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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14. Sunburnt

Chapter 46

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.

Bob Dylan

 

Sly sat at his desk at the club looking through band promos. There was a shit load of talent in this town, he just had to weed through it. A black glossy folder caught his eye. He opened it up and looked at the glossy 8x10 of a beautiful black singer Mimi Wild. She was hot, but could she sing? He played her demo tape. Yes, she was smokin’ hot. He decided to book her right away.

 

There were some big acts due to come in. He sighed. Natalie was pressuring him to come out to LA soon. He’d have to book a flight soon to keep the peace. It was too bad about Greta….Maybe she’d come around again….

 

There was a time in his life that Sly hadn’t been so fortunate, a dark time, a time he’d just as soon forget about. Now his life was all flash in the pan, but he had been away and that stayed with you. For about a year he had been depressed after the death of his girlfriend and he had spent a few months locked in his apartment, not seeing anyone, not eating, staying up all night. He had lost touch with reality, didn’t want reality as reality had dealt him a bad hand…..Today the depression rarely returned and he choose not to think about his dark days…He didn’t want to return to that state of mind.

 

He strolled out of the club and walked up the Avenue. There was an art gallery he’d been meaning to visit. There were a few John Lennon prints that he was interested in buying, money was no object, mostly due to his Sis, she was taking care of all his outrageous bills. Good old Elvira!

 

 

Chapter 47

 

A sex symbol becomes a thing. I just hate to be a thing.

Marilyn Monroe

 

I lay in bed and looked out the window. It was a perfect sunny day. My clock said 8:00am. I should be getting ready for work, but instead decided to call Garth and see if he was into playing hooky with me. I didn’t really feel like work today.

 

“Hi there, good morning.” I said

“Someone’s up early. “ he said

“I got a brilliant idea.” I said

“Lay it on me.”

“Would you like to have a picnic with me at the beach today?” I said

“A picnic?” he sounded surprised.

“Yes, what do you say?” I asked

“Alright, count me in…I can cancel a meeting….I’ll pick you up at noon.” He said

 

Alright, he was in. I called the office. Al answered.

“Hi Al.” I said, sounding very sick.

“Hello Greta, why are you calling me at this hour?” he questioned

“I’ve come down with something, I am so congested, its terrible.” I tried to sound pathetic.

“Oh my, sounds terrible. I don’t want it, whatever it is.” He said

“No, you don’t…….” I said

“By all means, stay home and rest.” He said.

 

There I was lying to my employer. Freedom….I hadn’t had a day off in a long time. There was something exciting about seeing Garth on a school day, makes our time together more special.

 

I got ready, throwing on a long peasant skirt and camisole and sandals. I drove up Atlantic to the Boyz Market. The inside was bristling with activity, with shoppers all over the place filling up on fruits and veggies. The place was loaded with fine wines and cheeses, fresh crusty breads and figs. I filled up my basket with some olives, figs and tomatoes and stopped at the deli to get a mixture of grilled and roasted red peppers, cauliflower and zucchini and some cold cuts.

 

I wanted to take it slow with Garth and just enjoy our budding relationship. I did like spending time with him. I felt bad about his divorce, thank God it wasn’t my fault.

 

His apartment was coming along, we still had a lot of shopping to do. Maybe a trip to Linens N’ Things and some accessories at Macys. He needed some bedding. I had seen a beautiful comforter and pillows set at a fine linens store off Atlantic Avenue. There were so many details to take care of.

 

I thought about Sly. I hadn’t had the guts to call him back since that fateful night I met Natalie. A guy like Sly just wasn’t ready for a committed relationship which was what I wanted, or did I?

 

I was still confused about what I really wanted. On the one hand, I wanted my own space, my independence, my apartment and my career. On the other hand I wanted companionship, loyalty, someone to share ideas with and to share my life with. Someone  I could trust.

 

But this time I wasn’t willing to compromise or to overlook major flaws in their personality like a drinking problem or a drug problem or a man afraid of commitment.

 

Garth seemed to have a few issues but he was a gentleman. I wasn’t totally like, head over heels in love with him though. It wasn’t like the attraction to Sly, that had been sort of infatuation. Maybe because Garth was older than I was. Time would tell. This time around though, I was in no rush, going to take my sweet time and enjoy the ride for a change.

 

Chapter 48

 

I learned more from the one restaurant that didn't work than from all the ones that were successes.

