Friday Fictioneers – Puttin’ On The Ritz

(Author’s Note: Well, things are about to get busy with me regarding my eventual move back to the United States. Currently whittling down the cities that I may move to, and hoping that I’ll be able to find something upon my return. Otherwise, here’s today’s fictioneers…with a little extra spice.)

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© Marie Gail Stratford

Puttin’ On The Ritz

by Miles H. Rost

“Excuse me, can you tell me how to get to the Ritz?”

“Down two blocks, left one block, on your left.”

The brown-skinned man in the top hat gave him a bow and smiled in thanks.

“Say…haven’t I seen you somewhere before?”

He smiled at the question, thinking.

“Oh, maybe.”

“What’s your name?”

“I am Taco,” he replied, a slight bit of Dutch coming out of his throat.

“I asked your name, not what you ate.”

He laughed, and gave him a salute.

“Look on MTV tonight. You’ll see.”

He turned, smiled, and whistled an Irving Berlin tune.

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Friday Fictioneers – The Winter Of My Disk Content

Author’s note: Since classes will soon be starting up again, I will likely be updating with mostly Friday Fictioneers stuff and short writings that result from my “argle-bargle” sessions of getting frustrated with being a grad student. At the very least, enjoy today’s selection for Friday Fictioneers.

Photo Prompt © Dee Lovering

The Winter of My Disk Content

by Miles H. Rost

 

“Why did we travel an hour to this place for food?!”

Chandra Barker was not a happy person, and her fiancee, Mark, knew it. He sat her down on a bench and looked her in the eye.

“When I was 9, my teenaged sister and I came here for fun. We had these cinnamon flat disks for a snack, before we went onto the ice. It was the last thing that we ate together before the day she fell through the ice. Coming here is a reminder of what we used to do.”

She looked at him, and a tear fell.

“And you wanted to share this memory with me?”

She planted her lips firmly on his cheek, appreciating the gesture.

So Far Away – Friday Fictioneers

Welcome back for another Friday Fictioneers set. If you haven’t already read the latest (and according to some, my best) Mayumi story so far, please go check out “We All Sleep Alone

*Author’s Note: Some have been having trouble seeing the video. If you are having trouble, go to Youtube, and look up “So Far Away” by Dire Straits. You’ll get the feelin’.

copyright Jan Wayne Fields

So Far Away

by Miles Rost

Everything was ready on the table.

Danny got home from work, and expertly prepared a beautiful crown roast of lamb, with mint sauce, lightly fried potatoes, and thin-sliced green beans. All of her favorites.

He set the table with the good plates, the excellent glasses, and everything. His crowning achievement of making dinner, a big one, was complete.

He looked out the window towards the street, the patio bereft of life. He looked out the window for a long time.

It was after about 30 minutes of looking that he realized he was eating alone for the night.

His beautiful wife, his love, would not be making it home for dinner.

Ever.

 

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue

by Miles Rost

Yeardley’s Club was a place for lovers to visit, to eat, and to spend time with their mates. The owner, Bill Yeardley, had a habit of saying that Yeardley’s “is the place where parents can be married again.” Night after night, the main dining room would be packed with the soft sounds of dinner being served, the light sounds of a jazz piano or jazz ensemble playing in the background while parents relaxed. No expense was spared when giving the parents a time to rest.

There were some nights when it was tense, with some parents that didn’t end up relaxing all that much and ended up in an escalating argument. For those times, Yeardley himself came out to the table and helped get them to a private table in a soundproof room where they could mediate their issues and still enjoy dinner. The atmosphere was still the same in these rooms, with microphones around the restaurant piping in the sound.

Most nights, however, were a delight for Yeardley and his staff of 25. They did all that they could do to make the patron’s experiences enjoyable. Not only would this get them to come back again, but it would continue to set their reputation as “the place to get away from the kids”.

This night, Yeardley sat back in a chair in a hidden area overlooking the restaurant floor. He would be able to see if there were any issues, and still enjoy his time. Since the staff were pretty well policed, he didn’t have to worry about major problems. About an hour into the Friday dinner “rush”, he decided to take a walk around the floor.

He walked around the tables, stopping every so often just to make sure that things were alright, and quickly moved on. As he was about to finish his walkaround, he heard the sounds of what appeared to be a couple in distress. He looked around and spotted the table. The closest waiter to him was summoned, and briefed him on what was going on.

“Alfonse, what’s going on at Table 15?”

“Looks like marital problem. I think it’s an affair from what I am understanding.”

“Get the special wine, do NOT charge them for it, and ready “the crystal”. I’ll go over and do the recon and see if we have to deploy.”

Alfonse did so, and Yeardley went over to the table to get more information.

“Good evening. I’m Bill Yeardley, the owner of the restaurant. Is everything going okay for you tonight?”

