I write short stories. I own surprisingly few pairs of shorts. I sometimes short circuit.
"Alana" sounds like "A lotta" = A lotta shorts.

Take the title however you like.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sasha & Chuck - Superheroes (Title TBD)

Chuck pressed his fingertips into the biological scanner.

"Welcome Home" appeared in little red LCD dots and the silver door to his hidden underground headquarters slid open.

Beasley was there to welcome him as usual and take his boots.

"How did it go? You're alive, which cranks it up to 'pretty ok', right?" Beasley had been there from the beginning. Back in the orphanage when he was just Nigel, they'd become fast friends but he'd always been timid. He was happy in his role, the Silent Assistant. To him, it felt just as mysterious as if he were the one in costume each night.

Chuck grimaced as he peeled off his ergonomically correct, NASA-knock-off suit and mask. He'd really pulled something in his shoulder picking that guy up over his head.

"I got him."

"Great. Well, they're waiting for you upstairs."

He'd have to attend to his injury later. Beasley, ever swift and efficient, had already separated Chuck's grappling hooks, guns, grenades and other various secret weapons from his suit pieces - breastplate, tights, boots - in order to prepare them for cleaning and was holding open the elevator door.
Chuck, having made a quick change into a tailored Italian grey suit with silver and white damask tie, stepped into the elevator as he slicked a comb through his hair and checked the mirrored walls for flecks of dried blood or visible bruises. Clean as a whistle. He’d taken care not to get too roughed up tonight.

"Oh, and Chuck?" Beasley leaned towards the rapidly closing doors. He wanted to get this bit in at the last second. "Sasha's here."

***

"And that's when I said to him, I said, if I'd wanted a peace treaty I would have asked for a peace treaty."

Sasha chuckled politely at the former Governor's anti-climactic joke as she slipped away and into the empty library off the great room, hundreds of feet above Chuck's lair. She polished off the last of her champagne and turned the glass upside down in her hand. Her silver-painted finger tips swept the bookshelf closest to eye level until she found the groove she knew well. Sasha inserted the rim of the glass into its spot and turned it counter-clockwise. The shelf swiftly swiveled out and around to reveal a seemingly identical shelf that fit in perfectly with the rest of the book case. However, all the books were different. Sasha scanned them until she found the one she was looking for: Until We Have Faces by C.S.Lewis. She pulled it off the shelf and opened it to the inside of the back cover where a library card was stashed in its manila holder. She retrieved the card, slid the book back in place, spun the shelf around and was out of the room before anyone noticed she'd gone.

The governor was telling yet another painfully un-rousing anecdote.

"The Prime Minister, you see, is a friend of mine. So I told him I'd get Britney Spears to give him a private concert and you know what he said to that? You know? He said, 'No, no. We no like Britney Spears no more. We like woman with lots of hair. We want Cher."

Chuck's guests laughed appropriately - Michael the Governor's assistant, Leslie the journalist from City Weekly, Terence the owner and CEO of Chapman's Bank, Alex the head of Chuck's advertising firm CHK, Chuck's attorney, Steven, and Sasha, Chuck's, well, her title was fluid. The only one who didn't laugh, and who made a show of rolling her eyes, was Bunny - the Governor's wife.

Chuck came in to save the day.

"Thank you all for coming. Please, please find a seat. Governor do you have enough to drink there, sir? You do? Great. Everyone ok? Beasley put out hors d'oeuvre, didn't he? Help yourselves. Ok, well, Steven, why don't you get us started?"

Sasha studied her lover. Former lover. They didn't know quite what they were anymore. But she knew him better than he knew himself and that shoulder was going to need a good icing. She put her hand into the pocket of her dress (he'd bought it for her years ago) and stroked the library card. Looking back to him she realized that he hadn't given her a single glance since he'd come in.

***

Chuck peered at Sasha from the corner of his eye. She had the card in her right pocket and he could barely contain his grin. He had to cut this meeting short. Steven was finishing up his presentation.

"So that's the offer from Chapman's and I have these all in folders for you to review."

"Yes, yes. We will all need time to review the offer. Why don't we set up a meeting at my CHK office for next week?"

Alex gave Chuck a look but followed along.

“I’ll take a look at the calendar and send off an email tomorrow morning.”

“Excellent. Thank you all for coming. See you next week.” Chuck tried not to rush his guests out but only reached about 80% of the goal.

Soon everyone had gone except Sasha. They finally made eye contact.

"I thought this was supposed to be the big reveal. What'd you bring the press in for?" Sasha said.

Chuck ignored the question.

"I see you found it."

***

"Well, it wasn't hard to find now was it?"

"You remembered."

"Of course, I remembered." Sasha said, without the least bit of tenderness. "If I were surprised at anything it would be that you managed to remember. Now what is it?"

"That," Chuck moved in close and slipped his wide hands around her narrow waist, "is up to you to find out."

