Plight of the Caribou©
(Part 4 – January 28, 2013)
The time Chase spent crouching in a bush waiting for a leopard to appear was nothing compared to the work he did at the walkathon headquarters. Every man muscle he had been put to use as he toted boxes, assembled and tables. Beatrice, the coordinator was all too happy to have a man in the group. Maxine spent most of her time shaking her head at him. Every now and again they would get to talk. He could tell she was a lot more relaxed than she was at the dealership. Chase calmly went home and informed Moira that he was spending the evening with Maxine and to his surprise she nodded politely and told him to have a good time. It was as if some demure person had taken over his sister’s body.
When he returned home he found a note saying she’d gone to the movies so Maxine suggested they go to her place and she’d fix them a late dinner. So, it was after midnight and he was standing in her kitchen eating a western omelet. She looked exhausted but happy. During one of his short breaks he managed to ask her what the walkathon was for and she replied that it was for lupus. Her brother Daniel had died from lupus years ago and this was her way of remembering her brother. He could tell she didn’t really want to say that but he was glad she did. The soothing rapport they had transitioned seamlessly from keystrokes to real-time without much effort or awkwardness.
“So what’s the subject of your next documentary?” she said as she nibbled on her omelet.
“I was thinking the plight of the caribou,” he smiled.
“I’m totally serious. After talking to you I did some research and turns out they do actually have a plight.”
“You know,” she smiled, “you are too much.”
“So are you.” Chase moved in and kissed her softly on the lips. When she didn’t object he continued with a more thorough attitude. Maxine put her arms around his waist and hung on for dear life. Chase felt like he’d been missing her kisses all his life. After what seemed like an eternity, Chase broke the kiss.
“Moira is gonna kill me,” he breathed into her hair.
“Past your curfew?” Max laughed.
“No. I came to California to see you.”
Maxine erupted in laughter. “You’re right. She is gonna kill you. If I were you I would keep a secret just between the two of us. I think she’s gonna kill me too.”
Chase wrapped his arms around her. “And why is that?”
“I think I’m in love with her brother.”
Six months later…
“These graceful creatures are looking to you to preserve their environment. Man has appreciated their beauty but unfortunately man has also given them limited options to roam naturally. As we continue to find a way to share this wonderful planet earth, we should be mindful that all life exists for a reason and should be given the room to be free. I’m Maxine Hawthorne and thank you for letting me share the plight of the caribou.”
“And cut! Perfect Max,” Chase yelled.
The small crew gathered and applauded her for a job well done. Max let out a big sigh and bowed as the applause came her way, grateful that they’d given her a chance. She turned to Chase, who waved to her and gave her a big smile.
Chase never imagined his visit to California would result in finding the spokesperson for his documentaries. She was a natural. She had a curious mind and a sparkling personality.
Moira had even come around. After accusing Max of stealing Chase, then Chase of stealing Max when she announced she was leaving with him to do the documentary, Moira had done more dramatic scenes with Shakespearian precision than a theater major in college.
“So how did I do boss?”
“Hmmm.” He said thoughtfully. “As your boss, I’d have to say hiring you was the best thing I ever did. But as you boyfriend,” he put his arm around her shoulders, “I would say you did a damn good job.”
“I’ll take both those compliments,” she smiled. “So what’s our next project?”
“Goodness woman! I just yelled cut three minutes ago.”
“There are other animals out there that need their story told too.”
“And we will get to them. But I’d like to spend two weeks with you. Anywhere you want to go.”
Maxine smiled. There was no place special she want to go to, she just wanted to be with Chase. Who would have thought a chat with Moira’s brother would lead to her true calling in life, being an advocate for animals and sharing her life with a man who loved adventure and loved her even more. There was serenity in finding herself, finally after drifting from jobs and places and people. She was home and she loved it.
Missed Parts 1, 2 & 3? Check it out here: https://rhondalaurel.com/short-stories/plight-of-the-caribou/
Plight of the Caribou©
(Part 3 – January 21, 2013)
“Hey Max, there’s a customer out here to see you.”
