The Secret of The Lie: Chapter One

Here is the first chapter of the novel I am writing.

When I saw Ana Lucia Arismendi Obregon it was like time had stopped. She was sitting at a table at the back of the room. Her dark hair flowed over her shoulders and down into the middle of her back. She was no longer the awkward teenager that I remembered that loved gelados and having fun in the park. Her dress was stylish, grey with spaghetti straps. Suede boots covered her feet like slippers. Upon seeing her I almost did not notice that the bodega was almost empty. Only an older couple sat at a table eating enchiladas near the middle of the restaurant. The only light was from the windows that lined all four walls. The sunlight filled the room with a heavenly glow and illuminated Ana Lucia’s hair causing it to glow.
Her back was to the wall and she was sipping a glass of water. She set it down and it was then that she saw me. Her dark brown eyes locked on mine and in them I could see a mix of surprise and recognition. There was the slightest hint of redness in her cheeks and she looked away embarrassed. I made my through the tables and approached her table.
I stood at the edge of the table and smiled at her.
She did not look up at first but when she did it was as if she did not know me.
“I am sorry, sir you must have the wrong table,” she said.
“It is me! It is Jack.” I said smiling even wider.
My smile seemed to make her uncomfortable. She glanced at me and then back at her glass of water.
She continued to avoid my gaze. “No. I don’t remember you.” She said softly.
It had been ten years since I last saw her. She was just a 15 year old girl at the time I left. Now she was older in her mid twenties. My memories of her were fond ones. They were the only bright spot in a dark time. I remember how we used to play in her grandmother’s garden with my dog and would go and get ice cream in the afternoons and just laugh at my jokes and just chat about anything. Other than my friend Jaime, Ana Lucia had been my only friend when I was younger. Being the only gringos in the small town of Guadalupe in Sonora life was difficult, but also being misunderstood made life difficult. I was always a kid that preferred to spend time by myself. Making friends had been difficult for me. I wasn’t shy. It wasn’t until I left Guadalupe and went to live in Los Angeles with my grandfather that I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Ana Lucia could not have possibly known that when we were younger, but I don’t think that to her it would have mattered. She had been a true friend. An angel that lived in a house of snakes. Now here she was ten years later, pretending not to know me.
I knew she was lying and I told her so.
“I know you remember me, Ana Lucia,” I said. “You recognized me from the first moment you saw me.”
I sat down at the table. Ana Lucia did not try and stop me.
She looked up at me, her eyes pleading with me to forgive her. There were tears in her eyes.
It was such a wonderful feeling to see her again. So many things had changed since I last saw her. I wanted to tell her everything that had happened to me, but I didn’t. I just smiled at her.
There was a small vase of flowers in the center of the table. The vase was full of lavender like the ones she gave me once when we were younger.
“I have never forgotten you.” I said I plucking some of the flowers up with my left hand and handing them to her.
Tears welled in her eyes as she accepted the flowers, but as she did she stopped and glanced at my hand. I knew she was looking at the wedding ring on my ring finger. She looked up at me with what I thought was surprise, but it could have just as easily have been something else that I did not recognize. That look she gave me concerned me.
I knew I should have taken the ring off, but the scars of my wife’s death two years before were still fresh.
I wanted to tell her everything but I wasn’t here for a social visit.
I was back in Guadalupe to find out who killed my mother.
Ten years had passed since her death and the memories of those events had haunted me since the night she died. My memories of the events leading up to her death were still clear in my mind.
My father died when I was young. At least that is what my mother told me at first.
Seeing Ana Lucia, filled my heart with joy.
“Why are you lying to me?” I asked her again.
She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a man’s voice.
Ana Lucia quickly hid the flowers I had given her in her purse.
I looked up and a young man in his late twenties, with short brown hair a mustache sat down at the table.
“Hello my dear.” He said to Ana Lucia as he leaned over and kissed her. I recognized him. He was Raul Pedregon the son of Juan Pedregon the president of the local Association of Farmers whom my grandfather and I had met with earlier that day. It was Juan who had suggested I have this lunch with his son. Juan probably wanted Raul and me to be friends in the hopes of gaining my grandfather’s good graces when it came time to do business.
Raul sat down and gave Ana Lucia a peck on the lips. She did not look happy about it.
“Hello Jack,I see you two have already met. Ana Lucia,” he said grabbing her chin and tugging on it affectionately, “is my girlfriend.”
