Disclaimer: This Uber tale is the latest creation to be extracted from my brain. All of the characters are mine, and not to be confused with anyone else's. They may resemble two women we dig a whole lot.
Love/Sex Warning: Yep and yep. It may not be everyone's cup of tea and if you aren't old enough to drink that kind of tea or even read it, please press the "save" key until a later date.
A Sacrifice for Friendship
By DS Bauden
As I sit here trying to put to words all that has happened to me, I am trying to imagine your faces as you read it. I guess the first thing I should tell you is that what you are about to read will be as unbelievable to you, as it was to me. Everything that I am going to relay to you will sound completely off the wall. All I can tell you is bare with me as I recapture the most incredible experience of my life.
I guess for starters, I should introduce myself. My name is Frances Theresa Elizabeth Christina Camarelli, but you can call me Frankie. When you are Italian, I guess one name isn't enough for you; so I went through my childhood hoping the new kids didn't ask me my name. I made it easier for them and just told them what they could call me. Everyone has called me Frankie since I was little, except for Stacey, my ex, who still just calls me bitch when I see her, but that's an entirely different story all together.
I am the only child of my parents, Frank and Myrna. My mother left us when I was about two so I really don't remember much about her. I keep a picture of the two of us on the mirror of my vanity as a reminder. Pop says she couldn't handle being a mother and a wife, so she opted for neither. Pop forgave her, but I think she was just a chicken shit.
Ma was a real head turner; people tell me I have her eyes. I like the smile I got from Pop though; it's gotten me out of more shit than I ever intend to talk about. You could probably get it out of Crystal though; she's never known how to keep her mouth shut, except when it counted. Crystal and I have been best friends since I was about four. She moved here from Ohio, a good choice too I think, I mean, what's in Ohio anyway? This is Chicago; there isn't a town like this one anywhere. Some people like New York, it's just because they haven't lived here yet. Anyway, Crystal and I have been through hell and back together. We have run from trouble starting with our parents to cops, to the boys on the corner, she's such a flirt, God, I can't even begin to tell that story. Anyway, we have done it all. There isn't much we wouldn't do for each other, and that theory was recently put to the test.
Bounding my long frame down the steps of my apartment, I looked forward to a new day. It was ten a.m. and time to open. I ran to open the door of Technicolor Classics to the general public. Unlocking the front door I looked out to discover an incredibly blue sky with absolutely no clouds in sight. It felt so fresh and crisp. I knew instantly that something amazing was going to happen today. As I stepped under my purple and black awning, I saw several of the other neighborhood shops begin to open up as well.
My favorite neighbor is Mr. Hooper; no really that is his name. He owns the butcher shop on my block; he has since I have been alive. My Pop and Hoop, my nickname for him, were friends since World War II. He still likes to remind me from time to time how he changed my diaper when I was a baby and how I'm not too old to be put over his knee. Of course the old guy would probably like that a little too much in my opinion. Anyway, he lives upstairs above his shop, as most of us from the old neighborhood still do.
I have run my shop for the last seven years. My Pop left it to me after he passed away. It's an old movie novelty shop with more paraphernalia than anyone deserves to have. I have always loved this place; it gives me comfort in some way. Pop and I would always watch the old movies together. His favorites were the ones with Bogey; you know Humphrey Bogart? I always liked Jimmy Stewart. He had a presence about him on screen that no one else could ever top. Pop wanted to bring a little of that feeling home to us, so he opened up Technicolor Classics. It has wall to wall pieces of memorabilia of the old movies. Some of the stuff I have bought at auctions that I go to, just to keep up with the demand. It still amazes me that people love this stuff as much as I do. I get people coming here from all over saying that they heard about it from a friend of a friend. That is what I love about the people that come in here. They genuinely like the merchandise and get all sentimental about it.
I have a replica of a suit that Clark Gable wore in Gone with the Wind. You know the black one that he wore when he danced with Scarlet during her "mourning" period; yeah she was really sad, whatever. Everyday I get to live out all the movies and I don't even have to leave home.
My first customer walked in and instantly her mood changed from, "God, I need coffee", to "Oh my God, I totally remember that picture!" It makes me happy to be able to do that with my shop. After my customer and I chat a bit, I notice my friend Crystal walk in too.
"Good morning Frankie, how are you on this glorious day?" She asked.
"I am wonderful Crystal. I feel like something incredible is going to happen today. There is almost an electricity in the air."
