Excerpt from Novel by Lisa Golem: “Just Enough Dreamers” (c) 2015

“Honey, he wants me to prove my loyalty.  He thinks it’s in my best interest to get an apartment close to the office so I can stay in the city during the week. Then I could be available at all hours for time-sensitive work.  He doesn’t mind me coming home on weekends…”

Doug trailed off as he saw the impact of his words hitting Orianna’s heart.  She didn’t speak.

“Ori, in exchange for this sacrifice, he says my name could someday go up on the door!  It’s what I’ve always wanted.”

“What did you tell him,” Orianna finally asked in a measured tone.

“I fucking told him thank you!  I said it would be an honour to sit under his tutelage. I said I was overwhelmed by his gracious offer.  I also said I needed to discuss it with you, of course.

“Ori, you know how much I want this.  Partner… in the biggest firm in Toronto!  High stakes, high pay-off cases.  Notoriety.  Fame.  I want it.  I want ALL of it!” 

Doug realized he’d been ranting.  He stopped and took Orianna’s hand.  It was trembling.

“Aw, honey. I know you’ve not been well.  And honestly, if I hadn’t seen you improve so much this summer, I wouldn’t even consider this. I’d never do anything to hurt you… to cause you to… uh, regress. If this would set you back on that path, I won’t do it. I won’t sacrifice you in service of my career.

“But Ori, you’ve come so far! You seem perfectly fine now — your old self.  You’re my little Orio-Cookie again!”

“And I need to do what’s best for my advancement. For both our sakes.  Understand?” With his eyes, he pleaded with her to give her blessing.

Orianna faced him. “So, you’ve pretty much decided, then.”

“How the hell did you get that from what I just said?” he spouted. “Of course not! I’m asking you, not telling you… really.”

“So, if I asked you to stay, if I told you I’d lose it if you left, then you would stay… and not resent it?”

Doug fell silent.

“Doug, I need you to answer my question. Would you really give up this opportunity — which is really just a request to enslave you 24-7 to the firm’s agenda?  Would you?”

“See, I knew you wouldn’t understand,” Doug screamed. “That’s the way it works out there in the real world, beyond these four walls!”

“Doug, I do understand.  I understand relationships.  I understand we’ll drift apart even more.  I understand you’ll build your life without me in it.  I’ve already noticed this happening to us with your long commute. All the time we already spend apart!  Oh Doug, do you really think we’re as close as we used to be?”

“Ori, that’s not fair!  I haven’t felt close to you in a long time, long before our move, and you damn well know it. And that’s NOT because of my job!” His agitation had turned to anger.

“There it is!” Orianna shouted triumphantly. “The elephant in the room! It’s MY fault because I’m a mental case, right? Because I’ve been a crazy nut.  We can blame all our problems on that!”

“Ori, for heaven’s sake. No one could get close to you when you were like that. There was no way.”

“Doug there were many ways.  You just didn’t try.  You could’ve walked beside me in my pain… you could’ve listened to my heart… you could’ve at least held me when I cried!  Instead, you ran away.  I didn’t even know you.  For months… probably years if I’m honest. 

“You just avoid everything that’s messy and real… anything that doesn’t fit into your perfect little fantasy world.  No picture-perfect wife to throw picture-perfect dinner parties to picture-perfect stuffed shirts.”

Orianna was on a roll.  These were words she had never shared with Doug. These were words long overdue. She continued bravely on…

“I thought maybe loving me would roughen up your perfect edges a little.  But all I keep getting from you is judgement and pity masked as appeasement.  You jumped through any hoop and over any hurdle, hoping that it would make your precious ‘Orio-Cookie’ happy again. As if happiness is the answer… as if it should be who I am.  And if I’m not happy, if I’m not perfect, you can’t love me.”

“Ori, for crying out loud! What are you going on about? I’ve loved you… I’ve given you my life!” Doug ran a tense hand through his thick blonde hair.  “How… how did we get here?  I mean a minute ago we were making love, for the first time in forever.  Shit, I don’t even remember the last time we made love.  And you say I don’t love you? You haven’t exactly loved me either.  You’ve been an empty shell — not a wife.