Ana Lucia looked positively annoyed his gesture.
“Jack is the son of Raymond Dempsey.” Raul told Ana Lucia. “They came here to invest money and build a packing plant.”
“Yes,” she responded. “You already told me that.”
Raul turned back to me. “Well it is a good thing that you came to this state. If you had decided to go somewhere else we would have been screwed.”
I smiled at him reassuringly. He had no idea how long the plan to come back here had been in the works. Raul was already giving me the impression that he was a lazy ignoramus. The more he spoke the more I was sure of this. I was here not just to invest money. That was a pretext. I wanted to know who killed my mother.
“Oh don’t worry,” I said smiling wryly. “The decision to come here was made here some time ago.”
Ana Lucia gave me a look that was mixture of surprise and anger. The glimmer of anger was something that bothered me.
“Have you ordered yet?” Raul asked.
I said no.
Raul called for the waiter. “Waiter!” he shouted.
A waiter approached the table. “Would you like something to drink?”
Raul smiled and said looking at me, “Would you like some tequila?”
I shook my head no. “ Tequila? No Thank you?”
Raul seemed offended by my response. “Well then what do you want, wine?” he asked almost spitting out wine.
I turned to Ana Lucia “What do you prefer wine or tequila?”
She looked uncomfortable as if she was still uncertain as to what to say to me. “Wine.” she said tepidly.
The waiter handed Raul the wine list. Raul handed them to me “I will let you look at it because I don’t know much.”
Of that I was sure.
I took the wine list from him and glanced at it briefly. “What do you prefer to red or white wine?” I asked Ana Lucia.
Ana Lucia’s gaze returned to what it had been initially and had been throughout the entire conversation a look of happiness mixed with shock and surprise and uncertainty.
She responded uncomfortably,, “I don’t care.”Her response was not flippant as it was more uncertain than anything else.
Raul turned to her “He asked what you wanted.” he said with a slightly condescending tone. “Tell him what you want. You look like a rancher’s daughter without social graces.”
Ana Lucia turned her head quickly in his direction. Her dark hair whirling about slightly. I saw a glimpse of fire in her eyes. “Look, I am not a rancher’s daughter without social graces. You know perfectly well that I don’t like to drink.”
Raul seemed to back off his comment for a second. He shook his head and smiled at me. “She has character. And it is for that that I like her so much.” he said glancing at her. “Look I was just joking Ana Lucia. Get what you want.”
Ana Lucia was still visibly upset. “I don’t like jokes like the ones your father makes.”
Wisely I interrupted their conversation. “Let’s just get some wine.”
I handed the wine list back to the waiter. “Just give us whatever red wine you from Baja California.”
The waiter nodded and left.

The sun was hot on my face as we walked outside after we had finished the meal. Raul had his arm around Ana Lucia who by now seemed much more comfortable. Raul let go of the Ana Lucia
“Hey,” Raul said to me. “How about we go to the club tonight?”
I shook my head. “No I have some business to attend to tomorrow and need to go to bed early tonight.”
Raul pressed the matter.”I could introduce you to some women.”
Again I shook my head and said no.
Raul peered at me for a second. “Why do you have a girlfriend?”
Ana Lucia looked at me. Her eyes filled with interest.
“No,” I said. “I don’t have a girlfriend.”
Ana Lucia looked away for a second then returned her gaze back to me and my left hand. Raul followed her gaze and looking at my hand. “Or is it that you married? You know how wives can be. You tell them you are going somewhere especially to a foreign country and they get jealous. You step out once and they make your life hell.”
I hesitated before answering. I really did not want to answer with Ana Lucia watching but this idiot decided to press the matter. How to answer that question?
“I don’t think my wife would be jealous. She’s dead. I am only recently widowed.” I said.
The look Ana Lucia was similar to the one that she had given me earlier that I had not liked earlier. Only this time it was more intense.
Raul seemed oblivious to this. “Hey give me your valet tickets.” He said to us.
We both complied and he went to give our tickets to the valet.
Ana Lucia looked at me again. “You were married?”
“Yes. I was, but she died last year” I wanted to change the subject as quickly as possible. “How is your family?”
Ana Lucia sighed. “They are well.” she said. “My sister just got married.”
I was surprised by this news since Ana Lucia’s sister Carolina had always said when we were younger that she would rather bathe in acid than get married. I guess time changes people. Proof of this was Ana Lucia. She was no longer the teenager I remembered. She had become a beautiful and intelligent woman. It surprised me to that I thought she was perhaps the most beautiful woman I had seen in my life.
