Ah my friends it has been too long. However, distance and time makes the heart grow fonder, and perhaps makes the mouth salivate just a bit more frequently for those more infrequent gourmet treats. For just like the finest champagne, Grecian Hills is an acquired taste.
Yet the time away from our acquaintances in Grecian Hills translates as more storyline for we who dote on them. So much HAS happened. When we last checked in on our compatriots, Dieter had sailed away, Pedro had been mysteriously kidnapped, Melanie had checked into the equivalent of a convent, Avery had lost his job, self respect, and his wife, and Claudette may finally have opened her heart to the love of Dr. Orion.
This week's episode is the crme de la crme of what Grecian Hills has to offer. The culmination of eight explosive episodes, this week expect an eruption of seismic proportions. Every member of Grecian Hills will be impacted by the latest turn of events. Yet they know not what to expect. Nay, within the city limits the mood is somber -- the menacing calm of a storm about to break. For the blow-ups expected have been sidestepped by mere children who laugh in the face of a fate set out to destroy them. While we will sit back and relax and rubber neck to our hearts content whilst they writhe in pain.
Melanie, the latest member of Sacred Heart School for Girls, feels that she's plagued by the school moniker. Her broken heart beating just a little bit faster in a bitter refusal to believe in a god who would be so cruel to such a young girl. Secretly still loving her elusive quarry, she fights the battle to lift the telephone receiver and cry into the microphone of her undying passion. However, she merely sits comatose and unblinking in her classes.
To be fair, one reason for her impression of an "idiot savant" (with more emphasis on the idiot than anything else) is that she's a little confused as to her placement in a Catholic girl's school. Sure she's a girl, but she goes to her Episcopalian church like any other god-fearing girlie. Isn't a Catholic school the equivalent of sacrilege? Also, most of the other girls are boarding students, and seem a bit too close for her comfort. Even dotty Melanie has heard of "lesbians." But that was just a tribe of really friendly Greeks right? Is there something linking that band of kissing cousins to her fair town?
As for the spark of her passions, he is far too busy with the beginning of the new semester at Grecian Hills Polytechnic. However, he is no match for Esl, who still remains aloof despite his numerous sonnets, and floral bouquets. No, his "physic"al attraction to Esl has not lessened as the heat of the sun has cooled into the autumn months.
Yet poor Alex has much weighing on his mind. The mysterious disappearance of the infamous Pedro Carluso plagues him. Pedro had many enemies, to be sure. Yet who would do such an audacious thing? Surely they would know that the Carlusos would retaliate! However, perhaps that is exactly what these bold "lady piranhas" are counting on. The biggest worry on Alex's mind is that he doubts the object of his affections. No, he does not doubt in his true love for her lusty self, but the descriptions of the two women, as shady as they are, definitely fit his dear Esl. Might it be that she is somehow involved? How would he be able to bear knowing that he, a fighter of crime, for truth and justice, lusts after a criminal mastermind? Additionally, what if all of this is for naught, and she is innocent? How can their love survive such a lack of faith? Indeed, Alex has had much to think about in the past weeks.
Yesterday, he was handed yet one more cause for concern. Drinking his espresso on the college lawn, basking in the culture of the "quad," while thumbing through his oft consulted physics notebook, he glanced upward when a glimmer of goldenrod caught his eye. The vision was none other than Jeanette Riles. Chattering to herself in guttural tones, she was staring into the flames of her disposable lighter. The despair that surrounded her was palpable. She gazed into the flickering fire as if it were a home she would never return to, yet yearned to find a way. Finally, breaking the gaze when she burnt her fingertip, Alex noticed that the tears seemed to be caused by much more than a blister.
In hindsight, Alex realizes that it was a signal that he might have answered, but his stoic scientific brain wouldn't allow himself to believe that he could have done anything to prevent the later events. Jeanette in her fear and panic at her idealistic love for her soon to be ex-husband Avery was consumed with the idea of a fiery end to her all-consuming passion. Wanting to tamp the flames, her fevered mind began to see a parallel to her powerlessness to that of a raging fire destroying all in its path. Yet she might be able to combat something tangible...thus she stares into flames.
That idea consumed her during her respite at the college caf, and with the flick of her lighter, and the blister it soon caused, her resolve hardened. Walking home, unhinged and oblivious to the traffic in the streets, and the pedestrians that passed her, she continued to hear the comforting sound of her lighter. *Click, click, Sssppp!*
As she entered her condominium, the house that "love" had built, she serenely walked to the bed that she had so often lain awake in waiting for her husband during his "late nights at the office." It was the same bed that they had inaugurated their coital passions, where he had introduced her tenderly into the bliss she naively thought would last forever. It was upon this bed that she threw down her disposable lighter, which she kept lit with the aid of a little ingenuity. Standing in the corner, with her arms wrapped tightly around herself, she watched the thick noxious smoke rise, and breathed in as it unfurled around her body. The flames growing higher, her bed the her funeral pyre, and her eyes burning both from the blaze and her heavy sorrow, she was no longer conscious to feel the pain of her heart breaking.
