I’ve been working on a fictional story for a couple years. I have about 65 pages scribed. The manuscript is still in the infant stages, but I thought it would be fun to introduce the characters to you. They are morphing, as I morph, so I look forward to seeing what becomes of them….I am thinking gorgeous, hot, dark, tall, hunk of unavailable burning love for the main character, though…just saying.
Veronica Cosh and the House of Mirrors
By Samantha Craft
Freda screamed on cue. “Put your lips together and blow, Baby! Blow, blow, blow.” Freda repeated the words again, kicking her stocking-covered legs up and down like a toddler splashing in a shallow pool of water. Jane tried her best to balance the wobbling ottoman, while shaking her head at Freda and letting loose a flitter of giggles.
Veronica shared a wide smile with Irene. “I wonder what ever happened to Mr. Blue Eyes,” she queried.
“Oh, scrumptious Mr. Blue eyes,” Freda quickly interjected with a Southern drawl. She fanned her chubby face. “What eye-candy!”
Veronica raised a narrow-necked glass filled with deep red wine. “To divine Mr. Blue Eyes!”
Irene, meanwhile, kneeled down in front of Freda and pulled out a small wrapped gift she’d hidden under the ottoman, and holding the present high in the air she cheered, “To finger-licking-good, Mr. Blue Eyes.”
“That’s a definite winner, or should I say wiener?” Freda laughed. All the ladies lifted their drinking glasses and toasted, “To finger-licking-good, Mr. Blue Eyes!”
Veronica set her glass down on the table in front of the couch, the light of the crystal lamp igniting a flame in the speckled-green of her eyes. “You guys shouldn’t have,” she murmured as she gestured to a pile of opened presents near Jane’s feet. Irene handed the gift to Veronica, while Freda ran her fingers through her bun of silver-gray, gave Veronica a sidelong glance, and referring to the present said, “Maybe this year, you can learn to play Love, Love Me Do.” Looking pleased with herself, Freda then exhaled an easy-sigh, smoothed her dress and crossed her ample legs, acting as if she was the sort of person that belonged in an English teahouse. After she spoke, Freda pinched off a sizable piece of brownie from the plate she’d held hostage on the arm of the chair. Veronica, in her excitement, tore through the wrapping like a kid in search of a golden-ticket. “You shouldn’t have,” Veronica exclaimed, holding up a small, unopened blue box, “but I’m so glad you did!”
Irene placed her hands on her hips. “What’s this make now, Harmie, fourteen or fifteen? Or am I aging you?”
The name Harmie had come into existence quite by accident after a heavy night of drinking. It was fifteen years ago, near the outskirts of Cannery Row when the same four friends had gathered to celebrate Veronica’s thirtieth birthday. Veronica, donned in a knee-length tight black skirt, had bent over that night to retrieve something—maybe it was her keys—no one can remember for certain. Nevertheless, Veronica had leaned down and on her way up the lead singer of the band on stage had pointed straight at Veronica’s rear end and shouted in his Irish-accent, straight into his microphone, “Put your lips together and blow, Baby!” Unknown to Veronica, in having bent down, the slit of her skirt had pulled slightly apart causing her pink panties to give a peek-performance. This one event, this one evening, had been wrong in Veronica’s eyes in so many ways. First off, Veronica didn’t wear skirts, but on this one rare occasion had been persuaded by Irene to evade her well-worn, easy-fit jeans. Secondly, Veronica didn’t like to drink alcoholic beverages, except once or twice a year, and when she did, as in all the previous nights of her birthday, she limited herself to one special drink, like a well-aged red wine. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Veronica didn’t frequent bars, and quite frankly hadn’t step foot in one since the 1980’s when her and her younger cousin used their fake IDs to sneak into a surfer bar in downtown La Jolla. All in all, Veronica avoided crowds, and how she’d wound up in a tight skirt, drunk in a crowded bar, was beyond her.
