Kathy walked into TheCorkScrew. During the day it had masqueraded as a cafe with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, and any alcohol you felt like adding. At night the old place truly came alive as the beloved town bar where everyone met to have fun and catch up.
However, the building no longer met fire code regulations. It hadn’t when she started working here as a bartender when she was sixteen, having procured a fake ID. But twenty-five years later the place was so terrible it had to be torn down; even renovations couldn’t save The CorkScrew.
At the front of the bar were bottles from years gone by. For some reason one could still get an ancient bottle of 7Up to mix with lime juice and Vodka. There was original Coca Cola and original Pepsi, whatever you preferred to have with your Rye or Rum.
Kathy along with neighbors, patrons, and friends — some she’d known all her life — had come to the bar one last time to watch as The CorkScrew was boarded-up. Oddly enough, even the rats seemed to be leaving the building, which only made Kathy cry harder.
My tires, they’re full of air, we’re driving fast,
Back in the days, driving was a pastime.
*Jantzen – swim suits more like swim dresses from the 1920’s made out of a stretchy thick jersey, not wool as many previous swim suits were made from. Jantzen jersey swim dresses were stretcher than regular jersey material.
*Cloche hats – swim caps with a strap under the chin to hold them on a woman’s head and worn in the 1920’s.
The lights assault my eyes, as they blur past me. Vegas is a beautiful city at night. I had had a table with my friends at the club with bottle service. Slowly, I remember us drinking the vodka shot by shot until the girls had enough.
“Were done, I’m already too drunk. I want to be able to shop tomorrow afternoon,” Megan said and her friend Kelly nodded in agreement.
The other guys and I laughed and jeered, egging the girls on to do one more shot. They refused and went off to dance. After an hour or so passed, I saw them leave the club, removing their heels on the way.
I noticed my good friend Ryan had passed-out on the cushioned bench around the table, parallel to me. I continued drinking, sipping my vodka shots, determined to finish the little vodka left in the bottom of the bottle. It was expensive after all to get bottle service.
A concerned bouncer who had been watching me with deep dark eyes, set two glasses of water down in front of me. “Sir, you need to drink both these glasses,” he said.
“Umm, no. I want more vodka. I’ll pay for another bottle,” I slurred.
The bouncer shook his head, “You need to drink these glasses now sir. I don’t want you to get alcohol poisoning and die in my club.”
I sighed grabbing both glasses, I downed them one at a time.”Gees, I was thirsty,” I told the bouncer.
“I’m calling you and your friend a cab at the back door entrance,” he said nodding at Ryan. ” I don’t have to, I could just throw you out. But, I get this feeling you’re running from something, trying to drink it away. So tonight, I’ll be nice,” the bouncer said. “I get it man, but you’re a grown-up and even in Vegas, you have to have limits.”
Another bouncer came to aid the first bouncer, guide us out to the cab. I leaned on the first bouncer’s shoulder and the other guy half-carried Ryan out the door.
The cab driver looked nervous, “I don’t want anyone throwing-up in here,” he announced. But the bouncers ignored him.
“Where is your hotel?” The first bouncer asked me.
I had to think a moment, everything was such a blur and it was difficult to think. I was so tired and mad at her. Why’d she cheat on me after ten-years marriage? Why’d she leave me for him?
“Um, we’re at Caesars,” I stammered, then reached into my pocket, pulling out a wad of bills; I tried my best to count out $100.00 exactly. I gave it the cab driver. He nodded, “okay where too?” The bouncers shut the cab doors and the driver took off down the Las Vegas strip.
The lights of Las Vegas were beautiful, brilliant, and blurred. But they also made me nauseous. I closed my heavy lids, and opened them as I tried not to sleep. But I couldn’t stop myself and I fell asleep quickly.
Ryan was shaking me. “Come on Blaine, wake up. You’re 6’4″ and two-hundred-some pounds, I can’t lift you alone. You need to help me.”
I blinked in the bright lights at the entrance to Caesars guest reception. It would take us forever to find our rooms because the hotel was so huge and neither of us were well enough to remember where our room was specifically.
Ryan’s hands shook and his face was pale white. He ran and threw-up in a garbage can. He apologized five-minutes later to a man near by helping guests at the front entrance and gave him a twenty, and thinking this man would have to clean the garbage can up.