Sasha pulled away. A soft, menacing wind whipped through the room, traced the lofted ceilings and fluttered between Chuck's pant legs and Sasha's skirt hem. It dissipated as Sasha took a breath, her eyes un-clouding from milky white to her neutral gray.

"We're not together, you know." She managed to say.

"I know that. But why not, for God's sake? We're the perfect couple! Besides, I can't focus on fighting crime when you're standing there in that tight, leather, purpley-black suit, right next to me, and I'm not even allowed to touch you! Really, when you think about it, us being apart is bad for the citizens of Capitol City."

"I'm not buying it Chuck."

Sasha stared at him long and hard. She could see right through to his muscles, his skeleton, his cells but not his heart. Not his soul.

"Stop trying to get inside me, Sasha. You and I both know your power doesn't work that way. And if it did, it'd be completely immoral to use it for that. And stupid. I'm showing you all my guts right now."

"I know," she said under her breath.

Suddenly the elevator doors slid open. Beasley sat slumped over in a corner, not moving. Sasha and Chuck ran to him, Chuck sliding to his knees and thrusting two fingers under Beasley's jaw.

"He's alive."

Sasha reached down and pulled a piece of paper out of his hand. She read it aloud.

"Aren't secret hideaways supposed to be...secret?"

***

Beasley sat, although sat may have been too active a word for someone who had just fainted, in one of the over-sized plush chair in the library. Sasha blew a smarting cold wind into his face to awaken him.

He was groggy at first but he rebounded like a cat.

"Sir! Chuck! Sir Chuck!"

"They haven't knighted me yet, Beasley. Just slow down and tell us what happened."

Beasley rubbed his left temple.

"Well, I was down...downstairs...I had just put all your accessories away and your suit and was waiting for the elevator - I wanted to pop up for a moment and see if the refreshments needed to be refilled. Just as the door opened...


Crystal Sat Staring (Title TBD)

Crystal sat staring at a blank page of paper in a well-wrung notebook. She plinked Middle C on her electric piano and then slammed her head down on the keys, disharmony ricocheting violently around her studio apartment. She'd had writer's block for days on end. And it was all his fault.

Crystal's next-door-neighbor was a musician, too. Welcome to Midtown, NYC, right? Only he was a rock singer and she was a Classically-trained Indie-Soul Singer/Songwriter, as she liked to put on her posters. She'd booked another career un-altering show at once groovy bar, The Bitter End. If people were getting scouted at this place with it's strange hand-painted walls depicting S&M women and, in completely unrelated scenes, animals roaming in backyards, then Crystal was not in on it. She, of course, thought she was good and she even secured herself a gig in a showcase at CBGB but then they closed. In fact, they closed without telling her. Crystal stood outside the boarded door, keyboard in bag - hanging from her shoulder, just staring for 10 minutes. Unbelievable, her luck.

When this guy, the rock singer, showed up he changed everything. Crystal went from having peaceful afternoons for composing on her keyboard and synthesizer to stuffing cotton balls in her ears, even at noon. Weren't rockers supposed to sleep their debaucherous-night-induced hangover off until well into the evening? Well, today, Crystal had had enough of it.

She marched the three steps to her door, turned the two dead bolts and the flimsy doorknob lock and flung herself into the hallway. In a matter of seconds she was knocking at 19A, breathless with adrenaline. A dangerously thin model wearing a tiny white T-shirt and tight leather leggings opened the door. She blew a puff of smoke into Crystal's face and tapped the butt of her cigarette onto the toe of Crystal's fuzzy slipper sock.

"Yea?"

"Yea, is right, honey. I'm here to see the guy making all the racket."

She raised an eyebrow and scoffed.

"Unbelievable."

The skinny brunette turned into the apartment. Her bed head was even worse in the back and Crystal couldn't tell if it was from a jar or an actual bed. Or couch.

"Michael - someone in baggy Wal-mart sweatpants is here to see you."

She gave Crystal the once over and slunk back into the apartment. Michael appeared around the door looking fairly typical and quite as Crystal had expected: leather jacket indoors, longish wavy dark hair, stubble, bright blue eyes. He was the boy your mother, well maybe not your mother but your mother's mother, would have warned you about. Crystal had prepared herself for this and so recovered quickly. Had she not she may have swooned right into his handsome arms. That or covered her still unwashed face and ran back to her apartment.

"What can I do ya for, sweetheart?"

"Yes, hi. I'm Crystal. I live next door. And, you see..." Michael's face scrolled into a brilliant ear-to-ear grin.

"You live next door!? That's great. Come on in, neighbor." He put his arm around Crystal and ushered her into his apartment.

**

"You must be the siren I used to hear all the time when I first moved in, singing all those, uh, indie-soul kind of songs. You some kind of singer slash songwriter, right?"

Determined not to be thrown into some lush haze of serendipity by Michael's word choice, Crystal fired back.

"Well, that would have been before you started playing full blast every single day in the middle of my composing time!"