“Okay, be right there Tracey,” Max sighed. She wasn’t expecting anyone today but that didn’t matter. Every once in a while a customer would drop by without calling with a question about their financing. As Max forced herself towards the showroom, she thought of her evasive maneuvers the past week. It wasn’t easy avoiding Moira’s party train. Avoiding Moira and Chase also meant avoiding Shar and Adrianna. She wasn’t in the mood for Shar. She loved her friend but every time she peaked through her blinds Shar was with Chase. She wished for the gift of invisibility and her wish was granted. And it sucked.
“Hey Tracey. Where is the customer?”
“Right over there,” Tracey pointed to the lounge. “How on earth did I miss him the last time he was here?”
“You didn’t Tracey. Calm down,” she laughed. Max knew Tracey prided herself on spotting all the hot guys that came into the showroom.
Chase heard a faint sound of someone…sweet and kind and he knew it was Max. It took some time to derail Moira’s daily action plan for him but this morning he decided to put his foot down. Moira wasn’t aware of it but she was successfully aiding Max’s efforts not to see him. And he wanted to see her. He was able to wheedle as much as he could out of Shar during their outings, hoping she could shed some light on their elusive friend. After his third day of questioning, Shar wasn’t offended that he was asking so many questions about Max.
“You like her, don’t you?” Shar smiled wickedly one day when they were dining at a restaurant on the Santa Monica pier.
Chase laughed and replied, “Why do I suddenly feel like I am back in high school?”
Shar sipped her iced tea. “No, actually it’s kind of sweet. I wish was that young and innocent again. You liked someone in high school but pretended you didn’t and avoided them, all the while you are pining away for them. I haven’t liked someone enough to work myself into a terror of emotions in a long time.”
“I don’t know why she is avoiding me.”
“Why don’t you just ask her? I’m sure the bossy gene runs in your family.” Shar quipped.
“I know my sister has you thinking our whole family is as assertive as she is but her personality is an anomaly.”
“If it makes you feel any better, Max likes you too.”
“You think so?”
“She wouldn’t have disappointed Moira unless she absolutely had to. She’s always there for us and never says no. If she wiggled out of dinner with you that first night I have the feeling she was trying to avoid having a feeling. And that’s what Max does. Avoid feelings at all costs.”
“Bad break up?” He said without hesitation.
“No.” Shar said gently. “More like bad life experiences. She doesn’t let many people in.”
“So, any advice?”
“Find out what you did to hurt her feelings and fix it.”
“But I don’t recall…”
Shar shook her head. “You did something. You may have thought it was inconsequential but you did something.”
Now he was in a Mercedes dealership getting ready to make an ass out of himself.
“Hi Maxine.” He breathed slowly.
“So this is where you work?” He said nervously.
“Yeah,” she smiled. “Are you looking for a new car?”
“No, I’m looking for the woman whose been avoiding me.”
“I have not. I’ve been—”
“Before you lie and say busy, I should remind you that Moira keeps close tabs on all of her friends.”
“Damn nosey Moira.”
“Yeah, my sister’s been nosey all her life and for once this will benefit me,” He smiled. “What happened?”
Maxine had a choice before her. She could play it cool and give some glib remark about being a busy woman or she could be honest with him. Chase looked like he sincerely wanted an answer and God knows what he had to do to escape Moira’s clutches for the afternoon.
She took a deep breath and released it. “A woman answered your IM and said you were busy. I think it confused me and I got a little jealous. Which is silly right? We hardly know each other? And just because I was beginning to feel a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily felt the same way too. Then I felt silly for feeling that way. I’ve run through a gambit of emotions since talking to you that first night and I frankly don’t know why.”
“The same reason I’ve been tied up in knots since you stopped speaking to me, I suppose.”
“This is insane. I’m a grown up,” she breathed.
“I’d like to believe I am a grown up too. But I know I am just a kid at heart,” he grinned. “I would like to take you to dinner tonight. Just the two of us. I promise I will tie Moira to a chair and sneak out of the house if I have to.”
Maxine went into her mental rolodex. “Tonight’s not good,” she breathed.
“Max.” Chase sighed.
“I volunteered for a walkathon. I am assembling the supplies for the runner’s stations. I am afraid it may take all night.”
“Oh,” he said with relief in his voice. “Maybe I can come and help?”
“Sure,” Maxine smiled. “The more the merrier. I will pick you up after work.”
“Cool,” he beamed.
