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Thread: Rio Hannah

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Rio Hannah

    Rio Hannah

    You all know Rio. She’s hard to miss. When you checkout at the grocery she surrounds you. And not just here, she’s all over the world. Cosmo, Elle, Vogue, Paris Match, Der Spiegel, they’ve all used her face. That’s just how it is.

    She always had that something that made men look at her just as he always had that something that made women look at him. In her case it was a figure built like a brick ****-house. In his case it was an Afghan hound. So it’s no surprise they met. I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Better to start at the beginning.

    North Park in San Diego has expansive green lawns sprinkled lightly with Eucalyptus trees, a pool, and tennis courts. The trees and lawns is why he took the dog there. He needed plenty of room. The dog had plenty of leg.

    One summer day he and Jorge who lived up the block took Mahmud the Afghan to the park. Even though his papered name was longer they’d taken to calling him The Mood or even Moody. No matter what the name he was an extremely handsome dog. He was independent and aloof which is common to the breed. He hesitated to do tricks, and fetching was out of the question. Afghans are dogs, but not too dog- like if you know what I mean. His master and Jorge were aware of these aspects of his personality and loved him all the more for possessing them.

    He’d jump out of the car and be free of the leash immediately, wander from tree to tree, marking each in turn. That was his mission. That was his focus. After letting him bound about in the summer heat they’d all retreat to the shade and watch the tennis players a few yards away. Gleaming white in their tennis outfits, intent on bonk-bonking their green neon balls back and forth, they seemed to inhabit a world apart. Soon their worlds would collide.
    It started with Jorge noticing her.

    “Take a look at that,” he said, looking with his eyes.

    “At what?” the other said.

    “At that,” he said motioning to the courts.

    He saw a girl stepping onto the court and knew at once that she was what it was all about.

    “Of course you mean at her,” he replied, “she certainly has all the curves.”

    “Yeah,” Jorge said thoughtfully, “in all the right places.”

    He had to agree. Even though it was filtered through a chain-link fence the evidence was undeniable. Even the Mood was looking. He was a sight-hound and male as well, so you could hardly blame him. Maybe all men are sight-hounds. That’s just how they are. You can imagine then, how pleased they were a week later when they saw her again. No details were available. She was yards away, and behind a fence. No sounds, no eye color, no details. Her dark skin contrasted greatly against the white of her tennis blouse and skirt. They speculated as to her origin. Jorge said she must be Asian, but Mood’s master argued she was an island girl. Mood kept his opinion to himself. More a vision than a girl of flesh and bone she took on a certain mystery.

    It’s funny, when a man can’t talk to a girl, he speculates, and she takes on a mythic quality. That’s how it went with her. Mood’s master became obsessed with her origin and her name. What was it? Whatever it was it had to be as lovely as she, he just knew it. As exotic too. But there was no way to find out. Knowing this he resigned himself to a dull fate. He felt sorry for himself, which wasn’t unusual. Then one afternoon it all changed.

    He was in his normal spot daydreaming, waiting for her to show. A green neon ball bounced up, and over his head. For the first time in his life Moody fetched. He looked around, wondering where it came from. He looked at the courts and she still wasn’t there.

    “I’ve been daydreaming too long and missed her entirely,” he surmised.

    But he was wrong, for not ten steps away, and coming toward him, was the mystery girl herself. He was shocked. He had no time to prepare himself or think of something clever to say. That was O.K. because she spoke first.

    “He doesn’t bite, does he?” she smiled walking up.

    “No,” he replied, “He’s a lover not a biter.”

    He was amazed and rather proud to have gotten that off on such short notice.

    “He’s got my ball. You see?” She pointed to the hairy dog’s mouth.

    “Ah yes, so he has. I’ll get it.”

    It was easy to remove. Some dogs are tough to get things out of their mouths, but not the Mood. He’d let you retrieve a steak if you wanted it back. It did have a bit of dog-slobber, so he rubbed it on his Levis.

    “Here you go,” he said handing over the damp ball, “good as new.”

    She asked, “What’s his name?”

    “Mahmud,” he answered.

    She was petting him now, running her fingers through his hair. She didn’t have to lean over, he was tall enough, and leaning tight against her leg.

