A couple of years ago, I self-published my first book "Easy Does It". Why would I do this? Because I wanted that baby out there. And it's out there still. If you haven't checked it out, here's the first few chapters. I'm proud of this piece...and it's what got me started with the whole novel writing thing. Enjoy! EASY DOES IT
by Tanya Eby
It’s not me. It’s you.
Julie held the postcard and read it for the hundredth time. On the front was a picture of a pig with wings and a caption that said: “Cincinnati. Home of the Flying Pig Marathon.” On the back, written with a red marker were the words: Cincinnati rocks! Cheers, Ronny.
This was the fourth postcard she’d received in the two weeks since Ronny had left her. He’d stood in the middle of her bedroom, cheerfully stuffing all of his band clothes into a couple of army duffel bags. She replayed the whole Day of Being Dumped once again, as she did every time she looked at another of his cheap postcards.
There he stood at the foot of her bed, and there were his army green bags, and there went his clothes. His clothing resembled the costumes of hair-band rockers in the late ‘80s complete with mesh t-shirts and too-tight jeans. “Look, Jules. I’ve got to be honest here,” Ronny said in his thick English accent, thicker perhaps because he was from Detroit and not England. “It’s not me. It’s you. You’re too dependable.”
“Dependable?” Julie asked. “That’s a bad thing?”
“Well, yes, actually. If I’m going to be a rock star, I can’t bloody well have a girlfriend. I’ve got to keep open. Be a sex symbol. I’ve got to be more like Bono.”
“He’s actually super responsible.”
“But he didn’t start out that way, did he? I mean, he’s a rock star. Purebred. Like me. What I need is some spontaneous string-free romping. You stay home and watch the Food Network and Star Trek. It’s like you’re sleep walking through life or something. I want to tear life apart and suck the marrow from it, you know? And I would too if I weren’t a vegetarian.”
Julie couldn’t believe this was happening. She’d been dumped before, too many times to count, but they always tried to spare her feelings. True to form, Ronny spared nothing. “I mean, what’s the last really crazy thing you’ve done? Besides take up with the likes of me?” Ronny paused here and Julie realized he was waiting for an answer. She tried to think but she couldn’t come up with anything. Three years ago she’d taken Ronny home with her after his set. It was, truly, the last, first and only spontaneous thing she’d ever done.
“Look,” he continued as he rifled through the closet and pulled out his studded leather jacket and slipped it on. “It’s a terrific opportunity. We’re touring all of the Midwest including Cincinnati. Can you believe it? Cincinnati! We’ve even got groupies following us.”
“Meg and Marla?” Julie asked. She hadn’t meant to say anything, she was too numb for that, but the words sort of slipped from her mouth.
“Yes. Meg and Marla.”
“They’re not really groupies,” Julie said softly. “They’re your band members’ wives. And they’re in their fifties.” “What bloody difference does it make?” Ronny’s voice was high-pitched and tight. “I’m leaving, Jules, and that’s all there is to it. Maybe when I’m back, if I’m back, we can try again.”
“You mean after you get rich and famous?”
Ronny stepped up to her, pulled her in close to him, and kissed her; because she didn’t know what else to do, she kissed him back. “Later, Jules,” he said, and then left.
Now, just two weeks later, Julie’s apartment was empty of all traces of him, except for her four postcards from the Midwest with notes like “I’m living the vida loca” and “Flint is wilder than I ever dreamed.” And what was she doing? Flipping through her pictures of him, eating cold Indian takeout, and crying. She’d really thought Ronny was The One, or at least tried to convince herself of it. And just when she’d thought she’d gotten over him, she’d get another stupid postcard in the mail reminding her that he was on the road, and she was still stuck in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
She blew her nose into a tissue and tossed it on top of the pile at the foot of her bed. “It’s not me,” he’d said. “It’s you.” End of story.
Or was it?
Julie grabbed her cell phone and speed dialed her best friend, Eve. Dependable, huh? Living her life as if she were asleep? Julie Mills was about to change that.