After Veronica’s panties had made their evening debut, Veronica had shot up and braced herself against the high circular bar table, her blushing cheeks mirroring the violet-hues of her trussed up hair. At that point, she almost jetted across the crowded pub but was instantly distracted by wide-eyed Freda spouting pink bubbles from her nostrils. It was then, as Veronica glanced over at the stage, that beneath the glints of lights, she spotted the lead singer still smiling. He gestured toward a stout bald man holding a harmonica, and said to the silenced crowd, “Put your lips together and blow, Joe!” He lifted up his frothing beer and toasted the house, explaining in his brusque accent, “Our band is named after the harmonica company in the town of Trossingen Germany, near the Swiss boarder, the original birthplace of the beautiful harmonica.” He then set his beer down on a barrel and pulled out his silver harmonica from his leather waist-holster. “Please, continue to enjoy this lovely evening, while I give you a wee sampling of what this lovely instrument can do.” For the next few minutes, he pressed his lips together and blew out Love, Love Me Do, as the tipsy ladies at Veronica’s table all sat mesmerized in their high stools.
Irene had clapped, secretly harboring a hope that the Irishman would hold an impromptu pop-quiz on the subject of harmonicas, offering his chiseled body out as the providential main prize. Her thoughts had travelled to the string theory she’d heard about at a recent quantum physics lecture. The professor, a rather distinguished-looking man, had compared the universe to a slice of bread: “Our world and the planets above are all a part of one big loaf of bread, one thin slice, and the other universes, or alternate realities, are right next to us, other slices of bread, completely oblivious to us, as much as we are to them.” Irene happened to know lots of miscellaneous facts. She’d inherited her father’s satiable appetite for learning, and unable in her early years to settle her mind on what exact career path to follow, Irene could tell you practically anything about the subjects related to music appreciation, C.S. Lewis, tarot cards, beginning watercolor, human sexuality, and cultivating irises. Irene would have been the first to admit back then that she was cursed with the decisiveness of a ricocheting pinball. She’d realized early on she wouldn’t be able to choose a college major, even if the life of her cat depended on it. And sighing to herself in the bar that night, she had pictured the morbidity of her circumstances, in only a way Irene could—she saw her plump cat spread out and nailed like a skinned-squirrel skin to a wooden fence. And in this drunken vision, heard an ominous voice call out from beyond: “Pick a college major or I’ll kill little Kit-Kat.” But Irene, at that time in her life, could not have made up her mind. Not even to save her precious Kit-Kat’s life.
Shaking her head from side-to-side, Irene had refocused on the singer on stage, and made a mental note not to drink too much again. The song ended. The crowd cheered. And standing at Veronica’s side, back on the same slice of bread with everyone else in the bar, Irene squeezed her eyes together, trying to make out if the lead singer was winking at her, and thought for a fleeting moment, maybe she’d study to be an optometrist.
When the band Hohner Harmonicas was on break, the brawny singer made his way past the crowded bar to the ladies. For a short moment Irene thought maybe, just maybe, it would be her lucky night. Shy Jane, who was now nursing a bottle of mineral water, was the second to notice the broad shouldered Irishman approaching. She had nervously tapped Veronica and then peered over the top of her gold-rimmed glasses, flashing her silver braces. Reaching the table, the singer offered a polite, “Hello Ladies.” Then, quite unexpectedly, he dipped into his holster, pulled out his silver Golden Melody harmonica, and wrapping his lips around the piece, and playing to no one in particular, blew out the tune to Happy Birthday. All the girls clapped, including Jane who kept her hands hidden under the table. The singer, upon finishing, slipped his wet harmonica into Veronica’s empty glass. “For you, Lovely, for being such a good sport,” he said. The word Lovely dipped down, up, and then down again, riding the waves of his Irish dialect. Dreamy sighs had circled the table. Mature Freda, busted up laughing. “Thank you, Mr. Blue Eyes,” she giggled. The Irish musician then dabbed Freda on her button nose, winked, and smoothly turned around. Sauntering back deep into the bar, he faded away gradually beneath the blinking lights strung across the high wooden rafters.
That’s how it all started, because that is the precise moment Irene, still panting from the mere brushing of the brawny man’s hairy bare arm against her skin, had held up the silver harmonica to Veronica, and proclaimed loudly, “Veronica Harmonica, press your lips together and blow, Baby!”
Through the years the name had been dutifully shortened from Harmonica to the more suitable and endearing, yet still annoying, Harmie.
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