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I’m preparing my query, synopsis, and organizing my ms for submission to agents and/or publishers, however, I’m finding that my online research has been a challenge. I won’t be able to get an agent guide until next week sometime, but I’d like to submit sooner than that. I’m wondering if anyone could either recommend an agent or publisher, or direct me to an online resource with a list I can search through. Any suggestions would help. I’d prefer an agent, but I’ll try publishers as well if I have no success with agents. My novel is mainstream/literary, depending on the definition of literary that’s found online.
Anyway, just putting it out there for suggestions…
I always liked this scene but I’ve had to cut out a significant amount of it in order to avoid giving away any of the story. There was a lot of dialogue I had to edit out, so the scene is about 1/3 of it’s original length. Now it’s main focus is the perfect ass, but it did have more substance than that. Anyway, there aren’t many Sable scenes I can post without giving plot away. Hopefully this one isn’t too choppy from the edits.
A little about this scene: This is a deleted scene from my novel The Opera. (I’m closer to being finished with edits than I’ve ever been, so I’ll be submitting to agents and publishers very soon). Jack Mariano, for those who haven’t read my previous deleted scenes, is an A-list actor. Sable is a friend of his. Sable’s Irish, but grew up in Scotland, so he has a Scottish accent, kind of tainted by his mother’s Irish accent. They went and purchased a couple of bikes and Sable’s learning how to ride since he’d never ridden a bike before. Regarding ‘the perfect ass” they’re just joking around, since Jack wouldn’t approach a woman like that, being a celebrity with an impeccable image.
A side note: the ass is based on a real ass. I was running on the bike path one day, stopped for a drink, and a woman walked by. The next day I wrote this scene. Since it was impossible for me to forget the details, as the image was implanted in my mind, I know I accurately describe her pants and her ass.
The Opera deleted scene
The next day, Jack and Sable are riding bikes. Jack stops to drink from his stainless steel container of water and Sable stops too, joining him in a drink.
“You’re not bad. You’ll do all right if we take a bike trip tomorrow.” Jack challenges, “if you can handle it.”
Sable gives Jack a half look, exhibiting a lack of ambition to embark upon the lengthy excursion. A woman walks by wearing skin-tight spandex athletic capris, mostly a pale mauve, black down the sides, and black on the top around her waist. The black comes down into a curved V on the center back, giving her derrière a heart shape. Jack cannot remove his eyes from her ass as she walks by, making him greatful for his dark sunglasses. She moves rapidly for exercise, each cheek lifted firmly as the alternate leg steps forward. Her hips pendulum side to side, the full roundness emphasized. It’s an ass that women probably hate to have but men more than anything want to get a hold of, in any number of positions. She doesn’t appear to be wearing underwear as Jack takes note there are no lines beneath the layer of thin material which is all that stands between Jack and her sumptuous skin. Sable looks at Jack, then her, then Jack again.
Jack blows out his mouth, “Man, now that’s an ass. That’s a perfect ass.”
Sable looks toward the woman.
“What do you think?”
“All right, I’m sorry, man, but if that ass doesn’t do anything for you, you’re gay. You’ve got to be.”
“Ah appreciate th’ beauty ay women.”
“That’s not the same as being straight.”
“Aam nae bent.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Sae yoo’re wantin’ tae fuck ‘at lassie?”
“Aye, thaur wi’ th’ beautiful feckin’ erse.”
“She does have a beautiful ass. There aren’t many like that. Don’t see many of those in my business anyway. All the women are too skinny for an ass like that. It tempts me like my mother’s pecan pie.”
“Irene coods mak ye pecan pie.”
Jack smiles, not eased from the pain of what he reminded himself of, but gracious towards Sable’s evident sensitivity to the subject. Though Sable, not having a proper mother himself, could never comprehend that it really has nothing to do with the pie and everything to do with the woman baking the pie. In this case, this is especially true since Irene would probably poison the pie.
“Gae ride up tae ‘at lassie.”
“What, so I can get laid?”
“Celebrity or not, I can’t just go up to a woman on the street and proposition her. So what would be your plan?”
“Ye ride up tae her an’ say, hey bebbe, yoo’ve a sweet erse, wa dornt ye rub it aw ower mah face.”