Wolfgang Puck

 

The beach was sandy and sunny and warm. Blue water dappled in the sun. It was a perfect day. We walked down the worn path towards a clump of sea grapes and lay out the white cotton sheet. Garth put up a parchment umbrella for shade.

 

We sat on the sheet under the umbrella and before I could comment on anything Garth gave me a long, lingering kiss on the lips. I looked into his eyes. They looked pure and blue, but I could see the hurt in them. I didn’t want to ever be the one who caused him hurt again.

 

We sat back and enjoyed the ocean view and I unpacked the lunch basket. The Little Penguin Chardonnay was chilled on some ice.

 

“Good idea, our little lunch” Garth said

“You like it?” I asked

“Yes, its great. Don’t know why I don’t do this more often….Too wrapped up in damn business all the time.” He sighed

“Are you wrapped up in something now?” I asked.

“Just The Chateau, she’s my baby ‘til she’s done, then I’ll be done. I can retire.”

“Retire? So early? Now what would you do with yourself?” I gently chided him

“What would I do? Now let me think……I could have more picnics..” he said

“What else?”I asked

“We could go to St Andrews, see the Pyramids, take a trip to china…”

“We?””” I asked

“Yes of course darling. We…” he  said

“Sounds good but I still think you would work.” I said, surprised that he would be including me in his long term plans.

“Yes, you are quite right….You have me figured out eh? I always have my nose in something.” He said

“Tell me more about The Chateau.” I said

“Well, she’s coming along, they’re already in early stages of the renovation….Soon I’ll be redoing the rooms. Speaking of which…I just had a marvelous thought…Why don’t you help me with the rooms?” he said

 

“Me? I was shocked and excited at the same time. It sounded like the perfect job for me, one that I would really enjoy.

 

“You’d be perfect. I know you could do it after you whipped my apartment into shape.

‘Well, I don’t know. I could try. I might need some help.” I said

“Oh, you’d have plenty of help. I’ve got a full time architect and interior designer on the project….You’d be the stylist.”

“Stylist?”

“Yes, you could personalize each room…bring in accessories, writing paper, waste baskets, towels, cushions, little touches that would make each room a home away from home.”

 

“Oh Garth! I would love to do it!” I hugged him tightly.

“Great! You got the job…..Now when do we eat?”

 

 

I opened up the basket and began spreading the food out on the sheet. Garth picked and picked at the food, taking huge chunks of hummus and tomatoes. He ate his sandwich heartlily. We ate and then fell asleep in the shade. A few hours went by……

 

“Hey lady.” He nudged me lightly

“What?” I said sleepily

“”Its four o clock.” He said

“Wow, time flies.”I said

“Lets pack it up.”

 

We packed up our lunch and headed to the car. The sun was getting low in the sky which was a purple haze.

 

“Thanks for a great day. It was the best day I’ve had in a long time.” he said

“Thank you….Me too,” I said

 

We kissed again and headed for the car.

 

 

Chapter 49

 

A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.

Honore de Balzac

 

Sly boarded Southwest Airlines flight 202 out of West Palm. He had his laptop with him. He planned to do some work on the plane as soon as he could get a stiff drink

 

By the time he got to Los Angeles it would be 6:00 am , just in time to wake up Natalie and take her for breakfast to the Beverly Hills Hotel. He had a great spot there to have an intimate breakfast.

 

Sly sat in the first class window seat of row 2C and looked out of the window. It was spattered with raindrops. It would be sunny as hell in Los Angeles. He wondered if his Sis would have time to see him. She was such a busy broad these days with her little production company. This year she was making three pictures. Damn her for not even giving him a bit part in any of her films. She apparently didn’t believe in nepotism, or more likely, didn’t want him to upstage her in any way. She had always been like that, always needed to be the bright, shining star.

 

He opened up his laptop. He had all his business on here, his whole life. The club was doing well, but not as well as they had planned. He needed more headliners, real big acts to bring in the masses. After this was all over he planned to build a house on an island somewhere, a Spanish Style home with a big swimming pool, lunch landscaping and no one around for miles and miles. Maybe do Costa Rica, he had always liked the jungle.

 

The plane took off and Sly looked down at all the buildings and houses and swimming pools of Palm beach. Everything looked so insignificant from the air. He sucked back is vodka and tonic. Goodbye West Palm Beach, hello Los Angeles.

 

Chapter 50

 

A lot of people told me that I'm committing musical suicide with my sound.

