The Enlightening Chapter 1 “LISA” by W. Neal Storme (Sapoznick)
The Enlightening by W. Neal Storme (Sapoznick)
Chapter 1 LISA
That sound, that sound so far away, at first she thought she could ignore it, but it thrashed around her head like a cat trying to get out of a paper bag.
“Damn that alarm clock” she almost muttered as the obnoxious sound penetrated her slumber and prodded her mind and then, drove her body to react to hit the snooze button.
She thought for a moment about the “only” agreeable way to wake up, hearing her mom’s gentle warm voice and the touch of her hands, ….the smell of sausage and biscuits….Mmm……biscuits and gravy? But the alarm was blaring again. Sleepwalking, she took a step reached over and hit the snooze in nary a second was back in bed.
She settled back into her pillows, hoping to resume the dreams…She wanted to float back into that deep, comfortable dream like womb of purple that was so filled with that color that wonder, and that infinite depth…
And each time she breached that space, between there, and now the images were slowly coming into focus, slow motion at first and speeding up to become a moment, the alarm would go off again. And again she would in a flash, it the snooze button.
She lay in her bed, conscientious but against her will, longing to go back through that magic window. She wanted so much to go back and search for the woman she had dreamed of.
She wanted to go back to that wonder world of warmth, back…
She sat up suddenly and remembered her father’s words,”Then show me responsibility,” the other night as she had yelled at him.
“I’m fifteen and I can manage my life” she now remembered herself screaming. “I’m no longer just a child and I won’t be treated like a child.” She got out of bed and turned off the alarm.
Last night she had stormed out of the living room, not hearing anything else that might have been said. Unable to keep her composure, she had run crying into the safety of her room and eventually to the comfort of sleep and that purple void. She longed again to go and discover the people and the events of that other world, that dream land that had people, almost like characters, but who she did not know. Who were those women that she heard there, when she had imagined that she, Lisa was talking to, the odd woman had stood up saying the words that she could not comprehend. She spoke in English but hard as she tried she could not understand their meaning. But it was just a dream.
“I guess I’ll have to face him,” Lisa thought to herself. “Might as well try and talk to him,” as she headed down the hallway to the bathroom.
As she stepped into the shower, she thought about their house, the creature comforts that surrounded her and the familiar comfortable home that she loved.
Her home was much like any other Seattle house; 1940s architecture and modern decor, with a warm English layout. Never too warm, never too cold; not like those blistering houses they had lived in back in Rhode Island.
They had moved out to the Northwest when she was 9. At first, the rain took some getting used to. Many a time the sun didn’t rise that morning the clouds just got light.
Her family nestled in warmly into the Middle American, Middle Class comforts; a neighborhood snug in love and commitments to family, and hoping for a better life for their children.
She felt she was clean, dressed and brushing her full long brown hair in the mirror, good and whole. “Today … I won’t criticize myself, I have to look at myself differently and stop trying to be someone else; something I’m not”.
Many a time she had wished her body would change soon, maybe into a movie star or Rock Goddess. But other times she would wish having a very straight no curves body, powerful commanding, and all business. What if she really started working out? There were the women in Body Building nowadays. She giggled as went into breakfast.
Lisa’s Mom and Dad were gathered in the kitchen, fixing breakfast and planning their day’s events. They worked well together and always managed the house, keeping at their individual work, sharing with friends, and still finding time to romance each other and at the very least once a week date night. They were both always a little excited by date night and still treated each other (on date night) like they had on their first date.
Her Mom, Erin, was peeling off her jogging sweats like an old skin, tossing them in a pile on the chair while stirring the oatmeal and talking to her husband. Her jogging had come about three weeks after she quit smoking. It was still in the trial phase and the Seattle rain had not yet dampened her dedication and enthusiasm. Unlike Lisa herself, who had bailed after the third run with her Mom. Lisa had been coaxed, coerced and bribed into the rawness of the six am run with her Mother. Then the sun was still not yet in existence, she had said to herself,” The sun wouldn’t rise that morning the clouds just got light”. Besides PE class was still more than enough exercise Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays than she wanted.
But Mom was hanging right in there…
Ross was flipping eggs in the pan and checking the muffins in the oven. But Lisa was after the yogurt and some of the fresh fruit that he had cut into perfect bite size pieces and maybe one of the whole wheat muffins when they had cooled out of the oven.
Her Father Ross was a chef/cook and always made sure what the family ate was balanced in the 1960’s style of healthy nutrition. As a chef/cook, it was hard to find steady work. He had bounced around from hotel to restaurant taking whatever job was available. But the restaurant hotel business was tough and Ross was challenged by younger staff, Nouveau cuisine and other culinary fads.
Her Dad had started in kitchens as a teenager working at his uncles Restaurant. Italian Cuisine old country style, handmade pastas, raviolis, tortellini’s, sauces from scratch, Antipastos trays, Veal, all from hundred year old recipes. His expertise as a technician was unsurpassed; he could slice dice, chop, julienne and butcher like a machine. However, he was always a little lax with staff. He worked better under a chef as the sous. He would hold the logistics and preparation end up in the kitchen and let someone else boss people around.
In his early years Ross shifted from Restaurant to Restaurant to Hotel; sometimes for only a month. He would learn as much as he could from each different situation or style, practice and move on. On his off days usually Monday and Tuesday, he would try and donate his time and energy at various soup kitchens’ and food programs. It was his way of paying back for all the help he had along his way.
Then after his 35th birthday he settled into his teaching position at a small community college and found his path. He would often bring his students with him to the various philanthropic kitchen activities. And often times his students would continue to volunteer at the soup kitchen or homeless resource center regularly, and sometimes long after graduation.
Ross’ relationship with his daughter became closer as she grew older. His fear of having children peaked when Lisa was born. But from the first moment he saw her, his whole being changed. Everything in the world now revolved around his daughter, he wouldn’t know it until his grandchildren were born, but it did. As she grew older and more distant from him, he learned to trust her in steps. He was once a young man and he sometimes let his imagination drive him nuts.
After all she was beautiful, graceful (finally), and smart. But he thought that she might be naïve, and this worried him. Her Mother, Erin had become street wise when they were kids and so was Claire. His wife Erin lived on the other side of town when they were kids, so he sort of knew her growing up but Claire and he were always best friends ever since she moved in across the street and down the block from him. Claire was the other new kid. They hung out like sister and brother from early high school through college. As she went on to grad school, he went off to kitchens. His degrees were in Chemistry and Physics and Claire always thought, “It was a shame to limit his talents.
He made, or shall we say remade, his acquaintance with Erin at College when he and Claire found their way into an after hour’s party at a house on frat row. Claire knew Erin as well and the three of them drank and watched, and remarked at the other young people in various stages of inebriation. It took until early morning for Erin to figure out that Ross and Claire weren’t together. Ross walked both of them to Claire’s rooming house and then held hands with Erin all the way across campus to the dorm she stayed at. That started it and it never ended.
Neither Claire nor Erin was ever jealous or possessive of Ross; once long ago, it was Ross that was possessive of Erin sometimes and Claire could be around a bit much.
But now he was so thankful that the two of them were really raising the girls and Lisa was now becoming a woman.
Claire and Lisa had developed a more mature and intense relationship over the past fifteen years and the three of them, Claire, Lisa and Erin would plan adventures for just the three of them. Leaving him time with the boys and his baby daughter (and the world was revolving again). He would teach the boys about babies and baby food and the kitchen would be the laboratory and little Sheila was the guinea pig, while the dogs would race to catch every scrap that hit the floor. Sheila would laugh and the boys would tickle her, make faces with her and generally amuse her while their father lectured in the background. And Sheila would throw whatever food that she didn’t like across the floor. Sheila would cackle hysterically watching the dogs slip and run in place while trying to run across the linoleum.
The three women would go off to bookstores, or take a ferry, go look at some thing or another, and of course at least once a month with Ross’ list in hand they would go to the Pike Place Market. The Market sprawled for blocks and five or more different floors. Every kind of food imaginable, as well as imports, handmade crafts, new stuff, used stuff, and restaurants galore. They often would get lost from each other and early on had decided to always meet at 4:30 under the clock. If they really got lost from each other they would often times find each other under the Pike Place Market clock anyway, regardless of what time it was.
Claire was tough, beautiful, wise, quick but thorough. Ross thought that he had seen every attempt at a pass imaginable tried on her, every line tried on her, and every move tried on her. And he had even tried once as freshman in college but neither of them wanted to screw up a great friendship.
Claire was no daisy, but every relationship she was in; she controlled and set the limits on. And he had never really seen any guy “really” fall in love with her. Yeah, there had been men and young men that loved her but there seemed to always be just one thing missing from the few men Claire had truly let into her life, not always the same thing either.
Claire graduated and became a Clinical Psychologist and for years remained mostly single. Erin believed that Claire purposely intimidated everyone around her except their family. Erin saw her as poised but open, self assured but not conceited. She had told Erin about most of her past. Claire’s Father had spoiled her rotten, having lost her mother in child birth. There was nothing she could want for until her 15th birthday, her father’s fortune was gone in an instant with no real explanation of how. They lost their properties, home and almost everything they owned and moved in to the apartments at the edge of the suburbs. Her father worked desperately for years to regain their status but to no avail. Claire’s father soon became ill and passed away. By then she was a senior in high school with a good job at the local Library. Her father’s Insurance left her with a good start into college. Claire saved, worked, and studied. She was no longer upper class but her manners and mannerisms were and they were impeccable. She treated everyone the same, rich or poor, smart or idiot, old or young. She treated them all the same. Claire volunteered at the Open Door Clinic from the time of her father’s death, as a phone worker and eventually after graduation as a Psychologist; she continued to volunteer twice a month from her graduation on.
Lisa and Claire relationship became almost symbiotic, it seemed at times that each one knows the other’s thought and from time to time this would display itself to the amusement of those around. Lisa could always talk to Claire about anything and even stuff that she couldn’t let on to her parents. And Claire would never rat her out. She just knew it deep inside. Lisa thought of Claire more as her big sister than an Aunt.
Roosevelt High was all challenge and no room for philosophy. Freshman were not only singled out, they were ostracized from the get go. But Thanksgiving was here and four days in row off, was just what Lisa needed, some time away from the caddiness of school, and she would feel better after the usual Thanksgiving family day activity. But Dad and Mom had to work today and Claire had just walked in the door. The boys were grabbing for their lunches and the muffins as they ran past and out the door. “Hey”, Ross yelled across the kitchen as he threw apples to them. “Slow down”.
Claire caught the first apple and shoved it into Nick’s Pocket, as Jake snatched the other one almost out of thin air. “See ya” they both said almost in unison and the door slammed out their exit. “Hey” Claire said to Ross as she held up her hand and before he could, Lisa picked up another apple from the bowl on the table and threw it to Claire. “Thanks”, Claire said still looking at Ross. “Ya know” he said almost sarcastically, “Sometimes; it’s as if you two can read everybody’s mind”. After he said it they both looked at each and winked. The room burst out in laughter Erin being the loudest.
It was late in the evening on an unusually warm, dry night for Seattle and Lisa had just gotten to the Hasty Tasty (a twenty four hour diner blocks away from the University of Washington) and ordered her fries and an Ice Tea. Soon Kathy, Dani and Betsy would be there helping themselves so she wanted this time alone with her fries and tartar Sauce.
The Hasty Tasty had been the local all night diner dive since the 30’s. It was something out of the past with its bar with twelve stools and a little dining room with twenty or so tables and chairs and the pinball machines in the little alcove that led to the restrooms. The fries were fresh cut and fried to order with no preservatives (so they said) and there was a huge platter of them for seventy-five cents. For the moment Lisa was in culinary heaven.
The gang came in like a whirlwind, all of them fifteen and sixteen year olds that knew everything and what they didn’t know weren’t worth knowing. They called themselves the dead-end kids, as they all used to congregate at the dead end street that emptied into Cowen Park. Three different Pauls and all with new names except Paul Bartle’s, now there was Felix and Tyke; and Kathy, Dani and Betsy had their way with the platter of Fries. The guy cooking behind the bar was watching closely as they all came in and acted as if they were taking over. But the cook saw all of the hands on her fries and walked over with fresh plate (and more Tartar Sauce) and gave Lisa a wink as he set the fries down in front of her. As the cook walked away out of earshot several of the gang “Whooed” under their breath. Lisa could feel her checks redden; the plan for tonight was to go over to the movie theater across the street and watch old movies that were playing. Someone said it was “Marx Brothers”. And then maybe see if they could boost a bottle of booze from the Cowen market and hang out in the park.
