Share

JadedJuToday, I had the pleasure of lunching with my friend Jill (aka JadedJu). We met over the internet through bloggy friends a decade ago and then in person, a few months later. When I returned from our first lunchdate, on a Sunday in February of 2004, I reported back to our blog circle with the following story. Later, I found it re-posted on some random site with the title “BEST TRUE INTERNET MEET-UP STORY EVER”. The word TRUE made me laugh for quite some time, but it remains one of my favorite stories and so I’m bringing it back around.

*          *          *          *          *

 Every time I meet one of my blog friends for the first time in person, there’s a bit of a blind date quality to it. How will I know him? What if she stands me up? What if they’ve brought a fistfull of friends to stand and point and laugh at me? So when I went to Pescadero to meet Jill last Sunday, I was a little edgy, not knowing what to expect.

I saw her as I approached Duartes, winding my way through the long line of Harleys that filled every parking space on the block. Leaning against a lamp post, she had a look about her that said she’d been waiting for me to arrive. Her bright green mohawk didn’t surprise me as much as the fact that she was nearly seven and a half feet tall.

“Are you . . . ?” I asked.

“And you?” she countered.

We nodded in unison and I followed her into the restaurant.

We’d already ordered and broken into the soft, steaming loaf of homemade bread when she said, oh so casually, “So you’re all packed?”

I stopped buttering.

“Packed?”

“Yeah, we haven’t got much time.”

“Time for . . . ?” I glanced around the restaurant as if some magical answer to her question was waiting on one of the rustic walls.

“Time to catch up with them. We’ve got to be in Oregon before morning. The show opens in Victoria on Tuesday.”

I put the bread back on the plate and pushed back from the table.

“The show?”

“You ARE the Lion Tamer, aren’t you?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Dani lived upstairs with her mom and two little sisters. She was a gawky thing, too tall and too skinny, with orange-red hair and a heart-shaped face. For Halloween that year, Dani’s thirteenth, her mother bought her this little French Maid costume; very authentic, right down to the frilled white headpiece.

Mom had to work the big party at the club that night, but she’d given Dani permission to take her sisters out for trick-or-treating. That permission, however, was conditional: two loads of laundry, washed and dried in the community laundry room, and folded on the couch before they went out.

Responsibility is something a girl learns to take on or rebel against early in a place like The Villa, and Dani was one of those that took it without question. By seven p.m., she was finished with the first load and waiting on a dryer for the second. She’d costumed herself and her sisters early, so they didn’t miss that first rush, the one where all the good candy gets gone. The stilettos her mother had loaned her for the night, were dangerous for traipsing up and down the stairwell a laundry basket, so Dani had donned a pair of fuzzy piggy slippers and slap-slapped her way back to the laundry room to see if one of the dryers was free.

She’s there, this skinny little French Maid, leaning against the wall in the laundry room, tapping her slipper-clad toes to a hip-hop tune no one else can hear, when He comes in, sliding all quiet-like around the edge of the doorframe across from her. Making mental notes. Taking inventory. He doesn’t belong to the Villa, doesn’t even belong in it, but Dani doesn’t know that, and Dani doesn’t run until it’s almost too late, until his hands are up on her, finding out just how skinny she really is beneath that costume.

She runs hard then.

And fast.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share

The Villa Stories is a collection of loosely-tied stories which were largely penned in 2005 and are archived here in their original (read: unedited) form. The stories currently at Laurustina.com represent roughly half of the whole. They reside somehwere between memoir and socio-political narrative focused on women and children in good-ol' west coast American-style poverty. I've listed some of the stories below, though with the exception of the first two they are in no particular order. 

 

 

The Villa; An Introduction

A Formidable Woman

Tina Lucille

Little Steven and Judge Judy

Marty and Macaroni

Inspection Day

Stained

Just Plain Steven

You Picked a Fine Time

Jack Sprat

Bad Fish and Pinao Hands

White Girl

Share

April 2000

Ten p.m. on a Thursday night. She knocks on my door. Her knock swings the unlatched door inward and the light from the porch bleaches a rectangle of carpet in the living room, previously lit only by two candles, one tall and one fat. A voice coming out of the stereo croons, “…My heart has an ache it says heavy stone…”

“Hello?” she sticks her head through the doorway, “you there, white girl?”

I sit up and wipe my face with both hands.

“What’s up?” I ask, though what I’m really wondering is, who the hell has dared to disturb my peaceful mourning.

“It’s Monique” she says, answering my silent question, “Jimmy’s mom” Two things strike me instantly as strange; the first being the fact that Jimmy’s mom would show up on my doorstep at ten o’clock at night and the second being the fact that she would identify herself as “Jimmy’s mom” when Jimmy has been dead for six months.

“Monique?”

“Yeah, from upstairs?” her shadow on the floor in front of me, shifts its weight from one hip to the other. They’re nice hips, everyone knows that.

“Is it a bad time?” she asks.

“No worse than any other.” I answer.

“Heard you got the internet.”

“Yeah” I’ve had it only a few days, but news around the Villa travels fast.

“Thought you might let me check my e-mail.”

“Why not?”

I move from the couch to the desk and push the button that brings the computer whirring to life. She steps into the living room and moves towards the stereo, from which the voice still cries, “…for the one I love must soon come back to me…”

“What’s that?” she asks.

“What’s what?”

“That music?”

“Billie Holiday”

“I heard of her, but I’ve never heard her, ya know?”

As the computer starts up, I walk towards Monique and the stereo, carrying the fat candle, “I can turn it down.”

“Nah, it’s kinda nice.”

I open a browser window and Monique logs into her AOL account. I fall back onto the couch, trying to retrieve my moping mood. We don’t talk much after that. Read the rest of this entry »

Share

Kenisha had piano hands. I noticed it one day when she came to my door to bum a couple of cigarettes. It’s the kind of thing you notice about someone out of the blue, despite the fact that you see them every day, and I did see Kenisha every day because she and G.T. were in the same kindergarten class.

She was a shy five-year-old, overly polite and ever so delicate. If one didn’t know better, they might mistake her demeanor for serenity. I always gave her cigarettes when she came asking, but I couldn’t stand to hand them over directly, so I’d put them in a brown lunch bag and fold it neatly, as if I was sending her off with a ham sandwich and a Granny Smith apple. I’d chat her up while I prepared the bag, inquiring about school, her little brother, and whether or not she’d found a piano for her lovely hands. She always blushed darkly, head down, mouth barely containing a smile, long, limber digits fluttering at her side.

Kenisha, gifted at birth with piano hands, was sent to my door at least once a week to procure cigarettes for her mother and I gave them to her without hesitation because more than anything, I did not want her mother to come asking for them herself.

Kenisha’s mother had a name like Lois orNancyor something otherwise bland, which did not suit her at all. She was small and ragged, a woman strung so tight it was inherently dangerous, and so I steered clear of her as much as possible. I tucked cigarettes into brown paper bags and gave them to her five-year-old daughter to keep her from showing up on my doorstep. Read the rest of this entry »