Since serious moments hardly ever take place in the various comedy-mysteries that comprise the Brett Cornell Series -- and comic moments abound, certainly! -- I thought I'd highlight an unusually dramatic scene from DON'T MESS WITH BRETT (the last completed Brett book, so far).
After not having come face to face with each other after the moment, several months back, when he told her he hated her more than anyone else in his entire life, Brett and Ginger finally come face to face, when she appears unexpectedly in his private office.
As always, the writing is in the first-person (Brett's point of view).
It goes like this:
She looked the same as ever – yet different, insofar as her hair was pulled back instead of hanging loosely the way I was used to seeing it. Her face looked whiter than usual, and there was hardly any make-up on it – not that she ever overdid the mascara and rouge and all that other crap, since she never needed to do that, given the fact that she possessed a natural beauty that never failed to take my breath away, whenever the moment would seize me – unexpectedly – and I’d realize that I was in the presence of one of the most beautiful creatures I’d ever laid eyes on. And I had even come to regard her as a woman who was much too good for a lousy unscrupulous bastard like me, a woman who deserved a guy who would treat her like the golden beauty she actually happened to be – until Bailey’s words shattered that whole image on me and sent my spirits crashing down, down, down as far as they could go.
I expected her eyes to convey the deep sadness and hurt that I’d been told she had experienced after my words of hate and rejection had cut deep into her very soul – but instead, I saw that those same dark eyes were alive with emotion. Could it be anger? Possibly even contempt? In any case, I still let slip out from between my lips the words that were the only ones I could utter just then.
“You look – absolutely beautiful,” I said to her, forgetting for that one moment in time that I was the guy whose every feeling of any value had always remained buried so deep inside of me, that I never even knew such a one existed. But then – based on what happened after those words slipped out – I began to regret ever having betrayed my innermost convictions by expressing how I actually felt upon seeing her for the first time after all those months had passed by us.
“I know I’m supposed to keep out of your sight – forever, as you put it,” she said to me, her voice sounding louder than mine had been when I told her how beautiful she looked. “And I know that you hate me more than anyone else you’ve ever hated in your entire life – which must be quite a lot, considering your shitty attitude towards everyone you ever meet –“
“Ginger –“ That’s all I had a chance to say.
“But that’s neither here nor there,” she continued. “Since you already hate me so much, I figured I’d might as well come over here this morning and tell you exactly how I’m feeling right now.”
“I feel bad, too – “ And again, she interrupted me!
“Oh, I don’t feel bad at all,” she came back with,” not nearly as bad as I did these past several months. No, Brett, darling, what I’m feeling right now is a combination of anger, scorn, and sheer indignation over the thought that you could have been so horribly STUPID as to believe what that animal told you when he had you up against the ropes at the end of the second round of that boxing match you had that afternoon.” I guess I looked like I was about to say something, because she immediately raised her voice at me and yelled,” Yeah! Stupid! You actually believed that grade-A piece of crap when he told you that he and I were having sex – Instead of trusting me and believing in what we had together, you immediately jumped to the conclusion that the words coming out of that stinking mouth of his were true – Instead of having faith in me, you were willing to put all of your trust in the words of a man you knew to be despicable, evil, and rotten to the core! I always knew that you could be headstrong and stubborn and downright impossible to deal with on many levels and on many, many an occasion, but I never thought you could be so incredibly STUPID!”
“Hey, babe, what else could I think when he –“ (Yeah, I know, I got interrupted once again and probably deserved it.)
“What else could you think?” she argued, and then she actually smiled; but it was an evil, gloating type of smile that churned my stomach when I saw it on her, of all people! “What else could you think, when you knew – when I told you – when I thought that there couldn’t be any doubt in your mind whatsoever that I was completely in love with you, as you were with me, as well?”
I had no chance to be interrupted, because I was temporarily speechless.
“That’s right, Brett. Don’t deny it. You were just as much in love with me as I was with you. I could feel it in the warmth of your embrace, in the touch of your hand upon mine, in the way you held me close to you after we’d solidified our passion for each other countless times in the privacy of our bedroom. But most of all, I saw it in your eyes every time I stepped into your line of vision. I saw and was moved by the expression of child-like delight that radiated from your eyes every time my eyes met yours. I knew you loved me, even though you wouldn’t say it and wouldn’t even admit to yourself that you loved me every bit as much as I loved you.
“But you were willing to throw it all away,” she went on after a pause during which I said nothing, and we both turned away from each other. “You told me you hated me, and you never wanted to see me again, and I guess I’ll never forget that moment in time when the man I loved with my total soul directed those blistering words of hatred at me, and without even giving me the opportunity to find out what it was I was supposed to have done, let alone the chance to defend myself or tell my side of the story. You threw it all away – like it was all expendable, like it was utterly meaningless – what we had – together.”
