Excerpt from RAISING THE BAR

Tom and Sharon live in NYC, each in their own pad. They’re looking out for each other and trying to have some fun.

I will be posting sections from the five unpublished novels I have written. Stuff that goes up will not necessarily remain up forever so keep checking back for the latest developments. Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse into Raising The Bar…  (c) 2013 by Tim Young

Monday morning Sharon woke at seven. She couldn’t sleep. It was the all

too frequent insomnia. She thought it was the drugs she had to take for her

high blood pressure. Unusual for her age she thought but her doctors

insisted she dose up on the ‘pressure ‘ drugs as she called them and as far

as Sharon was concerned they seemed to only make matters worse. She thought

about calling Tom for an instant but knew that she would just wake him at

seven in the morning; so she threw on a black sweatshirt and a short red

skirt and her rain boots because the skies were still the color of clouds.

She was being brave. Wearing a short skirt was not her most favorite thing

but it occurred to her that this particular morning and this particular

outfit just might brighten up the day somewhat.

Sharon bought some fresh fruit, some pineapples and strawberries, and then

hit up Dunkin’ Donuts for an egg sandwich on a croissant, a small latte and

a coffee cake muffin. She had to admit to herself as she caught her

reflection in the window leaving Dunkin’ Donuts that she was looking like

quite a cool fox, especially with the rain boots accenting her red skirt.

some guy across the street whistled at her but she paid him no attention.

Once home she cut up the fruit, slipped out of her clothes and took a

shower. Drying off she wished that she was still in bed sleeping like a

rock but instead she attacked the egg sandwich and latte. She put the

muffin away for later. Since Sharon wouldn’t call Tom at this hour she

decided to get in touch with him the way they sometimes did to test their

psychic powers. Both Sharon and Tom believed in the endless possibilities

of the human mind. that it was quite possible to accomplish anything if

only the powers could be set free. There’s the rub. Well, she thought,

practice makes perfect.

She gathered about half a dozen candles and placed them in no particular

design on her dresser. she also added a bottle of vodka, Tom was a

bartender, a can of mixed nuts, salted, some bar napkins, a tip tray and

several shot glasses of various sizes. Next before she lit the candles she

removed her towel and slippers from the shower. Sharon enjoyed looking at

her naked body in the mirror before these rituals because it gave her a

sense of something primordial. Something of the cave and when those

thoughts rose to the top that is when she would light the candles. Each

candle was of a different color and a different scent. the flames and aroma

began to add their ambience to her bedroom. With the blinds down and no

sunshine peeking through it could have been dark outside. Since it was

still so early just after eight by now, sharon thought that two more

ingredients would be necessary to complete the experiment so she lit some

sandalwood incense and put on the Moody Blues cd In search of the Lost

Chord. The volume was just enough to create the mood she wanted.

Now she sat cross legged on the floor in front of the candle lit dresser.

Before she said any words at all she just conjured up Tom’s face and then

his chest and then his legs and then the package between his legs. She did

this with her eyes open but staring through the wiggle of the flames and

aroma of the incense. At the moment she thought she must blink, she closed

her eyes and slowly and softly began to chant Tom’s name. Sharon chose a

rhythm of threes to get things going. “Tom, Tom, Tom beat, beat beat, Tom,

tom, Tom; like that. This reminded her of a tom-tom so she changed the

pattern to twos. After a few minutes she let things be quiet and actually

was listening just in case the phone might ring but all was quiet. She had

been holding her hands in what she called the’OM’ position, arms slightly

extended, thumb and middle finger touching on each hand but now that she had

passed the Tom Chant she just naturally began rubbing her hands over her

breast and belly very slowly and with just the finger tips as the new mantra

came to mind and the word was ‘awake.’ Call my name and I shall awake. it

sounded fairly biblical and reverent . Awake, Awake, Awake sharon began.

She had to stifle a laugh for a second because the ‘awake mantra made her

think of the Frankenstein monster. She imagined Tom with electrodes

sticking out of his neck. Oh but wait a minute, she quickly thought, maybe

I can use those electrodes as a carrier for my chanting! She began to

concentrate on the sight of them protruding from Tom’s sleeping visage.

Maybe if she could get his eyes to open in her mind then her message might

actually get through to her sleeping Tom in his Hell’s Kitchen futon.