Jack’s surprise stunts his reaction for a moment until he bursts out laughing. He laughs harder as Sable appears almost pleased with himself that he was able to amuse Jack so profoundly. “Yeah, that’d do it, I’m sure.” He laughs more, “Should I use the accent too? Then I’m a shoe-in.”
“Nae, ye jist be Jack Mariano. Ah hear th’ lassies quite loch ‘at bloke.”
This is the end of the scene that was cut from my novel The Opera. As I said when I first began posting these deleted excerpts, Zola is a character that I have completely removed from the story. I like her so I’m glad to have the opportunity to post her here. I’ve been careful to eliminate any reference to plot points. In this scene, that creates for an anticlimactic ending. Just keep in mind that this was deleted from a larger context and not initially intended to stand on its own. You won’t see more of Zola in the novel, but you’ll see Jack, and of course Sable. So I hope for two things: first, that it gets published; second, that if any of you read it, that you’ll enjoy it, since I’ve been talking about it for nearly a year now lol.
Zola part 6 (final)
Jack continues to play, not looking up at Zola, afraid to reveal any sadness that might be perceived within his eyes. He looks down at the guitar and plays and sings and they pass the guitar back and forth. They engage in more conversation, and get caught up in a bit of flirting now and then before they become aware of it and distract themselves. After a glance at the clock they see it’s only about 10:30 and they decide to go to Sable’s to include him in their evening. They first freshen themselves up, hoping to eliminate any essence of alcohol. Zola burns Nag Champa around them and they chew ginseng gum, which they spit out shortly afterwards because, though it tastes good, the flavor dissipates rapidly.
Before they get on their bikes, Zola pulls up her skirt and ties it up around her thighs in a huge knot that drops between her legs as she sits on the bike, in order to prevent her skirt from catching as she rides. Jack thinks that’s intolerably sexy and he’s frustrated because he thought he was past that train of thought, at least for the last ten minutes or so. He wants to say, hey Zola, you know, sex isn’t a bad idea after all, let’s go back inside and get it on. But they get on their bikes and she starts out, stopping as Jack says, “Zola, I’m a little drunk. Are you a little drunk?”
“I’m a lot drunk.”
“Are you ok to ride?”
“It’s not far, just around the corner.”
Jack trails behind, telling her which direction to head, initially to keep an eye out for her, but he can’t take his eyes off of her thighs, so smooth and…luscious, that’s the word that he comes up with as he imagines himself between those thighs, kissing them, moving his way up, and–CRASH!
Zola stops short as a car cuts across the road, not seeing the bicyclists, and Jack swerves to avoid crashing into her but smashes into a telephone pole. A sober Jack would have avoided that. He’s lucky he had the motor skills to swerve. He hits the pole, falls sideways to the ground on his bike and starts laughing.
“Jack!” Zola hops off of her bike, letting it drop and she clumsily removes his bike from between his legs as she laughs too, “Are you ok?”
He can’t stop laughing, “Holy shit! What happened?”
“Jack, you crashed, Jack. You crashed!”
Jack rolls side to side, his laughter a deep guttural laugh that is already hurting his stomach. He thinks, here’s a Jack Mariano the public never gets to see—inebriated Jack Mariano splayed on someone’s lawn convulsing with hysterical laughter.
It’s a bit more time of laughter before Jack is able to regain his composure and get back up on the bike again. But they turn back towards Zola’s since he is too drunk to be around Sable. Jack remains at Zola’s until he sobers up, no longer drinking, but continuing to take glimpses of Zola when she wouldn’t notice, wondering if she’s wearing panties beneath her skirt, and he imbibes in the drunkenness caused by lust, not by liquor.
…He catches a sight through the door to what is presumably her bedroom. “A guitar.”
“What? Oh, yeah.” She raises her head, a bit startled, then turns and glances at it.
“You play the guitar?”
Jack walks into her room, taking hold of the guitar. He becomes distracted as he attempts a discrete glimpse at her bed and tries to take in a breath deep enough to imagine what her linens smell like, as they probably exude the scent of her body. Maybe she sweats a little at night, as the evenings have been so warm. But then another sight catches his eye and he looks down and laughs before glancing out at Zola.
“What?” She asks nervously.
