It’s Friday and I’m pleased to say my Guest Writer Spot is back. If you’d like to see your work here, I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines. If you would like some of your writing to be featured on my blog, please contact me here or by e-mail: email@example.com
This week, Donny Marchand is my guest writer. He’s featured a number of times in my Friday slot but if you haven’t come across his work before, here’s a little bit about him, in his own words:
‘I have only started writing for publication a short time ago, and been fortunate to have had some modest success, in the placement of my work.
‘I have had four short stories published in a magazine entitled ‘Dimdima’ whose main office is in Mumbai, India. Two articles published in a newspaper, ‘UK Column’ who are based in Plymouth,UK, and one short story in a magazine ‘Stories for Children’ out of the U.S.A.’
His story is a longer one than I usually accept, but I love his work, so I’m publishing it in two parts (part two next week). Here’s part one:
The Like Lee Story
Ma and Pa Lee were as proud as a puffed up rooster crowing on bout his latest battle conquest, defending his harem against a sly old fox. Pa better known as Helpful, being that was his Christian name, spent the day to’in and fro’in to the tabaki emporium, pickin up more ceegars for all and sundry. Forgiveness ma’s handle, was doing her womanly thing; nursing the newborn.
It was traditional for the Lee clan to name their offspring by the child’s most distinguishing trait. And as this pragmatic practice normally took some waiting on, the progeny usually had to twiddle their thumbs awhile before their birth certificates could be finalised. Nevertheless, nobody seemed too concerned about the delay.
The boy was a happy baby, always smiling and never ever shedding a tear. As the months passed by, his popularity grew by leaps and bounds, and everybody seemed to adore him. Sharp as a tack he learned very quickly that a cute gurgle, chaperoned by a beaming grin, rewarded him with his heart’s desires. And if he did misbehave a little it didn’t degrade his mass appeal one iota, because Forgiveness immediately forgave him, and nobody ever knew.
As year one started its conclusion, Helpful and Forgiveness decided it was time to name the tot. After a short discussion they both agreed on the boy’s moniker. As he was so admired by everyone, they decided to christen him Like. “Yes, sir!” bellowed a bragging Helpful, “a Mr.Like… Lee has been born to this here planet, and he’s more than likely to change the world.”
Helpful wasn’t far off the mark. For example, when as a young lad selling lemonade outside the front of his house, the innocent looking little snipe convinced everybody that his ware would give them good health, and a long life. He was moving his product at such a fast pace that Forgiveness could hardly keep up with the supply. Most people had nothing but admiration for the adolescent entrepreneur, but a few saw only a budding snake oil salesman.
* * *
Strolling through his teenage years, he took it for granted that the earth was his oyster. Nothing was out of his reach, and everything was there for the taking. Mister valedictorian, and star football jock all tied up into one package, he was the darling of the female population. But soon he began to notice that life wasn’t always a bowl of cherries. His rose garden didn’t blossom on command, and sometimes he had to take a back seat, just to stay on top. Now and then he ran into an adversary who didn’t fall for his chicanery, which forced him to avoid confrontation lest his posturing be exposed.
This awakening of the real world forced Like to realise that to achieve his ambitions, he must consider tactics of a more ruthless nature. From now on when the scent of someone unmasking him arose, he would extinguish the threat before it had the chance to denounce him. Then with the adversity quelled, he would proceed to lead the remaining easy marks down the garden path into oblivion. Perfidy was his new secret slogan, and although kindness, charity, and thoughtfulness, were his daily persona, deep down he was a parasitic scoundrel.
* * *
University beckoned, and not surprisingly Like started to give more thought to his future. Although he was looking forward to enjoying the college fun and games lifestyle, especially with the opposite sex, the thought of what to be when he grew up, was annoyingly paramount in his brain. Bonus Banker, Hedge Fund Manipulator, Real Estate Gazumper, Stock Fiddler, they all had a certain lure, but they just couldn’t get their noses up to the starting gate in time to hit the front when the gun sounded.
Money was great, but on its own it could never be the head honcho. Sitting on top of the mountain, that’s where the real power lies. And without a doubt, the absolute ultimate in power rested in the hands of those who perched their big fat bottoms on the summit of politics. Acquiring lots of dough didn’t present a problem to them either, as their position brought with it enormous hidden-wealth beyond your wildest imagination. So with the power came the money, two for the price of one. Besides that, what other job can you think of that doesn’t call on you to do any work? Talking a lot of prattle, posturing, making promises you don’t intend to keep. Yes, these are the jobs description, but it isn’t work is it?
It was decided then, politics it would be. And no messing around either. He would shoot for the stars, and ride the Milky Way on his journey to the top. The only direction he needed to climb was up!
Although Like had absolutely no hankering whatsoever to be an advocate, he was aware that at least 60 per cent of politicians began their careers as practicing lawyers. So, to fit in and be accepted into this bureaucratic sphere of desperados, he determined that he must enrol in a school renowned for its law studies. The University of Philadelphia fit the bill to a T, and as an added plus, it also offered outstanding courses in the political sciences. Finally, to put the icing on the cake it was only 150 miles southeast of his hometown, Hermitage.
