Sunburnt

Greta hits rock bottom and trades in her Chardonnay for coffee. She moves to sunny Bombay Beach, Florida where she gets a new apartment in a quaint cottage, a new job and a new lease on life. She spends time at the beach soaking up the sun and reflecting on her past destructive relationships. She meets a mysterious married man Garth, who she keeps bumping into. Greta dates a local musician Jimmy, but after his untimely suicide she must find the cause of his death. She and her girlfriend Kat put on a concert with the help of magnetic club owner Sly and invite superstar Crash to perform all of Jimmy’s music. Will they discover why Jimmy took his own life?

Sly is a dazzling man, living the high life as owner of one of the towns hottest clubs, Voodoo. He has it all, wine, women, a beach house and a sister who has one of Hollywoods’ hottest cooking shows, Elvira! He cannot find love in his life, until he meets Greta. But is it too late to change his ways?


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5. Sunburnt

Chapter 7

 

I like there to be some testosterone in rock, and it's like I'm the one in the dress who has to provide it.

Courtney Love

 

I stayed in my apartment, started my online search for a job, my first step to recovery. There was talk about the new temporary workforce, no 401K plan, no benefits, easily replaced…Sounded like the story of my life.

 

One day I got lucky and found a job at an office for a German lawyer, Al Friedling. He was quiet and thoughtful, grey haired and shared his office with his pet pooch Yankee, a lovable sheepdog. I had early hours, mellow quiet days tracking down deadbeat Dads and ambulance chasers.

 

It was Saturday night and Atlantic Avenue was ripping. Girls in short skirts paraded up and down the street, while guys tried to look cool cruising by in their cars, stereo pumped up, windows down in their expensive sports cars. I walked up Atlantic Avenue to a restaurant called Monkey Business, an outdoor place with bright neon signs and loud music pumping from a hot band. It was an indoor/outdoor place, used to be called El’s. El was the old owner of the bar, a Florida cracker who kept the place running on Budweiser beer and liquor and bikers. El had his share of health and financial problems, selling the place to a restaurant chain out of the East. They renovated the place to attract a newer, younger, clientele, a clientele with money.

 

The new place had shiny Evis memorbilia, fishing pictures from Abaco in the Bahamas and large TV screens everywhere showing the games. I took a seat and eyed the Crystal Hot sauce pondering which dish to try, the pulled pork or the catfish. The band was setting up, a wiry bunch of old guys playing.

 

Rock from the 80’s blasted through the speakers as the band set up their gear. I sat back and watched it all, enjoying the scene. Who needed a date anyway? Just as I was thinking this, a waitress sent me over another Diet Coke.

 

“This is from the guy over there in the brown shirt.” I looked over to see a guy waving at me. He had a desperate look about him, smiling ear to ear, his sunglasses hanging off his fake Tommy Bahama pineapples shirt.

 

“Tell him thanks,” I said, trying not to look desperate in any way. I snuck a peek at the guy, he was blonde, balding and looked like a nice enough guy to send me a Coke. He smiled at me and I smiled back over at him. He was coming over…Oh my God! This was like a bad movie out of the 80’s.

 

“Hi, I’m Dave. Dave from Chicago.” He smiled at me.

 

“Greta…Greta from Bombay beach.” He just stood there. I invited him to sit down. “Please, sit awhile.”

 

Here I was, back in the bar scene again. I suddenly wondered if this was a good idea. The music started to play and Dave seemed to enjoy it. The lead singer sang straight Motown songs like ”Walk The Dog,” and “Brick House.” Dave reached out and grabbed my arm.

 

“Come on baby, let’s dance.”

I cried, “Oh no, please…..please…”

He gave my arm one last yank. Too late…. “Come on girl!”

 

We danced and I was having a good time, laughing, spinning, when suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw him….That familiar flash of jet black hair, that unmistakable smell of Brut cologne, that crazy laugh…. It was Peter. I stopped, frozen in time. Dave looked at me.

”What’s wrong babe? You need another drink?” He looked concerned. 

“No, I have to leave. Now. Sorry.” I said coldly.

He looked surprised, “Oh, you ain’t leavin yet girl…., we got some more dancing to do..”

I pulled away from his Vulcan grip. “Sorry, thank you for the drinks……I have to go now.” It was amazing what alcohol did to people.