"I feel it too. There must be some serious movement with the planets. Look at my arms, I have had goosebumps all day. Whatever it is, it's gonna be big." She honestly replies and sticks her arm in my face.
"Oh you think so? Have your karmic buddies called you to confirm all of this yet?" I tease and put her arm back at her side.
"Frankie, I'm serious." She said. As I look into her eyes, I really believe it too.
"OK, I'm sorry. You know how I feel about all of that mumbo jumbo."
"Yeah I do. You need to open your mind a little more. You really need to let me relax you."
"Oh no, I am not going under. I have seen all those films. Nothing good comes from that!" I half jokingly reply to her.
"Yeah well, I have a lot of customers that would disagree with you."
"Speaking of customers, I need to get back to mine. Don't you have a business to run?" I ask as I move her towards the door.
"Well of course, I just plan my schedule so I don't have to wake up as early as you do. My first appointment isn't until noon." She giggled and stuck out her tongue at me. "I'll get out of your karmic space, don't worry. I won't hex your business, but Frankie?" She suddenly took on a serious tone.
"What is it?"
"I really have strong feelings about today. Be careful and come see me after work ok?" She said as she touched my forearm.
"OK babe, have a good one. See you later."
"Bye now." She said as she walked next door to her apartment.
I turned around to find my customer smiling at me.
"Hi there, is there anything else I can help you with today?" I ask her.
"I just wanted to tell you what wonderful things you have in here. You have so many pictures from the films of my day. It's nice to know that you are here. You have brought some wonderful memories back to me." She said as she smiled at me. Her hazel eyes were almost glistening with tears.
"Thank you. I am so glad that you feel that way. Come back and see them whenever you want. We are open every day except Sunday from 10 to 5." I smile back at her.
"I will come back for sure. Take care now."
"You too. Have a wonderful day!" I exclaimed, feeling even better about having this shop.
This day was starting off much better than most. Maybe something was happening in the universe somewhere. Oh God, please tell me Crystal didn't hear that from me. Looking around I saw that I was still alone and breathed in a deep cleansing breath.
Crystal Jacobs was my best friend since we were knee high. Her grandma raised her because her mother died giving her life. She is a small-framed woman, well anyone is small compared to me, I am almost six feet tall. She has long curly brown hair and deep brown eyes. She is a very beautiful woman, but most people don't see that part of her. You see, Crystal has a gift, well she and her grandma both have the same gift. She has psychic abilities, or so she says. I really have never believed in any of that stuff. Frankly, it gives me the heebie jeebies. Life has already been planned out for us; we just live it out and stop trying to change it, I say. She, and her grandma believe things can be changed, and that we still have the ability to change our lives as we go. I just don't understand how that is possible. Anyway, because she has always believed this, a lot of people tend to avoid her, some have even called her a freak. Let's just say those people didn't say it more than once after I had a talk with them about their manners. They just don't know the person that she is, Crystal is an amazing woman. Her customers will agree with that as well. She has brought happiness to so many people just telling them what they want to hear. Maybe there is something to all of this, I just don't know if I want to pursue it.
Five o'clock came and I locked my doors for the day. It was a good day today. I was able to sell quite a few framed pictures today. A new movie house is opening a few miles away and wanted some photos for their foyer. God it's nice to be needed.
My paperwork is finally finished and I put my deposit away for the morning bank run. As I stood, my foot got caught between my desk and my chair. I felt myself falling and could do nothing about it. The next thing I knew I was upstairs on my couch with Crystal looking down over me with an ice pack on my head.
"Hey sleepyhead, I'm glad you are back." Crystal smiled at me.
"What the hell happened?" I replied not knowing what time it was or what day for that matter.
"Apparently the myth is true, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. I was ready to call an ambulance. Nice job on your forehead though, it'll bruise beautifully." She teased.
"Come on Crystal, enough, what happened? I really don't remember."
"Well it looks like you fell and hit your head on the corner of your desk. I seem to remember telling you to be careful. You don't listen well do you?" She smiled.
"Ha, ha… Oh yeah… I remember tripping over my feet or something." I said as I tried to sit up. "Whoa… I don't feel so hot." I said as I felt instantly nauseous and dizzy.
"Hold up tiger, you probably got a concussion. I think we should have Nonnie check you out." She said sternly.
"Oh man, no she will try and give me some concoction you two worked on all day in your coven." I kidded her about the habits of her and her grandmother all the time.
