betterHALF
Author: Sketch

Chapter 1
‘Timothy’

chapterONE

‘Timothy’

 

 

 

 

 

erica’sPOV

 

August 16, 2005

 

aCOLLAGE of confusing thoughts swirled behind Erica’s smoky hazel-colored eyes. Mixed feelings. She was torn between her own thoughts and her current reality. When her surroundings pitched back into focus, her eyes were fixed on the blinking curser in her MyFace chat box.

Timothy Sullivan—who was this guy?

Despite the slight shadowy-figure feel of his presence, due to having never met him in real life, she seemed to enjoy her clandestine conversations with him. Drifting back out of reality into her thoughts, she thought about her playful tone whenever they’d converse. She had never let her inhibitions go to this degree before. Comfort with her typical friendships didn’t come easy, yet, this Tim guy—it was like he knew her.

 <Hey guy./> she typed.

<Hey Er> <*ica.>< Sorry, I hit the enter key too early. Lol> <what are you up to? How’s your day?/>

<Oh, it’s ok/> Erica said, <Really, it was kinda crumby, but, I’ll keep pluggin’ along./>

The anticipation waiting on the next response from Tim was like waiting on an item ordered from eBay.

<Yeah, you will.> Tim responded some minutes later. <I know you will.>< You are a very positive person, you’ve overcome a lot>< and I mean that!/>

 Encouragement—that’s one of the many things David was missing.

<Wow,>< well thanks.> Erica said. Literally, her heart felt like it had skipped a beat. She knew if she were to tell anyone about this moment, she’d have to let them know about how serious she felt about her heart actually skipping a beat. No cliché, no figure of speech. It actually skipped.

<No really>< I mean that.> Tim responded, <You’ve touched me in so many ways in the short time we’ve known each other>< and I’m happy to know you./>

Charm, honesty, and maturity—all things Erica had never been in such close contact with before, all together—not in a guy, at least. I can’t fall for a guy I’ve never met, she thought. This is totally against every ethical guideline to being the woman I am. But he’s so sweet.

She didn’t know how to respond.

She waited.

She thought to herself.

<Hey, what cha doin?/> Tim typed.

<I’m sorry. I’m making a phone call./> Erica lied.

Ugh, I just lied. Just tell him the truth. Tell him how you feel. You owe it to him after that hideous lie.

Erica typed a new message, <I’ve been thinking recently about our relationship and all the things that you’ve ever said to me./>

<Yeah?/>

<Yeah><Tim, you are very encouraging,>< and so inspiring.><Kinda like…| she paused; backspaced. She was about to mention David, again.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

After a few seconds of a prompt box with only a blinking curser, Tim responded, <You were going to mention him again, weren’t you?><Look, I don’t mind. I know he used to be a big part of your life. It’s OK./>

How nice of Tim to take it on the chin like that, Erica thought. He understands.

 < But you seem to be the better version of David./> Erica consoled. <Have you told anyone about me?/> Erica asked.

<No, why?/>

<I was just wondering,>< I haven’t told anyone about you—and I like it that way. You are my secret escape from the depressing world./>

<Wow, well what’s the advantage to a relationship like that?/>

<I don’t know. It just feels like true friendship not tainted with the superficialities of life.><The fact that we don’t see each other, makes our thoughts, at least, pure. (I think.)><What would you say to meeting in person?/>

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

A couple minutes passed and Tim hadn’t responded. The question had swirled in her head plenty of times before. She wondered what Tim had ever thought about it.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

She had interest in meeting this man who made her feel like she could conquer the world, but there was fear. What if he’s some total whack-job? I could take a few people with me. But, what if it would ruin the whole novelty of the relationship? What if he’s short and stubby? What if his voice sounds like a clarinet?

She clicked through his MyFace pictures—he looks absolutely amazing here; creamy-cinnamon-colored skin, dark brown eyes, with a bright white smile on top of a rock-solid pillar of body. But who posts their bad pictures here? No one. Furthermore, what are the chances a guy like this doesn’t have a girl or two out his way? Why entertain a relationship with some girl online—who lives across the country, mind you—you’ve never met?

