I plan on posting 1-2 chapters weekly and I STRONGLY encourage readers to comment. What you say and what you ask determines how this story unfolds. YOU have a say-so in it and you get to see it all adapt to such. Please keep in mind this is completely raw writing and has not been edited. If i it is published due to demand, then of course it will go through my usual proofing and editing prior to publication.
I hope you enjoy this journey with me.**
Title: Our Broken Shine
Format: Screenplay/Blog Novel
About: This is actually a screen treatment that has been requested by a production company. But scripts don't make for the best reading form. So I decided to adapt that to a readable format novel and show you a chapter at a time. If desired, may publish for purchase when completed. As my fans know, I always work on two projects at a time to prevent getting burned out on one. This is the perfect way to do that with four books coming out in 2014.
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these fictional characters. They are not the usual for me as its drama/fiction with a hint of romance but it also deals with a wide spectrum of social issues for both sides of society: poverty and fame, the have and the have nots. And how both have very similar problems albeit different wrappings. And what happens when the two worlds merge. Warning: Its very blunt and honest with the social issues it deals with and if you offend easily--you may not want to read.
Lauren Mathers had always had it hard. Life and fate had never been her friends. But when she loses it all, she must decide how to have something from nothing. And if its even worth it
Brad Collins had it all. Fame, riches and respect. The dream come true of so many. Or so it appears. But he's hiding so much from the world and had done so for so long that he can't even find himself. Can he handle what he finds when he's forced to do so?
OUR BROKEN SHINE
Jas T. Ward
© 2013 by Jas T. Ward
“You don’t understand. Please.” Lauren Mathers had dumped her purse out on the conveyor belt at the check out counter in a desperate move to find change enough to pay the small bill of twenty-seven dollars for a meager selection of groceries. No sweets or treats but the bare necessities of the cheapest variety in hopes of getting her through just one more week. She always told herself that—just one more day then one more week and things would be okay. Though she had no idea how.
“Ma’am. Either you have the money or you don’t. But you’re holding up the line.” The clerk didn’t seem to have patience even before Lauren had held up the line, so the lack of any now came as no surprise. Sympathy did not seem to be in the woman’s nature either due to too many years in a non-thankless service industry.
But Lauren always thanked and always appreciated so as the woman became rude, the sting of her words caused a burn of tears to feel like warm acid behind her eyes. She frantically looked at the small grouping of food. How could she have counted so wrong? She was usually so good at calculating the total as she went. She knew her mind was distracted. Whose wouldn’t be? She had lost her job, lost her husband and now was most likely going to lose her home.
Calm down Lauren. Task at hand. Task at hand. Lauren always heard that mental mantra in her mother’s voice. The tone chastising as she encouraged Lauren even as a small child to keep her mind focused on what needed to be done; when all it wanted was to frolic away on some mental jaunt of escape.
Closing her eyes, she opened them once again to count the crumpled bills and change. There simply wasn’t enough to pay for the small bill and those tears that had threatened before made their appearance as they dripped off her long lashes to join the sad collection of funds. “But I need all of this.”
Her eyes went to the groceries which consisted of Ramen noodles and luncheon meat as well as some butter and cheap day-old bread. It was just her now with the dog and her loyal canine had adapted to getting whatever she gave, but she still felt guilt of there not being a bag of dog food resting with the pile.
The cashier blew out a frustrated, aspirated blast of air as she flicked her register number to blinking before grabbing the handset to call over the loud speaker. “I need a manager on aisle three. Order cancel.”
Lauren grabbed the funds as her mind was too jumbled to even try to do the math to get a partial selection of the goods. Her fingers shook as she shoved the money and coin into her old messenger bag, those damn tears having no shame as she herself was swallowed up by it.
“Excuse me, miss?”
Lauren didn’t think she could handle one single more grain of humiliation as she glanced at the couple that stood behind her. The rest of the long line had moved to other registers making their feelings well-known with louder comments directed her way of “stupid woman” and “pitiful, just pitiful” but this couple seemed to have remained; why Lauren had no idea. Perhaps they liked a fine showing of the bottom of life with a tada of soul-eating humiliation.
The man was in his mid-fifties with a round figure and receding hairline and the smallish woman standing with him had kind eyes and wispy grey hair. He gave Lauren a soft smile as he spoke, “We’d like to pay for your things miss. If you don’t mind?”
For a moment Lauren thought she must have heard the words wrong so she frowned and looked from the man to the woman. “What?”
The woman reached forward to place a calming hand on Lauren’s arm, but Lauren flinched away from the touch as if it had harmful intent. The woman had a momentary frown before a smile replaced it and said in a voice gentle and soft. “We don’t mind. Can we pay your order?”
Lauren’s words flew away like swallows on the winter wind outside as she had never expected anyone, much less a stranger, to offer kindness. It was as foreign to her as Greek. She blinked as the tears blurred her vision and moved almost automatically as the man stepped forward to hand the cashier a debit card to pay.
Lauren should stop this. She didn’t want charity or pity and had done all she could to prevent both. But her pride was crumbling fast as the cabinets grew empty and her house grew dark. The tears increased as the man took the now bagged groceries and handed them to her. “Here you go miss.”