Kid Rock

 

Sly pulled into the driveway of Natalies’ townhouse. Her car was there. It was 6:17am, just as scheduled. He turned his key in the lock and opened the door. He stole in, treading lightly on the concrete floor, quietly past the art lined walls to her bedroom door. He opened the door quietly. She was in bed sleeping. He looked a little closer. There was a man sleeping in bed with her. He recoiled in anger. A low guttural sound escaped from hi lips. Almost a growl and a hiss. The man in bed was startled and screamed. Natalie screamed.

 

Sly looked at Natalie.

“What the fuck is this?” he said fuming with anger.

“Sly, what are you doing here?”she wimpered.

“Fuck you.” He said and left, throwing the key on the floor.

 

Sly got into his car and drove through the quiet streets of Beverly Hills. His rage consumed him. He needed to calm down, maybe pop a Valium or something. He arrived at the Beverly Hills Hotel and checked in.

 

“I need a bungalow for a week.” He said

“Yes Mr. Wishbone”. She said

“We can arrange that immediately….I have an opening for the Presidential Ultra Bungalow” the perfunct woman tapped into her computer.

“I want complete privacy.” He said

“Of course, sir, everyone will be screened at the front desk…Pedro will take your bags and show you to your suite.”

“Thanks.” He said

 

Screw Natalie, he thought. Just another bitch. He didn’t need her anymore. Women always disappointed him,  they were so lame. So weak, so immature.  He doubted that he would ever meet a strong minded woman to run his life who had some backbone.

 

Sly tipped the bellman and lay down on the bed. He was tired. A good rest and then he’d see about meeting up with Sis.

 

 

 

Chapter 51

 

Fame is no sanctuary from the passing of youth... suicide is much easier and more acceptable in Hollywood than growing old gracefully.

Julie Burchill

 

Al was back in Las Vegas. He was at the lounge tonight at The Sahara. Tonight was Elvis night and he sat back listening to “Love Me Tender” and “Suspicious Minds.” The place was packed with pretty call girls tonight. He was going to get lucky, he could feel it. He had his teeth whitened before the trip so he could feel sexier, more attractive. He would smile tonight as much as possible.

 

A gorgeous blonde with two huge torpedoes was heading his way he smiled a wide smile and she smiled back.

 

“Hi honey….How are you doin’ tonight?” she crooned with a sweet as molasses Southern belle voice.

“Fine, how are you?’ he croaked

“Just fine darlin’…How about a little drinkeepoo?” she suggested and sat down at the bar next to him.

“What would you like?” he asked

“Vodka on the rocks.” she said

“One vodka on the rocks for the lady please.” Al said

 

He eyed her large melons peeking out from her dress. Wow! She sure was stacked. He could imagine squeezing them, holding them……And more.

 

She moved closer to him.

 

“Honey, I can feel your eyes on me. You seem really hot sweetheart….Maybe you’d like to show me your room.” She whispered in his ear.

 

“Oh yes…Of course I would….” He was agonizingly hard already.

 

‘’Alright then, I’ll be waiting right over there by that bitty little elevator for you sweetheart.” She said, batting her eyelashes.

“OK, I’ll be there in a minute.”he said

 

He pulled out his wallet to pay when he heard a strange but familiar voice from across the bar.

 

“Al? Al? Who are you talking to?” It was a high pitched voice. He turned around….It was Beth, the psycho woman from Florida. She was here in Vegas. He was stunned, in slow motion he ran towards the elevator, to the waiting blonde with the ripe melons, the blonde that wanted him. Beth charged after him.

 

“Al! Who is this whore?” she demanded loudly. People were beginning to stare.

“Who is this? Your wife? The blonde said to Al.

“No, she’s not my wife, she’s nobody, she’s some crazy person that followed me here.” he said anxiously.

 

The blonde checked her watch.

“Well, excuse me, but I am leaving, thanks for the drink and good luck.” She said coldly.

“No! Please don’t leave.” He watched her go.

Beth turned to him. “Now Al, why on earth can’t you behave on our vacation?”

Al was hopping mad.

“This is not our vacation. I am not with you and you better leave me the FUCK alone, you crazy woman.” he yelled at her.

“Now Al, simmer down. Don’t make a scene in front of all these people, hon”. She said matter of factly.

“That’s it, I am calling the police.” he roared
“The police? Really Al. You’re going to call the police on the woman that loves you?”she laughed insanely.

 

“Yes dammit. I am…I have had enough of this bullshit.”he said

 

He dialed his phone. “The Sahara Lounge, hurry.”

 

Beth stood her ground looking crazier than ever. The police arrived and Al told them his story.

