Throwing Fire Into the Water

Hello there and good day! Welcome to my party of one or of many depending on how you want to look at it. I finally finished something! Amen! Today on the anniversary of my parents marriage, April 29, 2020, I finished a short story I started over 15 years ago. I am sure there are many typos as you are getting this hot off the presses. You see when you have writers block as clogged as I did when it frees up ideas flow quickly and furiously. Almost like ghosts trying to to get their stories told. Oh and the music, I had to go back there and relive the time and that feeling. I wish I could include a soundtrack with this story. It would be all over the place, have a split personality, be punk, soul and country to name a few genres. Spotify did say I was genre fluid. Anyhow, below are the links in order to the whole story since it is broken up in parts. I just wanted to get the conclusion up for the people that had read the first few installments. Thank you, again, for the feedback.

Thank you again for stopping by and reading. Have a lovely day. May you get a chance to get throw your own fire into the water…Hugs

Here are the links to the first three parts:

  1. https://artofthebeat.com/2020/03/19/throwing-fire-into-the-water-2/
  2. https://artofthebeat.com/2020/03/21/stories/
  3. https://artofthebeat.com/2020/04/02/x-and-o-o-ooooohs/

Sorry, had to edit as I reposted some of the story. This should be a quicker read 🙂

To be continued….

The next few years flew by.  Cara and Brett sold the bar and divorced.  I never saw that coming.  I continued to do freelance work for her brother once a month for a few of his businesses. He to had divorced his wife but had moved on with another lady.  It was probably for the best.  We, Matt and I, hardly ever spoke since those first few dates.  We have just been all business.  Me, I was just as single as the day I stepped foot in that bar that day and met Mike.  He and I had a steady Saturday night date.  I had moved away from the area and only had time to see him once per week, so I always made time for our Saturday dinner and drinks and then drove him home.  It was like meeting with an Uncle or father figure, really. 

“Hey Janey girl” Mike called out from the porch when I pulled up in his driveway.  Mike used to meet me at the bar but lately, he was getting slower and seemed to be starting to imbibe earlier in the day. Also, I started noticing more bruising and cuts on his thinning arms.

“Hey Mike!”  I called out enthusiastically!

He then walked over to my car. I could smell him.  Mike had started to have trouble making it to the restroom and he had mentioned that he only took a full shower once a week.  That didn’t matter.  He was the only family I had at that moment and I was the only family he had.  He and I would talk for hours.  Sometimes he would tell a story that I had heard several times before and sometimes he would tell me one that I had never heard, and it would be like a little window into the brilliant artist that he was. He had lived in Europe in his twenties pursuing his dreams of being and artist. I marveled at the stories of the famous people’s couches that he slept on.  It was amazing.

“What’s the story tonight?” he would ask me.

“Uh I don’t know.  Nothing good, I guess.”  And I would usually make a face and then we would talk and drink and smoke several cigarettes and then I would take him home.  I had long forgotten about that fortune teller.

That night was different though.  A few people from my past had walked in. One being that guy Joe, the guitar player from the Blues Jam that had ghosted me.  I tried to hide but he saw me.  Mike could see my uneasiness.

“Do you know him” Mike asked?

“Uh, yeah…”  I said. “I banged him and then he ghosted me…you know how that goes.”

“You want me to rough him up?” Mike questioned.

I made a face at Mike and then flexed my muscles and said, “He’s a guitar player” I made a face, “I can take him, if he were a drummer, I might need assistance.”  

We then continued talking and I thought maybe he didn’t see us and hoped he wouldn’t come over, but no, he did.

“Hey, what’s your name?” he asked.

“Jane.”

“Yours’?  I am not good with them either…I guess I drink too much.”  I responded.

“Girl, you are still funny!  It’s Joe, you know.” He said. Yeah, he was right.  I knew his name.  Just like I knew the name of all 33 guys that I had been on dates with in the last 3 years.  I was now on a self-proclaimed man-sabbatical and males were off-limits.  I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  He then put his hand on my back and then I moved it down toward my back and that’s when I got up. 

