ago.”

“She lives here now? And how do you know so much about her?”

“No, she does not live here… just here for the holidays, and, she’s been here several times in the last few months. She has degrees in food sciences and nutrition and ran her own catering business in Minnesota for years. Now she’s a consultant, working with restaurant chefs to incorporate more health-conscious items into restaurant menus. Thanks to her, Bobby and Gayle’s vegan/vegetarian menu is outselling the rest of the regular menu.”

“Sounds like a super smart lady.”

“Good business mind too. El Encanto has been a money-maker from the beginning, but Lennie helped them up their game—streamlining job tasks and increasing staff productivity, raising employee morale, strengthening business relationships with city government—Gayle keeps begging her to move here.”

A faint smile played at the corners of Jon’s mouth. Streamlined job tasks and increased productivity—intelligent and shrewd. Raised employee morale—she knew how to handle people. Works well with city government—she can navigate the political landscape. Jon was impressed

“Vern, introduce me.”

“No.”

His mouth gaped open. “What do you mean no? Why not?”

“Did you miss the part about her being Bobby’s cousin?”

“No, but – ”

“He’s like a brother to me too, man. I can’t risk it.”

Jon clicked his tongue. “Excuse me. Exactly what can’t you risk?”

“C’mon, big brother, calm down. I wasn’t trying to upset you. But, even you have to admit… your track record with women…” Vernon’s words trailed off, and he leaned in close to Jonathan, speaking in a near whisper, “Your relationships always have an expiration date.”

His anger flared, but the truth tamped it down just as fast.

Vernon was right. His relationships didn’t last long, but it wasn’t always that way. There were long-term relationships in his past. One he’d hoped would lead to marriage. But, she played him… just like a handful of others after her.

After being used and burned one time too many by money-hungry women, a new Jonathan had emerged. The women he dated were of his choosing, the relationships brief—never lasting more than 3-4 months, and… he never took them to his home.

He thought it ironic and a double standard how women accused men of being users, players, and wanting the milk without buying the cow.  Jonathan Pratt’s experiences were the opposite.

Successful, middle-class, or struggling, Jonathan Pratt had dealt with women from all walks of life. They didn’t necessarily want him, but the things he could give them. Everything from expensive trips to jewels, to even braces for a teen whose father refused to step up—but whose mother was still seeing the deadbeat on the down-low—had been demanded of Jon. The final straw was when he gifted an up-and-coming sports agent with an expensive attaché for her birthday. She was expecting a car.

The successful freelance technical writer and consultant walked away from that dinner and never looked back. Jon became Mr. Love-‘Em-and-Leave-‘Em, not caring what others thought. His way of life worked well for him for over a dozen years and he’d seen no need to change it.

The modern, forward-thinking, independent career women Jon met in his line of work had no problem with his rules, most seeking the same type of encounter.

Now, here was a woman he didn’t know, tugging at his heart and tying him in knots.

“Dude? You sure you’re okay? Maybe you should call it a night.”

Pulled from his thoughts, Jon pleaded with his brother.

“Vernon, introduce me. Please?”

Before the younger Pratt could respond, Claire slid in between the two men. “Introduce you to who?” She glanced from brother to brother before her husband gave the one-word reply.

“Lenore.”

“No.”

“C’mon, Claire. Why not?” Jonathan was at his wit’s end.

“She’s a sweetheart, Jonny. And your record with women… well -”

“I cannot believe my own family is treating me like some kind of sexual predator!”

Husband and wife exchanged surprised looks, caught off guard by Jon’s anger.

He scrubbed his hand over his bald head, trying to collect himself.

“Claire, please? I just want to meet her.” He looked over her shoulder, watching Lenore. “There’s… something different about her.”

The sincerity in his voice and eyes sent a tinge of guilt up Claire Pratt’s spine. “Okay, Jonny.”

As if on cue, the men standing with Lenore were called away for picture-taking. She walked over to the table to refill her glass.

“Enjoying yourself, Lennie?”

“Claire, you do know how to throw a party. Everything is wonderful.”

“I’m taking that compliment and running with it, even though half the food is from your recipes.”

