The Cassie Chronicles: Green light baby

NOTE:  I combined the SS prompt this week, “I came from…,” with a writing course assignment to begin a story with the line “Where were you last night?”  I had to strip the course version of vulgarities, of course, but you missalister readers get all those fun expletives here…

jax05.jpg picture by pemerytx

 

“Where were you last night?” I asked him.

 

“Mornin’, Darlin’, d’you sleep alright?” is all he said.

 

He drawled the “Darlin’” as usual but the rest of it was flattened out, went faster than his style, words on a slippery slope.  He was from down south.  I was from up north.  His mother had dragged him away from his greatest loves—the south and his father—to finish his last year of high school up north, in my town, to live in a cold, hollow farmhouse with one of his two sisters and a stepfather that could never measure up.

 

He was unhappy in our pissant town.  He hated our school.  We were too straight.  Our big drug was alcohol and we wore corduroys and hiking boots.  He came from a big city of a high school where cocaine powdered the halls and girls dressed like a sleazy night out.  He came from palm trees, fast cars, and fucking on the beach.  He was a dare, a star-spangled Rebel.  He was freedom ringing in my northern ears.  Even if he hadn’t been, I’d have gone anywhere with a guy named Macon.  If he’d asked me.

 

He never did ask.  I had to ask him.  Now here we were, Macon and me, in a seedy motel in Jacksonville, Florida, on a morning like all mornings down south, the sun fast chasing the last of the coolness off, a bright haze giving way to waves of heat.  As soon as we’d graduated, we’d got in his ugly hatchback and hit the road headed for that wild promised land, driving down and down, over monotonous highways, around the smog of city after city, sleeping in rest areas and eating gas station food all the way until now.

 

“Where’d you go?” I asked him.

 

“I was makin’ connections, Darlin’,” he drawled. 

 

At least he was back to his slow, cool way of talking, which was seventy percent of his charm.  But the other thirty percent was looking like shit, like he’d slept all matted down in some dirty Jacksonville back alley.  “What do you mean, ‘makin’ connections’?” I asked him.

 

He raked his blonde hair back with his fingers and grinned at me, looked at me like a jazzed little boy with a plan everyone but him knew wouldn’t work.  He said to me all excited, “Baby, I’m outta cash and I need to borrow those travelers cheques you got.  I met an up and up dude, wants to go in with me on a drug deal.  Once this deal goes down, I’ll pay you back with interest, and then we’ll head on down to Tampa.”

 

Then he jumped over to me with his eyes full wide, took me in his arms, kissed me hard and said, “Ooh, Baby, you gonna love Tampa!  Anything you want, it’s there:  skyscrapers, concert halls, amusement parks, beaches, the most awesome night clubs, and did I mention the beaches?  Saltlick water, good for the soul and that ain’t all!”  Then he licked my face real quick and ran off to the bathroom.

 

“Gross!” I hollered and ran after him, but he slammed the door shut.  “Geezus, Macon!  What’s wrong with you?”  Stupid question, I thought to myself, and just leaned against the door jamb thinking about the money, how it was that he’d lost all his and if I should give him all of mine.  It wasn’t much, but it was all I had.

 

I heard the toilet flush, then the door flung open and Macon bounced out, buckling his belt.  “So, Baby, what you say?  We stand to make a couple hundred off this deal, and I’ll give you ten percent.”

 

I looked at him, incredulous.  “You have got to be kidding me!  I’m putting up all the money!”

 

“Alright, alright, now Darlin’,” he said, chuckling.  “I was jus’ testin’ you!  Of course we’ll split it smack down the middle!”  He grinned and held out his hand.  “Now gimme the money, Honey!”

 

I stared at him trying to figure out whether to believe what I saw, a handsome joker, or what I felt, a sick uneasiness.  I needed more time to think, or for him to say something that decided things for me, so I asked him, “How’d you lose all your cash?”

 

Macon’s grin turned down and I saw what looked like desperation flash real quick across his eyes before he checked it.  He frowned and said, “Aw, Darlin’, you know…  Shit happens, Cassie…”

 

I waited.  He shifted, started to look nervous.  “Listen, Baby, I hate to do this to you ‘cause you’re one sweet fuck, but if you don’t give me the money, I’m just gonna hafta take it.”