“You wanna sit down?” Mike asked him. Joe didn’t even think about it and sat down.  I excused myself to the rest room.  Once inside the restroom I checked my face and nose.  Always do the “bat in the cave” check.  It never fails, when ever a guy approaches me I will have food stuck in my teeth or a booger hanging from my nose.  Everything seemed okay. I wasn’t even sure why I was even checking myself out, I wasn’t really interested in him. Actually, it did kind of irritate me when I saw him still sitting there when I returned.  I took an empty seat on the other side of Mike.  There was a rather tall man sitting there next in the next seat.  I accidently bumped into as I trying to squeeze into the seat.

“Oooh sorry.  I didn’t mean…” I tried to say to him.  He then got up and pulled out the bar stool.

“That should make it easier for you.” He said that and he smiled.  He had the nicest eyes.  Mike then squeezed my arm.

“Hey, Jane, this is Bill.” Mike introduced the tall guy to me.  Joe was turned the other way talking to another lady next to him.

“Hi” I reached out my hand and we shook.  He then sat down next to me. 

“You need another drink?” Bill asked.

“Sure.”  Even if I didn’t, there was something nice about him that I liked.  Joe, thank goodness, had forgotten about me and left with that other lady. 

“So, Bill this is Jane.  She used to work at the Bus Stop before it was sold last year.” Mike told him.  Then Bill turned to me and said. 

“So, what do you do now or what did you do before?  I bet you were the bouncer, right?” and then he squeezed my biceps and made a face.  Funny, my kind of humor, you know the kind that starts with a laugh and ends up with breakfast the next morning. 

“I started out as a waitress and then you know…”  I trailed off and then smiled at Mike.  “I would still be there if the new owner would have kept me.”

“So, what are you doing now?” he asked.

“Restaurant accounting.  Not exciting, but safe and pays the bills.”  I told him. It was boring and I was so hopelessly bored, and I hated my job. I was back in the same place I was when I had first met the psychic, lost and listless.  Maybe, it was time to try again.

“The world will always need an accountant.”  He said. “How about another drink?” 

He and I spent the next four years together, never quite sure what we were. He hated that I had worked in the service industry so after a year, I returned full time to the corporate world and gave up a part-time bar tending job.  Often he reminded me that he made enough for both of us and that it was silly that I even wanted to work.  The old ghosts haunted my life no matter where I went or how I tried to exorcise them.  Mike and I continued our weekly booze and schmooze.  He would dole out the fatherly advice and I would listen and not listen.  Mike would ask about Bill from time to time since they never spoke again and that also caused strain. I did find out much later that Mike asked Bill to leave me alone and walk away.  I knew Bill was wrong for me but for the life of me, I couldn’t let go, maybe I really did need to get rid of the evil spirits.  Obviously, Mike knew Bill was wrong for me to, but like the “daughter” that I was, I did not listen.  Mike and I were out one night when I saw a familiar face in the crowd at a local bar.

“Hey girl!” It was Cara.  She came running at me with her arms stretched out, grabbed me and spun me around.

“I miss you so fucking mush bitch! Why don’t you ever call, or write, or post on my wall or…” then she kissed me and we both started laughing and hugging.  I missed her so much.  We hardly ever saw each other.  I had stopped working for her brother Matt a few years ago when he sold his last bar and got out of the hospitality business and ventured into the future cannabis industry that was in its early stages.  Nostalgia was in the air. 

“Matt is here.” Cara said into my ear before going over to Mike and giving him a hug. Matt, my eyebrow raised, and my stomach got a little twisted.

“Hey Mike!  Good to see you!”  She exclaimed.  Her and Mike never really got along but she and he always acted like they were friends.  After a few drinks Cara was always trying to cut him off and he used to accuse her of being a bossy bitch.  It was pure magic, just like a sitcom of the 70’s.  She did move in for a hug, but you could see her back away as she caught his aroma.

“Well hello to you.  How are you and the kids?”  Mike asked her.  He knew not to ask about Brett.  The divorce was UGLY.  It was so ugly that it divided friends and customers of that bar.  When the new owner took over he thought he was getting a busy bar.  Sadly, when Cara and Brett left, they took everyone, and it was never the same.  Brett opened a new bar and his people followed him there, Cara also had a following and devoted friends and they refused to come back even to the new owners.  Life in small towns can be brutal.  The new owners tried every trick in the book to succeed and their business failed and so did subsequent ventures in that location.   We found other places to hang out.  I moved away and found other places to sling drinks when I need attention or extra money or Bill would decide he wanted a break for a few months or two because he thought we were moving too fast.

