Shadows . . . wavering . . . flashing light . . . stillness. Items that
had haunted her all of her life. When all was calm for awhile, her
breathing regulated itself again. Her heart slowed to its normal rhythm.
She felt the perspiration on the back of her neck. As she reached to wipe
it away, a movement caught her eye again. This wasn't in her mid; it was
real. The familiar smell of after-shave filled her nostrils. It has been
said that an odor can bring on memories long forgotten. So, she thought,
it was true. The memories came flooding back. This time there was no way
to block them.|
1971. New Years evening. An apartment off of Hollywood and Vine. The holidays were over, and Alexandria Marie Abernathy Jones was standing by the window. Her husband of only a few weeks was giving a New Years concert at the Forum in Inglewood.
That same smell from years before overtook her. Alex tried to distinguish what it was. It was a cross between an exotic cologne and a barnyard. She brought her hand to her nose and tried to squelch it.
"What do you want?" she whispered into the shadows. "I know it's you again."
A whispered voice she had heard once on that long ago New Years day broke the quiet. "Are you okay?"
"Why should you care? You assaulted me. You violated me, and you want to know if I'm okay? I hate you!" He heard the contempt and sorrow in her words.
"I didn't mean to hurt you."
"If I had known . . . "
"What?" Alex screamed into the night. "You would have gone away? Not only do I hate what you did to me, I hate what you turned me into."
"And what is that?"
Ignoring the question, she went on. "I've spent years trying to wash away the pain you brought to me. I've been running from unseen tortures and unheard sounds. What do you want now? To violate me again? To hurt me again?"
The pain in her voice was too much for him. He ran from there. He had never meant to cause her so much heartache. He ran until he could run no more. As he stopped under a street lamp to catch his breath, he realized that he was across from a church. He hadn't been inside a Catholic Church in years, yet it all came back to him when he entered. He genuflected as he entered the sanctuary and went to a pew and knelt. Tears fell from his eyes then. Forgive me, my Lord, he prayed. I never meant any of it. I will make it all up to her, he swore silently. All of it.
When Alex realized that the stranger had fled, she began to cry. It
had been three years since her disgrace. This was the first time in so
long that she had let the emotions out. Slowly she began her walk towards
the restaurant where she as supposed to have been an hour ago. Her husband
would be worried, but he knew punctuality wasn't her strongest quality. As
she walked, she thought about the events from three years earlier.
Bruce arrived home while she was sleeping. He sat in the chair and watched his young bride. He didn’t notice the bottle of Valium on the nightstand. When they had married, all the gossip rags had said that he was “robbing the cradle” and taking a “child bride”. True, Alexandria had been only sixteen but she appeared far wiser and more mature than her years.
The movement brought Alex out of her reverie. The new life inside of her. She put her hand on her swollen abdomen.
“Oh, please, God,” she prayed. “Let this child live. Breathe life into him at his birth. Please I beg you, God, let me keep this one.” Still praying for her unborn child, Alex walked the last half block to the restaurant where her husband waited.
He had left the church just in time to see her enter the bistro. Would he trust himself to also dine there? In her presence? She didn’t know him by sight. What then? For she had known it was he down the street earlier. The after-shave, he realized. He’d have to wash it off. Upon entering, he went to the men’s room and washed the traces away. He wondered if he should drop by her table. After all, it was Hollywood. Table-hopping was always good for publicity. And she was beautiful. His reflection smiled back at him. He felt really good. And Billy Tyrone always looked good.
“Alex, you’re late,” her husband informed her. He stood to help her with her chair. Immediately the wine steward was at their table.
“Order some wine, Adam,” she barked. “I’m thirsty.”
Curiously, Adam Thorpe scanned his wife’s features. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he ordered a reasonably expensive Chablis. After the wine steward walked away, Alex smiled and leaned over to kiss her husband of nine months.
“You know you shouldn’t drink very much wine,” Adam told her. “The doctor said . . . “
“Forget Beau!” Alex interrupted, referring to Beaubera Anderson, her doctor of four years. “She knows I’ll do what I want to.” Adam wasn’t going to bicker with her. There was no point. What his beautiful wife wanted, she usually received. He gazed at her across the table with the flickering candlelight playing on her features. She caught him. “What?”
He was almost embarrassed that she’d caught him staring.
“Why are you looking at me like that?”
“You’re just as lovely as you were when . . .” Adam’s voice trailed off.
“That was a long time ago, Adam.”
“Well, you’re not an old woman yet.” They both laughed.
Her laughter made him turn from his place at the bar. After her words to him earlier, he hadn’t realized that she could still laugh. Where was his margarita, he wondered. He cased the room while he waited for his chance.
There wasn’t much happening this Tuesday night. The stars only came out on weekends. Shawna Worth, the best selling author of trash biographies, sat at a corner booth with a man half her age. It was rumored that she’d had everything nipped and tucked so she could continue to attract the young ones. Billy glanced toward the back and saw a man sitting alone. A better look made him realize that it was Larry Miller. Larry had been a brilliant entertainer in his day. A decade earlier. He had played Vegas, Atlantic City and every glamorous nightspot in between. Now at the ripe old age of thirty-five, he was doing good to get a job singing commercial jingles. Billy shuddered. Wasn’t going to happen to him. His music and his band would go on for a long time. He turned his eyes away from the crooner. Too depressing. A girl at the end of the bar winked at him. Either a lady of the night or a wannabe actress. That was usually one in the same. A roll in the sack for a one line part. Pretty sad what Hollywood had become. Oh, good, she garnered some other guy’s attention. In the back corner a man sat alone. Billy couldn’t tell what he looked like as he had his cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes. His head was turned toward the woman that Tyrone had followed into the restaurant. Why not, she caught many men’s attention.
