Gosh, I'm noticing that I haven't blogged since April and that I have *20* blog posts drafted. Why am I like this? Ha. Whoopsie.
Well, anyway... I was going through a flash drive with some of my older writing and I came across this 3k+ word story I wrote in 2015 about a girl named Jacklyn and James Franco. I am proud to say my writing has really evolved in the last 5 years, as some of this it was a bit dicey, but I did think the story overall was pretty clever. I submitted it to 2 places (there are so many typos and it really needed to be revised and edited, how embarrassing. Haha. I used to be so ballsy back then), but I was told it was too long. Some friends had shared that they felt the ending needed work. So, it's been in its tiny flash-drive grave for quite some time now.
And with all of those enticing reasons as to why you should read it, I've decided to upload it today for all of you. It's long. James Franco is no longer culturally relevant. It's not typical "blog" content (do I even have typical blog content, being that I do not regularly update this space, like ever?). It apparently has a dicey ending. But, what the heck. Life is short. Time isn't real and, this election season is a real bummer. So, without further ado, I give you, "Dream Date".
Jacklyn studied herself in the mirror, twisting her body ever so slightly from left to right and left again. Her heavily glossed lips were pursed; her bottom lip sticking out just a bit farther than her top. Inspecting herself meticulously, Jacklyn’s face moved back and forth to the same rhythm as her body; her chin slightly angled up to enhance the strength of her jaw bone. Tonight was important. Tonight was special. Tonight was their destiny.
Jacklyn awoke Friday morning the same way that she always had, her alarm sounding at 4:30 A.M. to ensure she would get to the gym before work, her hand reaching over to the nightstand to grab a framed photo that she kissed Good morning, followed by a heavy, loving sigh. Tucker, the grey tabby she adopted at PetCo 5 years ago, was snuggled against her head, lying on top of her pillow, purring and waiting for a tummy rub. Jacklyn clunked out of bed, yawn after yawn, rubbing her stomach, rubbing her eyes as she went through the motions of pulling on her black yoga pants and a lime green dri-fit tee shirt, left sock then right sock followed by neon pink Nike cross-trainers.
She slinked into the bathroom, haphazardly brushing her teeth and tossing her golden brown hair into a bun atop her head. She then made her way to the fridge, removing the bottle of water she had placed in there the night before, sliding the bottle into her purse as she grabbed her keys, cell phone, and iPod. Jacklyn was perfectly content with the ordinary rhythm of the perfectly ordinary day.
She arrived at her 24-hour gym, her companions the usual culprits: the older man, impossible to tell whether he was early or late fifties, his complexion a bit too dark, too leathered, yet his physique was of someone whom is in their best years; there was the blond-haired lawyer who had asked Jacklyn out on multiple occasions despite her declining multiple times, having explained that she was in love with somebody else; the young pregnant woman intent on not putting on a pound of weight during her pregnancy, still squatting 80 pounds and running 5 miles on the treadmill each morning; and the owner, Marcus with his shiny bald head and fresh bandana. Jacklyn waved to Marcus as she took a small sip of water.
“Mornin’ Jack! How you doin’?” Marcus said.
“I’m good. Just sleepy. But that will change soon.” she made her way towards the treadmill, she needed to begin her warm-up before starting her circuits in the weight room. Marcus tagged along.
“Oh yeah, that’ll wake you right up. Gym time, breakfast of champs!”
“You know it!” and they both laughed.
“Everything good though? Huh, Jack? Ya know, uh, how’s James?” He fumbled with the black bandana he had wrapped around his head, his left eyebrow slowly rose to an arch at the finalizing of his sentence.
“Oh, James, Yes. James is just wonderful,” she said and she smiled, staring off into space the way she did whenever someone brought him up. Marcus was asking her more questions, or maybe he was saying something about something else but she couldn’t hear a word. From that point forward, all Jacklyn could think about was James and his dark brown hair, the way it could be wavy or straight, cut tight or wild, and wavy around his shoulders and he would still be just as beautiful. That smile! The dimples! His hypnotic eyes and their endless depth, his sweltering sexiness, and the infinite sexual power he had over her.
