*** A brief note from the author: Your about to read the first draft of the first chapter of a novel I have been working on for awhile now. The concept is simple, Maverick McCormick wakes up without a memory in his head. Desperate to figure things out, his memories start to come back to him, but are they in fact his memories? Is he really this person? What you are embarking on, is the journey of a person who lives three lives simultaneously and in random intervals – never quite sure where he is being dropped off nor what his predicament might be once he gets there. To keep things interesting, I opted to write this in first person, so that Maverick’s journey would be our journey with him: making it personal for both the character and the reader. I truly hope you enjoy this effort – please send me any notes or comments that you may have. ***
Thrice in a Lifetime
By: Packy Smith
Chapter 1: Union Jacks and the Erstwhile Memories
An off putting shade of white slid into my vision as I attempted to open my eyes. It seemed early. Way too early to bother waking up. My head was pounding and I could have sworn I had just heard some horrendous top 40 pop crap noise in the background. Nevertheless, I opened my eyes once more and came to an alarming conclusion: I had no idea where I was. On top of that, I had no idea who I was. On the plus side, the ear blisteringly horrible music was gone.
After scratching my headful of seemingly middle length curly hair; I took in my surroundings and noticed a few things of interest. First, and foremost, I was nearly naked, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts with a faded Union Jack on them. I was, judging by the lack of raised feminine breasts and the immediately noticeable sizable patch of dark hair streaming down my chest, a man. Possibly British. Good news, is it’s not enough hair to be considered a Wookie. Possibly British, certainly not a Wookie. Certainly a man, either way. I was in surprisingly good shape, not cut mind you, but I clearly exercise and stay fit. Go me!
I was in a bed that had some sort of an artistic print on the sheets. A full sized bed judging by how my feet were nearly all the way off of the bottom of the mattress. Clearly there was room for another person on the bed, and as I was on the left side of the bed, it stood to reason that perhaps someone had been in bed with me. I took another glance at these sheets and thought to myself, “dear Lord, did Van Gogh throw up on these hideous things?” I had far more pressing matters to trouble myself with, but these sheets were impossible. If not impossible, in any reality one should hope that they would at the very least be highly improbable. Yet here they were.
I looked about for any signs of my clothing, yet not a sign of them anywhere. Odd. I would have figured myself for a “jeans on the floor in the bedroom strewn about,” kind of guy. I did not like the idea of being nearly naked in some strange person’s bedroom with a memory that was escaping me at the moment. Did I drink too much last night? Do I drink at all? I had no idea!
Just as I was about to gain the courage to get out of bed and take better stock of the situation, Coraline walked into the bedroom and began to take her tank top off. Wait. Who is Coraline? Why do I know this name? My word those are amazing breasts. Natural, supple, flowing perfectly perky as she walked across the room.
“You aren’t out of bed yet?” She said as she dropped her panties to the floor and then kicked them into a dirty clothes bin near the bathroom.
A slight erection creeped up as I flew the Union Jack high and proud. “I was working my way towards that goal,” I stated in a sort of dark brown southern voice. Definitely not British. Perhaps from Texas, maybe Oklahoma. It wasn’t really all that important at that juncture.
Having noticed my contribution to the conversation on both levels, she chuckled a bit, “Put that thing away. You’re acting like you don’t see me naked every morning.”
“Not like I’m seeing you today. I can guarantee you that!”
“Well, you’re going to have to hold that thought until later tonight. I have to get ready for a viewing of some of my paintings at 10AM, and you have a meeting with your boss in less than an hour. So get up, sleepyhead,” she said as she went into the bathroom and started a steaming hot shower.
“Understood. Putting it away now.” I looked down at my new found friend and he stared back at me is if to say, it’s never gonna happen pal. “Putting it away might take a few, um, moments, but I’m working on it,” I reassured her. This was all so jarring. Why did I know her name? Obviously we are involved, and she was more than a little comfortable around me, but I don’t remember her at all. Just her name. Why only her name?
