|Art work by Micah-Van-Zandt|
Annie and Alfie Gray with an A
Sleep faded away despite Annie’s resistance. Her body ached, her head throbbed and her mouth was sandpaper but whilst she slept, those things didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. Her eyes fluttered and light forced its way in. She tried to move her arm, now tingling painfully. Her legs were under a dead weight. She was hot. The bodies around her didn’t stir as she kicked one away and pushed the other, trampled over a third and stepped over a slumbering minefield. The toilet stank. There was no toilet paper. The mirror was cracked but Annie could see the hollow face staring back; eyes dark and smudged with makeup, cheeks sallow, lips pink and dry crusted with specks of white. Only one hooped earring hung in her tangled bleached blonde hair that sat on naked shoulders. She stared hard into the mirror but nothing changed. The empty, shallow face stared back, offering nothing.
“Hey Sugar,” Alfie purred, standing at the toilet. “Great night Babe.” Annie took his word for it. Every night for the past month had been one long drink and drugs orgy and not much singing. But then her heyday was fifteen years ago where she had achieved her dream; a number one album and single with a sell out tour. Then she met David, her husband. Fell madly in love. They married, had children, lived in the perfect home with perfect neighbours, the best school and fantastic holidays. The band and fame faded away. But Alfie never did. Alfie Gray, ‘Gray with an A’ as he always said turned up on her door step with promises of stardom on the reunion tour. Her star would shine again he had promised. She didn’t need persuasion. Suburbia wasn’t for Annie and nothing David said could keep her away from tasting success again or the noise of the crowd and the buzz of singing live. She could hear the pleading words of David; reminding her of where they met and going on tour would just undo all the good work she had put in, the fifteen years without a drop to drink. Annie sloshed ice cold water on her face to rid the image of her sober husband, the smiling faces of her twins; their thirteenth birthday approaching. She had promised she’d be home for that. But David didn’t believe her, knew that once Alfie had his greasy fingers all over her, he wouldn’t see her again, not his Annie anyway. He might, if he was lucky, see her spread across the newspapers in a drunken haze or in a hospital bed waiting for a transplant. He suspected it would be neither; unlucky in seeing her in a coffin because of ‘Alfie Gray with an A’ and their addiction to each other which would do more damage than any drugs or booze concoction. Annie suspected he was right about Alfie and the coffin but it was her choice, her road and she couldn’t change direction even if she wanted to.
“Washing away the guilt?” Alfie observed, standing behind her. He had lost almost everything once Annie left all those years ago but he had never forgotten her, her voice, her body, her energy. Tracking her down had taken every last penny and all his sanity. She was no good for him, theirs was a volatile relationship that would only end in destruction but he lived when she was near and however short that was, it was worth every second. Annie smiled, following him back to the bedroom still littered with bodies, empty bottles and the tail- tale signs of a drug cocktail. She lit up a cigarette as Alfie passed her a bottle still holding the dregs of flat champagne; an unorthodox breakfast that fitted perfectly into her life now.
“When’s my next gig Alfie? I haven’t sung in over a week.”
“Well Annie, you kinda screwed that one up yourself. High on stage, forgetting your words. It got ugly. The audience started throwing crap at you.”
“Well I might as well go home then.”
“Is that what you really want?”
“You know what I want Alfie.” She threw the bottle on the bed, watching it bounce off a sleeping, naked body before rolling to the floor.
“Ok.” He leant across, grazing his mouth on her’s. “I’ll get you the gig,” he mumbled, caressing her breast as he kissed her harder. She tasted the stale alcohol but it was Alfie. She combed her fingers through his matted hair. The body stirred next to her and she pulled away.
“The gig Alfie,” she reminded, pulling on a robe before locking herself in the bathroom for some solitude.
A shower and a plate of waffles filled Annie with vigour. But not as much as Alfie, when he came up with a gig for the next night. It had taken him most of the day but he had done what he said he would do which is what Annie loved about him. Alfie always saw her right whether it be a gig or a fix and he had come back with both.
“Sugar, it’s you and me all the way.” He popped the champagne then waved a sachet of white powder under her nose; all the goodness and ideas of cleaning up now gone as the night signalled party time. “Thought we’d celebrate in style now we have the place to ourselves.”
Annie eyed the prizes in front of her; Alfie Gray with an A being the main one. She looked out across the balcony under a sky full of stars and the brightest moon she had ever seen. She looked back towards the crumpled bed sheets and then to Alfie.
“Sweet dreams Sugar, our last night in this dump.” Alfie smiled. She smiled back, tranquility settling over her. She rolled a twenty, her husband’s words echoing in her mind, knowing it was their last night. Period.
I haven't written many musical pieces but after winning a The Mid-week-Blues-Buster, my confidence was sky high so when Ruth Long asked for a band of writers to write for an album called My Friends and I, I jumped at the chance.
Ruth's friend Big Earl Matthews has put out a CD of local bands (local to Ruth lol, somewhere in USofA). The CD is called My Friends and I and can be found on spotify, amazon and cdbaby.
Thirteen awesome writers have chosen a song and written a story of between 700-1000 words. My song, 'History and Love' by Patty Castillo Davis, already told a powerful story with fantastic imagery so my job wasn't too hard. I just hope I have done it justice!!
My story is going to be part of an ebook with a fantastic cover design that matches the style of the CD cover by the artist Micah-Van-Zandt You can find me bottom right of the picture. So cool!
Here are the list of writers (including me) participating in the project where you can click on their names and read their stories to this fab album.
M.L. Gammella; Ruth Long; Sarah Aisling; Lillie McFerrin;Jenn Monty; Jeff Tsuruoka; Lisa Shambrook; Lizze Koch; Samantha Geary; Nick Johns; L.E. Jamez; Jeff Hollar; Bradley Richter