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George Ferryman - 7

[Read other installments: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6]


Wednesday, November 8 - CHAPTER 5


Days passed since Marilyn’s Mystery Man locked eyes with her on the dance floor. As each moon rose and set without seeing him again, she became more and more convinced that she made the whole thing up, that he was a fair-skinned, dark haired, Hawaiian-shirt wearing, bare-chested hallucination.


Besides, there were more important things to figure out than the identity of someone who may, or may not, be real. Marilyn was running out of money.


While the decision to sublet her apartment felt right at the time, Marilyn was now realizing that she had no home to return to if she couldn’t stay on the island. Of course, she could always live in her parent’s house, but what 36-year old wants to do that? Besides, Rhinebeck, New York wasn’t exactly a thriving metropolis. What would she do there?


No, there had to be a way she could stay where she was and earn an income. She only had to figure out what that was. Since she always thought better on a full stomach, Marilyn wandered downstairs to the happy hour buffet for dinner.


Several bowlfuls of seafood chowder later, Marilyn felt a presence sit down at the bar beside her. A familiar face smiled.


“Hi Herman,” she said, trying to sound friendlier than she felt.


“Hey Sugar,” he said, too loudly.


Marilyn winced at the term. Herman was sitting too close; and she was beginning to feel “claimed” by him. As though a couple of drinks had bought him the right to call her his woman. It felt icky, but Marilyn didn’t have the heart, or the words, to reject him at the moment. She was too busy figuring out how to raise some green.


“What’s on yer mind, lil darlin’?”


Why was Herman all of a sudden speaking like a Texas rancher in a bad 80s movie?


“Trying to figure out how to make some money so I can stay here,” she sighed.


If Herman expected a light-hearted conversation with the wild woman from last week’s dance floor, he was going to be disappointed. Marilyn’s vibe was decidedly darker and more serious. Maybe she was being overdramatic, but she felt as though her life depended on her staying in the Bahamas, at least for the foreseeable future.


“Well,” he said, “what are your skills?”


“Uhhhhh…” she began. A quick mental run-through of her last few jobs turned up zero marketable skills. She had to go back a decade to find something.


“I used to write for websites,” she offered, weakly.


“Perfect!” Herman shouted. “I’ll make a few calls.”


“What do you mean ‘make a few calls?’” she asked, confused.


“Don’t you remember, Sugar-Plum? I own an employment agency!” Herman took his shit-eating grin and left the bar, phone in hand, to get his little Moonpie a job.

_________________


By Friday, Marilyn was an employee of Gulliver’s Travellers Magazine, writing and uploading travel blog posts to their website.


“The downside,” Herman warned her, “is that you’ll be traveling for at least a year straight.” Marilyn jumped into his arms and squeezed him tight. She almost blurted out “I love you!” but stopped herself in time. She’d never appreciated anyone as much as she did this weird Texas rancher, but she didn’t want to give him the wrong idea.


Surprising herself, Marilyn turned out to be a solid writer. The few sample blogs she provided in her interview were met with comments like, “Fresh!” and “Highly relatable.” Herman negotiated her contract so that the company would pay all of her expenses and give her a small stipend for each blog post. She was to stay in Nassau at least two more weeks, and then travel to the smaller out-islands. Total time spent in the Bahamas would be close to six months.

______________


In his suite overlooking the Caribbean, George was rattled. It took him several days to realize that the siren on the dance floor was the woman who served him his divorce papers in New York. He glanced at the coffee table where the 10 x 12 manilla envelope collected dust. He didn’t need to open it to know what it held. Although Monica was the one suing him, he knew there was another woman pulling the strings.


“‘Pulling the strings,’ now that’s an appropriate phrase,” he thought. George certainly felt like a puppet this past year. Pinocchio had nothing on him. But perhaps his life was turning around, and maybe soon he’d be a real boy too.


He rummaged through the closet for his favorite shirt – a white button-down covered in blue whales – and shorts. In the bathroom mirror, his familiar crumpled visage was replaced by one that looked… hopeful, friendly even. He ran a brush through dark hair peppered with white and examined the unruly eyebrows that topped his striking blue eyes. George grew up thinking his eyes were just blue, but Monica would say they were “striking blue,” and then she would fuss over them, making him self-conscious.


He pulled out his toenail clippers and tried to tame the black caterpillars on his face. Monica always did this for him with real scissors, but George was on his own now and had to learn. “Monica did a lot of things for me,” he thought. Their early days had been the happiest of his life.


He washed the cuttings down the sink, and left his suite.


By now, hotel staff realized that there was no “Missus Ferryman” joining George in the Honeymoon Suite, so they stopped asking where she was. George could enjoy himself at the resort bar instead of having to walk a mile down the beach for a cocktail. Each night, the bartender had his Absolut and cranberry ready by the time George sat down. After living in a city of millions where he was mostly anonymous, George felt known and seen. It had been a long time.


[Next installment here.]




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