The only thing she knew how to cook was takeout.
Eve opened the back screen door to Bud’s Bar and barreled through, bringing the cool, crisp smell of leaves with her. Otis Redding was blaring on the jukebox, and Buddy Henderson stood behind the bar counting bottles.
“What?” Eve called. “No applause?” She struck a pose. Bud looked up from the glasses he was cleaning, wiped his hands on his watermelon belly, and gave a slow clap clap clap. With his graying beard, round glasses, and smiling face, he looked a bit like Santa Claus…if Santa Claus wore his hair in a ponytail, greased his handlebar mustache and wore a leather jacket.
“You’re looking good, old man,” Eve said. She leaned over the bar and gave a quick peck to his beard-speckled chin.
Bud sighed. “I tell you, Eve, it’s a real struggle for a looker like me to stay single.”
“Please. You’re still single because you haven’t let anyone know you’re on the market.”
“Ah,” Bud said, shaking his head. “I’ve been on and off the market so many times, I’m just plain tired out. I’ll give it one more try, though, when you’re ready.” He winked at her. “You know who we need to get back on the market?” Bud asked.
“Where is Julie anyway?”
Bud grabbed a beer, cracked it open, and handed it to her. “Where do you think?” He nodded towards the kitchen. “Can’t you smell it?” Eve took a deep breath. The bar (which usually smelled of stale beer and smoke) smelled warm, buttery and yummy. “Good God, she’s making bread?”
“She’s been here since last call last night…on her day off no less. And it gets worse. She’s got something in there with little pine trees and garlic.”
“Rosemary,” Eve said. “This is serious. All right if I check it out?”
“Be my guest. But be careful. She was working with chocolate earlier.”
Eve crossed behind the bar and walked through the swinging doors into the kitchen. When Bud opened the bar, he’d made an attempt at offering food, but over the years the menu had shrunk to whatever could be prepared in the deep fryer or microwave. Consequently, he only used one small corner of the kitchen. When Julie came in, he let her have the run of the rest of the place. During slow times in the bar, Julie would prepare warm meals with garlic and wine sauces for her and Bud to munch on. If someone happened to be in the bar, she’d feed them something too.
Eve’s stomach growled. The only thing she knew how to cook was takeout. She tried not to think about eating because she knew that if Julie were cooking up a storm then she was still upset over the breakup. She hoped this time Ronny was gone for good so that Julie could move on. “Julie?” Eve called. “You here, sweets?”
Eve couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The tiny kitchen was stacked with dishes of food: flourless chocolate cake, a steaming casserole of leeks and butternut squash, and a colorful salad with flowers and berries. Julie was slicing a loaf of French bread into thick chunks. “We’re having a little snack,” she said.
“More like a feast. Are you okay?”
Julie didn’t look up from the bread. She buttered one side and began layering the bread with red peppers, kalamata olives, and goat cheese. “Am I okay? No,” she said.
“Put the goat cheese down and come here.” Eve extended her arms; Julie turned around and gave her a hug.
“I hate him, Eve. I’m serious. And I can’t stop going over the whole breakup, and what he said to me. He said he wasn’t the problem, I was. I’m the problem. Can you believe it? So he’s living the life of a rocker with ‘string free romping’. Worst of all…do you know where he’s touring?” Julie didn’t wait for Eve to respond. “The Midwest! Dead-end bars. He’s left me for tight pants and Cincinnati.”
“Shhhh,” Eve said. “It’s okay. You’re going to be fine.”
“Look at this!” Julie handed Eve the most recent postcard, and turned to face a sandwich the size of a skateboard. “I want to show Ronny that I can suck the marrow with the best of them.” She grabbed a butcher’s knife, and walloped the sandwich, splitting it cleanly in two. “Okay?” “Okay,” Eve said. “But no need to get violent.”
“I’d like to get violent with Ronny and I have a pretty good idea how.” Julie slid the sandwiches onto a hot griddle, placed a pan on top of them, and turned to Eve. “I call them Poor Man Paninis,” she said and smiled sweetly.