Lauren looked down at the bags as if they were alive and some sort of token from fantasy, watching as her fingers, still shaking, reached out to take them. Her voice found its way back then though weak and amazed to whisper, “Thank you.”
The couple gave her an understanding smile before the man started unloading their groceries from the cart and the woman then helped. Lauren stood there as the world seemed to slowly kick back into its rotation of time, holding her small bag of goods.
Finally getting her feet to move, she kept her head down as she walked past the same judgmental patrons that had watched her show of shame just minutes before. The day was cold as the wind kicked up snow from the parking lot as she made her way to her car.
A car that was destined to join the ranks of the repossessed any day now as Lauren couldn’t pay for it any more than she could have paid for these groceries. Every night she lay in bed waiting for the repo-man as if some boogie man with chains to take the car away. It plagued her sleep until there was none and she would jolt out of bed every morning if a car drove by on the road or a sound was heard from the yard. Each time she felt dread and fear to look out the window to see if the aging sedan still sat where she left it and almost sag with relief to see that it was.
Unlocking the driver’s door, she sat the bag in the passenger seat as she started the engine, eyes avoiding to look at the fuel gage that hovered above the ominous red E. Laying her forehead on the steering wheel, she turned her head to stare at the storefront and wished her small Kentucky country town had more than just one store. She’d have to brave that same business with those same people again next week. And next week would most likely be as bleak as this one was. Tears halted by the kindness of strangers in shock, found their way back as she felt sobs joining in on the pity party. She was so tired. And feeling more defeated than a team of one in a game of twenty. Beaten and broken but still trying to play yet knowing there wasn’t a chance for victory to be seen. And no help in sight.
What was she going to do? Even her once strong resolve to handle whatever came in a positive way was cracking under the pressure of all that was contrary. She had cried—sure, who wouldn’t? But she always hated when she did as she once prided herself on being strong. Handling it all with a smile and a ‘can do’ attitude; which had been squashed weeks ago by really crappy luck and even worse fate.
Sobbing hard now, she didn’t care if the same people who had watched the spectacle inside saw the after-effects now. Sometimes you just needed to cry. Even when you knew it would do no good. The windows of the car fogged up as she hugged the steering wheel with her arms and let out an almost silent, resigned course of sobs with her eyes flowing in sorrow and her nose running and going red. She was an ugly crier. She knew that for he had always told her so. Would get mad when she cried telling her it was so unattractive and he couldn’t stand the way she looked with she did it.
Oh well, he wasn’t there anymore, was he. No. It was just Lauren and her dog. Even the mice at her once cozy country home had abandoned them for better accommodations.
As she finally got herself under control, the heater of the car blasting her with air that felt now far too hot against her heated cheeks, she brought her hands up to wipe her eyes as she flicked on the defrost. Blowing out a ragged breath to help calm, she sat back and stared at the bleak parking lot in front of her as it appeared through the moisture frosted glass. Part of her didn’t want to go back home. It was far bleaker there. But she had no where else to go. All their few friends had been his friends and when the split happened, they had chosen their sides. A side she wasn’t on.
She now realized she should have made a life that didn’t revolve around him so that maybe, when he was no longer in her life, she would have had something to hold on to in the absence. But she had never imagined a life without him in it. Not a single time. It had all hit her blindside and left her reeling as it all collapsed and failed.
Hindsight was bitch like that.
Her family was dwindled down to cousins, uncles and aunts that she had not spoken to in over a decade and in fact didn’t even know how to reach them; she would be so embarrassed to do so now that her life was in the shitter. Her parents had passed on when she was young, barely out of high school from a tragic car wreck but she had her husband to cling to then, both of them so young and in love. Now…no longer young. And no longer in love.
Straightening in the driver’s seat, she put the car in gear to slowly pull out of the icy lot and merge into the light traffic of a mid-winter’s day. Home. She would get home and find something good about it. The fact that she had some food for a few days thanks to a stranger. That she could curl up and handle one more cold night alone with only her dog Lucy at her feet. And be grateful for all of that. Because what choice did she have really?
One more day. One more week.
Focus Lauren and just survive.
He woke up with his brain still fuzzed out from the drugs and drink from the night before. He was lying on his stomach as he cracked open one eye against the bright California sun pouring in through the wall of glass that looked over the valley above Los Angeles. His eyes went to a lovely rear view of a woman with long, brown curling hair cascading down her creamy skinned back. He assumed that perfect ass was most likely ‘enhanced’ by a well-paid doctor somewhere in San Diego. He already knew that the front side sported perfect breasts most likely designed by the same hands.
He had no fucking idea what her name was. Just another starlet wanna-be that his manager had set up for the flashy, networking press party the night before. A woman who hoped to be caught by the paparazzi on his arm, or better yet—coming out of his house this morning like every other female he had been set up with.
The memories of the night before were an odd collage of bits and pieces of moments. Laughing, drinking, socializing with the ones that mattered and a smile to those that didn’t. Fine drink and dinner followed by a ride in the limo back to his place here in the hills. They had done a few lines of finest Colombian cocaine, finished off a bottle of whiskey and fucked until they both couldn’t move. She screamed out his name as if doing so would get her points. Fuck no.