Marcus shook his head, walking away, mumbling something about “fantasy land” and “something’s not right” towards the direction of the pregnant woman, who was nodding her head in agreement but Jacklyn was oblivious. Nothing could pull her away from the thoughts of James. James! The love of her life, handsome, dynamic, James!
Jacklyn’s workout took the typical hour and fifteen minutes. She used a white towel from the gym to pat the sweat from her face and said her goodbyes. She walked out the door, past her Toyota Corolla, to the Starbucks on the other end of the parking lot where she ordered her usual Grande Americano. Frank was working that morning, what she saw as a sign from the universe that today was going to be a great day. “Frank, you have a lovely name,” she said, sliding him a $2.00 tip.
Americano in hand, Jacklyn made her way back to her car. A helmeted motorcyclist drove by slowly and waved, Jacklyn nodded and held up her Americano as she proceeded to get into her car to drive home and get ready for work.
She went through the rest of her morning routine, eating a handful of almonds and then brushing her teeth a second time. She showered, dried, and styled her hair, put on a pencil skirt with a tan peter-pan collared top, a bit of light makeup. As she headed out the door to Hamilton Elementary School, where she would spend the day as Ms. Weiss, first-grade teacher, she picked up another framed photo and kissed it goodbye, “Oh James. You are so handsome.”
It was at this precise moment her day began to turn from ordinary to extraordinary. After pulling away from her apartment, Jacklyn discovered to her horror that she had forgotten to fill her gas tank. The small light began flashing with annoying persistence. Jacklyn always filled her gas tank on Wednesday’s, it was not like her to change her routines. But yes! She remembered, Carly, or Mrs. Stone to the students, had misplaced her keys, I know it was that Samuel. I saw him snooping around my purse, ‘I was just looking for my green eraser Mrs. Stone’ yeah, okay Sam! Where’re my keys then? Little shit, asking Jacklyn for a ride home. They had stopped for a quick glass of wine, Monrose has the best happy hour deals and the bartenders are hot with a capital ‘H’. Jacklyn drove straight home after that, not thinking twice about her normal gas run.
She glanced at the clock, if it took no more than ten minutes to fill up her car, she would still have enough time to prep before her class began to arrive. She pulled up to the Shell right off Highway 10 and began pumping gas. A man on a motorcycle, much like the one she had seen earlier in the morning, had stopped at the other side of the pump. He was lean, about 5’11 wearing Levi’s with a blue and black flannel shirt over a white tee shirt. He was facing the other direction when he removed his helmet and even after he began filling his tank with gas, the white gas pump obscured her view and she was unable to see his face, though Jacklyn did get a quick glimpse of his unkempt brown hair, the slight wave, and felt a flutter in her stomach.
She anxiously placed the nozzle back into place on the gas pump, dropping her keys along the way. She bent down to grab the keys, but wasn’t quick enough, the man on the motorcycle had already grabbed them. And that’s when she saw that James was standing right in front of her.
James smiled at Jacklyn, “You dropped these.” he held the keys up in his hand, motioning for her to take them into her own. He was beautiful. More beautiful than she had even imagined. She could hardly look at him but she knew she would miss her chance if her confidence faltered at all.
“Oh thank you, I appreciate it. What kind of bike is that?”
“It’s a BMW R80.” and he smiled again. His teeth, like a choir of baby angels singing hallelujah, distracted her momentarily but Jacklyn was able to keep her head on straight.
“Yeah? That’s cool. I’ve never been on a motorcycle before. That one looks nice though.” and she smiled, briefly biting her bottom lip, making sure to keep direct eye contact. She was confident alright. This was her moment.
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice. You headed to work? You’re dressed like a professional.” James asked her, winking.
Her stomach was doing backflips, “I teach first grade, over at Hamilton.”
“Really? You like teaching?” he asked with genuine interest.
“I love it. I’ve always believed that teaching children, helping them, is all that matters, it’s basically the key to life.” At that moment, she sealed it. Jacklyn knew that James had once said that ‘helping people was the key to life.’ She waited for his response.
“I’ve always felt that way too,” James paused, “Hey, what’s your name anyway?”
“Jacklyn, and you?”
He eyed her curiously, “James.”
Jacklyn held out her hand, “Well it was nice to meet you James, but I better be going. Don’t want to keep the kids waiting.” Jacklyn had no idea how she was composing herself so well.