    “Mahmud, pleased to meet you,” she said, “I’m Hannah.”

    Some dude started calling her back to the courts.

    “I practice here every Wednesday and Saturday. I hope to see you again.”

    She said this last bit addressing it to the dog with her voice but looking at his master with her eyes. They crinkled at the corners.
    “See ya,” and she was gone.
    The next week you know they were back. She expected they would be. They talked and talked. It didn’t matter about what. They were the perfect strangers. The kind you confide in just because you think you’ll never see them again. She noticed he didn’t listen to her words. He listened to her. It excited her. He noticed her half-languid girlishness that looked so soft, yet was balanced and inalterable underneath. She charmed him. One day she saw he had a camera.

    “Been taking pictures?”

    “Well, duh, …you think?”

    They were on familiar terms now and it was cool to be rude. He was taking a picture of Mahmud for a class at City College he was taking just a few blocks away. He took off his jacket, put it on the dog, and told him to sit. It was one of the few tricks he’d do. He stepped behind him and showed her the angle. Through the viewfinder she saw shoulders, a collar, and hair going every which-way, and not much else.

    “Now see?” he said, “Doesn’t he look just like…Rod Stewart?”

    “Oh my God, he does! That’s crazy!”

    “Yeah,” he said, “And funny as Hell.”

    They had an understanding. They could read each other instantly. Compared to being with other people being with each other was a relief, like taking a deep breath. When they were together the summer days would skip along faster than the pages of a book you can’t get enough of. Things seemed to be perfect.

    But something was wrong, something about his perception of her. He couldn’t figure it out so it nagged at him constantly. Finally he realized what it was. It was her name. It didn’t fit. I mean, here she was, dynamic, exotic, possessing some dark flame that set him on fire. Her name produced an image that was entirely different. I mean think of it. Hannah? Hannah wasn’t much. Hannah wasn’t her. Hannah was a blond-haired, thin, anemic white girl who was a Quaker and had no spark at all. Not this dark exotic girl who possessed the flame itself. No way. This idea possessed him until one day it came tumbling out. He couldn’t hold it in any longer.

    “Hannah,did you ever notice how in novels the characters’ names always fit them, how they almost represent them?”
    “Yeah,” she replied, looking at him attentively. She saw something coming.

    “Did you ever think,” he started to say, but fumbled with the words.

    “That my name doesn’t fit me?”

    “Yeah, That’s it.”

    “I’ve been thinking that for years.”

    “Oh, thank God,” he said taking a breath. The weight had been lifted.

    “What am I gonna do, change it?”

    It was certainly too late for that they agreed. The idea was laughable, so they laughed. Such a crazy thought. But that wasn’t the only one he was to have.
    The other crazy thought had been simmering for some time. It had been on the front burner of his mind but he’d taken it off. But it now it was on his subconscious. On the back burner so to speak.

    And it was this: If the name Hannah didn’t fit, what name did? What name did fit her? Although he was hardly aware of it his subconscious had been working on it night and day. Then it happened. The radio did it. He listened to oldies, and when the radio was playing oldies he heard it. It was Duran Duran’s Rio one of their first hits. They sang, “Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand.” It was so obvious to him. It fit her like a glove. Hadn’t he called her an island girl? Isn’t that what island girls do, dance on the sand? Where else they gonna dance? Wasn’t she like the city of Rio? Young, fun, foreign, sexy, a regular carnival? She was to him. After he viewed the video on You Tube and was convinced. That girl was only playing Rio. She was Rio. The name fit. So in his mind that’s who she became. He never told her. It was such a crazy thought, and it was something else. It was a magic name, a name you could conjure with. So he figured he’d keep it a secret. At least for a million years. That was the plan. And the plan was good forever, or at least until they went to Point Loma.

    After tennis one day she saw he had his camera with him.

    “I’m going to Point Loma,” he said, “It has the open sky and clouds I need.”

    “I’ve never been there,” she said, “take me.”
    “O.K.” He was happy to have some company.

    “But let me change first.”