The questions nagged, but she refused to pile it on him.

Another two minutes had passed.

Maybe he didn’t want to meet.

<Hello Tim><you still there?/>

<Yes><I’m sorry. I got a phone call./>

Did he lie, now? She waited.

::Tim Sullivan is typing a message::

But no message came through. Maybe he doesn’t want to meet. Oh well.

She just knew there was something wrong. It’s some belly scratching dork, who lives in the basement of his mom’s house. One day he’s going to ask for nude pictures. I know it. Then I’ll know there’s a problem.

Discouraging as that felt, she re-reasoned in her mind that it’s probably only because he felt the same about her; meeting would screw everything up.

Is this a dead-end relationship? Or is it just not the time?

What am I talking about “relationship,” anyway? Erica thought. This is an online acquaintance.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Maybe it was the feeling she felt when speaking to Tim. She felt a, sort of, familiar vibe in conversing with him.

 Writers, she thought, they all must function on the same thinking vibes.

Suddenly, because of his blatant ignoring of her meeting question, a bit of her didn’t care that she brought David up. Let’s see what he says:

<You so remind me of my friend David,>< the way you say things are exactly like him,>< and guess what?/>

<What?/>

< His situation is very close to yours.>< And you’re both writers!/>

<Oh yeah? What was he like? Tell me about him./> Tim responded, gracefully.

Odd. ‘Tell me about him?’

If that’s what he wants, I’ll give it to him.

<Well, to begin, I think his name was David.><And I said ‘I think’ because he had an issue with lying.>

<Oh wow,> Tim responded. <He would lie that bad, huh?>

      <Yes!>< I mean it was ridiculous,>< you couldn’t trust this dude as far as you could throw him.>< When my sister first met him and asked for his name, he almost told her Fred Flinstone!>

<Hahahaha. WOW! Now that is a liar for you!>< Why would he do that?>< There has to be more to the story!?/>

<Nope, he’s just a liar./>

After flashbacks of David’s wavy Cesar haircut, big dark brown eyes, athletic build, and perfectly aligned teeth in his smile, she felt herself becoming sickened again by her desperate longing to get those days with him back.

She didn’t want the future with him, she longed for the past over again.

The game. The chase. The, pure, ignorant good times with him, with no complications or knowledge of any lies told.

She knew it was impossible, though.

She knew there, likely, wasn’t any future with David—because of her—not, so much, just him. She felt maybe she lived vicariously through her online relationship with Tim, attempting to revisit those same feelings.

It seemed to have been working for her.

<Let’s not talk about him anymore, please.> she retracted, < Let me ask you a few questions, though.>< What is it that you write, Mr. Writer?/>

      <Anything,><I just like to write.><I’m enjoying just typing this to you now./>

            Typical response, she thought.

            <Well, it’s nice to see someone who enjoys their career potential.><So many folks do their job just for the money./>

      <Nope.> Tim typed, <I do it for the love, for sure.><I actually always wondered in scrolling through your profile information; you have Maya Angelou and the late, great, Winston Newman as a few of your favorite writers/poets, huh?>

<Oh, YES!> Erica became very excited. She loved the arts. Any form. Maybe that’s why I’m attracted to writers, she thought. <They are very down to earth; what I call ‘people poets’>< you can tell they came from the trenches of life at one point or another in their lives./>

     <How did you get into poetry?/> He asked.

<A friend showed me how healing it can be./>

      <This person is a smart person./>

<Yea, he really was><Anyway><I have to jet, it was nice talking to you Tim>< Maybe I’ll talk to you tomorrow?/>

<Definitely, Er><*ica. Sorry, I hit the Enter key too quickly.><again>< lol Good night./>

::Tim Sullivan is offline.::

 

david’sPOV

 

August 3, 2005

 

“So, David, why don’t you tell me how you’ve gotten yourself into this situation?”