Meanwhile, the noxious fumes from the smoke roused young Melanie from her nap on the grass in her backyard. Scrunching her face unattractively at the disgusting smell, she walked toward the condominiums two blocks away from her house. Investigating the source of the smoke, and the eventual flames that came into view, she was spurred into action. Hoping to make up for her terrible mistakes in the Janni case, she ran as fast as her aching legs could take her back to the safety of her house, and the telephone that waited inside. Shaking, she punched in the emergency code as she had been instructed to do, and she told the operator what she had spied. She then made her way back to the condominiums to stare at the growing flames. After all, it wasn't everyday that there was a fire in your neighborhood.
As she stood there, transfixed by the sight (of both the cruel flames and sweaty firemen), she was pushed out of the way by a shocked and visibly shaken Avery Riles. Returning home in hopes of reconciliation, that possibility was thrown aside for shock and panic as he watched the house that they had made their life in, engulfed in flames. The tears flowed unashamedly down his face as he hoarsely screamed toward the heavens, "OH GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD NOOOOOO!!!!!" For it seemed a fitting end to their formerly happy life, and an omen of God's wrath at his extracurricular activities. Little did Avery know that Jeanette was in their home during the blaze. For if he had known, he might not have been capable of speech at all.
The cause for Avery's unannounced arrival at his former residence was actually his mistress.
Bereft at his string of bad luck, in losing his wife, his job, and his self-respect, Avery ran into the arms of the only woman who'd have him. Angie, seeing his appearance as a sign that they were meant to be together, invited him brazenly in the daylight hours into her home. Sending her daughter out to play in their backyard, she readied herself for more adult "recreation." Angie hurried him into her bedroom, and urged him to take comfort in her reading chair near the window. Kneeling in front of him, she smiled boldly into his resigned eyes, as she took his shoes off of him, put his feet on the nearby ottoman, and lightly rubbed their tired soles. Running off to the kitchen, she promised that she wouldn't be more than a moment.
Sitting in the chair, he questioned his actions, as he had for the entire week. Rubbing his temples, and nestling into the chair he looked around his surroundings. Flexing his feet, he picked up the book that sat nearest the chair. It also happened to be Angie's diary. His interest piqued, yet knowing he shouldn't, he began to read the recent entries. Stunned and dismayed at the entries, he couldn't believe his absolute stupidity in getting himself involved with Angie. She was completely out of her gourd! He dropped the diary, and his realization hit him with the force of all of his mistakes and crimes. He finally broke down with a ferocity that brought Angie to her bedroom to see what possibly could be the matter. It sounded like a wounded animal, as well it might have been, considering it was his rutting like a bull that had gotten him in this mess.
Angie, ever the mother of Melanie, didn't understand how something as innocuous as her diary might cause such a reaction. Sure, he was a naughty boy for reading her private journal, but what had happened!?
Avery looked up, as wounded and as furious as a hunted animal, and burst out of Angie's boudoir and home with inhuman energy. Not bothering to put his shoes back on, he ran full force to the condominiums just a few blocks away that he had shared with Jeanette. Hoping that she might somehow forgive his idiocy, he pushed past all those in his path, until the yellow tape and rock-hard abdominal muscles of a policeman hindered his progress.
So, the questions that still remain are these, is Jeanette alive? Could anyone have prevented this disastrous meltdown? How will Avery cope, already shouldering the burden of guilt for his previous actions? Will Angie ever get a clue? Will Alex recognize Melanie's good deed?
However, on the other side of war-torn Grecian Hills, a family plots.
The Carlusos, incensed at the kidnapping of their beloved Pedro, sit within their family's front plotting. Who would suspect that Granny Jenkins, the sweet and affable proprietor of "I Can Sew, You Can Too!," a shop for beginning quilters and professionals alike, was actually a member of the Carluso gang. Her shop, serving as a meeting place, and a financial cover, was so innocuous that not even the police commissioner himself suspected. They were all gathered because of a postcard they'd recently received from the missing Pedro, himself.
Click here to read his words
As his postcard mentions, one of the women looked familiar. Could it have been Esl as Alex fears? Just what IS her occupation after all? How many people know her true intentions and her background? Is she little more than a pretty face, sexy body, and lusty voice? Or does this vixen hide true Machiavellian intentions and a sly mind?
Also, we know that the Carlusos aren't to be messed with, and that they won't tolerate the reckless kidnapping of one of their own, but what DO they do that is so wrong? Perhaps it is time to enlighten you the reader, and tell you a little story.