I stood up and adjusted myself appropriately for a jaunt walk around the room. The shag carpet floor was a pleasant shade of black and went well with the chartreuse painted walls. Neatly framed paintings of seemingly fascinating things adorned 2 of the walls. 2 of the paintings on the wall to my left were oddly familiar, however the one over the bed was unique and fresh.
One of the paintings had a nude woman with flowing blond hair stepping out of an open shell. 2 semi-clothed Angels were flying towards her as another woman seemed to be wanting to clothe the nude lady frantically, all the while flowers were flying around them all everywhere. Another painting seemed to be depicting a scene of overly dressed well to do folks at a park. They seemed to have a lot of hats amongst the lot of them. There’s a body of water, some various animals, trees, and some boats. I think these may be studies or re-creations of classics. I can’t be sure, but I’m fairly positive that I saw the park one in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Hey! That’s the first solid thing I’ve remembered!
On it’s own, over the bed, was a painting of house near a bridge, with a magnificent pond. The home seemed a bit Art Deco, however brilliant and well painted. The bridge was ornate with a base white appearance, followed by a smattering of pastel floral prints around the trim and columns. The water seemed life like and begged one to touch it, almost daring you to prove it was not real. Luscious green plant life and bountiful trees tied the wholesome and whimsical image together. At the bottom lefthand corner was a bright yellow “C” with a period after it. This one was likely an original, painted by Coraline herself. The painting was framed in a simple dark stained wood frame, with a female Lego character, blockingly resembling Coraline, that was holding a paint brush on top of it. The Lego bit was likely my only meaningful contribution to this room.
All of the furniture was rather mundane and forgettable: wooden shelfs, dresser, vanity, etc. Nothing that would seem out of place in just about any civilized house in the world. Compared to the bed, the carpet and the paintings the rest of the room seemed at odds with itself. As if it was decorated by 2 people with highly dissimilar decorating interests.
A variety of framed photos of myself and Coraline were strategically planted on all of the furniture. We seemingly make a very cute couple. Upon closer examination of a particular photo on the dresser, it’s easy to see that we are in love. It’s in the eyes. The eyes never lie.
Having seen enough, I took a stroll down the hallway to find the kitchen. I wasn’t even sure that I liked coffee, but I was relatively certain that today was an excellent day to find out. Bless her heart, my lover had already put a pot on. The magical aroma of the ground coffee beans was filling me with thoughts of curious joy. I had no idea why, but the unmistakeable smell of Colombian Joe was putting a bounce in my step. Hope run-eth over eternal as I discovered the kitchen.
The moment I touched the tile on the kitchen floor, my legs went numb and I crashed down onto the kitchen floor. Everything went hazy. A steady stream of information hit me with a sense of urgency that rivaled the surprise of the Spanish Inquisition.
My name is Maverick, Maverick McCormick. I’m 32 years old and I work as the General Manager at a crappy high end electronics shop called “Higher Definition.” I’m caucasian, I have wild-woman curly brown hair that seemed to take an act of a unified U.S. Congress touching my scalp to contain. Oh, and I fucking hated coffee.
Cora and I have been together for over a year. Coraline likes to be called Cora. I have to remember that. Shit, what else do I need to remember? Why is this happening to me? I have too many memories flooding into me at once.
I picked myself up off the floor and rubbed my forehead. Looking at the time, I saw that it was 8:38 AM as panic ran across my brain like an annoying kid with an even more annoying noise making toy stuck between both of my eardrums. I had a meeting with the District Manager at 9AM sharp, and that bitch considers one second past that time – late.
I ran back to the bedroom and shucked my boxers in a manner that can only be described as legendary, and jumped into the shower with Cora.
“I told you we don’t have time for this!” she insisted.
“You’re telling me! I’m going to get fired in approximately 21 minutes and 37 seconds if I don’t get my ass down to the store.”
“Marcie’s still riding you hard, huh?”
“Hell yeah, and not in the way that I like!”
Cora smiled and slid her hand gently onto my stiff member. “Oh, I know how you like to be ridden,” she whispered into my ear with an impossibly sexy voice. Sidebar, why was I still erect? Was I living on Vitamin C and Viagra? I collapsed and banged my head against a solid tile floor, and yet here I am ready to service the woman of my dreams in the shower.
