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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6. Sunburnt

Chapter 9

 

Michael Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It caused quite a controversy, because his nose isn't eligible for another fifteen years.

Conan O'Brien

 

I hid out at the lawyers’ office working and burying myself in paper. When I finally emerged I felt older and grayer, not at all a party animal. All work and no play makes  Greta a dull girl. Then out of the blue some friends told me about some band that I had to see after the Peter fiasco. I really didn’t feel like going, but I went anyway. They said I had to see the lead singer, he was pretty cool. I’d seen him around over the years of hanging around the music scene. We were casual friends.

 

I drove north from Bombay beach up to Lake Worth and turned right on J Street. The club was a new club called Vertigo right across from the old Bamboo Room, a blues club. They had some great acts there, Keith Brown and Taj Mahal and Pinetop Perkins…. Vertigo was a young club, all done up in black and red and white, very esoteric. I stepped inside, there were murals painted on the walls and the stage was high and crowded with equipment.

 

The band wasn’t on yet, they were fraternizing at the bar. I got a drink, non- alcoholic of course, cranberry juice and took a seat at the bar. John “Five Fingers” was there with Lori. Everyone around me was pretty cool. I saw some friends of mine, Kat and Sean, they looked pretty zoned out and for a minute I wonder if I was making a mistake coming here. Jimmy, the lead singer, came over to me.

 

“Greta, thanks for coming.”he said

 

 I smiled at him, “Jimmy, you look great!!!” He did. He had gained a little weight from the last time I had seen him. He was no longer the skinny kid.

“How’ve you been?”

He flashed his dark eyes at me. “OK I’m good, real good…How about you?” he looked sad, tilting his head down.

“I’m great, what’s new with you?” I asked

“I broke up with Debbie.”he said sadly.

I gave him a sympathetic look and nodded my head. “ I just broke up with Peter, well, not just now, about three weeks ago.”

His eyes lit up. ”Why don’t we hook up after the show?”

My head was spinning. I always liked Jimmy but he was a wild man.

 

“Yeah sure.”

There I go, I thought…jumping from the frying pan into the fire. What would I hook up with a broke singer/songwriter/guitar player for? Was I looking for more heartache? But whatever, tonight my left side of the brain was taking over the right side….He was so cute! He grabbed my arm .

 

”I’ve got to go play,” he said and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

 

 He got up on stage and I noticed how well built he was with his black cargo pants and blue silk T- shirt. There was something magical about him, but then again, every guitar player was magical. There was something about musicians. I wondered if he drank too much.

 

The club was getting louder and louder. Jimmy was onstage with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth tuning up. People were snapping pics with their cellphones and video cameras. He must have an ego the size of New York City, I thought to myself. But maybe he’s a real humble guy, I guess I’d have to figure old Jimmy out. He picked up his Strat. The drummer counted it down and the band started to play slow blues…He started to sing, pure sugar came out of his throat. I imagined us together later….Would there be any electricity?

 

Some chicks were checking him out as they smoked their cigarettes and drank their beers. Jimmy invited Clay a harmonica player to come up and jam with him. Clay rocked. He was from Missouri, a real cool player.

 

The show ended with Jimmy doing a bang up solo on his knees, Jimmy Hendrix style. The crowd was digging it and Jimmy left the stage to sign some autographs. Here I was, caught up in the scene again….I couldn’t escape it anymore….No matter how hard I tried………I waited at the bar. Jimmy came over and sat down beside me. He was still sweaty from the smoke and the lights. He ordered a Heineken and smiled a relieved smile.

 

We toasted. “To rock and roll.”

 

The music was loud in the club. “You wanna split this place and go somewhere where we can talk?’ he asked.

“Sure….”I said.

“Come on, I know a place.”

 

He grabbed my arm and dragged me out the door. The night air had a chill to it and he took off his jean jacket and put it around my shoulders. We walked down Lake Avenue, past The Irish Bar and  Sams’ to a restaurant/bar called The Shack. The Shack was a sometimes gay bar, sometimes DJ infested club where you could dine on Mediterrean foods and talk. We went all the way to the back and sat down on a sofa. The music was pumping.

 

“I thought you were great tonight.” I said, trying not to sound too much like an awed fan. He was so cute. It was intoxicating being around him. He oozed sex appeal. I felt attracted to him despite my feelings of not wanting to get involved with a music type.

 

“It’s just what I do, you know… Like I’m home in my studio only I’m onstage.”

 

“I liked it, I love your music.” I said.

 

“Music is my life, you know what I mean? Its everything to me…” he said, sucking back another Heineken.

 

We talked and talked. Looking back on it, our date was not as electric as I would have thought. Jimmy turned out to be a non-stop talker about himself, very narcissistic, he talked about his music, his drug problems and worst of all, his old girlfriend.

