A Claire Who Lived for 1514 Words

ClaireNeverEndingA Cut Character from Claire Never Ending: I was looking through my files today, trying to find the revised short-story I’d written not far back as a spin from Claire Never Ending. What I found instead was this chapter. Well, it’s not a chapter. It’s a character I was building for the novel, but didn’t write beyond 2000 words. For each new Claire, I had to find out who she was – so would write these scenes that felt out a character. I think LaLa would have fit into Ruby’s story slot. Maybe she’s Ruby in a different dimension, if Ruby had never jumped off that train with James.

Anyhow, here is it. It’s never been edited, so please excuse the errors.  If you ever want to check out Claire Never Ending, It’s over on Amazon.


 

La La Bliss

 

“Make room, Fellas – clear space, you Dames.

We’ve just gotta announce who’s stepping on the dance floor. Drums! Somebody get me a drum roll! Come on, louder, bigger! Now keep it rolling men, make me scream over top of ya!

Ladies and Gentlemen slap those hands together, cause the hottest Betty in this roaring waterfall city has deemed to grace us with her delicious form. With all the curves of the Mississippi, and legs longer than a cedar giant. Let’s give a hand for the hottest gal this side of the border! Our very own hotsy, totsy, taxi dancing queen – La La Bliss!”

And from the shadows steps La La Bliss, already shaking her hips and flapping those arms – side dancing, knees twisting, breasts waving, beads bouncing. Catch those big charcoal eyes, and short, copper hair – mind the flash of her gold sequined headband wrapped round her pretty brow. The limbs are flying and her smile’s got snap – she’s a crazy, whacked out, sexy mess.

A quarter slips into the announcer’s palm with a big red kiss smeared along his perky, happy cheek, and a wink is delivered through her dark native eyes – a wink and a promise for a piece of the take.

“This one’s a quarter boys. She’s fine goods, Fellas. Line ‘em up and knock ‘em out. Quarter tickets only!”

Little Bliss knows how to sparkle. That’s plain as Jane’s face. Sparkle La La, La La Bliss. Not her maiden name, not her married name either. Because that was back then, back before La La was born. She’s a new woman now, and sailing above the rest of the desperate dames in this town. The lost women, she calls them. She doesn’t drop to her knees for her keep, not lucky little La La Bliss.

“Line up boys!” she laughs into the mic. Her eyes scan the crowd and she winks at them all. Make it look fun, make it look wild. And she holds out her hand as the men race to claim her – bumping and pushing and falling at her feet.

The pink and yellow lights of Freddy’s Bourgeois Dance hall shine and slip and catch her in the spotlight, blind her in the eyes – and if you weren’t desperate, and if you weren’t fighting, if you had a seat at the back and were apart from the crowd, nursing a whiskey and worn out from the world, if you weren’t a drunken mad man frothing at the mouth and piling your tickets into her pale little hand, then maybe, for just a moment, you’d spot something smouldering behind her dark stare. As she hits the polished floor with that good sorta jazz music flying in the background, and swings into the Charleston with her too short, too ugly partner whose staring at her with glassy moon eyes and a look of utter awe slapped across his face, maybe you could see a little of the hurt, glancing at you before it melts back into her smile, and she laughs and shakes her hair.

She’s a naturally injured woman, little light La La Bliss. But so are most women who end up dancing, who end up here, alone, where the water plummets between two countries.

With the stab of her fountain pen, Lala finished inking out her words slowly but surely. Every holiday she’d go out to the pharmacy and buy the prettiest postcard she could afford, and since coming to Niagara, she could afford the real fancy ones, printed in colour and everything. Now she turned the small card round between her fingers, watching the fat New Years baby stare at her with a sash across its basket reading 1927 in red glitter. It cost a dime, tourist prices, but she didn’t mind.

Finishing her note, she tucked it into her carpet bag; she’d never given up her carpet bag, or her worn out beaver jacket. They were items for life, her mother had told her as she’d passed them along, they’ll last far beyond your generation, her mother had said. And Gil had wanted to burn them. He’d wanted to burn every bit of who she was before arriving. Every last bit. She was never really his, and he knew that all along, knew it from the tan line on her ring finger that they never spoke about aloud. Anyhow, she wasn’t his girl, she was only his favourite.