* * *
“Which party should I lend my talents to,” murmured Like as he sauntered through the main portal of the great learning institution. “What’s the difference,” shrugging as he answered himself. “They’re all six of one and half a dozen of the other. What matter party policy, ideology, pledges, and manifestos? In the end they all spouted the same claptrap, they just aimed it at different customers.”
“The only consideration needed to choose which party to join,” Like mumbled to himself, “ was to pick the one who won the most. A little research would give you the answer to that one pretty pronto,” expatiated Like with a nod. “Hands down the winner is the Caring Party!” Like believed that the best way to get his foot in that door was to join the Young Carers. They were the student partisan group affiliated with the Caring Party, which based itself on the university campus. So he conjured up a plan to accidentally on purpose cross paths with Elroy Rheingold-Smythe, the president of the Young Carers. and become an acquaintance of his. Two days later he got the chance to set his scheme in motion.
Conveniently, Like had booked a table for five at “Conquistadors”, a Spanish/ Mexican restaurant of great popularity at the university. It was the place to be seen with those who want to be seen. Tête-à-tête gossip around the campus was that the girls that went there were hotter than the food, and females know that boys’ taste buds crave fiery cuisine. Like chose Friday to make the reservation, because he knew Rheingold-Smythe’s routine always brought him and his entourage to the brasserie on the evening of the last day of the school week. Like, had certainly done his homework.
It was just past nine and the bistro was filled to the rafters with crowds of people waiting to be seated. Like’s plan was coming together sweetly. The maitre d’ had already approached him twice, asking him when his party was arriving. His tone wasn’t too friendly, but Like just pawned him off saying, “They’ll be here any second.” Then the moment arrived that Like was waiting for. There at the podium of the maitre‘d, Rheingold-Smythe and his crony companions lingered first in line behind the rope, waiting for a table. Like beckoned to the maitre’d, and he in turn sauntered over to Like’s table scowling away.
“I don’t think my friends are coming,” said Like.
“Well then I’m afraid you’ll have to vacate the premises,” replied the bossy headwaiter.
“I have a better idea,” retorted an authoritative Like , “ask those people at the head of the line if they’d care to join me, okay.”
“That’s very irregular, sir,” was the waiter’s snooty response.
“Who cares!” barked Like, “I’m sure they’ll be delighted, so just do it alright!”
Taken down a peg or two the chief garcon decided to acquiesce.
As Rheingold-Smythe and his party approached the table, Like gestured for them to sit down.
“Thanks for the invite, it’s very kind of you.” said Rheingold-Smthe, as they all parked their backsides into the chairs. “I’m Elroy, this clown here is Parker, and the romance kids holding hands there are Marianne and Doogie.”
“You’re all very welcome, it’s nice to have some company.”
“And you are?” asked Elroy.
“Me, I’m Like Lee.”
“To do what,” questioned Parker.
“That’s his name, you idiot, Like Lee is his name!” rejoined Elroy, then turning to Like continued, “pay no attention to him, he’s missing some of his marbles.”
A chuckling Like replied, “No problem, I have one of those back home.”
Parker sat there scratching his head, looking mystified.
“I haven’t seen you around the campus area before,” said Doogie, “are you new to the school?”
“Yes,” replied Like, “I’m a freshman.”
“Were all sophomores,” Parker snooted childishly.
Elroy quickly jumped into the conversation with, “What are you studying?”
Law, and politics,” Like answered, “they are my main subjects.”
Suddenly, Marianne spoke up, which surprised Like because she had previously been so quiet. “Those are great syllabuses to be reading,” retorted Marianne.
“She should know,” interjected silly Parker.
“And why’s that?” queried Like.
“Because she’s a law student that’s why,” Parker continued in an uppity tone.
“And you think that makes her an expert, you fool,” quipped Elroy
“Well she’s a damn good one,” added Doogie, “she’s top of her class.”
“I’m sure she is,” said Like in a very authoritative voice. He was making sure the conversation didn’t stray in the wrong direction.
“If you get stuck on anything in your studies on law, just ask Marianne for some advice. I’m sure she’d be glad to help you,” Doogie recommended.
“Of course I would,” answered Marianne, “anytime Mr.Lee, don’t be shy.”
“You mentioned you were also taking political science,” asked Elroy. “Are you into politics as well?” asked Elroy.
“Very much so. Are you?” rejoined Like. Answering a question with a question is a shrewd political trick to try to establish control of a conversation.
“We all belong to the Young Carers,” replied a puffed up Elroy. “Do you know about the group?”
“I think it’s a branch of the Caring party, is that right?” Like questioned with reservation.
“We’re actually an affiliate of them,” responded Elroy with a bit of one-upmanship in his delivery.
“That sounds exciting, you must be very happy with your status,” a tactical Like responded. “I’m sure it makes you all feel very proud.”
“You seem like you’d fit in very nicely,” said Elroy. “Why don’t you come to one of our meetings, and see how you’d feel about getting involved.”
