Coming to Americabyamsterdam©
So why should you read this story amongst the thousands of others here? Well, I like developing characters within a full story, told with a touch of humour, great dialogue, a dash of realism, and an added twist or two just for good measure. If this sounds like your kind of recipe, then please read on and remember to vote at the end! If not, then thanks for checking it out anyway and good luck in finding your wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am story!
"Look at all these losers, you find them everywhere."
Looking around the pub as the words drifted out of the speakers above me, I wondered if someone was having some fun at my expense. There was no one within six feet of the jukebox, so I chalked it up to coincidence that the song playing now was the third that could have been about me.
"You wish that you were special, I'm just like you," continued Nina Persson's sweet voice.
Until today I'd been happy with life. But today, well, today was different. Today I turned thirty and I wasn't happy.
I looked up to see all my mates laughing at me.
"Come on, Walter Mitty! The balls are fed up of waiting!"
Smiling sheepishly, I got up to take my turn on the pool table, smacking the white for all it was worth, sending spots and stripes scattering everywhere. Everywhere except into a pocket.
"Rubbish! He turns thirty and can't even play pool anymore!" Queue another round of raucous laughter.
"Very funny lads. I'll have you in the next game, don't worry."
They weren't far wrong though. I couldn't believe that I was thirty. Bloody thirty years old! Responsible people were thirty years old. People achieved things by the time they were thirty. Until now things had seemed to take their natural course and I got on with life in a contented manner. I'd had a happy childhood, a decent education and a stint as a singer for a rock band that never quite made it out of the local pub scene. I was now a married man in a steady nine-to-five office job, working for the local paper selling advertising. I was good at it, but it bored me. I resented the fact that my creative yearnings were still not satisfied.
I sat down, nursing my bottle of Budweiser as the banter continued, my mates still eagerly competing their fifth game of killer. My head was stuffed full of negative thoughts; chiefly, that there should be something more to life. Taking a swig of Bud, I told myself to snap out of it. Surely I wasn't the first person to feel like this upon reaching an age milestone. The Cardigans finished singing about "Losers" and "Is this it?" by The Strokes came bursting from the speakers. The jukebox was taunting me.
Later that night, snuggling up to Susan and fuelled by alcohol, I decided to pour out my heart. I'd had enough of my dead-end job and it didn't help that Susan's career had gone into overdrive. I realised that the chances of me leaving my mark on the world rested somewhere between slim and none with the later being a five-to-one favourite.
"Susan," I slurred, my voice a touch whiny.
"What?" she replied sharply, probably thinking I wanted a birthday shag.
"Nothing. Doesn't matter." I rolled over and switched off the bedside light.
She turned over and put her arm around my waist. "I'm sorry sweetie. I didn't mean to snap. I'm just a little tired that's all. Did you have a nice birthday?"
"Yes thanks. Well, no. Oh I don't know."
"What do you mean? What's wrong with you honey? Need some stress relief?" she asked, stifling a giggle as her hand snaked toward my crotch.
"No, no. It's okay." Grasping her hand, I moved it back to my stomach, rolling over at the same time to look at her. She tenderly raised her hand to my cheek.
"Must be something serious if you're turning that down," she said with genuine concern in her voice. "What is it?"
"It's my life, its rubbish."
She frowned at me. "You're joking right? Come here Mister beer breath." She laughed, making another grab for my crown jewels.
I squirmed out of the way and sat up in bed, switching the light on. "Stop it , Susie. I'm serious." I could tell from the look in her face that she knew I wasn't joking around.
"Sorry honey. What's wrong? Is it me? Tell me."
"No, course it's not you." How could it be her? She was too good for words. "It's just, oh this is going to sound silly. Maybe we should talk about it when I'm sober."
"You can't make a profound statement like 'my life is crap' and then ask me to forget about it. Tell me!"
"I never said it was crap. I said it was rubbish." She raised an eyebrow and I knew it was time to get to the point. "I need more from my life. I need to leave something behind, be remembered. You know?" For a moment I thought she was going to laugh at me again.
"I thought we decided that your chances of making it as a rock star were dead and buried," she said with a soft smile.
"They are, but there's got to be something else. This job is killing me. I need to get off the road to nowhere and do something I enjoy. Let my creative juices out."
