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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7. Sunburnt

Chapter 11

 

An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you do.

 

Dylan Thomas

 

When I got back in there was a message light blinking on my machine. I played it. “Greta, it’s me, Kat….Meet me at Monkey Business. I have something to tell

you.  It’s important.” She sounded stressed.

 

I quickly changed into jeans and a t-shirt and put on some sandals. I drove over to Atlantic Avenue, which had some people strolling around.  I walked past the corner past the stage and saw Kat sitting at a table by herself. She waved to me and I sat down. She looked terrible, depressed with dark circles under bloodshot eyes.

 

“What?” I said.

 

“Jimmy overdosed.” She cried into her beer.

 

“What? I said, shocked. “ What?” I was in disbelief.

 

“Last night.” I looked at her. “But I was with him last night.” She stared away. “I know, but he went back to his apartment and took crystal meth and overdosed. His roommate found him this morning.”she sobbed.

 

“Oh my God!”I said, shocked.

I hugged her.

I felt so bad. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe if I had stayed with him he would be alive. I didn’t know what to say, what to say to my friend. Kat continued to cry and cry. She blew her nose into a Kleenex from her cluttered bag.

 

“His album was almost finished. We were going to put it out in a few weeks. Look…” She opened up her purse and showed me a demo of the record.

”What’s really freaking me out is this…See track # 12? It’s the last track he recorded, you know what’s its called?”

 

“No,” I said.

 

“Suicide.”

 

“No shit?” I was stunned.

 

“No, and I think he knew he was  going  to die and planned this whole thing.”she sobbed.

 

“I don’t think so.” I said. I had just talked to him and he didn’t seem like he wanted to die, he loved music, he loved life. Or did he? I didn’t know.

 

“Yes, he knew Greta!” She insisted, her eyes bulging out of her head. We sat there, numb. Everything around us seemed so fake, so unimportant, life is so precious, I thought. Here today and tomorrow you are gone. Candle in the wind. I wanted to cry for Jimmy but instead I cried for being left behind on this earth. A waitress came over to take our order but left when she saw us sitting there bawling our eyes out.

 

“Um, Jimmy was telling me about his music and how important it was to him.” Kat smiled. “Yeah, I know, I know….”

 

“We have to release the album.” I said.

 

“Yeah, we have to, for Jimmy.”’ Kat said.

 

“Who’s going to arrange the funeral? I asked. “His parents I guess. “ Kat sighed.

It was all so numbing. “Maybe we could have a concert for him, to honor him.” I said quietly.

 

“Yeah, we’’ll do it.” Kat said. And we hugged and left the bar. I turned the corner where I’d seen him playing so many times up on stage and stared at it long and hard as if staring it would make him appear. But he didn’t. The stage was empty and a single spotlight shone on the floor.

 

Chapter 12

 

Because I know I'm an addict, and I know I'm an alcoholic.

Jamie Lee Curtis

 

Garth and Joanne drove up AIA north to Palm Beach. It was their monthly ritual of shopping, eating and socializing with the Palm Beach jet set. Joanne enjoyed it tremendously, Garth thought it was a real bore. He found the Palm Beach crowd frightfully pretentious and stiff. He preferred Boca Raton and Bombay beach.

 

They drove past Donald Trumps Mar A Lago and the Club, where Joannes father had once been a member. It was a staid club, with Christmas dinners and  members only perks like all you can eat at the salad bar and unlimited tennis and golf. But then Joannes’ Dad lost his money due to bad gambling debts and became a working class stiff.  He was forced to leave the club and all his friends,the family was disgraced.

 

But Joanne still enjoyed venturing out into society and Garth pretended to enjoy himself and make the day pleasant. They parked the car on Worth Avenue and strolled the shops hand in hand, like two lovebirds. Every window beckoned with exquisite goodies, a feast for the eyes and the wallet. Rolls Royces were parked at every curb, with waiting drivers in their chauffeurs caps.

