Last year, The Clarion Call, Vol. 2, followed me, and their profile description included an Open Call for Submissions to their second anthology and an invitation to creatively re-write and what-if history with a focus on Liberty and Freedom. A fire burned through my synapses, and I found the perfect opportunity to redraft history, combining my love of JFK and Marilyn Monroe. (Read to the end for an excerpt of my included short, Marilyn Re-Imagined.)
Each year, The Agorist Writers Workshop creates an anthology, highlighting liberty/freedom-themed short form fiction. From their website:
“We are a small group of liberty-minded individuals with an interest in creative writing, professional autonomy, and sharing the message of freedom and personal accountability. Our backgrounds include various forms of writing and publishing experience ranging from technical writing and peer-review editing to advanced fan fiction and self-published novels. A common thread among us is a desire for entrepreneurship met with personal growth and creativity, while encouraging others with similar interests to pursue the same.”
This year is no different. Fantasy shorts wanted for The Clarion Call, Vol. 3. The deadline is 1 July 2017, so hurry and get your liberty-themed fantasy shorts in before submissions close.
As promised, here’s an excerpt from my short story, Marilyn Re-Imagined, included in Echoes of Liberty (The Clarion Call Book 2).
***
Bing Crosby’s Home
Palm Springs, California
March 24, 1962
“Zip me?”
Seated on the edge of the disheveled bed, awash in slanting beams and lamp light, blue-eyed Marilyn Monroe lifted her shoulders and rounded her back to make it easier for her lover to close the curve-hugging, wiggle dress. Her bare knee bumped the bedside table, nearly knocking her current-favorite book to the floor.
Her voice lacked the sultry breathy-ness of her public persona, but this was private. She glanced over her shoulder. This was definitely private and all that fake was exhausting, right down to her soul. She could afford a moment as Norma Jeane.
Women’s laughter exploded outside the door. Hey! Baby by Bruce Channel was loud in the main room speakers. The party would go on into the late night hours. It was the Hollywood standard.
At last check, all the beds were occupied by amorous groups of two or three, so the secret service had less-than-politely explained the situation and procured an empty one for the two of them. They were newspaper royalty, after all.
“Zip me?” she asked again. Marilyn smoothed her hands over her platinum hair and rocked back and forth. Jack still didn’t respond so she twisted around.
He was already dressed with his hands tucked in his trouser pockets, his posture angled and stiff, as he studied her back. His gray-green eyes were stormy and his reddish-brown hair uncombed. The pain was more apparent and mixed with impatience now.
Their love-making had been first-time awkward, Presidentially brief, and bothered his back. The experience had been mutually pleasing, at least as far as Jack believed, but unremarkable.
He nodded finally and motioned her over, but the television smile didn’t cover the irritation on his face. She stood. She didn’t mind his terms. After all, he was the most powerful man in the country and she knew the day-to-day game better than anyone. Sex made her world go ’round, but men didn’t like to be reminded who held the keys.
“Well, Marilyn,” he pronounced in that trademark Boston accent. “It’s been a pleasure. We should do this again sometime,” he said. Though, they both knew they wouldn’t. There was that winning smile again, but his mouth pulled tight and the grin faded to something more like a grimace. He dropped one hand onto a nearby chair back. He appeared nonchalant, but he crushed the bright fabric in his hand and his knuckles turned white.
“Yes, Jack,” she said, donning the breathy version of her voice. She crossed the brown shag carpet. He was an expert at hiding the pain. She understood.
Facades were armor, hype and spin were necessary cogs in both of their societies. He winked as she twirled to offer the zipper to him. She rewarded his cooperation with a little backwards shimmy and her signature giggle. He wanted the Hollywood her and she wanted the Oval Office him. Anything more would be too personal.
Marilyn laced her fingers together and bit her lip, considering him. “Jack,” she began. “Let me call my masseur, maybe he can tell me what to do. Bing won’t mind if we use his phone. After all,” she smiled and waved a manicured hand around, “he didn’t mind this.”
“Whatevah you wish, Marilyn,” he said, patting her hip – a dismissal as he limped to the other end of the room.
She tucked the bubblegum pink phone between her face and shoulder, dialed the number on the rotary, and absently wrapped her fingers in the corkscrew cord that stretched from the handset to the base. Jack stared over the backyard and the desert hills beyond, his face haggard.
The sunset was lovely. The lonely expanse soothed; a comfort for the victims of an over-peopled life. She dropped the handset into the cradle and studied the man with the crooked back.
He murmured, “The individual is of less value than the state.” Marilyn tilted her head. As though hearing her unspoken question and without turning, he spoke, louder this time, “Do you evah believe that you are not in charge of your own life, merely running from one place to another, building a kingdom you no longer believe in, surrounded by people who wish not for your well-being, but only their piece and use of you?”
It was more words together than he had said all day. She didn’t answer, contemplating her own prison of expectation. She had built it, exploited it, and the expiration date loomed nearer than ever before. This was her truth, but a dismal way to end a tryst. Instead, she approached the pensive man.
***