Lisa was into the movie but…..
Kathy and Lisa walked behind the boys and Betsy. The night was starting to get darker as there was no moon yet. A light mist of not quite rain had spread oil sheen on the roadways and sidewalks. Kathy slowed down and lit a cigarette, as Lisa watched not saying anything. Kathy didn’t choke, cough or wheeze as Lisa had the first and only time she tried smoking. The street lights illuminated the smoke as it drifted past and behind them. Betsy and the boys were pretty far ahead now.
“How long you been doing that?” Lisa said as nonchalantly as she could. Kathy didn’t say anything as she puffed again and let the smoke out slowly. They walked in the mist toward the line in front of the theater.
“You got another smoke?” Felix said as they approached and cut in with the rest of the gang. Kathy stared at the coal of the cigarette “Not only are they my friends in the night, but they please my friends in the night”, as she handed one to Felix and cocked her smile at Lisa. The glint in her eye said more than words. Lisa could see Kathy unwind slowly and the longer she was away from her house the more she unwound.
The movie was “Duck Soup” and afterward “A Day at the Races” but Lisa wanted to go on home. She and Kathy both decided they would save the adventure with the dead end kids for another night, another warm night, another dry night; and caught the #43 down the Viaduct and up over the hill. The closer they got to Kathy’s stop the more nervous and mouthy she got. She blurted out pieces of sentences as she straightened her hair, checked her breath and put in a Breath Mint. “Where were you this time? “ “You didn’t say you’d be this late” “Go to your room” and “good that’s where my stuff is”. Lisa wasn’t sure if Kathy knew she was talking out loud or not. “Why don’t I come with you and see if you can stay at my house tonight?”
“Naw, I just gotta go on in and face them…. they just … I don’t want to give them any excuse ya know?” with a crooked smile as she tilted her head.
But Lisa got off the bus and walked with Kathy across the street down her block and right up to her porch.
As Kathy opened the door Lisa smiled as Kathy’s Mom and Dad came into view.
“Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Campbell”.
There were beer bottles and shot glasses on the coffee table in front of them, “Well, I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Kathy. Goodnight” Lisa said. She could hear them all say goodnight in light sweet voices. “Good” she thought to herself as she went down the stairs. There was more than one time that Lisa walked away listening to the yelling and curses coming from their house. But tonight it would be alright. She walked the two blocks home quickly and thought about how Kathy’s situation could escalate… and tried to imagine what she would do if her Mom or Dad got crazier. She thought of Claire and tried to imagine how “she” would handle it.
“Damn’ Lisa muttered, as the alarm went off again. The sound of the alarm was like a cat caught in a paper bag. She had pushed the snooze button again and settled back into the comfort of the covers and pillows. Her sleeping was only just getting deep again. She was only just getting back into that deep purple void, just becoming abstract and soon back into her dreams. Dreams all filled with color, wonder, and wishes, infinite depth, half realities, self conscious values and morals all starting to move again at a faster and faster pace, when the alarm clock went off again. She again hit the snooze button and lay in bed thinking and brushing off the cobwebs. She thought she might just roll back over and go back in and what that dream might have meant. There was that woman and I was watching her ….
She lay in bed and thought about her own words last night with father and mother; “I’m fifteen, I can manage my own life”. She had shouted at the top of her lungs from the top of the stairs before she went to her room. “I’m no longer just your child and I will not be treated like a child.”
She lay there remembering those gentle “Good Mornings” of the soft shaking and loving hands on her shoulder that her Mom and Dad had done for so many years. She lay there thinking of the times that she younger sister and Brother would jump onto the bed and wake her with fright.
This would all change now that she had made her stand as an adult and not a child. But Lisa wanted to settled back into her pillows, hoping to resume the dreams…She wanted to float back into that deep, comfortable dream like womb of purple that was so filled with that color that wonder, and that infinite depth…
But she was walking across a strange room only it was as if she had done it a million times before, but she never had. She awoke to this strange room, yet it was so familiar and comfortable that she wasn’t afraid at all, and began looking at her surroundings. The pictures on the walls, the photos in frames on her dresser and Post-it notes reminding her of the things that she needed to do. But these were not her notes.
She grabbed up a pen from upon the desk and instinctively wrote, Milk, Cat Food, envelopes, Vanilla and Tampons. The handwriting was the same, yet it was not hers. Her body reminded her that she needed to pee and instinctively went towards the hallway and turned left to the bathroom.
The shock of what she saw as she went by the shower door mirror stunned her, and she almost didn’t make it to the toilet.
Lisa rose after sitting and staring into the mirror at the body of the person she was in. “This isn’t me” and with that outburst the memories of the woman whose body she was in, flooded in. She fell to her knees she was so overwhelmed. Every new memory came at her in blinding flashes as she looked at the woman in the mirror. She was no longer in her home and comfortable. Is this a dream? She felt as though hours, maybe days had gone by while she absorbed all the thoughts and feelings, saw people and places, heard voices and music and as all of it started to make sense, watching this …woman grow from her first memories to the person that sat in front of the mirror, the alarm went off again. The constant buzzing getting louder and louder brought her back to this separate reality that really wasn’t hers. This time she didn’t just hit the snooze button and she turned the alarm off. Everything stopped in that moment and she took in a few deep breaths.
She knew exactly what to do next… her coffee, (she didn’t drink coffee she was only fifteen years old), turn on her curling iron, and the iron out of the cupboard, open the other cupboard, catch the ironing board as it falls out, plug the iron in. All of these things she did without having to think about them. They had already been thought out.
Her clothes were laid out on the chair by the bedroom door. She grabbed the blouse and ironed it. She could feel the other woman’s memories guiding her, for she had never before ironed anything in her life. As she did this simple task, she learned to trust and open herself up to this voice within her. The routine of Christine’s life became easy to follow and before long she was dressed as she would be any morning, and on her way out to her car.
“Christine” the name echoed in her head and the moments of time stood still. Dates, names, places, Schools, jobs, all flashed through her head seemingly at once. She was so enveloped in these new discoveries that she never noticed herself starting the car. “The Car”, she had never driven by herself at all. Sure Mom had let her drive the car into and out of the driveway to wash it. And she had sat on Pop’s lap dozens of time and steered on the back roads when he had to pick up some fruit, vegetable, spice or something outside Seattle. But drive, and was she even in Seattle? She grabbed her purse or the purse or Christine’s purse and opened it. Nervously, she stopped and took a deep breath and as she let it out, she remembered the ironing. She instinctively took out “the” wallet in the purse and began reading about herself. California State Driver License, Date of Birth: November 11, 1950, 1288 Montgomery Ave, San Francisco, California; organ donor, and suddenly, she was again swept up into the knowledge, skills and memories of Christine’s. She traveled through those thoughts and recollections at spell blinding speed and as she shifted into first and instinctively, hit the remote to close her garage door behind her a joy flooded over her. She drove to work. Christine’s exuberation filled Lisa as she drove the hills of the city and over to the East Bay Bridge and up onto the road to Contra Costa. Lisa eased back and let the memory and knowledge of Christine’s take over. This little ’66 Karman Ghia gave Christine such power and pride and her love of driving it was ever so apparent.
Lisa continued easing back and let the autonomic functions of Christine’s memory, skill, and knowledge guide her into work. As she parked in her stall and went up the stairs to the lobby of this building, she was greeted and greeted back more than a few people on the way, the parking attendant. “Good morning Ms. Hutchinson”, “Good Morning…. Ph… Paul”, almost shouting at him. “You feeling OK, Ma’am“.
“I’m just a little off this morning” she breathed. Continuing on, and as she did so the memory of that person or events with that person whizzed by her and she took awhile to catch up and grasp more of Christine’s Life.
In the Elevator, Lisa hesitated for a brief second as to which floor and as she attempted to press 18 a hand reached in and pressed it for her. “Beat ya again”. Kyle… Kyle Reichert. He put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed a little too gently.
“How are you, beautiful” he said with grin. She looked at him and memories of this man ran into her head. “Just a little off I think… but I ‘m coming back around.” She waited a second for his reaction, her other self almost expected him to make a snide sexist comment about her having some woman thing and as she looked him in the eye, she knew he was holding back something.
She got off at her floor and smiled slightly at him in the elevator. Kyle raised his arm and gave Christine the parade wave that Lisa, herself, had once practiced as a little girl.
The lobby of Pacific Ocean Sportswear, Ltd. was a dismal greyblue in its business overtoned decor and Kathy looked her up and down while saying “Girl, where you been”
This Kathy looked and sounded so much like Kathy Campbell, was this all a dream? It was uncanny.
Lisa looked at the clock and it was five minutes before nine, Christine usually arrived at 8:30am but really never had to be here before 9. Again she repeated, “I’m just a little off this morning… but I ‘m coming back around.” She recognized instinctively the office that Christine had worked in for the last five and half years and entered.
She sat at the desk and looked around at the pictures, drawings, and mementos that adorned the little 12×10’ office and started to get her bearings. She absorbed all of the faces in the pictures and immediately knew the stories. This woman, Christine’s Mom and Dad were in Seattle and her little Brother (he ain’t so little anymore) was finishing up Graduate School in Washington, D.C. at Georgetown. Her best friend Kathy was outside her office working steadily at her desk. She saw the nominations and awards Christine had received for new and innovative designs in sportswear and decided that whoever this woman was or is needed more investigation.
She filched through the drawers like a burglar trying not to be detected. Examining notes, files, and Rolodex, as she thumbed through each document, she could almost hear and see each event, person or thing in super fast motion and in great detail if so desired. All of Christine’s memories were intact. Lisa could access them faster and faster by the mornings end. Kathy interrupted her at 10:30 to go and get coffee together. Lisa let Kathy chatter away about yesterday episode of “Tales of the City”* and Lisa visualized the whole bar downstairs, filled with people listening silently as the Bartender Jesse, read the column out loud. Lisa/Christine saw Jesse’s face and emotions started flowing. Lisa was struck by fear and anger or was it confusion and …she wasn’t sure.
She started looking through all the documents in the “Out” box next to Christine’s desk. The more she read the easier it was to catch up to Christine’s life. The new projects, the past works, and the projections, everything that Lisa had learned in her school classes was now becoming relevant and applicable to Christine’s life.
She studied and read until Kathy came bursting through her office door, “Ready?” she asked. After a brief second Lisa/Christine said, “Lunch, couldn’t come soon enough”.
The Century was a semi posh hipster bar in the basement of the building but they had great and I mean great food. It was the center point of the Ost Building. Even with twenty-four floors above the Ost Buildings, most of inhabitants all migrated to the Century for lunch. It was designed to resemble a 1960’s Coffee house. The walls were old barn wood, and posters from the era were set into the various doors and windows that had been reset inside the basement of this building. Ferns and Plants and bubbling brook fountains were in the corners. The restaurant seated four hundred plus and the bar could hold at least two hundred but only did when the daily episode of “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin was being read, and then it was over flowing.
Lisa savored the memories that Christine had of the soup and sandwich special: Rueben’s to die for, Hot Turkey and Swiss on rye with homemade Cream of Tomato.
Lisa started to look for a booth or table, But Kathy saying “Girl, Off is not the word for you today. Where were you going? “, and hip shifted her over to their usual corner booth.
She looked at the bartender, Jesse, and for a second he looked directly back. She flushed again with the same feelings as earlier when she had seen Jesse’s face in her mind. But she immediately turned her attention elsewhere and pushed the feelings aside.
Drinks and food came and went. There seemed to be a dozen folks that stopped by and chatted with either one or both of them. Lisa saw Kathy’s brown eyes widen when Algirdas came over to the table. As if she could feel Kathy run through a gauntlet of feelings, Lisa /Christine and Kathy both looked over at Jesse who looked back again.