Sharon’s concentration was intense as she attempted to move her ‘awake’

chant up and through the electrodes and into her man’s sleepy head.

The phone was quiet. After a few more intense minutes of concentration she

caught herself nodding off for a few seconds. Shit, she thought if i fall

asleep I’l certainly have no chance of waking Tommy boy so she moved

herself from the pose in front of the dresser to the last remains of her

latte and slugged it back. She checked the clock and it said 9:30 am.

It’s true that Tom was not sleeping well. He didn’t suffer from insomnia

but a nagging charlie horse would sometimes force him violently out of bed

to hop around on his right leg until the excruciating pain subsided. But

there was no charlie horse this Monday morning. He was actually involved in

this strange dream. It had to be about choices one makes, he thought, even

as he was in the dream. A tranquil green rolling hill loomed before him and

the second that he placed his foot on the lush carpet the scene changed to a

very long florescent lit corridor with two huge windows at it’s end. the

light emanating from those windows appeared quite attractive so he found

himself walking rather quickly down the hall and towards the light; except

that no sooner did he increase his pace then did doors fling open on either

side of the hall as if to say, ‘you must investigate me, you must come into

this room. This was definitely interesting but the abruptness with which

each room beckoned to him sent a shiver up his spine as if there were

things, spirits or killers or something not very nice inside those rooms and

so now the hallway was filled with this feeling of dread and walking towards

the light became increasingly more and more difficult. Toss and turn some

more. Wasn’t there any refuge or escape from this feeling? What kind of

choices were these that made chills run up and down? Finally the light

brightened again for it had dimmed in the middle of the dread and as he took

one more footstep the entire building vanished and he found himself sitting

on a rock in Central Park. A dog was barking and barking and…Tom woke up.

His neighbors dog was barking and causing a general riot right next door.

After a lengthy pee he picked up the phone and called Sharon to complain

that it was impossible to get any rest in this town.

Fate, coincidence, destiny, serendipity, magic mushrooms, candle light and

the Moody Blues; all these words made a mad dash around Sharon’s head as she

picked up the phone and immediately recognized Tom’s voice. Before she

could get a word out .however, Tom was saying how the damn dogs should be

shot and his neighbor drawn and quartered and then maybe he could get back

to sleep. Sharon flew over this and said, ‘Did you hear or smell anything

in your subconscious. Did you know anything was going on on my end?” Tom

shook his head, “No,” he said “but I was having an uncomfortable dream that

was chilling my bones and I didn’t like it a bit. That’s what woke me up

besides the fucking dog.” “Well I think I may have had something to do with

all that.” “What, you helped wake me up?” “No,well, I guess, I was

attempting to contact you doing one of my candle lit sessions. You know. I

was chanting your name. I was…” Tom cut her off, “Well, i don’t know. I

don’t think I heard my name. Why so early? No, i know, you couldn’t sleep

so you were trying to wake me without using the phone, right?” Sharon

moaned, “well at least you’re psychic.” “I don’t know about that but I know

you.” Then Tom said he would call back later after he copped a few more

Z’s. Sharon was still convinced that it was she that woke Tom so now

feeling like the morning had not been a complete waste she slipped on a pair

of shorts and sat down at the laptop to check her email.

Tom didn’t go back to bed. He was wondering why he only craved a drink at

night and not the earlier hours. He knew, of course, that there was a day

shift at Ricky’s, the dive he worked at, and that the day guy, Bernie, had

his regulars the same as anybody else but sitting in the bar during daylight

just seemed damn odd he thought. Tom dressed and decided to act on his

impulse so he locked up the apartment and headed right on down to Ricky’s to

pay Bernie a visit. Something new. Usually Tom only saw Bernie during the

change of shifts and then they didn’t have a lot to say except if Tom was

returning a book Bernie had loaned to him of a cd of some ancient Blues

artist. Bernie was the Blues. he looked the part. He was about six feet

tall with a tiny ponytail and a decent size beer gut but Bernie didn’t even

drink beer he was vodka on the rocks all the way. He looked like a bouncer

more than a bartender because he was a big guy. Bulging arms and chest and

then that belly, man, if he decided to stand in your way an adjustment would

have to be made in one’s trajectory.