“And even as I say these words, I worry I’m going to send you back there… to that vacant place. I worry about you all the time.  And yes, I walk on eggshells so I don’t say anything to upset you.  But I guess I’m getting tired of it.

“What was I supposed to do when you were crying all the time, hiding in this ridiculous bed?  I didn’t understand it then, and I admit I’m at a loss to understand it now.

“I just do what I can. I work hard. I pay the bills, provide a comfortable home.  I even moved to this hell-hole for you.  What more do you want from me?!”

“Doug… I just wanted you. I just wanted time.  I wanted you to accept that things sucked, to not try to fix it, but to just be with me in the middle of it. That’s what people who love each other do.”

Orianna stopped, seemingly to decide whether to continue.  But, she had gotten this far with finally sharing her heart, so she plodded on.

“Hon, I don’t really know if I believe my illness was all about me. Have you ever stopped to wonder how our marriage may have contributed to my illness in the first place?  Have you ever considered if you had any part in it?”

“What?!”  He winced visibly.

“Doug, I’m not trying to blame you…”

“The hell you’re not!!”

“Just listen. It’s just that we got married so fast.  You’re an impressive man and hard to resist.  Attractive, witty, intelligent, successful… There are so many great things about you. I was whisked away.  But sometimes I wish…”  She stopped.

“Go on. No sense stopping now.”

“Sometimes I wish you were a little more… human.”

Doug’s forehead wrinkled in confusion.  “Ori, what in hell are you going on about?   I don’t understand you.”

Sadly, she responded, “No, I’m guessing you wouldn’t.” She sighed.

“Look, Doug.  Maybe you should move back to the city… you really are miserable here.  And you can come home on weekends… if you want.”

Time skipped a beat.  Though he was finally hearing what he wanted to hear, he didn’t like her tone.

“Are you fucking kidding me?  It sounds like you want me to move out. That’s not what I was suggesting. I merely need to be in the city during the week for my job. Period.”

“Fine. Fine. Whatever you want.  And you don’t have to worry about me — there are good people here who love me and will be here for me.  Their friendship has helped make me better… I AM better.  They know how to be real.”

“Really, Ori?  They’re looney tunes!  I mean I’m glad you think they’ve helped you, but don’t for one second insinuate that they’ve done more for you than I have!”

“Doug, don’t call them names or judge them that way.  No, they’re not perfect and neither am I.  There are few people on this planet as perfect as you.  I mean, you are like a machine… a computer.

“It’s like there’s a little drill sergeant in your brain shouting out marching orders every minute of every day.  You’ve become a human doing instead of a human being.

“I swear there’s something about you that’s not right.  And because I was sick for so long, I couldn’t see it.  I thought it was all my fault.  You were perfect and shiny, and I was damaged goods.  But now, I’m not so sure it’s that simple.  There are things I need that you don’t seem capable of giving me.”

“Ori,… are you saying it’s over?”

“No. Not at all, Doug. I love you.  I do.  This is me trying to finally work on things.  We need to do that.   I need to share more… to speak my truth.  And you need to learn to support me and love me in a way I can truly feel it and receive it. I don’t know how we can do that if we never see each other.

“I’m angry, Doug. Angry that you don’t care enough about our marriage to put me first.  You left me in a myriad of ways when I was sick.  Now that I’m better, you’re leaving me again.

“I need you, Doug.  All of you.  I need a lover, a companion, a best friend… someone to do life with.  Can you give me that?”

Doug sighed.  He got out of the bed, rearranging the bed cloths before he answered her.

“I’ve already tried to be all that for you, Ori.  It’s all I’ve got.  I’m done.

“Look, we want the same thing here — I want to put energy into my career, and you want to focus on making a life here.  I don’t need to stay here and bring you down again. If I’m really the cause of all your problems, then I’ll leave.  I’m done.  You can get well on your own.  This is not my struggle.  Ori, I’m done,” he said with emphasis.

