Analyzing East of Eden – 1/17

EastOfEden

It’s been a while since I talked about writing, as my mind has been more consumed with film production. I took a few minutes today to read a brief excerpt from East of Eden, by John Steinbeck, and analyze it. I think this is a great practice because it helps me understand the techniques great dramatists employ in order to have the most emotional impact on viewers. Here is the excerpt, followed by my thoughts:

***

Ethel tried to keep her fingers from grabbing at the money. [Kate] fanned the bills like a poker hand – four tens. Her mouth began to work with emotion.

Ethel said, “I kind of hoped you’d see your way to let me take more than forty bucks.”

“What do you mean?”

“Didn’t you get my letter?”

“What letter?”

“Oh!” said Ethel. “Well, maybe it got lost in the mail. They don’t take no care of things. Anyways, I thought you might look after me. I don’t feel good hardly ever. Got a kind of weight dragging my guts down.” She sighed and then she spoke so rapidly that Kate knew it had been rehearsed.

“Well, maybe you remember how I’ve got like second sight,” Ethel began. “Always predicting things that come true. Always dreaming stuff and it come out. Fella says I should go in the business. Says I’m a natural medium. You remember that?”

“No,” said Kate. “I don’t.”

“Don’t? Well, maybe you never noticed. All the others did. I told ’em lots of things and they come true.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I had this-here dream. I remember when it was because it was the same night Faye died.” Her eyes flicked  up at Kate’s cold face. She continued doggedly, “It rained that night, and it was raining in my dream – anyways, it was wet. Well, in my dream I seen you come out the kitchen door. It wasn’t pitch-dark – moon was coming through a little. nd the dream thing was you. You went out to the back of the lot and stooped over. I couldn’t see what you done. Then you come creeping back.”

“Next thing I knew – why, Faye was dead.” She paused and waited for some comment from Kate, but Kate’s face was expressionless.

Ethel waited until she was sure Kate would not speak. “Well, like I said, I always believed in my dreams. It’s funny, there wasn’t nothing out there except some smashed medicine bottles and a little rubber tit from an eye-dropper.”

Kate said lazily, “So you took them to a doctor. What did he say had been in the bottles?”

“Oh, I didn’t do nothing like that.”

“You should have,” said Kate.

“I don’t want to see nobody get in trouble. I’ve had enough trouble myself. I put that broke glass in an envelope and stuck it away.”

Kate said softly, “And so you are coming to me for advice?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I’ll tell you what I think,” said Kate. “I think you’re a worn-out old whore and you’ve been beaten over the head too many times.”

“Don’t you start saying I’m nuts-” Ethel began.

“No, maybe you’re not, but you’re tired and you’re sick. I told you I never let  friend down. You can come back here. You can’t work but you can help around, clean and give the cook a hand. You’ll have a bed and you’ll get your meals. How would tht be? And a little spending money.”

Ethel stirred uneasily. “No, ma’am.” She said. “I don’t think I want to – sleep here. I don’t carry that envelope around. I left it with a friend.”

“What did you have in mind?”

“Well, I thought if you could see your way to let me have a hundred dollars a month, why, I could make out and maybe get my health back.”

“You said you lived at the Southern Pacific Hotel?”

“Yes, ma’am – and my room is right up the hall from the desk. The night clerk’s a friend of mine. He don’t never sleep when he’s on duty. Nice fella.”

Kate said, “Don’t wet your pants, Ethel. All you’ve got to worry about is how much does the ‘nice fell’ cost. Now wait a minute.” She counted six more ten-dollar bills from the drawer in front of her and held them out.

“Will it come the first of the month or do I have to come here for it?”

“I’ll send it to you,” said Kate. “And, Ethel,” she continued quietly, “I still think you ought to have those bottles analyzed.”

Ethel clutched the money tightly in her hand. She was bubbling over with triumph and good feeling.

***

*Let me preface my analysis by confessing I have not read this novel in its entirety. Nevertheless, I’d like to share my insights and you can correct me in the comment section if I’m wrong.

This scene is great in so many ways. It is really a mini-story, and clearly demonstrates Steinbeck’s dominance as one of the greatest writers of all time. I remember when I first started studying writing, I read somewhere that Steinbeck preferred to use one syllable words. I had always thought his style of writing made him a legend, but now that I have a better understanding of some of the more abstract writing concepts, I can see his ability to play with the emotions of readers is what makes his pen so devastating.

Right from the start, we can see that Ethel is desperate for money, so clearly this is her objective. But it is not enough for her to simply accept the original offering, and that is what makes her courageous here – she wants every nickel she can squeeze out of Kate.

Kate, on the other hand, begins the scene by desiring Ethel get out of her hair. After Ethel all-but threatens to turn in evidence that could potentially put her behind bars, Ethel changes her tune and her new motivation becomes doing whatever it takes to keep Ethel quiet.

What I like most about this scene is how Ethel goes about manipulating Kate to fork over more dough. She never explicitly states that she knows Kate is responsible for the death of Faye, but she implies it through a most devious way – by slyly feigning to have psychic abilities, and almost comedic-ally stating she had a dream where she witnessed Kate’s crime.