With a start Jesse grabbed the newspaper out of the hand of a patron, who was sitting at the bar eating lunch, and leapt on top of the bar. The bar of 200+ people burst out in applause. Carefully stepping between patrons, food and drinks, he bowed, stood upright and cleared his voice. Turning the page to the newspaper column, and loud enough to carry the room he said “Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin”, and in his Long Island accent he began to read, no, it was more like Mr. Horton’s lecture class back when she was Lisa in Jr. High School. He was orating. The entire bar was hushed or ooohing and aaahing with some phrase or line.
Jesse was dark Irish with shoulder length black hair. His wide smile commanded acceptance as he spoke and he read as if he had written the column himself. He isn’t a tall man but not short either, He had the shape of a stocky man but really wasn’t stocky. And he stood chest out and diaphragmatically read the column with the punctuation of a Shakespearean Soliloquy. Jesse arm stretched out dramatically and Lisa and Christine watched and listened intently, both to catch up on Christine’s memories and to follow the story. She stared into his eyes watching as he followed the words and looked up to punctuate the sentence. As he looked down, she saw the dark brown eyes with tired circles under them. His dark sculptured eyebrows were very expressive (almost Marx Brother’sish). She was enjoying the moment, when Kyle slid into their booth from behind her. She noted that some part of her was annoyed by Kyle’s action. “Ssshh..!” whispered Kathy while looking at Kyle with her finger to her lips.
Meanwhile, Jesse relished in the content of the column and in the exchange of energy with his audience. With a shear glance in that direction, he would silence the whispers gossiping about the column’s story.
Lisa was partially mesmerized, but she could feel Christine was total taken in by his performance. Lisa closed her eyes and concentrated on what she thought this other person in this same body was feeling.
Just as Jesse concluded his oration and bowed to his audience before hopping off the bar during the applause; Kathy kicked her under the table when she looked over at her, she saw in the corner of her eye, Kyle. He looked like a Junior High bench warmer after the quarterback just scored the first TD of the school year. She saw jealousy, insecurity, confusion and perhaps some hidden memories of his shown clearly in the expressions on his face, his body, stance, and his eyes.
Here was Kyle, 30 years old. (Lisa can now freely tapping Christine’s memories) filthy rich, born to a family of commodity brokers and traders, working at his Father’s firm, absolutely asbestos (fire proof), chasing Christine for years. His father’s firm, Leeson-Sherem had the top five floors of her Building. She (Christine) had recently stopped him from constantly dropping in on her office after the first year of his almost stalking. He had brought her a bevy of gifts; flowers, candies, coffee makers, portable stereo, office tools, paintings, new phone system, various bottles of wine; and she made him stop by telling him he was smothering her. So, for the last two and a half years, Kyle had said to his friends and family, he would patiently wait for Christine to get this liberated woman thing out of her system.
Meanwhile Christine had been informed that this was no prince and his private exploits were well known throughout the building.
But Kathy had said so many times, “He’s rich, marry him for as long as you can stand it, divorce him and take the money.”
“Think about it, not ever having to work again”, Christine had heard Kathy’s mantra many times over the years.
For the most part, the day went on as a learning session for Lisa as Christine’s autonomic functions took over the endless repetitive tasks of overlooking every design from sketch to drawing to finished product of all these “now” trendy fashions that were the bread and butter of Pacific Ocean Sportswear. Pattern layouts, cutting templates, she was working in her desired field that she had scraped , saved , studied and graduated with an MBA and BA in fashion design.
Night school, disposable waitress jobs, endless designs of her own that scored quite well as classroom models and ended her education with a 3.8 GPA.
Lisa could see so many cool ideas that were in Christine’s projects and the business plans, proforma statements and the test presentations. She relaxed a little more. Lisa had realized that all Christine’s knowledge was on tap, just waiting to be thought about.
The bar was settling down. Lunch rush comes in fast and furious in downtown restaurants and folks were up and heading back to work. Lisa/Christine watched the faces of people passing, instantly tapping into Christine’s knowledge. You could tell who worked in the building, as they were the stragglers. But with each face passing Lisa got better control of Christine’s memories and knowledge.
Before she could reach for the check, Kathy had grabbed it and was headed over to the bar. “I’ve got this”. Lisa looked past her and saw Algerdas standing talking to Jesse. And Kathy went right up between them; handed Jesse the cash and the guest check and snuggled right up to Al and began playing with his shirt buttons as they were talking. Lisa/Christine watched for a moment then turned to Kyle and asked, “You didn’t eat any lunch?”
Kyle turn his head and watched Kathy and Algirdas as he said, “I had a snack and went to the gym.” And turned back to her and said, “What are we doing tonight?”
Lisa looked at his eyes and tried to read his reaction as she told him, “I have been just off all day and can’t seem to shake it. I don’t want it to turn into a cold or something. I just want to go home after work.”
Kyle tensed a bit as she spoke and Lisa could feel that Christine had seen this before. The urge to ignore her own needs and see what Kyle had planned came over her and for a brief second she started to follow that urge. When she had cleared her head, Lisa heard her Mom’s voice in her head saying the same type of things that Christine would have said thing to her Dad.
Kyle began spurting out his plan as if he was finally going to get his way,” I thought we could meet Father at the Top of the Mark for dinner and then…”
“No really, I am going home tonight and probably just sleep”. The thought of sleep took her back to first waking up this morning and all that had happened in the brief period since.
“Well, I “have” to be there tonight so that’s that.” Kyle rose suddenly and leaned over to kiss her cheek. “I’ll stop by your office in the morning”.
As he walked away Lisa felt Christine started to relax as she changed the subject in her mind. She walked over to Kathy and Algirdas. He was a blond mustached six foot tall man kid of resembled Duane the Allman Brothers. Kathy put her arm around Lisa/Christine waist and pulled her close. Kathy and Al had been talking for a while and Kathy leaned over and kissed Lisa/Christine on her cheek. A sense of wildness seemed to flow from Kathy to Lisa as she pulled her closer. Lisa watched Algirdas’s eyes widen a bit and Lisa/Christine shoved her arm out between them, extended a handshake to Al. “I’m Lis..… Chris.” Al shook her hand and said “Algirdas”.
“Al plays bass in the band with Jesse” and she pointed over to the bar. And again, for just a moment she and Jesse’s eyes met and that feeling started again. Kathy grabbed Lisa/Christine’s waist and pulled Lisa/Christine to her, Lisa/Christine caught the game and played girlfriend to Kathy, as Kathy started to try and get Algirdas worked up. The two girls were slightly flirting with each other and Al was caught in the middle.
“Hey now… All right, what’s going on here?”, Jesse said smiling as he picked up a bar towel and walked over toward them, “We run a family restaurant so you three, go get a room will ya?” They all laughed. Kathy and Lisa/Christine walked off toward the exit.
“You have a pen?” Kathy asked with her hand out stretched. Lisa reached into Christine’s purse and grabbed a pad with a pen attached. As Kathy walked back to Al while writing on the pad, she said “Call me”. Then she tucked the note into his pocket. Looked up into his eyes, then laughed and ran to catch up with Lisa/Christine. Lisa saw Jesse in her mind again and caught that feeling. What exactly was it? She wasn’t sure but it seemed like hate,
The rest of the afternoon Lisa/Christine holed up in the office, having messages taken. She still wasn’t sure enough to accept phone calls as Christine. In the early evening, she planned out the rest of the week. Lisa used Christine’s calendar and plotted the course based on the collective weeks in the past. She found that Christine had written her notes as if someone else would be reading them.
The dress and suit designs that were the current project for next fall and winter were really not that difficult (was that Lisa gaining confidence in Christine’s abilities?). But she took the work home inside of Christine’s briefcase.
The drive home with the top down was exquisite. Lisa was able to gain access to all of Christine’s driving skills. She knew that one of Christine’s guilty pleasures was driving. Christine had taken Defensive Driving Classes and had signed up and taken many a course on off-roading and lap racing through high school and college.
There was a freedom, an exhilaration and security when she drove. Lisa began to feel as though”she” was the one with all the experience. Just before the last turn to home, a kid jumped out after a ball at the corner curb.
Lisa/Christine turned the wheel to the left hard and braked. As she skidded to a stop, the kid just looked at her and Lisa heard her Mom’s voice again about “with freedom comes responsibility”. She stopped, got out and made sure the boy was alright.
She drove the rest of the way home, with a more care and diligence, thinking about what almost happened. As she got in the door, tossed the briefcase in to the usual corner by her desk, she sat down and started to realize the extent of “all” of what had happened to her. How did this happen? Was this really just a dream? When do “I” get to go home?
Lisa realized that she would have to take her time whenever she needed to tap into Christine’s knowledge. She wanted more control over what Christine would normally do. When she went to lunch with Kathy, she let Christine’s knowledge take over as to where they sat, what Christine usually ate, drank and so on. Christine’s diet not her usual diet. Her dad had really seen to Lisa’s healthy eating habits with the ability to spoil oneself in moderation.
Christine’s autonomic functions took over as Lisa considered the day’s events and plotted her course. But she thought long and hard about “her own” family, her Mom, Dad and little brothers. Would she ever get to go back to her life? Would she get to be a kid again? As she sat down to eat the salad and cold chicken that Christine’s auto functions had prepared, she wondered if they were sitting down to dinner as well. She reached for the Phone and pushed the buttons of her home phone number 206- ….. The prerecorded voice said “We’re sorry that number is disconnected. If you think you may have dialed this number in error…” Is this all just a dream?
She promised herself that everyday she would make an attempt to find existence of herself. Whether at the library looking up her parents in the Seattle phonebook, or calling her friends phone numbers in Seattle, her Grandparents in Lamar, Missouri, or Dad’s parents in Providence, RI. Somehow she was determined not to forget as she got involved in this woman’s life.
The idea of just giving up and going to a hospital Emergency Room or Mental Health Center and bearing all of it rushed over her. She could tell them who she was “really”, and how she woke up in this woman’s life. Lisa broke down and just cried.
The alarm went off and Lisa/Christine arose and headed right for the bathroom. As she relieved herself, she stared at the woman in front of her. Lisa had just begun to feel all of the changes of her own “teenage body” into the body of a woman. Here she was in “this body”. She shook off the grogginess of morning and let Christine run the show. A run, oh God, how Lisa hated to run. But Christine was a regular, twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays. After changing into shorts, t-shirt and a sweatshirt, she started out the door water bottle in hand. Lisa had run in Gym Class at school, but she was still growing and awkward in her strides and didn’t know what to do with her arms. But Christine is a runner. She stretches and walks to warm up, checks her breathing and her pulse rate. All of this is new to Lisa, and she lets herself trust Christine’s impulses. She went down the hill seven blocks, first walking, trotting, and then finally the last block running, really running. Lisa felt Christine’s body movements in a uniform controlled manner and relaxed as she ran. She ran along Montgomery Street then over to Sue Bergman Park and along the Embarcadero, and into Julius Kahn Playground. She slowed down and watched the parents and their kids on the swings, the slide and the merry-go-round. Christine/Lisa continued to smile and gaze upon the families playing. There were the sounds of little squeals and shrieks, over powered by “Get down from there” from one parent or another. At the monkey bars, she again stretched but this time Lisa followed the autonomic movements of Christine closely. Lisa was learning Christine’s body, but her mind was on home. She relaxed and let finally let loose on her run; she stopped back at the corner store and looked in. Lisa wanted to learn the neighborhood.
“Hi, Chris. Up early today? Good run?” said the man behind the counter.
Christine’s memory… as she caught her breath… Steven Al Hakim. His wife and he had had a new baby and Christine had said she would babysit anytime. Good people. They took over this store as his parents retired and had this idea that they would ask people want they want him to stock on his shelves. So inevitably there were all kinds of unusual items as well as the normal grocery fare. Steven handed her a fresh almond croissant, an orange and a newspaper, Lisa had no money, just her ID and keys. The puzzled look on her face prompted Steven to say, “Just get me on Friday like usual”. Lisa/Christine had credit here. This was a new concept to Lisa but Christine knew. Lisa thanked him and dashed on home. “What a beautiful baby”, she said to herself and looked forward to keeping that promise she had made.