“That makes us an unbeatable team.”

The two women laughed and high-fived each other.

Vernon cleared his throat.

“Lennie… Lenore, I don’t believe you’ve met my brother-in-law, Jonathan. He’s in town for the holidays.”

“No, I haven’t.” She extended her right hand and looked up into his face. “It’s a pleasure, Jonathan.”

Lost in her eyes, her touch jolted him back to reality.

“No, Lenore. The pleasure is… all mine.”

The couple stood there, silent and hands still clasped.

“You know, Jonny, Lennie will be joining us for Thanksgiving dinner.” He slipped an arm around his brother’s shoulder and leaned toward Lenore. “But only if she brings her cornbread dressing.”

She stuck out her tongue. “You’re mean and I’m telling Bobby.”

“Won’t help you, sister, he wants it too.”

Jon gave Vernon a side-eye glance. “Cornbread dressing? With giblet gravy?”

Vernon smirked. “Oh, yes.”

Jon considered Lenore. “With chopped hard-boiled eggs?”

Lenore tilted her head. “You know of another kind?”

Jonathan beamed. “Can we have dinner now?”

The two couples laughed but were interrupted by cheers from the living room.

“Swing, Roy! Swing!”

Claire Pratt growled.

“If Roy Cathey has snuck another piñata into my house…” Her voice trailed off as she rushed to the living room.

Vernon chuckled as he backed away to follow his wife. “Excuse me, folks, but I have to go, um… save Roy’s life.” Still laughing, he turned and followed the crowd’s cheers.

Jonathan relaxed, glad to be alone with Lenore. “So, cornbread dressing and giblet gravy. Save me a seat next to you.”

She laughed, and Jonathan rubbed the center of his chest, attempting to calm the erratic beats of his heart.

“Claire told me it was a favorite of Vernon’s.”

“One of mine too. Our mom. It was one of her specialties. The holidays don’t seem right without it.”

“I hope mine is an enjoyable substitute for your mom’s.”

Intelligent, beautiful, modest and humble. Jon wondered if there was a minister on Claire’s guest list.

“How long are you in town for, Lenore?”

“I cannot deal with crowded airports, so I don’t fly back to L.A. until next Tuesday.”

“L.A.?” He frowned, confused. “But when I asked about you, Vern said Minnesota.”

“You asked about me?”

“Um, yeah. Sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m flattered. I saw you walk by the room earlier and wondered who you were. Although, even with your shaved head and overnight stubble versus Vernon’s head full of curls and clean-shaven face, it’s obvious you two are related.”

“You noticed me?”

“Is that all you got from what I said?”

“Yeah, the important part.”

Their shared laughter was quieter this time as an easy shyness drifted in, making them both avert their eyes.

“Um, to answer your question, I did live in Minnesota. Spent most of my life there. But after losing my parents, and then filing for divorce, I needed a change. My two older boys are stationed at Camp Pendleton and my youngest son is doing his residency at Stanford. California was the obvious choice.”

Divorced, yes! Thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus!

“You’re not going to believe this, but I live in Cali too.”

“No way! Where?”

“Brentwood. You?”

“Hidden Hills.”

“What’s the distance? Twenty miles? In Cali, that’s practically neighbors.”

“Agreed.”

He couldn’t let her get away. This was Fate at its finest. “Would you like to find a quiet place to talk, Lenore?”

Her smile told him everything before she answered. “I’d like that, Jonathan.”

Before they could exit the dining room, Bobby Pearson rushed in. “There you are, cuzzo! We need you for pictures before some of the peeps head out.” He noticed Jonathan for the first time. “Man, I didn’t know that was you. Love the Isaac Hayes non-hairdo!”  They shared a one-arm man-hug. “I’ll send her right back, Jonny, promise.”

“Make sure you do, Bobby. I’ll wait right on this spot.”

He and Lenore shared a look as she followed her cousin from the room. She held up one finger. “I’ll be right back.”

Jonathan stared after her even though she disappeared into the crowd. He couldn’t remember a time in his life when he felt so at peace. He’d just met Lenore Porter, and she calmed his soul. He didn’t see Hannah and Liz approach until they brushed up on either side of him.