Once Kate gets the hint, Ethel has her over a barrel – and knows it. After a brief outburst of her true anger at the situation, Kate presents Ethel with a much more generous offer than the original forty bucks. But this still isn’t good enough for Ethel(rising tension!). Ethel requests a hundred dollars on the first of every month, then has the audacity to requests that it be delivered, so she does not have to go out of her way to retrieve it.

I believe that Kate threatens Ethel when she tells her that her biggest concern should be how much the night clerk, who “never sleeps”, costs. She appears to be implying that she could always pay him enough money to look the other way while Kate has somebody eliminate Ethel.

This scene features two foes with clashing objectives. Their dialogue, at the surface, appears to remain cordial – but the truth is always written in the subtext. This is one area of writing I need to improve upon. I have a bad habit of allowing characters to state their objectives outright, and go about getting their way through direct and obvious threats. This is fine for characters who maneuver through life this way, but it is so much more fun and engaging when characters behave in ways that force viewers to read between the lines in order to keep up with their motives and ploys.

I hope these insights have helped you in some way. I already know these realizations will benefit me in my own writing. See you tomorrow at 7:00 am PST.

  • Thomas M. Watt
  • Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Penguin Books, 1952. Print.
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Thanksgiving for Book Reviewers!

superboy!

Gee-wiz, this makes me laugh!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let me start off by saying a full night of rest really does do the body good. I’m back at it, promoting my book to interested parties, and reaching out to new book bloggers. My primary goal is to garner 100 reviews for Master.

The number appears staggering, but then again I never expected to have 10,000+ views on WordPress, either. The key will be to consistently reach out and form new bonds with book reviewers (who are guardian angels for us writers). I like to think that they will be excited to review a good, unknown book.

There are many ways to sell books – you can contact readers directly, purchase advertising on sites like Facebook, and/or reach out to friends and family who love to support you. The two most effective ways, however, are through reviews and word of mouth.

What’s great about these methods is that they cost the writer nothing. Not only that, but they require no effort (no, you can’t force people to rave about your book). I can’t think of a clearer metaphor for the age old saying “get the ball rolling” than to have people hyping up your book through reviews and conversation.

Of course, in order to attain this coveted momentum, you’re going to have to put in the legwork. That’s what I’m doing now – reaching out to book bloggers and reviewers, and posting an annoying amount of links to Master in the hopes that more people will give it a look… it cost less than 2 cups of coffee, people!

A really cool feature on Twitter is that they include a button on every tweet to check its analytics:

twitter analytics

Here you can see exactly how many people have scrolled past the tweet, clicked on the tweet, and liked or retweeted the tweet.

Every time a tweet is retweeted, you can plan on receiving twice the amount of views you normally would have received (often times more). The exposure is exponential with every retweet.

What’s this have to do with the rest of my post? Well, my thinking is simple. For every reader who purchases Master and discovers it’s actually a pretty damn good book, there is a good chance they will either:

  1. Tell a friend about it
  2. Write a review on Amazon
  3. Write a review on Goodreads
  4. Write a review on their blog
  5. Check out my other works.
  6. Do more than 1 of the above, or maybe even all 5 of them.

This is why book reviews are so important. It’s a form of social proof when a third-party with no agenda verifies you’ve put together an enjoyable work of fiction. Not only that, but some book blogs have an enormous following of avid readers, who are eager to discover the next great novel.

That’s all I got for today, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the states! And have a nice Thursday to everyone else!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Author of Master

 

 

 

Too Perfect Marriage – Part 8 – FINALE!

club

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Calvin’s heart raced. “So Shea is-”

“Dead,” said Brody, before taking a peek at his Rolex. “Right about… now.” He laughed in his face, blood sputtering from his lips.

“No,” said Calvin. He shook his head, reached into Brody’s jacket, then yanked out the gun. “No!” He stood up and stormed into the club.

It was like swimming through Miley Cyrus’ earhole – Strobe lights bashed the swerving bodies with split-second flashes of blue and red. Bass blasted like bombs were exploding in the speakers. Sweaty bodies, sequin gowns, cocktails in the air.

Calvin’s legs felt like jelly. The sweet ingredients of love that had been swirling in his gut earlier had been poisoned with fear, worry, and knowledge -knowledge that Bridgette had no intention of killing him. Her target was Shea, the woman whose existence sparked Calvin’s future but burned Bridgette’s to ash.

He tucked the handgun into his waistband. As he strolled through he kept his eyes trained for a blonde woman in a red dress. Luckily for him, both women matched that description. Two women in red party dresses sat talking at the bar. One had her hand behind her back, and appeared to be holding something.

Too many dancers blocked Calvin’s line of sight – impossible to get a clear view of her face.

“Move!” he said.

He pushed a few drinkers out of the way, then cracked his knuckles as he motored through the crowd. Brody had said Shea was already dead, but Calvin refused to believe that. He wasn’t too late – he could feel it in his soul.

Calvin’s breath drew heavy as he closed in on the bar. He reached back into his waistband and swiped out the handgun. He hid the barrel up his white sleeve, and concealed the bulky handle with his fist.

Someone popped out at him – an adorable brunette.

“You’re cute,” she said.

“Watch out,” said Calvin.