Doug went to the closet to pack his things.  Ori had been dismissed.

She tried one more time.  “Doug, I was just trying to fix us.”

“You did a hell of a bang-up job of it too, didn’t you?” he yelled as he grabbed his bag, walked out of the door, down the stairs and out the front door, cursing the red awning one more time on his way to the car.


Departures and Arrivals by Suzanne Lazinsky

An Exercise based on visual prompts

Picture and word prompts

A drunken wino….A tourist….A Hotel lobby…the 50’s   the 70’s…Unbearable smell nearby…Girl on dark street empty.. a teapot and 4 oriental cups

“She truly did not want to be here especially when”…… her fabulously planned wedding had not happened after all.

Lucy wasn’t sure now if this was an escape from the hurt, just a lousy one person honeymoon or where it was leading her. There weren’t any plans now except to escape the hurt in her heart. Unfortunately that hurt seemed to follow her everywhere at all times of the day and night.

She had boarded the train like a zombie, stowed her suitcase up in the top compartment and sank into the seat with a small whoosh of tired air escaping through her lips. At least the tears were either back in check or had finally dried up.

Her seatmate appeared to be a tourist chatterbox who in between questions and exclamations was snapping pictures out of the window and happily exchanging facts and figures about the landscape. The tourist became more excited as the train finally began to slow down and the vistas outside the window were snippets of slums, grand old neighborhoods which were now aged beyond being stately any longer, warehouses and rusty junkyards. All the secrets of the underbelly of a big city exposed in shadows and dim streetlights were flickering by the window. Lucy fought down the ripple of apprehension which was tickling her from her belly to her throat. Finally the train chugged and whispered to a complete stop, the destination was reached.

The tourist couldn’t wait to disembark and shouted a cheery “Good-bye and good-luck” over her shoulder while Lucy gathered her belongings and waved back. She stepped gingerly down the steel steps of the train coach, thanked the conductor for his polite attention and walked past the station lot to find herself standing and looking down a barely lit, wet from fresh rain, obscure street in the middle of downtown nowhere.

Shadows danced in the wind making Lucy feel colder than she should have on a summer’s evening. The rain had awakened all the garbage scents from nearby hidden alleys. Her nose crinkled in disgust and the aromas tackled her mind to once again make the memories of her wasted wedding dinner enter the forefront of her mind. The cloud of smells taunted her about how her plans had turned to garbage. Bruised lettuce, spoiled fruit and rotting meat assaulted her memory and the flash of her 3 tiered white frosted cake skipped by her inner sight. She choked back a teary gasp trying not to think that her life was garbage now too.

She gazed down the lonely, darkening street and in the distance spotted a flickering neon sign. It looked like it might be a hotel or at the least a hostel and she figured it was time to find a place where maybe she could achieve a night of dreamless sleep. No point in having dreams anymore. When they disappear or crumble they simply hurt too much. They become a heavier piece of baggage than if they had never existed in the first place.

She picked up her suitcase, the “new valise” which still had her honeymoon nightgown, the new sexy scent perfume and her going away outfit packed inside. Well, she certainly went away all right. Now the trick was to either find her way back to that former life or if she had enough courage, to discover a new world, one where she fit in better, where she could maybe feel new again.

She headed towards the neon blinking at her with a crazy kind of welcome.

At first all she could hear was the tapping of her high heels on the pavement but as she got close to the neon, the strains of 50’s Rock and Roll music shimmied in her ears. That made her smile, a little ghost of a smile but a smile nonetheless and she quickened her pace.

Within a few blocks she found the source of the neon light, a small hotel tucked into a back alley street. It looked like it had once been a high end boutique hotel but now had aged into what seemed to encase several decades of musical movies. Right now the strains of notes were making it seem like a 50’s sock hop bee bop wanna be, a high school dance party place after the prom.