    She went back into the building by the courts and when she came out she was wearing a bright yellow summer dress and sandals. He pulled his car up. It was a 1972 Triumph GT6, low and lean. She fell right in. He had control of the wheel and she of the radio. Mood controlled the back seat. They headed toward the point.
    Something should be said about Point Loma. It’s a finger of land enclosing San Diego harbor. As such it juts out as the most southwestern point in the United States. From the top you look east and see the harbor and city, then the hills beyond. Looking west, there’s the blue Pacific. There are no houses on the end as it’s controlled by the navy. Its view is quiet and spectacular. Also on top is Rosecrans Cemetery with white headstones marking the dead. The view, the timelessness of the place, is hard to describe. Time stops there.

    They passed through the part that separated the point from the rest. From here on it was national park and navy. It was past the sub base, and then past the batteries where they used to hide the underground giants, huge guns that waited futilely for the Japanese attack that never came. The guns were long gone, but in their place were electronic secrets. The whole place was riddled with secret tunnels. No admittance. They drove back into history.

    Finally the Rosecrans National Cemetery. Most cemeteries are rather depressing but this one is different. They turned off, wound around and parked in the shade. To the east were the harbor, then the city, then Mt. San Miguel behind, and to the south, Mexico. White puffs of summer cumulus were building over the mountains then racing each other across the sky.

    “Wow,” it’s so beautiful she exclaimed, “just look at the clouds.”

    “It gets better yet.”

    He took a picture, and then screwed a red filter on his lens.

    “Red?” she asked, “You want a red picture? Won’t it spoil it?”

    “Not at all, the film is black and white. The red will make the sky dark but leave the rest alone. But the clouds, the clouds will really stand out. That’s what it’s for.”

    “Oh, I get it,” she said rather weakly.

    “You can’t really see it now but you will in the print. I’m doing one shot with and one shot without. A before and after. It’s for my class.”

    She stood there and was bored watching him fiddling and fussing with his tools. But it was over soon enough. His face took on a look of satisfaction. He was finished.

    “Now for the good part,” he said, and taking her by the hand he led her across the road to the other side.

    They walked up a gentle slope, planted with green well tended lawns, dotted with endless rows of white headstones gleaming bright in the silver sunlight. A breeze, sweeping the cliffs, rushed up from the Pacific and tasted of salt. The trees, twisted and quite beautiful, were fashioned by the wind. The afternoon with its subtle integrity was fashioned by fate. It couldn’t have been more quiet. She started to read the names on the stones.

    “They’re all veterans,” she remarked.

    “Yes,” he answered, “Most are sailors. San Diego has always been a navy town.”

    Something began to click in her. It was all coming together. She turned her head from the stones to the sea. It glimmered in the sunlight. She turned again. The headstones, a pure white, did the same. There, on one side was the sailors’ battleground, and on the other, their graves. In between were the wind and silence. It was at once both beautiful and tragic. He looked over and saw her ultimately readable face. It said she understood. She looked at him and noticed his eyes were blue-grey, with a very small pupil. They were a sniper’s eyes, the kind that could see a long way off. She reached for his hand. They walked toward the west. Soon only the sea was crashing beneath them. She stepped away and looked west, lost in thought.

    “I’ve always wondered what was just over there,” she said wistfully.

    He knew she was speaking metaphorically, but the geographer in him spoke out.

    “Well, straight ahead is Honolulu, about twenty-five hundred miles I’d guess.”

    “And beyond that?”

    “After that it’d be Tokyo, at about fifty-five hundred, if you like sushi.”

    “And,” she said turning south, “what if I went this direction, and real far away, then what would I run into?”

    “It’s you you’d run into then, it’s Rio.” It just slipped out.

    At this point he knew they were getting to close. He could feel it, and feeling it he lied to himself one last time.

    “We’re so much alike,” he told himself, “we deserve to be together.”

    He knew it was a lie. He knew, seeing her for the first time with his sniper’s eyes that he’d been lying. They were not suited. Not suited at all. She was better and so much more. He knew then that knowing his darkness would ruin her. It would desecrate her. No matter how much he wanted her he couldn’t do it. He turned away and took her out of his sights. And when his face was turned away he lied.

    “You mean Rio De Janeiro?"