“Mr. Tyrone, your drink.” It was the waiter. Billy looked at him. Young and balding – what a combination. Looked like he was working his way through college or something.
“That woman over there. The one with the blonde hair.” The waiter followed his gaze.
“Alexandria Thorpe, sir. She’s one of our regular patrons.”
“Alexandria.” Her name rolled off Billy’s tongue.
“Beautiful lady, isn’t she?” The waiter expressed. “You two haven’t met?”
“No. At least not yet.”
“Should I send a drink to her table?”
“That man with her,” Billy began. He hadn’t heard the waiter. “Who is he?”
“Her husband, sir. He’s also in the business.” When Billy remained silent, the waiter moved off. Could he trust himself to go to her table and introduce himself? He wasn’t sure. He gulped his drink and found the courage.
Alex and Adam were discussing the album she had in progress when she felt someone approach. Her eyes met his. She smiled.
“Hello,” she greeted.
The voice that fifteen minutes earlier had been scornful was now light and genuinely warm. Her accent – what he had taken for British three years before and had since learned was Australian, had Americanized.
“Yes? Can I help you?”
“Just wanted to meet the talk of Hollywood.” They both laughed.
Adam felt as if he had blended in with the décor. It bothered him that his wife’s superstar status was a tool used by fans and industry people to interrupt her privacy. Adam took his privacy very seriously.
“Yeah, I’ve seen your movies and enjoy your music.”
“Why should I be kidding?”
“You? Billy Tyrone? Lead singer of Raving Maniacs. You’re into heavy metal.”
She knew who he was. That was good. She also didn’t know that he had once been her wrath. That was also good.
“I perform heavy metal. But I love listening to your voice.”
“Excuse me,” Adam interrupted. “Alex, we really should be getting home.”
“I’m sorry. Billy, this is my husband, Adam Thorpe.” The two men exchanged a handshake as Adam stood. “It’s been a treat meeting you, Billy. If you ever get out to Malibu, please don’t hesitate to stop. We’re real easy to find.”
“Malibu?” She had moved. “I guess I pictured you a city girl.”
“I did live in L.A. but that was three years ago,” Alex answered.
“Alex,” Adam said.
The trio exchanged good-byes, and the Thorpes left the restaurant. Billy smiled to himself. No trace of recognition. She had no idea. It was going to be very easy to get to know her better. Maybe the Billy that Alex had met in the bistro could help her overcome her hatred for the Billy who had tortured her years before.
Alex stared out the window while they drove out of Hollywood toward their lavish six-bedroom beach house. The night was filled with neon lights. She strained to see the stars but in the city, it just wasn’t possible.
She loved the beach for just purpose. She could sit on the sand and count the tiny lights in the sky. It always gave Alex a feeling of security. Lately that was all she had.
Carrying a child that wasn’t her husband’s had altered the marriage. Adam had forgiven her for her indiscretion but she didn’t think he would ever forget. He hadn’t touched her since she told him of the child’s paternity. Alex often wondered when she should tell him that they did have a child. A daughter hidden in a foster home miles across the city. A child borne from the first night of love they had shared. When she had just been fifteen. She wondered if he would forgive her for that secret. The two children they had already had together had been taken from them through crib death. It was ironic, she thought. Nineteen years old and a climbing star. Her two movies had both been critical and box office successes. Her albums had started out slowly and quickly climbed to the top of the charts. Then gold. Fan mail was filling the studio’s offices. She even had her own fan club. All that fame and success, but she still felt empty.
“Alex, are you okay?” Adam put his hand upon her cheek while keeping his eyes on the road.
She faced him and smiled. “Of course I am.”
“You never told me. What kept you?”
“I was only enjoying the walk from the studio and the sounds of the city,” she lied.
“You really shouldn’t be walking alone at night.” He gave her the same lecture every time she went out walking. Crazy fans, jealous women, lunatic reporters. Her mood changed.
“Can we just get home, Adam? I’m real tired.”
Adam didn’t know if it was the hormones associated with pregnancy or if Alex was just being cranky. He wasn’t going to start with her this evening. So silently he kept his eyes off of her for the rest of the drive. He wished he knew what had changed her.
When they had first found love in Australia, she as shy and naïve. Her kind words would have melted honey in the coldest blizzard. The sweetness rolled off of her. He had fallen so deeply in love with her. Yet lately she was so different.
It had been hard to hear the words she spoke upon learning of her pregnancy. I’m sorry, she had told him. It wasn’t meant to happen. You were gone, and I was so lonely. With tears starting to sting his hazel eyes, he fought back the memories. He would just go on pretending that the child in her womb was his. That’s the only way he could keep going. He wasn’t about to lose her. He had lost her once when she had left Sydney. It was by faith and the will of God that they were together now.
Alex lay in the king size waterbed between the mauve satin sheets
listening to the waves of the Pacific slap the shore. Soothing. Usually
it lulled her to sleep. Tonight after the incident in the alley, she
wasn’t sure if she could get any rest. It had disturbed her more than
she’d initially thought. Her control seemed to slip away again. This
time though she had strained to see the man. He had kept hidden in
the darkness. Only that horrible odor gave him away. Alex was afraid
that one day she would meet up with him again. Only in the light of
day. What would she do once she came face to face with him? She was
frightened by the thought; but more so with the knowledge that she
may never find out and have to go on living in fear and hate. That
hatred had eaten her up. The child within her moved and stirred up
other memories. Of another child.
Copyright 2001 © Wendy J. Littrell
Stay Tuned for the next part