The Carlusos are Mafiosos in the cruelest tradition, for they belittle the most precious that we hold dear, human life. Acting as ethnic demigods, they give that which they can so easily take away. No, they are not international gunrunners. That would be honorable in light of their activities, as they are heartless rogues leading an international white slavery ring. Yes, there are such beasts among men who would sell flesh for profits, unconcerned with their values as fellow human beings.
This being said, perhaps it is a little more obvious why someone might target their crime family. Only a handful of their victims have been able to reach freedom, or a life halfway resembling that which they once knew. Remarkably one such former captive is currently residing in the lap of luxury within the Grecian Hills residential area.
Juliana Blanco, the friend/foe whose assistance Vale Soddenfeld called for in destroying Bradley as well as her sister, was one such prisoner. As nothing more than an animal, completely dehumanized she was the perfect choice to ruin Bradley. For isn't it often the victims of abuse who become so proficient in abusing others? Likewise, Juliana has seen the depths of depravity that can be unleashed on one person by another. Thus, perhaps the Carlusos should heed Pedro's warning, and look over their shoulders.
Nevertheless, how would kidnapping Pedro help Juliana in her current goal of reeking havoc on Bradley's life? Is she abandoning that plan for one of personal revenge?
After all, the biggest question this writer can think to ask regarding these turns of events are, WHO ARE THE LADY PIRANHAS AND WHAT DO THEY WANT?
So, let us leave that thunderous quandary, and flock to something far more comforting -- young love.
Guido, braving both the cantankerous and ever-pestered "Crab Abbel" and the Japanese language (not TOO poorly) to speak to his lady fair, pulled off his brash scheme. Though his Japanese wouldn't fool a native, what does Shirley know of foreign languages? Though well versed in the arts of negotiation with meddlesome ladies luncheons, one hardly expects her to notice the subtle difference of a native speaker and that of an imposter, as she doesn't "sprechen" zhee "nihongo."
Listen here to Guido charm his way further into Yumi's regard
Just what Guido has planned, is anyone's guess, let alone Yumi's. However, in light of the past enlightenment, one wonders, is Yumi safe? Will her American exchange turn sinister? Or is Guido merely a henchman for the Carluso bad deeds. Does he even know the scope of their "business?" It would seem that Guido's adoration of the diminutive beauty is as genuine as his electric smiles. Yet only time will tell if he is true, and merely a hired hand, or something far more devious.
Which is a fitting transition to talk about the insidious insider of Grecian Hills. The dirty pastor has finally gotten his comeuppance. On a bright Friday morning, the dawn merely an afterthought in the cloudless sky, the Pastor sat plumply in his easy chair drinking coffee. That is until his door was thrown open by numerous police officers, and the coffee that was formerly in his cup was burning his chest. Carted away in irons, his neighbors viewed the scene in shock and horror. The ever-immaculate Pastor was being arrested, and he was dirty too!
Click here to learn how the Pastor was caught
Just who leaked the information to the police and then the press, no one knows, however the citizens are restless. How will they ever be able to be warm again, knowing of the snake that they trusted had committed such mayhem? If in that town, why not theirs? Overzealous and demented mothers throughout the county immediately feared the worst, that Rev. Esposito had not only struck again, but had attacked THEIR children. It was a massive hysteria unlike anything anyone had ever seen. Mental health professionals lined the civic center like artisans in market place, ready to deal with the grieving and fearful families. The Wailing Wall had nothing on Grecian Hills last Friday. It seems that there is an air of despair like nothing they had ever had to deal with. Up until four months ago, this was a normal, peaceful town. Now it has been forced to embrace the violence and the taint of the twenty-first century will all of its fear and paranoia.
Neighbor against neighbor, how can you learn to trust when you don't know who to turn to?
Well, Claudette decided even before this plight that she was ready to do more than turn for HER neighbor, Dr. Renard. Though she felt badly for the pastor situation, she honestly couldn't understand why people had such a flair for the dramatic and needed to attach themselves to tragedy in such a way. In her opinion, though unsolicited, they should thank their lucky stars he HAD been caught, and if they hadn't noticed anything out of the ordinary, so much the better. Not to say she hadn't noticed his greasy glances and lubricated language when she sang at Janni's funeral.
Yet in the face of tragedy, she realized it was a tremendous opportunity to start up a conversation with the enigmatic and alluring young doctor. Surely in the spirit of brotherhood, a little flirting isn't out of the question? Thus, Claudette set off with her charming and brooding face and "accidentally" knocked into Orion as he came up the stairwell with a large bag of groceries in each arm. The chaos that ensued with both Orion and Claudette meeting the forces of gravity as well as nature will surely be remembered by this writer for many cold and lonely nights.