"I am not a witch! I'm a psychic! I would think that you would know the difference by now. If you would only let me put you under hypnosis once, you would feel my gift. It may even bring some happiness to your life. Do you have any idea how many people leave my parlor daily with a whole new outlook on their lives?"
"Yeah well, I don't want to know what you do to them when they are "under" your spell. C'Mon Crystal, you know how I feel about all of that."
"Oh the nonbeliever awakens." Crystal's grandma said as she climbed the remainder of the stairs into my apartment
"Hi Nonnie. Will you take a look at her head? I think she has a concussion." Crystal asked.
"Sure." She agreed and set her coffee mug on my wooden coffee table.
Crystal and her grandma looked into my eyes and they just nodded back to each other like they were communicating or something. It was making me crazy so I had to break their connection, or whatever it was.
"Hey! What the hell is going on?" I said outraged.
"With manners like that no wonder no woman will have you." Her grandma teased back at me.
"I just haven't found the right one yet, there have been plenty of offers I'll have you know." I defended.
"Mmhmm , I'll just bet. I see the line out the door from here."
"Doc? Am I gonna live or not? I can't take much more of this." I was starting to feel a little irritated that they were talking about my love life as I lay here feeling like I was going to puke at any given moment.
"You'll be fine. Your pupils are good, but your buddy here is gonna make sure you don't sleep for any period of time, ok? You think you can handle that?"
"Yes ma'am." I said back to her with a smile.
"Good, then my work here is done." She said as she tucked a long strand of her graying brown hair behind her ear and stood to leave. "I'll be right next door honey, if you need anything." She kissed the top of my head and caressed her granddaughter's cheek as she left.
God they are so cute. They have the best relationship I have ever seen. It used to make me jealous with my ma leaving and all, but she adopted me basically when I was a kid, so I didn't have to crave long for a maternal figure in my life. I looked up to find Crystal's eyes looking at me in concern which made me think that I had missed something that she said.
"Did you say something? I'm sorry, I think I drifted away for a second there."
"Yes, I asked you if all of that was true. The offers and all. Has there been someone lately?" She asked with a mischievous smile on her face.
"No not lately Miss Nosey Body. It's been a few months actually if you must know the boring details of my sex life." I chided back.
She smiled down at me and continued to tend to my head wound. She had the gentlest touch, no wonder people came to her for help. I started to wonder what she really did for her customers. Maybe that blow to my head sparked some curiosity in me. It'll pass.
"What are you thinking about Frankie? You looked a million miles away from here." She said with her brown eyes sparkling at me.
"I was just thinking how lucky you are going to make some man one day. You are a wonderful spirit Crystal, thanks for taking care of me."
"Ok, who are you and what have you done with my Frankie?" She joked as she leaned down to kiss my wound. "Thanks for saying so. I just hope that I am not too old before I can understand what love is all about. I think once I get that, then I would be able to die happy."
"Is that what you are looking for in a relationship, love?" I really was interested in hearing her response. This was something we never really talked about.
"Hmm, well I guess that is a large part of it. I want love yes, but I want passion, I want desire, I want to be able to look into their eyes and know that I couldn't live without them, ever. God even just to feel it just for a moment would be amazing to me. I mean look at me. Who the hell is gonna love me like that?" She said as she fanned her hands up and down her body.
"I would Crystal, but you bat for the wrong team." I smiled at her.
"Smooth talker. I think that bump on your head is making you loopy. Get some rest and I will wake you in an hour or so. OK?" She gently stroked my hair and I felt myself fall into a deep sleep.
"Frankie? Frankie?" I heard this voice calling to me but didn't know where it was coming from. The voice was so sweet, it was almost a song to me. I looked and looked but couldn't find the owner to the voice.
"I'm here!" I shouted to no one. "Where are you? I can't see you. Please, show yourself." I pleaded with the voice.
"I'm waiting for you Frankie. Please find me." The voice called to my soul like nothing I had ever experienced in my life. I called out to it one last time. "I'm right here! Where are you?"
Suddenly I woke up to find a concerned Crystal shaking me out of my sleep. "Frankie? Are you with me now?" She gently asked.
"Yeah, I… Um… Yeah. Wow I had such a strange dream." I said groggily.
"Ooh, you did? Please tell me about it. You know I live for this stuff."
