I had a stink on me. The stink of desperation. It was palpable. No job, no money, no man. I hadn’t gotten laid in a year. Hadn’t worked in two. The stink rolled off me in waves. People were definitely keeping their distance.
I needed to escape my self-made prison. The walls were closing in, constantly reminding me how small my world had become. That apartment, once a bohemian portal that had been open to festivities, frivolities, and provocative inhabitants from all walks of life, had suddenly and inexplicably sealed up. I didn’t want to see anyone, but I couldn’t isolate anymore either. I had to get out.
I knew where I needed to go. I needed to take a walk someplace where I could breathe. Not be suffocated by the throngs of people that crawled over this city like ants on a discarded ice cream cone. I turned my car south and headed where I hoped would be sanctuary. There was a dusty old street that ran behind the railroad tracks in the historic part of a little beach town. It was off-season and mid week and there would be little to no tourists. It was the perfect escape.
The day was brisk and gray. Early morning brought the workers out; the smell of bacon and coffee hung in the air as the coffee shops prepared to start their day. I also detected the scent of shit. Trash men, wearing gloves and emptying dumpsters nodded to me as I walked by. They had stink on them too. I was one of them. The trees alongside the path created a canopy of greenery. The leaves rustled slightly when an insignificant breeze whistled through them. I shivered. I felt so tired. Even my escape could not bring escape. I walked on.
I heard the strumming of some type of string instrument dimly coming from down the road. I squinted my eyes against the gray glare and in the distance I saw a tall, shadowy figure sitting on the right side of the path. I couldn’t see much else, but the music was eerie and slightly intoxicating and it beckoned to me like the Sirens.
As I approached, I saw her sitting on a milk crate playing her oddly crafted guitar. I felt like I was looking at an optical illusion. I took in everything. The bright colored scarf wrapped around her head revealed remnants of hair the color of coal. The carefully crafted tapestries hung in a row behind her weaved with purple, lilac, green and black thread. They looked thick and sturdy and exquisitely made.
I stopped directly in front of her and listened to her play. She seemed to be looking through me. At first I thought she might be blind. But she knew I was there. Never wavering, continuing to play her haunting tune.
She was decorated with silver bracelets up and down both arms. Silver rings adorned her fingers. Two clusters of white stones dangled from her earlobes. But the most magnificent thing about this creature; and there was no doubt in my mind, she was a creature, were the coils of gold wrapped around her neck. And her Cleopatraesque neck was sitting at least 10 inches off her shoulders. A long, graceful, powerful neck which appeared to be floating above her body. She was out of place, looking like a character from a circus sideshow, not someone who would be sitting by the side of the road in a cozy little coastal town.
Her fingers never stopped plucking her instrument and I was mesmerized.
“You like-a music?” she asked.
Her shrill voice pierced the day. An unusual voice thick with suggestions of exotic faraway places. It took me off guard. I did not respond immediately, so she repeated her question.
“You like it? Music?”
“Yes,” I answered, surprised at my own breathlessness. “I like it very much.”
“You buy,” she stated matter-of-factly.
She stopped playing, and moved off the crate with grace and dexterity. She reached behind her and carefully pulled down one of the tapestries. Her hands moved smoothly over the fabric, presenting it to me as if she were giving me a gift. Then she said, “Five dolla.”
I thought she was going to smile, but she kept her manner dignified. She wasn’t interested in making a friend. She was engaging in a business transaction.
“It’s beautiful. Really. But I can’t. I’m sorry. I don’t…I can’t…” I stuttered. Losing whatever composure I may have had.
“Is okay. You broke. I know.”
“I smell you. I know.”
She was freaking me out, but I couldn’t move. What else did she know?
“You come back. Yes? More music I play. Next time you buy. Five dolla for bootiful thing. Yes? Good. Now you go.”
She returned the tapestry to its hanging position, and sat down on the crate in such a manner, it might as well have been a throne. I remained frozen. Staring at her. Wondering how she seemed so at peace. Wanting what she had.
“Bye bye,” she said. “Now you go.” I was dismissed.
A flicker around the corners of her mouth appeared as she looked at me. But no smile ever came. And her expression could not be defined. She started strumming the same haunting tune as she majestically turned away from me. The sounds of the strings released me from my momentary comatose state. I continued walking down the path away from this woman. This woman with her sixth sense and her third eye. I knew there would be no next time. If I did return, I knew like I knew my own name that she would not be there. Not next time. Not ever. I knew this. And as I walked away, the music becoming fainter and fainter I knew what I had to do. I had to go home and wash the stink off me. It was time. I was ready.
(c) 2010 ~ Author Debbie Lamedman
Photographer Damian Arvetis
Playwright Debbie Lamedman is back AT THE BIJOU with her showcased tale, come what May . . . along with a sparkling spotlight announcement for a perfect day in May ~ She's going Off Off Broadway with her talents!
Yes folks, you heard it here first ~ In over 880 submitted overwhelming plays from around the world, the BIJOU's very own cheered on Playwright Debbie has made it to the top 40 finalists of ~ WAIT! Her taxi just arrived ~ Heeeeere's Debbie ~~~
PLAYWRIGHT DEBBIE LAMEDMAN: YES Absolutely*Kate! I just found out that one of my 10-minute plays was accepted into the 35th Annual Off Off Broadway Samuel French 10-minute play festival. Over 880 submissions and I made it to the final 40! Miraculous! I'm very excited and now have to plan my trip to NYC in mid July. Wow! Didn't see that one coming!
ABSOLUTELY*KATE ~ Tell us more! Tell us more ~ Hey, you're not making this up just because you're such a talented writer, are you?
PLAYWRIGHT DEBBIE: NO Absolutely*Kate! Seeing as I'm so enthusiastically involved with this playwrighting festival, here's a link for ya: SAMUEL FRENCH OFF OFF BROADWAY FESTIVAL as well as how the story broke on BroadwayWorld.com. As I may have mentioned, I'm very excited. I'm thinking of throwing a bake sale to pay for my plane ticket out there. Just a thought. Do you think those ever work? Do you have any ideas??
ABSOLUTELY*KATE ~ IDEAS! ~ Dear ol' Debbie you've come to the right writers' place. Conference to convene on your breaking Broadway scene. The HARBINGER*33 colleague-ship of sensational authors, some of them screenwriters, have talents and tendencies which soar (and more). AT THE BIJOU showcases writers' raves to become readers' faves. I think I hear your destiny calling you.
PLAYWRIGHT DEBBIE: Hope the folks who fill the red velvet seats AT THE BIJOU like my story. Hope you're feeling swell! Hope you're enjoying your spring in Connecticut! I stood on the steps of Yale Repertory once and pretended like I was part of it . . . maybe some day . . . who knows?
DEBBIE, AT THE BIJOU IS WISHIN' YOU WELL,
CHEERING YOU ON SWELL!
We're psyched you'll keep us posted
on how you'll be giving them hell!
AT THE BIJOU
WRITERS' SHOW BIZ IS OUR BIZ!
PLAYWRIGHT DEBBIE LAMEDMAN:
Thanks! Thanks! Many, many, many Thanks!!!
I am fully recruited into believing in believers!
You have made a believer outta me!
MORE on Debbie's posting this success journey at CONFESSIONS OF A CLUTTERED MIND. Do enjoy ~ The noise you hear poppin' is simply, thus strongly, her personal brand of enthusia. (It'll grow on you ~ I assure you. I'm already stirring up masterminds behind the scenes to aid further this talented lady's dreams and schemes.)