The music was hard and fast and her feet started to feel less heavy and sad. She stood and listened for a bit, remembering the songs and better times. The times when things seemed easier, newer and more clear cut. Maybe they hadn’t been but the music made it feel that way, new and exciting, each day with a new discovery to make life faster and better.

Suddenly the door was pushed open and along with the music a very inebriated man stumbled out singing a 1970’s KISS band ballad, retro but definitely not 50’s. Nor did he look like a 50’s throwback. Instead he had long dark 70’s styled hair, torn at the knee blue jeans, jean jacket and a band monogrammed t-shirt. He waved a bottle of Jack Daniels in the air and negotiated the concrete staircase like a dancer with an invisible partner.

Lucy started to reach out her hand to help sturdy him near the final steps but then pulled back as she could ascertain he was over 6 feet tall to her 5feet 2 inches. She did not want to end up in a heap on the puddle stained sidewalk. He teetered for a few seconds on the final two steps then collapsed on the bottom step, not a drop of the whiskey was spilled nor did he miss a passionate note of his song. However, he did look at her lopsidedly and when he finished his song, smiled and said “hullo there sexy lil thing…hiccup…wanna dance?”

Before Lucy could answer he was up on his feet, had grabbed her hand and was swinging her into a not too clumsy a dance step. After a few spins and twirls he stopped abruptly and pulled her down to sit on the steps with him. He reached into a pocket of his jacket and pulled out a small and fragile looking tiny Chinese teacup, the kind without handles. He stretched out his arms, one hand with the bottle of dwindling Jack Daniels, the other with the tiny teacup, looked sideways at her with a handsome grin and then poured a neat shot of the caramel colored whiskey into the tea cup.

“Here ya go ‘lil bit for a ‘lil bit …that’s what I’m gonna call you, ‘lil bit…share a shot with me.” He smiled and handed her the teacup with a flourish.

Lucy couldn’t help but grin back and accept the drink. “Thanks”, she replied politely and tossed the liquor down her throat. It burned but settled nicely and she found yet another smile for the evening.

This had been more smiles than she had felt for days.

“So you gonna live here or what?” he asked glancing at her suitcase.

“Well I do need a place to stay. Good recommendations about this place?” she asked.

“Yeah” he smiled. “I know the management. C’mon lil’ bit let me introduce you.”

He stood up more steadily than Lucy would have imagined, grabbed her suitcase, offered his other arm, which still kept charge of the depleting bottle of whiskey and led her up the cement stairs and through the doors. A blast of ‘50’s swing music hit her ears and she could see a bar/ballroom filled with people dancing. They were dressed up in vintage ‘50’s outfits but not high school style after all. Instead the look was ‘50’s adult cocktail. Full skirted silk cocktail dresses with crinolines for the ladies and skinny leg suits for fellows.  The energy was electric. A quick glance at the posters on the wall revealed that the following weekend would be a flash back to the powerhouse energy of the ‘70’s, which explained her new found drinking buddy.

The new friend and self promoted escort steered Lucy towards the front desk in the smallish lobby. The décor was all polished, clean and highlighted with good but worn oak wood. The carpeting was a faded design of green leaves and the walls a cream stucco. It was just as hard to judge the age of the hotel from the inside as from the outside. All that was obvious was that it was not new but seemed clean and maybe a bit exciting. The walls definitely hinted at stories to hide and to tell.

“Angela, this here is lil’ bit. She needs a place to stay and she is a good friend of mine. You’ll have a room for her right??.. a nice one …right Angela?” he leered in a most charming way across the counter.

Perched on a stool behind the wooden counter was Angela, tall and voluptuous with a rather tired blonde beehive hairdo. She was wearing a figure hugging black and white polka dotted va va voom dress and she had the va va voom to fill in all the right places. Angela filled up space quite nicely and she knew it.

“Ah Jamie” she sighed, shaking her head and slinking off of her stool. “I thought Leo tossed you out, it’s 50’s night not 70’s babe and you are drunk. You were probably annoying on the dance floor too.” She turned towards Lucy and greeted her. “Hiya doll.  Where did you meet this rock star?”