“I’d like to very much, can’t think of doing anything better,” answered Like.
“We meet every Tuesday night at 7:30,” Elroy informed him. “The gathering is held at the Eisenhower Hall, do you know where that is?”
“No, but don’t worry I’ll find it,” was Like’s assuring reply.
Just then their waiter arrived, gave them all a menu, took their order, and the night rolled on. Later on as he exited, Like said to himself, “Conquistadors. Stage one complete.”
* * *
The Young Carers rank and file was much larger than Like had expected. The hall was so packed that it felt as if the whole university alumni were in attendance. All these students will be good for party business, once I gain control, and take command of the whole kit and caboodle, thought Like. “Yes, Elroy,” Like smirked as he muttered under his breath. “Keep an eye on your back, otherwise you’ll be in for the chop very soon.”
“Like, Like Lee!” screamed Parker standing in a circle of people across the room. As Like ambled his way towards the group, Parker kept waving his arms frantically, and beckoning for like to join them.
As Like arrived at Parker’s coterie, the fool went ballistic, “Hey, Like,” said an exuberant Parker, jumping up and down, with his arms flapping, “meet some of my bestest friends. This is George and Belinda, Hector, Paul, Naomi, Fernando, Solly, Ivan, and my favourite Rebecca.”
“Hi, everybody,” greeted Like, “ I’m sorry, but I’ll have to get to remember your names as our conversation unfolds.” Chuckles of accordance rang out from the crowd.
“People,” said Parker, “ let me introduce you to my latest compatriot Mr. Like Lee.” Then proceeded to draw attention to the odd concept of Like’s name. “ Yes, here I give you Mr.Like Lee, get it, Like Lee; likely, get it anybody?
Nothing but a wall of silence greeted Parker’s exposure. Not even one person thought it polite to make fun of someone’s name. Parker would be excused, because Parker was well, Parker. However, no one else would join in his impertinent foolishness. That would be unforgivable.
Out of the blue, Elroy came barging into the thick of things. He had heard Parker’s dumb remarks, and wanted to stop him from doing any further damage.
“Mr.Lee, you made it,” observed Elroy, “I’m so happy you came.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” replied Like. “You’ve sure got a large membership in your party Elroy. Anymore recruits and you’ll need a bigger hall.”
“At the moment, we’ve still got room for one more body,” retorted a grinning Elroy.
“Get ready to fill up the hall then, cause I’m joining up!” Like continued the banter, but was deadly serious in his heart.
“That’s great news,” a happy Elroy responded. “We have a little office in the back. If you meet me there tomorrow after classes, say around 4:30pm. We can take care of the paper work, and make it official.”
“What’s does the paper work entail?” questioned Like.
“Nothing too much. Just sign your distinguished calling to the registrar, I will sign it as a witness, and we’re done. And at that moment you’ll immediately become a fully-fledged member of the young Carers.”
I’ll be there with bells on!” an excited Like exclaimed.
* * *
Easter was just around the corner, and that meant only one thing, Spring Break, hallelujah! Fort Lauderdale here we come. Every red-blooded American male knew what that meant. Year after year around the beginning of March, zillions of the female gender would head on down to Florida for a week. Then hook up with some total stranger whom they never intended to see again for the rest of their whole life. Another stipulation of the exercise is that this unfamiliar person must live on a planet in another universe, far away from the female student’s hometown.
Helpful and Forgiveness were looking forward to their Sunny-Boy coming home to stay with them during his school break, but they were soon to be disappointed. He called them just before the holiday and told them, that he had a very important test coming up, and he had to stay at school and put his nose to the grindstone. They were unhappy, but felt proud that their precious son was so conscientious. Of course he didn’t mention to them that the test was taking place in Fort Lauderdale. Oh well, he mused, what they didn’t know…
Tillie was a very nice and intelligent young lady. But pretty was not an adjective that was ever used when describing her looks. In fact, to hear the word attractive attached to her was in itself a rarity. However, when Like learned that her father was a very powerful Ohio State Senator in the Caring Party, she immediately became a ravaging beauty to him. He realised that at the end of the week they were both supposed to head in opposite directions, but he believed that his persuasive powers and charm could easily lure her into his parlour afterwards. Kind of reminds one of a certain spider, doesn’t it?
Docks, one of the most jumping joints overlooking the Atlantic shoreline, was a favourite haunt of the college procession when it invaded the town every year. Through his usual stealth pipeline and devious cunning, Like discovered that Tillie and her friends frequented the bar every night, male hunting. So early that evening Like set off to Docks on a quest of his own, and with only one target in mind.
Hitchin’ his horse to her wagon, and taking Tillie for a ride was going to be easy for Like. Mister smoothie knew all the tricks, and poor Miss Tillie was about as naive as they get. Desperate for a man, she would believe any cock and bull story that reptilian Like might impart to her, no matter how implausible. Her friends Margo, and Penelope tried to warn her about the sleazy snake in the grass, but as they say “love is blind.”
End of part one