I lovingly moved her aside as I told her, “Seriously, I have got to go, go, GO!”
I washed my body and hair with the ferocity of the Tazmanian Devil as I flew out of the shower and into a towel. Grabbing the electric razor with one hand, I shaved my stubble while the other hand brought a brush down on my hair like Thor’s hammer. It’s only now that I’ve had a moment to gaze upon the classically handsome man that is myself, and I’m looking damned good today I must say. A few tweaks of my hairdo, and a bit of aftershave later, I made a mad dash to the closet.
I threw a suit on as quickly as possible, grabbing shoes and socks as I made my way to the kitchen again.
My head is throbbing as I tried to remember all of the details of what my meeting was going to cover. I threw a couple Pop-Tarts in the toaster and cracked a Coke open to get back into my normal routine. My District Manager, Marcie Powers, was coming to talk to me about an inter-company transfer request I put in 3 weeks ago. It’s not so much a promotion, as it is a position outside of the hustle and bustle of the retail store. I wanted it bad, and in order to get it I couldn’t be late to this meeting.
It takes, worst case scenario, approximately 14 minutes to get to the store, park the car, and into the building. I had 16 minutes left. I tossed my shoes and socks on as the Pop-Tarts flew out of the toaster. Snagging them with the grace of a pelican catching a flying fish over the Gulf, I ran to the front door.
Naked, moist and immaculate, Cora handed me the Coke that I forgot and gave me a sultry kiss on the lips. “Go get ‘em Tiger,” she purred as she slicked my hair back and then in one hyper fast motion kicked me out the door.
I made like starved cheetah that saw his first meal in weeks to the car, a surprisingly nice Mini Cooper Countryman S replete with a Cosmic Blue paint job, white bonnet stripes and Union Jack sunroof, and got the engine cranked over even faster than that. I’ve noticed a theme with all of these Union Jacks. A text came across my phone as put the car in gear, “From Cora: bring that flagpole back when you’re done. I wasn’t finished with it.” And just like that, I had a rager again. Just what I needed at a time like this. Road rage with a raging rager behind the wheel.
13 minutes and 23 seconds later I parked the car at the back of the lot and ran to the storefront. I unlocked the front door, disarmed the security alarm and turned the lights on with 9 seconds to spare.
Marcie pulled into the parking lot right at 9AM on the dot. I checked my jacket for remnants of Pop-Tarts and took one last swig of my coke before I gathered the gumption to face her. She slammed the door of her generic looking black SUV and took a brief second to check her teeth for any potential errant food bits. Thankfully, my man essence had finally subsided, and there was absolutely no way that my DM could resurrect it. It’s not that she was necessarily unattractive, it was just that she had such a solid sheen of bitch permanently etched across the very fiber of her being that it was damned near impossible to accept that a sexual creature rested somewhere underneath there at all. Plus, she was my boss. Never sleep with the boss, it could never end well. Ever.
She entered the building briskly and bothered herself to pass a scoff my way as I held the door open for her. She was a genuine piece of work. She made a B-line directly for my office and gently laid down her laptop bag, sunglasses and coat. She then stormed out of the office slamming the door behind her.
“Let’s take a look at this hunk of shit you call a store,” she snarled as if she had the magical ability to transform into a Rottweiler at will.
She walked through a few of the aisles and paid special attention to a handful of items. She jotted some notes down about these items as she continued on. 2 aisles later she pulled a solitary white glove from her back pocket. Slowly she maneuvered the Mickey Mouse like glove onto her right hand and slid it across the back section of one of the store’s shelves. The glove came up and revealed no dust. She looked at her right hand twice, once in order to prove my inability to keep a tidy store and a second time in utter disbelief that she herself had been proven wrong.
Her walk had an odd swagger to it, which had the effect of making every moment that you had to follow her around the store awkward. Part of me wondered if this was strategy on her part, or if she started every morning off by being gang-banged by the most humongously hung men in the universe. On second thought, it was likely neither. She’s just a crazy bitch and looking for any more justification beyond that was tantamount to admitting your own personal insanity.