“Outside on the steps” Lucy confessed. “But I was on my way here from the train depot anyway. Do you have any rooms available?” she asked and then added “and not too expensive?” while she winced a little, suddenly aware that she would have to be careful with her money. The pain of the almost wedding clinched not only her heart but her bank account also. The reality of being away from her hometown and its comforts and familiarities was suddenly hitting her.

Angela seemed to sense the ripple of fear that traveled through Lucy. She knew that the city held a lot of stories and this woman wearing the neat traveling suit and high heels and carrying the new suitcase was just beginning a new chapter in her life. Leave it to Jamie and his misdirected ballad of a heart to find another doll to mend.

Angela looked Lucy over again and she could see the determination in her eyes and her posture. It was like seeing parts of her very own self from a few years ago. She swung the register book around and proffered a pen towards Lucy.

“Sign in doll. We have a lovely bed/sit on the 2nd floor. Even has a view of a few trees so maybe a bird’s nest to watch too.” She chuckled and turned to remove the room key from the hook.

Jamie watched the transaction with bleary eyes and then excused himself, figuring he was back in Angela’s good graces and could weasel past Leo the bouncer.  He dropped Lucy’s suitcase beside her and popped a boozy smooch on the top of her cheek.

“Good night lil’ bit….see ya later…I’ll save ya dance” he said as he wandered and wove his way back towards the ballroom.

Angela and Lucy shook their heads at him as he swaggered into the ballroom belting another KISS band famous hit song. With a little make up Lucy could see how he would resemble a member of the famous band, probably Ace Frehley.

Angela confirmed the thought and said “Yeah doll, he plays in a cover KISS band.” And she laughed and rolled her eyes, “He is a rock star on his way to becoming a legend.”

Lucy signed the register and Angela checked her signature. “Lucy eh?…nice musical name” she smiled.

Lucy smiled back and asked “Oh, and what is the name of the hotel? I never had a chance to see or read a sign.”

“It has had many names over the years” Angela explained “but today it is called “Next Chance Suites” and she winked one of her long fake eye lashes.

Lucy laughed with Angela as they heard the strains of Little Richard’s “Lucille” resonate in the ballroom.

“Maybe next week we will be listening to “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds.”  Angela shared this thought with another laugh.

Along with the music they could hear the cocktail glasses and ice cubes clinking and people laughing just like her guests would have been doing at her lost reception. There was no going back now but Lucy found that she wouldn’t want to anyway. She had some dancing to do yet.

“Stinky Bandit” –a story written during a group exercise

Stinky Bandit   (c)2014 Lisa Golem

Ralph had never tasted limburger cheese quite like it. He remembered the taste from years back… before he’d ended up broke, desperate and homeless.

In fact, today he didn’t even mind being a beggar. He’d found a delicatessen on the corner of Firth and Paller. Petunia, the plump lady who owned the establishment, was a pathetic push over! In the short time he’d waited at the back door of the store, she’d given him a $20 bill, a loaf of bread, a pound of salami and a tiny taste of the aforementioned cheese.

But, Ralph knew he needed more! While he hated to wrong the hand that fed him, he couldn’t help himself. So he had placed a stone in the door the last time Petunia had gone inside. No one had noticed it was ajar. So far, so good.

He slipped into the doorway as quietly as he could, hoping his body odour wouldn’t betray his presence. Taking a deep breath, he tiptoed into the large kitchen. Unbelievably, there was no one there! He could hear Petunia out front talking to a paying customer.

Noticing a large wooden door he presumed to be the entrance to a walk-in fridge, he figured he’d found the best hiding place for limburger cheese. Unfortunately, the latch made a hellishly-loud clack. He bounded into the arctic air and slammed the door as quickly (but not so quietly) as he could.

He knew he should’ve bolted out of the store… he knew he was probably heard… he knew he was a cheese-loving sitting duck… But, he had risked this much for limburger cheese, and he wasn’t about to leave without it!