She slid out from under his arm and stood firm.

"And I've just...I've just come here to say that I would really appreciate it if you could have some common courtesy for the rest of the people in this building who are trying to create something, you know? I mean, you could at least just play for a bit then give it a rest for an hour or so. We could come up with some kind of schedule, whatever. Just...you're not the only one here, you know?"

When Michael burst out laughing, Crystal realized she was hearing more than just him. She looked around to discover three other skinny rocker types and another skinny model slinking over the couch and the floor like sweaters laying out to dry, smoking and laughing and rolling their eyes.

"Honey, sweetheart. I dig. It's cool, really. You're very cute."

Michael swirled around, plopped down on a stool and picked up his ______ electric. He motioned to an upright under the window next to him.

"Why don't you do your 'creating' in here? We can jam together and share the space." His friends laughed some more.

"You can't be serious."

"True. But I've been known to try."

Crystal sat at the piano bench because her knees wouldn't hold her another moment. Her adrenaline had been quite drained by Michael's charm and her embarrassment at the other 'hipsters' in the apartment.

"Great!" Michael said. "I'll start and you join in."

Before Crystal could protest Michael started into a rock song. Crystal knew it well as she'd been getting a steady diet of it for the past week. He'd been playing it to death trying to finish it. And since Crystal couldn't concentrate on her own playing she'd started finishing it for him. She'd actually come up with a kicking piano part and suddenly her hands were forming their arch and floating toward the keys.

Crystal tried to keep them steady as she placed her fingertips on the ivories, centering herself with Middle C as her keystone. She tried desperately to imagine that the other band members and impossibly beautiful groupies weren't sitting behind her with bored or snobby looks wrinkling their eyebrows. She was only about four bars in when she succeeded. Crystal always liked to imagine herself at a white grand piano at the amphitheater in Central Park when she knew she was playing well. And she was playing well. The lyrics to the song, usually growled and groaned by Michael, came out of Crystal's mouth breathily soft at first and then louder, each note ebbing and lilting and skipping up and down riffs with her signature British-soul-singer-inspired sound. Crystal closed her eyes and imagined the crowd singing along, lit lighters swaying in the air.

Suddenly a bass, another electric and drums appeared behind her on the stage. A gruff voice began to sing along, blending his own sound with hers to absolute perfection. She hit the final note of the song and slowly opened her eyes to see that she was back in Michael's apartment but he and his bandmates were all at their instruments, their faces full of glory.
The brunettes clapped at the men while stealing odd glances at Crystal which were starting to look a little like jealousy.

"Crystal! You did it! You're amazing!" Michael said.

"Thank you!...I did what?" Crystal replied.

"You finished my song." Michael become very serious. He slid his guitar to his back and knelt on one knee beside her. Taking her hand, he looked her in the eyes with uncomfortable sincerity.
"Crystal, will you join my band?"

Before she could swim back to the surface of Michael's eyes, one of his friends piped up.

"Hold on, hold on." His name was Lewis and he was British.

"That was pretty good but we need to have a chat about this. One impromptu song don't make you one of the New New Yorkers."

"Who's the leader of this band, me or you, Lewis?" Michael retorted, still on one knee.

"You are but we've all agreed to make these kinds of decisions together!" The rest of the band agreed with Lewis.

Michael stood, bringing Crystal up with him.

"Crystal, love, would you let us sort this out? I'll be in touch."

He escorted her to the door, shined her a smile, and left her in the hallway to reel.

What just happened? Crystal wondered as she entered her apartment and leaned against the triple-locked door. She decided promptly to put the whole incident out of her mind, take a shower and go to Barnes 'N Noble to read comicstrip books. It was her way of relaxing and she had a busy night ahead of her: she was catering a pre-Video Music Awards party at a swanky lounge on the Lower East Side.

I'm Still Alive! (Which You'd Know If You Follow CallMeLanii)

Hello all!

It's been a long while since I've posted anything. I've been so busy with the two plays I'm directing, the short film I'm writing and co-producing/co-directing, working, dealing with the US Elections, hosting family and friends and trying to be a good wife that I haven't had time or energy to write that last short story and finish my collection.

And I'm still not doing that. I don't think.

I'm not sure what the last story will be. I have a couple that I've started but they feel like they'll be much longer than any of the others, which is ok. I'm just not sure which one to choose or if it should be a completely new and different story.

So.....you know my other shorts posted here. I'll post the two unfinished works and maybe you could let me know which you think fits best or if I should write something new altogether.

And if you don't have an opinion about them in that way, feel free to just enjoy!

-A-

About Me

My photo
I'm Lanii. I try to Be Good. It doesn't always work. "Call Me Lanii" is sort of about that - my inner and outer triumphs (what?) and struggles. "Alana Shorts" is sort of about that, too: I draw way too much inspiration from the crazy and strange events that actually happen to me and end up writing very little 'fiction'. I usually have my tongue quite thoroughly stuck in my cheek.