 

I sprang toward my purse, grabbed it, and tried to run for the door but Macon tripped me and I fell down holding the purse like a downed player on a football, holding ground, bracing for the dogpile.  And it came.  Macon slammed down on me and tried to grab the purse so he could yank it from me and that’s when I saw them, the fresh needle marks on his arm.  That bastard, I thought.  As soon as he gets in his territory he goes for the hard stuff…  Macon’s fist was coming at me so I screamed, “Wait!” and he stopped, barely.  I said, “Shit, Macon, you and I both know you’re stronger than me.  Get away from me and I’ll give you the goddamned money.”

 

Macon got off me reluctantly, distrustfully, and I sat up, still with a death grip on the purse.  “Give me some room, man,” I shouted.  “Go to the door, open it, and stand outside while I sign these cheques.  You can watch me and you know how much money I have so just do it!”

 

Macon got up and walked cautiously to the door, dripping sweat.  “Cassie, I’m sorry, Baby…  I got you to Florida, down south like I promised…”

 

“It’s alright, Macon,” I said.  “I understand.  Now go!  Out the door!”

 

As soon as Macon was outside, I started to sign the cheques over to him.  Even a distance away I could feel the diseased heat from his eyes watching my every move.  I hurried with the cheques, put them back in their envelope, and walked toward the open door.  “Move away, toward the parking lot, for crissakes!” I yelled at Macon.  He stepped way back and I flung the envelope past him.  He went grabbing after it, snatched it up and ran to his ugly car.  He started it up and tore off into the unbearable heat.  Dude should have stayed up north, I said to myself.

 

Me, I was destined to be down here.  Just not in nasty Jacksonville.  I stuffed my purse in my backpack, swung it over my shoulder and went to the motel office to ask which way to the bus station.  It was time to find myself another stepping stone, maybe one that’d take me over to Texas, maybe up to Georgia, I don’t know.

 

Fini 

 

  

“Call Me The Breeze” lyrics

Lynard Skynard

Call me the breeze

I keep blowin’ down the road

Well now they call me the breeze

I keep blowin’ down the road

I ain’t got me nobody

I don’t carry me no load

 

Ain’t no change in the weather

Ain’t no changes in me

Well there ain’t no change in the weather

Ain’t no changes in me

And I ain’t hidin’ from nobody

Nobody’s hidin’ from me

Oh, that’s the way it’s supposed to be

 

Well I got that green light baby

I got to keep movin’ on

Well I go that green light baby

I got to keep movin’ on

Well I might go out to California

Might go down to Georgia

I don’t know

 

Well I dig you Georgia peaches

Makes me feel right at home

Well now I dig you Georgia peaches

Makes me feel right at home

But I don’t love me no one woman

So I can’t stay in Georgia long

 

Well now they call me the breeze

I keep blowin’ down the road

Well now they call me the breeze

I keep blowin’ down the road

I ain’t got me nobody

I don’t carry me no load

Ooooh Mr Breeze

 

PHOTO CREDIT:

Jacksonville bus station photo snagged from http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/log/display/dcc85a6b-9891-45b0-b5ce-922680e563e6.JPG

 

Image hosting by Photobucket

Missalister’s “The Cassie Chronicles:  Green light baby,” copyright © 2009, was in part spun off the Sunday Scribblings prompt “#155 – I came from….”  Click here for more on prompt #155 from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

 

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15 responses to “The Cassie Chronicles: Green light baby

  1. “I stared at him trying to figure out whether to believe what I saw, a handsome joker, or what I felt, a sick uneasiness.” — i can feel that no good magnetic attraction to the bad boys stirring inside me somewhere – they always made my ovaries do the cha-cha, ya know? — i’ve seen even the most chaste gals caught up ag’in their will – what a dynamic! – and you’ve captured it masterfully!!! — but i really like the fact that “Dude should have stayed up north, I said to myself.” — shoes look good worn on the wrong feet – kick ass!!! — “It was time to find myself another stepping stone” and good on her – boo ya!!!!! — love the twist and never saw it coming even though i’ve learned to be on the look out for it when you pen — glad we get the good versions of the stories, i’m addicted for sure!!!!!