Spotting the coveted prize, he grabbed it and stuffed it into his coat, along with an enticing jar of icicle pickles. Now to calculate the likelihood of finding Petunia on the other side of the big door with a baseball bat… “Oh well,” Ralph reasoned figuring he had to leave either way on account of his frigid extremities.

When he opened the door, he was surprised to again be greeted by a deserted kitchen. Sighing with relief, he ran out of the fridge leaving the door open behind him. But alas, in his haste, he managed to knock a full tray of sausage onto the tile floor. Hearing the deafening clatter, and Ralph’s cursing, Petunia ran into the room to find the unlucky bandit frantically trying to get his feet back under him, spilling miles of sausage guts in the process.

Petunia’s face held a mixture of anger and sadness as their eyes briefly met. Then Ralph turned and raced out the back door thinking of cheese and pickles and narrow escapes.

Was this to be the end of the story? Not on your life! Petunia was not one to take limburger cheese theft so lightly!  Catapulting to the front of the store, she promptly enlisted the help of her young daughter, Ruth, a regular customer named Dave, and Sally–a tourist who had come to the little deli to experience the world-famous double-decker sandwich.

Dave took charge. He was a triathlon competitor, so he had complete faith they could catch the derelict with sheer speed.

A battle cry erupted from his throat: “Let’s get our man!”

The three unlikely heroes flew out the door into the alley with all the finesse of the X-Men. But since there was no sign of the culprit, they were forced to guess his migration path.

Dave instructed the gang to split up.

Dave went to the left, racing down the alley as if there were explosives tied to his backside. Unfortunately for him, running aimlessly gleaned no cheese-addicted prey.

Sally, who was on vacation from putting away law-breakers in New York city, figured she could use her skills of detection to find the vermin. She strode off to the right and proceeded to interview potential eye witnesses on the street as to the whereabouts of the stinky bandit. Though some had seen him, they had no idea where he’d gone.

Ruth, being an astute 9-year-old genius, also went to the right and all the way to the end of the alley. She stopped to observe. She asked herself, “If I were a stinky man trying not to be seen, where would I run?” Immediately, she noticed a small side street about a block down, both because it was inconspicuous and because of the behaviour of the passersby. They were all busy making faces and plugging their noses in disgust.

“Aha,” Ruth thought to herself. “What could be stinkier than a bum with limburger cheese in his coat?” She strolled happily to the offensive intersection and walked down into the foul belly of the little street.

It appeared there was some construction going on about a block down, but there were no workers present. She picked up her pace and followed her nose. There was suddenly an unbearably putrid smell… it smelled like a skunk had sprayed in a septic tank full of decaying flesh and feces while dining on cheese.

“Cheese!” she cried with glee. Forcing herself to approach the epi-centre of the vomit-worthy stench–an open manhole.

She called down into the hole with her best outside voice: “Hello Mister! I know you’re down there because I smell sewer, cheese and desperation,” she yelled. “Please come up and rescue yourself fro the stink. I promise I won’t turn you in… as long as you promise never to steal again. And I’ll even bring you lunch from the deli every single day.”

Ralph decided this was a decidedly better option than staying down in the stink hole. Besides, the stench was making his eyes water, and threatening to cause him to live up to his unfortunate name. So, he inched up the ladder to meet his 9-year-old saviour.

Ralph and Ruth shook hands on the deal. He gave her the pickles to return to Petunia, but she let him keep the limburger cheese. After all, he’d suffered many indignities for the simple pleasure of eating something that smelled like homelessness itself.

Hello world!

The RAW Creativity Network hosts a monthly group called the “RAW Word Writers Group”. Presently we are a small group at four members, and meet on the 2nd Wednesday night of each month.

If you would like to join our monthly group OR if you would like to contribute here on a monthly basis and receive feedback and encouragement, email RAW at: lisa@rawcreativity.net. I will add you as a contributor here; but, I would certainly encourage you to attend the face-to-face group if you are in the Kitchener area as that is the best way to make progress as a writer. But if you can’t join, this way, you can still take part online!