Jack disappears from her vision as he approaches her bed to the left and retrieves an animal rights magazine on her bedside table, opened to a particular page. He exits her room with the guitar in one hand, and holding up the magazine in the other for her to see what he discovered.
“Oh my god,” she says, and she covers her face with her hands.
“You keep this by your bed Zola?” He teases as he holds up the image of himself posing for the PETA campaign against leather. He is naked except for vegan hiking boots and his genitals are concealed by an axe. After several shots of him with the log at the photo shoot, they determined it looked awkward. However, the axe, held by the head with one hand, the top of the handle balanced on the ground, looked more natural.
“Oh my god.”
“Why do you need it by your bed?”
“Oh stop,” she laughs and she stands to grab the magazine and throws it behind the sofa, between the sofa and the wall, then throws herself back to sit.
“Oh sure just cast me aside after using me.”
“I was just reading it–”
“There are about five words on that page Zola.”
“I mean the magazine!”
“I didn’t realize girls did that.”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“Oh god, stop. I was reading it and I came across that picture–”
Jack opens his mouth to speak.
“Don’t even say it Jack!”
“Just stop, I saw the picture and I was going to show you and tease you about it, because I’ve seen it many times before but I kept forgetting to mention it to you.”
“And you had it by your bed because you were going to lure me in there with your feminine wiles?”
She throws her arms over her face, crisscrossing and puts her head back. She says with a voice muffled from her arms, “I got a phone call just before you got here and dropped it there, it’s why I didn’t have much of a chance to tidy up a bit.”
“So you still had it by your bed, at the time you received the phone call.”
“Well you were supposed to be a gentleman and not just enter a lady’s bedroom.”
“Ah, you got me there. But…it was by your bed.”
She lets out a moan of mock frustration.
Jack laughs, “I’m just teasing you.”
“I think you’re a little serious.”
“You’re cute when you’re embarrassed.”
She uncovers her face, “You’re the one who should be embarrassed.”
“Um, I don’t know. Were you really naked or did you wear one of them things?”
“I tried a merkin but I felt ridiculous so…naked.”
“Well it was kind of liberating.”
“That’s some creative photography.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well the axe seems big enough but it’s just amazing the photographer got the right angle to conceal all that.”
“Well, thank you.”
“Oh my god, I’m just going to shut up now.”
“You know, if it helps you, if you have an axe, you can try the pose yourself for me and then we’ll be even, I’m not quite sure how you’d hold it…”
“Jack! Don’t be naughty.”
“Just trying to help.”
“Yeah right. So…yeah, change of subject…that there is my guitar.”
“Seems to be. Play something for me.”
“All righty, it’ll help me recover my cool.”
Jack laughs and sits as she stands to turn off Billie Holiday. Zola returns to the sofa, takes the guitar, and after a moment of gaining her composure, looking down with a diminishing embarrassment, she then begins to play. The sound is raw and earthy.
When she finishes, Jack asks, “Was that an original?”
“You’re talented. You sing?”
“I don’t sing. You wouldn’t want me to sing. Trust me. You play, Music Man.”
“Well, ok.” Jack feigns reluctance, grabbing the guitar, and plays Ripple by the Grateful Dead, tapping his foot and smiling to Zola as he sings. “Sing with me, Zola.” He continues to play.
She shakes her head “no way,” and just moves to the melody, and when he breaks into Box of Rain, Zola nods her head and keeps moving, “I love this one.” Jack thinks she is pretty cute, which is part of his motivation for moving into another song, the other part is that he loves these two Dead songs himself, despite the cliché of having them as favorites, there is a genuine reason for their popularity.
This particular song always had the ability to tap into some portion of Jack’s being that nothing else ever was able to touch, but it reminds him of childhood somehow, the melancholy that comes with childhood, this undetermined grief that seems to come from a random, intuited oblivion and children are just too damn young and inexperienced to fathom it. The child Sable would have understood, Jack believes, and he sings the lines,
…Walk into splintered sunlight, Inch your way through dead dreams to another land. Maybe you’re tired and broken, Your tongue is twisted with words half spoken and thoughts unclear…
Jack can no longer think of anything or anyone else but Sable while he plays the song and the undetermined grief crescendos within the center of his body. Grief and mourning and loss, all pertaining to Sable, knowing that part of Sable is dead, a child part of him that never had the chance for survival. A child part of Jack is now dead too. He recognizes the emptiness left aching by that vacancy, wondering if Sable has that ache too but doesn’t know it, rather he accepts it as an aspect of existence.