The two blondes at the bar were facing the counter, backs to him. The one holding something extended her other arm and hugged the blonde beside her into her chest. She raised her other hand like she were going for the girl’s neck.

“Don’t be rude!” said the brunette.

Bridgette was going to slit Shea’s neck.

“Shea, no!” Shouted Calvin.

He jolted forward and took aim. The brunette tripped into his line of fire-

The two girls he had yelled at swiveled around, gazed at him, and blinked like owls. Calvin lowered his gun when he noticed the girl’s hand – she was holding a crumpled napkin, probably with some guys number on it.

Calvin shook his head and tore around. Where were they?

Every clock-hand tick meant Bridgette was closer to killing Shea.

Calvin’s eyes dotted around the packed house again. A few blondes, some red-dresses, but none of them Bridgette nor Shea. Calvin had to strike more than he needed to think. They wouldn’t have left the club, the plan was to kill Shea inside. But where?

Upstairs! Like finding keys in a front jean’s pocket, the obvious location struck Calvin in the forehead. Before he’d gone outside with Shea, he’d spotted Bridgette and Brody hovering over the top balcony. If there were any private place to kill someone in a club, it was the VIP room, and Brody had reserved it.

Calvin rushed through the dancers again.

“Move!” he said.

He plowed through. A guy hitting on a girl blocked his path.

Calvin shoved them to the ground, raced forward to the stairs, then sprinted up the flight. He breathlessly broke through Brody’s party guests’ circle. They quit drinking and mingling.

“Where is she?” Calvin said. “Where is she!”

“Who?”

“Shea!”

The guests dismissed Calvin by rolling their eyes and returning to their conversations.

Calvin flipped around. The VIP room in the back wasn’t entirely blocked – a curtain of jewelry beads hid it from view. He could make out moving bodies on the couch inside it.

Calvin rushed inside, smacking away the beads with his gun drawn.

A girl in a black skirt was riding some guy on the couch. She jumped off, and the guy held his hands up.

“Never told me dude! I swear!”

Calvin circled around, gun at his side. The freaked-out couple were panting and staring at him like he were a twisted serial killer. Calvin could care less about how he looked – he needed to save Shea, and too much time had already passed.

“She didn’t say she had a dude!” said the guy.

“I don’t,” said the girl.

Calvin paced with one hand scratching the back of his head, the other holding the gun.

“Oh, well.. It’s a private room, so uhh…”

“Use a goddamn stall then!” said Calvin. He stopped pacing. “Oh my God.”

Calvin bolted out the VIP room and flew down the stairs. He caught a pair of familiar eyes glaring at him during his descent.

They belonged to Big Fella, who seconds later fired a barrage of bullets into the ceiling. DJ killed the music, and panicked yells shook the dance floor as frightened patrons fled to the exit.

Calvin hauled ass over to the bathrooms, running against the tide of club-goers who were gushing out in the opposite direction. He stole a glance over his shoulder – Big Fella was chasing him, gaining ground every stride.

“Move!” Calvin said to people blocking his path.

Calvin pushed his way through, and reached the women’s restroom – door was locked.

“Stop!” He screamed, then kicked it. “Shea! Shea, are you alright!”

The door wouldn’t budge. Calvin loaded the gun, then fired a shot into the bolt. It broke off. Calvin stomped the door – something still jammed it shut from the inside.

Calvin rotated his body then charged, shoulder first. He made some headway, but only a crack. He could hear their voices – Shea and Bridgette were shouting in a heated argument.

“Help Calvin!” said Shea. “Hurry!”

“Trying to!” said Calvin. He backed away, then charged again – he banged it open enough to barely slide his arm through. Calvin hurried back one more time. He sprinted forward, turned to crash, then caught sight of Big Fella, holding his glock.

Big Fella fired but missed.

Calvin busted through and fell on the tiles of the women’s restroom.

“Let her go!” screamed Calvin.

The two blondes fought near the far wall, backs to Calvin. They were nowhere close to the mirror, and both had red dresses and blonde hair. The one closest to the wall was on her knees, struggling to escape the neck-brace of the women behind her. Calvin couldn’t tell who was who.

“It’s finished god-dammit! Get off her!”

The woman standing up raised a knife. She was on the verge of slitting the other girl’s throat. Somebody kicked the bathroom door open – Big Fella.

“Duck Shea!” said Calvin.

He pulled the trigger, and fired a bullet straight into the back of the woman with the knife.

“Oh… shit,” said Big Fella, stopping behind him.

The blonde women with the knife crumbled to the tile. She dropped the girl she’d been choking, and the knife fell from her loosened grip. It was Shea, and she lie on the floor, clutching her bleeding heart.

“No,” said Calvin. “God… no. There’s no way…”

Bridgette stood up, coughed to clear her throat, then fanned herself.

“Curious, didn’t you realize we wore the same dress and I didn’t say anything? You should have known we needed to get rid of both of you to be married. Now you’ll be in jail, and she’ll be a corpse.”

“How… no. This isn’t happening.” said Calvin.

“It is, sorry bae.” Bridgette rubbed his cheek, kissed him by the temple, then left the restroom, as did Big Fella.

Calvin walked forward like he were knee-deep in mud. “Get up,” he said. “Get up and be okay.”

The club music was off – looping police sirens took its place.

