Danny is only passionate about three things – his teenage daughters, his wife Annette, and hogs. As in motorcycles. Luckily, the bikes come a rather distant third, but he still looks forward to the day when the girls will be out on their own so that he and Annette can cruise the byways of the US on two wheels. Five more years, his head perpetually throbs. His habits of underindulgence would pay off in that amount of time with early retirement, fortuitously timed to occur the same year his youngest graduates from high school.
Yes, five more years of small-town politics, polluted air, and bologna sandwiches for lunch. And five more years of keeping knuckleheads away his oldest daughter, Jennifer, who happens to be exiting his building as he arrives. Damn, is all he can say to himself, wondering if she could look any more like her mother. But why did she insist on going so extreme with her outfits? He often found himself wondering how the bulk of her wardrobe didn’t get Jennifer sent to detention. Sooner or later, he’d have to make good on his threat to rid her closet of all items that could be easily mistaken for washrags.
“Oh, hey dad,” Jen says, huge shades covering most of her face, as she balances on her toes to kiss his cheek.
“What are you doing here – you’re supposed to be in class.”
She shrugs. “It’s just yearbook. They think I’m out soliciting ads.”
Danny blames remarks like these for his increasing blood pressure. “Jennifer, I don’t feel like having this same conversation with you again.”
“Dad, don’t worry. I have an A in yearbook. In fact, I may even have, like, a three-point-five on my next report card.
Hmm, that’s a head-scratcher for Danny. Jen’s smart, but not academic. In fact, the last time Danny could recall her getting a three-point anything was in second grade. “Fine, fine. But what are you doing here?”
“I brought you guys coffee, dad. Relax.”
Every now and then, Jen decides to bring in coffee from the Buena Beach Café where she works as a barista. One of his staff, Christian, is an owner of the café, and he brings in coffee just about every morning, so Danny doesn’t buy his daughter’s coffee fairy story. His guess is that she has a little crush on Mario who, no doubt, flirts with Jen when he’s not around.
At present, he’s not in the mood to worry about such a thing. Just returning from a meeting with his boss at City Hall, he has more pressing issues to worry about. Like his job.
Five more years.
A few minutes later, after a stern dialogue to Jen about the importance of working hard in school, Danny arrives to his office and plops himself down in front of his monitor. Despite his throbbing temples, a grumbling stomach, and a headache that four ibuprofen haven’t been able to eliminate, he whips out two memos, four letters, a draft proposal, and an employment bulletin for Calvin’s position. He prints out the bulletin and walks it out to Diane.
“Diane, let me have you make about 30 copies of this for distribution through our normal channels, and send it out to our listserv – I just e-mailed it to you.”
She nods and tells him, “Will do.” She’s been Danny’s assistant for the last two and a half years, and he’s been thinking of finding some way to get her salary increased so that she’ll stick around. At least for another…five years, or so.
“I’m going home – just forward my calls to voicemail and I’ll pick up my messages tonight.”
“You okay, Danny?”
He does his best to stand up straight, although dizziness and nausea could easily overtake him any minute now. Forever the trooper, Danny tells her he’s fine – just tired and due for a few hours off for all the overtime he’s put in the last few weeks. Truth is, today wasn’t the first time he’s felt a little off. But nothing, he’s sure, that some of Annette’s lentil soup won’t heal. He waves bye to Diane and heads out the door.
“Danny, glad I caught you. Are you able to join Franklin James and me this afternoon around 3:00 about the proposed… Damn, bossman. You don’t look so good. You okay?” Mario, catching Danny in the parking lot, puts a concerned hand on his supervisor’s back.
As several beads of sweat gather on his forehead, Danny steadies himself, using a nearby car for support. Please don’t fall. Please don’t fall, he begs his body. Knees, hold me up. He hears Mario’s voice asking him more questions, but he can’t concentrate on the words. The dizziness begins to ebb somewhat, but another matter makes him even woozier.
A blob. A blue-black-purple-red blob poking out from Mario’s collar just conspicuous enough for Danny to glimpse. His eyes then shift to Mario’s tie, not quite early morning tight. And crooked. There’s just one thing he needs to know at this very second. But, he’s finding it difficult to get the words out. “You…”
“Danny, sit down, man. I’m calling an ambulance right now, and I’m gonna get you some water.”
“You sleeping with…”
“Bossman, sit down, sit down. Here, let’s take off your jacket.”
And just before he blacks out, Danny is able to cough up his question. “You sleeping with my little Jennifer?”
Created by Diane Brown, Buena Beach is an online soap opera, giving up all the juicy details of some of the hottest guys and gals of Buena Beach, a small town in Southern California. Check back everyday for a new episode here on HelloBeautiful.com.