“Hey girl.” Matt said as he walked over and stood next to Cara and put his arm around Cara.  “You look great.”  He then gave me the once over. I could feel my face burning and huge sweat beads forming over my lips and under my boobs.  My mouth might have gaped open for a bit before I spoke.  He had aged a little, but he was handsome and made my Southern hemisphere warm.

“Oh, hey…How are you, Matt?”  I casually asked and wiped my face. “It’s hot in here? Right?”

Cara started laughing, “Having hot flashes bitch?” She cackled.  Even though we really had only been friends for a few years, she knew me well.  “Oh, I see how it is.” 

“Gotta go.” Then I headed to the restroom and she followed.

“Oh my gosh.  He is still so fucking hot Cara!” I think I screamed.  Bill and I had been on a break.  My 40th birthday was coming up and like clockwork, Bill would conveniently need a break to sort out the relationship around holidays and birthdays.  I figured this out after the second year of getting dumped before Christmas and then getting a surprise New Years Eve kiss when he would show up to wherever I was celebrating.  What I finally figured out was that he was a cheap bastard that conveniently figured out how to get out of buying gifts.

“I haven’t had sex in a loooong time, good sex.” I said to her as I made a sad face. “Is he dating anyone?”

“Yeah, he is.”  She said.

“Oh.” I replied, “So I guess I won’t be fucking him tonight, shit.” Then we both started laughing. 

“You crack me up. I fucking miss you.”

“And I miss you.”  We hugged and then washed our hands and checked our faces.  When we got back out there to see Mike and Matt talking.  We all hung out till the last call.  Cara and I promised to stay in better contact with each other and see each other on-line at least. 

“It was good to see you.  You really are looking good.”  Matt said to me before hugged me goodbye.

“Good to see you, Matt.”  It really was. After I dropped Mike off I drove by Bill’s and could see the light on in his house.  I was going to stop by but didn’t. I drove by the old Bus Stop.  It looked lonely and sad. The magic that it once had was gone.  It had been shuddered for two years as the last owner only lasted there 6 months.  Often when I worked there, I used to dream about owning it but knew that would not be a good idea.  I was an accountant and knew better.  Numbers don’t lie but I always wondered if the magic could happen there again.  My drive home back to the, cement canyons of the city seemed so long that night, but I didn’t want to go home.  I passed my exit and headed to the beach.  Sunrise was still a few hours away, but I knew that I could walk along the bike trail and pier as the security guards only asked you to leave if you were making noise and being obvious.   It was a nice morning and I felt my trouble wash away over my feet.  I stayed away from that area for a while, too long actually.

Life went on.  Mike and I stopped meeting on Saturdays as I got a new job. Toward the end of our four year relationship Bill finally one night callously said, “I give zero fucks about you.” after one two many Newcastles and I said, “Okay, enough!” and I got my things and left the bar.  He came running after me and not because he wanted me back.

“Hey, how am I going to get home?” He asked.

“I dunno? I give zero fucks how you get home.” I said and I kept walking.  “Piss off.”

“Cunt.” Was the last word he ever said to me.  God it felt so good.  I did cry for two maybe three weeks.  Luckily for me, I had found a new physician after that last one that treated me for that infection.  He was amazing!  Every time I had a new partner, I was in that office and getting tested.  He and I became the best of friends.  Yeah I know, doctors and patients are not supposed to cross the lines but whatever.  How else could I walk into his office after a one-night-stand and lift my skirt and say, “What is this?!?!”  We were that close, so the Universe gave me a few precious friends. Besides the fact that I only had issues with relationships, that psychic was off base.

My doctor friend prescribed two-weeks off work for illness after all, I did have swollen eyes.

“Honey.  I know why you kept him around” He made a gesture with his hands, but seriously, you will find better.”  Chris comforted me over a bowl of Ramen.