"What's stopping you?" she asked.
I paused for a moment, thinking about it before answering. "Money for starters, then there's everybody else. What would people say if I gave up a perfectly good job to chase an unrealistic dream? Your parents, my parents, our friends; I wouldn't know what to say to them."
"Well you're never going to know unless you try are you?" she answered, tilting her head to the side in a knowing manner. "You can forget the money too. We can comfortably live on my wage and who gives a flying fuck what anyone else says? It's your life Russ. If you're unhappy, then pack it in and do something else."
I looked at her in wonder for a moment. How could I have ever doubted that she'd understand, or that she would support me? "Are you serious?"
"Dead serious. What is it you have in mind?"
"I need to finish that book that I started years ago, maybe even write a new one. I've had loads of ideas lately."
"I always said you should have finished it. I love your stories. If nothing comes of it, then you can always look for something else."
"Are you sure about this Susie?"
"Sure I'm sure," she said, smiling. "Now come here big boy." Her smile developed into a wicked grin as her hands began to roam over my chest. She crouched forward and pulled the duvet from on top of me.
I smiled widely as my body relaxed and Susan's fingers busied themselves, gently rubbing my tingling nipples, her skilful tongue dancing around my stiffening cock. I knew I would never grow tired of my wife's blow jobs. She gave the impression that she enjoyed giving them as much as I loved receiving them.
"Mmmm, Russ," she purred. "You're so fucking hard. Are you going to cum for me sweetie?"
"Uh-huh," I replied, nodding my head. She held my gaze as she worked her tongue over my cock, teasing me, pausing to moan, her breath hot against the trail of sticky saliva on my shaft.
"Come on then baby, cum for me. Mmmm...cum in my mouth."
I moaned deeply, her smooth lips noisily moving up and down my erect pole, her tongue dwelling over the head of my penis before working down over my corona and shaft. My breathing quickened as my nuts began to tighten. "Oh fuck," I murmured incoherently. Sensing I was close to ejaculation, Susan increased her tempo and pulled harder on my erotically charged nipples. I gripped Susie's hair and held on tightly, moaning and groaning as she worked me to climax, jacking me off into her waiting mouth.
"Oh fuck yes!" I cried as semen spurted from my pulsating cock. As the spasms subsided, I managed, "Susie, I love you." Then my world went black.
I slowly opened my eyes to see Susan's smirking face looking down at me, her tongue hungrily licking the last drop of semen hanging from her wet pink lips. She swallowed and moved up the bed to kiss me softly.
"Happy thirtieth birthday sweetie."
I woke up the next morning in a determined mood. I'm not sure who was more astonished when I marched into my boss's office and laid my resignation letter on the desk, her or me. She tried to talk me out of it, which was flattering, but the prospect of having to wait another two years for the next round of promotions confirmed that I was doing the right thing.
Doubts started building over the next two weeks and on my last day at work, reality struck. I got home feeling very alone, wondering what I'd done. I hadn't even so much as re-read the novel I started when I was twenty-five. I was worried that I was going to read it and think it wasn't good enough. Worried that I wouldn't come up with a good enough ending, worried that I'd made a huge mistake.
Once again, Susie came to the rescue. She told me to relax for a few days, wind down and enjoy my freedom. She gave me a book to read and bought me a CD to help me chill out. She never ceased to amaze me. I picked up the paperback the next day and switched on the ambient CD. The book was called Dead Unlucky by Simon Hague and by anyone's standards, it was an awful work of fiction. I gave up after three chapters, realising what Susie had done. I shook my head at the book, knowing that I could do better.
I sat down at the PC immediately and began to edit what I'd already completed on my half-finished novel. I'd always enjoyed writing, mainly short stories, a diary every night, hundreds of letters and e-mails to friends the world over and a few songs for the band, but this was different. I felt incredibly pressured to get it right, make it better than average, and to have a finished work to be proud of. It also felt good, the creative juices flowing from me, giving me an energy and self-satisfaction I hadn't felt in years. Whenever the frequent doubts began to pervade my mind, I thought of Susie's encouraging words and the work of Simon Hague.
I spent the next six months finishing the novel, a crime story set in my hometown of Sheffield. I didn't think it was great but it was a start. I gave copies to friends and family to read and they were all encouraging. Unfortunately, the pile of rejection letters that came in a steady stream through the letterbox told me I still had a long way to go.