Here is more of the Zola scene from my novel The Opera. There were some lines cut between part 3 and this one, so the scene begins with refence to a part of the plot I don’t want to reveal. Also there is a legitimate reason Jack is struggling not to have sex with her, but again I can’t reveal that either.
Zola part 4
“I don’t feel prepared to answer that kind of question.”
“Do you want your personal rep to call me when your statement’s prepared?”
Jack offers no reaction.
“I’m not making fun of you Jack. I could never be a celebrity, the lack of privacy, no freedom. But you’ve done it gallantly.”
“No, not really. I thought I was able to.”
“We’ll change the subject, you were saying?”
“Um…I don’t know…”
“I’m sorry Jack.”
“No, I was thinking.”
Jack searches his mind for anything he could have been thinking about. Something that would both distract her and seem worthy of his apparent contemplation. He needs to adjust the environment and distract himself as well, in order to make it real. As an actor, he has mastered this technique quite well.
“I’m going to be up front with you, Zola. Something I wouldn’t typically do, but you’re such a real person. You’re cool and I just want to be honest.”
“I had an ulterior motive for making plans with you.”
“It’s not the case anymore and it wasn’t fully the case. The truth is I wanted to have dinner with you as a friend. But…”
“But… The ulterior motive was…”
“Jack Mariano wanted to have sex with me?!”
Jack laughs, “I’m just a guy, Zola. You know that.”
“But you don’t want to have sex with me anymore.”
“Well I think it would be disrespectful.”
“You’ve got a lot of integrity. But…you don’t want to have sex with me anymore?”
Jack laughs again, “No, of course I do. I just don’t think it’s right. I mean that’s all it would be is sex and–”
“I’m ok with that.”
“Zola, I’d like to think I’m more mature than that.”
“But you’re a man. Maturity and manhood don’t usually come hand in hand.”
“I should be insulted by that comment.”
“I’m just putting my foot in my mouth again.”
“There are better things to put in your mouth.”
“Wow, you didn’t just say that!”
“No I didn’t.”
“I’m just nervous.”
“Well, why do you think?”
“Because… of who I am?”
Zola nods, “But never mind that, now that we’re being honest, I had an ulterior motive too.”
“No.” Jack expresses as disbelief.
“I speak the truth, Music Man.”
“Well…now I’m kind of speechless.”
“How could I not want to?”
“What if I wasn’t famous?”
“You’re still hot.”
Jack nods slowly, not in agreement, but resolved.
“I’m kidding when I say superficial things like that. Those are fringe benefits, I won’t deny that. But you are one special guy. You are sweet and honest, and you’ve got the best personality. I’ve met a lot of cool people, but you top them, and that has nothing to do with fame. I hope you believe that.”
Jack is struck by a sudden, unexplainable, displaced sadness. Perhaps he wants to be a normal, everyday man. An unfamous man, with a regular job. Someone that doesn’t carry fringe benefits besides an ability to be a good husband and father. Any man off the street, preferably average looking, so he’d always know that his wife married him for the man inside and not all the external offerings. He leans toward Zola and kisses her, a small, tender kiss on the lips. He realizes that out of all the women he’s ever been involved with in any way, Zola deserves the most respect. She’s not playing games, and neither is Jack, and it’s refreshing to trust what is being said, the words from a woman’s mouth have never been so honest. “Thank you.”
She pauses, gaining her breath back from the kiss as inconspicuously as she can. However, it is not discrete enough, and Jack can no longer resist. He leans forward and kisses her more passionately, taking her around the waist and pulling her up against his body as he leans forward more onto her. He feels her breasts pressed against him as she wraps her arms around him and he instantly becomes hard.
Zola takes it, basks in it, unable to resist either, but she stops suddenly, “Jack, I’m in love with you. I know you probably hear that a lot, and I’m not just saying it. And I wouldn’t say it if I wasn’t drinking. But I won’t regret it. I know what I’m saying and I know it’s the right thing to say.”