“You know,” I said. “I never thought you would end up with an idiot like Raul.”
She looked away. “Our families wanted it.”
It was clear that she did not.
Raul returned with our keys. He and Ana Lucia said her goodbyes. I stayed for a watching them leave. I knew that some how some way, I was going to see Ana Lucia again. Fate had a strange way of making things like that happen, but now I needed to attend to the business I had spoken to Raul about. I needed to see my friend Jaime, but first I needed to visit my mother’s grave. It was time to see her grave. I grasped my car keys and walked into the sunlight towards the curb where the valet had left my car waiting for me.

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Ivory Requiem (a novel I’m working on)

CHAPTER ONE
My life is an open wound. This story is not about the past although it does play a big part. This story is actually about the future. I am not going to begin with the contrite saying this story begins whenI would not do that to anyone who happens to be reading this.
Parts of this story were related to me after the events had transpired. I do not have the ability to be omnipresent, but it was necessary to state all the events that had transpired because some of them were beyond my scope and the scope of humanity.
Before I begin, I must explain who I am and what I meant by the very first sentence. My name is Eric Cromwell, and I am the proverbial jack-of-all-trades. I seem to be blessed with the gift of being good at everything I do, and I can do a lot of things. My past shaped my life, and events led me from the innocent childhood I once had listening to my mother play the piano to a jaded law enforcement officer who was part of the Special Investigations Bureaus Rave Unit. My job is to go to the raves in Los Angeles and monitor the activities of those selling drugs to the ravers. The most notorious of these pushers is Benny “the Skunk” Carlisle. It has become my mission in life to destroy him. Because of his bad drugs, many people have died, including someone very close to me, but for some reason law enforcement does not want to go after him.
I always know at which raves he is going to be. He only goes to the big ones. The Skunk is not the only reason that I go to the raves although he is the reason I came back to them. About a year or so ago I caught sight of a young woman who had the face of an angel and a very sensuous body that must have aroused an immeasurable amount of jealousy in Aphrodite. I had never met her in person but I knew who she was. Her name was Avery Norris. She was a pianist as my mother had been and was the utter embodiment of Love.
Growing up I used to sit in the living room and listen as my mother practiced for her performances. Every time she made a mistake she would look at me and we would laugh. The best times were when she would teach me how to play. Sometimes we would play Chopsticks together.
I was twelve years old when my life was destroyed, and all that I have left is my mothers piano, which I refuse to play. When my mother was killed, her body was so badly charred by the fire that destroyed our home it was unidentifiable. The only things that survived were the garage and my mothers Wurlitzer piano, which was inside. Anyone who knows anything about pianos
would not keep one in the garage. My mother did. She had just gotten a grand piano, but it was turned to ashes in the fire, like her dreams of one day playing at Carnegie Hall. She was working on a piece that she called “The Waltz of Death.” Despite, its macabre title, it was sweet and lyrical. I can still hear her playing it, while my imagination envisioned an orchestra conducted the Great Maestro (Death). Everyone dances this waltz from the time our birth to the time when the conductor waves his baton for the very last time. My mothers dreams of playing her waltz went up in smoke during the fire that consumed my childhood.
I never played the piano after that day. I have taken up painting and drawing. I have to do something with my hands. The funny thing is that we as human beings try to run so far away from things that we end up running right into them. That is the way it was with pianos and me. I seemed to be always caught in a vicious circle trying to shadow box my memories without realizing I
was perpetuating the very thing I was trying to avoid. Life is like that.
I have never tested the veracity of my beliefs, but I know they are true, which is why I find myself attracted to Avery Norris. She played with such skill and passion that it seemed as if the Angel of Music herself was playing Averys piano. Averys playing reminded me of the ghosts of my mother. Full vicious circle.
All of this was running through my mind as I watched the dancers at a rave in the San Fernando Valley. The rave took place in an abandoned warehouse and it attracted many of the young, local denizens of LA. Including Avery Norris. The warehouse had been abandoned for at least a good ten years. In the year, 2032, nobody in his or her right mind went into the Valley. Ravers were never in their right minds, which is why they chose the Valley to hold all their raves.
