Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Free Fiction That Doesn't Suck


Life changing sentence number one sounded like this, “Get out of my house.” Life changing sentence number two followed a few short seconds later. Most Evil Stepfather Ever had brusquely pushed Most Spineless Mother Ever out of his way, so he could get right up in Lindsey’s face, to add, “And don’t take the car—that car’s in my name—in case you forgot!” At least he didn't hit her, a few months before he had hauled off and slapped her right across the face for mouthing back when he was reading Most Spineless Mother Ever the riot act about something as silly as lukewarm mashed potatoes.

“Big deal, so she smoked a cigarette in bed. You can’t do this!” Most Spineless Mother Ever cried out in protest, suddenly deciding to grow a spine, defending her daughter for once--way too late. But, Most Evil Stepfather Ever could, and he did. He booted Lindsey out of the house.

Good thing, Lena,
Most Generous Acquaintance Ever, took mercy and invited Lindsey to move into her Hollywood apartment, so she wasn’t forced to camp out in a dumpster off Sunset Boulevard. Living with three sisters and two cats proved to be crazy challenging. Lindsey slept on the sofa, or, more realistically, didn’t get much sleep on the sofa. Not with the behemoth large screen TV blaring day and night, the comings and goings of the girls and their various friends and lovers, and the nonstop activity and ensuing racket taking place in the tiny kitchen. Purplish bruises appeared under her tired eyes, her clothes grew baggy, and she spent an incredible amount of time down at the library, attempting to do homework. Concentration seemed impossible. Too many worries overshadowed her ability to focus on studies.

When Most Irritating Boss Ever told her he wouldn’t extend her hours at the dry-cleaning plant, Lindsey decided to look for another job. Peri, Most Faithful Friend Ever, brought her to meet his aunt. The Aunt’s name was Judy Klein, and she had quit working as a television producer to open a little shop on Melrose called, The Luscious Cupcake. Lindsey felt miniscule and plain sitting across from glamorous Judy in her glamorous office. “We sell cupcakes, and nothing but cupcakes,” Judy said. “We stay focused.”

“Well,” Lindsey replied, trying to sound savvy, “your customers are lined up out the door and onto the sidewalk. You must be doing something right.”

Judy, (Lindsey automatically nick-named her Most Luscious Cupcake Ever), leaned forward, narrowed her eyes, and said, “Exactly. Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes! Made with only the finest and freshest ingredients. Oversized and over-the-top. Scrumptious and stunning. Let me ask you this,” she lowered her voice to a near whisper, “do you love cupcakes?”

Lindsey preferred pie, coconut cream in particular, but had a brain in her head, so her answer was constructed to impress, “I do! I love cupcakes. Doesn’t everyone?”
Most Luscious Cupcake Ever sighed, “Unfortunately, some sweet-tooth’s prefer candy, it’s hard to believe, but true.”

“Candy can’t hold a candle to cupcakes,” Lindsey quipped.

Judy plucked a pen out of her sculpted pen vase, “Say that again,” she said.

Lindsey placed her finger on her dimpled chin and did her best to repeat what she’d just come up with, Johnny on the spot. “I think I said, candy can’t hold a candle to cupcakes.”

“I love it!” Judy declared. As she wrote Lindsey’s words down on a notepad, Peri winked at Lindsey. Peri’s eyes were the same shade of periwinkle as his Aunt Judy’s. That’s why he’d changed his name from Bill to Peri. As usual, her heart sank a bit when he smiled her way, because dear sweet Peri was gay, and would never love her. Well, he loved her, he told her all the time, but not in the way she wanted him to love her.

“I’ll start you out at the counter,” announced Judy. “You’ll work your way into the kitchen. You all do, sooner or later.”

Over sushi that evening, (Peri ate little else), Lindsey said, “Most Luscious Cupcake Ever didn’t even ask if I knew anything about cooking. Doesn’t she care if I possess such skills?”

“Not really,” Peri said, as he examined a generous piece of tuna. “There’s plenty to do in that kitchen besides baking, silly. I spent three days back there after I left school, popping cupcakes in pink boxes and tying them up in ribbon before they hired me down at Warner Brothers. So I should know.”

“How was it, working at The Luscious Cupcake?”

“Sweet, and busy. Busy, and sweet. I remember smelling like cotton candy at the end of the day.”