David looked at the doctor, as the doctor peeked over the top of his stereotypical psychologist-style bifocals. He didn’t know where to start, or what situation to explain first, so he started with the situation at hand—the house burglary turned murder.

“I didn’t do anything. It wasn’t even my plan, or idea.” David said.

“Well then, how did you get those scars on your right forearm? Did that happen the night of the robbery?”

“Yes.” David said, looking down at the painful memories which embodied those fingertip-to-forearm scratches. Not knowing how far to go with his explanation, David sat still and decided he wouldn’t give too much to his doctor until he felt more comfortable.

“Why are you so short in your responses, David?”

Shimmying his butt to the left side of the leather recline chair he sat in, David looked aimlessly toward the top bookshelves that sat over the head of Dr. Restonski. The sunlight from the wall-sized window to their left, glared off of the mostly earth-toned books that sat tightly fitted in the bookcase.

“I don’t know.”

“Are you guilty?”

“Guilty of what?”

“Anything?”

David felt his nose and eyes burn and whatever dams existed in the tear ducts in his eyes had begun to leak. He looked up to the ceiling, took a deep breath through his nostrils, and blew out of his mouth.

“I’m guilty of a lot of things; murder, is not one.” He said in a much sedated, controlled, voice.

“So how did Newman die?”

“The hell if I know! I was a part of a team; a team I had no clue about. I didn’t know what was going on. I just needed money.”

“Money for what, David?”

“Writing workshop.”

“Tell me what happened.”

“I can’t. It’s still too painful, right now.”

Flashbacks of himself running through the woods half-naked flickered through his brain. He could still feel the cold air against his bare legs. He could still hear the footsteps chasing behind him; the flashlights lasering through the trees.

A memory of the tunnel in Camden flashed into his mind before he shut his thoughts down.

It was all fresh in his brain.

David’s tears could no longer sit in his eyes. The instant they fell, however, David made sure they didn’t get very far before he wiped them away.

Dr. Restonski then asked, “Well, what makes you feel better?”

David bunched up his lips, “Her.”

He didn’t even have to say her name. The thought of her brought back smells, feelings, sounds, tastes, and textures into his mind.

“What was her name, David? Where did you meet her?”

“Erica. She’s from Los Angeles.”

“Do you still talk to her?”

David swallowed. He didn’t even look into the direction of Dr. Restonski. He only stared into a corner of the room where the floor meets the south and west wall. He flopped his head back onto the headrest on the chair.

Dr. Restonski jotted a few notes on his pad before asking, “Do you want to talk to her, still?”

“Yes, I do.” David said.

“What prevents you?”

“Lies.”

“What kind of lies?”

“You name it, I lied about it.”

“Give me an instance.”

“When I first met her sister, I told her my name was Fred Flinstine.”

A hearty laugh echoed, suddenly, across the room. “Like Fred Flinstone—the cartoon?” Restonski asked.

“You’ve got it.” David said. “Look, I don’t have time for this if this is going to be some sort of show for you. I’m not the most exemplary man in the world—I know this, and I’m here to get some help.”

Doctor Restonski immediately collected himself. “OK. Tell me her story, please. I’d like to hear it.”

“It really wasn’t much, man. I had just moved in with my dad.”

“Thee, father?”

“Yes, that one. Unfortunately, there are no others.”

“I’m interested to hear about your relationship with your dad. Do tell.”

David never had the opportunity to tell the story of his father. Really, he knew Dr. Restonski just wanted to know about the big trial in Los Angeles.

“Well,” David said, “I know how to tell a story and we’ve got time to kill, I guess.”

 

 

davidtoRESTONSKI

***

 

My father lived in a high-rise in downtown Los Angeles. On the front of the building, just above the overhang, there was a sign which contained the address of the building—1100 Wilshire it said at the top.

 Spinning through the rotating door into the lobby, the ceilings were probably three stories high, with a few big white chandeliers hanging down. The first few floors were exposed by way of balcony. It was huge.