The young mother looked at him with a look of disgust on her face.

“We came out here to have a night away from the kids, and he decided to tell me he’s found someone new.”

The young father grumbled. Yeardley turned and looked at him with the usual kind eyes.

“Is that so?”

“It’s not that I found someone new, it’s that I’ve been contemplating it because we aren’t in love anymore.”

Yeardley chuckled at this. The young man did not look amused at the chuckling.

“My dear young man, one of the things to remember is that love isn’t a fleeting feeling. Sure, there’s the feeling of eros; the type of love that makes you all gooey inside and makes you put the wrong key in your door. That’s a form of love. But those who are married, and who have kids, it’s more than just that emotional and primal state of love.”

The young man just huffed at this notion, as Yeardley turned his eyes to the young woman.

“My dear lady, let me ask something. When you are at home because of the kids, and your husband walks through the door, what do you ask him first?”

She thought for a moment, and replied, “Can you help me with dinner?”

Yeardley looked at both of them, with a small bit of shock on his face at the obliviousness of the couple, and promptly snapped his fingers. Within seconds, Alfonse and two of the other waiters were at his hand.

“Deploy “the crystal”, Alfonse.”

“Right away, sir.”

Yeardley looked down at the couple, as Alfonse approached the stage.

“I want you to listen to the song that will be played first. Take the lyrics and apply it. I think you’ll understand things.”

Alfonse went up onto the stage, and smiled at everyone.

“If I may have your attention please! There are some points in time where live music is going to be necessary for increased ambiance. Sometimes, it is also for people to listen to something that may give them aid in issues that they may have. In these times, that is when we bring on a few of our better players to join in and play something for a certain couple who may need a little more assistance. For that, we bring on our resident jazz siren.  Please welcome, Sugar Ruby!”

The applause from the people was strong, yet respectful as Sugar Ruby, the jazz/standards singer for the house, walked onto stage. With a count of four, her and the house band started into a nearly note for note rendition of Crystal Gayle’s 1978 classic “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue”.

As the couple listened to the song, the young man looked at his wife and sighed. He shook his head at himself, and he reached over to hold his wife’s hand. The wife looked at him and bowed his head slightly as she covered his hand with her other one.

Yeardley looked down at the couple again, and gave a satisfied smile. He waited back a ways from the table while they enjoyed the music.

After the song was complete, a couple of minutes of just plain, soft, piano music played as Ruby got herself some water.

Yeardley slid back over to the table and looked down.

“My good man, your wife loves you. Sometimes it may seem like there’s a lot to bear, being the man of the house. But remember something, she’s the one you’re supposed to protect. She’s your life. She isn’t disposable, and she loves you dearly. Try to work with her on things, and see how things can go.”

He looked back at the young woman.

“For you, young lady, the biggest thing that you can do for your husband when he comes home is to give him a kiss. It’s a small thing, and it may take two seconds, but instead of giving him a command that may turn him off, it’ll ignite his fire and maybe want to help you with cooking dinner.”

They both nodded at this.

“Your dinner for tonight is on the house. Stay as long as you like, order up a slice of “two-person cheesecake”. But promise me that when you get home, you’ll spend more time with each other.”

“We promise,” they said, in unison. They giggled as they looked at each other.

“And have a good night,” Yeardley finally said, completing his job for that time. As he walked from the table towards the kitchen, he looked at Alfonse, who was grinning from ear to ear at what he had seen.

“Al, this is what Yeardley’s is all about. Making sure that parents have a chance to get together, work whatever issues they have out, and to enjoy themselves while doing it. If I ever retire, I want you to remember that.”

“No chance I’ll forget, sir,” Alfonse replied, with a smile and a salute.

Yeardley laughed at the awkward pose, as he swung through the kitchen doors.

Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance)

by Miles Rost

The day of reckoning had come.

In a gigantic building just off the main drag in downtown Portland, Oregon, nearly 700 people milled around the ground floor. On the 4th floor of the building, it was announced that there would be a major banquet occurring. The announcement of the 15 new dancers of the Portland Ballet would happen at the same time as the banquet.

For half of the dancers, this was a happy occasion for them. For the other half, it meant certain doom as they couldn’t even gain a pound. And for one man, it was an opportunity to not only get a chance at a possible paying gig, but a chance to eat. It would sure beat eating ramen and cream of mushroom soup every night.

Larry Burnell’s admission to the audition was a complete accident. A street person, he was not someone people would think as having any sort of talent. In fact, most people thought of him as a complete bum.

The day before the audition, he was walking from his claimed piece of a sidewalk down 1st Street close to the Morrison Bridge, walking towards the Union Gospel Mission to get a blanket. He saw a red envelope on the ground and looked at it carefully. The name on the envelope was close to his: Lawrence Burnett, and it was addressed to someone at Portland State University. He looked inside and saw his ticket.

