Thursday, November 24, 2011

Dreamers (Original Text - Part Three) (1997)

     This is my least favorite section from the original text.  First, it starts the change from what the story was supposed to be into the mess it became.  Second, it is just barely sketched out enough for it to make any kind of sense.  I would like to think that if I were rewriting this, this section would be very different.  So, take a look at what was satisfactory in 1997.  (In my very limited defense, this is the only section that was written over at least four different sessions – I can tell from the different pens used to write it – and it does try to better realize the characters than anything in the first two sections.)
     You can find Part II here (which conveniently has a link to Part I).


     Larry called it Church Sunday.  Originally that meant Easter.  Now it was any Sunday that didn’t conflict with things like vacations, work, the Superbowl, or other sports.  Larry was likely to have two Church Sundays a month.  This was one of them.  Church was something Larry felt he had to do.  He would rather be playing basketball or doing inventory at the warehouse.  Religion did not fit into Larry’s Pudenski’s life with any ease.  His parents had given his to him as though it were a task.  Larry would sit dutifully, quiet, in a neatly pressed suit, and pay his homage to God without it requiring any real thought.
     Church Sundays had a nice structure to them, though.  Up a lot later than usual, a big breakfast, a few hours in the House of God, and then the better part of the day was still available.  Back in the days of high school, Larry and Jason would hit a bucket of balls at the driving range, or go rock climbing, or do something that made it feel good to get out of a suit.  Of course, Jason didn’t dress up to go the church.  He was a guest where he went but he didn’t try to impress.  He and Larry never spoke of religion on Church Sunday.
     This Church Sunday, like many before it, Larry would spend with Nancy Klein.  It was work.  She wanted some rewiring done in her parents’ house and Larry was happy for the side job.  It was easy work, and Nancy was good company.  Not many of the people who hire an electrician stock a refrigerator full of beer for them.  Larry and Nancy would talk for about half an hour before he ever touched a wire.  Then he would make her help out so he didn’t lose the company.  If he was lucky, Mike Carver would stop by and help out.
     “Do you want to hear about my dreams, Larry?”
     His head hidden inside a wall he had been forced to cut into, Larry had a full grin.  “I can assume it was sexual.”
     She playfully slapped his rump.  “No, my ambitions and goals!”
     “Doesn’t sound as interesting.”  He finished fishing out the wire that had fallen from its connector and laid bare against the wood studs.  Fire hazard, if it were still live.  Half the wires that ran through this house were useless, serving only to clutter the space.  Whoever had done this before him did a piss poor job.  “Beer me.”
     Nancy returned in a matter of seconds with an ice cold bottle of Old Style.  It helped clear the dust from Larry’s throat.  It felt good.  Larry sat down on the hardwood floor, his back propped up against the wall.  “So what are your dreams and aspirations?”
     “You just want to talk about sex.”
     Larry shrugged.
     “I didn’t sleep with that guy from Friday.”
     “Good for you.”
     Nancy glared at Larry and silently cursed his sarcastic tone.
     “What?  If you want a guy, you get him.  I’ve seen it.  You remember that time with my brother?”  Nancy blushed and started to turn away, but Larry pushed the issue.  “His girlfriend was coming back in two days and he was going to propose to her, and you take him home and —”
     “That’s enough!”
     “It’s true, Nancy.  It’s a miracle they’re still together.”
     Nancy reached down and took Larry’s beer away.  She gulped down half the remaining contents.  “Get to work.”  She walked back to the kitchen and grabbed a fresh beer for herself.  Four months.  It had been four months since she had sex.  Everyone who knew her just expected the sex.  Larry’s brother was just talking to her, showing an interest in her life.  She wanted that right now.  After Don, Nancy had only slept with one person.
     Soon, Mike Carver arrived.  He brought his own beer and took a can to Larry.  This was Larry’s job and Mike was just there to hang out.  This was never afforded to them on the job for R.A. Pudenski Electrical Contractors.  The beer most certainly not.  Mike and Larry were drinking Guinness and speaking of one of their co-workers, and man called ‘Drover’.  Nancy stumbled into the conversation at an inopportune time and it broke the moment.
     “Pudenski, I want this finished sometime.  You’ve been here four different times...”
     “When are your parents coming back from Europe?”
     She turned to Carver who had asked the question.  He was smiling and happily drinking his beer.  Out of the can.  “Jesus, Carver, get some glasses for that.”  Before he could do anything Nancy walked into the kitchen and brought back two Guinness glasses.  Larry thanked her and Carver finished his first before he poured a fresh one into his glass.
     “So, when are they coming back?”
     “Next week, I think.  I’ll just be gladd to be done house sitting for them.  I haven’t had a night’s sleep in my own bed in over a week.”
     Carver eyed her with curiosity and Larry suppressed a chuckle.  “Oh really.  And whose bed have you been sleeping in?”
     “My parents’, dumbass,” Nancy spat.
     “There are laws against that,” Larry added glibly.  “Sorry.  No, if I stay and finish tonight then I’ll be done tonight.”