Those SIB agents who monitored them were even crazier. Many of the monitors were ex-ravers like me, so they knew how to play the game. The warehouse was large. About twenty thousand square feet of youths, music, and drugs. The whole place was illuminated by thousands of tiny lights powered by electric generators. The DWP had long since cut off the utilities to the Valley, which had been completely abandoned in the years following the Third World War.
A rudimentary stage had been set up where the DJs worked their magic and created the hypnotizing beats of the style of music known as trance to which the ravers danced. Many of who moved like people caught in the rapturous sensations of sexual intercourse. In fact, some of them were doing it in some form or another. The others were just too caught up in the sensations caused by the Ecstasy that they had taken to give a damn about what their bodies were doing.
I had the sickening sensation that someone was going to die. My mothers waltz echoed softly in the recesses of my mind. I tried to drown it out in the din of music that surrounded me, but it was to no avail. I took a sip from my water bottle. It was not Evian, but I did not really care. Water bottles were sort of standard fare at raves because Ecstasy dehydrated the body so much so that ravers needed to be constantly drinking water to keep from overheating like radiators.
> The music filled the air, and the stage lights created a cascade of colors as they swung back and forth and in every which way. Opposite the stage, where the DJs were located, the eerie nighttime darkness cast the absence of light through the massive steel garage-style doors. I watched some people enter then I caught sight of Avery. She entered with her usual entourage of friends and stood there for a moment looking around her body already gyrating to the beat of the music. One of her friends caught me staring at her and whispered something in her ear, Avery whispered something back. She turned to look at me, and our eyes locked. Suddenly I felt like a nerdy teenager admiring the most popular and most beautiful girl in the school. I felt so inadequate at that moment. To me, she and I existed on two different planes. Her friends left her while she picked up a water bottle from one of the ice chests.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a familiar figure talking to two of the ravers. He was tall and slender with a clean-shaven face and light brown hair. It was the Skunk. The three of them were standing by a metallic staircase that led to the catwalks above. The Skunk handed something to the other two. I knew it had to be drugs. I was startled by a sultry female voice. I whirled around and found that Avery was standing only inches away from me. She had on the carefree smile of someone who was caught up in the euphoria brought on by Ecstasy…or at least it could have been Ecstasy. Now there was a new club drug on the market known as R-486 jokingly named after RU-486 the famed “morning after pill”? The drug R-486 was highly addictive and left feelings of euphoria in the user for a period of twenty-four hours. Anyone who wanted to get the drug in West LA had to go through the Skunk to get it. The drug looked like ammonia and the Skunk had been known to make the switch on people who had not paid him, thereby killing them.
Avery continued gyrating to the music “Ive seen you before, havent I?” she asked.
I shrugged and watched her dance for a moment, “Maybe at one of the other raves.”
Avery paused, the light show dancing across her face. She shook her head slowly, “No, I dont think so. It was at my show at the Troubadour this past March.”
I remembered that show The Troubadour was one of Los Angeles established nightclubs where many musicians performed while doing the circuit on the LA music scene. I sat at one of the tables in the back a few moments before Avery performed. As she played, she seemed to glance in my direction as if she was singing only to me.
Avery smiled her blue green eyes gazing directly into mine, “You felt it didnt you?” she asked >
For a few, brief moments the rave disappeared and it felt as if it was just Avery and me standing and talking I had felt like that at the Troubadour as well. Each time she looked at me while performing I felt a connection that was so intense it transcended the physical realm. We stared at each other for a moment Then Avery rubbed her forehead. “I dont feel too good,” she said.
“Maybe you should sit down and drink some of your water,” I suggested.
She nodded slowly, and together we started to walk towards some benches near the entrance that had been set up for those needing to rest from dancing Avery never made it to the benches. She collapsed about halfway there. I quickly knelt down beside her and checked her pulse. She barely had one A few of the ravers had gathered around us euphorically grinning. I glared at them as I began to perform CPR. “Dont just stand there, call the paramedics.”
One of them laughed, “Theres no emergency services around here.”
I barely noticed as Averys two friends came running over to where I was performing the CPR I did not notice their crying as I stopped pounding on Averys chest, for I was too lost in my own misery to take heed as her friends cried out her name, All I could hear in my mothers waltz echoing eerily in the recesses of my mind.
The Great Maestro had put away his baton and the music was no longer playing for Avery Norris, leaving only an empty silence in her wake. I was left without a chance at love and would have to wonder what might have been. For me, Love had died, and all that was left was the uncertainty of Chaos. My life truly was an open wound.

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