<![CDATA[ Writer Playwright Actor Model - Black Brenda Wrytes|Blog]]>Fri, 03 Nov 2017 10:26:52 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Black Bernice]]>Wed, 01 May 2013 07:17:01 GMThttp://ucbrenda.com/black-brenda-wrytesblog/black-berniceThe purpose of this blog, Black Brenda Wrytes, is to provide a platform to expose my creative works in a feuilleton type of format. I'm a prose writer who, in addition to short and not so short stories, also writes poetry and dramatic works.  Substantial pieces will be broken up into manageable 'wrytes'. My hope is to get your attention, engage it, and complete the whole purpose for why we writers choose to write.  My hope is that you will feel free to share any thoughts or reactions to anything you read in theses posts.  I hope you enjoy.

(the following tale, simple and unadorned though embellished, is, as I'm sure you've guessed, based on a true story. its purpose is to share the rationale and inspiration for this blog by stepping outside my comfort zone, and to serve as in introduction to such.)


Black Bernice

          First off, he was stunned by her looks.  A fifties something fellow with a crude or unconcerned side that led him to scratch his crotch in front of her.  It put her ill at ease and drew a measure of disgust.  A man with better than a modest professional profile making a living on the radio and with his paperback self-help series, Careers for Brainboxes, full of information and advice for . . . duh . . . improving one's chances in the job market.  This level of exposure was a sign he had arrived.  So why wouldn’t she?  He said he had a doctorate degree in communications from UCLA, or at least she thought that’s what he said. 

          She had filled out a form online, a profile, and he saw her coming, or so he thought. Nothing in her responses prepared him for the person who stood before him.  Surprise didn’t really register when he opened the door and let her into his domicile where his home office sprawled in an easy life on the second floor, overlooking the bay on one side and the hills on the other.  He’d been in the business for thirty plus years and had probably encountered every possible iteration of persons seeking professional career advice.  Besides, she had witnessed the controlled reaction so many times in her life that she eventually became slightly amused by its understated stealth.  A different sort of black woman might have had her temper set afire and given him a piece of her mind right then and there.  And he would have backed off unspoken innuendo like a decent and respectable white man, though not without one of several opinions having been affirmed.  And when he eventually suggested she let go of her pretensions – although this is not what he said at all – and just be Black Bernice from whom she was running (inside she had been taken aback by such audacity), another black woman might have been certain he was abusing her just as she had always been abused by white men, mocking her while being made to feel uncomfortable about her sensuality, and would have slapped him hard across his stubbled, ashen cheeks, causing his Jew'fro to shake in its tangle of curls, and issuing a serious warning that she would file a report for harassment if he even looked like he wasn’t going to sit still for it.  Who the fuck did he think he was? Freud?

          He stared at her and she knew what he was thinking.  Though subtle, a perversion oozed from his essence, nothing unusual, as far as she could tell, so often had she confronted it.  He equally had a reputation as a life coach.  He was known for getting his clients to step outside their boxes and do things they had always been capable of and to stride into their own sense of greatness before they knew it.  Professional gaze overhung with thickets of graying eyebrows hiding hardwired mandate, his smooth tongue set to work as personal proclivities ceded with wisdom to professional procedure.  After all, it couldn’t have been too much of a hardship at three hundred dollars an hour.  Besides, he was there to empower his clients, which invested him with greater power. 

          —So, you have a PhD from Harvard, it says here.  Biophysics.”

          —Yes."

          —Wow!”  

          She waited. 

        —And your sense of your accomplishments and who you are have eroded from twenty five years of marriage to a self-serving man who wears you like a trophy.  You would like to leave him but you want to make sure that the promising future you left behind because you were burnt out and needed a rest, you would like to know that that future still awaits you.  You would love once again to soar under your own power.” 

          His paraphrasing painted a different reality than what she had expressed.  But no need to split hairs.  He was on the right track.  Feeling his appreciation of her understated elegance and brand of black beauty that attracted white men in particular, she shifted on the overstuffed couch; he had to be married because she could not see this piece of furniture, although leather, being of his choosing.  In fact the entire office, and home, had a woman’s touch, that is, except for the extensive sound system boldly asserting its presence in the open hallway like an upturned toilet seat.  Unless he was gay, and she distinctly did not get that impression. 

          —He called you a renaissance woman?”