Was she crying? I looked back in her direction, but I remembered one of the things about Ginger that made her so different from Lola and most other women in my life: Ginger didn’t cry. Or, at least, she would only let the tears show visibly on ultra-rare occasions – like the time she first told me that she was in love with me.
“And so today I finally learned what it was that I supposedly had done, that had earned me so much hatred from you,” she eventually continued, but unlike me, she refused to return her gaze in my own direction. “And besides the anger I initially felt over how stupid and foolish you were to have such little faith in me, I also felt tremendous sorrow over the fact that, because of it, we both have lost so much – so much that was so very, very precious – to the two of us -- Brett.”
As weird as this may sound, I really needed a cigarette just then. I mean, my whole body was yearning for that nicotine fix which I erroneously believed would somehow alleviate the tension I was feeling at that time.
But most of all? I needed to walk over to her and hold her in my arms and tell her I loved her.
No! There was a good chance that I’d end up regretting such an action – big time! And besides, I’d be revealing a part of me that I’d vowed would always remain hidden, ever since I was just a little tadpole. . .
But then the mood got broken when Ginger suddenly threw her head back and laughed with a mixture of contempt and insanity.
“So, today was the day I finally found out why the supreme unscrupulous bastard of them all decided to ruin my whole life!” she exclaimed, and her eyes seemed to dance with a kind of demonic frenzy. “Today was the day a young cop by the name of Wes Lomax dropped in to see me – actually, to flirt with me while I was at work at the old dress shop not far from here – and when I rejected his amateurish advances, he came out with the horrible insinuation that I was known by most of the cops on the force as being free and easy, so why was I acting like such a damned prude, right? ‘Everyone knows you let Gil Bailey bang you the whole time you were going out with Brett Cornell,’ he says to me – and then, little by little, I get to learn the particulars about how you supposedly didn’t know anything about it, but how Bailey blurted it out during that fight, and that’s why you lost your cool and ended up attacking the referee and – “
“Wes Lomax?” I snarled, and I came out from behind my desk.
I must have looked pretty damned threatening just then, on account of Ginger backed away from me and put her arms out as if to shield herself from my imminent attack. So, I brought myself to a halt a few feet opposite her, but the anger and adrenaline were pulsating in every vein of my body the whole time I stood there opposite her.
“Wes Lomax told you all that? And he tried making a pass at you?”
“Oh, my God!” Ginger retorted, and again, there was something sinister about the way she suddenly broke out in laughter right after she said that. “Why should you be upset over that young cop making a pass at me? You were quick to believe that Bailey and I were having an affair –“
“Wes Lomax is dead meat!” I told her, and I raised my right fist in front of me and then shook it practically right in her face. “I swear, I’m gonna kill that mother –“
“That’s it!” Ginger railed at me, and then she actually pushed my fist back and away from her with a lot more force than I would have imagined her to be capable of using. “Get angry! Get mad, and take it out on Wes Lomax! Show me how much you care about me, Brett – how much you care about me and my honor and what we once had – But it’s too late, Brett! It’s too little too late!”
“Ginger, I don’t care what you –“
“That’s right! You think I don’t know that? You don’t care – about anything except your stupid anger, your stupid revenge, your stupid macho pride – You care about everything, don’t you, except the damage you’ve done to me and to what we once had!”
“Ginger, no! I –“
“It’s too late!” And now she was crying. For real! “It’s too late – I’m still hurting – and I don’t think I could ever love you or anybody else ever again –“
“Ginger, listen!” I told her, but when I reached out with both hands so I could hold her and somehow stop her body from shaking with sobs just then, she let out a sharp cry and darted away from me as if being touched by me would be instantly toxic for her; and seconds later, she was out the door.
I didn’t realize at first that she was really gone, and that she had actually left the entire building in the space of the next couple of minutes. All I was aware of was that both my hands were shaking – partly from anger, but also partly from an emotion I couldn’t really accurately categorize – and I needed a cigarette even more urgently than ever. So, I went back to my desk and plopped my weight down in the swivel-chair, hoping that my heart would soon stop pounding and I could return to a state of normalcy.
I took out that cigarette, but my hand was shaking so much when I went to strike a match to light it with, that I gave up the whole idea of smoking, for the time being, at least.
Then it hit me, when I raised my head and looked around the empty spaces of my private office and saw that Ginger was gone.
Not only that, but also that I might never see her ever again.
Comments are most welcome!