Marilyn began writing short stories at age 8 or 9. At puberty she took a long hiatus, lasting 21 years. She met Hollywood producer Norman Lear out in Tahiti who convinced her to write if that's what she wanted to do, so she quit her job as an international flight attendant and taught herself to write, all over again. She often lamented that she'd been a better writer as a child, but she wasn't convinced that an MFA program was the way to go, as she was in agreement with the critics in that these programs are churning out cookie cutter writers.
She has written three novels, the first of which landed her a NY agent (who blew a book deal). The second novel was god-awful. The third is her best work to date but she hasn't been successful in finding an agent to even read it.
She has optioned a screenplay, has won in a minor screenwriting contest and has had her short stories rejected by every lit-mag you can think of.
Verna’s Lucky Day
Out of his sterling silver flask and on more than just a whim, as he wanted his drinking buddy back, Lucky spiked Verna’s prune juice with Russian vodka. The vodka was so smooth she had downed a good portion before she realized something was amiss.
“Lucky, did you---?”
“Want some ice?”
“Oh how could you do that! I been sober one hundred an’ two days!”
“You might want to change that to one hundred one.”
“And you might want to take your leave, Lucky Day!” Verna stood, picked up the handiest thing, which was a salt shaker, and threw it at him.
“Careful now,” Lucky cautioned, shielding himself with his right palm, diverting the glass shaker to the floor where it rolled, coming to a stop against the cat’s water bowl.
“A person ought to be able to make a trip to the john without being slipped a mickey!”
“Couldn’t agree more,” Lucky soothed. “But Verna honey, that wasn’t no mickey.”
She made a face. “Vodka prune!”
“Got any O.J.?”
“You realize I gotta’ be to work in twenty minutes?” Verna smoothed her hair back, started for the bedroom. She paused, wet her lips, turned back to Lucky.
“Got some tomato juice,” she said, somewhat guiltily. “Some Worchestershire.”
Lucky produced his flask. “Just that it’s too early to drink it straight, honey.”
She peeked inside the fridge. “Half a lemon . . . ”
“That’s my gal!”
Verna pulled an ice tray from the freezer. “Whyn’t you at work, anyhow? Thought you got on steady at Matt Hanson’s spread.”
“Got laid off two---no, three---days ago. Me’n Elmore. Ol’ Matt called us in to the house: ‘Got to let ya’ go,’ he says, real happy-go-lucky like. Thought that was pretty damned rude, to be cheerful about it and all.”
Verna retrieved two glasses from the cupboard. “That why you’n Elmore showed at the diner night b’fore last so fallin’ down drunk?”
“We was at the diner?”
“Elmore passed out face first into his mashed taters.”
“You don’t say!”
“Damned near drowned in spuds an’ chicken gravy. Would have if I hadn’t grabbed him by the hair a’ his head an’ lifted him up.”
“That must’ve been a sight!”
“Wish’t I had a camera, I’ll tell ya’.” Verna was chuckling. Lucky poured. “You was no better,” she continued. “Whipped out your willy and started in a-pissing on Rosalie’s indoor tree!”
“Go on, Vernie, I never.” Lucky leaned forward in genuine concern.
“Did so. And damn both your hides, you walked out without paying, after I yelled at you to put your Johnson back in your pants. No wait, Rosalie came out of the kitchen waving a spatula first, that was it.”
“Was she cussin’?”
“Nah, there was customers. You know how she is: puts on the dog in front a’ customers.
“I bought both your dinners, though, on account of Rosalie telling me I had to. Said neither you or Elmore ever came into her diner till I went to work there---that true?”
“No, not true.”
“That ol’ bitch.”
“Mud in your eye,” Lucky said, showing his drink to Verna.
“Mud in your own.”
“Listen, you got to call Rosalie for me.” She pointed to the wall phone with her thumb. “Do it now.”
Lucky was waiting for Rosalie to come to the phone. “What you want me to say?” he asked Verna, holding the receiver to his chest.
“Tell her I’m sick, you idiot!” Verna hissed.
“Yeah, hey Rosalie?” Lucky spoke in his most business like voice. “Verna’s sick, ain’t comin’ in today.”
He had to hold the receiver away from his ear. “She’s cussing now!” he said to
Verna. “Also wants to know what you got.”
“Got?! The whooping cough, tell ‘er.”
“You know that whooping cough that’s been goin’ around? Well Verna caught it. Got it bad, in fact. Been whooping it up all mornin’.”
After a pause, Lucky angrily took off his Stetson, started yelling into the mouthpiece. “I can’t help that, now can I?” He threw the hat onto the kitchen floor with force. “Maybe Verna never had no vaccination for that shit. Just ‘cause you did!”
He reached for his bloody Mary. Another pause, then he said: “Now you listen here; Verna caught the whooping cough. And she ain’t the only one. Ol’ Matt Hanson caught it, Elmore Clancy caught it---” Lucky took a breath. “That’s right, whooping cough. Contagious as crabs in a whore house! Pretty soon the health department’ll be wanting t’ plaster a quarantine on the whole solitary town a’ Query!”
