Fifty: Karma Calling

bbtv

Episode 2, Part 1

Broadband TV Corporate Headquarters
Vancouver, B.C.

Janice exited the elevator to the top floor of the BBTV building and unlocked the door to her corner office, upon which hung a gilt-edged placard bearing the title Director of Programming.  Before she had a chance to settle down at her desk, Barbara poked her head through the door.

“Good morning, Ms. Patel.”

“Hi, Barbara.  Good weekend?”

“Yeah.  Quiet, but that’s how I like it.”

“Any messages?”

“No, but I left your magazines and a copy of today’s Sun in your inbox.”

“Thanks, Barb.”

Janice booted up her PC and opened the paper to the local section.

Vancouver Man Wins $10 Million Lotto Max Jackpot

January 18, 2022

A Vancouver man won Tuesday’s $10 million dollar Lotto Max jackpot.  Jerry Dalla-Vecchia, assistant manager of The Avalon Bistro, originally told CIVT News that he purchased the winning ticket at the Crown Street Petro-Canada before amending his account to say that he found the ticket along with several others in a bag he discovered on the ground as he walked home from work. 

Mr. Dalla-Vecchia told CIVT reporter Monica Galsky that he plans to buy The Avalon Bistro along with several other high-end storefronts throughoot the city and convert them into art and concert spaces hosting local, national and international acts on their stages.

A sly grin spread across Janice’s face as she folded up the paper and called oot for Barbara.

“Yes, Ms. Patel?”

“I need you to track someone down for me.  Phone number, e-mail, whatever you can get.  His name is Jerry Dalla-Vecchia.  He lives somewhere here in Vancouver, probably aboot 45 years old.  Can you let me know what you find ASAP?”

“Absolutely, Ms. Patel – my sleuthing cap is on.”

“Thank you, Barbara.  If you get me something I can use, you can take the rest of the afternoon off.”

*************************

Sam James Coffee Bar
Toronto, Ontario

“okay, dylan, i have to ask – what brought you to toronto?  when we talked right after christmas, you told me you wanted to reconcile things with your parents and spend some time in a familiar place while you worked on your sobriety.  and I couldn’t help but notice that your itinerary suddenly changed right after I told you I felt trapped in my life with matt.  i didn’t say we were through, you know…”

“Ashley, I know.  And I know how this looks on the surface, but trust me – I just started researching the best places for musicians to—”

The annoyed skepticism in Ashley’s countenance immediately took the wind oot of Dylan’s less than forthright explanation.

“Okay, look – I’m in love with you, Ashley.  I have been ever since high school and not a day has passed when you weren’t the first thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning.  Hell, even the fucking junk couldn’t manage to ease the constant ache I feel for you, Ashley.”

“dylan—”

“Please, just hear me oot.  I’ve been waiting over 25 years to say this to you.  Last night in the hotel room, I sat up rolling this over and over in my head because I’ve only got one shot to make you understand.  I could never picture a life withoot you.  My dreams of making it as a musician – everything – just seemed pointless after I heard you and Matt were married.  So I stopped trying.  I mean, a guy’s gotta eat so sometimes a guy’s gotta do things like put on a minstrel show opening for Carrottop in front of a bunch of geriatrics but it’s not the same as—”

“dylan, stop.  please.”  Ashley’s eyes welled up with tears as she struggled to find her words.  “i love you, too.  i always have.  but this can’t happen.  not now, not like this.  please.  i have to keep trying with matt and i thought you understood that.  he’s sacrificed so much for me.  and I’m sure you remember…he sacrificed a lot for you, too.  i moved here just to be with him and maybe things won’t work oot in the end, but this isn’t right.”

“Right.  I got it.”  Now Dylan fought back tears as he forced a smile.  “Can I ask you one more favor?”

“of course, dylan.”

“Can I get a lift to the airport?”

 *************************

DEQ Terrace & Lounge
Toronto, Ontario

Brooke and Stacy filled each other in on the basics of the last twenty years of their lives as they hurried down Wellington Street desperate to reach their destination for refuge from the heavy sleet that had begun to fall directly after the ceremony.

They found a private booth to the left of the bar and sat down.

“Too bad you have to drive home, Stace.  I was really hoping we could tie one on.”

“Are you kidding?  I got a room at the Wyndham because I was hoping the exact same thing.  You’re well worth driving three hours back to Collingwood with a hangover.”

A waitress came by and took their drink orders as Brooke nervously tapped a finger on the table.

“Elliot’s a hottie – I hope you don’t mind me saying.  So what’s up?  You two having trouble?”