“Not so bad,” Lindsey said. “Better than working in that boring old hot dry cleaning plant. I can’t thank you enough for hooking me up with your aunt for this job, Peri. The hours are perfect. I’ll be able to finish all my classes. And hopefully, once I get a few paychecks under my belt I can find a less crowded place to live.”

Traveling on the bus suited Lindsey.
Most Evil Stepfather Ever’s car had been a constant source of anxiety and responsibility, she didn't miss it. L.A. wasn’t the ideal city to try to make a go of it without a car, but she made it work. It wasn’t always easy to get to The Luscious Cupcake early enough so she could change into her costume/uniform, tease and sweep up her hair, and apply the required make-up. Judy insisted that they wear a French-maid-meets-I-Love-Lucy-outfit, complete with hot pink patent leather high-heeled shoes. Torture devices. Lindsey’s blisters had developed blisters.

“I think I speak for everyone when I tell you; these stilettos have to go,” Lindsey boldly addressed her new boss, after only a few days on the job.

Judy fell back into her chair/throne and gasped. “But the shoes complete the look.”

According to Most Luscious Cupcake Ever, if she’d learned anything being in showbiz all those years, it was that sex is what sells just about everything, and her cupcakes were primo sexy. Her staff must embody that sexiness, in a wholesome, appetizing manner. Lindsey tread carefully, suggesting, “We could complete the look with footwear that doesn’t hobble us, couldn’t we? We could be appetizing in flats.”

Appreciative co-workers showered Lindsey with compliments and gifts after Judy agreed to order far more suitable/but still super-cute shoes for them to work in. “You saved my life,” Most Amazing Amazon Woman Ever said. Her real name was Wendy, and she was really an actress. Wendy bought Lindsey a pack of Marlboro Lights and a Red Bull to show her gratitude. They sat at the bus stop together, inhaling and exhaling and sipping in unison. “All I do is soak my feet,” Wendy said. “And then I have to beg my self-centered boyfriend to rub them. I swear; I ought to break up with him and find a more giving dude, someone that would rub my feet just because he wanted to. Somebody I wouldn’t have to nag.

Nobody had ever rubbed her feet. Lindsey wasn’t so sure she’d like the feeling; it would surely tickle, and she was exceedingly ticklish. “Well, hopefully your feet won’t be so sore anymore, after we start wearing the new shoes,” Wendy said.

“My aunt’s throwing a dinner party tonight, and we’re invited,” Peri announced. “Do you have anything decent to wear? Celebrities, and movers and shakers will be in attendance.”

“I’m not so sure I belong in a room full celebrities," Lindsey admitted. "Let alone movers and shakers. What do they move and shake anyway?”

“Tinsel town, they move and shake tinsel town.” He studied his profile in the mirror, which hung opposite the entry door to his apartment. Peri had many mirrors of various shapes and sizes hanging in strategic locations. Most Faithful Friend Ever suffered from the delusion that his nose was gargantuan, and she could see him imagining it smaller. He was wrong. His honker did fit his face. For one thing Peri had a prominent brow and jaw, really high cheekbones, and an equally prominent nose, the nose served to perform a delicate balancing act. Lindsey had told him so about a hundred times, doing her level best to discourage him from going under the knife. Talking him out of having rhinoplasty. In her opinion, that hideous name alone, rhinoplasty, should have been deterrent enough.

“Can’t you bring Floyd?” She whined. Peri had misled her earlier in the day over the phone. He’d suggested they go see a lesbian play in an obscure little backstreet theater located in an industrial park in Santa Monica, the actresses were scheduled to perform several scenes in the nude, and they couldn’t help but find the prospect of artful nudity extremely intriguing.

“Floyd’s out of the picture. We don’t talk about him.”


“I don’t and you don’t. That qualifies as the big We.”

“Please, let’s skip Judy’s and go see the play as agreed. I’m not even hungry.” It was Lindsey’s turn, time to study her reflection. She was still wearing the make-up she wore to work at The Luscious Cupcake. Her frosting was melting. She was unappetizing. “Look at me. I’m scary.”

“What a liar! You’re always hungry. You’re the hungriest person I know,” Peri declared. He would get his way. Peri always got his way. “I’ll do your make-up. You’ll be fabulously fabulous, in no time.”