  2. p.s. – didn’t escape my notice that you were in the south again — ashleigh was one of those bad boys, too — you must have had one of those in your previous life, as well!!!

  3. Oooh, I think you’ve drawn the Devil himself, and one of the truest most damning details in here was that bit about how he didn’t ask Cassie along, but made her invite herself. Isn’t that always the way? And your description of him raking his fingers through his hair, looking “like a jazzed little boy with a plan everyone but him knew wouldn’t work”” made me wonder if maybe Macon had an analog working somewhere in the Midwest: I think I know him.

    I liked Cassie, too, sympathized with every bit of her yearning, and while I’m glad to see her getting out of Jacksonville, I’m a little worried that whatever she hopes to find in Texas or even Georgia might be ruder than she expects. In other words, I’m looking forward to the next installment. Coming soon?

  4. Interesting, they used each other, one headed for adventure and a date with the gutter for the other. I like your blog and I love your fiction. I shall return

  5. Love the acid stamp prose poem of the fourth paragraph, though I had a hard time calling douche-bag Macon: in my head, I called him Bacon. At this point, Cassie would probably agree, ensconced no doubt in a downtown Houston oil company high-rise, in the boom days.

    I love, too, her resilience, her pick up and go: tell me in her heart of hearts she didn’t see it coming, anyway, right?

    More Cassie to come?

  6. DANNI
    Yeah, the Rhett boys. They’re like shiny things and yeah, I’ve had me a few. Maybe we’re charmed by the seeming full-of-life freedom of it all—the wild, untamedness, the reckless abandon, the blustering confidence—and maybe we wish it for ourselves. Maybe we like that they treat us like they look: exciting. But when we find out we’re not special, that we’re interchangeable, that they treat everyone they want something from like that, then we see their freedom is born out of ice cold selfishness and breeds consequences that burn. Then again, maybe it’s simply that we want to own what we can’t have. LOL! But I’ve been done with all that nonsense for a long, long time, not like the south. Chances are I’m not done with the south.

    ____________________

    SARALA
    Welcome! Thanks for the visit and the thumbs up.

    ____________________

    ANNO
    LOL! You probably do know him! Macon the bacon man, sizzlin’ in the Devil’s fryin’ pan, grease spittin’ out live and nationwide. And cute little Cassie, you may be right to worry about her. She thinks she’s so tough and knows, but she’s just eighteen and doesn’t know the half of the half of it. She must have gotten riled up when Jules got another billing here because I didn’t invite her to show up. She had to ask me, and as you know she’s not afraid to ask for trouble, so she’ll probably be back around. I think Chicago Lyn was stirring the other day, so she might be getting ready to appear. In other words, I have no plans. For any of them. We’ll just have to see.

    ____________________

    TUMBLEWORDS
    Yes, indeed! Good tension. Excellent! Thank you. I rely on your takes, you know : )

    ____________________

    JACK WEBB
    You certainly do give me a run for my money with your aliases! But it’s the same strong writing voice I always find at the other end of the line : )

    ____________________

    JEFF B
    Thank you, sir! And I wonder, too. I’ve had my go-around with them and I still wonder. The best I can tell, it’s maybe something like what I wrote in my response to danni!

    ____________________

    PASCHAL
    Well, I love the cleverness of “acid stamp prose” in your first sentence. Cassie would agree and she would like to be ensconced in high rise luxury, but at the time of this Jacksonville story, she’d found that so far, what she would like is nearly the opposite of what happens. She wants to be gorgeous but is only cute and she cites that misfortune as the reason she attracts only weirdos and old farts and not handsome Houston oil men. She is indeed resilient and perhaps she did subconsciously know in her heart of hearts how the Mason deal would go—that’s probably how she knew what to do with it—but Cassie never sees anything, only impetuously follows inner promptings. Details of Cassie… A fellow student had this to say about this story, “…[Cassie] had alot of dimension to her. The only thing is that I think that she recovered too quickly from Macon taking all of her money and splitting, it didn’t seem consistent with her small town, innocent character.” I thought that a very good point. There were a few details of Cassie that I could have put in to let the reader know why I know Cassie considered the money ultimately nothing and Macon to be mostly a ride. So I’d like Cassie to keep going with her story mo’ betta, but we may have to wait for an inner prompting : )

  7. You’re doing a writing course? That’s so great :D
    As usual this was really good. I’ve probably seen too many films as it’s so easy to picture this in my head.