He went back to his small camp and rummaged through his stuff, picking up a small harmonica case. He pulled the harmonica out and picked out two $100 bills. It was all he had left, and he was going to use it to try and take advantage of this situation. He went to the local YMCA and took a shower, cleaning himself really well. He even was able to use some floral shampoo that someone left in the showers. After changing into some semi-nice clothes that he used for interviews, he went to a barber to get a shave and a haircut.

He went into the shop looking like a bedraggled 45 year old, and came out looking like a university student. The most important part was complete. He took a dollar and made a call to his mother, who lived in North Portland. While they were estranged, he still  had some stuff there at her place. He asked her if he could come up and pick up a couple items from his boxes. She agreed, and that evening, he had his dancing clothes in his hands and ready to go. He went back down to his pad, and had one of his neighbors watch his stuff for the night. He would return the next night.

He slept at a cheap motel that night, so he could have a great night’s rest. He knew that would be important.

He went to the information desk at the gigantic building that day, refreshed and looking nothing like his bedraggled self the night before.

“Can I help you?” the lady at the counter asked.

“Yes, I am here for the audition.”

“Name?”

“The envelope says Lawrence Burnett. I’m afraid that they got my name wrong.”

“What’s your actual name?”

“Lawrence Burnell.”

After a little shifting, she gave him his numbers, and told him to go to the third floor to wait. He did as they said, and waited. He waited for nearly 3 hours, and his number was finally called.

“Number 699!”

“Right here!”

“Come with me, please.”

He was led to a large ballroom and a long set of tables with 7 judges behind it.

“You are,” the head judge started to say, flipping his chart up, “Lawrence Burnell?”

“That is my name, yes.”

“What do you do for a living.”

“I am a man of the road, most times. I’m a student at this time, though.”

A man of the road?”

A hobo, by name.”

“You….are a….hobo?”

“I hope that I don’t have to repeat myself…”

The head judge just sighed, and put on his best air.

“Are you here for the food, by perchance?”

“Actually, I have been trained in the arts in prior years and I believe that I can do a great job with the Portland Ballet.”

Well, before you can eat, you gotta dance like Fred Astaire.”

“Wouldn’t Mikhail Baryshnikov be more like what I’m going for?”

The other judges bust out laughing at the head judge for such a mixup.

“Can you dance?”

Of course I can dance. You bet I can dance.

The judges gave him the piece of music. It was one that Larry recognized very well, as he danced it in the 1980s with the Sydney Ballet in Australia. Dancing to the song “No Promises” by Icehouse, he did his moves. All of the members of the judging team were shocked that a man of the road would be so good at this.

He ended the performance, and the judges looked stunned. The head judge then cleared his throat.

“Alright, we’ll tally up the score and at the banquet, you’ll find out the results. Please go to the door on your left and proceed to the banquet hall.”

He did, and when he got to the banquet hall, he looked around at the food that was set up. Being one of the last dancers, he got there just as they opened things up. A young lady approached him and smiled.

“Admiring the food aren’t ya?”

Is there water coming from my eyes?”

She laughed, and put out her hand.

“Jenny Carazzo.”

“Larry Burnell.”

He was so astonished by what he saw in the food, he didn’t pay much attention to Jenny.

“Oh my, they got ham. They have turkey. And…is that caviar?!?!”

Jenny seemed to be willing to finish his sentence for him.

They also have long tall glasses of wine up to…YAR!”

She made a big motion with her hands.

He smiled, and asked her if he could join her for the evening’s proceedings. She agreed, and they both filled up on food and drink. They had a great time, while some others were worried about their figures. After a couple hours, the head judge from Larry’s tryout came up to the podium and cleared his throat again.

“We are going to announce the lucky people who will have a position with the Portland Ballet this year. When your name is called, please assemble in a line at the front of the podium.”

5 names were announced, and the winners went up to the front and waved.

“The 6th member of this year’s troupe is Jenny Carazzo.”

Jenny jumped up and gave a hoot. She gave Larry a hug and bolted up to the front. To say that she was happy would have been a great understatement.

8 more members were called, and Larry just kept eating and drinking.

‘The last name on our list is a surprise, as it was someone that we didn’t know had prior experience. We have a former member of the Sydney Ballet in our midst, and I’d like to welcome the last person who will dance for the Portland Ballet this year. Mr. Larry Burnell.”

Larry’s eyes popped out of his head at this, and after swallowing the food that he was eating, he wiped off his mouth and went to the front. He stood next to Jenny as he heard the applause.

Jenny looked at him in shock.

“You actually had to audition, when you were a member of a troupe before?”

“Jenny, that was almost 25 years ago. Another place, another time. I’ve been homeless since ’99. I’m just happy to be able to do this now, and rebuild my life.”

“Me too, Larry. Me too.”