In the second installment of the COFFEE BREAK SERIES, CF Winn tells the tale of the same day in the life of two very different characters.
On a sunny beach in California, Joanna Moore, model of the moment, seems to pose for the camera as if her life is every bit as beautiful as she is. Her photographer, Benny, has everyone believing that he is an open book--wearing his fat, balding, gay man persona as comfortably as granny panties on laundry day.
Thrown together at a fashion shoot, they have no idea that they’ve already crossed paths. Instead, they spend the entire day together without truly connecting, consumed by the state of their private lives and events that threaten to expose who they really are underneath their flimsy outer shells.
MOORE THAN MEETS THE EYE convinces us that we rarely ever see anyone's dirty laundry and that we are really only one Yodel away from being sucked into the truth’s creamy middle. Via different perspectives and telling flashbacks, little by little, the entire story is revealed and we discover that except for dirty politics and Hollywood hemlines, we should check our judgement at the door.
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Was there really that much blood?
Joanna Moore is having a tough day. So tough that she’s beginning to wonder if she’s completely lost it. Sometimes our minds play tricks on us. Images and details can be distorted or pushed away altogether--the brain has a way of adjusting and rewriting events to cope with trauma and make sense of things. For example, when the footsteps that scurry down a dark hallway are reimagined as the sounds of an ordinary field mouse that roams free behind the baseboards, being alone in the house at midnight is not so scary. Yet while some fears can be dealt with by calling an exterminator, others are completely out of our control.
Was there really that much blood?
She keeps asking herself the same question hoping to create a new story. In Joanna’s head, the blood points like an arrow to the scene of the crime although she struggles to distance herself from the memory. I mean, was there even a crime at all?
The images rush back. Shuddering, Joanna relives the impact. The photo shoot crew stares as she wraps her arms around herself. Is she shivering? How can she be cold on such a hot day?
Joanna frowns and raises her chin defiantly. Let them wonder. I’ll never tell anyone what happened. She sways slightly under the weight of the truth. Unless I absolutely have to.
Benny lifts his BAE WATCHING IN SAN DIEGO cap, closes his eyes, and takes a deep breath while he wipes his sweaty head; the sun will burn his scalp if he doesn’t keep it covered. When he turns back toward the crew--they are watching and waiting for him to tell them what to do--he shoves the damp handkerchief into his assistant’s lap and tries not to glare at Joanna. She is twitching and her lips are puckered.
The most important day of my career, and I get a model with a nervous tic? Look at her. That girl needs to take those duck lips and fly south for the winter.
He sighs and fiddles with his camera, resisting the urge to call Trey and curse him out for bogarting the last of the Xanax this morning.
Lord knows I love my boyfriend more than Kanye loves Kanye, but I could just slap him right now. The Xanax is mine. I don’t care if he needed to center himself for the trial today. He defends rich, spoiled people who don’t know anything about functioning like normal human beings—I mean who tries to kill someone instead of just saying “I’m not happy with you” or “I need a change?” And now why is it my problem that some dumb bitch tried to poison her husband and run off with her dog's trainer? Maybe if they hadn’t taught the dog to dial 911 in an emergency, he wouldn’t have saved his master when the guy started seizing. She could’ve walked away with her dog whisperer and all her husband’s cash.
Benny looks through the lens, focusing on the view to the left—to see if the lens is clear and hoping that seeing the ocean waves will calm him down.
If I were the judge and we could time travel, I’d insist that we go back to the moment when she accepted the ring from her senior citizen husband and said, “He’s the one. I am so committing to impotence and adult diapers for the next decade.”
So now thanks to the whore who coated her husband's heart medication with liquid Mercury because she’s sure he’ll probably out live her, I got stuck taking Valium this morning. It never agrees with me, but I had to take something. I can’t fuck this up.
When he told Trey that he had booked the shoot, Benny couldn’t smile under the weight of the pressure to get this right. Not with the added stress of knowing that things between him and his boyfriend haven’t been good. In just a short time, conversation had become a priceless antique. It was rare, worth everything to Benny, and with one wrong word the fragile cordiality between them could break.
Trey had asked if everything was ok, but Benny turned away before Trey could see his tears, threatening to reveal what he had been bottling up for weeks—that his future is riding on this Guess Jeans shoot.
In the meantime, he’ll do his job and feel like a failure all by himself. By noon, thanks to the Valium, I should be in tears, weeping for my job, my unrecognized visions, and maybe even world peace.
After the botched Polish shoe project, rumors that Benny’s creative ideas are no longer fresh had begun to circulate. He had worked for endless hours in solitude with shoes the shade of loneliness and despair, all the while longing to be home, enjoying a big dinner and binge-watching House of Cards with Trey. His photos were so bad that they could've been taken by his sixteen-year-old niece--except she would've found a way to make them pop with some glitter and a bow or two.
New offers stopped coming in, and his manager informed him that Guess would be his last chance to prove himself relevant. Although Benny shook his manager’s hand and thanked him, part of him felt like giving up and crawling into bed with Trey. They could camp out under the covers and eat fried Oreos while catching up on Game of Thrones. Maybe then, things would go back to normal between them and Benny would be more inspired.
Now he lifts his camera and faces Joanna. It looks like someone is shoving a large pipe up her ass very slowly but twisting it hard and fast at the same time. She twitches again and throws her head back, like one of those saints that the religious fanatics describe as ecstatic. Benny stares at her, his mouth open. Her body is out of control. How does she stay on her feet? He takes a deep breath and curtails his tone before speaking. The talent always needs coddling.
“Looking good Joanna! Show me pensive! Dig deep! I know it’s in that gorgeous shell somewhere!”
CF Winn is the award-winning author of The COFFEE BREAK SERIES, a quirky group of short stories meant to be read while on break or in the waiting room of the doctor's office. Her first novella, SUKI, has been grabbing hearts and hugging souls all over the United States.
You can now order SUKI in paperback at BOOK REVUE, one of the nation’s largest independent bookstores, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (631) 271-1442.
Learn more about SUKI at BOOK REVUE http://www.bookrevue.com/localauthors.html