What settings do you use for your writing, real or imagined?
Well, I’ve been enjoying recent trips to Burlington, Vermont in the past several months, the setting for Username: Bladen. I haven’t been there in years, so I have to say the flashback memories have been fun, as I spent two years in college at St. Michael’s before transferring to FSU in Florida. The above picture is of North Beach, where part of the following excerpt takes place in Username: Bladen. If any of you have visited North Beach, you may remember fun times at their summer Reggae Festival!
Otherwise, I’d love for you to take a snippet of time and read the following excerpt:-)
• • •
“You made wonderful gourmet sandwiches, Lisa,” Adonis said, “but look at the size of the boy. I didn’t think that would be enough to feed him, so I ordered a couple of pizzas. You don’t mind do you?”
“Um, I guess that’s okay.” Lisa pointed to the food. “I did make a lot of sandwiches, though. I can’t imagine this wouldn’t fill him up.”
Lisa’s comment seemed to go unnoticed by Adonis. He glared at me again and began to drill me with personal questions.
“So you fancy Julia do ya, mate?”
I felt tense and ran my fingers through my hair. “Excuse me?”
“I mean do you like Julia?” Adonis reworded the question and made sure he annunciated each word slow and clear, like I had just learned the English language.
“I’m sorry,” I answered, irritated. “I still don’t understand your question. I mean, I spent the day with Julia yesterday, but that was the first time I’ve seen her in years.”
“Do you drink a bit at the bar?” Adonis continued.
Lisa’s mouth dropped open. She elbowed Adonis hard in the ribs.
“Ugh,” he said, “what’d you do that for?”
“Leave him alone, Adonis.”
Adonis stared at me cold and hard. “You better not mess with Julia or our family boy or you’ll regret it.”
Lisa came to my rescue, once more. “That’s enough, Adonis. You bother Bladen again, and I’ll ask you to leave.”
After that, Adonis behaved–like a normal person. We shot the breeze for at least two hours. I lost track of time, until I heard the front door slam shut, signifying Julia’s return.
She dashed into the kitchen like a whirlwind. “Oh pizza, my favorite food. Yum! Thank you to whoever ordered it.”
“That would be him,” I said, pointing to Adonis. “He’s pretty nice once you get to know him.”
“Thanks, mate. You’re not so bad yourself.” Adonis threw his head back and roared with laughter. Strange man.
• • •
Julia grabbed my arm hard and said, “C’mon, let’s go for a bike ride down by the lake.”
I gazed into her eyes. The intensity in them made me say, “Okay.”
“Adonis, you don’t mind if Bladen borrows your bike, do you?” Julia asked.
“No, go ahead,” Lisa intervened. “It’s in the garage.”
“Thanks for answering for me, my lady,” Adonis said. He stood and pretended to walk around drunk. “I think I’ve had a bit too much whiskeee to make any kind of right decision. You know what they saaay, don’t drink and talk at the same time.”
Lisa playfully squeezed his cheeks and laughed. “Stop.”
I told Lisa and Adonis thank you and goodbye.
. . .
Julia and I found the bikes, strapped them to the bike rack on her car, and headed to the parking lot at my dorm. The ride into Burlington on bikes was a little far from her house.
When Julia stopped the car, she jumped out in a flash with her bike ready to go, before I even took mine out of the rack.
“I’ll race you,” she yelled, as she zoomed past me. “Last one downtown buys the other one an ice cream.”
I had to admit she pedaled fast. I knew I could bike much faster, but I figured I’d let her win. Before long, we arrived at Church Street. She pulled up to the little bistro we had eaten at the day before.
“I won!” She proudly said in between breaths. I wasn’t out of breath at all. Sorry to say, she noticed. “Wait a minute. You let me win didn’t you?”
“You’re fast,” I answered, shrugging my shoulders. “I owe you an ice cream.” She protested, but then she gave in.
When we walked into the restaurant, I noticed a sign proclaiming, ‘Hiring’. We bought our ice creams, and Julia strolled outside. I told her to wait for me, while I asked for an application. I planned to take it with me to fill out and then drop it off later.
• • •
Back outside, I sat next to Julia on a bench and asked, “How’s your ice cream?”
“Mmmm, pistachio…delicious. How’s yours?”