In the shower she really took inventory of Christine and her whole body. From brushing and flossing her teeth, to washing her face, the memories of each part of Christine’s life came into focus. Her doctor, Dr. Barb Hahn, her dentist, the next appointments all came into Lisa’s mind. She was using a diaphragm for birth control. All of Christine’s thoughts about sex with Kyle came into her mind. She examined Christine’s face, her hair, her body, her stance, her breasts, her nipples, this body, the way her hips and butt curved. Her hair was similar in thickness to Lisa’s but golden blond and the roots matched. Her pubic hair was shorter and sparser than Lisa’s and almost as blond as the hair on her head. Lisa was in the body of a grown woman, a woman who knew herself and was comfortable with her own body.
As she examined herself, Lisa felt slight waves of energy flowing over and out of her and as the waves started getting stronger, she stopped herself. Christine’s sexual memories came upon Lisa all of the sudden. She felt every sensual moment that Christine had felt over the years of her life; but all at once and it overwhelm Lisa. At the same time, Lisa could hear again her Mom and Dad’s lovemaking that had woken her more than once in the middle of the night or early Sunday mornings. Lisa though and started to feel her own orgasm; and how she had experimented and played with her own body. All at once Lisa/Christine began to shudder uncontrollably at first and the more powerful the orgasm became the more Christine was in control of it. Lisa let this other woman have her own way with her body. But Lisa was in tears and fully engulfed.
Lisa/Christine finished the shower and turned the water on as cold as she could stand it for a few seconds at the very end. She ate as she dressed and reached for her keys and her briefcase. She had to stop and look. There were two identical briefcases there next to the desk. Lisa pushed off Christine’s automatic function as to what the other one was, and opened them both. The briefcase on the left was the one she had back at the office last night but the other was filled with Christine’s personal project file and under the drawers of the desk was a box filled with related project files. What was this project? No time to go through this now, she had to go. Christine’s will to be on time overruled Lisa’s curiosity so she grabbed both cases and headed off.
The drive was so much fun that she hated to see it end, but Lisa/Christine headed in to work.
Parking the car she saw Kyle pull up in his Mercedes. Lisa could feel so many mixed emotions passing through her memory that she was confused and just sat in the car looking at the two briefcases. Kyle came over right away and opened her door for her and leaned in to kiss Lisa/Christine. Lisa conveniently reached across the passenger seat as his kiss brushed the back of her head. Grasping both briefcase handles with her right hand, she sat back up and almost collided with his head. Kyle was thrown a little off by these actions and backed away quickly and Lisa/Christine got up and out of the car and closed the door. She turned, faced him and said, “Sorry about that Kyle, My hands are full and I didn’t see you.”
Kyle was so used to the usual morning greetings in the parking lot that he was not sure what just happened. But he leaned in and kissed her lips lightly and offered to help her carry her bags.
Lisa/Christine took her bags and started up the stairs and into the building. She knew that she had left an impression with Kyle in the way that he responded. She hoped that he get the hint and would back off a bit.
She breezed through the files that were on her desk. Detailing the explanations of the fold and the seams of the new line that the Company wanted came real easy and she sensed that Christine was extremely knowledge able about her work. She seemed to know not only the design and the issues that come when manufacturing. But from idea through layout, to finished product, packaging, sales outlets, to the type of machines that would be most efficient for which ever garment, Lisa found a wealth of knowledge and skills in Christine. This made work easier. She found, throughout the next few weeks that she realized that she knew as much or more than the managers that seemed to appear out of nowhere and expected to see her really sweating the assignments.
More than a few times, she knew that she had heard management personnel claiming her work as their own. But Christine had been used to that abuse and now Lisa could feel it, but instead of Christine’s surrender, Lisa put on the gracious face that her own Mother had taught her so well. The management was not sure what the change in her meant but they handled it with their usual non policy and thought her attitude to be neutral or positive until a problem arises.
When Lisa /Christine was having lunch that second day, she and Kathy sat at the bar and opened the Project Briefcase. Jessie stood up on the bar and did his “Tales of the City” by Armistead Maupin reading and looked down at her project as it almost took up two spaces. Kathy looked over the drawings as Jessie read out to the hushed crowd in the Bar. Kyle never did show up, to Lisa/Christine’s relief. And Lisa read the outline of the Project Business Plan. These clothing lines were more airy and made with natural fabrics. The business suit line wasn’t tailored like the standard Men’s cut, Barbie Doll, or Current en Vogue. The line of clothes were designed to be able to sit or run in, skirts, pants, tops, vests, coats, and an assortment to 1930’s and 1950’s takeoffs. But they were beautiful. She had mixed colors and fabrics to get a depth of field into the Art Deco Designs. Lisa/Christine read and scanned pages and pages that laid out the design and creation of an imaginary company, the materials, the cutouts, and the use of mixing different scraps into other garments as part of the design were all in this. There were cost analysis based on the last two years price index, the factories that had the means to produce, potential clients, and marketing conventions were all neatly organized and backed by appendix’s detailing the attached Proforma Statement.
After Jesse finished the “Tales of the City” readings, and the bar was starting to settle down; Kathy turned to Christine and whispered, “This….this is really good…..this could really work.”
The two discussed each design and the logistics that would be involved when Kathy look up at her and said “All right, When are we gonna open”, and Christine’s memory made Lisa realize that this had been their little joke; that someday they were gonna open their own Business. Lisa wasn’t so amused by the reaction, but played along. She ordered from Jessie, as he looked over the neatly laid out files, as Lisa ordered a large House salad, Italian dressing and bread, Jessie said nothing as he crossed off the Turkey Club with extra bacon and fries, and wrote salad. Kathy just stared at Lisa/Christine as she said to him, “The usual, Jessie”.
“Grilled ham and Swiss with curly fries” he called back. Jessie backed away looking at Kathy and raising his eyebrows. “And tea Please”, Lisa Christine called after him. “Earl Grey with honey”, she added.
“Beer Jessie” Kathy said. “What is with you?”
“Look at this. If we could really get backing, then this Company could happen. You’ve always said that these outfits were really cool, Right?”
“We’ll have to make some prototypes and wear them and get some of our friends to try them”.
Kathy was stunned as the drinks arrived and Jessie almost shyly set up coasters and set down Kathy’s schooner. Then setting down the tray and being careful not to look at Lisa/Christine, he set up a proper tea pot, a mesh bamboo screen filled with Earl Gray and poured slowly. He set a beautiful teacup, saucer, lemon, honey and a little dish for the strainer. He then reached into thin air waved his hand and magically produced a spoon. Jessie then thoroughly wiped the spoon with a napkin saying softly, “You never know where it may have been”.
Christine/ Lisa laughed out loud and started to quickly cover it up with her hand. But she stopped and didn’t, and laughed full, loud and clear. Her eyes locked with Jessie’s and for a moment she was lost.
“We talked about this for years and now……. you really want to go through with it? …… If your serious then let’s choose the first three designs” said Kathy while poking Christine/Lisa in the ribs.
And so they began. Every Tuesday and Thursday night after work, for the next seven weeks, every Saturday afternoon they shopped, cut, sewed, took notes, took apart design after design. They drew, photographed Polaroid after Polaroid, built record books of their work. When Kathy started getting bored, Lisa would drive them all over the city, practicing her driving skills, stopping to eat; shop, look at other clothes and styles and look at business properties, but mostly looking at the outfits that other women were wearing.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, the women would work through their lunch at the bar. These days they would wear their designs on Casual Fridays and Jessie would be asked to tell them his opinion of their work. He wouldn’t hold back, he told them if it sucked and why. Lisa/Christine always watched his eyes and his face as he talked. Jessie was different then the memory that Christine conjured up. As he spoke, it was if he was singing. His eyes held stories of struggle but he never spoke of them. He always started to speak with a smile. Pausing then smiling before actually saying a word.
Jessie had a really nice voice and would sing with the Musak that was piped into the bar as he did his side work. Christine would sit sometimes for hours after work, working on the Project at the bar waiting to meet Kathy, while Jessie sang. He sometimes made small talk. But mostly he attended the other patrons and always made sure she had enough hot water. The tea had become a ritual between them and Lisa would never learn how he always produced the spoon out of thin air.
Lisa/Christine and Kathy became so involved in the Project that they never paid any attention to the gossip that revolved around them.
Weeks and Months went by and Lisa was living Christine’s Life, She was on and off dating Kyle. She put most of her energy and time into her job and the Project.
Kyle became more and more disturbed by the efforts and time she put into the project. He would make unannounced visits to her office, her home, and even tried to interrupt at lunch. Lisa was cordial and acted as though she wasn’t annoyed by him, but more and more the instincts of Christine would question her actions. Lisa could feel that Christine’s vision of the relationship was that of a long courtship and eventual marriage, kids and a life of luxury with Kyle and Lisa would have to be content with that. But Lisa saw that relationship as a limitation that would give her to Kyle but not Kyle to her.
The more that Lisa and Kathy worked on the Project at the bar, during lunch or after work; the more Jessie came to watch (without letting others know he was watching), listen and soon respected her and Kathy and their efforts. Jessie began making special efforts to see that their new place at the bar was always saved; and that their lunch order was placed, and delivered which left them more time to work. The harder that Lisa/Christine worked on their Project, the more Jesse paid attention.
Lisa/Christine really started to notice Jesse. He was more than just kind and considerate, she started to see the man that he is rather than the image that Christine had of him or the image that he had made of the loner and tough guy that he wanted people to see. Lisa decided part of Christine’s opinion of Jesse was that of Kyle’s and she made note of it.
Kathy had told her that Jesse’s band is now adding players and getting better gigs and he has lately been yearning to show off. Each week he would tell Kathy and Lisa/Christine about the auditions for players. Kathy is interested and asks Jesse questions about music, how he learned to play, when he started writing his own songs, the band and about Al.
After a few months, the women’s Business Plan began to really take shape and the files were a least a couple of full ream of paper. They had planned for six years of growth before profit and were over estimating cost overruns, labor and materials by 20%.
Both Kathy and Jesse were astonished by the amount of research and development that Chris had put into this venture. Christine had been assimilating all of the requirements for the business since junior high school, without really believing that she could accomplish it. But Lisa never knew that and she still believes that anything can be accomplished.
It was late afternoon and Lisa was looking forward to the days end and the upcoming weekend. She was caught up and even a little ahead at work now. As she and Kathy developed the business, she found her job easier and more routine. By most Thursday afternoons she was finished with that weeks work chores and was at least two days ahead with what she anticipated the next weeks’ would be.
After work today, she and would Kathy meet at the bar and give the final Proforma to her and Kathy’s father (an Accountant) to review over the weekend. Lisa felt as though she had a partner in this woman Christine in the Project. Kathy’s father, Bob, always seem too critical to Christine but Lisa never understood Christine’s hesitation to allow his expertise to look over the Business. All of Christine’s years of training, preparation and skill were coming to life and Lisa was learning as she went and it went fast. Tonight, she would run (oh that sounded good), and then dinner, and then?
Kathy glanced at the 214 pages that were the next ten years of the business if they got the startup money. They just stood, both of them holding the clipped together pages and stared in each other’s eyes. Neither spoke.
The bar was starting to get busy around the, Lisa/Christine and Kathy both let go and the pages fell to the rug.
“Uh Oh, here we go”, and out of nowhere Jesse slid (like into second base) between the two of them and scooped up the pages just as they hit the floor.
“Wow, is this it? Wow!” he stood up as easily as his slide and looked at the first page. His eyes widened and his jaw dropped slightly. “Wow!”
Jesse brushed the cover off with his shirt sleeve and handed it to Christine/Lisa and looked into her eyes and again said “Wow”. The three of them sat on the bench seat of the waiting area and looked, Jessie read aloud the first three pages, and the figures on the spread sheet stood out. Startup funds, design costs, credit needed at what time for what, projected sales, advertising, market strategy, client lists, manufacturers, shipping the contents, the low medium and high sales figures of all the other 111 pages described in the first three.
“Dad and I will work on this tomorrow and we can talk on Sunday”, Kathy said. “What are you gonna do tonight?”
As Kathy saw Kyle’s Limo pull up out in front of the bar and Kyle jump out. The limo waited as Kyle came in through the foyer and through the double doors of the bar. Jesse was sitting between Christine/Lisa and Kathy holding the pages on his lap with his head still looking at the numbers and trying to do the math in his head. Kyle rushed up and kissed Christine/Lisa on the forehead and said “I thought I’d find you here, I had this wild idea that we should go watch the sunset and have dinner. Oh hello Katherine” and he offered his hand.
