Okay, time to clean out the craptop. I’ve been collecting old short stories, character profiles and flash fiction pieces for far too long. Today my friends, you are the unlucky recipients of one of these dusty oldies: Virginia Bell. She is real, I knew her and that is as tantalizing as it gets. She is/was long winded, this story is long winded and you will need to be a lover of the long winded saga to read it. If you pass I don’t quite blame you, and this is not an exercise is self deprecation designed to feign humility and thus keep you reading out of guilt and pity…okay, yes it is! 😉 See? I will use any ploy to keep you coming back to this blog, I have absolutely no class where blog hits are concerned! :0 Therefore, without further delay, here it is in all it’s satirical short story revenge of the pen glory:
“I am relevant god dammit!” Virginia Bell stood with arms folded defiantly while her mouth formed the traditional spoiled brat pout to round out the affect. “When you are good you are very good but when you are bad you are Virginia,” daddy used to joke when she was still a little girl and the apple of his eye. Currently she was the worm in the apple which was why she was sitting in fake Freud’s office trying to reconstruct a suitable personality to hold it all together.
“Now Virginia no histrionics please, you’re better than that. I realize you’re not the tepid type dear, but what would your father say if he saw this adolescent nonsense?” Before Virginia’s larger than life ego was about to reply, Dr. Mason swivelled away from her gaze like a seasoned pro. He had become a real doctor-come-guru for coke heads and aging housewives. Oh how he loved being her god though. Once a week she looked to him for guidance and wisdom. If she weren’t so high profile he could be coerced into a passionate fling, but this was nearly as good. In fact it was better, not as messy and very fulfilling financially. Besides, he had bigger fish to fry. He hated her father, and revenge was going to be very sweet one day. What a tasty dish to set before the King of Virginia’s secret neurotic world. Oh, the smorgasbord of delectable tidbits he had collected during his four year trek through the inner passages of her head. Oh how Virginia liked to talk and Heinz could never produce enough cans to hold the amount of beans she had spilled on nearly everyone who is anyone: judges, politicians, cops, and the golden goose himself, dear old daddy Bell.
Mason used his Virginia time well, feigning attentive listening while taking a mental vacation for her two hour session. Thank god for self indulgent narcissists like Virginia, an overworked therapist would be a wreck without them, mused Mason. At least she has a nice ass, he thought while watching her return to her chair.
“Alright now, I never said you weren’t relevant Virginia, I said you’re obviously not happy with some choices you’ve been making, and therefore your authentic self is not relevant in response to the issues you have with the way your career is progressing.”
Jeezus, did he even breathe during that spiel? Virginia wondered.
“Look Mason, you said you would help me get control of my demons and help me move past the baggage. I’m destined to be a winner, but most of the time I feel like a phoney. Those envious god-damned vipers at the firm have me doubting myself. They’re trying to screw me out of everything I deserve and sweet Christ, they’ve got their knives out, trying to find something they can use to bury me so I don’t make partner.” Virginia shifted in her chair restlessly, crossing and uncrossing her legs. “I have to make partner or daddy will have a freaking coronary. He’d never forgive me for pissing away this opportunity. I can’t face that, his mouth set tight and his eyes full of disgust. You have no idea what it’s like Mason. Oh, and all that shit he’ll dredge up about the fiasco last year with the feds and taxes. He’ll never let me forget about it. At least I’ve made Queens Council. I’m going to tell him tonight and that should stave off any discussion about work, at least until I have my position cemented. Daddy likes a good success to chew on.”
Virginia uncrossed her legs once more and leaned in closer to a very distracted Mason, who had been planning his Saturday squash game instead of listening to his client. “Dr. Mason, I tried the meditation tapes you suggested but, no offence, they’re bullshit. I still can’t sleep, and my thoughts race all the time. Me, the whales, the babbling brook and the god damned thinking keep me up all night every night.”
Mason was fed up with his client’s perfunctory attitude toward therapy, and the sessions that had become Virginia’s weekly monologue of complaint. “Virginia, I told you, you need rehab. You’ve got to stop using the coke. You and I can’t accomplish anything long-term if you’re not willing to work with me.”
“But I AM willing to do the work; you know I’m all about the work. I just need that little edge to get me through the pressure. Mason, listen, now that I’ve gone up a level to Q.C. I’ll stop the blow, I promise.”