 

“This woman here has followed me to Vegas. She’s insane and I want to file charges against her.”

 

The policeman looked at Beth and then back at Al.

 

“And your side of the story Ma’am? Is this true?”

“Oh goodness, no….Me and Al have a relationship and we’ve known each other a long time. He invited me out here. I was just getting rid of that skank at the bar.”

“That’s a goddamn lie!” Al said

“Sir, please keep your voice down. I suggest you two work out your situation and don’t cause any further disturbances here at the hotel. Goodnight sir, goodnight Ma’am.” He said and left.

 

 

Chapter 52

 

I don't think Jimi committed suicide in the conventional way. He just decided to exit when he wanted to.

Eric Burdon

 

Garth was not looking forward to his meeting with Joanne. It was her idea that they have a friendly lunch, just the two of them. He parked his car with the valet at The Breakers Hotel and went inside.

 

It was cool and opulent in the lobby of the grand hotel. Ornate furniture and large flower arrangements graced the lobby. There having lunch in The Beach Club off the ocean,

 

Joanne was sitting at a table overlooking the ocean he long dark hair was pulled back into a neat chignon and she was dressed in a flowing white dress. It reminded Garth of her wedding dress, so many years earlier. She looked stunningly beautiful and it tore his heart out to look at her.

 

He kissed her on the cheek.

“Hello darling, how are you?” he asked

“Fine Garth, how are you doing?” she asked

“I’m well…..I’ve been extremely busy with The Chateau as you know. How is Sol?” he asked dryly.

“Sol is wonderful….He’s a very busy man with all his businesses, but he does find time for us.” She chirped.

 

Us, he thought, his wife and his girls.

 

“Glad to hear it dear.’ He said.

“And you Garth? How are you really?” she asked again

“Oh, just work….”

She looked disappointed as if he should run back to her.

“Really? Just work? Not seeing anyone yet are you?”

“No, no, not really…I don’t have time for that sort of thing.”

“I see.” She said. “Let’s order some lunch, shall we?”

The waiter came and they ordered some lunch.

“We’d like some conch fritters to start.” Said Garth

“And I’ll have the Beach Cobb salad.” Said Joanne

“I’ll take the jumbo lump crabmeat burger.” said Garth.

 

Garth wondered why the sudden friendliness from his soon to be ex wife.

 

“Sol has generously suggested that you keep the house.” She said.

“Really? That was Sol’s idea?” he said

“Yes, he has so many homes, he really doesn’t want the burden of another house to care for…And he’s buying me a villa in the South of France.”she said

“Really? The South of France?”It was getting better and better.

“Yes darling, that’s where all the action is.”Joanne looked suddenly bored.

“And since when are you into action? All you did at home was shop and stay in bed…”Garth said.

“Since I met Sol, silly” she said coyly.

“And the girls?” he demanded.

“They’re going to go to Harvard as soon as they finish high school.”
“Of course, the best that money can buy.”

“Oh shush……don’t be bitter Garth, it does not become you.”

“I am not bitter, I am a broken man. I will survive and go on but you and the girls were my life, my life.”

“You still have the girls Garth.”

“Oh really? When do I have them? For one weekend and at Christmas? How do I get to be the good daddy to them when Mr Big Bucks is buying his way into their hearts?”

“Really Garth, you are impossible!”

“I wanted our girls, OUR girls, to learn to build their own wealth and to have compassion for people.”

“They don’t need that now, they will have all they ever wanted from life.” She said

“How does Sol know what MY daughter wants from life?” he said bitterly.

“He’ll find out and do the right thing.” She said. “Please, darling, don’t raise your blood pressure, I wanted this to be a friendly meeting.”

 

So much for a friendly meeting, he thought. They ate in silence for a few minutes. He had just about had enough of all this nonsense.

 

“Alright Joanne, as you wish.” He said

 

“How is your apartment?” she asked

“Wonderful. I had a friend decorate for me. She’s also helping with The Chateau.” He said smugly

“Really? A friend? Which friend?”

“You don’t know her, her name is Greta….”

“Greta?” she looked puzzled.

“You’ll meet her at The Gala.”

“I’m helping organize the Gala.” She said

“Goodness! Is Sol putting you to work? He said sarcastically

“I volunteered.”

 

They talked and finished up lunch. Garth walked Joanne to the valet.

 

“Take care darling.”he said

“I will.” She said.

 

Garth got into his car. “Desperado” was playing on the radio. That’s what he felt like. It wasn’t easy losing your life, now he had to get one back.

 

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