Jack takes a deep breath. “Zola, I’m sorry I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Oh my god don’t apologize.” Her heart is beating fast and she speaks short of breath, it’s all Jack can do to pull himself away from her.
“We can’t do this, I’m sorry. I feel like if things were different, I could love you, but the way things are for me now…”
“No, I understand, I really do.”
Jack decides to end this conversation as abruptly as he can before he changes his mind yet again. He excuses himself to the bathroom, hoping his erection isn’t obvious when he stands and walks away. After masturbating as quickly and quietly as possible, which doesn’t quite compensate for his lack of Zola, he returns toward the sofa. Zola is seated with her back against the sofa, one foot on the ground, one leg bent straight out from her side, with that foot flat against her opposite thigh. Her skirt is swirled up and around revealing only both of her feet, but it pools at her crotch like decorative, creamy icing. Her head is back and she has both arms up folded across her eyes and forehead. Jack pauses in his tracks and gazes lustfully at her, thinking he should have spent more time in the bathroom. His eyes follow the shape of her breasts within the thin material of her Indian style sleeveless top. It accentuates her curves and Jack feels a twinge in his loins while he sucks in the sight of her. He can’t imagine how he can get through the rest of the evening without having sex with this girl. Morals are becoming irrelevant. She breathes and her breasts rise and fall and Jack watches them. She doesn’t know he’s there. She didn’t hear him over Billie Holiday. Jack’s eyes move along her body, determining by the way the material of her clothing drapes on her, how she would look naked; her olive skin, firm and smooth, her full breasts. He fantasizes about how her body would feel pressed beneath his own naked body. He can almost feel the moisture between her legs as she rubs against his penis before he penetrates her… But he tells himself he’s got to overcome this lust. As an actor, he has distracted his mind in order to avoid erections during scenes that involved even the minutest level of intimacy. He is an actor, a professional controller of emotions. That’s one contributing factor as to why many celebrity actors fall apart. Actors are required to be so many different people all the time, get into different psyches, suffer traumas they take on themselves to become someone else. Coming down from that isn’t always easy. It isn’t always easy to master the control of emotions in real life either at times. That’s on the job stuff. No one wants to take work home with them. Control is lost, and the actor becomes a fragment of themselves, barely held together. Once an actor portrays a character, that character never leaves the actor, it becomes a part of who the actor is, an old friend, someone to mourn the loss of. Jack can act in real life, so he channels that master actor inside him, and takes control. He looks away from Zola, who is posed like a goddess beckoning to be ravished, and he approaches slowly, glancing around for any object that might divert his lust. He catches a sight through the door to what is presumably her bedroom. “A guitar.”
The following is part 3 of a deleted scene from my novel The Opera.
Zola part 3
She smiles and Jack wants to kiss her. Her mouth is on the larger side, very appealing, with full lips, making her exotic, not the classic beauty.
Jack finishes his glass, takes the bottle, tops off her glass and fills his, half way. He likes how a proper glass of wine is always a third to a half full, depending upon the glass; he thinks it appears elegant, aesthetic visually, and it is also aromatically purposeful. He looks at her as if he’s got something to say, based on his proficient eye for observation.
“What? Why are you looking at me like that?” Zola asks.
“You’re afraid to touch me, aren’t you.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“I’ve seen you. You touch everyone you speak to. You lay your hands on people and make contact with them. Even strangers. But you’ve never once put your hands on me. I’ve noticed you move like you’re going to, but you always pull back.”
“I wouldn’t say I’m afraid…”
“What is it then.”
“I guess I don’t know if you’d mind being touched, I mean people are probably trying to touch you all the time.”
“Don’t tell me there’s the barrier of celebrity between us. I’d like to think we’re more familiar than that.”
Zola reaches out and puts her hand on Jack’s upper arm. “Ok, you happy?” She laughs shyly and takes her hand away.
“Yeah, I’m satisfied.” He says with the eyes that make a woman feel like she hasn’t a bone in her body. “One of the things I like about you Zola is that you make me forget I’m a celebrity. I feel real around you. Don’t let that change.”
“I try to treat you like a real person, but it’s hard to forget. I do try. …I know something that might help. Do you smoke pot?”
“Oh no. No, no, no. No I don’t.”
“Hm. That’s interesting. Why do you respond like that?”
Jack shakes his head.