James took her hand in his and shook it lightly, “Hey Jacklyn? You got plans tonight for dinner? I could pick you up around eight, give you your first motorcycle ride?” It was that simple and that incredible, as she jotted down her address before stepping into her car and waving goodbye. His perfect face in her rearview mirror, waving back at her.
The rest of Jacklyn’s day was spent in a hazy love daze as she mentally prepared for her date. Her mind cycling on things like what she would wear when he inevitably proposed (a white cotton sundress), and the color of the flowers at their eventual wedding (periwinkle).
In the teachers’ lounge, Carly and another 1st-grade teacher, Mrs. Lin, asked Jacklyn about her plans for the weekend.
“I had planned to go to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow morning, but I have a date with James tonight, so who knows if I’ll be up for it in the morning, ya know? In case we’re up late. Or maybe, maybe James would want to come along?” she said, trailing off.
Carly and Mrs. Lin looked at each other, eyebrows furrowed and then quizzically at Jacklyn. Carly chimed in, “A date? With James? Tonight?”
“Yes, we met at the Shell gas station just off the 10. He’s going to pick me up on his motorcycle.” Jacklyn smiled.
“Oh! Wow! That’s wonderful. You’ll have to tell us all about it on Monday.” Mrs. Lin said.
“Of course I will!” Jacklyn said as she rose from her chair, gesturing goodbye. Jacklyn exited the teacher’s lounge, heading left into the women’s restroom, Carly and Mrs. Lin fighting back laughter until she was out of sight.
“That woman is a first-class whack job. She better hope the administration doesn’t find out about this, she could lose her job. Nobody wants someone like that around their kids all day!” Carly said once she knew Jacklyn was out of earshot.
After one final inspection in the mirror, Jacklyn made her way to the walk-in closet in the spare bedroom. She flicked on the light and sat down. Surrounding her were hundreds of pictures of James. She lit a small candle, “I knew we would meet and fall in love. I just knew it.” She rocked back and forth, humming quietly for a moment, before taking one final deep breath in and out, reluctantly leaving her shrine.
James arrived 10 minutes late, but Jacklyn paid no mind. She had grabbed a book of poems by e.e. cummings from her bookshelf, lounging on the white wicker couch just outside her front door. She pretended to be caught off guard as the engine roared into her driveway. James pushed down the kickstand with ease, removing the helmet from his head in one smooth gesture, his signature half-smile unleashed an animalistic yearning within Jacklyn. She licked her lips and then smiled, placing the book into her bag as she made her way over to his bike. This was calculated, she knew James was a poet.
“Whatcha reading?” he asked, placing the helmet he had been wearing onto her head.
The inner lining of the helmet was damp with his perspiration, Jacklyn was in a state of euphoria. She answered, “e.e. cummings, I love poetry.”
“Oh, do you? I love poetry too. I write it myself actually.” he said as he helped her get onto the bike behind him. “Hold on tight, don’t let go.” As soon as the engine roared, Jacklyn squeezed James in her arms, just the way she had always imagined she would. Once they were moving, she traced her tongue along the inner lining of the helmet, tasting as much of him as she could.
They had arrived at an oyster bar just outside of the city, near Venice where James had a table reserved for them in the back. They laughed and drank, Jacklyn hypnotized by the intensity behind James every word. He did most of the talking, but she was okay with that, his voice the very melody of her heartbeat.
Halfway through their second glass of wine, James said to Jacklyn, “I have to be honest with you. I’m an actor. I mean, I do all those other things I told you about, the writing, the poetry, music, pursuing my doctorate. But, also, I’m an actor. I’m actually pretty famous, I was surprised that you hadn’t said anything yet.”
Jacklyn paused, unsure of her next move. She neutrally and safely said, “You did look familiar to me, maybe I’ve seen you in something?”
The server approached their table, offering to refill their glasses, both James and Jacklyn complied. She seemed completely unaffected in James's presence, a true professional while serving the stars.
“Where were we?” James asked once the server had left.
“Hm, I think here,” Jacklyn said just before kissing James on the mouth, greedily wrapping her fingers in his hair. He responded well, kissing her back, his hand resting on her jaw. It was the perfect moment, and the first of thousands of kisses Jacklyn planned to give James in their lifetime.