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever, AKA Judy, was doing her best impression of Holly Golightly, although she didn’t go so far as to carry around one of those cigarette thingymajiggers. Her apartment was sparsely furnished and surprisingly Plain Jane, to say the least. She had poured all her time, energy and money into her business. That much was obvious. Round rental tables covered in cloths of Judy’s favored Pepto Bismol Pink dotted the room. Instead of floral arrangements colorful cupcake towers stood in the middle of each table.

A catering company had set up shop on her patio: one buffet for food, one for cocktails. Peri procured a Manhattan for himself and a lemon drop martini for Lindsey, shortly after they arrived—which had been tad on the early side. Normally, Peri loathed showing his pretty face before parties got into full swing, but he had promised his aunt to come by to offer advice, if advice were needed. The only change Peri made—he suggested Judy change her bracelet. “I don’t like bangles,” he told her. She ran into her bedroom to remove the offending jewelry.

“See,” he whispered, after handing over Lindsey’s drink, his full lips close to her ear, sending shivers down her spine, “that’s Shyrl Perkins. She broke up with the Channel 2 weekend weatherman. He wasn’t even prime time! Nobody could understand her giving him the time of day anyway.” Peri had missed his calling, he was an editor, but should have been a gossip hound.

Shyrl Perkins didn’t look the least bit heartbroken as she carried on a conversation with Judy. Judy was giggling, a behavior Lindsey had never witnessed her participate in.

“Don’t look now,” Peri added, “but Slinky Slinky just walked in.”

“He doesn’t appreciate being referred to as Slinky Slinky anymore,” Lindsey advised. How she'd retained such information puzzled her. She immediately came to the conclusion that she must be absorbing celebrity trivia from Most Faithful Friend Ever like a sponge absorbs dishwater.

“Ew, up close he’s got bad skin,” Peri said. “How disappointing.”

The night wore on. Lindsey was a fish out of water longing to jump ship. Peri, on the other hand was in his element.

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever found Lindsey out on the patio where she had struck up a relationship with Jim the bartender. He was keeping her in cold Corona’s and Marlboros, and by the time Judy found her, she was tipsy but not so drunk that she didn’t know she was on the verge of becoming plastered. After having switched to beer after abandoning the cloying lemon drop martini Lindsey had really been on a roll. Judy handed her a cupcake. Lindsey didn’t have the heart to tell her boss, cupcakes and beer weren’t exactly a going concern.

“Did you try the Chicken Marsala?” Judy asked.

Lindsey had no idea what she was talking about. Eying the chocolate cupcake, it called to her, she heard, “Bite me, bite me, come on, bite me!”

“Lindsey? Did you eat anything?” Judy wanted to know.

She chomped down on the chocolaty goodness, and answered with a full mouth, saying, in a garbled fashion, “Am now.”

The sugar from the cupcake and the alcohol from five beers combined, and Lindsey passed out at some point and ended up sleeping on a futon in Judy’s home office. When she woke in the morning, working up the courage to venture out, she discovered the tables and little white folding chairs were gone, and the apartment had been stripped of any indication of the previous night’s festivities. Most Luscious Cupcake Ever wore no make-up, and her workout clothes, and still looked luscious.

“How’s your head,” Judy asked.

It seemed so very strange to wake up at her boss’s apartment, embarrassing really. “I’m okay,” she lied. Honestly, Lindsey could have hurled on the spot. Excusing herself, she went to the bathroom. She hung out in there for quite some time, sitting on the floor with her cheek resting against the cool tiled wall, at least until Peri started banging on the door and calling her name.

“Lindsey, you still breathing?”

Lindsey then heard life changing sentence number three, when Judy told Peri, “That girl is wasting her beauty and youth. I ought to know, I did the same exact thing.”

“You're beauty's still intact, silly. Besides, don't you know? That’s what youth and beauty are for Aunt Judy,” Peri exclaimed. “Youth and beauty exist to be exploited!”

Her response? Most Luscious Cupcake Ever told her nephew, “You know, I find it extremely frightening, the idea that you might really believe that nonsense.”

Life changing sentence number four came directly from Lindsey’s mouth, when she reluctantly agreed to move in with
Most Formally Spineless Mother Ever, after she dumped Most Evil Stepfather/Husband Ever. “Okay Mom, I'll move in with you,” she said. “But you’ve got to promise me that he’s out of your life forever.”

