Fiction Saturday — “Haight Street” – Part One
Fiction Saturday —
“Haight Street” – Part One
Today is the beginning of an experiment for me and, by proxy, for you as well as I start posting a new/unfinished novel as it is being written. This is a First Draft of
It couldn’t have been more different for Marlee Owens. There had always been someone to turn to. There had always been Phillip. He was the kind of man who could hold her hand and go for a quiet walk on a busy street. Now she had to rely on herself.
Now that Phillip was dead.
Aside from her music, her world had revolved around him. Until one night, walking back to their car after a Wednesday “date night” movie, a sixteen year-old addict stepped out of the shadows, decided that Phillip had “looked at me funny” and put four inches of tempered steel into Phillip’s left ventricle. He might as well have put the knife into Marlee’s heart as well.
Her parents and friends tried to comfort and help her, but they had no real idea of what to do. If it had been a divorce they could have managed something, but how do you comfort a woman who has had her husband butchered before her eyes? What do you say to a young widow who had so much blood on her that night that the paramedics thought that she had also been stabbed?
Marlee was drowning in Cleveland.
There was nothing she could do. There was no one she could grab and shake to make it all stop – to turn back the clock. It was the incessant stream of reminders and – “The Look.” The Look – that everyone who knew the story sent her way whenever she entered the room. It was a mixture of pity, sadness and, “Thank God it wasn’t me.”
She gave it almost two years, but the weight of it all was pulling her under. She surrendered her chair as a cellist with the Cleveland Chamber Music Orchestra. There was no one to play for any longer. She had to get away if she wanted to survive.
Her decision was to go as far away as possible. She told her family that she was going to try to start over in California – in San Francisco, because she didn’t know anyone there. They cried, but understood.
There wasn’t much to pack into the SUV. Except for her cello, some music and a few boxes of books, there wasn’t anything she wanted to keep from Cleveland – certainly nothing from her and Phillip’s apartment. She avoided everything that held “sentimental value.” Things could be replaced because they were, after all, just that – things.
There are always apartments available in The Haight. It is a transient neighborhood in a transient town. People came and went like the fog. All it takes is a leisurely walk down the street with a pen and that morning’s newspaper. Marlee had her name on a lease by lunchtime.
It needed new paint on the walls, but it did have a sunny bay window. Her new apartment at 1298 Haight Street, number 6 was a small one bedroom with limited closet space. So far, there were few things that needed much room.
Marlee stood in the middle of her new apartment, mentally deciding where a sofa should go and how she could arrange the space in the bay window so she could practice her cello in the sunlight.
Notes would have to be made – sizes, colors and textures. This apartment needed texture. Bits and pieces brought together to make a whole.
She crossed the room, looking for the straw bag that she carried everywhere, to jot down a quick shopping list. She noticed that the front door was wide open and a tall blonde man wearing checkered oven mitts was standing there, looking in at her.
“Knock, knock. Anybody home?”
He had a smile that created two shallow dimples. There was a boyish twinkle in his eyes, but this was definitely a man.
“Oh, Hi there,” said Marlee, a bit taken aback. “I must have left the door open when I came in.”
“The locks are a bit tricky,” he said. “The deadbolts are more secure. Look, I don’t mean to seem pushy, but I have something for you.”
“Let me go get it. I’ll be right back.” He turned and ran up the stairs. Marlee stood there, her mouth open, wondering who and what this was all about.
She heard a door slam, and a few seconds later the dimpled man in oven mitts reappeared carrying a steaming casserole dish. Sandy hair tumbled into his eyes. He peeked between the curls.
“I’ve made you a tuna noodle. I’m sort of the unofficial ‘Welcome Wagon’ for the building.”
“How sweet,” she said. “Please, come in. I guess you are my first house guest. My name is Marlee Owens.”
“Oh, how gauche of me,” he said. “Here I am barging into your apartment and I haven’t even introduced myself. You just can’t take me anywhere. I’m Dennis – Dennis Thayer, number 8, upstairs, right above you.”
“Welcome Dennis Thayer, number 8. Why don’t you put that in the kitchen, on the stovetop, I guess. I don’t even have a table yet. Oh, my – or any dishes or utensils or flatware.”
“No problemo. Be right back.” He set down the hot dish and ran back out of the front door once again.
Marlee made a quick inspection of the hot, bubbly casserole. It looked substantial and delicious. She hadn’t eaten today.
Another door slam from upstairs and Dennis Thayer popped back through her door holding two plates, flatware and napkins. A red and white checkered tablecloth was draped over his left arm. Two glasses dangled from his fingers and a wine bottle was tucked under his arm. A wider smile deepened his dimples.
“I think its white wine with tuna noodle isn’t it?”