Calvin reached Shea. Blood poured out from her chest wound – the bullet went straight through her. Her eyes turned up as she gasped for air.

“Cal.. Calvin?” she said.

He slid down against the back wall, then tugged her onto his lap by her armpits.

“It doesn’t end like this,” he said. “No, no. It can’t.”

“Sorry…”

“Don’t be!” he said. “It’s my fault!”

She coughed, then smirked. Tears welled up in Calvin’s eyes. He clenched the knife handle, then leaned forward and kissed her forehead. “Don’t die.”

“Don’t… leave.”

Police barged in.

“Put the knife down!” One shouted. “Put the knife down!”

“Please,” she said.

Calvin sniffed. “I won’t.”

“…forever.”

“Get on the ground! Now!”

“Forever.” Calvin pressed his lips into hers, then plunged the blade into her neck.

Police fired away until both were riddled with holes. They died in each others arms, lips joined together.

  • * *

Brody and Bridgette did a series of joint interviews following the tragedy that made national headlines. Security footage proved Calvin slugged Brody across the face then robbed the him of the gun he used to murder Brody’s wife.

Choked up with tears, Brody spoke about how blissful life could have been had he only won that fight, and interviewees and the American audience sympathized with his loss. Bridgette invited the public to share with her as she grieved, and many understood how disturbed she felt to discover her husband had kissed the women shortly before ruthlessly murdering her.

When Bridgette and Brody tied the knot, wedding gifts poured in from around the globe, and business boomed for Brody’s car dealership. They accumulated widespread fame from their against-the-odds love that blossomed into marriage, which proved to so many that not even a destructive mad-man could permanently destroy the lives of blessed good people for long.

The sudden influx of funds from Shea’s family fortune certainly helped Brody’s chain of dealerships thrive, but Brody always insisted he’d trade the tens of millions he’d inherited from Shea for even a day of her descension back to earth, even if it only meant holding her in his arms one more time.

When asked about the century old knife Calvin had used to carve into Shea, Brody informed viewers that the knife had belonged to her great, great, great, great grandfather, who had used it to peal a grapefruit he gave to a girl that became his future wife. They began the billion-dollar company together, and the knife had been passed down from generation to generation. Brody added, with tremendous difficulty, that Shea and he had always hoped to have children, and the knife would have gone to their firstborn. Because Calvin slaughtered her to soon, Shea died as the last surviving member of her incredible family.

*On a curious note, the shooter and his victim were buried in the same graveyard, despite specific orders and a never-ending outcry from the public. Shea and Calvin’s gravestones were placed side-by-side, in a remote area under some sycamore trees. The graveyard director position became a revolving door, and each new person hired for the job resigned within their first week, swearing “Forces beyond their control” prevented Calvin and Shea’s gravestones from ever being separated.

The End.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Hope you’ve enjoyed the series! Check in tomorrow for the official cover release for Master, my novel about a former football star’s quest to save his family from the deranged psychiatrist who infiltrates his dreams.

Too Perfect Marriage – Part 7

club

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

“What’s your wife doin’?” said the driver.

“That’s not my…” Calvin shook his head. “I don’t know. She’ll be right back, though.”

“You better hope so, fair’s runnin.”

“She’ll be here in a sec, said she would.”

Calvin listened to “Bittersweet Symphony” on his Ipod again, and couldn’t stop replaying the kiss in his head. It’d been so long since the sweet ingredients of love had churned in his gut and been devoured by his heart. Marrying Bridgette was a blemish he’d been trying to paint around, but now that he was certain she was cheating and actively looking to kill him, brushing on a fresh canvas didn’t seem like such a condemn-able idea.

“Give her a call, buddy,” said the driver.

Calvin smeared his forehead. “Don’t know her phone number, believe it or not.”

“Ah, I see. Damn shame, thought you two looked good together. Good times end so fast.”

“You misunderstood. We’re gonna be together for the long run. Trust me.”

The driver adjusted his rear view mirror to catch a glance of Calvin, then sighed and turned away.

Calvin scoffed and shook his head. He tapped his fingers on his knee, then ripped the earbuds out and stuffed the Ipod back into his pocket. He checked the time – five minutes since she’d left. He ran a hand threw his hair, then fluttered his lips with an exhale and crossed his arms.

“Go in there and get her. Doin’ nothing for nobody, just waitin’ here,” said the driver.

“Be patient.”

“Huh?”

Calvin groaned, then whipped out a wad of bills from his pocket. He swatted them in the driver’s hand. “Here,” he said, then stepped out.

He paced toward the club with his head on a swivel. Shea said she’d be right back, but the fact that she hadn’t returned wasn’t a huge call for alarm – chances were, she had some choice words before parting ways with Brody and leaving his dirty dick for good.

Still, Calvin felt uneasy – he was convinced Bridgette and Brody were conspiring to kill him. He could afford to look for Shea, as long as he remained surrounded by others – narcissists murdered, but weren’t the type to ruin their reputations and risk prison time.

Calvin passed by people exiting the club, then made his way through the smokers near the back entrance. He tore the door open and came face to face with Brody.

“H-h-hey, Calvin! I was just looking for you.”

Calvin dropped back a step.