The band was cooling off out there, playing a smooth jive that strummed and hummed through her dressing room walls. The crowd was thinning, everyone was going home. A knock on the door, it was one of the other girls, Rouge, dripping in sweat and patting her armpits with a towel, “Good pull tonight, Bliss Baby?” asked Rouge, and she stepped into Lala’s dressing room and fixed her eyelashes in the bright, bulb lined mirror.

Lala reapplied her lipstick. “Not bad.”

“You going out? Find a fella or something?”

“Or something,” replied La La with a wink. Her voice had gone thick with the smoky halls and late night shouting. She put down the lipstick and lifted the iron, getting a few of those last curls, then flipped her head and shook it all out into a disheveled mess, straightening back up and fixing the strands in the mirror, getting it to look just right. Lala didn’t know too much about politics, or the world, or anything really. What she knew about were men. The other girls primped and puffed, but not La La; she oozed, she spread herself open and let it all hang out. Gil had always said a women looked most beautiful after making love. And Lala had the eyes of a woman left in the bed, so Gil had said. She knew that much about the men with the tickets: they all craved a smoky, hazy, loved up girl like her, even if only for one dance.

Rouge stopped her own primping and looked over Bliss. “I’m gettin’ out of this place Lala, you oughta do the same. You see these,” she bent in close and bore her small blue eyes into Lala’s large dark stare. “You see those lines? Didn’t have those before, eh, and I’ll bet you get them too. I’m getting outta here, Baby Bliss.”

“Where you going?” asked Lala.

“Hollywood.”

That got her attention. The whole reason La La had run away from home was to become a star. But somehow she’d been distracted, caught up by the Falls. She hadn’t even made it to the border, and it was only over the river.

“You gonna be a film star?” asked La La. She lit up a cigarette and took a long pull.

“I’m gonna have a laugh,” answered Rouge. That wasn’t her real name either. Round Freddy’s Bourgeoisie Dance hall, none of the girls had real names.

The clangs and the bangs and the boom boom booms raised up in a crescendo of razz-a-tazz music, with the bar tender calling last round, and the clock ticking down to three AM. It was Lala’s cue, the club was closing. She had a different show to attend next.

“Good luck,” said Lala, standing from her chair, picking up her fox fur cape and throwing it over her shoulders. She looked in the mirror a moment, at the lush woman who stared back all dressed up and ready to go, then she slid out of the fox and hurried to the closet, pulling out her old jacket – the beaver fur, and slid her arms into the familiar sleeves. With a sigh she turned back to the mirror. Rouge had slid into LaLa’s chair and pulled a flask from her garter.

“Want some?” asked Rouge.

La La buttoned her jacket and accepted the flask, taking a swig. “I’ll see you on the big screen,” she whispered, still staring at Rouge’s reflection.

“Here’s hoping,” answered Rouge. La La handed Rouge the flask.

Lala wasn’t jealous. She wasn’t anything, because a girl like Rouge wouldn’t make it down there, no more than she’d made it up here, up in Niagara. She was yesterday’s news, expired goods – and it came off her like a cheap perfume. No one would touch Rouge Deliquesce; Lala didn’t know much, but she knew that for sure.

Lala wasn’t jealous that Rouge was leaving. She was the star of this dance hall. Still the star. And nothing, nothing and no one, was gonna ruin that. Taking the postcard from her desk, La La tucked it into her pocket, picking up her burning cigarette and closing the door behind her as she left the dressing room, left the dance hall, and slipped out into the night. The dark buildings echoed with the click of her heels as she walked with sure steps along the frozen, deserted main street of Niagara falls.

She flicked the burning cigarette down into the gutter. She was the star of this little down. And now, it was time for her late night show. Gil was a man who didn’t like to wait.

Move it behind the wall

I would

like to

build a

wall,

between

myself and

the ideas

of

expectations, trials, doubts, bleak realities, statistics,

or more.

On my side of the wall, the active and living side

would be

hope

and life

and wants

and the

words:

Change

and

Cure

and

Heal

and

Stable

and

Fun

and

Clear

and

Health.

No doubts

there

to cloud

my view

of

what

I want.

