Jumping Ship – An Excerpt
“When the pursuit of love trumps obligations.”
New York, USA
Pearl & Edward Riley
The Rileys hurriedly left a Sunday afternoon rendition of Pippin at the Imperial Theatre, on the third of June nineteen seventy-five. Edward didn’t typically enjoy spending his weekends out, much less in the rugged Times Square area, except for the sake of love. Pearl’s thirty-fifth birthday had just passed, and tenderly Edward sacrificed his sanity for an outing with his depressed wife. The two force-smiled and allowed instincts to be their guide. The crowd was lively; this somewhat prompted a reaction from the married couple. And even still, Edward had to admit that the show was good. Pearl didn’t think much of it because she couldn’t truly appreciate her spouse’s efforts.
Inside of the theatre, viewers were thrilled to be a part of the lively Broadway production. Edward and Pearl followed along, attempting to mimic, as though reality didn’t escort them into the forty-fifth street playhouse. But it was a blatant farce. Anyone could tell that their enjoyment was a fallacy. Laughter was too intense and too deep, even forced most of the time. Still the Rileys convinced themselves that they were okay, although silent pleas cascaded from robotic actions.
But now, after the show, fears and doubts reappeared. It was a difficult march from playtime; still it was one that needed to be made. Edward gazed down at Pearl, avoiding direct eye contact as much as possible. Around them, everyone scurried through. Soon it would be dark. But the Rileys carried tons of concealed baggage, so their movements were slightly slower.
Edward and Pearl had been together for seventeen years, and married for fifteen. Long enough to know how to appease each other. Yet long enough to know not to appease each other. From a mere reach of five-five, Pearl would glance up into her husband’s familiar eyes. His were usually a gentle shade of hazel. On this day however, slight aggravation caused his iris to flood with deep storm clouds. At times it was quite difficult to see them―truly see them beyond the thin, deceptive double layers of his featherweight spectacles. Especially when she needed to see him. He was several inches over six feet, and looked down to the top of his wife’s featherweight, golden blond tresses. He wanted to avoid her smoky, gray pupils at all costs. They were a sad type of shade, with hues of regret and loneliness. Hadn’t always been. Now they were. So he pecked her soft, delicately lined forehead. And nuzzled against her colorless cheeks. With all of his might, he did what he could to reject the eye-to-eye exchange so many desperately needed. It was easiest for him, in order to protect his sanity. Edward’s ultimate focus was on Pearl’s happiness, and his ability to appease his delicate wife. And he knew how to appease her all right.
They had very little to discuss, because although he’d given into her wants from time to time, her ultimate desire had not yet been fulfilled. The couple sighed in one accord as if rehearsed, and quickly clutched tighter together.
“I want a child, Ed,” she confessed. This was not a secret statement, yet she desired to treat it as such.
Trembling lips almost disappeared beneath her bite. The shine of a peach-colored blush faded almost completely from thin cheekbones. Lengthy lashes fluttered several times. Tears lingered on the brim of her lids. A stampede of sensation trampled up and down her spine. Her arms then welcomed a similar sentiment. A temporary dip in temperature played on her senses, or perhaps her mind. She shook wildly. It was the battle to calm her nerves that stunned her so.
“I know dear,” he cleared his throat, as an outbreath threatened his wife’s delicate nature. They were quite close already, but still he drew her even closer. He was constantly caught between understanding and irritation, fully conscious of the limitations between need and want. Choosing the easiest route, the sympathetic husband’s palms moved up and down his woeful wife’s arms. Her frame was petite-five, and could easily be swallowed up in his embrace. Thin summer sleeves crumbled beneath the touch. His fingers could completely lap her upper biceps. The comfort was enough to distill her qualms, at least for the time being. She allowed her shoulders to slump forward and over, resting against her stocky mate.
Edward and Pearl proceeded forward, getting lost in an environment that was quite unfamiliar to either. Their direction was off, if not for the fact that it was pretty much impossible to get lost in this area. Still, their march was steady and quiet.
