If writing is my first love, reading is my mistress.
What’s better than diving into a journey full of love and heartbreak, hope and despair, suspense and certainty? My favorite stories have all of that, and today, I’m letting you peek at another tale told by everyone’s favorite dilettante, Helena Hann-Basquait.
She wanted to share more, but I said, “No, let’s leave them with a little bit of a cliffhanger.” I know my readers love my cliffhangers, so here’s a special gift from me to you. You’re going to want to read the rest of this story because love, heartbreak, hope, despair, suspense, certainty…all of it. So make sure and click that little link below and pre-order your copy.
Postcards from California … an excerpt
“Here’s one from Santa Monica Pier,” Penny said, handing me one of the many postcards that had poured out of the manila envelope. My ex-boyfriend and would-be rock star had been keeping them for me, for years it seems, and I suppose getting a postcard out of the blue a couple of weeks ago prompted him to put them all in a package and send them to me. I honestly hadn’t heard from him in years, but a phone call on my birthday brought him back into my life, if only for five minutes.
With that unwelcome re-entry came a flood of memories, not all of them pleasant.
I said that I’d been a fool, but if I was a fool, than it was only because she made me one.
I’d long ago stopped being angry with her, but seeing her handwriting, reading the messages in her delicate script sent me spiraling backward through time. Reading the text – so carefree, so oblivious to the hurt she’d caused – just made me feel the pain of being discarded all over again. She had no idea – she was so full of herself; so selfish.
I felt like a little kid again, and part of me experienced a twinge of guilt. Before I’d left for California, I’d promised little Penelope (not yet a Countess, at the age of ten she was always Penny Arcade to me, or, sometimes Penny Dammit when her mom was out of earshot) that I’d someday take her for a ride on the Ferris Wheel at Santa Monica. There I was, on the Ferris Wheel, Maya laughing along with me. Robert was off at some … wherever yet again, and I had to fill my time somehow. So I called Maya.
Maya was different from the other fast-moving crowd in L.A. Sure, she attended all the same parties I did, and would stay out all night dancing – but at the same time, she always seemed peripheral – like she was there and not there at the same time. If wanderlust is a communicable disease, I’d say that I contracted a rather nasty case of it from Maya, and I’ve yet to find a cure. Sometimes I think that the death of my sister and brother-in-law and my subsequent guardianship of Penny is the only thing that slowed me down and kept me in one spot for longer than a year or two at a time. But not unlike with Morphine withdrawal, every once in a while, I still get that itch.
Maya must have constantly felt that itch, because she always looked like she was getting ready to leave. I should have noticed that earlier, but frankly, I was having too much fun.
We ate at the best restaurants, danced the night away at the swankiest clubs, went for long drives at high speeds, Maya going on and on about the places she’d been, the things she’d seen, the cars she’d owned, the men she’d dated. I was enraptured. She’d lived a life I could only dream about, been to places I’d only ever read about, had experiences I could never afford.
And yet, for all that glamour, all that luxury, all that opportunity, I just couldn’t wrap my head around one thing. She seemed so restless, and often unhappy. I wouldn’t have said that at first, but after I’d spent a few weeks with her, I began to see a sadness in her eyes that I hadn’t noticed before. In all fairness, I probably didn’t want to see it.
One night, over drinks (I had my customary vodka and grapefruit while Maya drank only Guava juice – she never drank, never smoked, never did any drugs) I asked her: “What do you do?”
I had assumed that she was either on vacation, or an actress or model or something. Someone who had an open schedule and a lot of money.
“What do I do?” she asked, with a bit of a sour smile.
“Yeah,” I said curiously. “I mean, what do you do when you’re not picking up strange girls and spoiling them rotten? Do you have a career? Hey – are you someone famous in disguise? Are you slumming it with me?”
She didn’t seem to be amused at my teasing.
“I do anything I want,” she smiled at me through pursed lips.
“Yes, but surely you want to do something – play music, write, paint, make Lego castles for underprivileged kids, I don’t know – something.”
“And what do you do, Helena?” She asked me.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. “I haven’t figured it out yet. But you have so much opportunity! You could do whatever you wanted!”
“And I do,” she replied. The smile was fading from her face. “I do whatever I want. Today, I wanted to eat sushi with you and watch boys play beach volleyball. Who knows what I’ll want to do tomorrow?”
“So, this, then?” I asked, unaware that I was on very thin ice. “This is what you do?”
“Yes,” she said, picking up her keys and standing up. “And sometimes I do this. Good-bye, Helena.”
And then she left me sitting there, not quite sure what had just happened.
Some people attribute the invention of the Ampersand to her, but she has never made that claim herself.
Last year, she published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and is about to release Volume Two, along with a Shakespearean style tragi-comedy, entitled Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.
Helena writes strange, dark fiction under the name Jessica B. Bell. VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year. Find more of her writing at http://www.helenahb.com or and http://www.whoisjessica.com Connect with her via Twitter@HHBasquiat , and keep up with her ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit her AMAZON PAGE