“Good.” I had ordered plain chocolate. “I have a question for you.”
“What’s your question?” Julia asked in between licks.
“Why did you leave with Gloria today, when your mom invited me for lunch?
Julia stopped for a moment. “I knew it would bug my mom. I’m sorry.”
“Why did you want to bug your mom?”
“Because she’s never around. I already told you that. It was stupid.” She grinned. “Why are you asking? Did you miss me?”
I smiled wickedly back at her. “What if I did?”
She giggled and took the last bite of her ice cream, as she moved closer to me—close enough that I could smell her perfume—lilacs, maybe. I glanced down at the sidewalk. I have to say, I enjoyed the heat between us, and so did she.
Julia broke up the moment and had her helmet back on, her bike ready to go. “I’ll race you to the lake.”
I threw the rest of my ice cream away and jumped on my bike, riding right behind her. We swerved around the people on the street, until we arrived at the bike path by the lake. I sped right next to her. Lake Champlain flew past us with the sun radiating on it, splattering crystal beams into the air. Julia’s hair blew wildly in the wind.
She glanced at me and smiled with her stunning grin. I watched her for too long. My bike hit a rock, and I almost lost it. She laughed.
When the path ended, we came to a small beach embedded with stones on one side. It was isolated, other than a middle-aged couple that was playing with their young daughter. The little girl must have been about four. Her dad’s hands were gripping her around her waist. He spun her high up in the air. The girl’s head tilted back, and she squealed in delight. Julia gazed at them wistfully. She looked as though she missed what she had never had.
Other than the laughter of the little girl and the lapping of the lake water, it was quiet. My thoughts escaped back to Arcis. I literally ached inside, as I wondered what adventures awaited me there.
• • •
I broke out of my thoughts, when Julia waved her hand in front of my face. “Hey Bladen?”
“Yeah,” I answered casually, embarrassed that she had caught me daydreaming again.
“Where do you go?” she asked in a soft voice, her eyebrows raised up, arms crossed.
“What do you mean?” I tried to evade her question. I picked up a stone and skipped it across the water. I watched as it sank beneath the surface.
Julia took a deep breath and said, “You’ve done that a couple of times. I know there’s something on your mind. What is it?”
“Come on, Bladen. It’s me. I told you my deepest, darkest secret yesterday…something I’ve never told anyone, not even Gloria. You can trust me too, you know.”
“I do trust you…but, I don’t want to talk about it right now,” I answered. Julia looked hurt. “I promise, I’ll tell you…just not today…okay?”
“That’s fine, but promise me you’ll tell me sometime soon.”
“I just did, and besides I give you my Scout’s honor,” I said, with a salute.
“Stop doing that.” Julia shook her head. “I’m serious.”
I changed the subject and decided to ask Julia about Adonis. “Today…Adonis gave me the cold shoulder. He wasn’t friendly at first…why?”
Julia laughed. “He’s not overly nice to anyone. In fact, from what I could see he seemed to like you, and that’s saying something, because he scares everyone else away. Gloria’s really my only friend…my only true friend. My family keeps to themselves. When Adonis chases away my friends, he always tells me it’s for the best.” Julia paused for a moment. “I hope he doesn’t scare you away.”
“I don’t scare that easily,” I shrugged. “It’s getting late. We should get back. Wanna race again?”
“You’re on,” Julia darted toward her bike.
“What does the winner get this time?” I asked.
“How about dinner?”
“Now you’re on,” I scrambled toward my bike. With ease, I biked faster than Julia, though I led her to believe she was almost as fast as me. When we neared her car, I sped past her and barely won.
“Nice race,” she said, smirking, “though you seem to win or lose whenever you feel like it.”
I smiled. “I guess that’s because dinner is more tempting than ice cream. But please don’t feel like you have to feed me. I want to fill out my job application and drop it off tonight, anyway.”
“No, I owe you dinner,” she said, firmly. “You bought me ice cream. And I believe fair is fair.”
Julia and I sat silently again, as we drove back to her house. I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye, while she curled her golden locks around her finger. She looked relaxed.
When we arrived at her home and walked in the door, the smell of lasagna hit me. I was grateful for a good meal. We had pleasant dinner conversation, and I ate way too much.
When it was time to go, I thanked Lisa and wished Julia good luck in class the next day.