“Yeah, I know, but I just can’t do the dating thing no mo’.” I told him. “My parents would be ashamed of me.”

“Are you ashamed of you?” he asked.

“Fuck No.” and then we laughed.  Truth is, I wasn’t.  I had been taking care of me these past years since that break-up. My life was far from perfect, but it was my life and my story.  I wasn’t hurting anyone as far as I knew. Life got back to normal and another birthday was upon me.

“Hello?” I answered the phone but I knew who it was.

“My darling. When are you going to come for a visit?” It was Mike. My sweet friend. I had been so busy that I had not called him or driven out for our weekly meetings.  They dwindled to monthly and then I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen him.

“Oh Mike. I am so sorry!  How ‘bout tomorrow?” I asked him.

“Oh sure.  Any time for you.” He said. “You okay?”

“Yes. How about you?  Gonna retire soon?” I asked?

“Next month?” He said happily.  We talked for a while and I told him I would pick him up the next day around 5 for Happy Hour.

“I love you girl.”  He said as he always did before he hung up.

“I love you Mike.” I told him as I hung up the phone.  Had I known that was the last conversation I was going to have with him I would have never hung up. Mike at 69, died peacefully in his sleep.  I knocked on his door several times and then had the manager of the building that he rented the room from open the door.  He went in and found him as I couldn’t. I don’t do funerals and Mike had no known relatives as least he never spoke of any.  He was cremated and I carried his ashes with me and spread them around in places I thought he might like. I took him to Vegas and to San Francisco.  He went to work with me and on few dates.  I needed help, really, but not really.

Around a year after Mike died and a few weeks after my 42nd birthday, I was out driving and as it was like I was lost and had $10 buck in my pocket.  I pulled up in front of Ms. Linn’s house.   Just as I was about to get out of the car, her front door opened, and she came out.  She walked over to the car, she looked just as she did all those years ago.

“I guess you never threw fire into the water, stupid.” She said, as she shook her head and started walking away. “Go, you know what to do, idiot!”

Okay, then, I sat there, and tears rolled out of my eyes.  She remembered.  She remembered ME!  Tears rolled out of my eyes and then I started laughing. I knew what I had to do.  I patted the box with Mike and said, “Let’s go.”

I drove to Hermosa Beach, speeding, not sure how I did not get pulled over.  When I got to the parking lot there was one magical parking spot that opened.  That happened, scouts honor. I walked down to shore with a few pictures of people to burn and my little travel box o’ Mike.  I rolled up my pants, sat on the shore and reached into my purse and took out a joint, lit it, said a prayer, took a couple of hits and then walked to the shore and waited.  I stuck Mike in my pocket.  I figured with he in my pocket, the sun at my back and the lit joint as fire, it was going over my shoulder. Around 6ish on that March evening I stood there high as fuck, back to the water, sun rapidly going down in the horizon holding a joint in my hand waiting.  I guess I kept inching backwards as a wave came and let’s just say that yes, fire did go over my shoulder and Mike, who was in my pocket.  I went body surfing fully clothed right there and you know something, I could feel all the heaviness, sadness and yes, maybe it was the evil that she spoke of, whatever it was, it left.  If this is what peace felt like, it was glorious.  I laughed so hard I cried.  The water was cold, but it didn’t matter, joy is so much warmer.  She was right, I did need to throw fire into the water.  Maybe I was my own magic, my own fire.  I’ll never know. What I do know is that after I left the water with Mike or at least his box in my pocket, I stopped at a public bathroom to remove some of my wet clothes.

“Hey!” I heard a male voice call out.  I turned around and didn’t see any one I knew.

“Hey, Jane!”, it was getting closer. I squinted in the direction of the voice. It was a guy on a beach cruiser. Then I saw him, it was Matt, Cara’s brother.  He stopped his bike in front of me.  He looked me over and made a face.

“What happened, drunk?”

“High.” I replied, “Oh no, not drunk. How are you?  What you doin’ here?”

“I live down the way. Wanna come over, now?” he asked.  I looked up at the sky and smiled. That was five years ago. Mike now lives on the mantle in HB with us and funny, I received an official envelope just before I moved in with Matt.  Mike used to say I was his only family and he left me all his worldly possessions.  No, it was nothing more than a life insurance policy from work and art he created.  The artwork is proudly on display next to a photo I snapped of him a few years before he died.