I tried something very different for my second effort: a romantic story. It didn't flow as smoothly but I persisted and finished it within four months. Another avalanche of rejection letters indicating that romance probably wasn't my forte. Even so, I felt my writing was improving all the time. I subscribed to writing magazines and joined a creative writing class in an attempt to reach my goal of getting my work published, dedicating six hours a day, seven days a week to my craft.
My third effort gave me the breakthrough I'd been looking for. I finished it roughly two years after quitting my sales job. I used the same character from the first novel but this time I felt the story was better. It was about a computer programmer who lured young bi-curious married women to various city locations, holding them captive, taunting the police and killing the victims mercilessly. Two publishers wrote back and said they wanted to see the rest of the book after reading the first two chapters and eventually one of them took a chance on me. Just turned thirty-three, my first novel, Cyber Trap, was published.
I was as happy as I'd ever been, delighted that my hard work and persistence had paid off; relieved that I'd taken a chance on life and it had been kind enough to reward me. I used some of the advance I received from the publishing company to take Susie for celebratory weekend in Paris where we shagged like rabbits in a luxurious five-star hotel. Life was fantastic and it was to soon get even better.
* * * * *
Two years and another successful novel later, I stepped off a plane into the sun kissed oasis of Los Angeles, pinching myself to ensure I wasn't dreaming. Bob Chay, a representative of the film company UIP, greeted me with a toothy smile and an enthusiastic handshake. He was to be my personal assistant throughout the duration of my stay. I was in LA to choose the music for the film they were making of my book. My agent managed to get that crazy clause into the deal we signed with UIP and I was about to experience a whole new chapter in my life.
Bob had about ten years on me and had always lived in LA. He was married, had a daughter and was enthusiastic about his job. He seemed like a genuine guy and had, "loved the book. Just loved it." He asked me about my work, when the next book was due etc. He made me feel like a genuine superstar. I guess he was good at what he did.
On the way to the hotel, he told me that my first scheduled meeting had been postponed for two days but that I was welcome to sit in on some of the other production get-togethers as an observer. He said it wasn't such a bad thing. It'd give me time to find my feet and get a feel for the corporation and the city. He also had a big smile across his ruddy face as he told me that negotiations were at an advanced stage with an A-list star to take the lead role of Detective Inspector Monaghan in the film. He wouldn't divulge any names though.
It was all mind-blowing stuff. America, LA, Hollywood, the talk of famous actors and actresses starring in a movie based on my book, the five star hotel I was staying in, the chance to get a real insight into the movie business. Certainly a far cry from writing reports, taking mundane phone calls and watching the clock every ten minutes, willing the hands to go quicker than was physically possible.
I called Susan from the hotel room once I'd bounced up and down on the bed a few times and taken in the pool view from my balcony. "Susie! I'm here! The sun's shining, they're going to get someone really famous to play the part of Monaghan, I have someone assigned to look after me for this whole trip, the hotel room is..."
"Honey slow down!" she said, her voice turning to laughter at the other end of the line. "You'll run out of breath and then you'll be no use to anybody!"
I laughed. "Sorry! I'm just so excited and all it's all because of you. I love you Susie."
We talked for forty minutes before she told me she needed to go to bed. I'd forgotten about the time difference and strangely didn't feel tired. Bob had invited me to go for dinner with his family later on and I'd accepted. I thought I should probably lie down for an hour after the long flight, but the adrenaline was pumping through me. I donned my shorts and headed to the pool. I could only stand and grin when I saw a woman down there engrossed in my novel.
That night, dinner with Bob and his wife and daughter was pleasant, the restaurant expensive, stylish and in keeping with the trip so far. As I sat there soaking in the atmosphere, enjoying the different company and strange accents around me, I wondered how long it would be before Susan and I would expand our family. We'd put any talk of this on the back burner since I'd had my success.
I slept like a baby that night and woke feeling refreshed. I sat in awe through the two meetings I attended at UIP. In the first, they made the decision to set the film in Pittsburgh, wanting to keep a similar dark and unforgiving setting to the book. Next, I sat in with the casting director and her staff as they discussed several of the characters, including the fourth victim who escapes and helps Monaghan to catch the killer. The list of possible stars to play the part included Sarah Michelle Geller, Kylie Minogue, Jennifer Aniston and even Britney Spears. I couldn't help grinning as I imagined sharing a bed with those four! I was buzzing when I came out and called Bob as soon as I got back to my room.
