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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11. Sunburnt

Chapter 30

 

"Love is everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it...It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more."

 

BY Erica Jong

 

Sly sighed. Musicians, kids, people, music…He’d been through so much in the past, seen so much. He felt old inside, like he was a thousand years old already. He was actually forty but looked a bit younger. Maybe it was his lions mane of hair that gave him the illusion of youth or his full lips.

 

All of Sly’s close friends had finally settled down. Seemed like he was the only one left a bachelor. He had almost married once, to the love of his life Diane. She’d been a natural beauty, a ballet dancer. They had met in New York City when he was clubbing and hobnobbing with Eurotrash and the rich and famous.

He’d brushed elbows with Bianca Jagger, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol and David Bowie, to name a few.

 

Diane was a real sweetheart and he had worked hard to win her love. Dancing was her passion and her first love and she had devoted all of her time to the artform. She’d been with the New York City Ballet since she was fourteen.

 

They had met one rainy afternoon at the library. Sly went in to look for a book on the Rolling stones and bumped into Diane in the classical music section. It was love at first sight for Sly. They had dated for four years on and off again as he flew back to LA, until she got sick with cancer. She had been so brave, he stayed with her, taking care of her and loving her until she died at 25. Diane broke his heart and for the first time in his young life he felt painfully alone and vowed to himself that he would never get close to another woman again, never feel the pain of loss again.

 

Sly spent his years partying and drinking, experimenting with drugs and drowning himself in excess. Vodka, cocaine, pills, he did it all. His friends called him “Rambo” and joked that he was indestructable as hard as he worked to destroy himself.

 

Now that he was getting older he sometimes thought it might be nice to have a co-pilot in his life, not just a bimbo on his arm, but someone whom he really cared about and could bounce ideas and jokes off of, a mate to hang with. But lately it seemed that all the chicks he met seemed more interested in his bank account or what car he drove or who he knew in the entertainment business.

 

He kept his feeling to himself, buried under a mountain of surface. On the surface he was calm, steady and in control….But underneath that calm exterior was a cauldron of bubbling emotions which had not surfaced in two decades.

 

Sly thought about the chick Greta. She was good looking, kind of plain but in a pretty way. Something about her appealed to him, which is why he suggested the concert with Crash. He liked her, she looked like a good kid. The kiss, ah, whatever. It was hard to resist a sweet chick like that. Maybe she’d come back for more.

 

 

Chapter 31

 

"To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead."

 

BY Bertrand Russell

 

Garth arrived at the Arrivals level of The Fort Lauderdale Airport. American Airlines flight #601 would be arriving on schedule in ten minutes. He couldn’t wait to see Joanne and tell her all the details of the new deal with Sol.

 

He parked the car outside the glass doors to the terminal and watched as a crowd of people came out. Joanne was there. He waved to her. He got out of the car to grab her suitcase.

 

“Hi honey. Glad you’re back home.” He said

“Hello Garth,” she said abruptly

“How was your trip?” he asked

“Good.” She said quietly.

“How’s Mother and Dad?” he probed.

“They’re fine. They send you their best.” she said with a chilly tone.

 

My God, she was awfully quiet, thought Garth. This was a change. They got in the car and buckled their seat belts.

“Garth, I have something to tell you.” Joanne said.

“Honey, I have some news for you too.” Garth said excitedly. “You go first.”

 

Joanne turned to him and looked at him straight in the eyes with a look that he had never seen before in twenty five years of marriage.

 

“Garth, I want a divorce.” Joanne murmured.

 

Garth was stunned, he reeled back and stopped the car. He felt the earth slip away from under him as he plunged into a world of darkness.

 

“Why Joanne?” he cried out in pain.

 

“Sol.” She said.

 

Sol? What the hell was she talking about?

 

“Sol?” he repeated. “Sol? What the hell has he got to do with it?”

 

“I’m marrying Sol.” She said matter of factly.

 

Garth drove forward on the highway as if in a bad dream. His anger was so fierce and so powerful that he felt he might slam their car into traffic and end both their lives. Sol, that cocksucker had been playing him all along and stealing his wife and his kids to boot. He had sold out to Sol, that South African for his life. He couldn’t think. He couldn’t fathom how this could have happened.

 

Slowly it began to sink in and he was able to piece this together. Sol had been courting him for years, had befriended Joanne and supported her artwork, Sol had become her patron and her best friend right under his very nose. His head was reeling.

He would never let this happen, never. But he needed this deal, he needed the money to make him wealthy and to catapult him into Palm Beach society. He was a player being played, a pawn in a very rich mans game.

 

“Why Joanne? How could you do this to me?” he pleaded.

 

“It just happened over time Garth. We fell out of love. You were so busy with your businesses, your work. You are a workaholic. And Sol was always there for me. Sol made me feel special and wanted, not useless.”

 

He stared at her. “I’ve been the man there for you Joanne.”