 

I stepped away from the dance floor and made my way into the crowd.  Too late. Peter saw me and was walking towards me like a bull seeing red. I didn’t know which way to turn so I turned and faced him. His blonde haired bimbo girlfriend was right behind him, with a confused look on her face. She snapped her gum to keep her brain flowing, her large chest heaving up and down under her tight t-shirt.

 

Peter sneered at me. “Didn’t take long, did it?”He growled.

 

I snapped back with an Alanis Morrisette attitude, “You ought know.” Good one! Peter pushed his face into mine.

 

“Who’s the dude?”he demanded.

 

 I shot back, “Who’s the Pamela Anderson wanna be?” The bimbo suddenly snapped back to earth and shot back,

“I’m Bridgette.”

Peter reprimanded her. “Stay out of this Bridge.” He pulled me off to the side. “Why the fuck did you leave me like that? Without even saying goodbye?” Here he goes…..Making me feel guilty.

 

“Oh come on Peter…. You know why…You’re an asshole. You promised me you’d stop drinking and you didn’t. You messed me up and you messed up my car and you ruined my life.” Peter looked shocked.

 

”True, but you still didn’t have to leave me like that….Not after four years. Fuck!” he looked truly sorry.

 

Some things never change. He was back to being the little boy and I was the Mommy now, Mommy again, laying the guilt trip on me, making me feel like it was all my fault.

“Yeah, well, I’ve had enough. I’m leaving now, so you and your little girlfriend can party your asses off. Goodnight Peter.”

 

He grabbed my arm. “I always loved you Greta.” He whined.

 

“I know, but you love Jack Daniels more, don’t you?” I hissed at him.

 

There was some applause from a nearby table. We were making a scene at the restaurant. The bartender stood up and gave me the eye as if I needed some backup. “Need some help?” he asked.

I smiled. “No thanks…I’m outta here.”

 

I held my head up high and walked out of the front of the restaurant. Suddenly I felt nothing. I was expecting to cry or scream or break something but I was flooded with relief. I was finally free.

 

I got in the car and the radio was playing.  “The Long and Winding Road ” by the Beatles. That’s what life was, I thought to myself. A long and winding road. This fork in the road was way over for me. Time for a new direction.

 

Chapter 8

 

In rock stardom there's an absolute economic upside to self-destruction.

Courtney Love

 

Gabriella and Gwen knew they could get anything they wanted from their Daddy. He found it hard to say no to his adorable twin daughters. Mom was upstairs with a convenient head ache, Tylenol in one hand, Bloody Mary in the other. She was in for the night, she had some catching up to do with People magazine. Their night was just getting started. The twins never rested. Life was 24/7 for them.

 

Garth was just getting comfortable in his leather chair reading his golf magazine. The walls of the house were graced with some of Joannes’ artwork. She was an artist in progress these days since her newest patron Sol had taken a liking to her work. Kept her busy, thought Garth. The twins came from two directions, each towards the same goal. Getting out of the house. “Hi Daddy” said Gwen.

 

Gwen was the brainier of the two girls. She was a master manipulator who knew how to get her own way. Gabriella was a bit shyer and less assertive. She was an artist and kept more to herself. It was hard to distinguish the two until you knew their personalities. They were otherwise identical.

 

“Daddy, don’t you think its nice night for a drive?”she asked

 

 Garth looked up from his magazine. “No.”

 

Gwen stroked his hair. “Oh Daddy, you know the mall is open until 9:00.” Garth was unimpressed. “So?”

 

Gabriella chimed in, “We want you to take us Dad.”

 

Garth smiled. “So! This is what this is about. You want to go to the mall? Which mall?” He put down the periodical.

 

Gwen smiled. “Saw Grass Mall Dad. Can we go?”she pleaded.

 

Garth sighed.  Just when he was settling in for the night. “Alright. Lets go, go and tell your Mom.” Gabriella ran up the stairs  and knocked on the master bedroom door. Joanne was laid up in bed with People magazine. “Mom, we are going to Saw Grass .” Joanne looked surprised.

 

“Your Dad is taking you?” She asked.

 

Gabriella nodded. “Yup.” Joanne drank some Bloody Mary. “Alright. You girls have fun. See you later.” She blew them a kiss.