Jesse looked up with a smile and said “Hello” and shook Kyle’s hand.
Jesse knew him and had served him and his associates in the bar.
“Kyle Reichert”; as he shook Jesse’s hand. Jesse almost makes a wise ass remark but decides against it. “Jesse Hallahan” he said. Smiling as he looked into Kyle’s eyes.
Kyle was slightly taken aback and felt as though Jesse could see more than just the surface. He suddenly remembered that Jesse worked at the bar and his attitude and his demeanor changed. Jesse felt the shift right away as part of the working class, Kathy felt it too and immediately took Jesse’ arm. Kyle became a little more comfortable then and he continued to coerced Christine/Lisa that she should spent the evening if not the night with him.
“I have this evening totally free” Kyle said looking at her with puppy dog eyes and almost a pout. “We could do anything you want”.
Jesse looked at Kathy and Christine as Kathy almost blurted out, “But we were gonna to go see Jesse’s band, weren’t we?”
You could almost feel the silent communication between Christine/Lisa and Kathy and that is exactly what Jesse felt. But Kyle was oblivious. There had never been a word mentioned about tonight, or Jesses’ band. Kathy was leaving Chris an out.
“Oh, you have a band” Kyle said trying not to hide his attitude.
“Yeah and they’re real good and they can only get tighter”, Kathy continued.
Meanwhile Jesse is starting to get a little uncomfortable and turns it into Marx Brothers’ theme with him playing Groucho. Pushing his bangs back and raising his eyebrows he asks, “Oh and are they an unusual band or just a bunch of violinists. You know there is too much violence in America these days”.
“So you want to go and hear their Band tonight?” she asks Kyle.
It took a moment but after a bit of stammer, Kyle turned to Jesse and asked “What type of band do you have?”
Kathy stood up and waved her arms as she said, “They’re great… it’s Rock and soul and ….”
“We’re an all original band; we do some covers, but we perform them our own way”. And Jesse smiled that smile that says, “I do what I do ….and you?”
A loud beeping sound was coming out of Kyle’s Briefcase and he fumbled with the clasps and out emerged a plastic brick with a flashing red light.
“Oh, you have one of those beeper things?” Kathy wanted to see and craned her neck over at it.
Kyle stood almost at attention and excused himself to Christine/ Lisa and headed toward the pay phones at the entrance. “It’s Father”. Without excusing himself, Kyle ran to the payphone in the lobby.
Christine turned to Jesse, “What time do you go on?”
“There’s an opening Band, some acoustic guys and then we do two sets starting at 10”, Jesse smiled and said.
“Yeah, and I’m going with them now to their practice space and be a Roadie”, Kathy almost gloated. “I’ll help load their stuff and drive Algirdas there and help them set up.”
Jesse smiled in the background with a look that told Lisa/Christine that Kathy didn’t know what she would be in for.
“That would be cool if you come” Jesse said. “I’ll put your name on the list at the door plus one. You and Kyle can be my guests”.
“OK. If we’re gonna set up and play tonight then we best get going” Algirdas said as he walked in the doors. He kissed Kathy as if they had been together for a hundred years and Lisa/Christine watched almost with envy. They had only been seeing each other for a few months at that point but it seem as though they had been together always. Kyle rushed back in “Nice to meet you, ahh ….”, forgetting Jesse’s name. Jesse waved at Kyle and then made eye contact and a smile at Lisa/Christine as he went out the double doors.
Even though music was being piped into the room all the time, Lisa/Christine heard a Musak version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Girl you been in love too long” come through the speakers. She listened to the lyrics in her head (that weren’t in the Musak) and watched as Kyle got off the phone with his father and approached her. He walked up and put his arms around her and she let herself lean into his chest. Lisa/Christine remembered being held like this by her father and mother and even Claire. Just letting go for a minute and letting the world dissolve away, taking in a breath and letting go all the pressure of being Christine and…..It wasn’t so much Kyle as being held.
Kyle’s hands were really squeezing her ass. It took a moment but Lisa/Christine felt like she had just been violated. Kyle’s hands were getting busier and now was inching up between their torsos and heading for her breasts.
“For chrisake, Kyle”, she said pushing him away. “We’re in the lobby. Get a grip.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do”, almost angrily. “I can’t remember the last time we even made out, much less anything else”. He grabbed for her breast and tried to pull her close with his other arm.
Lisa/Christine panicked for a moment and then spun away. Even though he had shocked her it felt good and all of the sexual energy in Christine rose to the surface. Lisa was confused and taken aback though. “Look, I have been going through some changes and really focusing on my business and getting it started”.
“Dad wants to get together tonight at the house, so I suggest we ….”
“I don’t really want to go over to your parents’ tonight” Lisa/Christine interrupted. “Let’s go hear the band and hang out with them. It could be fun”.
“How about I’ll meet you there after I go see Mother and Father”, Kyle said. Anyone could see the little boy puppy dog eyes he was giving to Lisa/Christine. And the nights plan was settled.
“Itchycoo Park” was blasting on the PA as the Acoustic Musicians had already finished with their set and getting their guitars off the stage. Jesse was moving his guitars onto the stage, Al was tuning up and checking his bass, and Ralph was playing the big keyboard organ and listening to the speaker cabinet that had some whirling thing inside it. Lee was adjusting his drums and Neal was plugging in some pedals on the stage floor. You could hear the Sax blowing behind the stage trying to mix in with “Itchy Coo Park”. Lisa ordered coffee and set back in a booth not too far from the front of the stage. Kathy ran out from backstage, saw Christine and slid into the booth next to her. Kathy was talking a mile a minute that she had helped load in… she was still sweating but was all aglow with her accomplishment. “Jesse and Al …and everybody just told me what to do and what to carry next and …..and ….I’m a Roadie”.
Kathy was right they are good and they seemed to communicate silently to each other while playing each song. The lights went up and the stage came alive, the band played an interesting version of the Animals “It’s my Life” and Jesse sang the chorus with heart and soul. They played cover after cover song throughout the first set and as they ended with Springsteen’s “Rosalita”.
Kyle spotted the girls sitting in their booth past the assorted long haired leather clad and flower power clothed kids. In his mind every one without gray hair was a kid. Kyle was dressed in his usual tailor grey suit and tie and the path cleared for him as he made his way into the bar. Half of the “kids” thought he was a cop, the other half thought he was a Record exec or A&R man. Kyle took off his tie and shoved it into his pocket. For a brief second he thought of wearing it as a headband but thought better of it.
He finally made his way over to the booth and sat down next to Christine/Lisa. He didn’t know anyone else in the entire crowd of over two hundred cheering fans and finally felt better as he leaned over and kissed Christine/Lisa on the cheek. The booth was in the back and close to the middle of the room; dark pleather seats tucked and rolled were probably original 1950’s. There were two pitchers of beer in the center of the table and it looked as though members of the band had been at the table before Kyle got there. Out of nowhere Jesse poked his head around the corner and smiled into Kyle’s face. “Can I pour you a beer?” he reached over and poured one for himself.
“Sure I’d like that. I’ll get the next round.”
“You do that” Jesse replied. Lisa/Christine smiled, knowing that the beer for the band was free. Jessie poured three beers total and handed one to Kyle. “I’ll see you in a bit”, he said as he walked toward the stage. Jesse took a sip of one of the two beers he was carrying and then set them both by the monitor speaker up on the stage. He walked over to the bar and waited and was handed a glass of water no ice. Lisa watched his every move while Kyle talked about his day.
Jess and Al went to the backroom off the side of the stage. The background Music over the PA was slowly getting softer and the house lights went down.
Wow. The lights came up very bright and the band played the Allman Brothers Jessica, almost note for note. The whole second set was cover tunes but they did them so very well. Livin’ for the City – Stevie Wonder, Whatever gets you through the Night -John Lennon, Why Can’t We Be Friends , War, Blue Oyster Cult, all well done. And the harmonies were beautiful, Lisa/Christine was impressed. The dance floor filled up right away and the crowd was gyrating and dancing to the band. Kathy immediately grabbed Lisa/Christine’s hand and they danced together and with the crowd. Lisa/Christine watched as Jesse sang with such passion about the love that got away, or the love that was one sided. All the songs were, in one way or another, love songs and his was pouring his heart out with each and every lyric. Lisa/Christine closed her eyes and felt memorized.
She opened her eyes to glance over at Kyle. He was staring at her as though he was looking through her and not really seeing her. She closed hers eyes again and fell into the rhythm of the band and listened. The lead solo guitar was holding notes and bending them with the offbeat of the song. She opened her eyes and saw Jesse looking at her as he played the lead. The moment stood still and he stared right at her and she could feel the notes as if he was talking right to her. The gazed into each other’s eyes and Lisa could almost feel that Purple void again. The song ended and he winked at her; the crowd applauded and as he turned back to the members of the band.
Lisa felt as though she was a foot off the ground and she searched for the booth with Kyle waiting as if he was waiting for a bus. She slid into the booth, sipped her beer and asked him “So what do you think of the band?”
“I guess they’re OK, I think they’re really loud though”.
Lisa/Christine listened and tried to really ascertain if the band is too loud, but she and Kyle were speaking close together but in their normal voices. Just as she reached over to Kyle and pulled him to the dance floor, Kathy reached in and grabbed her arm pulling her out to the dance floor. Lisa/Christine held on to Kyle and he was forced to come out and dance too. The band was playing Santana and Lisa/Christine could see Jesse getting really into the guitar solo as she, Kathy and Kyle danced. Kyle was watching Kathy and imitating her moves as he danced. So as eight bars of music had gone by, Lisa/Christine was again memorized by Jesse’ lead guitar playing and vocal and found herself starting again into the Purple void. As she danced, she let go of a lot of tension and stress in a way that Lisa had never done before. However, Christine used to dance like this many times in her youth and Lisa let all control go to Christine’s memories, skills and talent. She began to whirl and sway as she danced without really thinking about anything much less dancing. She felt so free and as the Music came to an end she opened her eyes to see Jesse looking right into her as he played the lead guitar. There was that moment again.
Kyle was almost falling as tried to keep up with Lisa/Christine and Kathy. He was winded and shaky as he grabbed Lisa/Christine’s hand and pulled her back to the booth with him. Kathy was still out on the dance floor dancing with the crowd.
“I never seen you dance like that” said Kyle as he reached for the pitcher to pour himself another beer. Lisa/Christine felt one of her memories go off and looked at Kyle realizing that he had been drunk in the past, the few times that he had been drunk he became aggressive with Christine and it sent a warning to Lisa. Lisa focused on the memory of her having to fight off his sexual advances when he was drunk as a lord. She could remember the foul sour alcohol stench of him and his hands being ever where, it wasn’t that she wasn’t sexually interested, it was the drunkenness that she abhorred. She gave him a look that Christine had practiced and Kyle Said, “OK, I’ll slow down”. He then looked directly at her as he finished the beer in one swallow. Kathy reached through the crowded dance floor, took a sip of beer and Pulled Lisa/Christine back out with her as the Band played Devil with the Blue Dress and Good Golly Miss Molly.
Kyle went out to the dance floor and started to dance again with the girls.
Kyle was never particularly athletic, and he thought of dancing to rock as of the lower class. But he was never adept at the Waltz either, or any other dance.
When Kyle was in sixth grade he and his dance partner won best dancer at the school dance. He was particularly proud of that trophy. But his dancing still resembled that of a goony bird on hot sand.
He got closer to Lisa/Christine and tried to whisper in her ear. Lisa didn’t understand what Kyle was saying, so he spoke louder and just as he did so the Band stopped in a dynamic, dramatic pause. “I think you should come home with me”, Kyle shouted to the silence of the room. All eyes in the room went from the stage to him. Realizing that the whole room had just heard him, he grabbed Lisa/Christine’s arm and pulled her with him.
The music started up again and the two of them went back to the booth. “I guess everyone heard me”, Kyle said to Lisa/Christine. “I think we should go”.