Virginia’s eyes were so full of absolute neediness; it made Mason’s stomach churn and the thought of being her anything sent chills through him. She really was as deluded and out of control as he suspected, and as big a liar as any addict he’d ever met. He’d simply write her a prescription for some Xanax and get rid of her as quickly as possible. He was rapidly becoming bored of her shake and flake routine. It might be time to cut her loose. He would shuffle her off to Landau; he liked to treat wasters like Virginia. Besides, he had enough information to take down daddy Bell.
“Oh my god Virginia, will you look at that, your time is up. Here, let me write you a prescription for a little something to help you sleep. Your insomnia is raging again. This will at least help you get some rest in the short term,” Mason soothed as he put pen to paper and pill to gullet.
Mason’s chill dismissal wasn’t lost on Virginia as she snatched the prescription from Mason’s hand. “Thanks Mason, for my good night’s sleep. You’re always reliable that way.” She said as she strode out the door with a paper promise in her hand and a smirk on her face. “Asshole” she muttered under her breath. “I’m a Bell, and in this city that means something. He’ll regret patronizing me. It’s simple, I’ll just get daddy to crush him like the slimy little bug he is. The arrogant bastard ought to know better than to visit strip clubs in the middle of the day when my eyes are all over. I think wife number three needs to be enlightened. Maybe she’ll need a good divorce lawyer and I’ll get all my money back, with a little extra for my inconvenience.” Feeling smug, she wiped an itch in her nose and a trickle of blood dropped crimson onto her crisp white sleeve.
As she walked to her car, she couldn’t help the vibrant feeling of it all, Virginia Bell, Q.C. She liked the sound of that. She was almost partner in the largest firm in town, and the daughter of Member of Parliament, Roger Bell. Virginia knew he was known more for his pompous outrage and outrageous pompadour than for actually doing anything of value for his constituents. She was also only too painfully aware that he was considered the laugh of the commons; although it didn’t appear to be a matter of much consequence to him, as he lived by the tenet of keeping yourself visible at all times. The more outlandish the better, as long as it’s not connected to the three S’s, sex, swindling or secrets. Daddy based his philosophy of life on the writings and quotes of Oscar Wilde. Virginia could hear his regular diatribe in her mind: “Oscar, now there was a man who understood the function of things, a man with clearly defined principals who understood opportunity. His words are gravity and truth I tell you, gravity and truth!” Daddy took great umbrage with anyone critical or in disagreement with his theories or ideas. Once, during a friendly game of golf he nearly castrated a political colleague with a nine iron for making disparaging comments on Oscar’s sexual indiscretions, only to go on and get a hole in one and win the game. People didn’t often cross daddy, at least not on this island. He was formidable, old Bulldog Bell, as he was known at school, for his tenacity on and off the rugby field. “Keep your head above water and your hat in the ring Virginia. Like old Oscar said, it’s better to be talked about than not talked about,” he would intone at every family gathering. “It’s death Virginia if they forget your name, never let them forget your name. It’s immortality we’re shootin’ for. Never let that happen and everything will fall into place like bricks and mortar.”
Even though she was spoon-fed on achievement and diligence, schooling to Virginia Bell was as treading water is to an Olympic swimmer. Virginia was a memorable student to the denizens of every alma mater she graced with her stellar presence. That is, until the advent of her post secondary education. Charisma and ambition can be as formidable as intellect and she had them in spades. Unfortunately, Virginia was far too capricious and upwardly mobile to study, thus, daddy purchased all the A’s required to earn that coveted degree. When Virginia was sleeping it off, daddy was making scholastic deals. Hell, he donated so much currency; they even named a hallowed hall of higher learning in his honour. All this glad handing and palm greasing gave Virginia the leeway to snap, crackle and pop her way from one dorm room to another in her quest for the perfect non-relationship; the sort of superficial connection Virginia had made her stock in trade, and only the sons of the brightest and best would do. Chad Beaton was her final conquest and significant nothing in love, but in the area of career development he was a significant something. His daddy was Garth Beaton, a founding partner of Beaton, Coles and Redding, the city’s most prestigious law firm and Virginia’s goal. It was her final year before the bar and she was making plans and headway, with much emphasis on the latter. Once the bar had been written, Virginia Bell waltzed out the door with her framed paper ticket to superstardom on the only stage that mattered; daddy’s.