Missed Parts 1 & 2? Check it out here: https://rhondalaurel.com/short-stories/plight-of-the-caribou/
Plight of the Caribou©
(Part 2 – January 14, 2013)
Well, she’d learned his version of their family history, which was pretty close to Moira’s recollection. Moira was the baby and the center of attention and he was big brother and acquiesced to her. But he did tell her how he’d loved movies and making films when he was a kid and that his dad bought him his first camera when he was eleven. Going to movies started as a way for him and his Dad to get out of the house and spend time together away from the Moira Show. But it blossomed into something real for him.
Now the hero scripted big brother had a face and an identity of his own. He had depths much more far-reaching than the adjectives ‘womanizing, globetrotting, and filmmaker’. He was a nice guy with a wicked sense of humor who convinced her to have cyber sex with him. She’d forgotten all about that! Or more like she’d tried to push it to the back of her mind. Like so many of things they’d shared and now she actually had to face the man she’d confided so many things to. There was comfort in the anonymity in the relationship. She didn’t have to keep eye contact with him, which she rarely did with anyone and she didn’t have to wonder if he was judging her some how. Every time she entered Moira’s apartment she gazed at the picture of Chase and his last girlfriend. It was funny how a decorative frame suddenly captivated her attention as she looked for clues as to why the two of them broke up. They looked perfect together in that frame. And he would never elaborate more than ‘it didn’t work out’ and she didn’t push. Why would she want to push? It was none of her business. Just like it was none of her business the night some girl named Francie, replied to her IM saying Chase was busy at the moment. She picked a fight with him later that night and hadn’t really spoken since then. Then Moira popped up two weeks ago saying her brother was coming to town. Maxine sighed again.
Chase sighed as he relaxed in his first class seat. The woman sitting next to him, Rachael the chatty wanna model/actress, was chirping like a bird. Which was funny because before he turned on his laptop and his production company logo Noah’s Ark Productions popped up on the screen, she’d had very little to say to him. She was ranting on about some bit part she had on a sitcom and that she was headed to LA to audition for a bit part in a movie. From the tone of her voice, a combination of a lilty twang and the transparent way she became interested in him, she wouldn’t probably be tearfully clutching an Oscar anytime soon but she had the look, big boobs, long strawberry blond hair and the finest smile money could buy. And normally he would enjoy stringing along some entertainment honey that aimed their radar at him. And it usually took him about a week to inform him that his directional interests were mainly natural. After a meeting his business partner and best friend two days ago, they decided to start the search for a new face for their new documentary, presumably a female face.
But now, as he drowned out Rachael’s babbling, there was only one woman on his mind, his sister’s friend Maxine. He was more than delighted to visit Moira, it had been two years with them missing each other by days at their parent’s house. So he was jazzed about seeing his now grown up baby sis who didn’t call quite so much anymore for money, he was also intrigued about her neighbor and friend who he’d been chatting with for three months. He was also anxious to find out why she picked that argument with him the last time they spoke.
It was if someone had wound a key in Moira’s back and sent her to the airport. From the moment she saw him and started screaming to the chattering ride in the car to the walk to the apartment from the car, Moira was on a mission to fill him in on every second of her life.
“I know this charming little bistro. Shar and Adrianna will be over in a few minutes. Then we’ll all go.”
“Is Max coming?” he said casually.
“No, she had something to do,” Moira grumbled.
Max peaked through the blinds as watched as Moira, Chase, Shar and Adrianna left for dinner. Although she felt a quick twinge of disappointment because she wasn’t joining them, she knew it was for the best. Chase in real life was pretty much the same as the Chase in the picture Moira kept on her table in the living room. He had on a royal blue dress shirt and a pair of jeans. Black sunglasses planted on top of his curly head, which reminded her of Moira’s when she first moved in.
As she listened to the faint chatter of her friends leaving the court-yard, she could hear that laugh Shar used when she was interested in a man. And what’s not to be interested in? He may not have actually been Hercules but Chase had the makings of a god. Chase was right up Shar’s alley. Shar was a part-time model and aspiring actress. She had striking features. One would say she was born to be in front of a camera. They were strangers who seemed to fit even though they knew nothing about each other. She suspected by the end of the night a love connection will have been made. For a moment that pissed her off.
Missed Part 1? Check it out here: https://rhondalaurel.com/short-stories/plight-of-the-caribou/