Brody proceeded forward, then swung his arm around Calvin and tugged him away from the club and toward an empty alleyway. “Your wife tells me you’re quite the guitar player-”

“Eat a dick,” said Calvin, throwing Brody’s arm from his shoulders. He turned around. Brody jumped in front of him.

“Easy, guy! … what’s with the constant hard-on for me?”

“Returning yours from my wife.”

The smokers outside raised their eyebrows and moved a little closer.

“What? Nooo,” said Brody. “What kind of monster you think-”

“Kind of monster who kills. I know about the gun.”

“What gun?” said Brody, with a chuckle. “Oh, you mean this?” He reached inside the flap of his jacket, withdrew a handgun, then casually pointed it at Calvin. “I like guns, so what.”

“Put that shit away,” Calvin said.

“Easy guy! you really think I would shoot you?”

“Thought Bridgette might cheat with a douche-bag, was right about that.”

Brody smiled. The smokers watched eagerly.

“This attitude of yours is very disheartening,” said Brody.

“I’m leaving with Shea.”

Brody quit smiling. “What?”

“That’s right. You can have Bridgette, she’s all yours. I want Shea.”

Brody scratched his temple and lowered an eyebrow. “But… why?”

“Because when you acted like a pompous ass in the limo she told me to ignore you, and that’s goddamn refreshing after being told ‘stop being an idiot’ for so fucking long. Because when I got my ass kicked by some clown inside she cared more about me being alright than how stupid she looked being the wife of a loser. Because when I say it’s a perfect moment, she makes it better.”

“But Bridgette’s a ten, and they’re both blonde, so…”

Calvin scoffed. “You’re a joke. Get out of my way,” he said, trying to move past.

Brody grabbed him by the arm, then yanked him close and jammed the gun barrel into his abdomen.

Calvin glared at him. “I’m not as funny as you think,” said Brody.

“Move the gun.”

“I’ll start with the trigger.”

Calvin forced his words through gritted teeth. “What kind of idiot kills in public? Look around, we’re surrounded. They’ve got cameras recording this.”

Brody didn’t flinch.

“Why kill me?” Said Calvin. “Take Bridgette, she’s all yours. Let me and Shea walk.”

“Nobody’s trying to kill you,” said Brody.

“Ditch the gun,” said Calvin.

“Problem’s Shea.”

“You don’t give a shit, you don’t even love her.”

“Not that simple.”

“We’ll see, guy,” said Calvin. He shoved Brody then hurried toward the backdoor.

“H-h-hey, buddy!” yelled Brody. “Think you’ve had a few too many!”

Calvin reached for the door, ripped it open, then lost his feet out from under him. Brody had tackled his lower half. The door fell closed, and Calvin found himself wrestling on the pavement.

“You’re not getting back at that guy in there!” said Brody. “Already caused a scene, now you’re embarrassing both of us!”

The onlookers didn’t intervene. Calvin struggled to peel himself free from Brody, who wouldn’t stop yelling.

“I won’t let you fight him! I can’t, you’re not in your right mind!”

Calvin managed to climb on top of Brody, then swallowed up Brody’s face with his palm. “Shut the fuck up!”

“You’re drunk!” said Brody. “Get off me, you’re drunk!”

Calvin reared back then slugged Brody across the face. Blood fired out from his mouth.

“Money don’t buy fists,” Calvin said, then tried to push himself up.

Brody grabbed Calvin’s white button down, then ripped him close and hissed into his ear.

“I’m not the breadwinner bitch.”

“What?”

“Shea’s loaded. Family inheritance.”

Calvin shook his head. “You’re talking out your ass-”

“Nothing to gain by killing you.”

Calvin’s heart raced. “So Shea is-”

“Dead,” said Brody, before taking a peek at his rolex. “Right about… now.” He laughed in his face, blood sputtering from his lips.

“No,” said Calvin. He shook his head, reached into Brody’s jacket, then yanked out the gun. “No!” He stood up and stormed into the club.

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt

CLICK HERE FOR PART 8 – FINALE!

Too Perfect Marriage – Part 3

club

Part 1

Part 2

Brody’s eyes fidgeted between her and Calvin. “…sure.”

He poured Shea a drink, then passed it along. The party guests resumed their former chatter, and the remainder of the ride went smooth, though there were a few subtle bumps. Calvin kept silent.

The ride pulled up to the popular night spot and dropped them off. The party guests hurried out and trotted to the back of the line. Once they settled in, Calvin grabbed Bridgette by the wrist and tugged her close.

“You brought a gun?”

“Huh?”

“I saw it. In your purse.”

“Are you being serious?”

Calvin’s mouth stayed shut.

“You’re starting to piss me off.” Bridgette jerked her arm away, then smiled brightly and returned to her circle of friends.

“Shit,” said Shea, squeezing Calvin’s shoulder.

He watched as she scraped her heel along the ground. It was the first time he noticed she had blonde hair and wore a red party dress, almost identical to his wife’s.

“I stepped in it. I stepped in shit,” Shea said.

Calvin stepped out of her grasp and grabbed his wife again. He swiveled her around, grabbed both sides of her face then kissed her on the lips.

“What do you want?” she said.

