Back by popular demand, here is my submission to the Lexus "In the Belly of the Beast" Final Chapter Contest that ended with a winner and four honorable mentions in January 2009. The winning final chapter appears in the February 2009 issue of Lexus magazine, so if anyone has a copy they are willing to sell to me, please contact me. Thank you everyone for your support! J.K./M.H.
Finally At Home
Feeling anxious but self assured, Julia completed her first day on the job at Google. Her new boss, Merry Roma, turned out to be dynamic not only as a boss but as a real confidant, a rare quality in female bosses. The shoes she finally bought were from an outlet store off the highway where she and Terence stopped because he also wanted lunch. The only restaurant in sight was a Sonic, taking him back to the good old days of eating at drive-ins on Saturday nights. But they finally made it to their destination, and on time, because Julia wanted to look awake for the first day of her new job. Terence had stayed at home playing with Larry. Larry, the little dog that Julia remembered first seeing in a box with other heeler pups back in New Mexico where the man offered the dogs for free. The guy looked like he was from Boulder instead of New Mexico, Julia thought to herself. Hippie. Mountain hippie. Her refuge bringing and getting her through all kinds of minor stops, each time, driving farther away from each one. The jungle wedding in Las Vegas. Bwana Jim, the paper loincloths and general craziness of it all, feeling like two five year olds going through the motion of marriage just to play house. Not the Napa Valley wedding Julia had hoped to experience, and no chance of seeing Mr. Lowdown himself there, either. Driving home, Julia entered through the front door and found Terence playing with Larry on the floor, throwing him a blue ball which he chased and retrieved for Terence. It was that color blue, the same blue of the Beast.
“Hi Sweetheart. How was the Google job?” he asked her, as she kicked off her black shoes and collapsed onto the divan. She smiled at him and rubbed her feet with her right hand.
“It went well. I even talked to my boss. Mexico. Merry said she lived in San Felipe for a year and loved it. A real tropical utopia. Guess what? We can go there, too, in three months. I can finish this one major project at Google then get some time off. And we can bring Larry with us, too. What do you think?”
Terence looked at her as he thought over what she just said to him. He had a little, enigmatic smile on his face, looking just like the character of Otto from the 1953 film Houdini. He really wanted to stay where they are now for awhile, so that he could at least get a job teaching about cannibals in Los Angeles. At UCLA, of course – where else? “What do I think?” he slowly repeated as he gently stroked Larry's head. “I think I should at least give you the good news, Julie. I received a call from Auntie M&M. The spell she cast will help find a cure for AIDS, which is why Brian gave me the package to make sure it was hand delivered to her. The Cannibal Man to the rescue, not losing sight of what he is supposed to do. But now Julia was on her feet, pattering down the hallway of their new home to the bedroom where she quickly took off her work clothes and threw on a pair of Levis and a white knit pullover. She returned to the living room and put on the television set. Terence was in the kitchen making cinnamon cappuccino for them. He yet had to mention what he did all day besides play with Larry, who really looked more like a Paco than a Larry to Julia. But he returned, handing her the porcelain cup she got last Christmas, red in color with white clouds on it. Clouds that looked like they belonged in the east coast sky, not the sky of southern California. The cappuccino was hot and not too spicy, just the way she liked it. “I remember how Peter liked the same cappuccino. In fact, he showed me how to make it. That, along with tatting. The coffee I can do but not the tatting.” Wasn't there anything else Terence was able to talk about besides cappuccino and tatting, Julia thought. I can just picture it, The Cannibal Man tatting doilies to be placed on cherry wood dressers.
“I have an idea, Terence, why don't we eat out tonight? It doesn't have to be anywhere fancy so I don't have to change clothes again.” Julia noticed Terence was wearing his jeans with a gray polo shirt. Terence wondered if Julia had a diner in mind. As if he read her mind, she responded, “A burger or sandwich will do.” Terence was hoping to treat her to a real meal complete with wine and caviar to celebrate her first day on the job. But, if all she wanted was a hamburger... his thoughts trailed back to Peter, thinking the only reason he was happy with Brian is because he did not have to put up with a female. Mom, the queen cougar of them all. A batch of Press-a-Pennies with the Lord's Prayer embossed on them. What was Terence to think? He was supposed to be happy with Julia, and while he was happy for her getting the Google job at the west coast office, his brain was in Cannibal Land, according to Julia. Terence didn't think he had the potential to become a vorarephile and he was fairly sure that Julia didn't, either. Terence did not want to admit to himself that his wife would be making more money than he, and he was the one with the PhD between them. Putting on his shoes, Terence saw Julia stand before him with her car key in her left hand, asking him if he was ready to go. Outside, standing in front of the IS F, they took off down the road, to a diner for supper and then, bed.