Out of the Barrel (short intro)
by Lawrence Christopher
Take a peek at these people’s private lives and read about their climb to success and struggle to maintain the appearances of their achievements. They’re individuals just like some of you. They’re first generation success stories, earning more money than their parents. Living in luxurious homes and driving expensive cars. All of these people know one another, either intimately or through another friend. Some know rumors or secrets about the other that could destroy reputations. And you’ll know them too. Don’t be surprised if you see yourself in the stay OUT OF THE BARREL struggle with them.
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“Damn! America ain’t nothin’ but China’s hoe,” Adrian declared as a pair of fingernail clippers became unassembled in his hands. “We buy and sell this piece of shit made by them and then our government turns right around and pays them money we owe on loans to their asses. If that ain’t a pimp hoe relationship, then I don’t know what is.”
“Really!” Fiona exclaimed with a discontented glare in Adrian’s direction.
“And what’s your problem Miss Thang?”
“I got your Miss Thang.”
“I bet you do. But I don’t do hand-me-a-rounds.” Adrian snapped back referring to Media Take Out’s social media reporting of Fiona’s on again, off again relationships with multiple professional football players.
“You wouldn’t know what to do with this thang, you fa- . . .”
“HEY. HEY. HEY.” DeShaun interjected, coming to a stance between his mutual acquaintances. The verbal exchange drew the attention of others gathered in the emergency room waiting area, including that of the on duty security guard. DeShaun raised his hand signaling to the guard that the situation was under control. Resuming his seat, DeShaun looked to his companions for a peaceful assurance. They looked one to another and gave a conceding nod.
Almost as if in a conjoined hypnotic trance, Earl’s three ICE (In Case of Emergency) friends activated their cell phones. Push –Tap – Scroll - until they brought up his last shared FaceBook post from earlier in the day. Hours before a wrong way driver hit Earl’s new black cherry, 370Z Coupe head on and landed him in Grady Memorial Hospital’s ER ICU. The question each of his FB readers internalized and struggled with was; for which one of them was the status referring to.
[Earl Grey 23 hours ago
“If someone wants to be a part of your life, they’ll make an effort to be in it. So don’t bother reserving a space in your heart for someone who doesn’t make an effort to stay.” -BJF 35 Likes]
Up High, Down Low, Too Slow - Adrian
Adrian’s dislike for Fiona Antoinette-Simone Theroux stems from when they were on the Atlanta University Center (AUC) campus together, even though they didn’t know each other during that time. It started when Adrian, his girlfriend and her dorm roommate were having lunch. Fiona entered the cafeteria drawing the attention of all those who wanted to appreciate the sight of her in a halter top and custom shorts with her monogram of FAST sewn across the backside. FAST was appropriate because she ran the sprint races on the track team.
“There she is. They call her The Body.” alerted the female roommate.
The eyes of the trio sitting at the table darted in the direction of Fiona as she strutted to the serving counter. Fiona’s physique clearly distinguished her from any other female on the AUC campus. She had an athletic build. With her narrowed hips, rounded buttocks which sat high on the base of her spine and shapely bowed legs conjured images of sexual embraces.
“Yeah, I’d ride that pony,” the roommate announced.
“Girl shut up, being silly.” Adrian’s girlfriend playfully scolded.
“What did you just say?” Adrian directed his question to the roommate, stunned, not believing what he heard.
“I’m saying I would hit that.” She replied, clearly outing herself. Adrian looked to his girlfriend who was blushing and who wouldn’t directly return her gaze to him. Later that day, she divulged that she and the roommate had a brief sexual dalliance. Contrary to the views of most men, Adrian was disgusted at the idea of the two women engaged in sexual play. He broke off their relationship and for that, he blamed Fiona.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell - DeShaun
DeShaun has known Earl the longest amongst them. They were childhood friends from Odelot, Ohio. They attended the same elementary and Jesup W. Stuart High School; before they came to Atlanta to further their education at Clark Atlanta University. Over that time they’ve shared practically everything between them; from fried bologna sandwiches, clothes to shoes and even girlfriends. Needless to say, from appearances they are the best of friends. Earl was the best man at DeShaun wedding to Vera, his college s weetheart and he’s the godfather to their son, Bradley.