“Not exactly.  Elliot is generous and doting…and dull.  But honestly, Stace, at this point in my life, dull suits me just fine.  Tabitha makes me so proud.  She’ll be starting high school next year and…”

Brooke’s lip began to quiver as she stared silently past Stacy.

“Hey…Brooke, what’s wrong?  I know it’s been a long time but you can talk to me.”

“It’s cancer, Stacy.”

They fell awkwardly silent as the waitress returned with their drinks.  When she finally scurried off behind the bar, Stacy leaned across the table and spoke in a near whisper.

“Oh God, Brooke.  I’m so sorry.  How bad?”

“Stage 3.  They don’t think it’s metastasized yet, but my oncologist isn’t a fan of chemo so she wants to start me on injection treatments next week.”

“Jesus.  How are Elliot and Tabitha taking it?”

“They don’t know.”

What?  How have you been hiding something like this from them?”

“When you live in a 5,000 square foot luxury dungeon, it’s surprisingly easy.”

“Well, when are you gonna tell them?  They’re gonna find oot sooner or later, Brooke.”

“That’s just it, Stacy…I can’t.  I just can’t.  Tabitha, Elliot, my career – after so many years treading water, I finally figured oot how to do things right.  Raising a family, caring for them – it’s been my only shot at something like redemption.  My karma sucks, Stace.  I can’t fuck this up.”

“So what are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know.  But I’ve been thinking aboot maybe spending some more time in Collingwood whenever I get a chance.  I really need a friend to lean on, Stacy.”

“You’ve got one, Brooke.  I promise.”

 *************************

Greenwich Village, New York City

Jake joined Arseman and Leslie at their table and asked a passing waiter to bring them three more drinks, a request he punctuated with a light slap on the server’s ass.

“Sorry, Ladies.  If we’re gonna stay here – and we should because my guests drink for free – then I’ve gotta vamp it up.”

“You go, Girl!  Now what’s this big news you’re dying to tell me?”

“Oh God, I feel like such a gossip queen, but this is gonna blow your mind.  You know Matt and Ashley got married, right?”

“Of course.  We’re still in touch on Facebook.”

“Yeah, until the other day, that was the only way I kept tabs on the old crowd, too.  So Matt calls me up for the first time in at least a decade – he has no idea what I do for a living, by the way — and he starts telling me aboot how he’s been doing a local public access show where he gives advice on home renovation or some shit up there in Toronto.  Apparently, some producer from the W Network saw it and offered Matt a starring gig in his own prime time show in Vancouver.”

“Wow…so they’re moving back?”

“Well, Matt is, anyway.”

“Wait, what do you mean?”

“He’s leaving Ashley.”

“Oh my God, they always look so happy in the photos they post—”

“Arseman, everybody always looks happy on Facebook.  That’s what it’s for, making others feel unjustifiably envious aboot your imaginary happiness.  Anyway, he can’t bring himself to tell her so he was seriously considering a clandestine escape from the throes of suburban bliss—”

“That asshole!”

“Don’t worry, I talked him oot of it.  He’s gonna talk to Ashley as soon as he finds his cojones and I guess he’ll file for divorce.”

“Well, that’s the right thing to do, but poor Ashley!”

“There’s more.  I started asking him for all the deets on his new gig but he didn’t really seem too interested.  Know why?  Because he’d already decided to move back to Vancouver before he heard from the producer.  He wants to be near Courtney.”

Courtney?

“Yeah.  Matt’s still in love with her, Arseman.  Do you believe that shit?”

“Wait, but isn’t Courtney—”

“—a fucking nun, yes.  Told you I had some news that would blow your mind!”

“Jake – sorry, Jacqueline – when was the last time you paid a visit to Vancouver?”

“Christ, I don’t know…maybe 2002.”

“Yeah, same here.  I think it’s been too long, don’t you agree?”

“I’m starting to…what do you have in mind?”

“Take my number and see if you can get a couple weeks off.  Wait, when is Matt starting his new show?”

“He said they start filming next month.”

“Next month it is.  In the meantime, I’ll do a little online recon.  It sounds like some old friends could use a serious reality check.”

“And you think that you and a guy who wears a feather boa to work can provide that?”

“Uh, have you forgotten who you’re talking to, Jake?”

5 thoughts on “Fifty: Karma Calling

    1. Thanks, Tom! It does feel strange to still be writing about these characters in the present day. The dialogue has been the biggest challenge because I want it to be more natural and believable than the original, yet they still have to come across as the same people. Like everyone, I’ve changed in a lot of ways since high school, but I don’t think my style of speech is much different.

      Liked by 1 person

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