 

They sauntered past Cartier, Chanel, Escada and stopped at Louis Vitton. Joanne sighed. “I do love their luggage, but maybe it’s a bit gauche, what do you think honey?” Garth nodded, raising his eyebrows and they kept walking.  Joanne stopped and admired a chic dress in a window.

 

“Oh look, hon, I like it….Do you mind if I try it on?” she asked.

 

He smiled. “No sweetheart, lets go in and see.” He sighed

 

They entered the store and an older white haired woman came up to them wearing a long black skirt and flimsy tunic top and oversized chunky necklace.

 

“Hello, may I help you?” she asked

 

Garret sank into a chair. He knew the drill by now, this could take an hour. He checked his Blackberry for emails. None. He was bored already.

 

He settled in while Joanne droned on and on. He looked out the window and spotted a familiar face going by. It was the girl. The sunbather. Greta. He was sure of it. He strained his neck to see her a little closer, yes, it was her. She was wearing a black jumpsuit and boots. She looked just as good dressed as she did in her swimsuit. Damn! He made sure that Joanne wasn’t watching him. No, good she was thoroughly distracted.

 

I walked down Worth Avenue towards the crystal store. I had made up my mind to treat myself to something once I made enough money at work for something extra. Something  useless and something pretty. I felt the heat of staid stares as I walked down Worth Avenue as if I were an intruder to a private club. And I was. If you weren’t a Shriver or a Kennedy the only way to get into this club was to marry into it or to become a celebrity.

 

Mackenzie Childs was one of my favorite shops and I stepped inside and took a deep breath. At last I was here. The lovely ceramic dishes gleamed on the full shelves and there were so many pretty things to admire. I was instantly in love. If only I could afford it, I would buy the whole store. A snooty salesman looked up from the counter. He had on a fake toupe.

 

“Welcome….Can we help you?” he asked as if he was from The National Enquirer.

 

“I’m just here to look and maybe treat myself to something.”I said

 

“Ah yes, please feel free to browse, we have a wonderful collection of ceramics here. This may be a case of love at first sight. Prepare to get swept off your feet by our Honeymoon Ceramics. Our artisans have sculpted graceful silhouettes of red clay, with dainty curves and softly fluted rims. Each exquisite piece is hand-painted with subdued checks and stripes in one of four blissful hues-buttery yellow, rosy pink, lush green and serene blue. Honeymoon will make even the most hardhearted a believer in true love. Please call me if you need assistance.” he said in one long breath.

 

I nodded as the salesman went off to help another customer. I admired a yellow ceramic bowl, with a dainty pattern in it in yellow and white stripes. This was perfect. I did love it at first sight, he was right.

 

The salesman returned. “ Did you find something that you like?” he said softly. “Yes, I would like to buy this.” I pointed to the bowl. ”Oh, lovely!” he said. “Let me take it to the register.”

 

They went to the register and the salesman totaled up the sale. “That will be fifty-seven sixty five.”I handed him my Visa. There was a time in my life where I had given up pretty things. Now suddenly I had an overwhelming desire to be surrounded only by beauty, as if I could chase all the ugliness away that had polluted my life for the past few years.

 

“I love it.” I beamed.

“Very well, young lady, I do hope that you enjoy it and that you come back and see us again.” he said pleasantly.

I smiled at him. ”Thanks, I will.”

He handed me a thick shopping bag and I walked out onto the sidewalk with a happy bounce in my step.

 

Joanne found yet another dress, this time a suede cocktail dress with leather details by Channel. Garth pulled out his Black American express card and laid it flat on the counter. The saleswoman nervously rang up the sale and stared his name.

“Do I know you?” she asked. “Are you in television? Because the name is so familiar, I just can’t quite place it.”

He smiled politely. “No, I am not in television.” Joanne piped up. “We’re in real estate.”

The saleslady smiled, “Oh, well, that’s even better, isn’t it?”

 

She was slightly disappointed that they were not celebrities. There would be no tips to the tabloids today. No cash for flash. She loved to sneak in when visiting divas would shop on the Worth Avenue.