The striving and yearning had been worth it, Virginia acknowledged to herself as she strode across the parking lot of the clinic. She had achieved more in her thirty one years than a sophomoric pseudo academic like Mason had in his fifty. Yeah, come to think of it HE wasn’t relevant. Piss on him. Virginia laughed out loud but it sounded hollow and manic. The January wind cut and slashed her face like a million tiny shards of glass, making her feel prickly, sore and exposed. She slid into the driver’s seat of the sleek black Lexus daddy had bought her for Christmas that year as an accessory to her budding reputation as a maverick. “Virginia,” he said, as he handed her the keys, Appearances matter, make me proud.” His words were measured when he said this and she was aware of the thin trace of a warning carried in their tone. Not to worry, she was on the cusp of receiving her Q.C., and after that dandy little coup, she was a shoe in for partner at the firm. The only thing left was to see daddy’s face when she announced it to him at dinner this evening in front of the whole family. Finally, he would see that she had what it takes to make a winner and that no one will ever forget her name.
Pulling out of the parking lot, Virginia headed up Sumner Street, hitting every green light on the way and accepting it as an omen of things to come. Feeling the warmth of the car heater kick in, Virginia mused that everything was wrinkle free and falling into place at long last, except perhaps the enigmatic variable she attempted to ignore; Brian. He was the real cause of her insomnia, missteps during trials, and her one great weakness. What could she do now? He wouldn’t leave his wife and she couldn’t leave him alone. Daddy despised him, not for being older and married; morality wasn’t something that concerned daddy, but pleading your cases before a justice you’re screwing is professional death and this one thing he couldn’t accept. Words had been thrown like swords last thanksgiving when he found out about her indiscretions. At one point he even called her a tramp and the failure of his life. Virginia had walked away bloodied but sufficiently reprimanded. The sex ended but the affair of the heart continued, at least on her part. Just as she was recalling their final encounter in a hotel suite in Halifax, when she told him it was over, she pulled onto the Trans Canada highway, picking up speed and trying to outrun a fierce snowstorm approaching from the sea. On she drove, to her parent’s house at the cove with Brian’s face indelibly etched in her memory. He was still a lean handsome man for fifty five, and the sex had been explosive. That last day together he had seemed remote and his kisses were tinged with controlled anger. In her heart Virginia knew he had been using her, not for sex, but to win a pissing contest with daddy. He had won what Virginia had lost, daddy’s respect. Tears began to fall from Virginia’s eyes in unison with the snow that had now caught up with her. The wind whipped it into a white rhythmic frenzy on her windshield as she frantically took her hand off the wheel to wipe away the self pity from her eyes. The Lexus swayed in the unbridled winds coming in from the Atlantic and for a moment Virginia toyed with the idea of pulling over at the next exit. She looked at the digital clock on the dashboard. “Shit!” she cursed out loud. “It’s already after five and they’re expecting me by six.” Virginia’s gut tightened and her jaw clenched with the thought of disrupting daddy’s dinner party. It would be just one more disappointment to add to daddy’s already full collection of her failures and mistakes.
The wiper blades labour was mocked by the ferocity of the storm as Virginia started to reduce her speed, but after glancing at the clock again, she changed her mind and carried on going full throttle in the hope she would make it to the cove on time. “Jeezus” She commented to herself, “I’d better brace myself for one of daddy’s conniption fits. He detests lateness almost as much as he hates weakness.” After twenty kilometres Virginia reached for the radio button, thinking it would calm her until she reached her destination. After tuning in to a classic rock station on the Island, she started to sing along to ‘lookin out for number one’. With a smile gracing her face, Virginia culled a memory from her subconscious, of daddy teaching her to fish while that very song played on the radio aboard daddy’s boat. “That was a good day,” she said to the silence, “The best day.” Lost in the reverie of her past, Virginia didn’t hear the tractor trailer cross into her lane until she saw its front bumper smash into her windshield. A scream from somewhere primal caught in her throat and created no sound, as glass shattered and pierced her eyes and cheeks at the same time her body folded into a U on the steering wheel. The stick shift had embedded itself in her stomach as the shiny black Lexus daddy had bought her crumpled underneath the truck’s trailer like balled up aluminium foil. Virginia’s eyes glazed over with a curtain of black and her heart stopped beating, just as she was about to get her Q.C. and make partner. Just as she was about to become the winner daddy wanted, on the precipice of being talked about. Never let them forget your name. Immortality is what we’re shootin’ for; just like bricks and mortar.