“Funny. I took you for a pot smoker.”
“Because you’re a hippie.”
“That’s a stereotype.”
“I guess you just seem like a guy who takes a toke now and then.”
“You got the wrong guy. Sorry to disappoint you.”
“I don’t think you could ever disappoint me. Tell me about yourself. You know everything about me. I know nothing about you.”
“I’m just used to keeping my private life private.”
“You said you trust me.”
“Why, what do you want to know?”
“Tell me something about your personal life, something only your friends know.”
“I…I’d rather not.” He says thinking about the first time he had sex. He was fourteen years old, she was fifteen. It was in her bedroom when her parents weren’t home. Jack remembers the smell of her linens, a combination of almond and the natural scent of her skin. He fell in love with her and then she cheated on him. Jack was broken-hearted, yet he didn’t withdraw from people, rather he withdrew into his music, and stayed away from girls throughout the rest of high school. Jack never told anyone that he was afraid to trust, afraid to be hurt again. In college, he slept with every girl willing to spread her legs for him, until he fell in love again and got into a relationship for a couple of years. In the meantime, he was working on his acting career, inspired by Corey whom he met in college in L.A. Jack did TV commercials, Extra work, and small roles in independent films, before he got his big break.
He got his first starring role in a feature film, a critically acclaimed performance by Jack in the box office hit entitled Dark Tomorrow, which was what Jack often refers to as a romantic trauma. His girlfriend was jealous about the lead actress and she fought with Jack ceaselessly. It was more than a convenience when his agent called him about an opportunity in New York, so he went out to audition, and after ten or so call backs while he remained in New York, he got the part. He played the part of a teenage runaway named Charlie who got another runaway pregnant. The film was called The Fostering, and Jack’s performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor. Jack moved to New York and used that as an excuse to break up with his girlfriend. She was obsessive and suffocating. In New York he was able to breathe.
Jack once said to an interviewer, “it was like one day I was a kid in a garage band moving on to take a crack at psychology in college, next day I was Mr. Mariano at age twenty-one.” Fame happened overwhelmingly fast. Women were coming out of the woodwork. Jack knew all the women, regardless of age, were using him, but he was ok with that because it allowed him to use them too. He fell in love a couple of times, had brief relationships, but he learned then that it was hard to be in a relationship with real women that he’d meet outside of the business, because they were either dating him because he was famous, or using him to get famous. If they were genuine, then they were insecure and jealous and not wanting to be in the celeb scene, which was inevitable. He fell in love with his first actress in the making of his third film, Dalton’s Voice. That’s the worse way to begin a relationship, according to Jack, because they expect you’ll fall in love every time you’re in a movie with another woman. It’s called acting, Jack would think.
Jack started going for models. Their level of jealousy was tolerable, because they either liked to cheat or flirt themselves, or just assumed appealing to the opposite sex was a given in the business, so they more easily accepted it. Their boundaries were also less than actresses. Actresses could have a grand amount of personal space of which it was a violation to trespass upon. Other actresses could be touchy feely, but models were even more so, and they loved everyone around them to be touching and feeling and being intimate with each other. It created for a secret sexy society which only those worth touching or were attractive or chic enough were members. Jack’s own jealous nature became fueled by that. Especially as he started getting older and maturing, finished with the field and the parties, and his models started getting younger, just beginning that lifestyle. Then there was Adia, his next big heartbreak. That’s where he left off..
Jack says after the skim of his brain, “Yeah, there’s really nothing interesting to say.”
A little bit about this scene: Jack obviously is sexually attracted to Zola, but there’s a conflict within him as to whether or not he should have sex with her. The conflict stems from a situation in his personal life which I can’t allude to here since that is a part of the story I don’t wish to prematurely reveal. At the end of this scene they mention Corey Loch, who is a friend of Jack’s, another A-lister. “Little Billy Babcock” is a character that Corey portrayed on a television show when he was a child.
For those who didn’t read yesterday’s deleted scene: This is an excerpt taken from my novel The Opera. The character Zola no longer exists in the story, but I like her so now she lives on my blog. Prior to posting this I eliminated all reference to the plot. Jack Mariano is an A-list actor, so when she comments that she’s never seen him without his hat and sunglasses, that refers to his always being in “disguise.”