I was slowly, stepping out of the car, but my legs nearly collapsed and I groaned in frustration. I reached into my wallet and pulled out eighty-dollars. I could count money now at least, though my head felt like someone was hammering my temples.
“Here,” I said to a couple of men upfront working for Caesars. I gave them my cash and asked,”Help us back to my room, please.”
Two silent men grabbed the cash splitting it and they smiled at me now. “Of course sir, do you have your keycard?” I nodded, pulling it out of my pocket. I gave it to the men and they called for two other men, one whom I leaned heavily against as we made an endless journey to my room. Sometime in there, I fell asleep.
It was 3:00 pm when I awoke in my hotel room. Immediately, I went and threw-up in the bathroom several times before I felt better. I took a shower and washed away the smoke and putrid smell of vodka and vomit. I called room service to put some food in my stomach and help me recover. I ordered some French toast, coffee, and orange juice –two orders –one for Ryan as well, when he awoke.
I saw him lying on the bed and I tried to shake him awake. I thought he only needed more sleep. He wasn’t a big guy, so perhaps the vodka hit him harder than me.
A day later, Ryan still wasn’t up and I asked my friends what we should do.
“Well, sometimes you really need to sleep it off. We’re not so young anymore, hangovers can last two-days. He’s breathing so he must be fine,” Kyle reasoned and my other friend Maison seemed to agree. We went down to the casino to play poker.
On the third day we asked reception to call a doctor for us. It was expensive but my friends and I were worried about Ryan. He was cold and his chest barely moved, his breathing was so shallow.
The Doctor was tense upon inspecting Ryan three-hours later. “I’m sorry gentlemen, your friend died earlier this morning, about the time I was called to your room. If only you’d called sooner and emphasized how badly he was doing,” the Doctor chided.
“Ryan had alcohol poisoning so badly he went into a coma. He has no heart beat and isn’t breathing as you indicated earlier. It’s tragic but I guess you’ll understand me now when I say, watch your alcoholic intake; in Vegas especially.”
I started to cry in front of the Doctor and my friends. I didn’t know how I could tell Ryan’s family he’d passed on. He’d been the one who said we needed a boys trip to help me get out the funk of my wife cheating and divorcing me.
I remember him saying, “Blaine you need to get out and have some fun. Come to Las Vegas with me and the guys. Forget about your problems for a while. I’ll forget about mine too,” he said. He never told me what his problems were and I never asked, I thought regretfully.
Now my good friend Ryan was gone. I closed my eyes imagining lights blurring past me. It wasn’t only how I felt when I was drunk. It was how I felt all the time these days. As if I had no control as all the pretty lights rushed by.
When I did have time, I made the wrong choices. The lights were my escape, but I needed to pay attention now, to move on in my life as Ryan would have wanted. I couldn’t drink the pain away.
Welcome back to my bi-weekly interview series. This week, I’m excited to share with you the creative, thoughtful, and accomplished writer Mark Reynolds. Please check-out his fantastic blog here: Coloring Outside the Lines.
1. Mark, Please Tell Us About Yourself?
Hello, I’m Mark Reynolds, a.k.a Coloring Outside the Lines. I live outside of Cleveland,Ohio on almost four acres of land with trees and gardens; the edge of a rural area. My Mom and Dad were from small farming towns in Western Ohio.
I’m a professional street-walker. Calling myself a Mailman sounds too boring. I’m also a traveler. I have the vacation time to find cheap flights to any place I want to go, South or West. I also play in the dirt or garden. I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature. We live with several critters such as birds, deer, turkeys, raccoons, foxes, and snakes. I play photographer once in awhile and I have plentyof photos of many creatures and all kinds of landscape.
2. When Did You Start Writing and Blogging?
Complicated question. I began writing as a freshman in College. I wrote short stories for awhile. I could do dream sequences well, but writing the dialogue and including substance in my short stories was difficult for me.
Then a couple decades or so later, I blew out my knee and was trapped on a couch for amonth with a leg brace; that was about a year and half ago. During this time, I started myblog cleverly with a web address ofAny1mark66. My blog changed after taking a WordPress Blogger University Course.