“Kyle, I’m staying here with Kathy and watch the band”, and she headed out on the dance floor” you go on if you want to but I…”
Kyle rose, poured a beer, drank it down in one gulp, grabbed his jacket and went for the door, embarrassed and self conscious. He was stopped by an older woman, “I’ll go home with you”, the older woman said and put her arm around him. Kyle was interested and disgusted at the same time by this woman. He shook her off and shoved open the door; letting himself out.
Lisa stayed with her friend Kathy until the show ended. Kathy took them both backstage. Kathy ran up to Al and hugged and kissed him.
“You want to go ahead over to my place and I’ll catch up with you after load out?” Al said.
“Sure, but are you sure that you don’t me to stay and help, said Kathy”.
Algirdas picked Kathy up in a hug kissed her sweetly and said, “I’ll be fine and I’ll see you there”.
Lisa looked at Jesse, He was soaked from sweat and smiling from ear to ear as he saw Lisa/Christine. “So, what’d ya think?”
“You are all so very talented and I had a blast. I love your voice. Thanks for inviting me”, Lisa/Christine said trying to contain herself.
“What happened to Kyle”, Jesse said, just realizing that Kyle had probably been embarrassed during the stop/rest in the song.
“He left”, Lisa/Christine answered. “I’m gonna give Kathy a ride and I’ll see you around.” She didn’t like being paired with Kyle by anyone.
“You have a great rest of the night and I’ll see ya around the playground”, Jesse said with that wide smile. But he had a second thought about the neighborhood and two women walking alone to their car. “Hey wait up” he yelled at them.
Jesse caught up quickly and said, “This ain’t the greatest of places for you to be walking alone, and besides I have to get my car so I can load my gear”. And the three of them walked off.
About three blocks away they passed a beat-up Volkswagen square back. About 20 feet in front of it was Lisa/Christine’s Porsche. “Wow, is that yours. That’s some car.”Jesse said looking at the Porsche.
“This …… is Uncle Lumpy” he said as he pointed at the square back. “Uncle Lumpy may not look like much but he gets me and my gear from point a to point b”. Algirdas ran up to them and Kathy ran into his arms, “Here’s the keys baby…I’ll see you in about an hour”. With that Jesse held out his hand to Lisa/Christine, “Thanks so much for coming out tonight. It means a lot to me that you hear my music and I’m not just another bartender.”
“I was truly impressed and enjoyed you and the band”. And she hugged him. She pulled away quickly not giving either one of them a chance to go any further. Kathy was already in the Porsche, “we have to stop by my house first.”
“Please”, she pleaded with Lisa/Christine. “I want to grab a few things that I’ll need if I spend the night with Al”. Lisa/Christine drove her to her apartment and then to Al’s Place, which is close to her own home. As she dropped Kathy off Lisa pondered Kathy’s excitement and felt a bit jealous and very much alone.
It was late and Lisa/Christine was partly worn out. Turning the last light out in her apartment and walking back to her bedroom; she felt cold and alone as if she were an abandoned child all by herself in the world. She laid her head on the pillow and pulled the covers up over her.
The songs Jesse had sung were still in her head and she again enjoyed listening to him.
If only she could dream herself back to her own life. Could she focus on Mom, Dad, her home, her friends, her life? She wanted to control this night’s dream and she could hear the noises of their house, creaking in the wind. The pattern of the rain in San Francisco reminded her of Seattle and she fell asleep. Deep into her dreams she was home and she could hear Dad telling her brother to try a little harder.
“I know it seems like you’ll never understand it now but you will. You just have to really put an effort into Math. You’ll be using math and science all your life and it will get easier” Dad said. She heard her brother stomp off.
“What you don’t learn from us or in school, society will teach you. But society doesn’t love you.”
“Education is the only thing no one can take away from you”.
Mom and Dad both had said that so many times.
She could almost smell her Mom cooking breakfast, when she woke up with a start.
Saturday morning and Lisa/Christine slept in. She and Kathy are to meet today to go over the first phase of the business plan and to check out properties. The two of them have newspaper listing of properties and have planned to go and see what property is available as well as get a realistic view of what this new company’s needs and requirements would be.
The women had set their goal on South Beach and the Mission Bay area for today. The rents were cheaper even though these areas had become run down, they were well lit and the transit system would make it easier for any employees.
Lisa felt Christine’s memory of the snow that fell in February in San Francisco and she knew from Christine’s memory that it had not snowed in SF since 1962. Even so it was the thought of their employees having to navigate the city in any weather that occurred to her.
Even though the Mission District was their idea location, they looked at a building on Hampshire and another on Potrero as well and though both buildings were in need of thorough cleaning, paint and a little TLC; however, they were in the price range. They had both, the Chronicle and the Examiner and were scouring the classifieds looking for at least 12,000 square feet with loading bays, office space and manufacturing room.
On Tehama Street they found an unadvertised older large building that looked abandoned. Kathy was first to get out of the Porsche and look in the windows. This building was four stories high with sky lights. As they walked around and looked inside from every angle, they had not found any sign or indication that the space was for lease. At the very back of the building there was a Construction Trailer. Lisa/Christine knocked on the door. An older grey haired disheveled man stood up and came to the door.
“Can I help you?” he said eyeing these two young women and almost cowering away from them. He was in his mid seventies, with worn facial features and longish grey hair. He was dressed well though, wrinkled and looked comfortable in his own skin.
“Can you tell me anything about this building? Is it for lease?”
“No one has bothered to ask about this old place in years, Why?” he said raising his eyebrows inquisitively.
“We are opening up a new clothing manufacturing company and are looking for a building to lease.”
“Ladies, this building hasn’t been used in years, I have been just waiting for the market to change and then I ‘m gonna sell it”, said the old man.
Well, we aren’t buyers yet, but we would like to take a look“, Kathy said. Kathy was real adept at smoozing and the older the individual being smoozed, the easier it was for her to get what she wanted.
“I’m Hector “, he said. Lisa/Christine introduced themselves to him and answered his questions about their startup business. The more the women talked about this new business the friendlier Hector became.
All of the requirements for the new company were available in that building and they knew it, but Lisa/Christine was bound and determined that they were going to continue to shop around. Hector told them that he and his brothers had run a container manufacturing company there since 1952, but his brothers had passed on in the late 1960’s. He had kept the business going for seven years but the demand for custom box containers had surpassed the abilities of the business and now large firms made the same products for less, so keeping the business open just wasn’t worth the trouble. His children had all moved back east and his wife had been deceased since 1965, so he was just living in the trailer and going about his life.
As Hector told his story, the women took notes and made drawings of the building, its lay out, the available electric power, the heating, ventilation, bathrooms and all of the amenities within.
“So Hector, if one was to want to lease this building, what would the cost be and what kind of leasing agreement would you want?”, Lisa/Christine said.
“Well”, Hector said scratching his head. “I really hadn’t thought about Leasing”.
Lisa/Christine had already written her phone number down on a notepad and was handing it to Hector. “Will you consider us, and give me a call and let me know what you come up with?”
“You two really are serious”, Hector replied. Scratching his forehead he said, “This clothing company, this would be just the two of you’s business?”
“Just us,’ Kathy replied, as confidently as if they had all the financial backing that they needed. “We’re going to be looking at properties in the area in the next four weeks and we would really like to consider your property. So will you give Christine a call after you have decided what the cost would be?”
“You know, I sure will” Hector was smiling a big broad smile as if “he” were twenty-five years younger and was himself starting a business from scratch.
Lisa/Christine shook Hector’s hand and Kathy patted him on the back. “It is a pleasure to have met you, Hector. I hope we hear from you soon”.
The two women drove to fourteen other properties that day, yet hadn’t seen another building with all the amenities as the Hector Building (as they now called it).
The Property managers and Agents that Lisa/Christine and Kathy met with that weekend were a far cry from the friendliness and honesty that Hector had presented. One of the Property managers of a building on Langdon Street had told them that the ad for that building was incorrect and that the price per square foot was ninety cents more per foot than the ad had said.
Kathy asked the agent if he would mind if she called the Property Management Company to verify the raise in the price. Lisa/Christine watched as the man back pedaled and then got angry, calling them “Bitches”.
“Chris, we really have to be on our toes with some of these folks”, Kathy said. “Some of these guys see two women and think “Suckers” and will play us for all they can get.”
The weekend went by quickly and Lisa/Christine felt overwhelmed as they went through their notes of all the properties that had seen.
Monday morning came too soon and as Lisa drove Christine’s car to work, she decided that she was only dreaming this dream of Christine’s life and her anxiety and nervousness about carrying out this woman’s life was really only a dream so she could make mistakes. What would it really matter? It was only a dream.
With that, she went about Christine’s life as if she was the best she could be. Both she and Kathy were committed to this new Company.
Each day Lisa/Christine and Kathy spent at least an hour on some part of their new company. Sometimes at lunch, sometimes after work they continued on the project. The women kept it a secret from their real jobs and everyone at their workplace. But everyday that Jesse saw them, the more they had accomplished.
Jesse was almost as informed about their progress as the women were. He knew most of the clothing line and styles, he knew how much they would need to startup, and how much investment the business would need in total. Lisa/Christine had not realized how much Jesse knew about their plan, until they day he asked her, “You know, I know almost every banker, broker and investor that comes in this dump.” “Would you want me to help you find the start up money?”
Lisa/Christine thought about all she knew about Jesse, whether she could trust him, whether he “really” knew every banker, broker and investor that came in the Century. She looked him in the eye and took another breath. “Let me think about that, talk to Kathy and I‘ll let you know.”
Lisa/Christine then turned back around and said, “Ya know what Jesse, thanks, thanks a lot.”
Jesse paused for a moment and then raised his eyebrows as he said, “Whatever and whenever you want me to try and help, let me know.”
Lisa/Christine could see in his eyes that he knew that she was figuring out whether or not to trust him.
Lisa and Kathy now have the entire written report about their new company.
Lisa/Christine has all files mimeographed; of her own designs, the cost of manufacture, layouts of the assembly, she has the line up of the Product conventions, the list and contact information of the retail buyers. She and Kathy have the whole Biz plan and pro forma, reviewed and approved by Kathy’s father (the CPA). They have prototypes, portfolios of all the designs. If the money could be raised then, all they would have left to do is apply the Money to the Business Plan. It all seemed too easy to her.
It was an unusually hot morning and the fog was vaporizing as Kathy and Christine looked at the Thomas Guide and their list of properties available.
As their coffees came and the day started to unfold around them, they planned out their route, starting with results of the last of the phone calls before going off to North Beach. Even though the area was run down, there are six properties available. The gas shortage was affecting where they could look and how they could get there every day, and would affect the shipping, receiving and hiring.
She and Kathy were out looking for warehouse space all day. They stopped at a little package store near Townsend Street and Fourth for a snack and something to drink, when Lisa/Christine and Kathy see a warehouse with a for lease sign. They go and look and it turns out to be a three story Brick building that is for lease by the Kuhlman family it used to be a Medical Supply Co. Lisa/Christine waited as Kathy called the rental agent number on the building from the phone booth outside the store. The agent agreed to meet them in forty five minutes at the Building. So they waited and had another coffee.
All of the sudden, Kathy jumped up from her chair and ran outside. Lisa/Christine could hear her calling ,”Al….Al…wait…Jesse!!!”. and Lisa/Christine turned and saw Uncle Lumpy.
Jesse, Al and Kathy came back to the Coffee Shop, and Lisa stood up to greet them. “What are you doing around here?” Jesse said as he ordered an Iced Coffee.
“We’re looking at Properties for the Company”, Lisa/Christine said as she hugged Jesse.
Lisa/Christine assessed her feeling as she let go of Jesse. She really liked this man.
“Well I have a few folks for you to meet tomorrow afternoon at the Bar. These folks are entrepreneurs, and two of them are just way too rich and have nothing to do”.
“Tomorrow?” she said surprised and delighted.
As the four of them sat and talked, enjoying their coffees; Hector came into the Coffee Shop.
“Hey, are you the people that called regarding the Kuhlman Building?”
Lisa/Christine looked up at him, “Yeah, we’re waiting for the property agent”.
Jesse walked over and shook hands and hugged Hector. “You know these two?” Hector said. It was then established that Hector had turned Jesse on to the Rehearsal space the band was using.