He brought his lips right into her ear, then whispered. “You have a gun. In your purse. I want to know why.”

“Get off me!” She shoved him back a few steps. Everybody in the circle went quiet. “See for yourself, moron!” She flung the purse at him.

It hit Calvin in the abdomen. Out spilled her make-up, tampons, and a few pens. No gun.

“Whoa! Keep it in the bedroom, you two!” said Brody. He ran his hand threw his grey hair and chuckled.

Calvin shook his head, then lowered to one knee and picked up his wife’s belongings. Shea bent over and picked up a few of the items with him, then dumped them in the bag.

Calvin stood, then smacked Bridgette’s shoulder with the back of his hand. “Here.”

She folded her arms. “You don’t trust me.”

“Take your purse.”

She rolled her eyes, then returned to her circle.

“You okay?” Shea said to Calvin.

He nodded.

“Want me to hold that?” said Shea.

Calvin’s eyes were glued to his wife. She wasn’t just enjoying herself – she was glowing.

Shea made robot noises as she peeled his digits off the handle, one by one. She swung the purse over her shoulder, then stopped giggling.  “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Yeah, I’m great.”

“Good, because that’s totally what I asked.”

A few people exited the night club, and the line moved forward.

“Brody works a lot, and I’m really busy with the kids,” said Shea. She stuck her palm to her eye. “Shit, I mean the kids I teach. I want kids, but Brody doesn’t. He used to, well before he married me-”

“My wife is going to kill me.”

Shea gasped. “What?”

Calvin studied Brody.

“I’m sure you’re just imagining it. I don’t know, you seem really creative. I think it’s cool how you play the guitar.”

Calvin faced her.

“Brody told me. They’ve been on the phone non-stop since Bridgette’s dad died.”

The group took another step forward. They were nearing the entrance.

“Did she even tell you? Shit, I shouldn’t have said that. Bridgette’s my good friend, and I don’t like getting into other people’s business. But that’s the only reason they look close.” She bit her lips, then pat Calvin’s shoulder blade. “I’m sorry. It’s not my place, I’m just a stranger to you… but if Bridgette’s scared you won’t be there for her when she needs you most, you kind of need to show her that she’s wrong… you know?”

The group advanced to the front of the line. “Wait here,” said the bouncer.

Shea sighed. “Shit, I can’t believe she didn’t tell you. That’s terrible. Not just for you, she must have trust issues. Just be patient and talk to her… I know I just met you, but you seem so sweet. Make her aware that you want to know all about the loss of her dad. That’s a really big deal… for anybody. I’m sure it’s not even you, she just feels vulnerable… There’s only two real men in a girls life, for God’s sake!”

Calvin shut his eyes.

Shea smiled kindly. “I know how it looks. Trust me, you think it’s been easy waiting for my husband to get off the phone with her? Bridgette’s an honorable person and would never do that to either of us, but I’m human, so yeah, I worry. I’ve been cheated on before – it destroyed me… for years.”

The group entered the nightclub, but the bouncer pulled the rope back before Calvin and Shea could pass through.

“Two?” said the bouncer.

“Oh, um, yeah I guess.” Shea scratched the back of her head. She frowned and punched Calvin in the shoulder. “It’s great to be a thinker, but you really should lighten up a little… I know Brody seems like a jerk, but he’s a good guy deep down… Trust me, he would never, ever cheat on me.” She smiled at Calvin. “So stop worrying about him and your wife already!”

The bouncer cleared the rope. The pair strode up the steps together and entered through the door. Music bumped, strobe lights flashed. Shea grabbed Calvin’s jacket flap. His gaze remained somewhere beyond her.

“Hey! Nothing is wrong! They’re friends! We’re friends! Relax and have fun!”

She hopped until she had his attention, then tossed her hair back and crossed her arms. “God, you really need to let things go!”

“I had breakfast with Bridgette’s dad this morning.”

Shea quit smiling. Calvin walked around her and pushed through the dancers.

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt

CLICK HERE FOR PART 4!

Too Perfect Marriage – Part 2

club

If you missed Part 1, click here!

A long black limo pulled up and parked by the curb. The driver walked around the vehicle and opened the door for them.

When Bridgette crouched down to enter, Calvin noticed a handgun tucked away in her purse. He stopped where he stood.

“All aboard the S.S. Jackhammer!” said Brody.

Cheers and laughter followed, along with a few clanks of bottles and glasses.

“Hey, can I talk to you about something?” Calvin said to Bridgette, his wife.

“Uh-oh, he’s getting cold feet, you were right about this guy!” said Brody.

“You’re not even inside, and you already want to argue?” said Bridgette.

The laughter and chatter died down.

“It’s just…” said Calvin. “When did you get… Are we going someplace dangerous?”

For a moment the limo went quiet. Then Brody let out an explosive chuckle, yanked Calvin inside by his tie, and everybody returned to their previous festive mood.

“Grab a drink guy, lighten up. It’s Friday!”

Bridgette laughed. She took the seat right beside Brody. Calvin moved around at a hunch until he squeezed in between two women.

“Name’s Calvin by the way.”

“What’s that?” said Brody.

“My name is Calvin. We haven’t met before. I’m a firefighter.” He scratched under his jaw. “You know, my name isn’t guy.”