The next hour was spent indulging in more wine, more stolen kisses, and laughter. Jacklyn knew it was really happening, her and James together forever, at last.
“You want to get outta here?” James kissed her hand. Jacklyn nodded, tossing the napkin from her lap onto the table as she stood up, her head a little heavier than her legs from all the wine.
The sun had disappeared while they were in the restaurant, giving birth to a dark black sky and a glowing white full moon. They were walking hand in hand down the street back to the motorcycle that was parked a few blocks away. The sound of a dog barking had caught their attention. They both looked over their shoulders to see what all the commotion was about, only to find a very rambunctious Chihuahua giving its owner a run for her money. Laughing, they turned their heads back around and that’s when the man swung a baseball bat at James’s face.
Sparks shot out of James’ head as it ricocheted off the metal bat, causing him to lose his balance. James fell onto his backside, while his head aggressively slammed against the pavement, cracking it. More sparks. The smell of burning wire filled the air. In a panic, Jacklyn ran to his side. The perpetrator of the crime was horror-struck.
“What the fuck man?” the man with bat screamed, “Nevermind! Freaks!” running in the opposite direction.
“James! James! Oh my god! Are you okay?”
James sat up uneasily, still a bit unsteady from the hit and the fall. “I’m oh-” but before he could finish his sentence, Jacklyn let out a blood-curdling scream. James’ nose had inverted back into his face revealing a small crater. There were red, white, and black wires protruding from the hole where his nose should have been. His face flopping forward as the back of his neck had been severed, the skin ripped from shoulder to shoulder, revealing more jagged wires. Smoke clouds escaped from his mouth, “Jacklyn. Wait. I can explain.”
But she was gone, running down the street hysterical, “He’s a! Monster! He’s a! Freak! He’s not! He’s a! He’s not James! He’s not my James! James!”
“Jacklyn!” James screamed one more time but it was too late, he knew Jacklyn was not coming back. He made his way to his motorcycle, strapped his helmet to what was left of his head, and rode home sad, broken, and alone.
Jacklyn found herself on the boardwalk, the commotion of music and street performers too much for her already overloaded brain. She walked towards the ocean, taking off her shoes and digging her toes into the sand. She began to breathe to the rhythm of each crashing wave, processing it all: the perfect date, the kisses, the metal face, and jagged wires. It hit her like a ton of bricks, the sideways glances she received from people whenever she mentioned James, her mother’s voice when she happened to stop by and notice the framed photos of James throughout her house, Oh hunny. They all thought she was crazy. She was not crazy. James was her man!
James typed a code into the keypad above the door handle, 4-5683-7384-76436, there was a click and James walked inside, cursing the entire time, his left hand cradling the back of his neck in order to keep his head steady. He flipped on a light switch, lights rolling on one by one revealing rows upon rows of identical heads, arms, legs, feet, hands, and torsos.
James walked up to a head, sliding open the scalp, flipping on a switch. The head came to life, blinking his eyes and stretching his jaw. The body of James removed the severed head and replaced it with the new one, with such ease, it was obvious he had done this before.
He walked swiftly to a full-length mirror, inspecting himself. After carefully combing over each area of his body he took a few steps to his left, turning on a computer screen. Jacklyn’s picture, with her personal information, lay on the screen before him. He placed a red ‘X’ over her face, “She won’t want a second date.” he said, exiting out of her file, returning him to the database of thousands of women with their photos before Jacklyn’s marked by the very same red ‘X’.
“I really thought you’d be the one to fall in love with the real me,” he said just as a surveillance image from his security system flickered on.
Jacklyn was standing outside the front gate of his home shouting, “James! James! Are you there?” Startled, it took James a moment to initiate the clearance to open the gate. He closed down the computer, exiting and locking the warehouse, as he made his way to the frantic Jacklyn.
“Jacklyn? What are you doing here? How did you know where I live?” he asked, ushering her inside his home.
“I’ve known where you lived for the last ten years, James Franco. And I don’t care what you are, I love you.” she looked wild, yet focused. James experienced a rush he had never felt before.
“I knew you were the one!” James Franco said as he took her into his arms, their life together flashing before his robot eyes.
Ahh, the taste of true love. Brings a tear to your eye. Ha.