 

Gabriella leaped down the stairs. ”Mom is alright”…..Garth stood holding the keys. “Alright. Lets get going, I don’t have all night you know.” They scampered into the Escalade and headed up Atlantic Avenue to I-95.  The drive took them through the upscale part of town where all of the swanky shops and restaurants were to the rundown side of Bombay beach. The girls stared out the windows. People were hanging out on their bikes, talking in the streets and smoking cigarettes by the corner convenience store.

 

“Do all these people live here in Bombay beach? She asked. “Yes they do honey, they were here before we were. They are the fabric of this community.” But Daddy, they look so poor…” Garret reasoned. “Some of them didn’t go to school, some of them have more that you know, houses, jobs, lives. Some of them are immigrants. They are not poor, they are working people….You girls don’t realize how lucky you are.” Gwen smirked. “We’re rich Daddy.” Garth smiled evilily, “No, I am rich, I worked for my money…Now you girls will have to earn your own fortunes.”

 

“Oh Daddy!” said Gwen. ”That’s just mean!”

 

They headed onto I-95 and drove towards Saw Grass Mall. “Put Nirvana on Dad.” Garth put on Nirvana and the girls were moving to the music. “So, what have you girls been up to?” asked Garth. “I’m  learning Spanish in school.” Said Gabriella. “And I’m taking tennis lessons from a pro.” Said Gwen. “One day I am going to be a famous tennis player” Garth was impressed. “That so? Include me in on your winnings ok love?” Garth said.

 

They reached the mall and Garth turned the girls loose. “Be back here at nine o’clock”. He said sternly and handed them each a $50.00 bill. ”Ok Daddy, we love you.” The girls went in their own directions and Garth walked around the mall, gazing into the windows. He didn’t need anything, didn’t want anything. Just felt a bit lonely lately, like life was passing him by and he wasn’t really alive anymore. He has a good relationship with Joanne but sometimes he just felt alone. At times he felt she was drifting away from him. He couldn’t put his finger on what was causing the distance in their marriage. Maybe it was just old age, he thought.

 

He stopped in front of a barber shop. The old man smiled at him and he went in. “How much for a haircut?’ he said.

“For you mister, ten dollars. I will give you a shave too.” The barber was a pudgy Spanish man, full of mischief. “Is your wife shopping here tonight?” The old man asked.

 

“No just my girls…….” Garth said.

 

The barber cut a few hairs on his head. Then he lathered him up with some warm foam and began to shave his face.

 

 “Ah yes, I have daughters too. They are good girls, married now with babies of their own. Time goes by so fast. You should treasure each moment, before you know they will have families of their own.” He was wise.

 

Garth thought  a minute. It was true, the girls were growing up fast. They were already teenagers, soon there’d be weddings and before you know it. Babies and he’d be a Grand Dad.

 

”You are so right , thanks for the shave. Here, this is for you.” He handed him a  $20.00 dollar bill. “Keep the change. I feel great.”Garth said.

 

Garth walked out of the barber shop feeling good and walked into a jewellery store. He eyed the pieces.  The salesgirl was a lovely brunette, with a chest of perky breasts and a round Jennifer Lopez ass. She smiled at him pleasantly.

“Hello, may I help you?”

Garth thought about if for a moment, she could help him alright. He wiped the thought from his mind. Why did sex always creep in?

 

“Yes, may I see that necklace there, with the heart?”

 

“Oh, of course, that is a special necklace….It’s made in Columbia and it is a rare emerald.”

 

 Garth eyed the piece,. It was stunning….Joanne would love it. Garth probed the salesgirl.

“If you were a woman…I mean, I know you are a woman, but if you were my wife would you like this?”

 

She smiled at him.

“Oh yes! I would love to have a piece like this in my jewellery collection…It’s exquisite! Plus, if she doesn’t like it you can bring it back. 30 day refund policy, no questions asked.”

 

He felt the necklace in his hand, it was weighty alright. Sold!

 

“Could you wrap if for me please?’

She smiled  “Of course, said the saleslady.

 

She wrapped up the necklace in silver paper and put a blue bow on it. Garth paid for it and left the shop. He met the girls at the main entrance.

“Ready to go home girls? Did you spend all your money?” They both smiled a wide smile.

”No Dad, we have to go to the Rainforest Café.” Garth was once again a beaten man.

“Alright….But that’s it.” Daddy girls won again. Gwen eyed the shopping bag.

“ What’s in the bag?” Garth smiled. “A surprise for your Mom.” The girls looked excited and gave each other a knowing glance.

 

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