Shaking his head, red in the face, Lucky hung the phone up hard. “That Rosalie sure is made of stone,” he said. “Person can’t reason with a woman a’ her nature.”
Verna nodded in agreement. “Still,” she offered, “I don’t know why I pulled that one outa’ the hat. Of all the ways a body could be sick!”
“Tough one, all right. You’ll be out a good week, disease like that. Goin’ in afore a week’s up will make ya’ out a liar. Might as well just go on a bender an’ enjoy yourself.”
“How’d ya’ get way out here, anyway? Thought your truck got repo’d.”
“Rode the Harley, darlin’. Later you’n me’ll go for a ride.” Lucky pulled a pack
of cigarettes from his shirt pocket.
“Gimme one,” Verna demanded, taking a short drink while holding her hand out.
“A smoke? Not in your life---you crazy?”
“No I’m not crazy; they make me cough worse’n anything I can think of. Got to show up at work tomorrow with some kinda’ bad cough, now don’t I?”
“Remember losing a lung? Remember that?”
“Oh hell, that was nineteen years ago.”
“Tell you what,” Lucky began. “We’ll ride into town an’ get you x-ray’d. Providing you grew yourself a complete new lung, I’ll buy you a whole blasted carton. How’s that.”
In sneakily reaching for the cigarette pack now on the table, Verna’s hand almost connected when Lucky intercepted, grabbed the pack, pocketed it. “There now,” he said with finality.
“Tell you the truth,” Verna said, her mood sliding due south, “I’m scared Rosalie’ll fire me. Maybe I should just get myself to work.” She pushed her chair away from the rickety old paint spattered table.
Having postponed lighting up, he now did so, holding the match aloft. “Ashtray?”
While Verna was slightly bent over a kitchen drawer, rummaging for an ashtray, Lucky came up behind her, put his hands on her waist. The cigarette was left to burn, balanced on the kitchen table edge.
“Lucky, what the hell are you doing?” she asked, not expecting an answer. “You
don’t want me, you just don’t want me to drive in to work. That’s the truth.” She wriggled free, handed him a saucer from the cupboard.
Rather than accept it, he gave her a hug, even if she kept her arms rigidly at her sides. “Look at us,” Verna said in a small tired voice. She pulled away. “Just take a good long look at us. A geezer and an old stove. All I ever wanted outa’ life was a husband an’ a batch a’ kids. We could’ve had some cute little Days runnin’ around, ridin’ ponies---”
“Robbing convenience stores . . . ”
“Helpin’ with the garden . . . ”
“Think of all your spilt seed!”
“Think of all those mouths to feed.”
Verna got that faraway look in her eye that Lucky always sidestepped. “Grandkids by now,” she said dreamily.
“Makin’ ya’ feel old,” he threw in. Out the corner of his eye he spied his cigarette burning a hole in the flowered tablecloth, so hopped over and grabbed it. He had his wallet out before she could start yelling, pulled out a ten.
Taking the ten, Verna nonetheless glared at him. “Tablecloth belonged t’ my mother,” she said, crumpling the bill into a ball, throwing it across the counter.
“Looks like a sheet to me!”
“Well, it was,” she conceded. “Once. Mama painted flowers on it. That woman
could draw; I’ll say.”
To avoid her accusing look, Lucky retrieved his Stetson, placed it back on his matted gray hair.
“Say, how do you keep a hat on, ridin’ a motorcycle?”
“Pull it down snug, like this,” Lucky demonstrated. “Come on, we’re goin’ for a ride.” He grabbed her hand, pulled her out the door.
“Law says we need helmets, Lucky.”
“Hell that’s the least a’ our worries. We’re legally drunk!” Lucky’s eyes twinkled, the way they always did when he broke the law.
Before he could kick start the motorcycle, a pick-up truck, driving way too fast for such a washboardy road, and sending up a veritable smokescreen of brownish-red dust, caught Lucky’s and Verna’s attention. It surprised them both when it turned up her short driveway.
“Why Matt Hanson,” Lucky said uneasily when the cab door opened. He didn’t feel comfortable with the facial expression Matt was sporting, which was ugly at best. “Sort of thought that resembled your truck!”
Without even greeting Verna, whom he’d once had a crush on when she was young and pretty, Matt Hanson strode over to Lucky and socked him in the jaw, knocking him down and the bike on top of him. “That’s for spreading the rumor around town that I’ve got cholera!” Matt fumed, a line of sweat staining each tanned cheek. He turned to leave.
“Whooping cough,” Verna said after him.
Matt turned. “What?!”
“Never said cholera, Matt. Just whooping cough, just a simple little cough. Nothing deadly.” Verna viewed him with disgust.
Lucky groaned. “Help me,” he managed.