Either later today or tomorrow morning I will post part 3 which will pick up directly from where this scene ends.
Zola part 2
Zola opens the door, dressed the same as she was at work, but she seems fresher, more exuberant. She lets Jack in and tells him that they’re going to make a casserole, but not to scoff because it’s the best damn casserole he’ll ever have. Besides, it’s quick and easy, and she’s starving, so she doesn’t want to wait for a complicated meal. Jack agrees, accommodated to eating an earlier dinner. She leads him in, pours him a glass of wine, “Coteaux du Languedoc Famille de Janiny,” she says, then laughs at her horrible pronunciation. Jack takes off his sunglasses and hat and she comments that she has never seen him without them, his eyes are so beautiful and he has a beautiful smile. Jack can tell she is nervous and excited but she’s trying to play it cool. She’s never presented in a self-conscious manner before, but it’s ok with Jack. He recognizes her as human and her sexual prowess is less otherworldly, less powerful, enabling him to have more control over himself, the situation, and a higher level of esteem as his ego is boosted. He appreciates her trying to treat him like a real person, but it’s one of the things about women that turns him on, their nervous laughter, the way they play with their hair, the sinuous way they open and close their eyes as they are speaking, the arousal that surfaces from being in the presence of Jack Mariano. It’s one of the select types of occasions that he acknowledges his status, the way women turn to jelly when they’re around him. He tries to ignore it, not wanting to be vain, but he loves it, loves it, loves it. It turns him on, and his own philandering tendencies steal more from that energy of their attraction.
He likes Zola, respects her, and therefore draws a conclusion based on a lesson he learned a long time ago. Never have sex with a woman if it wouldn’t be respectful of her. Perhaps he wouldn’t have learned this lesson had he been an everyday man. But as an A-lister with ceaseless opportunities for sex with multiple partners, Jack had to create rules and boundaries. Otherwise, having avoided various opportunities for addiction throughout his career, sex could have become such a culprit. Hence, no sex with Zola since it would be disrespectful; this is what he determines. But he has another process of thought driven by hormones, and if he’s drinking wine, one kingdom may soon rule over the other.
As they prepare dinner, Jack drinks a lot of wine.
During dinner, Zola congratulates Jack on being voted the sexiest male celeb veg two years in a row now, telling him she votes for him every year. In response to his inquiries, she tells him about her childhood growing up in Western Massachusetts, in a rural town. Her family had a house with lots of land that they got at a reduced rate for keeping livestock. Her parents didn’t own livestock when they bought the land, though they guaranteed that they would. They got pigs, which were never intended for slaughter, rather, they were family pets. Zola recalls running and playing with the pigs. She says they are sweet and friendly and smarter than dogs. She says that contrary to popular belief, they prefer a clean pen. Their skin is sensitive to the sun, so they like to roll in mud because it protects them from the sun. They prefer fresh food, especially fruits, and not garbage. They tend to keep their feces as far from their food as possible. Zola says pigs are sensitive animals; they miss their owners when they’re away and they get excited to see them when they return. They are good mothers and protect their babies and Zola swears they cry if their babies are hurt or sick. Pigs can get depressed and they need a lot of love. Zola says they also enjoy music and that they used to dance with her. She says mostly they love to play, they run and play like children, and she is convinced that they smile.
Jack, if it weren’t for his situation, would fall in love with her from this context alone. He tells her that everything she said is beautiful and he loves to hear people talk like that about animals. He asks her more questions, ruling the conversation as usual, not letting too much information out about himself. Jack is so warm and genuine and friendly by nature, that people don’t realize how private he is. You can walk away from a conversation with Jack feeling like you’ve just made yourself a new, intimate best friend, until you realize, he told you absolutely nothing about himself. That is, unless he’s been drinking a bit too much, another reason he only drinks around trusted company. As they move from the table to the sofa, the room pulsating with candle flames and Billie Holiday, they leave the casserole to congeal. Both are too enwrapped in dialogue to concern themselves with it, which is dually uncharacteristic since neither of them have the tendency to ever waste food. Once settled together amongst all the cushions, Jack tells her it’s hard to trust people, what they’re really thinking, what their motivations are, wondering why he trusts her. Then he realizes by saying that, it means he’s already had too much to drink.