We made a brief stop in front of the large screen high definition TV wall where she troubled herself to ask this question, “Why are these not turned on?”
“Because it’s only 9:06 AM, and we do not open until 10AM sharp. I’m conserving electricity, which as you know comes out of my monthly expenses on the P&L report.”
“I suppose that’s acceptable. Have them on no later than 9:50AM every morning. If people don’t see these on as they drive by, they won’t stop, will they?”
“Understood. I’ll make sure to pass that on to the rest of the team.”
An opportunity to destroy me shone brightly in her eyes, “and speaking of your team. Where are they? Shouldn’t they be here already?”
“No ma’am. They don’t come in until 9:30AM. Higher Definition does not believe in employee overtime and I need them out on the floor selling, not doing my job for an extra 30 minutes.”
“But if you are talking to me, then who’s doing the work you should be doing right now?”
I grabbed a clipboard with a completed morning checklist, which covered all of the necessary tasks that must be completed before the store can open each day, and handed it to her. “It was all taken care of last night. I knew you were coming so I came in and did the work while Seraphina closed the store.” It’s nice to know that even with some sort of mind-bogglingly selective memory amnesia, that I could still have the foresight to not screw myself over. Thinking ahead when you couldn’t hardly think at all. Huh, there was a great slogan in there somewhere. When I had time to figure it out, I should market it!
Although I was proud of myself, it was obvious that Mrs. Powers was less than thrilled. Not because I did the work the night beforehand, but because she was having a hard time finding any reason to yell at me. With a labored sigh and a bit of defeat in her voice she inquired, “When is your full store inventory scheduled for?”
“Tuesday the 8th, nearly 2 weeks from now.”
“I’ll be very interested to see the results from your counts.” She moved in dangerously close to me with, our noses mere millimeters away. She smiled as she imparted this comment to me, “I would hate to see anything unusual or expensive come up missing. It. Would. Break. My. Heart.” She backed away as she disappeared back into my office and then came right back out with all of her belongings in tow.
“This place is disgustingly clean and well maintained. Your crew will be here any minute and for fuck’s sake I don’t want to talk to any of those idiots. Don’t believe for a second that this visit proved anything. I have my eyes on you Mr. McCormick.” And with that she walked out the door as if she had forgotten about the real reason I wanted her in my store today.
I followed her out the door and said, “Mrs. Powers, aren’t you forgetting something?”
Without looking up or anywhere near me she retorted, “No.”
“We were supposed to talk about the inter-company transfer that I put in awhile back.”
“No, Mr. McCormick, that is what you wanted to talk about. I had no intention of talking about it until after your inventory results are in. If you survive that, then we’ll talk about it.” And with that she was in her generic looking SUV, door slammed and gone. What a waste of time. What a bitch.
That woman has hated me for awhile now. I guess that’s the price I had to pay for proving that her dearest boy-toy of a star General Manager was indeed a dirty rotten thief. He was actually the previous GM of this exact store, which is why she was so keen to see me fail on the dreaded inventory day coming up. You know, the worst part about it, was that he was only sleeping with her to keep her off of his scent. His paper trail was ridiculously obvious, but he planned all of their rendezvous in such a way that he could cover his tracks. I suppose somebody should have enlightened him to the digital age. I e-mailed all of the contents to her, the corporate office and the loss prevention team when I finally ran across it. And that’s how I got stuck in this store, as the man who found the problem I got put in charge of fixing the problem. Marcie and I couldn’t get along, and as long as she was my boss, she was going to do every thing in her arsenal to make me painfully aware of who held all of the power in our relationship.
After a few moments of staring into the horizon and pondering the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, I went back into the store and proceeded to turn all of the electrical devices on. Shortly thereafter, Seraphina, the Assistant Manager, came in and looked around the store with a spy’s gaze. “Is she here?” I heard her whisper.
“Nope, she’s long gone.”
“Ah man, what a bummer. I was totally looking forward to talking to her about the price of pitchforks in hell,” she snapped back as she walked to my office.