"Well, I dunno really, it was just strange. I heard a woman's voice. She was calling my name."
"Frankie if this is some perverted sex story I don't want to hear about it." She joked.
"No she wasn't "calling" my name, it was like she was trying to find me. It was weird. I couldn't see anything really, and all I could hear was her voice. It spooked me. I shouted for her to show herself, but she didn't appear. The next thing I knew you were trying to wake me." I was confused, but I felt worlds better than I had before I went to sleep.
"Maybe you mixed up my voice in there somewhere when I was trying to wake you. I did say your name a few times."
"Hmm, maybe that was it. I dunno, it was still really odd. It was almost pulling at me."
"Well then it definitely was me. I was totally yanking on you after you didn't respond to my voice. Don't worry about it. If it comes back, let me know. I'll ask Nonnie about it."
"No, no, you are probably right. I'm sure it was just something going on because of my injury."
"Always the practical thinker. I always loved that about you. You are as practical as I am illusory." She said. "Are you thirsty? It's about 7:30, I bet you haven't had anything to eat or drink since lunch." She accused.
"You presume correctly. I would actually love some water. My throat is really dry."
"Sure babe, coming right up." She winked and trotted off into the kitchen.
The bells on her anklet jingled softly as she padded her bare feet through my house. I have always loved the way she dressed. She's always worn long flowing dresses or long skirts with a non-matching top, and almost never wears shoes. Her grandma dresses in a similar fashion, but she, at least chooses to wear shoes. I bet her soles feel like leather. But what an odd question that would be for me to ask her, 'Hey Crystal, can I feel your feet?' She would then finalize that I was completely bats.
She wears more jewelry around her wrists and ankles than people should be allowed. I can always hear her approaching. It's either the bells or the bracelets clinking together that give her away. She really needs to lose the five-inch hoop earrings though. Those went out when Jody Watley did.
She came out of the kitchen with a glass of water and gently held my head up as I drank. "Thanks Crystal, my throat feels much better now. You ever consider being a nurse. You have a wonderful bedside manner."
She slapped my arm and scooted under my long legs to sit on the couch. She grabbed the remote to the home theater and turned all the decks on. With another click of the remote she turned on the big screen TV and pressed play on the DVD player. There was my man talking to an invisible rabbit. Man Crystal really did know me well. She always knew how to cheer me up. Tonight was no different. God she is the best.
As the credits rolled I felt extra weight on my hips. Crystal had fallen asleep and her body leaned on top of my lower half. Her head gently rested on my right hip and her right arm draped over my left leg protectively. I really hated to wake her, but nature was calling and I had to answer. I gently tousled her hair until she shifted in her sleep. Her eyes slowly opened to reveal the brown eyes I knew so well.
"Is it over?" She said as she wiped the spittle from the corner of her mouth.
"Yes dribble girl. I need to pee, so I need you to move please." I told her.
"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't mean to fall asleep on you. How is your head?"
"It's feeling better since you gave me such wonderful TLC. I am not feeling sick to my stomach anymore either. I think that is the part I like the best right now." I smiled at her sleepy face. "I'll be right back."
"I'll be here." She yawned out.
I walked into my bathroom and turned on the bright fluorescent lighting. I squinted at the lights and looked into the mirror to inspect the damage.
"Oh, that is just beautiful. Nice job Frankie. You really go all out." I said as I fingered the lump on my head.
I used the facilities and looked at my reflection once again. As I was staring back at myself, I suddenly felt like someone was staring at me. I quickly looked behind me and saw nothing, of course, but I would have bet a million bucks that someone was there.
I exited the bathroom rather quickly and felt rather than heard Crystal approach me as I walked right into her.
"Where's the fire stretch? Man you almost ran me over." She joked.
"Sorry Crystal, I didn't see you. Are you OK?" I asked making sure I didn't hurt her in the collision.
"Yeah I am fine. You look like you've seen a ghost. You're as pale as one too. Go back to the couch and I'll get you some more water."
"I'd rather lay in my bed if that is alright with you." I said to her.
"Sure Hon, go on. I'll meet you in there."
"OK thanks." I smiled and made my way down the hallway.
I have many old pictures on the walls in the hallway. Lots of Pop and me; my favorite is of him wiping ice cream off my chin with his handkerchief. Crystal took it when we were at the Lincoln Park Zoo. She thought it was the cutest thing she had ever seen. I guess since I was about 19 when he did that, it was kinda cute to see. That was just the kind of man he was. He loved me more than anything. I miss him so much.