 

At first you know, I can listen to the old girlfriend stuff because it’s kind of intriguing to hear someone else’s problems. But then after awhile its like, so much emphasis on the past when the future is sitting right here in front of you. But instead I got trapped listening to their trips to Aspen where she fucked up and slept with his best friend, how he fucked up a recording deal because he was strung out on Somas and how she surprised him for his birthday with a birthday bash with 300 of his closest friends the night he got a DUI.

 

So the night ended with a fizzle instead of a bang when he kissed me on the lips. It felt good. I hadn’t been kissed in months.

 

“Come over and stay the night. I want you,” he moaned.

“I can’t…..Sorry.” I said, pulling away.

“That’s cool, alright…I’m alright with that…It was great talking to you Greta.” he said, in a sad sort of way.

 

“I’ll see you around, alright?” I said

 

“Yeah…See you around. I’ll be gone for awhile but I’ll be back to do my time.”

 

I wondered what he meant by that comment. It was so haunting….He slinked off into the shadows of Lake Worth.

 

 

Chapter 10

 

Some of us can be examples about going ahead and growing, and some of us, unfortunately, don't make it there, and end up being examples because they had to die. I hit rock bottom, but thank God my bottom wasn't death.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

 

Marion and Ed invited me over for dinner tonight. Today was Sunday and I was glad I was off. I picked out an old red sundress that I had in my closet and put on a pair of red sandals. I knocked on their door at six o’clock and Ed answered it. He was handsome for an older man, he had a kind smile and a few stray hairs behind his ears.

 

“Come in, come in…..Marion is just in the kitchen.” He said as he ushered me in the door. I stepped inside their house. It was small inside and the room was filled with knickknacks on the shelves of all kinds of animals, birds, zebras, horses, monkeys. I admired all the curios. Ed watched me.

 

“Those are Marions’ treasures…..She loves to collect animals, every damn place we go she buys something.” he sat back in his chair.

 

“It’s her hobby then?” I asked.

 

“Yes, she can’t save a dime that woman, but I love her just the same.” he said and laughed.

 

Marin came out of the kitchen with an apron on. “Greta, so glad you could make it. Please, sit down and make yourself at home…”She plumped a pillow behind me on the sofa. “Would you like a glass of wine dear?”

 

“No thanks, just a Coke if you have some.” I said.

 

“Yes, of course we do…Ed?….Would you get that for her please, and put some ice in it.” She asked. 

Ed lumbered over. “Yes dear.”

 

Marion was beaming. “It’s so good to see you…We don’t get much company here, you know, since Ed had his stroke.” She looked sad. “How long ago was that?” I asked. “Oh, that was last year, it was on Thanksgiving day, around 11:00 pm, we were watching the news when all of a sudden he fell over on the floor.He was clutching his chest, he was in so much pain. I had to rush him to the hospital, Bethesda.”she said sadly, remembering that night.

 

“Oh my!” I said….Not knowing what to say.

“Sounds horrible.”I said.

She looked at me dead on, “I thought he was going to die….Ed is the love of my life, we’ve been together for forty years and had three children…..”she sighed heavily.

 

Ed came in and put the coke down on a white doiley on the table.

“Thanks, I said. “Yes ma’am, we have one doctor and two accountants, all boys.” He said proudly. Marion jumped.

“Let me check the dinner.”

Ed sat with me. “So, tell me a bit about yourself now.”

 

Me…A bit about me…Where to start…Start at the beginning I guess.

 

 “Well, I was born in Michigan, my parents had a dry cleaning business there…My Mom was a great seamstress and my Dad was good with people so they did alright. Then I went to college and studied business and them moved to Fort Lauderdale and that’s it. Here I am today…now here I guess.”

 

Ed looked interested. “ What did you do in Fort Lauderdale?”

 

“I worked for the cruise lines as an activities host. It was sort of a fun job, I met a lot of people and I really  liked it but then I got tired of going out to sea. Then I kind of dropped out of life for awhile. It feels good to be on land again.” I had carefully omitted the four years I spent drinking with Peter.

 

He smiled at me. “Oh  really ? No husband then?”

 

“Husband? No…Uh, I have a boyfriend. ”I lied. That should satisfy them. People were so nosy.

 

Ed scratched his head. “Its amazing that a pretty little girl such as yourself never found a good man yet. He’s out there, I can assure you.”“ Greta smiled. This was getting way too personal. Marion came out with a steaming hot dish in her hands.

 “Everybody come and eat.”she said merrily.

 

We sat down to a marvelous home cooked meal of roasted potatoes, chicken, green beans and gravy. Marion was one great cook. This was the best meal I’d had in weeks. They pried into my personal life but I gave away little information.

 

“Well, we certainly look forward to meeting your boyfriend someday.” Marion said.

“Yes, maybe one day.” I said…”Thank you for the great dinner.”

They shook my hand and I went back around the house to my private entrance. What funny people old people are, I thought.

 

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