Seraphina Jones was a bit of an odd bird. She’s witty, exceedingly smart, and a bit of a fast talker. The kind of person who could sell heroin to cumquats. An amazing lady in her late 30s – she dressed sharp, looked neat, and got along with everybody, even the fucked up crazy tech-nerd customers. What she was doing stuck in retail, I’ll never know. Then again, I was stuck in retail too, so I suppose it doesn’t take much.
“You know, she did say that she was really looking forward to talking to each and every ‘idiot’ that worked here,” I told her jokingly.
“I’m sure it broke her heart to leave,” Seraphina said as she nosed about my office. As I entered the room, she spun around and smacked me on the right shoulder. “Where in the hell is my coffee?”
“You know how I hate coffee. Why would I make coffee?”
“Because you love your employees, and because you know I’m a crazy bitch if I don’t get my java before the store opens.”
“You do realize that it only takes 4 minutes for the coffee maker to brew a fresh pot, right? We still have over a half hour before the store opens,” I assured her.
“Great, so you have plenty of time to make my coffee. Make it happen cap’n!” And just like that she was off to clock in and get to work, and I was stuck working the coffee machine. My brain was still taking in all of the memories and was trying to make sense of them, but regardless I was relatively sure that this was how most mornings played out for me. A man who hates coffee, brews it fresh everyday out of respect for his hard-working staff. If that wasn’t not love, then I just didn’t know what was.
The rest of the work day was a bit of a blur. I really phoned it in all day, hopefully the gourmet blend that I kept brewing was keeping everyone’s spirits high. I wasn’t really all that worried about it. Sera ran a great sales floor, and would no doubt make a fine General Manager. At least she kept telling me to get that new gig so she could find out. That’s really what today all boiled down to: another missed opportunity. I couldn’t barely get my DM to even acknowledge the transfer request, let alone talk about it. I could only hope that Cora was having a far better day than I was.
It was Yabba-Dabba-Do time and I bid a fond farewell to the staff, thanking them for yet another excellent day. We were the number one store in the region, both in sales and profit margins, another reason why my DM hated me: I was successful despite not having her support. Walking out the door of the shop I grabbed my cellphone and called Cora. She had sent me a text awhile ago saying she would be out of pocket, but I hoped that after 5PM was safe for a call.”
“Hey baby,” she said cheerfully on the other end of the line.
“Oh hi! How’d it go today?”
“It went really good. I had a few local area executives look at my work today and they were impressed. And that artist I introduced to you about a month ago, Ezra, he was there to help keep me networking. I think I’m going to be able to book my first non-restuarant art show in the near immediate future,” she gushed.
“That’s great baby. That’s amazing. I can’t wait to see your work in the spotlight soon. Any chance the Lego mistress will make an appearance?”
“You know what? If I get to put together an actual full exhibit, I will make sure that Lego Cora gets her fifteen minutes as well.”
I knew I loved this woman for a reason. Even though she’s just scratching the surface of her potential, she still remembers her roots and respected the bond between us. That was oddly important to me.
A brief silence ensued as I got in my car. Cora chimed in, “so how’d your big meeting go? Marcie give it to you like you’ve never had it before?”
I chuckled a bit as I replied, “you know, it’s funny that you put it that way. It was new and different and possibly more horrible than anything else she’s ever done.”
“How so?” Cora asked in earnest as I started the car and began the trek to our apartment.
With a sigh I said, “well, she stayed for less than 10 minutes. Got mad because she couldn’t yell at me about anything. Then told me that I would have to ace my inventory results in 2 weeks before she would even contemplate talking to me about the transfer.”
“Ouch. No K.Y. or anything, huh? That’s tough kid, that’s double tough.” Cora always had away of relating to me in a way that made even the worst situation seem like a trip to Disneyland. “I’m sorry that she mistreats you baby. Why don’t you come on home and let’s drink some wine, and watch some TV, and then from there we’ll just relax and be together. Does that sound good to you?”
Boy did that ever sound good to me. “Yeah babe, that sounds perfect. Should I pick a fresh bottle up?”
“That won’t be necessary, I was given a Chardonnay from the Carneros Selection from 2005. I have no fucking clue what any of that means, but I do love a good Chardonnay and the executive who bought my painting insisted that this was the best year for that specific collection.”