My father was rich, of course.

“This is a part of our new project in the city to build up downtown.” My father explained as we approached our reflection the mirror on the elevator doors gave off. My father’s stature stood probably four inches taller than mine. He had always carried this man-in-control demeanor about himself. It was in his walk, it was in his tone, and it was always written all over his face.

The lobby was like a lounge with a front desk. It was always manned by a middle-aged, dark-skinned man. When we got into the elevator, my father pressed the thirty-fifth floor of the thirty-seven total in the building.

“The first fifteen floors of this building is a parking garage.” He laughed.

“Who designed that?”

“AC Martin.” He responded, “Their plan for this building was a catastrophe. It was supposed to be office space—now it’s luxury residential.”

We reached the thirty-fifth floor. Inside the room, the ceilings probably rose twenty-five to thirty feet high. There was an upstairs level that you could see from the main floor, just like in the lobby, but this second level was his bedroom. He told me to sit my luggage by the window on the east wall. The window was a very big floor-to-ceiling window—providing a light ambiance from the east to the west wall. Outside of the window you could see the Staples Center. It was a beautiful and majestic view. My father went upstairs and took a seat at his desk. As I looked around I could see that my father had made a pretty good living for himself. I didn't know politics paid so much, I thought.

 He had a sixty-inch TV on his south wall, with glass shelves fixed to the wall holding his Playstation 3 and his Blu-ray player. The kitchen was in the west wing of the apartment, underneath his bedroom. The kitchen had granite countertops, European style cabinetry with Brizol fixtures, and stainless steel appliances. My dad’s style is contemporary!

"You can turn the TV on."

 Looking up, I saw my father coming down the stairs. “Or if you want anything, make yourself at home.”

There was something about my father’s interaction with me. It was like he was trying to do what he felt was the right thing, but it just didn't seem natural.

"Oh...” he says just before he exited the door, “There is seven dollars in that drawer over there—you can have it." He opened the door, "I'm going. I'll probably be gone for most of the day. If you get tired of being in the house, there is a coffee shop across the street in the GLO building on Bristol and Wilshire."

He walked out.

I sat there for a minute, looking around trying to gain inspiration to write. Whenever I would find thoughts to develop, I would come back into my own life. I harbored thoughts of: How did I let my life get to this point, it doesn’t have to be this way. What can I do?

 After two hours of attempted brainstorming, I couldn’t find a single thing to write about. So I tried moving to the huge window. I saw the top of the neighboring buildings. We towered over most of them. Off in the distance, I saw the Staples Center and Convention Center. It was quite a bit different from my living situation before. Most of my father’s apartment was white, with his furniture a variety of colors. The dining room table was white, but, the chairs with it were, blue, yellow, red, orange and green.

Being back in the city, nonetheless, made me feel crowded—crowded thoughts—thinking of my feelings; I had conflicting bad thoughts, I wanted to be a success so bad, but I knew that I’d have to change to be a better person. Dishonesty was going to continue to get me in trouble. I also knew that it would be hard work. But I felt so downtrodden, at the time, that I didn’t have the energy to change for the better. I just didn’t have the energy to endure life’s pressures. I felt scared, lonely, sad, guilty, and upset.

This is pointless; I might as well find something uplifting and healthy to do with my time.

I decided to take a stroll around the block, even though I wasn’t up to it.

Grabbing the seven dollars and my laptop, I sluggishly headed for the lobby. As I walked down the dark orange diamond pattern filled walls of the hallway, I began to think about mom-mom's words. She used to tell me, "love never fails" and that it covers a multitude of sins. That stuck with me because I wanted to make up for my first nineteen years of a reckless way of living selfishly. The elevator stopped on floor twenty. When the elevator doors parted, there stood an angel; she was gorgeous.