          —Yes.”

          —I can see why.” 

          She was tight with money, a leftover from her modest upbringing and living-on-her own hard times.  So she was hoping that at three hundred dollars an hour, she would be out of there in a few sessions.  He advertised as a career consultant, but the life coach was what he counted on taking over.  Parasitic, they are like a psychologist or glorified social worker who specializes in helping you figure out who you want to be when you finally grow up.  He was angling for a long-term relationship while she was trying to get the hell out of there as soon as she could.  Before that would happen, she had been sent to sell her powers of persuasion to the manager of a local Mercedes dealership.  It was an assignment.  She had said that she needed to make a lot of money fast and, except for being a crooked politician or charlatan, those opportunities were usually found in the sales industry.  It had been her homework.  She had been nervous as hell but she put on her best business suit and showed up for the appointment she had arranged.  She would be interviewing the general manager.  She slid professionally into her own sales pitch and the manager was blown away, attempting to impress her as a hard-working family man, and she felt her power flutter and point like a divining rod.  She was told she could start as a salesperson any time that pleased her. Any time.  He was sure she could quickly become a top producer.  She was good as hired. 

          She left there feeling empowered.  She was turning into a believer.

          —I can see why your husband would say you’re a renaissance woman,” he continued on the third visit, although it didn’t sound exactly like a compliment.  “You’ve studied classical piano, classical voice.  You play amateur tennis and golf.  You’re a gourmet cook.  You speak French, Italian and Spanish, and some Russian and German.  You write classic three-act plays. You've performed on the community stage.  All of which you've mastered to varying degrees.  It’s all quite extraordinary.  Quite extraordinary.”  He was probably younger than she but people of Middle Eastern heritage also wore their years well.  He looked at her for a moment.  
          —In my other life I’m a jazz musician. A wannabe, anyway, as the young people say.”  
        —Do you have children?" she asked, stretching to a place of social interaction that did not come naturally.  She had been taught never to pry into others' private affairs.
          —No.  Do you?"
          —Yes.  A daughter."  

          On her first visit she couldn’t help but notice the eight-foot shiny Yamaha grand that dominated the living room as she perused the Brainboxes editions displayed on the coffee table and on the bookshelves to impress new clients as they sat and waited for the killing.    It was longer than her own, which meant the sound would be that much richer; other musicians had always told her that her piano had a wonderful sound.  His looked like it had just been buffed whereas you could always find a dusting of fallen atmosphere on hers.  
 
         —You ever try any of the jazz standards?  Know any?  Got any favorites?”

       —Yes.  Uh, no.  I mean, jazz is hard.  I never felt like I could do it.  The timing and everything.  Classical is more in my blood.  I grew up on it.  I mean, I grew up on all of it—  jazz, blues, pop.  But my disposition…  And then my father was a classical pianist.  I mean…”    She was beginning to feel on the defensive but didn’t understand why.
 
          —Who’s your favorite jazz singer?" 

          She said the first thing that came to her mind.  
          —Sarah Vaughn.”
 
          —All right, then!  I love Sarah.  What about a song?”

          Feeling pushed into a corner and not knowing where he was going, she felt embarrassed not to be able to pull a rabbit out of her hat.

          —What about a favorite nursery rhyme or jingle?”

          All she could think of was, “Mary had a little lamb.”  She’d never been more embarrassed.  Or nervous.  He, on the other hand, was jazzed. 

        —Great!  You’re going to sing it for me in your best ever Sarah Vaughn.”  She was mortified.  She hadn’t truly sung in a while; she hadn’t warmed up.  And she was always embarrassed to vocalize around others.  “I’m going to set up the sound system.  We’re going to record it and you’re going to take it home and listen to it.” 

          He spent some time setting everything up – speakers, microphone, recording CD.  Then he sat down at the piano and began to riff “Mary had a Little Lamb” in a jazzy downbeat.  When he handed her the mike she could hear her heart amplified in her ears and feel it thumping in her chest that had become part of the sound system.  The session would end up costing her four hundred and fifty dollars, a fact that clouded its way into her thoughts too.  He smiled at her and announced with a wave of his right hand as it left the black and white keys in a flourish.

          —Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to present to you the all new upcoming and rising star—Black Bernice!” 

          And she started to sing her heart out like it was the most natural thing in the world.

June 4, 2011

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