 

Garth and Joanne stepped out of the store and Greta walked by them carrying her bag. Joanne nudged Garth.

“Nice outfit, huh honey?”

Garth smiled. “Not bad.” She nudged him.

“You are terrible! Really Garth, I am surprised by you!”

He retorted, “You brought her to my attention dear.” They walked slowly up the street to Taboo and waited for a table.

 

Garth wondered who the girl was. She seemed to be everywhere but he couldn’t get a conversation going with her to find out more about who she was. She certainly did look hot today, and she must come from money if she was here shopping on Worth Avenue. Maybe she was a high class call girl? Who knew these days. What kind of woman would wear boots shopping?

 

I walked back to my car, happy with my purchase. I was starting to feel good again, starting to feel whole and not constantly ripped apart by abuse and negative feelings. I was glad that Peter was out of my life for good. That had been the last straw seeing him at the restaurant, he already had replaced me with another dish rag, another door mat to walk all over and abuse. Now I was ready to maybe find love again or at least, if I couldn’t find love, find contentment with myself.

 

Chapter 13

 

I am a recovering alcoholic.

Patrick J. Kennedy

 

“Meet me at Starbuck’s” the message said. I had just gotten home and was putting my new bowl on display on the shelf. It looked perfect. Now Kat wanted to meet me at Starbuck’s. Why? Did she have more bad news?

 

I changed out of my Cougar outfit into some old jeans and a t-shirt. No need to look so dressed up to go to the Avenue as I did for Palm Beach. Delray was more casual. I brushed my hair and looked in the mirror. My face had a bit of sun, and my hair was long and brown with some blonde highlights. Didn’t look bad for thirty.

 

There were some strollers on the Avenue and the endless parade of cars drove by, Jags, Benzes, Ferrari’s. I walked up to Starbucks and saw Kat sitting by the window, drinking a steaming hot cup of coffee. I went over to her.

“Hey Kat!!” They laughed. Suddenly Kat looked serious.

”I got some news about Jimmy.”

 

I brought a cup of coffee over. “So what’s up?”

Kat leaned forward and whispered. “They know the guy that sold him the meth. ”

I looked surprised. “So? I mean…. That won’t bring him back now, will it?”

Kat looked shocked. “But don’t you want to know who it was?” she said.

“Who?” I asked.

 

“Phil.” I was shocked. Phil was a groupie who had always hung around the band, he was a real loser and a deadbeat.

 

 “I should have known.” Kat whispered. “He did it. He killed Jimmy.”

 

I took in all the information. Phil, loser Phil,  Phil who always wore the same shirt with greasy shirt who slept in his van, Phil who had no home and no life.  Phil killed Jimmy.

 

”Wow!” was all I could say. I suddenly felt sad that this was the truth. I knew Phil was a loner and a loser who once lived with his Dad, until the old man had croaked off.  Now he slept in his beat up van while he pretended to look for day jobs as a roofer or a carpenter, when he wasn’t selling smack, that is.

 

“Where is he now?” I asked. “He’s down in Key West.” Kat said.

“I think a trip is in order, want to go?” I asked her

Kat smiled, “Sure”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 14

 

Incurable insanity, or I can choose to live within my thoroughly human condition.

Mercedes McCambridge

 

It was a windy, sunny Saturday morning and I woke up around 10. I needed to run to the store to buy some provisionals for the trip down to the Keys, some toothpaste, shampoo and tanning oil. I saw Marion outside, sweeping up in the breezeway.

 

“Oh hello dear, how are you?” she said

“Oh fine, I’m taking a little trip down to the Keys, I’ll just be gone for two days.”I said.

She smiled, “That’s nice dear, we used to go there in our younger days, Ed did love to fish there…..Have a good time.”

I smiled at her, “Thanks, I’ll try.”

