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Thread: What's in a Name?

  1. #1
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    What's in a Name?

    What's in a Name?

    He was in L.A.X. on the side for 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 time, having missed his Varig flight, now waiting to fly on Jet Blue, with two hours to kill. He wasn’t in a very good mood. One simply isn’t satisfied with Jet Blue once they’ve flown Varig. It felt good to be spoiled and heading to the Violent South of Sun, like in Tales of Brave Ulysses by the old super group Cream. The man's brain was poisoned by the serpentine lyrics of rock and roll years ago. Peterson's Photographic was already read twice from cover to cover. Now there was nothing to do, and an hour and a half to do it in.

    It was late, there were few people there to amuse him. Still, he decided to people-watch.

    Directly in front of him was couple about two rows up. The dude was sleek and slim, used his hands while he talked, and smelled of gelato. It only made sense he was wearing an Armani suit. Expensive Italian shoes too.

    “Some sort of well-heeled Euro-trash. Probably wants to go home to Milan real bad.”

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

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

    They’d been making announcements over the P.A. system, but now it was silent. The couple were talking. Time to ear-hustle. She was letting her man have it.

    “You know Enrico, we mustn’t be late for the countess’s party nor for the photo shoot.”

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

    “Yes, Darling.”

    “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 and continued to reprimand,

    “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.”

    The sleek Italian walked by, tilted his head and shrugged his shoulders sheepishly, looking as limp as overcooked linguini. Right then the P.A.system announced with a crackle,

    “Jet Blue to Lima 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 b*tch. Who do you think it was? It was Hanna, the girl he'd dated in college and once called Rio for a joke, after listening to Duran Duran for too many hours.

    “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. The name you gave me in jest. But let me bring you up to date. I got a tennis 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 or an actor, 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 Neiman Marcus, 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. He didn’t read fashion magazines, or watch T.V. Suddenly the P.A.crackled again.

    “Jet Blue flight 762 boarding for Lima at gate three."

    “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.

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

    “What for?”

    “For Rio, Darling, for Rio.

    While handing the stewardess his boarding pass it started raining. He buttoned up his coat, which was pretty funny since there was no chance of getting wet, the entrance was an accordion-companionway and completely enclosed. It was as if he was already thinking of how it would be in a rain forest where it was wet even in the dry season. Then he remembered the endless sweat stains on his blue cowboy shirt, and the dangerous frontier town of Santa Cruz, where every Bandito threw water on every Federale during Carnival, like innocent children.

    Walking down the companionway, he reflected upon what he’d just seen. About half-way down he hesitated a minute and whispered a prayer.

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

    He walked to the door of the plane, stopped once more as thoughts raced through his mind. Was he really at fault? Was his pet name what had changed her? And what about now? This crazy scheme. Was it really a search for a magic plant to cure the ills of mankind, an exercise in the self-aggrandizement that would result, or just another something to feed his fragile eggshell ego? Would God judge him harshly for dreams he had yet to fulfill?

    “Not if I can fulfill them first,” he decided, and stepped aboard, happy to make his escape. RIO Tales of Brave Ulysses
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 02-18-2015 at 03:18 PM.

  2. #2
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    Loved it.

  3. #3
    Registered User 108 fountains's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    Falls Church, Virginia
    Nice, lighthearted story. I liked the sentence - "She pulled him close and kissed him desperately, as if she wanted to escape." - it gave her character some depth.
    You might consider just ending the story with - “Forgive me Father, for I know not what I did.” - what follows seems to me to be not relevant and not as strong for an ending.
    I'm curious, though, since so many of your stories are autobiographical - did something like this really happen? If not, you must have a great imagination to come up with an idea like that.
    A just conception of life is too large a thing to grasp during the short interval of passing through it.
    Thomas Hardy

  4. #4
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Could you give us an idea of the time frame for this piece? I was under the impression that Braniff ceased operations in 1982, but other words and phrases, i.e. "Eurotrash," "bling-bling" seem more in line with the present pop culture era. Duran Duran, however, are definitely very "Eighties."

  5. #5
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Ha, ha, Auntie, you have me there! I just changed it to Jet Blue! It only took half the imagination. The trip was true and in the late seventies but the name bit was invented only a few years ago to describe a librarian, and the idea of a spoiled woman was expanded upon just recently. Barb gave me the inspiration to refine the image. Women of great beauty have a natural sense of entitlement.
    Last edited by Steven Hunley; 02-07-2015 at 09:36 PM.

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