  8. I had to read this a few times! The narration was so strong that I was pulled right in. I could feel the Florida heat and Cassie’s sick unease. Macon is as slimy as a slippery rock in a slow moving stream! I especially like the ending – backpack over her shoulder, keeping an eye out for another stepping stone. She seemed to be a different kind of user.
    Really great writing!

  9. Dear missalister,

    Only two things done cause me unease.

    One, that your teacher don’t get hisself or herself the real meal deal, ’cause baby, your words are not yours once they’re down, they’re your characters’ and they make their world sing.

    Two, that you are at a writing school where words don’t matter more than etiquette. Or, that you have a professor for whom words do not have more significance than mere moral significance.

    Because your characters’ words are their exhalations. –And I leak breathing their sweet, decaying breath. It’s a literary kiss, missalister. And you do it well.

    Tschuess,
    Chris

  10. DEVIL MOOD
    Yez, Ms. Mood, I am, finally taking that writing course I’ve been saying I needed. But note my response to the illustrious Sepiru Chris and see the bad side of the good side. Plus it’s killing me, schedule-wise, with work and all.
    I’m glad you came by. Made me realize there is a Devil Mood after all! And I took a look at your “If” poem and holy Jesus, it’s good. I want to do more digesting of it and to comment, so will be over to your place on down the line : )

    ____________________

    PRESENT
    Yeah, Cassie for sure slipped on that Macon stone, slimed by slow water! But Cassie is a different kind of user…I hope. A winner-user maybe. Or a winner, period, eventually, after she grows up some ;-) She’s learning.
    I always enjoy your take on the stuff I come up with : ) And your compliments! My ego’s gonna need those all the more ‘cause I’m getting a tough treatment over at ESC! Makes me think I suck and you guys here are all a buncha ass-kissers! (How’s that for edgy?) But my ego doesn’t care, so come on with it!

    ____________________

    SEPIRU CHRIS
    Be still my heart! You’re in danger of Phishness, Mister! If you keep on with words like this here. And that’s all I’m gonna say. Devil Mood’s watching us now. She knows what I mean. Now then, where to begin wallowing amidst these glorious words that have rendered me both swooning and mad?

    One and two, it’s 200-proof strong and true what you say! That if a character has a potty mouth, you can’t spray jungle gardenia air freshener on him and expect flowery words out of him; and that a professor could be said to be cramping at least style and certainly artistic endeavor by limiting complete freedom of “speech.” But I see both sides of it.

    I understand these words of hers in light of a classroom situation, that “writers should express themselves freely, yet need to be conscious of the fact that the group is diverse and all material should be appropriate for a general adult audience. Therefore, please avoid vulgarities, ethnic, religious, or gender slurs,” but truly they’re in opposition to art, as Poe Ballantine puts it in his “The Fine Art of Quitting,” in “The Sun Magazine,” “There is energy in anger, death, sacrifice, risk, heartbreak, madness, poverty, evil, destruction, and the pursuit of truth. There is not much energy in imitation, conformity, fear, worry, pretending, hiding, dressing up, or playing it safe. Security gives off the same scent as decay. The professors up on the hill might know all about art, but art is not knowledge: if anything, the two are in opposition.”

    Ballantine goes on to say, “I remember now why I quit before. The five things you need to write well are talent, heart, life experience, persistence, and luck, and the university can’t give you one of them. And if I stayed in school what would I write about? What would the other students’ beloved Kerouac have written if he’d spent his youth hiding out in college: ‘My Trip to the Water Fountain’?”

    Well, I ain’t quittin’ this class ‘cause I paid out the nose for it and bought all the sixty-dollar textbooks, but I feel a push to expose myself to more of the world when I get done learning more about death where I’m at right now.

    Aw, forget all that blather of mine, Chris, because you already know with your “And I leak breathing…” and your “literary kiss.” : )

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