Eve laughed to herself. No matter how sad Julie was, if she was cooking food, she could always pull herself out of it. “It sounds divine,” she said. “Let’s eat, and you can tell me what you want to do to Ronny.”
“I don’t want to do anything to Ronny ever again. What I want is to do something to myself. And I will too.” Julie grabbed two plates, loaded them with French fries and coleslaw, and turned back to the sandwiches. “We’re gonna need some energy for this.”
Eve nodded. “Then I’ll grab this bread here. And this roast. And that cake. And you grab a bottle of wine because I don’t have any hands left to grab with.”
I’ve always wanted to be a hermaphrodite.
Then I could have sex with myself.
Julie unfolded the piece of paper in front of her, smoothed out the creases and passed it to Eve. They were seated in their favorite booth near the back of the bar, huddled over the table. “I wrote it really fast. It needs work,” Julie explained.
“Seems kinda long,” Eve said as she reached for her reading glasses from her purse.
“Yeah, well, there’s no real word limit online. Glory of technology, I guess. Be honest, Eve. Should I really do this?” “You said you wanted to do something crazy. Though, I have to admit, online dating doesn’t sound all that wild to me, although it was wild like in 1994. Now everyone does it. I was sort of thinking you were going to do something wild and drastic like a sex change or something.”
“Yes,” Julie agreed. “I’ve always wanted to be a hermaphrodite. Then I could have sex with myself. You want some more cake?”
“Of course. So with this ad you want, what? True love?”
“No. No! I was thinking…maybe I want dating practice or something. I want to experiment with being crazy. I guess at the heart of it, maybe I just want to get over Ronny, or back at Ronny, or something, and I want to do it as quickly as possible. I can’t take any more of his postcards. I want to have postcards of my own! I thought…I don’t know. It’s stupid.” She reached for the paper and crinkled it in her palm.
“Give me that!” Eve said. “It isn’t stupid at all. What I meant was that when you said you wanted to do something spontaneous I thought you were going to go on a trip to Europe or have a radical make-over. But online dating is good. It’s a start. Give me your ad. And the cake.” She read:
Young Treasure Seeks Seaman on Love’s Sea
When I was young, I collected broken pottery shards
that had washed up on the beach. Each one, I knew,
was from a shipwreck. In my palm, a tiny piece of
white plate became the last dinner of a couple in love.
A brown half of a beer stein with edges smoothed by
sand and time became a sailor’s last drink just as the
swell of the lake surged and took him over. These
collected pieces of plates and bowls from the last
moments in people’s lives proved to me that all things
end: childhood, careers, and yes, even love. I am
resigned to this reality. Still, I am looking to date.
Casually. If you are interested, here I wait, at the
bottom of the sea, for you to find me and uncover me.
Eve wound a finger in a lock of her honey hair. “Okay, Young Treasure Seeks Seaman on Love’s Sea. That’s catchy.”
Julie couldn’t tell if Eve was emotionally affected by the impact of her personal ad, or if she had something stuck in her teeth. “Is it all right?” Julie asked again. “Oh, you hate it, don’t you? I sound boring, don’t I? Oh, forget it!” Julie took a huge bite of her sandwich. Her eyes were burning with tears.
“I don’t hate it. Not at all. It’s just…a little sad. It sort of makes it sound like your life is a shipwreck.”
“Exactly!” said Julie emphatically. “A complete and utter shipwreck.”
“Let me read it again,” Eve said. Julie watched her intently, looking for any reaction from her, good or bad.
She read it again, coughed, set the paper aside, and quickly downed her glass of water. “Julie…Look,” Eve continued. “I love you. To pieces, and anything I can do to help get Ronny out of your system, I’ll do. But you say here Young Treasure Seeks Seaman. It sort of looks like you misspelled ‘semen’, like this is a personal ad for semen.”
Julie gasped. “Eek! No. No no no. I was trying to be poetic.”