They all did that. And he knew they didn’t know anything more about his real self other than his name. They knew his earnings of several millions a film and he was an a-lister bachelor known for his charming, boyish looks, blue eyes and easy smile. She didn’t know him. None of them did. And he was glad for that. Because he didn’t trust a single one.
You didn’t need trust to fuck.
And he didn’t want any of them to get to know him. He had a reputation to keep. He had an image to maintain. He had a heart to hide. A role to play and a character not to slip.
Rolling to his back to stare at the ceiling, he heard the woman getting into the shower and calling out to him to join. Sorry beautiful, he thought. The drugs had worn out, the glare of a day sizzled his brain and he never wanted to get too cozy or attached. Or have them to do the same.
Hearing the front door open and then close, he knew that had to be Jimmy, his manager. He was the only one that knew the gate code and had a key. Not bothering to pull covers over his long lean form, he turned his head to look at the short, pudgy man who walked in as if it was his money that paid for the damn place and not Brad’s. All the money was Brad’s but he was sure Jimmy had his claws in it. He just didn’t care enough to find out how deep.
Jimmy stopped by the bathroom door to take in the sight of the woman in the shower unabashed and raised a brow. “That’s very nice female in there. You owe me Brad.”
Brad snorted and rolled to sit on the edge of the bed to level his eyes at Jimmy. “She was decent. Make her gone for me?”
Jimmy nodded and walked straight into the bathroom. The woman squealed in surprise as her arm was grabbed to be walked out of the bathroom. “Get your shit and leave sweetheart. Ride is over.”
The woman yanked her arm away to look over at Brad. “What? I thought last night meant something?”
Brad stood and stretched as he yawned. “It did. But not enough to last till morning because I can’t remember what it was.”
He turned to go to the bathroom as she protested. They always protested. They all cared. They all were different. They all felt something special. Whatever. They were all just distractions from the pain and the pressure. Just a wet, moist hole in a dark night of the numbness of the Hollywood grind.
He headed for the shower while Jimmy showed the woman the back entrance and the waiting limo always on stand-by at their beckon-and-call. No photo ops for you sweetheart.
When Brad walked out of the steamy shower found Jimmy now sitting on the previous vacated bed. Giving the man a casual look as he strode over to the closet called back. “Why are you here? Do I have something scheduled?”
His hands shuffled clothes in which 90% of them he did not purchase nor did he pick out. His fingers lingered for a moment on a faded Monty Python t-shirt and jeans that were his own, long ago deemed unworthy of a “star” to be seen in. He missed their soft worn feel and the comfort of just kicking back. Another luxury no longer given the time of day on the schedule of his celebrity existence. Fuck he just missed relaxing.
His manager joined him and picking out an ensemble of clothes hung together on a hanger, held it out. “Here. They love when you wear blue. Makes those beautiful blues pop.”
Glancing over to sigh and take the hanger from the man, began to dress in the appointed attire like a good client. “Doesn’t answer where I’m going. Or what we’re doing.”
Jimmy pulled out an expensive cigar and lit it. “Foreign Press luncheon for nominees. The usual bullshit. You smile; you shake hands and let the press see why everyone loves you.”
No one loves me. No one knows me.
Brad nodded as he sat down to tie his expensive loafers trying not to fixate on the used condom that was tossed on the floor with the trash can missed by mere inches. It and the rest of the house would be spotless when he returned by a maid kept on his dollar. Didn’t know her name either, just knew she was old. Most likely chosen for that reason alone—not good to dip your wicky-doo in the help. “Sounds good. And after that?” He looked up at Jimmy who was flicking through his I-Phone for the schedule.
“Dinner. Casual with friends.”
Brad scoffed at that and snorted. “Friend’s you chose I assume?”
Friends are right on that same fucking list as loved ones. Zero jotted down.
Jimmy smiled and threw out his hands. “Baby? I so take care of you. Don’t I?”
Brad narrowed his gaze for the briefest of moments and Jimmy tilted his head as if waiting for a protest to be issued. Some facts or perhaps comments to the contrary but Brad knew better. He needed Jimmy to buffer and contain everything that bombarded him daily. Jimmy was his manager, his pimp, his drug dealer and his assistant; all paid at a very high rate.
Standing, he straightened his cuffs and then flashed a tight smile, that ache already starting in his sinus from lacking its usual dusting of fine numbing powder; the pain causing him to pinch the bridge of his nose.
Dropping his hand, Brad looked down to see Jimmy holding a small, brown glass vial. “I figured you and your sweet thing from last night used what you had.”
Taking the offering, Brad unscrewed the lid and dipping his pinkie in, pulled it out to snort what was captured under his nail. Repeat to other nostril and the ache in his head faded away. The anxiety of the day melted gone as the pressure of all that his life now involved vanished.
Rolling his head as he tucked the cocaine in his jacket pocket, he let out a laugh and wrapped an arm around Jimmy’s shoulder. “Great. Let’s go show them my shine.”