“I like to grow food and have flowers and plants everywhere. Having many gardening areas cuts down on running the lawn mower on grass. I’m a person who enjoys nature.” – Mark Reynolds
3. What Does Writing and Poetry Mean To You? Why Do You Write?
Writing is all about expression. Poetry for me is spontaneous writing. A stray thought orstring of words can be woven into an image. There’s a challenge to producing a particular feeling you can convey to others. The meaning of fiction for me….that’s personal!
Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters. Additionally, I write because it’s fun, and you can’t kill people in real life, but you can in a fictional story.
4. Where Do You Find Your Inspiration and Motivation to Write?
I participate in several writing challenges. I especially like to mix music with fantastic writing using the lyrics in songs.Nature is also always available for inspirational ideas. And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneouswriting when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.
“Every fictional story should display a character gloriously flawed and have the ability to connect to the reader with something familiar, they can find in themselves or others. Real life connections are unique to each of us but if I can get a reader to buy in to the theme of my writing, than the reader can embrace my characters.” – Mark Reynolds
5. Do You Find There Is a Time Of Day You Most Like to Write? What Are Your Most Current Writing Projects?
I write at several different times in a day. Poetry is usually, a morning exercise. Flash fiction and stories are easier to write in the afternoon or evening.
I’m finishing up some of my fictional serial stories. I am doing a rewrite of the fairy tale: Little RedRiding Hood which I call: Beware of The Red Cape. In my version, Red is not the small innocent girl you read about in most fairy tales.
My other serial writing project is about a stalker. The stalking begins at a soccer practice and we’ll just say, hasn’t ended yet. Or, maybe it has? I’m not sure yet. I’m still working the serial story out.
I also have a serial story about a Granny whose ghost has become rather strange, a bit crazy. My Granny character has changed slightly as the serial has developed. My characters like to tell me how they wish to be viewed.
6. Have You Attempted To Publish Any of Your Writing? Or Are You Planning to Publish Writing In the Future? Can You Briefly Describe Your Current Publishing Process?
I have been waiting to hear from a group doing a collection of stories from writers with Amazon self-publishing. I have submitted several pieces to this group.I have heard back twice and generally been told, ‘We are not looking for this now but we may contact you in the future.’ So, still waiting unfortunately.
If I understand the process of self-publishing right, I may have professional editing done and have Amazon recommend cover art for my book. It will be in the form of an E-book. I’m not buying a bunch of hard copy books upfront; Amazon does offer demand printing if I wish to go that route in the future.
“And those characters you can kill in writing are fascinating.There’s a quality to them and they inspire me to use different methods to explain why the die and how. Also, I have stray or random thoughts which keep giving me writing ideas. I use my spontaneous writing when I write serial stories which can be built into bigger works of writing.” – Mark Reynolds
7. What Is Your Writing Process Like? Do You Prefer Certain Genres for Reading and Writing?
I suddenly, have an idea; I lose said idea. Then, my idea returns similar, but changed and slightly twisted. Next, I peck out my ideas on my phone or IPad. I prefer to write my entire story all at once. If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.
My preferred areas of reading include science-fiction books, suspense books, horror books, historical reads, science books, and books on nature. Although I write poetry, I have never read much of it.
8. Do You Have Any Helpful Advice for Other Writers?
Forget what you think you know about writing and write outside the boundaries of yourdaily life. If you have to research a bit about a subject or place and learn its history, it builds a greater depth of feeling in your writing. Researching and visiting places to come up with new ideas, or more in-depth ideas, will give you a stronger voice in your writing.
Oh yeah, fail at what you want (to write or do in life) once in awhile. Failure teaches a person things; no one ever learnt much from doing something right all the time.
“If I come back to the story, my thoughts may change. I want a certain feeling when I write and that’s hard to recapture at a later time if I leave it. I will, however, go back to my writing and play with some new ideas later. But these ideas often become new stories on their own.” – Mark Reynolds
9. Is There Anything Else You’d Like to Share With Us About Yourself Or Your Writing?
I have a passion for spreading information on things such as the food we eat. We have terrible options for fresh food and for finding out what is actually in the food we eat from the supermarket.
Food labeling isn’t often correct and there should be laws to make the labels on the food a person buys truthful and clear. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) are terrible for a person to ingest. You may disagree with me, but try dumping weed killer on your garden plants and eating them, its about the same. But of course it’s safe. Ask the people who made the weedkiller.