“It is poetic, but maybe you should just say sailor instead.”
“Okay. I can do that. Anything else?”
Eve hesitated. “Can’t you cheer it up a bit?”
“Cheer it up? Why?”
“Julie, you sound like you don’t believe in love. You’re posting an ad to find love and you’re saying here, quite effectively, that you’re obsessed with things ending and dying. Do you really think that all of life is a shipwreck?”
Julie felt a rush of tears forming. She was so emotional lately, and talking about love did nothing to help her. “Not all of life, just mine.”
“You’re smart. You’ve got talent. A wicked sense of humor, and, need I say, killer knockers. Your life is not a shipwreck. And I’m sorry to be such a hard-ass with you, but ever since Ronny took off you’ve been swimming in your own misery, and you’re better than that. Now write this down. We’re going to write you a personal ad that really works. That sings. An ad that will bring the man of your dreams to your feet.”
“Fine.” Julie said as she reached down and picked up her personal ad. She liked what she’d written. She didn’t think it was that depressing.
Eve leaned in. “Now take this down…”
Bud interrupted from the bar. “How about…Hot Mama Seeks Love Slave And Marriage. That would reel me in.”
She laughed. She cried. She was drunk.
That night, Julie logged onto CoupleMe.com and began typing in her personal ad. She considered it again. What exactly did she want? Posting for a mate was sort of like ordering a pizza. Did she want another vegetarian, or something with a little meat?
Meat, she thought. This time I want meat.
She typed. Took a sip of wine. Thought: Mmmmm. Merlot is yummy. Took another sip of wine.
What was she supposed to say? The truth? I’m lonely. I’m in love with my ex-boyfriend. I’m totally dependable and predictable, which means…I’m boring. You could feel those things, but you couldn’t write them. She sipped her wine.
She looked at the picture of Ronny she still kept by her computer. It was her favorite shot of him on the night they met nearly five years ago. He was playing piano for his band, The Two Wets. He stood in a spotlight, head tilted up, his face pinched. It was a familiar expression to Julie since it was the same pose he struck when he had an orgasm, except without the spotlight.
Julie toasted the picture and gulped. Usually, she’d stop at one glass, because wine tended to make her loopy, but tonight was a special night. She was in search of loopy. She poured another glass, stuck her tongue out at Ronny, and slammed his smug orgasm-face on the table. She couldn’t look at him any more especially since she hadn’t had an orgasm-face in months.
If she were being honest, and drinking an entire bottle of wine led her to be pretty honest, Julie admitted she felt like that miscellaneous sock at the bottom of the laundry basket, the one you keep washing in hopes that its second half would eventually show up. “Thass me,” she slurred to the computer screen. “I’m a sock. A hole filled socky-sock-sock.”
Julie tried to pick up her cell phone and call Eve but she was having trouble seeing the buttons clearly. No need. She could post this ad on her own. She didn’t need Eve to hold her hand with everything. She would post this ad! She grabbed her “Semen” personal ad and began typing. Maybe she would change her ad. Cheer it up a bit, like Eve said.
She made a small change. Good. Then she thought: I’ll just erase the pottery shards and tweak it. Just tweak it a teeny, tiny bit. Tweak, tweak!
She wrote so quickly she barely knew what she was typing. Her words flew from her in a torrent. She laughed. She cried. She was drunk. She hit “submit”, and then slunk back in her chair for a very quick nap.
Five hours after Julie posted her ad, she awoke still sitting at her computer. There was a paperclip stuck to her forehead and a swollen mailbox brightly signifying mail. Oh my God, she muttered. She picked the paperclip off her forehead and slowly dragged the cursor over the screen.
Then Julie saw what she had done. “Young Treasure Seeks Seaman on Love’s Sea” became, with the help of her computer’s thesaurus and a fourth glass of merlot: “Easy Lady Requests Guy with Two Socks.”
--If you want to read more, you can order a copy at Amazon or see if your library has it. OR you can tell your library to order it. Click HERE to check it out.--