From across the lake Johnny was inhaling and then purposefully exhaling unfiltered Camels. With each inhale he would be thinking about the summer of 2013 – August to be exact. With each exhale he would be thinking about the fall of 2013, Labor Day – to be exact.
He was in the usual setting, a party across the lake from his old home, he stood like a poverty stricken Gatsby watching, listening, inhaling and exhaling.
Johnny was 32 years old, around 6 feet tall with a medium build. He had sandy colored hair in curls and a slightly receding hairline. He had a one week scruffiness about him and was dressed in coffee colored linen pants, no socks with navy slip-ons. His shirt was a white tee and he wore a bracelet around his left wrist.
He stood outside of his old ‘once expensive car’ and watched the party taking shape. The bass booming like a deep voiced whisper…
He wasn’t ready to see her again – wasn’t ready to see her because he knew he would do something stupid and reckless. Something stupid and reckless like fall in love all over again.
It was a helluva hangover and fuck Shakespeare for saying “tis better to have loved and lost,” it wasn’t ever better to lose love. Especially something, someone, who sucked him dry of love, spit out his heart and simply walked away.
He knew what she was up to since that Labor Day. Social media screamed the headlines over and over again. She had gotten engaged, danced in front of the moon under the stars in a Hamptons based engagement party. Skipped town three days before the wedding leaving only note to her fiance. Apparently she had fallen in love with another man – no other specifics were revealed.
He wondered if that was even true. There had been no other man when she came back to town, a week after the wedding was to take place. She was back to her old life and nothing seemed to change. But most times the biggest changes are the ones no one else can see.
Anna was around 5’8 and had swirling red hair. She kept it long and accessorized it with dark color tops which would contrast perfectly as her hair would fall onto her shoulders. Her green eyes were an extra addition to her pearl white complexion. Tonight she was in a summer dress, black split front open halter revealing just enough to stir up some whispers from the wives and long stares from the husbands. She learned how to ignore the noise that once drove her mad; she now took it all in stride and considered it a compliment when the noise would begin. Secretly she would dress a bit more revealing just to bring on the noise – everyone needs some extra attention once in a while.
Anna stood by the edge of the pool and thought about how far she had come since the noose was almost tightened around her. She had agreed to marry Scott only so she could try and get over Johnny.
Her family had forbade her to continue to see Johnny; when she resisted they threatened to disown her. She didn’t want to lose the inheritance that would be due to her, nor the monthly allowance, which included an apartment in Williamsburg and a Jeep Wrangler.When she told him she had chosen the gold over love – he walked away from her without a word.
Something inside of her wanted him to fight for her – but something inside of her was happy he walked away. It stopped her from having to choose again.
Johnny was an alcoholic, had stopped drinking when he realized he was losing everything he had dreamed of. At 19 years old he had already been cast in a show that became a huge hit and made him a lot of money. When the show ended its run, his drinking became uncontrollable and he was confronted by his mother, her Rabbi and his agent. That intervention gave him the pause he needed and stopped drinking that night. But his reputation as a partier was an important part of his persona – so stories were fabricated and even a mugshot was released, also fabricated, to confirm the fact he was the wild Johnny his fans wanted. The problem was he was anything but that. He had continued his frantic pace of filming and stagework; when he was away from that work he would be home away from any distraction.
When he met Anna at a cafe in Brooklyn, it was as a pleasant surprise.
She was sitting alone playing with her phone when he sat at the table next to her. Totally oblivious to him, he wanted to make conversation but didn’t want to cause a stir. He looked at her.
“You look pretty engrossed in what you are looking at.” He felt stupid.
Silence and then, “Are you speaking to me? I am sorry, checking my emails.”
“I didn’t mean to disturb you – I didn’t even know how to start a conversation with you, I just knew that I wanted to.”
She looked at him, gave a hint of recognition and said.
“Have we met? You look so familiar to me.”
“Not that I am aware of.”
“Were you at the party by ‘The End’ cafe last week?”
“Last week, maybe, not really sure. My name is John.” He put his hand out, she softly shook it.
Anna stared at him for a couple of seconds, “So why did you want to start a conversation with me?”
“Why? Well, um…should I make up a story? Its kind of basic really. You are very pretty and I wanted to see if your smarts matched your looks.”
“I guess that is a compliment? I’ll take it as such.” She let out a soft short laugh. “How am I doing so far?”
“I am not sure, I think we need to speak some more.”
They spoke for over an hour, exchange phone numbers and agreed to meet there at the same time the next day.
It was when she got home and googled his name that she realized who he was.
“I cant believe I didn’t recognize you.”
“I like it better that way.”
They spoke, they took long walks and she went to see him on stage. He bought her flowers and she made him smile, the time passed quickly solidifying its reputation and they held hands before the week ended. When they embraced for the first time, their lips touching softly, he knew the bell had rung and his life would never be the same again.
When Thanksgiving came around and he went to her family’s dinner in Great Neck, it was apparent her parents were not impressed. His reputation had continued to be that as a wild drinking out of control actor. Even though he insisted it was all “part of the act” they had their doubts.
She stood there and wondered if he had found her replacement. Maybe some anorexic model or wannabe or an actress to practice his lines with. There were rumors of a romance with his co-star, Amanda Blake, but nothing was confirmed. Still she thought of him and she wanted him; but she knew it was too late. He would be here tonight and she was hoping she would find herself alone with him, if only for one night.
Johnny walked around the lake and threw his cigarette on the ground, stepped on it and moved on towards the house. The music that was a bass boom from across the water – was now a slow beat played by a covers band.
There was a crowd outside of the mansion where the party was being held and he was recognized and stared at by most people. When his friend, Alan, ran over to greet him, it was a welcomed relief.
“Come ’round back, the guys are dying to see you. How you been?”
It was when they all scattered and he walked to find some solitude that he saw her from behind. She was standing by the edge of the pool and her hair gave her away and when she turned around and saw him, he knew he was in trouble.