Liz cooed. “You still playing hard-to-get, handsome, or can one of us start planning a wedding?”

“Sorry, ladies. I’m off the market.”

“Wait, what? That was fast.”

He chucked, talking more to himself than the two divorcees. “I know, right? I just met this woman [girl]. And just being near her changes me. She’s ruined my philosophy altered my thoughts. My heart skips a beat when she’s close by [comes around].”

He shook his head.

“Who knew I had to come back home to find out my heart was twenty miles from my front door?”

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved

A Strong Heart #52weeks52stories


Heart image

#52weeks52stories – Week #4
prompt: “I’m trying to erase you from my mind…you’re my religion and my belief…“

My body is heavy, weighted to the bed by a cocktail of painkillers, monitors, metal, and casts.

And lying here, even now, I wonder where you are.

Trapped tears pool and sting my eyes, unable to flow past the eyelids swollen shut. A broken wrist and dislocated shoulder keep me from wiping the tears away.

Tears I shouldn’t be crying for you. Tears you do not deserve.

I loved you. For seven years, you were my religion and my belief. Since the day we met rollerblading on the pier, I knew I’d found my soulmate.

To me, you were the smartest man in the world. It didn’t matter to me you failed the state bar exam and I passed. I didn’t blame you for taking your frustrations out on me. I was insensitive for wanting to celebrate my own success. I should have been more considerate of your feelings.

When you failed the exam two more times, I shouldn’t have chastised you for not trying hard enough. You carried the burden of repeated failures. I deserved the slaps for thinking only of myself.

Our night out with friends to celebrate your new position was one of our best times together… until we got home.

I was confused when you threw me into the wall and accused me of throwing myself at your friend, Marty.

You punched me in my side and said I embarrassed you by dancing like a slut, even though I only danced with you.

The next morning, fed up, I packed with one hand, determined to get away from you. Your tears and promises to change broke my heart and I stayed.

Only things didn’t change. I was still your punching bag when things didn’t go your way. When you missed out on a promotion, lost a case or even had car trouble, it was my fault for not being supportive enough; for being too consumed with my own career.

And still, I stayed, making excuses for black eyes and bruises no one believed. That’s when I knew I was as broken inside as you… and I had to save myself.

But I was foolish to believe you’d allow me to walk away.

Your silence made me believe you accepted my decision.

But I was wrong. Again.

I opened my door to you for old times’ sake, trying to be a friend. I didn’t see the first punch coming… or the second, but you swung your fists until I fell to the floor. Trading fists for feet, you kicked with wild abandon, not aiming or caring where your blows landed.

No longer feeling your kicks and punches, I knew I was in shock… and probably dying. But as I slipped into the darkness, I’m sure I heard you say, “You’ll always belong to me. You can never leave.”

I awake to the rhythmic beeps and low hums of medical devices standing watch over my body. My senses are dull, and my thoughts muddied with memories I don’t recognize. I am aware of pain only after I attempt to breathe deeply. The sharp stings ripple deep inside my chest and though still disoriented, I try to keep my breathing shallow.

My injuries are extensive and will take weeks to heal. As the doctor discussed the severity of my injuries and the violence it took to inflict them, I heard something akin to pride in his voice when he said, “Young lady, I’ve seen men succumb to less than what was done to you. Those broken ribs were a problem… we were afraid they would puncture a lung. But that didn’t happen. Your heartbeat was always strong. You were determined to live. You’re a survivor.”

A survivor.

You broke my heart and battered my body. But you couldn’t break my spirit.

 

###

 

The DA contacted me again.

He said you took the deal.

Your sentencing is in a couple of weeks and I’ll be allowed the opportunity to make a victim’s impact statement.

But I won’t.

Because I’m not your victim. I am your end.

I’ll attend your sentencing and smile as you’re taken from the courtroom in shackles.

And then I’ll walk away… with no fear, and not haunted by the way you brutalized me.

It’s said people pass through one’s life as a blessing or a lesson. I’ll remember this lesson… but not the man.

I’m already trying to erase you from my mind.

 

 

©2018 Felicia Denise, All Rights Reserved