 

The store was jammed with early Saturday morning shoppers, women buying meat and frozen foods and the stock boys filling up the aisles with new items. I looked at the shampoos, there it was, Suave. I liked trusty old Suave, a money saver and good for my hair. I passed the wine department and for a moment actually considered buying a bottle of wine, until my brain kicked in of course. I still got those pangs of desire for alcohol. I got some Coke and some fruit, stuff to snack on for the trip, like sunflower seeds and apricots. I was excited and nervous at the thought of confronting Phil the drug dealer, loser deadbeat piece of shit. What would we do? Corner him and make him confess? Call the cops? We had no proof. Maybe he’d talk willingly to us. Probably not though, maybe it was a crazy idea to go down there.

 

I headed home and packed up some clothes, some tee shirts and jeans, underwear and flip flops and my Brazillian bikini. Did I need a pair of high heeled shoes? Probably not in Key West. But then I packed a short black mini-dress and threw the shoes in anyway, just in case….A  girl had to be prepared.

 

Kat arrived ten minutes later, all smiles and giggles.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this” she said. “Do you think we’ll find him?”

I shook my head. “It’s worth a try….”

We packed our stuff in the car and pulled out onto the road. Jimmy’s CD was in the CD player and Kat pushed it in and it started to play. It was eerie hearing his voice as present as if he was near, right in the car with us, and yet he was gone, gone forever.

Life was like that, I thought, one day you’re here, the next day you’re gone.

 

We drove for a few hours, through Fort Lauderdale and Miami and finally came up on Florida City, the beginning of the Keys.

Kat started to get excited. “Oh look, there’s a pelican.” She said and snapped a picture. She turned to me seriously.

“I never told you this, but Jimmy and I had this thing once.” I turned and looked at her face. It was serious. “A thing? What kind of thing?”

Kat smiled. “Well, I had this huge crush on him but he always thought that we were just friends, for so many years we hung around together but there was never anything sexual, you know. I just assumed that he wasn’t attracted to me since we were friends. Then one day we were at his studio and he leaned over and kissed me.”

 

“ I looked at her and smiled. “Oh yeah? So? What happened?”

 

“So, we like, made out and stuff and then….” She stopped.

 

“What?” I said.

 

“And then he told me that he loved me for a long time.” I was surprised.

 

“So what did you do?” I said

 

”I told him that I loved him too but that I didn’t want to ruin our friendship with sex.”she said.

 

 I was stunned. “You’re kidding right?”

 

Kat shook her head. “No, ‘cause he was dating Debbie that time and it would have been a mess and so I just left it at that. He was a good kisser though.”

 

I smiled. “That’s funny…..Well, you know, the last time I saw him at the club, the night of his concert he kind of tried to make out with me but all he could do was talk about Debbie so it kind of turned me off. He wanted me to spend the night with him but I wouldn’t, he went home and that’s when he overdosed I guessed. Man, I feel like shit.”

 

Kat reached over and tapped my arm. “It’s not your fault. It’s that fucker Phil’s fault for giving him fucking meth!”she said

 

“Yeah, I know…You know, he was just such a sweet guy and you wonder who really loved him. I mean, Debbie was just using him for his fame and parties and she sucked the life out of him, I never saw him with a serious girlfriends before that….I can’t believe he told you that he loved you! And you loved him?”

 

Kat shook her head yes. “Very much. We spent a lot of time together, almost every day. I’d go to see him playing in the studio, I’d sit and read some of his books and listen to him play….He was so talented.”she sighed. “He would play for hours and hours.”

 

We finally got to Tavernier and the local scenery started to kick in. A large boatyard was on our right, some fishing shacks and cute little stores, laden with tacky souvenirs. It was a lazy, slow feeling, a feeling that adventure lay ahead of us and the city was behind us. We rolled down the windows to let in the fresh air and the smells of the Keys, shrimp, coconut and fish.

 

We drove though Islamorada, with all its tourist traps, restaurants and motels and continued our way over the Seven Mile Bridge into Key West. The minute we entered the island, island life was popping up everywhere, from tourists on motorcycles to transvestites in drag and curious shoppers perusing galleries and stores. We made our way to Duval Street, where our hotel was, a quaint bed and breakfast with a white picket fence on the outside and purple shutters covered in begonias.

 

 

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