“Wow, and you sold a painting too. Swinging for the fences today, I like it.” I couldn’t help but smile. Such a rotten day fraught with amnesia and frustration, had just suddenly turned into a fantastic evening. “Congrats baby, I’ll be home soon. I love you.”
I love you too. Be safe,” she said as she hung up the phone.
The drive to the apartment felt an awful lot like a music heavy montage from a cheesy sentimental movie. A wave of emotions hammered into me with unyielding persistence. In many ways I was very happy, and in others I was deeply concerned. Why couldn’t I remember anything this morning? Why did I collapse when I did finally start to regain my faculties? Everything seemed right with my world now, yet at the same time it felt all wrong. All of this felt very wrong. Why did it feel wrong?
Even more than the questions I had, I was curiously struck by how I was in front of our apartment door, when I could have sworn I was still in the car. So as to not convince myself that I had gone crazy, I chucked it up to being so caught up in my own dilemma that I subconsciously went threw the necessary motions to drive myself home and walk up to the front door. Sounded good to me.
I walked in and saw a nice platter of finger foods on the coffee table in the living room accompanied by 2 wine glasses and a chilled bottle of Chardonnay. Cora came over to me and gave me a big hug. She was wearing a silly little Spider-Man shirt with a Ditko era design, underneath were her matching Spidey panties that I had bought her a long time ago. She never wears these things, unless she knows I’ve had a bad day and is trying to make it up to me. Kind of like when she makes Macaroni and Cheese with cooked weenies mixed into it, I know that it means that I’m getting laid directly after that meal. Bottom line, good things were in store for me tonight.
I ran off to the bedroom and changed my wardrobe to something more acceptable: a robe and nothing else. I have found that going in naked for these types of situations increases the randomness and the playfulness by at least 109% exactly. Don’t ask me how I have arrived at that number, just know that it is correct and move on.
We drank and spoke at length about the day’s events. The food was good, the TV was acceptable and the company was top notch. I felt at ease with the strange manner in which this day had presented itself once more.
As the TV was turned off I began to give Cora a back rub. “Oh God, yes! More of that please,” she said in complete surrender to my magic fingers.
“It’s good to know that I haven’t lost my touch,” I said sounding ominously like Roger Moore as 007.
“No, never. It’s so good,” she moaned as she melted into my hands. “Let’s just get this out of the way,” she said as she took off her top and tossed it across the room. Exposed once again were those magnificent breasts of her, which I found my fingers sliding closer to with each passing rub. Sensing which direction this was going, she placed her hands on my thighs, under my robe and found a pleasant surprise of her own. “I did say that I wasn’t done with that earlier, didn’t I?”
She turned around to face me as my robe slid off of my arms and onto the couch. We kissed passionately while our hands and minds explored the other more exotic parts of our anatomy. Whereas a good chunk of this day was blur, this was a beautiful moment of clarity that culminated in a virtual tour of the living room edition of the Kama Sutra. Falling into each other’s arms, completely satisfied, we began to drift off.
“I love you so much. Thank you for this. I needed this,” I whispered to her gently.
“I know you did honey, I know you did. I love you too.”
And with that we fell asleep, as comfortable as can be, right on the couch.
The morning came all too soon as I looked for Cora on the bed. Wait? How did we get in bed? Wait? This was not our bed! Where the fuck was I now? I mean I knew we had drank half that bottle of Chardonnay last night, but how could I have made it to another bedroom in a different place?
As the room and everything else came into focus and my brain started to wrap itself around the new problems at a hand, I got dealt perhaps the biggest game changer of them all pretty quickly. As I looked down my still naked chest I noticed that I had 2 very curvaceous mounds of feminine like breast with nary a patch of dark streaming hair on them. Just to be certain that I hadn’t completely flipped my shit, I reached between my legs to do a customary “junk check,” which yielded this exact result: I no longer had anything that resembled a penis anymore, in fact I had the exact opposite now.
Against all odds and any common sense that I still had left I had to admit a truly frightening fact: I was now most certainly a woman! Although, likely still not British, but possibly.