Brody raised an eyebrow.

“Ignore him. He’s a party-pooper.” Said Bridgette.

“No, no,” said Brody. “I’m a stand-up guy myself. My name is Brody, and it’s a pleasure to meet you, Calvin. Your wife has nothing but wonderful things to say about you.”

“Oh, that’s a surprise,” he said with a laugh. Everybody chuckled along with him.

While the party guests indulged in the jovial mood, Calvin sat with his knees pressed together. He reached into his pocket for his phone, and started to text Bridgette.

When did you buy a gun?

“Baby, hold this for me!” Bridgette tossed her phone through the air.

Calvin made a jerky move to catch it. He wanted to ask her out loud, but her eyes darted to every spot he wasn’t.

Calvin shook his head, then slipped Bridgette’s phone into his other pocket. When he did, he inadvertently elbow-jabbed the breast beside him. Calvin instantly crossed his arms close to his chest, then sighed, shut his eyes, and let his head droop backward.

“I’m here, in my mold,” he muttered to himself.

“But I’m a million different people, from one day to the next.”

Calvin’s eyes shot open. The woman who he’d just bumped into had sung the rest of the verse.

“Bittersweet symphony?” said Calvin.

“I know, don’t you hate that song? Slaves to money then we die? Sorry, but money equals happiness.”

Calvin raised his eyebrows and grinned politely.

“That was a joke… kind of a bad one. Not sure where the laugh goes. The verve? Please. I love that song.” She mumble-sang the melody and bobbed her head.

Nothing about her screamed super-model. Especially not the freckles spotting both her dimpled cheeks. But she was… simple. And simple was better than ideal. A lot better.

“Another bottle,” Shea!” said Brody.

The woman beside Calvin nodded, then reached into a cooler and took out some Pinot Noir.

“Throw it,” said Brody.

“Well I don’t want to break-”

“Throw it, throw it, throw it!” began Brody, slapping his hands to his thighs. The rest of the party followed his lead, while Calvin had his eyes on Shea. She blinked rapidly, shook her head, then chucked it like it were a dead rat over to Brody. He and Bridgette tried to grab it at the same time, and in their haste they knocked the bottle straight to the floor, where it shattered. Wine spilled over Brody’s slacks and Bridgette’s ankles. The cheer halted.

“Dammit Shea,” said Brody. He fanned out his wet hands.

“Shit, I knew I shouldn’t have thrown it. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, don’t you worry doll. Brody bought more than enough,” said Bridgette. She flashed a picture-perfect smile.

Calvin twisted his lips, then pressed out the creases in his slacks.

“I know, I’m clumsy. Here, I’ll pass you another,” said Shea.

She retrieved a new bottle from the cooler. Brody crouched low then made ‘chuga-chuga’ sound effects as if he were a train, and ‘chugged’ over to her.

“Hey, here’s an idea? Why don’t you just hand it to me?” He chuckled loud, then snagged the bottle from Shea. “You’re the best,” he said, then returned back to his seat beside Bridgette. He popped open the bottle, then poured those around him a glass. He met eyes with Calvin, who sat with his arms crossed.

“Would you like a glass?”

Calvin scratched under his jaw. “This is your wife, right?”

Brody glanced at her, then tugged his lip corners up with his cheeks. “How truly awful of me… I’ve been so excited to have fun tonight, formal introductions must have slipped my mind. Calvin, you’re sitting next to my wife, Shea.”

Calvin nodded with his tongue pushed into his teeth.

“Hi,” said Shea. She held out her hand, but Calvin’s eyes were trained on Brody.

“I’m not used to these events, so help me understand… why am I sitting next to your wife, while you’re sitting by mine?”

Bridgette glared at Calvin. Brody raised his eyebrows. The other party guests quietly sipped their drinks.

Brody opened his mouth, but Bridgette grabbed hold of his wrist.

“You don’t have to answer that,” she said. “Calvin… babe? This an adult event. Try to act like one.”

“It’s ok, B-ridge,” said Brody, returning Bridgette’s hand to her lap. “Now Calvin, it’s my fault for not giving you the four-one-one, but typically at events like this, you actually don’t use any seating charts. Had I known you would have felt more comfortable, I would have been happy to draw one up for you.”

Many of the party guests bit their lips. A few chuckles escaped.

“B-ridge?” said Calvin. “What’s that, your pet name for my wife?”

Bridgette’s palm smacked against her forehead. Brody wore a tight-lipped smile.

“Why don’t you tone it down a notch, huh guy? You didn’t pay for this limo. You don’t know anybody here. You wouldn’t even be here if weren’t for B-ridge. So take a drink, and enjoy the good vibes.”

Calvin mirrored Brody’s tight-lipped grin. “Sounds radical.”

Shea rubbed Calvin’s kneecap, then whispered in his ear. “Just ignore him.”

Calvin turned and they met eyes.

Shea darted her hand back, shook her head, then scratched behind her ear. She turned to Brody and smiled. “I’d like a drink!”

Brody’s eyes fidgeted between her and Calvin. “…sure.”

To be continued…

  • Thomas M. Watt

CLICK HERE FOR PART 3!