 

She opened a manilla envelope and pulled out some pictures of him at the strip club and with Greta at the café in Lake Worth.

 

“Sol had you followed Garth, looks like you had your own company this weekend. And many others before that. I am not stupid Garth.”she said angriliy.

 

Garth could not believe his eyes. He was sunk. Beaten. He thought back to his trips abroad, the times he had left her alone, the late nights at the office, the deadlines, the stress. He had turned his wife into a rich, bored woman. He hadn’t been enough for her. He had failed.

 

“Joanne. Please reconsider darling. I love you so.”

Joanne stared down, tears rolled down her face.

 

“I’m so sorry Garth. I’m so sorry. I just don’t love you anymore.” she said.

 

Garth was silent. Then he felt the wheel slipping away as he slid into darkness.

 

 

Chapter 32

 

"Love doesn't make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile."

 

BY Elizabeth Browning

 

Al returned from his trip to Vegas and was in that “Don’t ruin my mojo” mood. I gathered up all his miscellaneous messages and began to run them down. “Mr Pellicano called, says it’s urgent he speaks with you, the phone bill is overdue and someone named Beth called, she says you know who she is. “Beth? He said scratching his head. “Oh yes, Beth, that nut job woman.”

 

“Do you want me to get rid of her?” I asked.

“No, I’ll handle it.  She was stalking me for awhile, I can’t believe she’s started calling again. Damn!”

 

There went the vacation mojo. Work continued on and I made a fresh pot of coffee with some good Columbian blend. So Al had a stalker, how interesting. I guess it could happen to anybody. I wondered who would stalk a boring guy like Al.

 

The date for the concert at Voodoo was approaching quickly. It would take place in one week. I was so excited, it made every minute at work drag by. Crash singing all of Jimmy’s songs. It was too good to be true. I put the word out on Facebook and Twitter, it would be awesome.

 

I wondered if Debbie knew about it and if she would show to support Jimmy. She lived to be seen so I guessed she would attend. Maybe this time we could glean a bit more information from her.

 

I was starting to daydream about Sly, he was so mysterious and magnetic. His kiss lingered in my mind. I seriously doubted he would waste time with me. I probably wasn’t his type. He was probably used to models and actors and singers that lived their life in the fast lane. Lounge lizards. More who I used to be than who I was now. Now I’m tying to live a clean, sober life and stay away from booze and drugs. Only so far my plan seems to be lacking, here I am, mixed up in a suicide and chasing old married men.

 

I wondered if Sly drank a lot. He probably did when he hung out with movie stars and party animals in LA. He would break my heart if I got involved, more heartache. He could be dangerous. Lethal. I better not let my fantasies get the best of me.

 

I went home my usual route, past Chase Bank, where I banked. Past the Shell gas station where I got my gas, past Rocky’s Italian Restaurant where I sometimes ate pasta and past the trusty Ace hardware store where they still gave old fashioned service. There seemed to be safety in knowing my usual routine.

 

When I got home there was a letter waiting from me. I pulled it out of the mailbox. It had been forwarded from my old address. It had familiar handwriting on it. It was from Peter. I opened up the white envelope and inside was an embossed card with a picture of a white horse on it.

 

It read:

 

Dear Greta,

 

I know you probably won’t read this but I have given our relationship a lot of thought. I really miss you, miss hanging out with you. Everybody is asking me about you. If you come back to me I promise that I will stop drinking forever. I mean it. Honest. I am a new man. Since you left me I have found God and Jesus I would be a lucky man if you were once again in my life. Please call me,

 

Jesus loves you.

 

Love Peter.

 

Sure. I thought. My heart felt stone cold. I ripped up the letter into tiny pieces. No. No. No. My hands were shaking. I had heard those sweet words before, words that turned into empty lies. I threw all the tiny pieces into the garbage can.

 

My thoughts turned to Garth. It had been a few weeks since our meeting at the café, but he hadn’t called me again. That was alright, he was off limits too. My, life was so complicated. I longed for simplicity and peace. Was that too much to ask? Hadn’t I sworned off men for good?

 

Chapter 33

 

"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing."

 

BY Goethe

 

Garth opened the door to his new apartment. He had left the house weeks earlier after sustaining some minor injuries from the car crash. His daughters had been crushed by the news of the divorce. Tensions were high at the house. He needed his own space and time to adjust.

 

The apartment was a spacious penthouse overlooking the ocean on AIA. It had a large outdoor terrace where he liked to lay out and watch the sea, He needed to furnish the place, but right now it was empty, except for a bed and a flat screen TV.

 

He felt empty inside, like his guts had been torn out. He was losing weight and didn’t sleep well. Sometimes he’s pop a sleeping pill or a Zanex to calm down. Joanne was making him nuts with all her insane demands. Let Sol deal with it, he thought. They were meant for each other. He had her now. Let him cater to all her useless whims.