Two older men came into the Coffee Shop and greeted Hector. “I would like you to meet Lee and Morris Kuhlman; they own the building you called about”.
After introductions, Hector told the Kuhlman brothers about the new company. Jesse interjected several times with information about the company, the possible investors and the designs of the clothing line. Lisa/Christine looked at him as he spoke and was amazed at how much information he had retained about the project.
The price that the Kuhlman’s wanted was well within the estimates that Lisa/Christine had foreseen.
Lee Kuhlman asked, “What are the chances that we could invest in your Company?”
“What do you mean?” Lisa/Christine asked.
“Well if what you say is true, and this company has the potential to make some money, then maybe we could come to some agreement to lease to you at a discount for say, shares of the company.” Lee Kuhlman said.
“Wow, I would have to look at all the numbers, but I think that could be done”.
Lisa/Christine smiled at Kathy and they all agreed to meet next week.
The next afternoon, Lisa/Christine met with Jesse’s prospective investors. Lisa/Christine had all the files and designs, anxiously awaiting the response of these people. Jesse introduced the first prospective investors, from the Benign Capital Investments. They looked over the documents, the designs, the Companies ProForma Statement, the Profit and Loss estimates, but Lisa/Christine could see that they really weren’t interested.
Lisa/Christine was next introduced to Larry Brugar, he introduced himself as a filthy rich, an out of the ordinary investor that only invested in things that he liked and believed in. Jesse smiled, “What are trying to do, scare ‘em”. They all laughed and Lisa/Christine started by showing Larry the designs.
“Cool, what materials?” Larry said.
“Only natural materials, nothing that is not natural…no dyes, no polyesters, no synthetics”, Lisa/Christine said.
After two hours of discussion of startup capital, design costs, credit needed at what time for what, projected sales, advertising, market strategy, client lists, manufacturers, shipping the contents, the low medium and high sales; Larry looked Jesse and Lisa/Christine and said bluntly, “I’m in”. He reached in his jacket that was hung on the back of his chair and pulled out his check book. “Here’s $250,000 to start and I’ll need to see you in my office to finalize our agreement”, as he wrote the check. Larry signed the document that Lisa/Christine and Kathy had drawn up and shook their hands. “Now the work begins”, he said as he left.
Lisa/Christine was starting to shake and tears flowed as she and Kathy hugged. “We did it”, Kathy shouted. “No, not yet, as he said we have a lot of work to do,” Lisa/Christine said.
Everyday became new, new routines, new procedures, new route to work, new people; everything became new to Lisa/Christine.
As she worked, Lisa/Christine kept a logbook. Each entry was to be part of the Company manual. She and Kathy worked long hard hours to create something out their ideas
Lisa/Christine and Kathy now have a completed Biz Plan and Backing.
As she walks into her boss’ office she had been rehearsing in her mind what she was going to say. “I have the opportunity to work with a start-up Company and would like to take a one year leave of absence to help with that Company. I know that my position could be filled while I’m gone, but I feel that this Company could get along without me, but this new company really needs my skills.” Lisa/Christine had already decided that if she couldn’t get the leave of absence then she would put in her notice.
“I can’t see how I can refuse”, her Boss said. “I have the feeling that if I refuse to honor your request, then you’ll just up and quit. So as of now you are officially on leave.” Lisa/Christine was sure that he could see the relief on her face.
“I after ninety days, I will have to discontinue your health care and other benefits, and from time to time I will be calling to seek your advice and to see how you are progressing. And maybe to see if you’re ready to come back, so good luck and keep in touch”.
Lisa/Christine thanked him and immediately left and started the permit and licensing processes to start the new company.
Kathy persuaded all the guys in the band to help them remodel the building. She started small with a dozen of each season’s designs, days later Lisa/Christine and Kathy fly off to the East Coast to find a manufacturer.
Lisa/Christine and Kathy showed the designs and arranged showing, meeting with distributors, going to all the trade shows on the East coast, setting up for demonstrations on the West Coast. And the orders take off. After a while she is able to hire Kathy and more folks to staff her Company. Which means Algerdas is around more. The girls work long and late and late at night, after work the women often go over to Jesse’s rehearsal space.
Jesse and Al’s band is now more complete and competent. They now have a rehearsal space and an agent. The band is 12 pieces when the gig is big and pairs down when the gigs are smaller. He still works at the Bar but only part time now, just from 11am til 3pm, Tuesday through Thursday.
Jesse and the band have been diligently working on their craft. The songs and arrangements have become tight and the set lists are based around the upcoming gigs. The big gigs get the whole twelve piece band and the small gigs get whatever the pay allows.
Kyle has only come by when it’s absolutely necessary or really convenient. He expects Chris to stop everything for him when he comes and does so several times a day at first and after further brush offs he shows up unannounced several times a week. But she is paying attention to her company and when she’s not; she’s sleeping or… Lisa/Christine has stopped by the Band’s space many times and she and Kathy have joined with the backup singers and learned all the parts and harmonies.
Just as the big push for her company begins, Kyle announces that at the end of the month “she” is expected to go with him to the Big Island of Hawaii for his parent’s anniversary. He thinks, schemes. and plans to get her to go. And if all his desires are met, he plans to ask her to marry him. This is not a good time for Lisa/Christine, her business demands her presence and Kathy is subbing for her. She spends a lot of time on the phone after she arrives in Hawaii.
Lisa/Christine is not sure she has the monetary backing to support the amount of orders she is getting, First smaller companies, then big outlets are asking for product. Her manufacturers are asking for more deposit money to start the next round and she is thinking about asking Kyle for help.
But not really wanting to, Lisa/Christine goes to The Big Island with Kyle. She left Kathy in charge and with the Management crew she has hired; she feels confident that taking this week off to go with Kyle will be fine.
On the flight, Kyle proceeds to have a few too many drinks and seeing this Lisa/Christine pretends to be asleep for most of the flight. After they land and retrieve their luggage Lisa/Christine greets Kyle parents with usual enthusiasm and a smile.
“So, Kyle tells me that you’ve started you own Clothing Company. “Kyle’s mother, Donna; says. “I imagine that you’ll make a profit after you sell it.”
“I think it will be a long time before I sell”, Lisa/Christine looked her in the eye. “I have always dreamed of seeing my own designs come to life and it seems like this Company could be successful”. Donna rolled her eyes and looked at Kyle who was pretending not to care.
Dinner with Kyle and his parents was long and drawn out, but Lisa/Christine notices that Kyle and Donna are both hitting the wine rather hard.
The dinner discussions centered on Donna want to have lots of grandchildren and Kyle’s accomplishments at his father’s company. Every time Lisa/Christine starts to work the conversation to her work and wants, she is ignored. Lisa/Christine couldn’t have felt more out of place as the two couples walk around the palatial grounds. Walking the grounds was the after dinner family tradition. So with glasses in hand the four of them proceeded through the massive brick gates and into the park that has a collection of works, including sculptures by renowned artists. The four of them traded coupling up first Lisa/Christine and Kyle’s father and Kyle and his mother. Sometimes the conversations were overheard by the other couple (and sometimes spoken purposely loud enough to be overheard) and on a couple of occasions the joke was caught by all of them. Kyle’s father immediately tried all of his moves on Lisa/Christine. He would put his long arm around her, and inch his way to the bottom of her breast and start moving it up. Lisa pivoted away and he would try something else. Finally she paired up with Donna.
Donna seemed to be slurring her words more and more. As Kyle was walking up ahead with his father, he stopped and waited and when the women had caught up with him, he pull the wine bottle out of his coat pocket refilling his mother’s glass. Lisa saw the look in Mr. Reichart’s eye’s as Donna accepted the last of the wine leaving none for him or Christine.
Donna started her inquisition of Lisa/Christine. “What makes you think your good enough for my boy”?
Lisa was taken aback.
“Just who do you think you are, trying to take my little boy away?”
“Mom, I’m nobodies little boy anymore.” Kyle said, but his words were starting to slur as well.
The couples head back to the main house.
Kyle’s father seems to be ogling Lisa/Christine, and all the while Kyle is more and more anxious to get Lisa/Christine to the bedroom.
But she hasn’t been able; between her wanting to call Kathy, his parent, and his sexual advances, to even talk to him about her company.
Kyles leads the way to the east end of this palace, champagne in hand. Lisa/Christine follows at first with him turning back toward her and smiling from ear to ear.
Kyle is pressuring her. His parents are snobbier than she thought and she has made up her mind that she isn’t having sex with him.
“Alright then”, Kyle says as they enter the last door of the furthest hallway of his parent’s palace. “Now we are finally alone”. He reaches out for her and pulls her close. Lisa/Christine feels more uncomfortable and tries to talk to him as he tries to unbutton her blouse.
“Hey, stop it. Can’t we just talk for a minute”, Lisa/Christine says as she pulls away. But Kyle’s quick with his hands and tries to throw her over onto the bed. Lisa/Christine is laughing at first but as he jumps onto the bed she sees the look in his eyes she is seriously frightened.
“Kyle, this company is so very important to me. The planning, the work that we’ve done, the possibilities….
Kyle cuts her off, “I think it’s time we got serious,” and he takes off his shirt.
“Slow down, don’t I have anything to say about this?”
Kyle undressed down to his very small underwear, and has pinned Lisa/Christine up against the wall. “Don’t you get it? With me you may never have to work again for the rest of your life. All you would ever need, want or …. to have it all. As he leans in to kiss her Lisa/Christine leans out toward his lips. He is about to press his full weight into her she slips down the wall before his hands can grab for her.
Lisa/Christine heads out the door and down the long hall, walking quickly. Not running but walking, quickly. As she sees the beautiful carpets, paintings, articles of antique furnishings and hears her footsteps echoing in her ears.
“Hey, where are you going? Hey Chrissie, stop….I just wanna talk to you”. As she grabbed her purse, she thought about her suitcase and ignored the thought opting to head for her briefcase instead.
As she reaches the main entrance of the house, she heard Kyle. He was half crying, half begging. “Please Chris, stop. …”.
He leaped across the foyer and managed to get her heel. Lisa’s instinct was to kick and hurt him. But she wouldn’t. She just ran.
Kyle managed to pick himself up as she went down the steps running in direction of the gates. Lisa/Christine heard a violent cough scream and turned to see a almost naked Kyle, champagne bottle in hand, bleeding from both knees, vomiting into a planter; his parents watching now at the Front door of their palace home.
She heard his father say, “Women are like buses there’ll be another one along any minute”.
Lisa/Christine is in the middle of nowhere on the Island. As she walks down the road the sun is setting. As cars go by Lisa/Christine sticks her thumb out.
“Aloha”, says the voice from inside the taxi that pulls up. “Where are you going?”
“To the airport”, Lisa/Christine says as she opens the door. Inside, the driver is a woman about fifty years old and the smell of coconut oil and incense gives Lisa/Christine a sense of safety.
“Well, you’re going the wrong way to Hilo” she says as she pulls a U turn. “What are you doing way out here?”
“I was at someone’s house and decided to leave“, Lisa/Christine said.
“Must have been a fight, maybe some didn’t treat you right.”
“I’m Iona, and there are only a couple of folks that live out here, so it must be trouble”.
“I’m Christine and the troubles over. I just wanna go home.”
The two women speed down the Keeanu Pahoa road. Realizes that Lisa/Christine had left with just her purse, her jacket and she could care less about her luggage.
“I’ll take you right to the airport if you like” Iona said.
“That would be great; I would love to just go home”.
The two women talked and traded stories all the way there. Lisa/Christine said “Aloha and Thank you”, to Iona who got out of her car and walked with Lisa/Christine to the ticket counter.
“Maybe long time before your flight so, maybe I stay with you. Besides I don’t have anything else to do.” Iona was so nice to her and at first she was hesitant to continue the communication with her.
At the ticket counter, Lisa/Christine bought her ticket for the Redeye and sat down and took a deep breath. Iona walked over to the airport restaurant and order tea for the two of them.
The phone booths were right next to the restaurant and Lisa/Christine called Kathy. Iona heard the conversation as she handed Lisa/Christine her tea. Kathy heard everything about her dilemma and Iona heard every word.
“You know the Reicherts?” Iona looked with a puzzled expression.