Too Perfect Marriage – Part 1

club

“We’re doing great, really great… I just needed to listen better… No, a kiss goodnight and in the morning… not a chance, my parent’s divorce ruined me… she’s their mother, man!… Sounds good, you too.” Calvin ended the phone call and put out his cigarette. He hung his head, then smiled and opened the sliding door. He returned to the bedroom.

“Oh my god,” said Bridget. She scrunched her nose and sniffed. “You smell like cigarettes.”

“You quit, not me.”

“Smells repulsive.” Bridget finished shimmying into her red party dress. “How do I look, baby?”

Calvin plopped down at the foot of the bed, hands in his pockets. “Great.”

Bridgette slipped her thumbs under her spaghetti straps and flipped her top down. She wiggled at the hips, so the two hills filling her push-up bra jiggled around.

“This better, baby?” she said with a laugh.

Calvin smiled. “Didn’t think you were dressing up for me.”

“You’re my husband!”

“…why don’t I come along, for a change?”

Bridgette scoffed. “We’ve been over this. You don’t do good at social events.” She tugged her red dress back up over her breasts, then smiled and pecked Calvin on the cheek. “You’re the one I come home to. You’re my protector and guardian… but sometimes I need you to protect and guard the kids.”

Her phone beeped. She peeked in her purse, then scurried with it out to the hallway bathroom.

“I was thinking maybe I could join you this time,” said Calvin.

“Why? It’s just me and people from the dealership.”

“But it’s a club, right?”

“You won’t let me dance now? God, give me a break-”

“Never said that, babe. But you’re going dancing, so I’m sure bringing a spouse is fine.” Calvin sighed, then dragged himself out to the hallway. He leaned against the wall with his arms crossed. “You said you wanted to spend more time together, right?”

“At the dinner table! The dinner table, baby! When I’m here alone, and you’re working, or whatever it is you’re really doing.”

“Ok… well maybe it would be fun, like the old days. It’s good to go out together sometimes… I already hired a babysitter and cleared my plans-”

“Aw, baby,” said Bridgette. She came over to Calvin and planted a wet kiss on his cheek. “You cancelled your date with your guitar, all for me?”

He forced a tight-lipped smile.

“I told Brody I’d be his date tonight,” said Bridgette, before glancing at Calvin through the corner of her eye. She scratched her eyebrow. “If you really want to come, I’ll let him know.”

“I do… You’re important to me.”

“Aw! You’re important to me!” Bridget smiled, then pinched Calvin’s cheek. “Fine… you win.” She grabbed her phone, tapped out a text, then waited for the response with her fingers in her lips.

“Who’s Brody?” said Calvin.

“Huh? Oh, my boss.”

“Ah. Ok.”

“Why?”

“I didn’t know. You don’t say much about work.”

Bridgette’s eyes went wide. “I don’t say much about work?”

“I’m a firefighter… I work with all guys… Three days in a row.”

Her phone beeped. Bridget laughed so hard she snorted, then covered her mouth.

“What?”

She grabbed her purse and left the bathroom shaking her head.

“Babe?”

“You wanted this, not me!” Shouted Bridgette. She opened the front door and left the one-story house.

Calvin remained where he stood. He noticed something in their wedding portrait he’d never noticed before – Lying on the hill in the background was an old couple. Calvin squinted and moved for a closer look to be sure – the woman, easily seventy five, had her hand in her husbands pants! The husband, who might as well have had ‘grandfather’ written in wrinkles on his forehead, was smoking something that was far too fat and green to be a cigarette.

“You dirty dog…” said Calvin.

The front door swung open, and Bridget stuck her head back inside. “Well? Aren’t you coming?”

“Yeah, sorry,” said Calvin. He met her on the driveway then followed her out to the curb. Calvin plucked out another cigarette and lit it.

“Let me,” said Bridget, summoning the pack with her fingers.

He lowered an eyebrow, then handed her the lighter.

“The cigarette,” said Bridget.

“I thought you quit?”

“I did,” she said, then nabbed one out from his pack. She sucked half the life out with one puff. “We’re in for a show tonight, babe.”

“Oh… why?”

“Brody’s bringing his wife,” she said, exhaling a stream of white smoke.

“Oh,” Calvin said.

Bridgette pet down his hair. “She’s a bitch, honey. Imagine Cruella de Vill’s vagina. Everyone at work hates her. If Brody wasn’t such a sweetheart, he’d have divorced her already.”

Calvin lowered her wrist away from his hair. “Maybe he feels marriage is his best option… No matter what.”

Bridgette cracked up laughing and soon was in tears. “Yeah, right. Brody? Honey, he’s got more options than he can count! His wife’s a leech… married him for his money. Plus she’s dumb as a rock. Words won’t do justice, you just have to see for yourself. I kind of feel bad for him. Even her. She’s what’s known as ‘Fugly’.”

Calvin nodded. He lit another cigarette, but Bridgette plucked it from his lips. She smoked it, tossed it on the ground and stomped it out with her heel.

“No more smoking. We’re in this together.”

Calvin twisted his lips, then rocked back and forth as he waited with his hands in his pockets. Bridget texted.

A long black limo pulled up and parked by the curb. The driver walked around the vehicle and opened the door for them.

…To be continued.

  • Thomas M. Watt

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2!