The Artiste


Would this train ride never end?

William stared out the window at nothing much, just as he’d been doing for days. He knew travelling from New Jersey to San Francisco by train would be grueling, but he was not prepared for the monotony of Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, ad nauseum.

And then there was the smelly brat and its ridiculous gum-popping mother sitting directly across from him. The child looked to be around six or seven and was not yet potty-trained. Either that, or it farted an awful lot. Occasionally the mother put down her Dirty, Filthy Secrets magazine to take it to the restroom, but not nearly often enough. The only thing that kept William’s sanity in check was knowing his beloved Solange would be awaiting his arrival at the train station in San Francisco. And then they would be married.

It was love at first sight for both of them. Well, almost. William became smitten with Solange nearly a year ago, on their first date. He’d taken her to Dante’s on Pier 39 for dinner. There were a million things that endeared her to him: the way her hazel eyes sparkled when she looked at him, the way her long black hair swirled down her back, her refreshing independence and self-reliance, dry sense of humor…Solange was everything he’d dreamed of in a woman.

It took a bit longer for Solange to fall for William, but he chalked it up to her playing hard to get, being cautious, or, perhaps it was simply part of being an artiste. He still wasn’t quite sure what exactly her art was, but no matter!  William just thanked his lucky stars that his boss kept sending  him back to San Francisco every month.

William stopped a crew member who was passing by. “How long ‘til we reach San Francisco?”

The man calculated in his head. “You got about four hours to Los Angeles, from there, you got probably another 10 hours.”

“I see, “William sighed. “Thank you.”

Less than 24 hours!


The next day in San Francisco…


Will this guy never finish up?

Solange was employed at one of the city’s most prestigious brothels, Le Chat Château, which catered to the world’s most prominent men. As such, Solange considered herself more of an artiste than a courtesan since she had, after all, raised her profession to an art form.

Finally, her client’s session had come to its natural conclusion, and Solange took a break with her friend and fellow artiste, Yvette de la Sol.

“Got a light?” Yvette asked with a Gauloises dangling from her plump magenta lips.

Solange lit Yvette’s cigarette and then her own. She inhaled deeply and blew the smoke out slowly with a sigh.

“Is something wrong?”

“I dunno.” Solange shrugged. “You ever get that weird feeling like you’re forgetting something?”



Susan Marie Shuman/ SusanWritesPrecise

Over and Over

The first time we kissed, Crimson & Clover was playing on the radio. From then on, it was officially ‘our song.’

One month and eleven days later, Jimmy left for Vietnam. I wrote to him every day and he wrote as often as he could. In our letters, we planned our wedding and even named our kids.

Yeah, well.  Things didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped.

Not even close.

Jimmy eventually came home from the Hanoi Hilton and we got married.

But we don’t have any children.

Instead, Jimmy sits in his wheelchair with a blanket over what’s left of his legs.

We hold hands and listen to Crimson & Clover.

Over and over.





The Rain

This week at Song Lyric Sunday, Jim has given us the prompt of listen/hear/talk/speak. I’ve chosen Rhythm of the Rain, by The Cascades from 1963.


Song Facts:

This was written by The Cascades lead singer John Gummoe, who told us the story in October 2008: “I wrote ‘Rhythm of the Rain’ over a period of time, but the lyrics began while I was serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Jason AR8. I was standing a mid watch on the bridge while we were underway to Japan. We were sailing up in the north pacific and it was raining heavily and the seas were tossing.

The title came to me first and I liked the ‘ring’ of it, the way it flowed, and that night I wrote down most of the lyrics. It was like the rain was talking. It was later on that I sat down at a piano and was fooling around with the black keys and started playing a sequence from E flat down to F sharp, well, if you do it you’ll see it’s the melody that is now stuck in the heads of millions of people around the world. Later on, when we did a demo on the song, that great little ding-ding thing that goes FC-FC, DA, DA came to be. The great arranger Perry Botkin Jr. enhanced that little hook and it was producer Barry De Vorzon who came up with the idea of opening the song with that famous burst of thunder.”

This was recorded at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, which is where Phil Spector produced many of his hits. Some of the elite west coast studio musicians played on this song, including the legendary session drummer Hal Blaine and guitarist Glen Campbell.



Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again

The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little does she know
That when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

Rain please tell me now does that seem fair
For her to steal my heart away when she don’t care
I can’t love another when my hearts somewhere far away

The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand new start
But little does she know that when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

[Instrumental Interlude]

Rain won’t you tell her that I love her so
Please ask the sun to set her heart aglow
Rain in her heart and let the love we knew start to grow

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I’ve been
I wish that it would go and let me cry in vain

And let me be alone again

Oh, listen to the falling rain
Pitter pater, pitter pater
Oh, oh, oh, listen to the falling rain
Pitter patter, pitter patter…


Sleight of Heart

Today’s prompt at the Go Do Go Café: Write a story or poem that ends with the phrase “he shredded her dreams in dignified air of victory

He said it could quite possibly be the most important text he’d ever sent (to her), and would she like to meet him at The Bamboo Banshee for an early dinner.

Hell, yeah, she would!

With her wild heart pounding, Renée texted back saying she would be there at 6:00.

What could it be? They did business together occasionally, but this was a Sunday. And it’s so out of the blue. Leonard is not the spontaneous sort. He said it was important…What if…?

And Renée allowed herself to hope that maybe, just maybe Leonard had changed his mind. Maybe he’d dumped what’s-her-name and realized there really was something between himself and Renée.

“Holy crap,” she mumbled. “What am I gonna wear?”

The news came on and the weatherman was calling for snow that evening. Renée paused to listen, but then tuned it out. She’d ride a ten-speed bike through a blizzard for Leonard. Meteorologists were wrong 50% of the time, anyway.

She made sure she arrived at The Bamboo Banshee early enough to down a couple glasses of wine before Leonard showed up. She told herself she wanted some time to think; what she really did was allow her imagination to run away with itself.  It was true, anything could happen that evening. By the time she was half-way through her second glass of wine, Renée was up for pretty much anything life could throw at her as long as it involved Leonard.

She glanced up as he walked through the door. He was as beautiful as ever.  How she adored that man! When Leonard saw her, he smiled that killer smile that made Renée melt like a Popsicle on August asphalt.

He rested his chin on the ball of his left hand, and gazed dreamily into her eyes. Heart racing and stomach somersaulting, Renée savored every nanosecond of his attention.  While wondering what would happen next, Renée gazed right back into his baby blues. She felt like crying, but didn’t know why. These potential tears were neither sad nor happy, just tears.

“You really are gorgeous, Renée. “ Leonard sighed. “You know that, don’t you?”

“All I know is what you tell me.” Her heart was racing.

Just then, a waiter appeared and reached to light the candle at their table.

“My name Chin. I am your server this evening. I can start you with appetizer and a drink for you, sir?”

Leonard glanced at Renée’s empty wine glass. “Another for the lady and a glass of red for me, please.

“What about appetizer? Lady look hungry!” Chin joked.

Renée blushed. Although svelte and slinky now, at one time she tipped the scales at 211 lbs. References to hunger and weight still failed to amuse her.

“Hell, yes!” Renée blurted. “Lady starving. Bring Lady Happy Family appetizer and gentleman miso soup!”

“Okay, ma’am,” Chin mumbled and slunk away, bemused. Americans were so weird.

“You remembered I like miso.” Leonard smiled, ignoring Renée’s outburst.

“I remember everything. So! Tell me. What’s this little rendezvous about?”

“Oh, right.” He cleared his throat and looked at her with those dreamy blue eyes. “I wanted to ask you —”

Chin had arrived with their wine and soup, and quickly served them without making eye contact. Renée took a sip of her Chardonnay, waiting for him to leave.

“Ask me what, Leonard?” Her green eyes sparkled with anticipation.

“Oh, just that the Firm has taken on a new partner, Peter Marrano is his name. He’s bright, attractive, and funny as hell —“

“What’s that got to do with me?”

“Hopefully everything!”

“I don’t understand…” but she was afraid she did.

“If you’re interested, I‘d like to introduce the two of you. He’s alone and new to the city, and you’re not in a relationship…”


With that, he shredded her dreams in dignified air of victory.