“Those folks only here on the Island once a year, I never meet them but they never meet anyone here unless they have too”, Iona said.
The two women sat and talked, ate at the restaurant; Lisa/Christine wouldn’t let Iona pay for anything and insisted on paying Iona for the ride, the gas and the parking.
Lisa ended up telling Iona about her clothing line and the way they had worked so hard to start up the company. Iona was more than just interested, she wanted to see the designs, look at the colors of the material and asked about the materials.
“Look, I’m a biiiiiiiig woman; the only things I can ever find are Mumu’s. Maybe you can make something for us big girls”.
They exchanged addresses and phone numbers and Lisa/Christine promised to let Iona know that she when she had arrived. On the plane flight Lisa/Christine made sketches of clothes for larger women.
Kathy picked her up at the Airport and immediately told Lisa/Christine that the orders had now exceeded 25,000 units of each of first three designs. The manufacturer expected to ship within 3 weeks, and the distribution company would need to hire a second crew.
Lisa/Christine told Kathy all about Iona and the need for clothes for bigger women, the next day they would start the line for larger women.
Kathy told Lisa/Christine that Jesse’s band had gotten tighter and tighter in the last few weeks and as a result better gigs were coming their way at some of the bigger clubs in SF and Oakland. They are getting popular. They book gigs as they are asked. It’s not so much about the money or the size of the club. They are just booking everything, as go as far out as they can and within 150 miles of SF.
The band is booked for a weekend gig at a resort in Rancho Nacasio. This gig is smaller so they are not bringing the Percussionist, nor half the horns or the backup singers. Kathy is excited, she and Lisa/Christine have cabins and the big club and beaches and Algerdas.
So Lisa/Christine makes time to go. She books her own cabin; and the first night, Lisa/Christine and Kathy sing Backups. After the show, they both get a little looped and have a ball; life has gotten better and better for the both of them. But Lisa still misses her own life, her parents, and all that she left behind. Knowing that she can never tell Kathy or anyone else, she goes off alone.
Jesse went looking for her after checking the cabin and finding Kathy and Al there. It didn’t take long for him to find Lisa/Christine. She was leaning against an incredibly large tree and he thought that was a tear rolling down her cheek.
“Hey, you OK”, he said as came around the tree trying not to disturb Lisa/Christine. “You did great tonight and you and Kathy’s harmonies were spot on”.
“Thanks, Jesse. Yeah, I’m OK. I was just a little overwhelmed by all that’s gone on this past year.”
“Well you oughtta be”, Jesse said with that smile. “I would have never really thought that you…that you, that woman that seemed so prissy and self-absorbed could accomplish all that you have. I thought for sure you’d be one of Reichert’s toys. Man you really surprised me”.
“I know … I just … well I never really thought you noticed me back then.” Lisa/Christine was remembering Christine’s original feelings about Jesse and her job.
“Notice you?” “Wow, you really don’t give yourself enough credit. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t look up when you came in.” Jesse said while almost blushing. “You seemed so stand offish and you were with Kyle, I thought does she even know I exist? I thought you were way outta my league.”
Lisa/Christine moved closer to Jesse and he put his arm around her. He seemed so comfortable and his arms around her gave her goose bumps.
“There are a lot of things that you don’t know about me”, she said pushing tears back.
“Hell there’s a lot of stuff I don’t want you to ever know about me”, Jesse laughed.
Lisa/Christine looked up and gave her best Groucho Marx imitation, “Why I resemble that remark.” Jesse smiled and kissed her.
That night she and Jesse stayed up all night walking and talking about life, love, philosophy, likes, loves, and the world. And together they sang Lisa and Jesse duet together …. I see trees of green…….. red roses too ….I see ‘em bloom….. for me and for you …
And I think to myself…. what a wonderful world. I see skies of blue….. clouds of white
Bright blessed days….dark sacred nights ….And I think to myself …..what a wonderful world. The two of them fall asleep under that huge tree in each other’s arms.
The voices around them stir Jesse and Lisa/Christine out of their slumber, and they wake to find Al, Kathy and the rest of the band standing in circle all around them. Catcalls and Woo Woo’s embarrass the couple and after a little banter, Lisa/Christine and Jesse go to their separate cabins and sleep.
Saturday late afternoon they all hang together have dinner, practice harmonies. And the horns and the other backup singers showed up. Startled by their arrival Jesse stood up and went out to the cars. “But………..”
Aand they got out saying “We didn’t have anything else to do”.
Wow, the gig is great, bigger Crowd, audience participation. Three long great sets and the place is hopping.
The After-hours party is ripping and most of the audience appears to have cabins as well. The laughter, the camaraderie, the closeness of all these folks makes Lisa/Christine relax. As she and Jesse held each other and slow danced, the band was partying on the bank of the lake. The moon was just coming up and someone had put John Klemmer’s “Touch” on the PA.
Lisa/Christine didn’t wait for any of Jessie’s shy shenanigans. She stood on her toes and put her fingers into the mane of hair behind his head, leaned him down and kissed him. Jessie was surprised at first but he was not taken aback. He returned her kiss and waited on her moves forward. Gently and slow at first.
Lisa/Christine was overwhelmed and she was lost … falling ….. out of control . Fear and ignorance flooded her emotions, head and her heart. Jessie just held her as she started shaking like the young girl she really was.
And as if the rain had cleared, she felt Christine. Christine was now in control. “I feel like a teenager”.
It was if Lisa was outside of this body watching as the woman Christine took over and made love with Jessie.
The passion was extreme and almost outlandish. Lisa was taken in by the waves of Christine’s orgasm deep into her own marrow. She felt like a voyeur. She could only feel through Christine’s mind as if the power and release were second hand. Wave after wave, soft whispered words, tender caresses. And the purple void……………….
Lisa slept deeply. She hadn’t slept like this since she left her own body. Her dreams were crossed wires between her own life and the life was leading as Christine. She dreamt of Jessie and tried to picture his face, but could not.
That sound, that sound so far away, at first she thought she couldn’t identify it, but as it increased in intensity, she remember that sound that she once thought had thrashed around her head like a cat trying to get out of a paper bag.
That sound made her smile and she looked at herself in the dresser mirror. She was Lisa. She was home.
As Lisa came downstairs, she could feel, see, and smell home; the Coffee and muffins in the kitchen. Her Mom was in the study and bellowing, “Ross, where are the receipts for the Davis catering event?”
“I don’t know, where are they supposed to be?” The sound of her Dad’s voice compelled Lisa to come up behind him and slipped her arms around her Father. “I love you Daddy”.
Lisa grabbed a Muffin and some juice and went into the Study. Her Mom was sifting through the files that were scattered on the floor.
Lisa sat down at the desk and looked over the Ledger open in front of her. Immediately she began analyzing the entries. While breaking off pieces of the muffin and eating the delicious morsels of bread and blueberries, she started entering the figures shone into the calculator.
Just as Erin starts toward Lisa to see what she’s doing, the doorbell rings as Claire lets herself in, “Good Morning everyone”.
Erin gives Claire a hug and kiss on the cheek. “Are we still going to Golden Gardens?”
“Not until I figure out what is wrong with this Profit and Loss statement” Erin said as she looked over Lisa’s shoulder. “What are you doing?”
Lisa looked up at her Mother, “It looks like you have entered the costs of both the Davis cater and the Boylston cater in the Davis’ entries.
Lisa ducked her down and began showing her Mother where the mistaken entries’ are and how the Cost of Doing Business should show the expenditures of the usage of their home kitchen, electricity, gas for the stoves and payouts to her brother and his friend Paul for setting plates and garnishes.
Erin watched in amazement as Lisa tore through seven months of books and corrected entries, reentered corrected data, redid the Profit and Loss statement, filled out the city county state and federal tax forms. All the while, munching on the pieces of the muffin and drinking her orange juice.
Claire interrupted Lisa. Lisa stood up wiped the crumbs from her mouth and hugged Claire. Claire hugged her back deeply and quietly whispered in Lisa’s ear, “Glad your home again, how was your adventure?”
Lisa looked at Claire puzzled at first and then the look in Claire’s eyes told her that Claire knew.
She was startled, and that with realization Lisa was amazed at the knowledge that she brought back with her from Christine’s life.
Ross entered the study with coffee for Claire and more muffins and napkins. Her father watched as Lisa went through the data with speed and accuracy. As she worked Claire asked about Lisa’s procedure and her parents listened and learned.
When they arrived at Golden Gardens, they piled out of Claire’s Volkswagen bus into the beach. Erin and Lisa were suiting up to run in the cold Pacific Northwest air. Ross and Claire had the dogs and off in the distance the bonfires blazed.
Lisa runs, pacing herself alongside her Mother, with each breath Lisa realizes she’s back home, in her own life, fifteen again, and not one day has past.
As Lisa runs she takes inventory of the knowledge Christine had shared with her.
Could she retain all of the knowledge that she has acquired? Lisa thought about the life she lived as Christine.
And she thought of Jessie. His voice was in her head, and she could see and feel his smile. The way he made the spoon appear for her tea.
Erin was talking as she he puffed along in her run. “You have midterms coming up in two weeks so I suggest you start studying young lady”.
Tears began flowing down Lisa’s cheeks. Between the memory of Jesse and her Mom harping at her, she knew she was home.
“Mom I’m gonna turn it on a bit, I’ll’ come back and catch you on the way back, OK? Erin just nodded as she tried to keep her pace and her breath.
Lisa let loose on the sandy beach as if she were still in Christine’s body. However; her own body is not that of the 27 year old woman that she was living in. She has not practiced, nor has her body run three times a week as she did in Christine’s life. Lisa knows there will be difficulty catching up to the level of physical prowess and agility that she had in Christine’s life.
When the group got back together, Claire put a blanket and her arm around Lisa. As Ross did the same with Erin. But Lisa smiled as he watched her Mother and Father hold each other, still deeply in love. Another tear crossed her face and Claire pulled her closer. “You’ll always come home”.
Lisa wept. The fear that she had experienced upon her arrival in the life of Christine swept through her and she shuddered.
“You’ll always come home afterwards, I promise” Claire whispered.
“Quick, look at your parents. Scandalous I tell you”, she said changing the subject.
Lisa raised her head up to see the blanket move as Ross squeezed Erin’s ass. Erin was kissing his neck as his face was buried in her hair.
“I am soooo proud of you”, Ross said to Erin in a little bit over a whisper.
“Ok you two, go git a room will ya?” Lisa said and Claire laughed.
Life continued on, a bit different in that Lisa had to disguise her new skills and attitude. Kathy was still Kathy and the Hasty Tasty was still a greasy spoon with the best fries and milk shakes.
On her sixteenth birthday Lisa, after the usual family party, Lisa and Kathy went down to the “U” district to the Hasty Tasty. Everybody was there, all the Paul’s, and the usual crowd of school friends. The presents were mostly joints, a record or two and the journal that Kathy had given her.
As the kids ate French fries and drank cokes, the usual patter of voices reminded her again that she was home.
Most of the conversations bored her now; boys, school, clothes, and gossip. As she listened she was reminded of her journey and how she was changing.
Weeks and months had past and Lisa had gotten her first job. Paul (Felix) and Tyke had landed jobs at the Seattle Center’s Kiddieland as ride operator trainees for Schmock Amusement. Tyke told her that there was an opening for a ticket seller there and she was hired.
At first it was as exciting as any first job. But a few days of selling tickets and mostly watching folks walk by had gotten boring. She did her homework, wrote letters, and made up poems, anything to keep her mind occupied.
The first day that she saw him (and heard him) sitting on the bench playing his guitar, she felt a strange attraction to him. He would sit and play with his Guitar case open and amuse himself as folks stopped to listen and throw him a few coins. He would thank them as he sang and smiled.
After several times of his sitting across the twenty foot walkway playing his guitar and singing, he stood up and stretched. As he did so, Lisa caught his eye and she smiled. He walked over to the ticket booth.
“You’re a little large to be on any of these rides”, she said to him sarcastically.
“I guess I am, but am big enough to ask you if you wanna go on the bigger rides.”
“I’m Ron Schindler”, he said with a huge smile.
“Lisa”, she said as she watched him.
Neal Storme LLC ©Streetsongzzz2016