    “Oh, I mean the city alright, but I mean you too. Let me explain.” They sat on the grass.

    He proceeded with the story. About her name not fitting, about the song by Duran Duran, about how Rio fit so well. She agreed that it was his craziest thought to date, but also that it made sense in a pretzel-logic sort of way. She sat silent for a minute.

    “Well,’ she said, “it is kinda crazy, but I do sort of like it. Rio. It is kinda cool. Kinda slutty,” she shook her finger at him, “but kinda cool.”

    That made him smile. She got up, took his hand and pulled him up. She looked southward, seeming to see over the horizon for the first time.

    “Rio, huh?” she said thoughtfully,” You know really,…you’re too much,”

    She squeezed his hand.

    “That’s funny,’ he replied, “most women complain that I’m not enough if you know what I mean.”

    They looked westward, then north, but the point rose there blocking the view. Black cloud shadows were racing over the landscape. The breeze stiffened, so they collected Mood and decided to pack it in. During the drive home they were mostly silent, but when they stole a glance at one another they’d catch a smile on the face they saw. Leaving each other at the park they expected to meet the next week. It was an expectation that would not be met.

    When he went home he packed his bag for Amsterdam. It was business as usual. It was planned to be a quick-turnaround trip. The delay happened a week later when he returned to LAX. Seems U.S.Customs objected to a pound of his souvenirs so to speak. So did the D.E.A. But they told him not to worry. Their friends in the Justice Department, always helpful in a case such as this would arrange a new vacation for him. It was a bit longer. Nine months. It was in a remote spot. Kind of like a monastery. All men. No women allowed. They’d even pay for it. There wasn’t much entertainment, but for fun they could fight fires. They’d even pay him. If the fire was on federal land he’d get minimum wage, if not, he’d get ninety-nine cents a day. Needless to say he went. It was a deal he couldn’t refuse.
    Every day, when they’d knock off he’d say to his crew,

    “I would say “another day another dollar” but I can’t, ‘cause it ain’t.” They’d laugh.

    Men in such situations are easily amused. Still, the retreat did him good, and taught him the lesson it taught most of them studying at the monastery, which was, “Never Get Caught.”

    He gained weight eating his three squares a day, but he lost a little something too; her. When he got back she was nowhere to be found.
    That’s because she wasn’t there. When she got home that day from Point Loma she found a letter in her mailbox. She’d been accepted to U.C.L.A. on a tennis scholarship. She couldn’t seem to get him on the phone and he never came by the park. So she left town and started to go to school. Though it was only a hundred and twenty miles away it might as well have been a million.

    Three years went by. He never forgot her. How could he? Still, life has a way of intervening. A few seasons came and went, a few women came and went, but all the time she remained on his back burner, simmering, until the flame was so low it went out. Finally he’d reached the point where he thought of her only on some nights, instead of all, so he neatly filed her away in the four-word category file. It’s a file that men and women have in the filing cabinets of their minds. He put her in the “One Who Got Away” file and closed the drawer tight

    He also returned to his old job. He figured enough time had passed and enough heat. He was cool now. Now, like some computer program, he was up and running. He was in L.A.X., just in from San Diego, on the side that had international departures. His passport was fresh and he felt the same way. It was his first trip out of the country in three years. He was wasting his time, having missed his Varig flight, and now waiting to fly on Braniff. He had two hours to kill. He wasn’t in a very good mood. One simply isn’t satisfied with Braniff once they’ve flown Varig. It had been three years and he was as spoiled as ever. It felt good to be spoiled. He’d read his photo magazine from cover to cover. Now he had nothing to do and an hour and a half to do it in. He looked around. It was late, and there were few people there to amuse him. Still, he decided to people-watch.

    Directly in front of him was couple. The dude was sleek and slim and talked with an accent. He looked Italian and it figured he was wearing an Armani suit. Nice Italian shoes too. Figured.

    “Some sort of Euro-trash,” he thought, “probably wants to go home to Milan real bad.”

    He couldn’t see the woman too well, she was directly in front, but he couldn’t miss her. She had one of those hats with an enormous brim. He could see her arm though as it was extended. I mean, how could he miss it with all that bling? Then, from the other side her hand appeared. It was festooned with brightly blinging rings . Double bling.

