In a golden sun kissed kitchen halfway across the country from Greyson’s New York apartment, Melanie Johnson cut across the field of vision of her Trinity-enabled web cam and made her way to the kitchen where she unloaded two bags of groceries on the green speckled marble countertop. She touched the monitor to the computer hanging down from the cabinet next to her refrigerator to connect with her brother. They had agreed to meet at 2:00.
She absentmindedly put away her vegetables and ice cream as she waited for him to join her. She could see his empty office on her monitor through his video feed, but he had not yet shown his face.
Unlike her two technology-driven brothers, Melanie complied with the latest innovations, more as a means for keeping in touch with her distant siblings than anything else. She certainly didn’t need all of the connectedness that Trinity provided as most of her world revolved around the small farming community in which she lived and her husband’s sphere of influence in DesMoines.
A member of the PTA and Treasurer of the local Pony League, Melanie lived an idyllic life in her four-bedroom farm house on ten golden acres in Churchville, Iowa. Literally the geographic center of the country, Churchville consisted of three basic roads, Main Street, South Street and West Street and nearly as many dozens of residents.
Her husband was serving his second term as an Iowa State Senator, an amazing accomplishment for a person from such a small and remote community. Her oldest, a Senior at nearby Norwalk High School, played on the varsity girls softball team. Her middle child, a sophomore, played the violin in various regional youth orchestras and her youngest daughter, the princess of the family competed in pageants throughout the greater DesMoines area like Melanie had as a child.
“Ciao Sis,” Melanie’s brother popped behind the camera in his slick grey suit and open collar black shirt. “I only have so much time. I have a meeting with a new client about speaking at major convention.”
“Do you think he’s even awake yet?” Mikey said with a cynical laugh.
“He said he would join us.”
“Why do you care whether or not he’s bought into your cause anyway?”
“Because it is not my cause,” Melanie’s friendly demeanor tightened, like a parent about to scold her child. “It’s Mom and Dad’s cause and they need our help.”
“From what I can tell, this has been your cause for at least the past couple years.”
Well, you wouldn’t know because I only told you about it last summer.”
“He’s not going to care anymore than I do about Mom and Dad’s charity case.”
“He’s not a charity case,” Melanie snapped. “You should listen to the web shows that he does.”
“Not interested,” Mikey interrupted her. “I just set up the network and help you diffuse the IP address. Beyond that, I wash my hands of Mom and Dad’s little social experiment.”
“That’s just sad,” Melanie hardened further. “You guys can be so harsh sometimes. Why do you have to be so negative about them?”
“They pushed their views and opinions on us.” He spoke back at her with equal stiffness. “They gave us a good life, but it was their life on their terms. And anything we did that didn’t match their vision became such a big issue.”
“They loved you both,” Melanie felt a pit in her stomach, the beginnings of tears that would eventually rise up her throat and assault her eyes. “They only wanted the best for you. They gave you all sorts of opportunities in LA and practically let him run wild in New York. Do you realize how hard that was for them, coming from their background? Don’t be so selfish. When they come home …”
“They are not coming home,” he snapped. “They want us to take their place by the lake and do with it what we think is best. I say sell and I am pretty sure he agrees with me.”
“I can’t believe you guys!”
“Let me tell you a story sis,” Melanie’s brother leaned smugly back in his office chair. “When I was getting my Confirmation, I had to sign a piece of paper that said I agreed to be confirmed under my own volition without any coercion or influence from anyone else. I told Dad that I couldn’t sign the paper because I felt like he had pushed me into it. He went ballistic. He told me I had to sign it because I had to get confirmed. It was like he couldn’t understand how I would expect to have free will in that situation. He goes: ’You have your own free will to sign or not. But if you don’t, I will be very disappointed and that will lead to a loss of your privileges. So go ahead. Make your own decision if that’s what you want. And live with the consequences if that’s the way you want it to be.’ Of course I signed it, but that said so much about who he was and what he was all about with his religion.”
“But it was like that with everything. I couldn’t grow my hair out. I couldn’t have my own bank account. I couldn’t decide which shows I could watch. God forbid I question anything about our religion or look to make my own choices.”