Will I ever go to another visit another psychic?  I don’t know as I haven’t had the need for one lately. If I choose to, I am sure Ms. Linn will be waiting…

Throwing Fire Into the Water

Michelle Keena 4.29.2020

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Congrats on finishing it! I bet it feels amazing to have it completed and available for others to read! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, it sure does as I am a regular at not completing stuff. Thanks for the kind words and have a great day!

    Like

  3. morishige says:

    This last part is so moving. I dunno, but just before reading this post, while reading the introduction, I felt that the “fire” means something inside Janey, it’s something about letting go.

    And I really love the way you build the characters. You don’t describe them explicitly, but with how they act, how the response, how they talk, and all. It’s so subtle and it’s really good. I clenched my fist when the Joe guy appeared after the ghosting. I was sad reading the part when Jane found Mike died. You know what, I guess this short story can be developed into a longer one. There’s so many parts about Jane’s life that need to be told. I mean, she must have tons of stories to tell from her interactions with the clientele, or with people dealing with her in accounting business etc. etc.

    I really love this short story! 😀

    Like

    1. Good morning 🙂

      The ending came to me a few days ago. When I write, I work the story out in my head, over and over until I can see it and visualize it and then I write it. It almost has too become real to me. I have to feel those characters even if they are fictitious. I had no idea that the fire was inside Jane until I wrote it a few days ago, really. Maybe it was the spirit of Mike that pushed it out of me. Mike was a real person in my life and he did call me and I promised to go and meet him and I didn’t. I had moved to live with hubby and never drove out to see him again. I never forgave myself. Wow, I think I just realized why i finished the story…

      I am going to go back over and do a second draft and do some fill where some of the story was light. There were many Joe’s in my lie and a few Meg’s and there was a Bill who uttered those horrible words. I have worked in so many industries that I could develop it in all areas. Medical, restaurant, nightclubs, accounting…

      Thank you, thank you! Now to really finish it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. morishige says:

        Howdy! It’s been a few days 😀

        I guess most of the good authors compose their story from their own experiences. Sometimes it’s hard to differ fictions from reality on what they’re writing. And there’s nothing more authentic than your own story, isn’t? Anyway, that’s why I love Jack Kerouac.

        Yeah, it’s really cool. I thought it was just about some cult when Jane needs to put the actual fire into the water. But it turns to be a lot deeper than that. And it enlightened me in some way or another.

        I hope I can read more of your short stories. 🙂 And, again, congratulations! 🙂

        Like

      2. Oh my, I just saw this message. Yes, it had been a few days. I get lost when hubby is home. He requires all of my attention, but in a good way.

        Yeah, I am finding that most authors draw from from people they know. Right now, I have a couple ideas floating in my head that I need to at least get out and saved somewhere before the thought is lost. I guess that is how and why I wrote The throwing Fire story. Yeah, I didn’t like Kerouac the first time I read him or the 2nd or 3rd it was a few times later, much later in my life. I guess because I was having issues in my own life I didn’t want to deal with or see. He really is a great writer and I hope my sons have read On the Road. Glad you have!

        Yeah, I want to have a throwing fire day or party and go to the beach and throw fire or ourselves and smoke weed…ha ha!! Wouldn’t that be fun. We could write our troubles or deep dark secrets onto the thing we are to burn and throw over our shoulders. Maybe next time the beaches are open? I will make hubby take me 🙂

        I have a laptop that is dead and has two finished 😦 I cannot retrieve and I have tried. How ever, I do have more ideas so I am sure there are more coming soon. Real soon. Have a great day and go throw some fire 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. morishige says:

        Cool! 🙂

        In some way, Kerouac’s stories are depressing. But, I don’t know, every time I read Kerouac’s it’s like I get some amount of energy. Perhaps that’s because he can compose words that can move people’s heart. I love the way he describe his friendships with fellow Beatniks.

        I think I’m gonna do that too. When it’s okay to go out and ride to the beach, I’m gonna throw fire into the water… 🙂

        Happy writing then. Have a wonderful day. 🙂

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s