“A genetically modified organism (GMO) is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques (i.e., a genetically engineered organism). GMOs are used to produce many medications and genetically modified foods and are widely used in scientific research and the production of other goods. . .
The Organic Consumers Association, and the Union of Concerned Scientists,and Greenpeace stated that risks have not been adequately identified and managed, and they have questioned the objectivity of regulatory authorities. Some health groups say there are unanswered questions regarding the potential long-term impact on human healthfrom food derived from GMOs, and propose mandatory labeling or a moratorium on such products.
Concerns include contamination of the non-genetically modified food supply,effects of GMOs on the environment and nature,the rigor of the regulatory process,and consolidation of control of the food supply in companies that make and sell GMOs,or concerns over the use of herbicides with glyphosate.” –Wikipedia: Genetically Modified Organisms
10. Can You Please Share Some of Your Favorite Pieces of Writing With Us.
“Jezzibelle! Jezzibelle! Where are you?” Mama calls out.
She washes her hands with lye soap as she looks out the open window. Mama is nervous about sending the girl off alone. She is of age now, but so easily swayed from her chores. Mama knows the family trait to do the easy gains runs deep in her. But Mama’s love can cure all ills. Her Mama told her the way to be. It’s that figure Jezzibelle is developing she is more concerned with.
Her own Mama has not responded to the traditional cures. Leaches have proved ineffective to her maladies. Herbal wraps have made her skin glow in the palest of white, lacking the rudiness of life. Charcoal chunks have pasted through her without taking the problem with them.
Mama shuffles through bottles of homemade wine. Dandelion wine, it’s pale yellow color and gentle flavor would be prefect for a picnic. Today it’s a message to get well. A smoked chunk of beef rests inside a burlap sack. Two half pieces of bread complete the basket. A single sage smudge stick wrapped inside kept out and bugs.
“Where is that girl? I shouldn’t trust her. My Mama isn’t getting better since Jezzibelle has taken over the role of care taker. I hope Jezzibelle isn’t a burden to her. Mama loves her so. The red cape of velvet came from her grandmother. It gave her a certain glow of vibrant womanhood at the young age. And I remember being that age….The day Derrick came to the farm…I could careless he was so much older. There are men waiting to get a hold of her. Her uncles tell me how much she would fetch us. Maybe the men know best. It’s a lot of money. She will need someone to keep her well.” Mama reflects on the regrets of life and what future her daughter will be strattled with.
“Mama, what is it. I was playing with Mindy’s dog. He’s so cute. I wish we could have that dog. He keeps the ghastly beasts from the forest at bay. Please, could we get one! I really think it would be best. They haven’t lost a single chicken in months. And I would…” Jezzibelle tries to plead her case.
“Enough child! You know what I need from you. Take that basket to grandmother! She hasn’t been by. She still bed ridden. You must take care of her for me. I packed it well. It’s early. The field and woods will be cool. Make haste child. If it gets too warm the animals will smell the food. They will stalk you, and steal the food. Those ugly old wolves might hunt you too. Take your cape! Grandmother will only recognize you in it. Her vision was really poor last week.” Mama is nervous and shaking. “Don’t you snoop around her corners! She will hear you! She doesn’t like snoops. You may get her home one day.”
“Mama, I love grandmother. Will she be ok? I fear she’ll die. I’ll never have her long enough. I want her to know my babies. I don’t want to live there without her.” Jezzibelle kicks at her feet and tries to avoid her mother’s gaze.
“Stay on the path! Don’t stop to talk to anyone! There are strangers who might want this food or try to take you away. A pretty girl like you needs to be careful around strangers.” Mama warns her.
“You worry too much, Mama. I’ll be fine. I have seen a few people in my trips. They know me now. They will help me.” Jezzibelle puts her hand on Mama’s arm.
Mama looks at her with a mix of unsure feelings and hope. Her heart lends itself to worrying about one thing at a time.
Thank You so much Mark for the interview. It was great to read about your writingprocess, your inspirations, and your thoughts on writing and other topics. Here is one more link to Mark’s Blog:Coloring Outside The Lines
If you would like to be interviewed on my blog and share with other writers and bloggers about your writing and the process involved with how you write and how youpublish your work, you can reach-out to me on my Contact Page.