They were renting month to month. Oakwood, the gigantic complex they chose, was chock full of stage mothers. Other Mom’s kept mistaking Lindsey’s mother for one of them. She had to tell them, “My daughter’s not an actress. She’s a student, studying to be a doctor.

Once the recession took hold like some creepy clawed horror movie monster, Judy couldn’t sell enough cupcakes to keep the doors open, and unfortunately The Luscious Cupcake closed down and Lindsey lost her job. It seemed, to her way of thinking, all those out of work people, the poor souls that lost their fortunes to Bernie Madoff, and the despondent homeowners facing foreclosure could have used an over-the-top cupcake, and the immediate kick in the pants that only a nice sugar boost could provide. But Judy claimed most customers had turned their attention, and their pocketbooks, to booze and cheap microwavable food. Sales were through the roof in liquor stores, and the frozen food isles at Trader Joe's were packed.

Most Luscious Cupcake Ever was lucky enough to get her old job back. As she put it, Hollywood keeps on keeping on through thick and thin. And wouldn’t you know it, she managed to get Lindsey hired on as a part-time receptionist. At least she didn’t have to get all dolled up to go to work anymore, jeans and a presentable shirt were acceptable attire.

Lindsey spent a lot of time thinking about whether or not she was indeed wasting her youth and beauty. She wasn’t sure about the beauty part. Come on, how do you go about wasting beauty? Beauty just is and then it’s gone. But the youth part, she did understand what Judy meant about that, because a person is only young for just so long. Lindsey was out to prove Peri wrong. We ought not exploit our youth and beauty, she decided. And, putting her money where her mouth was, she quit smoking. She gave up her preferred corn-syrup-laden energy drink—cold turkey, and began drinking boring old H2O instead. She began working out in the gym in the complex with Most Trying So Hard To Be Supportive Mom Ever. Hey, if she wanted to be a doctor, (a pediatrician), she'd better start walking the walk and talking the talk.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley. Steal this story and karma will bite you!


Mr. Shife said...

I enjoyed the free fiction. Thank you for sharing. And I promise I won't steal this story because I don't need a bite on the backside from karma, but I am going to send the wife over to your blog so she can enjoy your wonderful writing. This might be the most wonderful blog I read this week post ever. Take care.

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

wonderful writing Elizabeth!! 5*

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great job...and a nice break on a Tuesday afternoon! Thanks.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Alix said...

Excuse me Miss Elizabeth Bradley, but THAT was just the greatest reading ever by The Most Amazing Author Ever.

So fresh and funny! Thank you for that beautiful sidebar to an otherwise ordinary day.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

What a lovely story of a very human girl trying to figure out where she fits in life. Wonderful secondary characters too. Nice, Elizabeth!


Tabitha Bird said...

Now I am left wanting to eat cupcakes and more of your writing:)

Pop Art Diva said...

I absolutely loved the characters being called by "Most Evil Stepfather Ever", "Most Spineless Mother Ever" and "Most Irritating Boss Ever" - it tickled me because I often thing of people like that (Biggest Butthead Ever, Most Dingy Ditz Doll Ever), lol.

How you can turn a cupcake into a story is just indicative of how truly talented and creative you are as a writer . . . . Most Profound Author of Cupcake Fiction Ever.

Helen Ginger said...

I love the title/names you gave people. That alone gives the story a youthful edge and seemed to be the defining element of the story. Loved it. You should expand the story. Definitely.

Straight From Hel

Cloudia said...

SO doesn't suck!!!

Aloha, Friend!

Comfort Spiral

Kim said...

Very interesting. Makes me want a cupcake.

Laura said...

great story i come up w one character a day but i could never write like this hope ull stop by sometime! leadingladyla.blogspot.com

The Victorian Parlor said...

Loved it!!!



Marguerite said...

Great story, and writer! Enjoyed this refreshing diversion from reality. :)

Jackie Sanders said...

so nice! i love the french maid costume

ellen abbott said...

Enjoyed the story. thanks.

lunardancer said...

I love it! the dark, somewhat biting humor you infused into your writing presented the reality of your theme in a oddly unforgettable way. I clearly understood what you were getting at without feeling too morose that I couldn't continue reading anymore. In fact, it's the humor that made it so amusing and entertaining to begin with.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Amazing writing!! Great beginning, middle and end!! enJOY your day!!

Cheffie-Mom said...

And thank you for the powerful comment you left in my blog. Yes, it does melt my heart to hear my daughter sing - every time.