I would

live on

my sunny

side of

the wall.

Take walks. Make plans. Drink tea. Heal well. Love. Create.

Live in possibility.

And the

stuff

behind

the wall

would go

quiet

from

neglect,

and settle

over

time.

Like

Forgotten

Objects

in the attic.

White sheets draped over top,

covering and muting,

into quietness.

No longer

needed.

And I would face the sun.

and Be Alive in the sun.

Peacefully Happy and

healed.

A Useless Guide to Sewing Stockings

I grew up with one giant red stocking. My grandmother made it for me 🙂 It’s red felt, and has some reminants of glitter glue on it. Back when we were little and Santa was as real as real could be, it felt like a darn tooin’ miracle to walk into the living room Christmas morning and see those stocking filled with goodies.

Stocking LoveActually, it still does. My parents have been pretty awesome with that tradition. Though they’ve always said how the stocking my grandmother made were far too large. It’s been in my head for a while. The thing is, we could go out and buy new stockings – but Lulu made these all by herself. How can you replace homemade memories?

Well you cannot replace them. But I was thinking to myself, and decided that Zsolt and I need little stockings that we can take with us wherever we may be for the Holidays, be it Canada, Hungary or the moon. So, I decided to sew us Christmas stockings.

Stocking Z and C

Here’s my how-to-list for making Christmas stockings, from someone who really cannot sew.

1) pick out pretty material. I picked mine up from a shop called Fabrications in Hintonburg.

2) Pick out some soft stuff to add to the material. Only do this is if you want to make your life more complicated. Sewer Beware, this is a time-adder to the project. Though I do think it is worthwhile. I picked up some raw felt from the knitting shop Wabi Sabi in Hintonburg.

2.5) Watch a Youtube video on how to use a sewing machine . . . after you find yourself one. You can also handstich, but be prepared to take forever.

3) Figure it out!

Forget patterns, I Lady McGuivered it by just piling the materials on top of one another, did some pinning and cutting out a vague, large sock-like shape. This resulted in several errors and a lot of repining. Each sock is unique, because I’m terrible at planning. So one is really wide, and the other is really tall.

4) Sew it all together somehow. First I almost sewed it backwards. Then I ripped that out and started again. Except the edges were raw. So I cut a strip to cover that up. Eventually I resorted to hand-stitching certain sections that somehow estocking for Zscaped the chomp of the sewing machine.

5) The details matter. Seconds before I was about to cut into my felt for the Z and the C lettering, once again about to freestyle the letters – I thought, hey, why not print out a letter and just trace it?

 

I did, and it turned out beautifully. Because these stockings are meant to be life-long stockings, I didn’t just glue on the letters, but instead stitched them on.

And voila! Lovely Christmas stockings.

No matter how meandering and ridiculous the process, they got there in the end. I’m quite pleased.

And speaking of being pleased. I’m focusing on enjoying life a bit more this month. After the puddles of misery throughout November with waiting for & receiving scan results, I wanted to stop being sad all the damn time. That is my big goal for 2015 that I made during my parents workshop.

So, that means a few big changes that I’ll talk about later, but also one pretty important one I’ll talk about now.

I signed up for National Novel Writing Month, and finished the 50,000 in one month! It felt incredible and bizarre. At the start of the month it really seemed impossible, but by the end I was rolling. If I could give myself time to write 2000 words a day, do you realize how much I could write? TONS.

2014_winner_certificate

So, what I’d really like to give myself this year to help make life more liveable is the gift of TIME.

TIME to do what I love. TIME to clean my apartment. TIME to write 2000 words. TIME to get together with friends. TIME for my writing podcast. TIME to exercise. TIME to play.

That means shaving off time from other things. It means a bit of change and letting things go that I have wanted to do, and still want to do. But at this point, I think what really matters is just finding a way to not cry so often. Silly things like Christmas stockings are part of that.

So there you go, a useless guide for sewing stockings, and the gift of time. That’s me. That’s all I have to say about that. Happy holidays. 😉


Happy pictureSpeaking of fun, we had a really good time recording our latest podcast over at our writing show. Here is a link if you feel like having a listen as you wash dishes or something. 🙂