     “Then stay and finish.”
     “Holy shit, Jason,” Carver gasped.
     Nancy turned to face Jason, who was most definitely out of place at this gathering.  “How did you get in here?”
     “Walked in.  Door’s not locked, and I figured these two boozehounds would be teaming up on you, and I’m too sweet a guy to let a friend suffer like that.”
     “Bullshit.”  Larry put down his beer and picked up one of his tools and began to play at working again.  “What are you doing here, MacLeod?”
     “I have reasons.  Nancy, could I have something to drink?  Coke if you have it.”  Jason watched Nancy as she stomped out of the room.  Turning back to the electricians, he began, “You guys are entirely too hard on her.  If you want to hang out with her, why don’t you do it at her place?”
     “Nowhere near as nice.  No pool there.”
     MacLeod shrugged.  Carver has a point.  Still...
     “Your dream, Pudenski?  I asked Dr. Hall what he thought.  He wants me to do a paper on it.”
     “So keep your mouth shut next time.”  MacLeod almost smiled, enough so that Pudenski and Carver could tell he was at least partially joking.  Not very many people understood MacLeod’s sense of humor.  “But for now, I need you to keep a journal of your dreams.  Especially anything that shares elements with the first dream.  Then I get to come up with some reason this relates to a childhood trauma.”
     Carver’s face lit up and he pounded his left fist against the wall until he finished his beer.  “Like the time you pushed him off the roof, Jason?”
     Pudenski laughed.  MacLeod shrugged.  “Come on, Pudenski was nine.  We should look for something a little earlier than that.”  He stopped as Nancy came back in with his Coke.  “Caffeine free?  Oh, ‘Beggars and Choosers’.”  MacLeod reached out and squeezed Nancy’s shoulder.  “Thanks.”
     She nodded, but moved towards Larry.  The last thing she wanted to do was even think about sleeping with somebody who was practically married.  “You aren’t going to finish today, are you?”
     Larry looked over at Jason.  “Okay, genius, do you remember anything from when you worked for us?”
     “Three inch heavy wall pipe.”
     Nancy was the only one who didn’t get the joke.  It was a great big no.
     “Then keep Nancy out of our way, and you’re going out with us later.”  There was still the edge of laughter in Larry’s voice.  Still, he and Carver soon became all business and it wouldn’t have taken much more than that to drive Nancy from the room.  She and Jason walked to the TV room.
     “No studying?”
     “Just Larry.”  MacLeod was aware most of the women he knew understood his propensity to use last names almost exclusively, but he tried to be more personable in front of Nancy.  “He’s my new assignment.  Interpretation of dreams, and how work-stress may relate to certain imagery.”
     Nancy sat down in a chair too expensive to be comfortable.  It didn’t even face the forty eight inch LCD television.  To be born with money.  “Does Larry know you’re studying him?”
     “Huh?  Yeah, everything but the work-related stress.  But you were helpful there.”  Jason effected a high-pitched whine. “Do this.  Finish now.  Drink less.”
     “I didn’t invite you here.”
     “You’re not sorry.  Where’s the remote?”
     She handed it to him.  “So, where’s Melissa?  If you aren’t hitting the books, shouldn’t you be with her?”
     Jason got lucky.  He found a game on ESPN.  Sunday nights were made for ESPN.  “Yes.  But I’m not.  I’m here, soon to be out drinking with Pudenski and Carver.”  A slip.
     “And J.B.?”
     “Why don’t you just do him?” Jason blurted out.  “You are so into him.”
     “Fuck you!”
     “Whatever.  If you can’t admit —” It was possibly the greatest catch had ever seen.  He watched it in replay four times, never failing to marvel at the majesty of the leap, the concentration, the catch.  “Where was I?  Yeah, you want J.B.  I’m not saying he’s not an asshole.”
     “Because he is.”
     “Exactly.  Doesn’t change the fact you want him.  And he has a woman, and we both know you’ve had your share of attached men.”
     “I’ve had three girls’ share of attached men.  And if he went along with it, he’d just be a dog.  That’s not what I want.”
     “You’re damned if you do, and, well I guess you’re just damned if you do.  Cheer up and watch the game.”
     Nancy was up and put her hand on the phone.  Jason couldn’t remember he walking over to it; she was just suddenly there.  That, or he was into the game.  “I’m calling Melissa.”  The look on Jason’s face told her that he didn’t much care if she did or not.  “And I’m going to tell her you’re free tonight.”
     The television was off.  Jason practically knocked the chair over getting up.  The look on his face said it all.  Nancy started dialing.
     “Don’t do it, Nancy!”  Jason didn’t realize he was shouting.  His face was beet red, his eyes wide with anger.
     Nancy stopped.  She had heard Jason had a temper but she didn’t think to link it to Melissa.  He was always in a good mood with her.  What the hell was the problem?  The tension was not welcome.
     “She going to be okay?” Carver whispered frm the doorway.  There was no answer.  Nancy and Jason stood there like statues, one enraged, the other terrified.  “Maybe you need to relax.  I’m not going to judge, but I think that one of you has to choose to step out of the room.  Who’s it going to be?”
     “I’ll go.”  Jason mechanically moved, very obviously fighting to find some calm.  “Don’t make that phone call.”
     Carver asked the question with his eyes.
     “Melissa,” Nancy mouthed.
     Carver merely shrugged.