After the show, most everyone rushed out of the theatre and far from the area. There weren’t many couples seeking the enjoyment of a Times Square outing. Not then at least. There was talk of renovation. Plans were being made to revamp the region to greatness. Looking around, it was hard to picture prominence in the midst of sin. Eye shadow drenched, red-plastered orifices, and high-haired fashion appeared to be the norm. Trash and perversion were the billboards for immorality’s appeal. The Rileys were clearly out of their element. This was not Long Island.
On just about even single corner, projections of hell flashed from makeshift storefronts and entertainment ready displays onto concrete paving. Women in platform, neon pumps rushed in and out of sturdy brick buildings. Some for work and others for play. Teeny-tiny, sequenced tops, skirts and dresses bedazzled all. Even if it were not ones desires, eyes would drift. Very little was left to the imagination. Bold men slapped at exposed female skin; while, the shady male character slithered around corners to find way to their dirty paradise. Prestige was not associated with the region; however, a push would eventually reform the area. Its present state was iffy; those who knew better were cautious enough to not overextend their welcome.
As the Rileys walked on in a daze a rather tiny young woman rushed towards them. The stranger appeared to be very young. And very beautiful. The culprit knocked into Pearl, but didn’t say a word otherwise. The petite offender halted in front of Pearl. Lingering. The women locked eyes and exchanged friendly, nonverbal apologies. An unspoken pact encircled the two. And for the first time this day, Pearl’s lips intuitively curved up. There was no explanation to this sudden phenomenon. The other raised her head. She didn’t fatigue as before. Calmness flooded their zone. A mere two-second exchange altered time. There was a disbursement of knowledge that neither understood. Full hazel pupils connected with Pearl’s own stormy ones. Speckles of green bedazzled the younger woman’s eyes further. The illusory draft no longer bothered Pearl. No longer tormented her logic that is. In fact, the evening was fairly warm and stifling, yet the younger one was draped in a cheap, brown tweed jacket. Not a single button was unmated beneath a rather disproportioned bump. The sleeves swarmed bony wrists. One arm remained inside and the other held up something seemingly significant from the outside. She shifted, bucking forward vaguely.
The spell broke.
“S-S-Sor-ry,” she finally managed in an unfamiliar dialect. A reddish brown strand of hair drifted down to an eyebrow, caressing her upper cheekbone and ultimately tickling at her staunch chin. The length of the lock was shiny, the tip quite frazzled.
“Are you okay, dear?” Pearl questioned. While her personal weakness was overbearing, she felt an extension of support towards the stranger.
The guest unsealed her mouth to reply, but a breathtaking young man stepped near. Her lips lapped shut. She focused in on his enticing face and softened further. His exotic features were enhanced with deep blue eyes, floating inside an outer rim of thick black. Pupils shone to a greater degree against a fabulous blue button down shirt. His lips lowered to his equally appealing companion. Edward and Pearl stared at the couple, almost fancifully. Why… They could not decipher. Each in his and her own right appealed to the opposite sex.
The younger man’s gaze shifted across the street, then back again. A slightly noticeable vein jolted alongside his jawline. His Adam’s apple rose and dipped. He whispered into his girl’s ear. Her head propelled left, and then right. Yet the awkward frame beneath the dated covering she wore remained stationary. She held on tight to whatever it was. Lines appeared across her forehead. She aged instantly, as her arms tightened against an apparent load. Their rendezvous ended.
Without remark, the younger pair moved ahead in the very same direction that the older couple headed. Moving forward, the striking woman snapped back her neck. She gave a friendly smile, before turning away once more. The peculiar duo disappeared. The Rileys dismissed the chance meeting.