Bernie didn’t see Tom as he walked into the joint and easily found a stool

next to where Bernie was restocking the cooler with beer. “Whatta ya got

good?” Tom queried out loud. “Tommy boy,” Bernie always said that, even

twice, “Tommy boy, what the fuck you doing in here this time of day? Let me

get you a drink…” ” Sure just give me a bottle of PBR.” “Sure, Sure…”

Bernie popped the bottle, grabbed a napkin and put the beer in front of Tom.

“I couldn’t sleep, kept waking up and having weird dreams and then sharon

called me,no, I called her. She was at her place trying to wake me up.”

“Nice girl, Sharon, yeah. Excuse me a minute.” Bernie had to go get the

door for a delivery guy was wheeling in a hand truck loaded with two kegs.

Bernie saw that the guy made it ok to the walk in cooler at the back of the

room. “How was last night Tommy boy? I had to bring up a lot of beer

restock this morning. You must have made some big money.” “Yeah, it was

busy but that wasn’t last night it was the night before. Saturday night.

tony must have been busy last night. Saturday night was busy but not crazy,

it’s just that everybody was really pounding them back pretty good. Yeah, I

did all right in the do-re-mi department. I should be home dreaming about

all my money right now instead of drinking beer with you right now. You

know I don’t usually come in here when I’m not working.” Bernie agreed. ”

I try to make that a habit myself but you know it’s fucking great to come in

and not have to buy this shit. Tommy boy, that’s why I’m a bartender you

know…You know my old man started taking me out to joints when I was just a

kid. He’d always say look at my kid, look at this boy a natural drunk if i

ever saw one. My old man thought this was hilarious but I wasn’t laughing

as hard as him and his bartending pals. Being a kid I thought to myself

I’ll never drink this junk if my old man likes it so much. Now that’s

pretty fucking hysterical!”

Tom had already begun to zone out on Bernie’s story but he did drift back a

second when Bernie said about his old man taking him to joints as a kid.

Tom thought about the Friendly tavern story but decided against it because

it was always easier just to have Bernie do the storytelling. Besides the

beer began feeling alright as a substitute for corn flakes or some other

breakfast grains. One thing about Bernie, he could keep an eye on his

customers beer bottles and he had another one in front of Tom as Tommy boy

was taking the last sip from the first. “Thanks,” tom said. “So what about

pussy, any new stuff in her last night Tommy boy?” Saturday night

Tom reminded him. ” If i ever get pussy during my shift I’m fucking

ecstatic. Rare in the daytime, pussy. I’m thinking of putting s sign out

side saying Day time Pussy Wanted, See Bernie. Oh man, I’d love to do

that.” The ‘pussy’ word always brought a broad smile to Bernie’s lips. Tom

always did get a kick from Bernie and his pussy vocabulary. Maybe it was

the second beer but Tom was scouring through his mental files from Saturday

night to remember if there was some girl that stood out for him. All the

regular boys had paid stopped by to oil their wheels: Peter, Ben, Paul,

Smokey, Adam and Reni. Stephanie always comes in Saturday night and

sometimes brings her friend Amanda. There’s also the gay couple Grace and

Erin and that one girl who is always trying for a buy back before it’s time.

Maybe it’s Georgia. Tom stopped thinking about the already long ago night

before last and was content to just absentmindedly peel the label from his

beer bottle. In mid-peel that thing that sometimes occurs when one is

drinking raised it’s bleary eyed pointed head and cooed in Tom’s inner ear

that this was now the time to get raging drunk. At first Tom attempted to

ignore his little demon but before that situation really had the chance to

develop Tom had asked Bernie to pour a couple shots of Jaeger. Bernie

poured two shots but Bernie didn’t want his so Tom was leading with his

right and tossed down both shots in two seconds as Bernie dropped off his

third PBR. Tom went over to the quiet juke box and slipped a five dollar

bill into the slot because this was apparently going to be one interesting

breakfast. he glanced at his phone which now said 11:09a. The first song

of the set by Steve Miller, ‘Keep on rockin me Baby’ filled up Ricky’s as

tom stuck his head out the door a second to see if there might be a chance

for a bit of sunshine on this lovely morning but even before he cracked the

door he could see through the window that several people had their umbrellas

out and that meant the sunshine today would have to be manufactured through

one of the only legal drugs sanctioned for public consumption. Vitamin A as

an old friend had once said. don’t go around without your daily dose of

Vitamin A for Alcohol. Tom was feeling like a new man.

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