     True to his word, Larry Pudenski finished.  Everything was done, and he and Carver got Jason out of there without further incident.  Nancy still wasn’t at ease about it.  She couldn’t honor Jason’s demand.  She had to make that phone call.
     “Hello, is Melissa there?”  The girl on the other end didn’t answer right away.  Then she made it as hard as possible to actually get Melissa on the phone.  That didn’t help at all.
     “Nancy?  What’s wrong?”  Melissa could hear the tremor on the other end.  She had talked to Jason about Nancy just the night before, and Jason was sure that she and J.B. would get together.  Was that it?
     “Jason was just here.”
     That was worse.
     “He has some project involving Larry.” Nancy offered that to put the unasked question to rest.  “I jokingly said I was going to call you and say that he was free tonight, and he went ballistic.”
     And?  Melissa could see it happening.  “You shouldn’t have done that, then.”
     “Is he like that with you?”
     “Then what was it?”
     “Nancy,” Melissa sighed, “I know you might not understand, but Jason is losing his friends.  He and Pudenski are family, really, so they’ll always be close, at heart.  But after he starts working on his Ph.D., he isn’t gong to be hanging out with Carver, Burke, or any of us.  Maybe not J.B., whether he decided to get off his ass and finally try to be a doctor.  He’ll be immersed in academia, and it’s going to help him to do that.”
     “He doesn’t have to leave us behind.  ‘Us’ as in you?”
     “I hope not, but probably.”  Melissa coughed.  “I love him Nancy, and I’d like to think that he loves me, but I think anything’s possible.  He could walk away from Carver?  Then he could do the same with me.”
     Nancy didn’t want to make Melissa feel bad.  She wanted to know why Jason got so angry.  If it anyone else, she could have just asked Jason.  Maybe she still would.  “Okay, sorry about all that.  But why did he get so angry about it?”
     “The truth?”  Melissa didn’t wait for Nancy to respond.  “We haven’t spent a weekend together in over a month.  And I’ve been after him a bit.  Women have needs.”
     Sex?  Jason got angry because he didn’t want to have sex with his beautiful girlfriend?  “Wait.”
     “It’s not exactly what you think.”
     “That he’s insane.”
     “There are details I’m not going to get into, but Jason wants a night with the guys.  We’ll spend some other time together.  School is paramount.”
     “Are you studying?”
     “Not tonight.”
     “Do you want to come down and hang out?”
     “You’re not propositioning me, are you, Miss Klein?”
     Nancy laughed.  “I know you’re not into girls.  And neither am I.  I’ll keep the door open for you.”
     “See you in an hour.”

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