Friday, February 25, 2011

Second Act

Here's my entry for the Patti Abbott "Scarry Night" flash fiction challenge:

"On Saturday night, we passed a young woman on the street who was talking to her male companion and said, "I really don't mind the scars." A good startup line for a little challenge perhaps. I looked for a picture to go with it but 1) they scarred (make that scared) me too much to post and 2) I felt like the pictures steered the story.

So how about a 800 or so word story that contains that line in it. How about an end date of February 28th? What do you think?"

Hope you enjoy.

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Second Act

"I really don't mind the scars."

Fingers on her back. Angry white lesions contrast with smooth, brown skin. Lola reaches for cigarette.

Enrique says, "You are still beautiful. But they make me angry at the maricón who hurt you."

Lola turns, pulls rumpled sheets over her breasts. Bed, warm and comfortable. Perfumed with lilacs and sex. She inhales. Smoke lazily drifts toward the ceiling, wraps itself around the slowly moving fan.

"He's my husband and he loves me. At least he used to."

Enrique propped up on an elbow, looking down at her face. "He should treat you with respect. You are Lola Montez - The Goddess of Cinema! The obsession of a nation."

"I am Lola Montez - the star who hasn't had a hit in five years. The faded beauty whose charm has run out."

"No. It's not true. You must not say such things."

Lola sits up. Face to face with Enrique. "If only I had met you sooner. These last few months have been heaven. I should've known better than to marry a director. They crave power and control. They do not know how to handle women like you do, Enrique."

He leans, kisses her forehead. He takes her cigarette and mashes it in the ashtray. "I would do anything for you, my love. I would walk barefoot across the desert. I would cut off my right hand for you."

Her fingers in his curly black mop of hair. She traces the line of his jaw from earlobe to chin. His eyes black as a moonless night. Lola says, "I believe you would."

Lola leans back. Spinning fan entrances her. Memories flood back, debut at 19, Oscar nomination at 26. Not yet 40 and roles start to dry up. Magazine covers and photo spreads: gone.

Marriage to Phillip Crosby, director of her breakout hit Hot Tamales. She 22, he 45. Shrink said father issues. Her own abandoned her at 6. Lola said love. Love can fade.

Enter Enrique: valet at Bell Air restaurant. Chance encounter one night when his hand brushed hers. Sparks flew. A weekend locked in a hotel room. Repeated for months.

Enrique stares at Lola's beautiful face. "What are you thinking about?"

Lola turns. "You love me, don't you?"

"Yes."

Lola moves closer. "You would do anything for me wouldn't you?"

"Yes."

Very close to Enrique. Lips almost touching. Her breath causing goosebumps on his lips. She whispers, "Kill my husband."

"Yes, my love."

With her left hand, she pulls his head back and kisses him hungrily on the lips. Pushes him down on the bed and climbs on top, letting the sheet fall away. Lola watches Enrique's eyes drink her in.

****

Lola checks her hair one last time. Never up except for awards ceremonies. She stands and smooths the wrinkles in her gown - v-neck, black, sheer. She picks up her handbag and exits the bedroom.

She hasn't seen Enrique since planning Phillip's murder. Home invasion gone wrong. They came up with the perfect date.

Oscar Night.

Lola at the top of the half-circle staircase that hugged the outer wall of their living room. Straight ahead, a wall of curved glass. LA at dusk. Phillip in the middle of the room, checking his cufflinks. Dashing with tux, salt-and-pepper hair, soulpatch. He hears Lola, turns to watch her walk down the stairs. Her grand entrance.

Lola walks to Phillip. His hand on the small of her back. Kisses her. "You look more beautiful every day."

Lola smiles and looks away, "Thank you."

"The car's waiting out front. Shall we?"

Lola doesn't move. Eyes scanning the room.

"Is something wrong?" said Phillip.

"No. It's just..."

Enrique enters from kitchen. Lola left the back door open. Enrique in ski mask, all black. A .38 in his hand. Lola steps away from Phillip, who stares at Enrique in disbelief.

"What's going..."

Enrique fires twice. Red spots grow on Phillip's white tuxedo shirt like roses. He falls to the ground, dead. Enrique pulls off mask and Lola runs to him. They kiss passionately.

"It is done," says Enrique.

Lola's hand moves from Enrique's shoulder to his gun hand. She wraps her slender fingers around his wrist. Warmth emanates from the gun. "Yes. Just a little longer and we'll be together forever, my love."

"I only wish we could've made him suffer. Make him pay for each one of those scars."

Lola lookes at Phillip's lifeless body. "Phillip didn't do that." She turns to Enrique, "Those are the only thing my father ever gave me."

Enrique's brow furrows. Lola twists his wrist up, fires a shot through Enrique's heart.

Enrique drops to the floor, coughs blood.

Lola kneels. "I loved Phillip, but he was never around. He was always off shooting pictures while I was stuck home alone. Don't they realize that I'm the one with the talent?"

She removes an earring and drops it next to Enrique. Opens her purse and tosses it across the room. "Don't you see? This is the beginning of my comeback. Famed director Phillip Crosby slain in his own home. Beautiful Lola Montez valiantly shoots his attacker. I can play the grieving widow better than anyone. You saw me in Forever, My Love, right?"

Enrique tries to speak, only a bloody gurgle.

Lola takes off her shoe and snaps the heel. "I wish there could have been another way, my dearest Enrique. Just lay still and be quiet. Your role is almost complete. All you have left to do is die."

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Author's Note: If you've read my last couple blog posts, you'll see that I had trouble trimming this down to size. For comparison's sake, I could post the last non-Ellroyified draft sometime next week if anyone's interested.

I look forward to reading everyone else's stories.

9 comments:

Flannery Alden said...

I thought it was well done and a complete story.

As usual, a fine piece of writing that was subtle and intriguing.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Got it!

pattinase (abbott) said...

In keeping with Hollywood's night yesterday. Very nice done with great atmosphere.

WellesFan said...

Flan - thanks.

Patti - thanks. I didn't realize the deadline was the day after the Oscars until I finished the first draft. I guess that's what they call serendipity.

Evan Lewis said...

Fine writing. Great twist. And I'm guessing you knew there really was a famous actress named Lola Montez, though she died in 1861.

John said...

Touché! So many vengeful women in this series of shorts. Lola is my fave of the bunch.

Like a vehicle for Joan Crawford in her Sudden Fear days. Reminded me of Charles Ludlum's plays, too.

Evan is right - at first I thought this was historical fiction. The "real" Lola makes a cameo in George Macdonald Fraser's ROYAL FLASH, long before the days of movies.

WellesFan said...

Thanks, guys. Actually, I didn't know Lola Montez was real. The name Lola popped into my head and the surname Montez just flowed with it. Maybe that's the reason it seemed such a natural fit.

Cormac Brown said...

Whatever Lola wants...

Excellent writing, Welles and you instantly conjured images of Lupe Velez. I actually had to look up Lola Montez, which means I have flunked early San Francisco lore (she and Lotta Crabtree had captured the City's heart).

Doc said...

Hey Welles,

We've got Flash Fiction Friday up and running again with most of the old gang from Cormac Brown's FFF. It works just like the old version except the deadline is Thursday. I'd love it if you could swing by and pen a little something. I'm hosting this week and I'm trying to drum up some new authors. Drop by and tell me what you think. Here's the page: http://www.flashfictionfriday.com/

We're on Facebook too. Just search Flash Fiction Friday.

Thanks,
Doc