She had a white t-shirt on that had a graphic of a woman’s face which was distorted by the protrusion of her breasts, with the letters L.O.V.E. underneath the graphic. She, also, had dark blue jeans with flip-flops. She was holding a laptop bag herself. She glanced at me and smiled in acknowledgement. Her face echoed a happy vibe. To look into her hazel eyes, oddly, gave me a sense of home or familiarity. It was weird. I went from feeling out of place, to exactly where I needed to be. I felt as if I knew this girl, and even though I didn’t, she made me feel secure.

I watched as she pressed the button for the floor level, then she just stood in that corner next to the buttons. She kept her head down and never looked back again. Her build was that of a tall girl, but very curvy. Her golden-brown silky hair came to about the mid-level of her back. Her skin complexion was that of a slightly darker cinnamon tan. Ever so subtly, a fan in the elevator caused her scent to breeze my way, reminding me something of sweet cantaloupe. It, in itself, made my heart flutter. She didn't have a jacket on, so I thought that she wasn't going outside. It wasn’t Philly cold, but the air was still brisk this time of year in Los Angeles.

I studied her until she turned around:

“Is there something wrong?”

“No, nothing at all. Just admiring.”

“Oh.”

She turned back around.

“My name is David.”

Her hazel eyes reappeared as she turned around. The natural sunlight that her face provided had the same effect it had on me the first time I saw it. As I peered into the beauty of those perfectly shaped and colored eyes, I eventually got around realizing that they showed pleasure in my statement. She responded,

“Jackie.”

 

***

 

“So was this Erica?” Restonski asked.

“Yeah, that was her.” David laughed, “I don’t know why I imagined her name being Jackie. I guess she looks like a ‘Jackie’ to me.”

 

***

 

Finally, we reached the floor level. She picked her head up and said with a pleasant smile,

"Have a good day."

I nodded my head, "You too."

 I stepped out of the elevator and couldn’t help but to notice her perfect stride as we walked through the lobby out to the street. I watched her head towards the coffee shop, located under the yellow, five-storied building my father referred to as ‘the GLO building’ directly across the street. I stood there for a minute as she went in and took a seat. She opened her laptop bag and pulled out a book that said, “U.S. Law” on it. She rolled her head around with her left hand on the back of her neck to relieve tension. She opened her laptop, and began reading.

 

***

 

Restonski sat still in his chair.

“She was beautiful, then, huh? Sounds like the beginning of a change in your life. Do you think there is a chance you two get back together?”

David shrugged.

“There may be too much to overcome. I’d like to think so, though.”

Restonski took off his glasses and put his notepad down. After a short pause, in which he seemed to briefly mull a few thoughts over, he said, “Don’t sell yourself short, kiddo. If it means that much to you, you won’t regret the effort you put into making things work. If you want her, and talk to her, and you two are still on speaking terms, why not?”

David nodded slowly. He wasn’t sure if that all was completely applicable to his situation, but the principle stuck with him.

“Well, David,” Restonski looked at his wrist watch, “this is our time. Maybe next time we can discuss what happened the night of the robbery.”

David thought to himself, awesome way to get out of that. Tell him everything, but nothing.

The doctor knocked on the door, and the guard standing outside of the room came in and put the handcuffs on David. The cold metal against his wrists were uncomfortable.

“Lesgo, Summers.” The guard barked, tugging him a bit.

Why does he have to be so emotionless with the way he treats us, David thought to himself.

They exited the office. David’s thoughts switched to Erica. From that point forward, all David could think about was the next time he would speak with her. He asked the guard,

“Do I get my free time? I didn’t get mine yet today.”

“Thirty minutes.”

“I want to spend it in the library.”

When they approached the library the guard let him in and took the cuffs off.

“Thirty, Summers.”

David chuckled internally. He knew what the guard was saying, but, thirty summers was a long time. It made him reflect, however. If he didn’t get himself together, there’s a good chance that could be a reality for him.

David walked directly towards the computer section. He logged onto his MyFace.

::Erica Wilkinson is online::

<Hey, Erica./>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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