As the bread and wine tipped forth from the craft paper bag, and bounced down the hallway, Claudette and Orion, sitting on their bruised tailbones, stared into each other's eyes.
"Oh dear, are you alright?" He asked in a concerned and courteous tone.
"Yes," she replied with all the fear of a deer caught in the deadly gaze of oncoming headlights, suddenly shy of her brazen attempts at attracting his attention.
Reading her fear, and hoping to assuage her, he spoke softly and intimately, making sure not to touch her, for that might make her bolt. "Are you sure? You took an awful fall, I hope you haven't hurt yourself."
"No," she laughed embarrassedly, "I think I merely bruised my ego if not my bum." She smiled as she looked into his eyes.
"Ah, well that I can fix, if you wouldn't mind assisting me. I do believe my produce made a run for it."
Blushing fuchsia and looking more like a stuffed pig at a luau than one of the captivating hula dancers, she responded, "Oh yes, errr, I AM sorry about this. I can't believe how embarrassing it is to knock into your neighbor." (Which was the truth, she didn't exactly PLAN to be embarrassed, merely coquettish.)
They slowly made their way up and down the stairwell collecting his groceries, all the while giving Claudette a more intimate look at her neighbor. (The contents of his refrigerator you dirty minded louts!) Acting like teenagers, they slyly glanced at one another, occasionally making eye contact causing Claudette to burn brightly and Orion to smile brilliantly. Until they met, parcels in hand in front of his door. Having no other choice but to accompany him inside (her arms full of his produce), he felt he had no recourse but to invite her to dinner.
They talked for hours, while they put away his groceries, prepared the meal, ate, and cleaned up. Only occasionally did Claudette remember to be shy, and only then for a while. There was something about his regard that made her courageous, and made her speak clearly and openly for the first time in many years. To be fair, that comfort did cause uneasiness, for she hardly knew herself, though the same could be true after the shocks she'd been dealt the past months. Only when she looked at the LCD display glowing amber in the darkness did she realize where she was, whom she was with, and her discomfort and controlled defenses slammed back into place with monumental vigor.
Jumping up she squealed, "Oh GOD! I missed my set! The club is going to kill me!!" Hopping around Orion's apartment searching for her coat, her keys, her shoes she incoherently babbled, making a lovely show for Orion.
"Claudette, I'm very sorry. I'm sure they'll understand. So let us get down to the business at hand," he calmly stated. Pointing to his mahogany side table, he said, "here are your keys. Your coat is hanging up on the coat rack by the door, and your shoes are by the island in the kitchen. But first, would you like to call them?"
Sighing deeply and attempting to stop making an ass of herself, she agreed, and went into the kitchen to make a phone call she dreaded. Orion waited comfortably on his dark leather couch, breathing in the lovely scent of Claudette's perfume. It was a subtle and transfixing concoction of currants, cinnamon, and a hint of orange which reminded him of warm mulled wine on a cold winter's day. It was a scent he quite adored.
After some troubled and muted blathering, Claudette walked out, still anxious though obviously relieved. She had forgotten that they had hired some teenagers to do a benefit rock concert that evening, and she hadn't been expected to make a professional appearance. Nonetheless, the spell had been broken and it was time for the princess to collect her pumpkin and skedaddle.
Consequently, she was transformed once more into the shy creature of before, as she gathered up her things. Claudette was physically shocked as Orion took her coat, and helped her into it. (Such gallantry being far more surprising than a swift kick on her backside.) Yet, he accepted her tremors, and merely inquired whether they might share another meal sometime in the future.
Looking to her fidgeting hands, she jangled her keys slightly (as she was shaking), and said, "Um, yes, that would be - uh, nice."
The ensuing glance between the pair could have melted the polar ice caps. It's rather obvious that their subsequent relationship is merely a formality.
Speaking of melting, even Dieter has cause to celebrate, for it seems he's found someone to love, other than a particulary tasty jam tart or Mama. What a naughty little German. Though he was kind enough to send a postcard to Alex from England, as he was about to embark on his Skipper Dave Sea Tour, he failed to remark upon meeting the nice Austrian girl who is also to be his bunk mate on the journey. The mistake was made, and though Skipper Dave promised to fix the problem, the two native German speakers, wouldn't hear of it.
Dieter's postcard to Alex
Ah, her name was Mina and though she didn't have flowers in her hair, she set his pulse to racing, and that was saying something! However, Mina is a fiercely independent young woman. The first in her family to finish a law degree, she would like to work in America as a victim's advocate. The dichotomy of Betty Crocker baking talent and Gloria Steinem sensibilities, it will most likely confuse Dieter as much as comfort him.
So my dears, that is all that this dedicated writer can commit to words at the moment. With all of these exciting occurrences, it is sure to keep the brain addled with questions and keep everyone guessing.
Until next week on...