“They wanted you to stay in the congregation.” Melanie pleaded. “They didn’t want you going off and getting involved in some cult.”
“They were so worried that you were going to go off the deep end, get caught up in the Hollywood lifestyle out there in LA.” Melanie turned to the side to shield her brother from seeing her face turn red.
“You are so arrogant sometimes!” Melanie raised her voice and turned to look right into the camera, but quickly regained her composure. “Anyway, we are not debating their parenting skills or their choices. We just need to figure out if he’ll help us out in New York or not. And then you can get back to your LA nightlife and your celebrity hot tub parties.”
Greyson Holliday rolled out of bed at 9am to the screech of the little clock alarm that he had owned since elementary school. The sun streamed through his battered vinyl blinds illuminating his off-white rug and the pile of dirty laundry that littered his living room floor. Tiny dust particles swam through the air within the illuminated strips of light. He strained to find his iPhone to activate the 54-inch monitor that faced his couch.
HBO played some inane Keanu Reeves football movie. Six e-mails sat waiting for his attention and his news ticker displayed five different stories about unrest in the Middle East.
He immediately navigated to Latrell Hawkins’ profile and clicked through to check his location and make sure he was at his own apartment getting ready to meet Alonzo King.
He shook his head when he saw the push pin hover over a different location 20 blocks south of his neighborhood.
“Did he hook up with someone?” Greyson thought. “Did he get wasted and end up at some other club, or some alley somewhere?”
He clicked the push pin and a giant iron ball immediately rolled down his throat and landed deep in the base of his stomach.
He rolled out of bed and reached under the sink for his jug of wine. But then changed his mind, grabbed the phone and angrily pressed the push pin.
“What the hell happened to you?” Greyson shouted into the phone before Latrell could even say ‘hello’. But Latrell J. Hawkins didn’t answer the phone.
“Who is this calling?” A rigid, deep voice demanded. “This is Lieutenant Stephen Tulliano of the New York Police Department and I am going to need you to identify yourself.”
Greyson complied with Officer Tulliano’s requests and learned that Latrell had been shot during the evening by a gang member in a drive by shooting. They had little evidence and the officer seemed reluctant to share what he knew, but Greyson had gathered that Latrell had gotten caught up in some minor misunderstanding, which led to an argument about a girl at the bar. Unbeknownst to Latrell, what amounted to an innocent conversation and an accidental bump of his shoulder set off the chain of events that led to the senseless shooting.
The worst part of the story, kind of a twisted irony, was that instead of the bullet killing him, it simply penetrated his brain enough to cause severe damage, but not enough to finish him off. He would have to spend the rest of his life, however long that lasted, in a bed under complete hospice care.
As he hung up with Officer Tulliano, he threw his wine glass across the room and into his sink. Shards of glass rained across the kitchen counter in an ear-shattering explosion. A menacing splotch of purple liquid stained the counter and dripped down the side of his refrigerator door.
Greyson sat on his floor clutching his iPhone in a helpless stupor before crawling back to the sink, grabbing the jug by the neck and drinking directly from the bottle.
Gina woke up around the same time as Greyson in Carlos’ run-down apartment. He had left for the day to God knows where, maybe to check on his various clubs and bars, maybe to check out some new girls, or maybe just because he only really cared to be with her at night.
She rolled over, naked and immediately realized how sore her ass felt. She had no problem blowing him and always got off having straight sex with him. But when he got really high and watched too much porno, he would go on streaks where he demanded anal sex and Gina did not like that. For one, she didn’t do it often enough to be able to adequately and comfortably stretch as needed. And for two, he was so aggressive and sudden about it, that he didn’t bother to get any lotion or Vaseline to ease the experience for her. He just flipped her over after buttering her up enough and jammed himself in there.
Gina gazed out over the Hudson River into the city that never sleeps and tried to answer the question that Greyson had posed to her.
She sighed as she collected her underwear and her sweatpants and felt along the floor for her purse. She couldn’t answer the question at first and then muttered the best answer she could come up with to herself.