"Hey buddy!" Bob answered. "Good day?"
"Bob, I couldn't describe just how good. Un-be-fuckin-lievable day, Bob. Just incredible."
"Great Russ, that's great. You wanna go out and grab some dinner later?"
"Sure," I replied, "how about a few bars and maybe even a club afterward?"
"Er, okay, why not? I'll send a car to come and get you at eight okay?"
The car dropped me at The Dresden Restaurant, which on first sight didn't look the most inspiring of venues. I went inside and Bob was waiting for me at a table in the corner still dressed in his work suit, pale blue shirt and out of date fruit explosion tie. The lighting was low, the place three quarters full, the atmosphere relaxed and easy. The food was plentiful and delicious; it didn't stay long on my plate. Bob was just about halfway through his when I'd finished and he joked about taking me to an eating contest next week.
When he finished we moved to the lounge, had a couple of beers each and watched the stage act to its conclusion. By ten o'clock, the place was packed to the rafters and Bob was starting to look a little uncomfortable. Sweat was pouring down his forehead and I tried hard not to imagine the state of his shirt under the jacket. I asked him if he wanted to move on and he couldn't knock his beer back quickly enough. The next place was quieter and lacked the atmosphere of the Dresden. Bob looked tired and bored, his spark from yesterday faded, his mind drifting on to other things when there was a pause in our conversation.
"No offence Bob, but you're starting to look like this is the last place on earth you want to be. Let me guess. Been there, seen it, done it and done it again and again and again."
He let out a little laugh and shook his head. "I'm sorry Russ. Home stuff you know?"
"Yeah, sure. Listen let's call it a night after this one but see if you can manage something a little more wild for tomorrow night eh?"
"I thought you bookworms were supposed to be early to bed types."
"Stereotyping Bob? You of all people should know better than that. Don't tell me all star actors and actresses are demanding Prima Donnas?"
He laughed. "I wish that wasn't true Russ, but invariably it is."
Shrugging my shoulders, I necked my Budweiser and placed it on the bar. Bob put his bottle at the side of mine, half finished, and we slipped out of the place as anonymously as we'd entered it. We managed to flag down a cab straight away and Bob told me to go ahead.
"Okay, see you tomorrow then."
"Yeah. Sorry about tonight Russ. I'll make it up to you tomorrow and don't forget to bring the CD you talked to Mr. Rubenstein about. He wants to have a listen before your meeting."
"Okay. Night Bob."
He shut the door behind me and I spent the journey to the hotel trying to shrug off my disappointment at such an insipid night. I wished Susan was with me and I was starting to feel a bit isolated and lonely. It was becoming obvious that Bob wasn't the type of guy I'd hang with if I had the choice. He was a nice guy, but he wasn't a sports fan, his music tastes were prehistoric and his days of painting the town red were long gone. I called Susan when I got back to my room, but she wasn't home from work. I left her a soppy message on the machine telling her I loved her, I hoped things were going well and wished she could join me soon. I lay in bed and drifted to sleep thinking about my wife's smile, touch and incredible body that I was missing like crazy.
The next day meeting with Mr. Rubenstein and his two assistants was hard work. They proposed that the soundtrack be a mix of haunting classical scores and Brit-pop/Rock tracks that I'd selected. My head was swimming with classical tunes when I finally left the offices. I'm sure they were as lost in the sea of guitars that I'd subjected them to all morning. My classical collection back home consisted of the Star Wars trilogy. It wasn't going to be an easy task.
Things didn't improve in the evening as Bob failed to keep his promise of showing me a livelier time. I thought of asking UIP for a different chaperone, but I didn't want to come across as an ungrateful bastard and changed my mind. I hoped a trip to the beach that weekend would liven things and put a smile back on my face, but even that proved frustrating. I've never been one for lying still and Bob just patted his beer belly when I asked if he fancied a round of beach volleyball. I wanted to join in with the bronzed bodies that were having obvious fun but I hadn't played since school and decided against making a fool of myself.