* * * * *
* * * * *
Edward and Pearl Riley found Sakkara’s bundle in the most illusive of places―amongst a pile of trash. Their destination was carelessly determined by senseless reasoning. Neither cared to exist for the moment, though both knew that darkness would soon swallow up the fading sunlight. They had crossed over onto a rather scandalously designed block. A series of XXX stores promising a good time, en route to the Port Authority Terminal, tempted them. Dirt cheap, miniature peep show signs called to hopefuls from corner to corner. The closer they drifted, the greater the pull of its patrons. Big hair walked around in their faces. Pearl was certainly out of her element. She was too simple for this exaggerated lifestyle. From time to time, the glitz and glamour would tone down, giving way to hopeless addicts and unsuccessful prostitutes. The exchange bothered few, as shabbily attired men and women even floated in and out of hell’s mini-playground, along with seducing vibes. Some tunes were loud. Some were slight. Some were utterly lewd.
Every once in a while, and quite out of the ordinary, a religious fanatic would wave a sign of redemption. They were in fact, few and far between. Grungy tresses, white t-shirts, and bell-bottom jeans were common garb for this bunch. Quite the opposites to this community’s norm. These out of place supporters tried to counter the unscrupulous effects of nineteen-seventies Times Square.
And the Rileys only pulled back into each other and prepared to shake off the memory of the latest hellhole, when Pearl came to a sudden halt. Edward tried to gently tug at her arm.
“Let’s go. It’ll be dark soon,” his warning was detached. He examined his surrounding rather keenly.
“No, Ed,” she unhooked from his grip, drifting into a pitch-black alleyway.
“What’s wrong, Pearl?” He shifted from leg to leg, eagerly peeking around once more. Slender, low-labored fingers pulled through the length of wispy, premature graying.
There was no purpose to Pearl’s inquest, not really. She was baited, and could not survive unless she followed through. Although kitten heels slushed across unimaginable textures, tones, and hues of the most inscrutable debris, she refused to falter. The concrete ground comprised of old newspaper and dark, plastic trash bags. Sullied gray rags that were once white, unscrupulously decorated the plot. There was no telling how long any of these had been living the alley life. Common sense fled. She didn’t care. Before long, she was searching through a bundled up pile of old newsprint articles and slimy trash bags dripping with grime. Edward drew closer to his wife, and was still able to remain at a distance. His head dipped as he headed further into the alleyway. There was no movement and very little human sound. His hips shifted right, then left. Nothing. His waist swayed as he looked from whence they came. Nothing. No one else was concerned with his spouse’s diversion.
And Pearl… Pearl only continued digging through the eyesore, and dashing through her madness. Shuffling and scorning. At some point she would need to be fumigated. Later on. Down the road. But now. Right now, the stench was tolerable. Unsound reasoning sent her heart on this illogical expedition. She did not know what she would find. She was uncertain about the look, feel, scent, or sound… A sound?
And then… there it was.
Suddenly a slight, gentle sobbing lifted from the mounds and began to trail in the air. The more Pearl tossed aside, the louder the tone. Late spring’s ardor had finally reached out to her dwindling soul.
“Whaaa,” just lightly, filled the shaded space. “Whaaa… Whaaa… WHAAA!”
Janice Ross- This Author’s Bio:
Janice Ross was born in Guyana, South America and migrated to the USA in 1980. Although her citizenship certificate now reads the United States of America, she considers herself a citizen of the world. Sure she has not physically been around the world and back, she’s travelled in her mind and dreams.
Janice is an author. She enjoys writing about social issues and personal experiences. Her latest release, Jumping Ship is a dedication to her country of birth and an introductory novella to the Island Hopping Series – due out in 2014. It’s poised to be a colorful and emotional experience of life, love and family.
Janice enjoys reading. And is drawn to stories with distinct characters that she can love or hate – characters she can form alliances with or characters that she can swear off and despise. She is also weak for a good cultural tale, preferably in the form of historical fiction – whether present day or in the past. Janice loves to be taken off guard by clever language and settings.
Janice is also a devout supporter and promoter of other authors through social media. She hosts a weekly show, Cultural Cocktails, on the largest social radio network, Blog Talk Radio.
Her book link at AMAZON is thru her author page @ http://www.amazon.com/Janice-Ross/e/B00AMP2Z4C/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
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