Something else comes along with a bond of lifelong friendship, which is trust and confidence. What looks good on the outside can be deceiving. DeShaun’s marriage is more than on the proverbial rocks, more like on the edge of a cliff. The cause of the marital discord is finances. Despite his once comfortable salaried engineering job with IBM, DeShaun has found himself living from paycheck to paycheck or from paycheck to beyond the next paycheck. Thankfully he could turn to Earl, his one friend who could give him an emergency loan to relieve him from the clutches of the Pay Day Loaners.
None of the other handful of friends other than Earl knew of DeShaun’s financial or marital woes. In fact, Earl was DeShaun’s confidant in a number of matters including an extra-marital affair. That’s why he entrusted Earl with holding his most valued secret. A month prior, DeShaun won $1 million in the Georgia Lottery. He didn’t win the Powerball jackpot, but rather on an instant game scratch off ticket. To keep the winnings from his wife and family, he gave the ticket to Earl to claim his prize at the Georgia Lottery headquarters.
With his head bowed, DeShaun is deep in prayer for the recovery of his friend.
Multiple Shades of Grey
To his handful of friends, Earl Grey is a comforter, consoler and a confidant. To those in the rest of his world he is an enigma, and to some he is of suspect. He’s single and an independent, successful multi-media brand consultant. Keeping his personal and work life balanced is a struggle. Where he wants to keep a private personal life, his professional life success puts him on the cover of national magazines.
Earl dates socially, as oppose to romantically. His conundrum here is that he is a hopeless romantic who keeps his heart guarded; this after a costly dating experience with the twin sisters “greedy and needy.” There is one though who has slipped pass his heart’s guard. Fiona Theroux an exotic, African born, French accent speaking beauty who came to the United States to attend Spelman College on the same AUC campus where Earl attended Clark Atlanta University.
When Earl met Fiona, she was in need of consoling after she had broken off an engagement to a professional football player who had gotten himself arrested for possession and selling drugs.
Over a short year after they had become friends with Obama Care benefits, Earl accepted Fiona with her preexisting condition of a broken heart. In return, Fiona nursed Earl’s emotional numbness to a forlorn hurt for her.
Stop, Look, Listen to You Heart – Fiona
The last time they were together, they had a silly fight is how Fiona recalls.
After a night of passion between her and Earl, Fiona was the first out of bed. Returning to the bedroom from showering, she expected to find Earl still in bed recouping from what she sexually “put on him” the night before. Instead, Earl was up and checking emails on his Smartphone.
“Aren’t you going to make the bed?” Fiona chided with a bit of disappointment at Earl’s physical resilience. Earl lifted his glance to the bed, then to Fiona.
“No,” resuming his read.
“And why not, didn’t you have any home training?”
“Um, I don’t think you want go there. Besides, some time today I’m just going to be getting right back in it.” Earl deflected. As quiet as it is kept, he is sensitive to any comments and questions about his upbringing. He’s proud of what his mother accomplished in raising him as a single parent.
“Well I’m just saying; when I was a little, I made my bed every morning.”
“I’m a grown ass man and now I don’t have to. Now, if it will make you feel any better by all means make up the bed.”
“Fine, I will. But this will be the last time.” Fiona declared figuratively and possibly literally.
She hadn’t told Earl that she was planning to sell her home in Kennesaw, Georgia and move to Chicago. There, she was going to start over with a Chicago Bears’ football players whom she met on a plane during one of her business trips. Right or wrong; she has a desire and weakness for the statue and swagger of professional athletes. Though in her case, many of them turn out to be Mr. Wrong.
Now comes the decision of when does she tell Earl? Can she hurt him even more, especially when he was the one who comforted and consoled her through two broken engagements? Truth be told, she loves Earl, but doubts that she is deserving of true love and that it can ever exist for her.
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Keep climbing to get out and to stay out of the barrel regardless of all the crab claws that may be snapping at you. If the people around you do not ADD or MULTIPLY good things unto you and only look to SUBTRACT or DIVIDE you from your blessings, then it’s time to let them go.
Readers; should this be a book?