“I don’t think I’ve ever given you a reason not to trust me. I could’ve completely exploited you by now.”
“You still could. There are those people who work to get as close to you as they possibly can, then bam, completely betray you. That’s happened to me too many times. I see the good in people, trust too quickly. I’ve had to learn that it’s hard to trust people who aren’t…you know, in the business and have nothing to gain, but still, there is always something to gain in the business too, and some reason to use someone.”
“Wow, do they actually say bam?”
Jack laughs, “that’s something Corey would say, you know Corey Loch?”
“Oh yeah! Little Billy Babcock.”
Jack laughs harder, “The one and only.”
This is a deleted scene from my novel The Opera. In fact, the character Zola has been deleted from the book altogether. I never thought I’d delete Zola, but she’ll live here on my blog. I thought she was significant or symbollic or added to the strife of the protagonist, but essentially she was just a subplot. I’ll be posting a few more parts to this extended scene.
Allow me to offer some background on the story first. Jack Mariano is a celebrity, an A-list actor who is on sabbatical and taking respite in a small New England city. He walks around disguised, with longer hair, facial hair, not dressing Hollywood, and donning a red sox hat and dark sunglasses. While in this town he meets Zola, who works in a health food store. Her name means “uncertain.”
I have edited the scenes in order to eliminate any reference to the story that would give the plot away. So if there’s an occassional choppiness it’s because I took some information out and didn’t necessarily bother with a revision for fluidity, since it’s being discarded anyway.
Zola part 1
…Jack says he’s going for another bike ride, partly to separate himself from the tension between him and Irene, but there’s another reason. He rides to the health food store. The store is busy, so Jack takes out a business card he’d grabbed from there and calls. A man answers.
“May I speak with Zola please?”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Um, tell her it’s…Music Man.”
Zola picks up after a short time.
“Hey there, Music Man. You’re calling me. That’s cool.”
“Yeah, I’m outside in the parking lot and I didn’t want to come in. Pretty busy.”
“Understandable. What’s going on?”
“Well, I was wondering if, as a friend, you’d like to go out to dinner with me tonight?”
“I would love that.”
“When do you get off work?”
“Seven. Are you going to risk going out to a local place without your disguise?”
“Well, I thought of that, and we could go to Boston if you’re ok with that.”
“I wouldn’t mind. But how about you have dinner at my place? I’ll cook and I’ve got some bottles of organic wine, if you drink. I live near the police station, where does Sable live–I’m assuming you’re staying with him?”
“Yeah, I am. He lives near the station too. I’ll ride my bike over at about 7:30?”
“Do you have everything you need? Can I bring anything?”
“I just need to grab some things here.”
“Come out to the parking lot.”
“Just come out.”
Zola glides out into the parking lot barefoot in a long flowing skirt and wearing a bandana. She looks like a dirty-blonde dread-locked gypsy. She squints a little as she approaches Jack because the sun is hot and bright and glares directly onto her face. Her facial features are not fair and delicate, but a feminine combination of strong yet soft fluidity, consisting of high cheekbones, a straight nose, rounded at the bottom, full lips, and almond shaped eyes, the color of Spanish olives. Her skin isn’t pale, rather it is a luminous rich cream, and it glows because she is healthy. She wears no makeup apart from red lipstick on occasion. Jack watches her approach, without her awareness of his looking her up and down, eyes lingering at her feminine endowments, as he is wearing sunglasses, dark as they come. She is small, about 5’3”, and Jack likes that. He becomes conscious that he needs to be careful not to allow his lust for her to make itself evident.
“Here.” He gives her money. “Get whatever you need.”
“No Jack, I don’t want to take this.”
“Take it. Get what you need and I want to help you cook.”
“You cook? How does that not surprise me.”
“Yeah, I cook. And I like organic wine. I don’t drink unless I’m away from Sable because he’s an alcoholic.”
“Oh I didn’t know that. Will it be ok if you go home smelling like alcohol?”
Jack takes note: no offer to spend the night. “He’s been around alcohol, so hopefully it’ll be ok. I’ll bring my toothbrush.” Jack smiles.
Jack takes note: maybe the potential for an offer.
Zola tells him her address, much closer to the station than Sable’s, and watches Jack ride off on the bike. He turns to wave before he exits the parking lot…