He drank and smoked just a little too much. His body just couldn't take it anymore. One day it just gave out on him. His heart attack hit when he was home and by himself. I hated not being there for him. My biggest question is would he still be alive if I had been home that day to call 911? I will never know. Crystal says that it was just his time to pass on. That may be true and all, but I still miss him a lot.
I walked into my bedroom and clicked on the lights. I have one of those halogen lamps that lights up the three surrounding counties when it is on. I quickly walked over to it to dim the light. My head didn't like that at all. I like the colors of my walls too. They are a deep periwinkle. I love that color. My bedding is that coloring as well. My walls of course are covered in huge color prints. Mostly abstract art, but very cool just the same.
I undressed and slipped under my crisp sheets. Crystal soon followed with a glass of water and some Ibuprofen. I take the glass of water and wash down the two pills I put into my mouth. I open up the other half of my bed to Crystal. She takes off her dress and rummages through my dresser to find some boxers and a T-shirt to wear. This is almost like routine for us. We have spent so many nights at each other's homes that acting any differently would feel foreign to me. She can always wear my clothes to sleep in; I on the other hand am not so lucky with hers. This brings a smile to my face and she looks over at me questioningly.
"What's so damn funny? You have the goofiest grin on your face right now." She said with a grin.
"I was just imagining myself trying to wear some of your shorts to bed. I don't think that they would make it past my thigh." I said as I began to laugh.
She came over to me and brushed my long dark hair behind my shoulders. "That's because your legs are as long as a giraffe's neck! I can't help it if I am normal!" She pretended to act hurt.
"Oh my God Crystal, you couldn't be normal if you tried." I laughed harder now. "Come on, get in bed and let's get some sleep."
"That's your problem Frankie."
"What is?" I asked.
"You get a beautiful woman into your bed and all you offer her is sleep. No wonder you can't keep a woman happy." She deadpanned.
"Oh you are in trouble when you stop spinning. I'll show you an offer."
"Yeah, yeah… Promises promises." She said as she killed the lights and rolled over to face me. I brought my hand up and stroked her curly head as I smiled at her.
"I love you Crystal. Thanks for looking out for me. Pop would be happy about that."
"I love you too Blue Eyes. You are the greatest friend in the world. There is nothing that I wouldn't do for you. Good night." She said and gave me a dazzling toothy smile.
"Right back atcha baby. Good night." I took her hand and kissed her knuckles and slowly fell asleep feeling loved and protected.
I felt myself wandering in darkness again. I tried to use my hands to help guide myself out of there. I was starting to feel very afraid. All of my senses were on edge and very aware. I took a few more steps and stopped.
There she was again. I still can't see her! What the hell is going on?
"Frankie, can you hear me? Please find me Frankie, I need you so much."
Good God, who is she? Why can't I see her?
"Where are you? I can't find you. Please just tell me who you are." I pleaded into nothingness.
"Frankie? Come back to me Frankie, please."
This is killing me. I can't stand this torture! "Who are you? If you won't show yourself to me, stop tormenting me! I want to help you, but I can' t find you." This is just really getting out of control. I want out of here, NOW.
"Frankie honey, wake up. Come on sweetie, snap out of it."
Crystal was shaking me to pull me from the dream. I slowly felt myself return to reality and saw Crystal's silhouette over me.
"Crystal, what's wrong? Why are you waking me? Has it been a couple hours already?" I asked.
"Well, that would have come in about forty-five minutes, but you were crying out. Did you have that same dream again Frankie?" She was really concerned.
"Yeah, I think I did. This time I felt scared though. This woman was calling to me in the darkness and no matter where I was, she still sounded so far away. I have no idea who she is, I just know that she needs to find me for some reason. God, this is making me nuts Crystal. I really hope this is my head talking because I don't think I can handle this on a daily basis." I said sadly.
"Turn over on to your side Frankie." She suggested.
I did as she requested and I immediately felt her hands rubbing my back in small soothing circles. God she has a touch on her. She is gonna have to do that until morning because I really don't think I am going to be able to fall asleep tonight. This woman has me so freaked, I just don't know what to make of it. Maybe I will feel better after I do get some sleep. I finally gave in and closed my eyes. After a while I slowly felt myself start to relax and surrendered to Morpheus' pull.
To Be Continued in Part 2.
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