 

He needed peace now. He thought of Greta but couldn’t face her or anybody yet. He needed time to get strong again, he did, after all, have a major deal to see through. He was going ahead with the project. It meant a lot of money to him, money that that would make even dealing with Sol worth it. He had one  year. Luckily, Sol would be out of the country for the most part of the construction. His take was five million dollars. Enough to set him up for the rest  of his life.

 

He studied the plan for The Chateau. It would have all the amenities. Heated pool, fitness room, concierge, internet, fine European linens, private trainers.

 

All of the suites would have private terraces with panoramic views of the ocean and each suite would have its own fireplace, two master bathrooms, full kitchen and bar service.

 

Garth would put his all into the Chateau. It had already taken his life from him, now he would get it back.

 

Chapter 34

 

Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better

 

Robert Redford

 

Sly walked into the Sushi Bon Japanese restaurant. Sojji screens graced the pale green walls, Japanese lanterns hung over the tables. He sat at the counter and watched Hitoshi prepare some sushi. He was off tonight and grabbing a bite of sushi alone. He dialed Gretas’ number.

 

“Hello?” Said Greta

“Hi there Greta” he crooned seductively

“Who is this? she asked

“Guess” he said. See how many names she’d say he thought.

“Sly.” she said.

“Bingo.” He laughed, “You are good girl.”

 “This is a surprise.” She said

“How are you? Would you like to share some sushi with me?”

“Yes, sure.” she said.

“Bon sushi, I’ll be waiting,” he said

“Ok bye.” She hung up the phone in a panic. She had to get ready fast.

 

Sly watched Hitoshi’s  hands as they deftly prepared the rolls. “Give me some octopus and some fresh water eel and some sea urchin.” Sly said.

 

“Yes sir, coming up,” said

 

He poured his Saki into a glass and drank it. It was warming. He loved the taste of it. Reminded him of the geisha houses he had visited in Japan when he was on tour.

 

Great arrived looking beautiful and a bit nervous.

 

“Come here, sit down beautiful.” He said, pulling out a chair for her.

 

“Nice to see you. “ she said and gave him a peck on the cheek.

‘You’ve been on my mind lately so I got up the gumption to call you.” Sly said. Gumption, she thought, that was funny. She was the one who had to muster up the gumption to come and see him.

 

“I‘ve been in touch with Crash…he’s good with all the material. He really digs it.”

“That’s great! I am so excited, everyone is.” She gushed.

“Yeah, it’ll be one hell of a night. “ he said

 

The waitress poured some tea in her cup.

 

“Do you like sushi?” he asked.

I didn’t want to lie… “I’m not much of a sushi eater. I am not that crazy about raw food.” I said.

“Let me tell you what’s good….. The eel…” “Just try a bite.”

He took a full bite and rolled his eyes.. “Yummy.”

I wanted to throw up. “I think I’ll stick to the chicken terriyaki.
 

“Chicken.” He said, gulping down more Saki.

 

 

We talked and laughed and I watched how he took command of the room. He was handsome, I thought. I could fall for this guy. I had to pull back, he was trouble, I kept on telling myself.

And yet, here he was, the nicest guy in town, putting on a show for Jimmy with Crash as the headliner. Who else would do that for me?

 

Sly leaned forward. “How did your friend die?”

“We think it was an overdose but it had to have been accidental. He had every reason to live.” I said sadly.

 

“Well, now, you would think so. Sometimes artists feel too much and they can’t bear it anymore, they are sensitive souls. I’ve lost a lot of friends in music.”

 

“Bear what?” I asked.

 

“Life. ” he said.

 

“Oh life, yeah…..His song “Suicide” says a lot.

 

“I heard it on the CD, its very poignant.” He said.

 

We sat and looked at each other for a moment. He signed his check.

 

“So, ready to split this place?” he asked.

“Sure.” she said.

 

 

Chapter 35

 

I’ve sold my soul for freedom. It’s lonely but it’s sweet.

 

Melissa Ethridge

 

We walked back to my car. Sly put his arms around me and kissed me. I felt passionate and kissed him back, feeling suddenly hot and aroused.

 

“Care to take a walk on the beach?” he asked

“Ok.” I said. Glad to have come up for air.

 

We walked over to the beach and took our shoes off. He carried mine. The sand was cool in between my toes and we walked for awhile. The night was quiet and the air felt fresh and cool. My heart was pounding so loud I swore I could hear it.

 

“So what do you when you’re not planning concerts?” he said.

“Just living a mellow life, now.” I said. He must think I am very boring.

“That’s cool. I respect that.” He said.”My life is pretty full. It’s non-stop between the club and la-la land.” he said.

“You must have a lot of friends. “I said, biting my tongue.

 

“If you mean girlfriends, well, I date a lot, but there’s nobody special in my life.”

 

I found this hard to believe. We lay down in the sand and watched the stars.

 

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