    “Probably only buys haute-couture,” he sniffed, “probably wears it too.”

    To be continued...

    ©StevenHunley2010 Rio Duran Duran

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    Beyond nowhere
    Hoping for a sequel, Steve. Was attracted to it by the word Rio. "Young, fun, foreign, sexy, a regular carnival?" It is rather the idea of Rio people have in other countries, but how could it be else?
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

  3. #3
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    They’d been making announcements over the P.A. system, but it stopped. Now he could hear them well. It was time to ear-hustle. She was letting him have it.

    “You know Enrico we mustn’t be late for the countess’s party, or for the photo shoot.”

    She spoke with authority, like she was married to the dude.

    “Yes Darling,” he answered.

    “I won’t have it Enrico, I simply won’t have it. And the people at the gala last night, you let them get much too close to me, really much too close.” She shook her jeweled finger at him.

    “You know I don’t like it. I won’t have any of that either. I simply won’t have it Enrico, I won’t have any of that!”

    “Yes Darling,” he repeated deferentially.

    Maybe that was the only two words of English he knew,”Yes”and “Darling.” He was beginning to feel sorry for the guy. Imagine being married to her. It would be “Enrico” this and “Enrico” that twenty-four seven.

    Finally Enrico excused himself with, “I have to use the W.C. Darling.”

    Poor dude, he’d do anything to get away from her. He walked by and tilted his head, shrugging his shoulders sheepishly. Right then the P.A.system announced with a crackle,

    “Braniff boarding in fifteen minutes.”

    He was glad to escape this side-show. As he walked past he couldn’t help but look under the brim of that hat to cop a glance at the *****. Who do you think it was? Yeah, it was her. It was Rio-Hannah. Who else? She recognized him immediately.

    “Darling,” she screamed, “it’s you!”

    She clutched his arm with her jeweled hand and pulled him down into the seat next to her.

    “So it is Hannah, but what’s happened to you? I mean…how are you?”

    “Fabulous darling, simply fabulous! But it’s Rio now darling, Rio. But let me bring you up to date. I got a scholarship to U.C.L.A. Just for fun I took a film class. They’d make you do all the stuff. They’d make you produce, do art design, paint backdrops, direct, and even act. All the students had to act in the films and be the audience as well. One day a student would be a director, the next day he’d be selling tickets or in the audience. We’d all be in each other’s films. I had a small part, and when they were doing the credits they asked me how to spell my name. “Spell it R.I.O.” I said. What did I have to lose? Nobody knew me there. Somebody saw it of course. He wanted to make a shampoo commercial for television. He wanted me, who else? That was the start. Then it was toothpaste, which led to a sweater catalogue for Fingerhut, which led to fashion, and then it, I should say I, really took off. The rest was, as they say, history. But you know all that don’t you?”

    He looked puzzled. She could see he didn’t. He didn’t read fashion magazines, or watch T.V. Of course he’d been on “vacation” for nine months. He missed it all. Suddenly the P.A.crackled again.

    “Braniff flight 762 boarding for Lima.”

    “That’s me,” he said, “I gotta go.”

    She pulled him close and kissed him desperately, as if she wanted to escape.

    He started to walk away.

    “Thanks you, thanks so much,” she cried.

    Had he left something? He didn’t give her anything, but he must be sure. He hesitated a second and turned.

    “What for?” he shouted.

    “For Rio, darling, for Rio,” she sobbed.

    As he was handing the stewardess his boarding pass he saw it was raining outside. He buttoned up his coat, which was pretty funny since he’d never get wet, the entrance was an accordion-companionway and completely enclosed. It was as if he was already thinking of how it would be down south. Walking down the companionway alone he reflected upon what he had seen. About half-way down he hesitated a minute while he whispered to himself a kind of prayer.

    “Forgive me Father, for I knew not what I did.”

    He walked up to the door of the plane, and hesitated once more as thoughts raced through his mind. Was he really at fault? Was he to be judged for plans that never came to fruition? For dreams unfulfilled?

    “Not if I can fulfill them first,” he decided, and resolutely stepping aboard, disappeared from sight.

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