Excerpt from my new novel - THE GLASS FENCE: http://ping.fm/evlD4
BOYS AND GIRLS OF COLOR
Note on a napkin:
You reach for the sun.
I'll grab the moon.
"Makeup on, makeup off," Angela Spencer said in a throaty smoker's voice. She wiped down her cracked porcelain face with a warm wet towel. There was no art to removing makeup anymore.
"I may just as well use paint thinner," she complained, sipping straight from the mid-priced wine bottle.
It was far past her bedtime already but there was a new channel added to her cable service that she had to watch after the abysmal date with the paper products salesman. Channel changing consumed most of her regular evenings. She even had a callus on her index finger to prove it. As for the date? Another wasted experience. Mr. Paper was too busy bragging about his entire life ad nauseum to notice that she was chewing on her fingers as an appetizer. She wasn't even playing hard to get with the loser and he was most definitively not the object of any of her many desires. And the coupon at the end! Two-for-one! She'd never had that done to her before. In the foyer of the restaurant, she was blunt with the man. There would be no second date. Pretend you never found me on the web. Mr. Paper was scratched from the short list of dating contenders after the first lap.
"They never seem to ask what I'm interested in," she complained to her overweight cat. (It was sitting on the closed toilet lid). "I admit I was stuck on my decrepit personality and good looks for over fifteen years, but what's a former Miss Amarillo supposed to do? Now that I'm older but wiser, I have plenty to talk about besides airline deregulation, frequent flyer miles and beauty pageants."
The airlines. Old Glory days. She was a world-circling flight attendant with an international carrier before the sky fell and they found a way to put her out to pasture before she became a liability.
"Drunk on the job, my ass," she yelled down at the cat. "Never when I flew! Never!"
The stripped away, aging face confronting her in the vanity mirror looked like melting wax on a mannequin. No amount of creams could save her. Her bored cat slid off the toilet seat as she rubbed her eyebrows down to a wirey gray. Full round lips became thin-set strips that seemed to guard her cigarette-stained teeth. No doubt about it, the pretty days were gone.
Now Angela Spencer was the front desk supervisor at the fabulous Windamere Resort and Hotel. She didn't enjoy these one-on-ones with herself anymore. She didn't like talking to a bitch. The poor cat was a captive audience. She fed him, cleaned the shit from his litter box and kept him safe inside. He was a male cat. Declawed. Harmless except for his short sharp teeth.
She reviled him.
"Men think the battle of the sexes is a big chess game," she scolded the cat. "But the truth is, women play the game to collect as many pieces as they can, never wanting to actually end the game!" Angela giggled at the memories of her high-flying days when all the boys were wrapped around her finger. Pilots and co-pilots and the occasional straight stewie and all those married businessmen in hotel lobby bars... Some were lucscious.
She picked up the wine bottle and finished it off. A nature-made competitor to a cabinet filled with synthetic anti-depressants.
"How did it get like this?" she asked the unfeeling cat. "Once upon a time I was so pretty but then I wanted the next boy and the next and the next and now look at me. I look like a cartoon and there are no boys of any age worth pursuing anymore. What horrors have I done? Is it my fault? Am I so out of sync? Mr. Paper used a coupon for god's sakes! Did he use it on purpose to show his disdain for women? Was he angry that the online picture he found of me is ten years old? How many broken-hearted men out there hate my living guts now?"
The answer was a lot. There were three broken engagements and she was married twice. Vegas didn't count.
"Vegas never counts," she rationalized. Angela stumbled over the cat and wandered into the bedroom, the wine bottle clutched in her hand. She noticed the suitcase of sex toys in the pink round hat box sticking out from under the bed and kicked it - kicked it hard in the face like an old, cheating boyfriend.
"Enough of you, stupid box!" She coughed angrily. She kicked at the suitcase again, stubbing her big toe. Angela sat on the bed and burst into tears. She hated living alone, hated being alone with herself and the constant idiotic chatter she provided for her own ears. "The next man's the ticket, you'll see. Oh, to find a friend in a real man again," she lamented. "A man with magic who will put up with my bullshit for more than a dinner date!"
Her cat approached from the bathroom, purring at her feet for attention.
"Oh, shut up!" Angela chastised it. "You only pretend you like me. Otherwise you will starve to death, you clawless fool!" She dropped down on her knees to the floor and looked the cat in the eyes. "Just remember itty bitty kitty; you don't have any money and you're a bore!" There. Angela had said it. "The cat is out of the bag," she laughed. She pushed the feline aside and crawled up onto the bed, a small pool of drool collecting in her mouth.
The cat hated her right now. Hated her more than bathtub water and dry food. Hated her more than cat cartoons and Meow Mix commercials. Hated her enough to ram a fur ball down her throat to shut her up.
"I know what you're thinking, kitty cat!" Angela wagged her finger at him. "And if you're not careful I just might buy a dog yet! A pit bull to terrify you night and day. Or maybe I'll make you sleep outside on the apartment deck so you can watch for the coyotes below. You're their favorite food, by the way. You won't sleep a wink. Then you'll be as miserable as me."
The cat would never forgive her for her harsh words. Some cats are that way. They either forget everything that happened in nine hours or mistrust their keepers for eternity. The cat slinked off to shit in the litter box. Angela crawled under the covers of her bed, listening to the scratching sounds of the cat burying its excrement. The male cat would be back as soon as Angela fell asleep. It would sneak up on the bed and lay by her pillow and stare at snoring Angela's aging face, feeling dissatisfied that a former Texas beauty queen with man issues was his only companion.
Angela's muddled memory brought up the rhinestone-studded plastic tiara that she wore twenty years ago on what should have been the greatest night of her life. One of the judges chased her around the motel pool after the evening pageant. He said he expected compensation because he had been the swing vote for Miss Angela Spencer. When she turned a wet corner by the deep end, the crown slipped off her head and shattered on the concrete into a dozen pieces. Fleeing as she was from the obese city councilman, she didn't stop to retrieve them.
"Wonder Woman wears a tiara," she mumbled. Mentally exhausted, Angela inhaled deeply through clogged, wheezing nostrils and finally passed out. The male cat jumped up on the bed and joined her.