About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

October 30, 2010

Misery and the Musician - a Tale of Horror

“It all depends on whether you have things, or they have you.” ~Robert A. Cook

Part I

Misery stood, hidden behind a gray brick wall craning her neck cautiously around the barrier that separated her from her chosen victim. The shadow from the block of cement that shielded her from view was at least ten degrees colder than the places that the light touched, causing her to shiver and grit her teeth. The woman was but three feet away, close enough for Misery to hear her breathe and catch a whiff of her perfume. She appeared to be in no particular hurry as she waited to cross the street and Misery wondered what kind of person waited that long for a signal to change in the dead of night. It would be too easy to carry out the task at hand.

As if on cue, the light turned green. The woman faltered for a moment when it failed to register Walk, then with a shrug stepped quickly off the curb, crossing against the solid Don't Walk sign. The hood of her well worn coat fell back as she quickened her pace to make it across before the light changed to red again, causing her long black hair to spill down her back in a silken sheen. Misery's eyes narrowed in jealousy for a moment at the woman's gorgeous locks, but then lit up in mirth as the woman tripped over the toe of her unfashionably clunky leather boots. Misery wondered why anyone would want to dress so embarrassingly retro. Misery caught a flash of short, practical fingernails as the woman raised her hand to brush her hair from her face. The woman was a complete disaster. She had chosen her victim wisely.

Prowling along the complex brickwork, Misery closed in on her prey. Locking her right arm around the woman's neck she pulled hard, simultaneously choking her and knocking her off of her feet. The woman emitted a shriek of surprised terror as Misery drug her into the darkness, clapping the palm of her free hand over the woman's mouth and nose to silence and temporarily suffocate her.

Misery's cherry-colored lips touched the shell of her victim's ear as she struggled, kicked, and writhed.

"Don't struggle." She hissed.

The woman refused to give in.

"Don't struggle."

The second time, the woman's body went limp, her expression of horror frozen upon her pale face.

"This is what you're going to do . . ." Misery whispered.

Part II

Rowena couldn't move. It was as if there were a technical jam interrupting her brain waves on their way to her limbs, which her captor seemed to be able to control at will. Her heart pounded against her ribcage like a trapped bird. What had frightened her the most was the arousing charisma that her captor had as the horrible sound of her voice invaded Rowena's eardrums. Seductive, hypnotizing, mouth-watering and evil! Rowena had obeyed almost as if she wanted to, climbing willingly into the back of the shiny black Bentley with the license plate that read Misery, only to be rendered unconscious again by a wave of her captor's well manicured hand, just as the car took off. The next thing she knew, she was sitting in the food court at some enormous high end shopping mall. The lights were on, but the mall was closed. Gucci, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, Cartier, Louis Vuitton . . . the store fronts stretched into the distance as far as the eye could see.

Rowena let out a small moan and closed her eyes as if in pain. If she had remembered to wear her earplugs during the gig, she wouldn't have had a headache, and she wouldn't have been inspired to leave the warmth of their motel room, in the middle of the night in a strange city for the sake of a couple of Advil. Her husband Tim had been snoring softly when she slipped out. She didn't want to wake him . . . the all night mini mart was only a couple of blocks away. What inspired her to be so foolish? He was going to be out of his mind with worry!

It was the tail end of the tour for Rousing Rowena. The band had put on an incredible show that night - the venue was packed and the club owner all smiles. Brian had pounded his drums with both finesse and vengeance, while Mo sang her heart out - now and then letting out a guttural scream that shook the rafters, while giving the audience the devil hand sign. Ro had happily thumped away on her Fender Jazz Bass, singing back-ups and laughing at Mo's antics, exchanging the occasional satisfied grin with Tim, who stood at the other end of the stage, wailing away on his Les Paul. Getting the band back together had been an excellent decision, worth all of the scrimping, saving, elimination of all credit card debt, and planning in order for them to be able to leave their day jobs and just plain do it. They didn't merit the luxury of a tour bus, but the camaraderie they shared in the modest van they had paid for entirely in cash was well worth it. The quarters had been cramped sometimes, but not stifling as the cubicle that Ro had left behind when she quit her day job. Most of the club owners had provided them with lodging, they didn't owe a penny to anyone, they had plenty of cash in the bank, and were free to move about the country. They were living their dream

"Cinnamon Dolce Latte?" Misery's voice snapped her out of her reverie. "My treat!"

"No thank you," Rowena snarled drawing back in distrust from the tall elegant blonde in the Chanel suit. "I gave that stuff up a long time ago." Misery set the steaming mug in front of her anyway.

"Like my new outfit?" Misery inquired posing dramatically. "I hope so - after all you paid for it."

Rowena's eyes went wide as she searched for her purse.

"Don't try anything honey or I'll freeze you again," Misery instructed, tossing Rowena's purse to her, with an affected sniff, as if to say yuk.

Rowena caught it on the fly, wincing at the stinging sensation in her shoulder at regaining the use of her arms. She immediately noticed that her cell phone was missing.

"Your phone was a embarrassment and I got rid of it," Misery said, impatiently tapping the toe of her high heeled Prada pump, as Rowena continued to search.

Digging through her purse Rowena noted that her wallet was missing. Her book of grocery store coupons and the cash that she had tucked in a secret compartment - her share of the proceeds from that night's gig, had been removed as well. Rowena was grateful that she didn't own or carry any credit cards, and that her savings and IRA accounts were not accessible by using her missing debit card.

"Where is my stuff?" Rowena demanded.

"You don't need it," Misery informed her, taking the purse away again and throwing it into a nearby trash can, which was immediately wheeled away by a young man in jeans and a flannel shirt, with a name tag that simply read janitor. The janitor appeared to be unaware of her plight, as he whistled along to whatever music he had on his iPod.

"He won't be of any help to you," Misery frowned at the janitor's retreating back as if to say those kind of people should be kept out of sight. . "But I have something that will," Misery teased, flashing a credit card before her eyes. "Remember these?"

Rowena cringed.

"You know you want it," Misery drawled, handing it to her.

Rowena reached hypnotically for the card, unable to control her impulses. She held it gingerly between her thumb and forefinger - noting how it seemed to have a life of its own, electronic, pulsating and tempting. Rowena was engraved across the front in gold letters, and on the back was a perfect forgery of her signature. The security code read 666.

"I didn't apply for this!" Rowena fumed, attempting to throw the card back at her.

Misery laughed as the card stuck to Rowena's fingers. "But you were tempted when the offer came in the mail. You signed it, dated it . . . "

Rowena looked at the card again, noting that the card was from the First Bank of Perdition.

"But I never sent it in. I didn't want it . . . the terms were ridiculous." Rowena assured her.

"Ah yes, but I was watching over you, when you signed it. You should have read the fine print. You made a deal with the devil that day," the whine of Misery's voice chilled Rowena to the bone. "Shall we do some shopping?"

"I don't use credit cards anymore," Rowena insisted, "besides that the mall is closed."

"I have my connections," Misery mocked her by flashing the devil hand sign. "Ready?" It was more of a command than a question, and Rowena couldn't help but stand up and follow her.

Part III
Crashing the Mall

"Much better," Misery was very pleased with herself as Rowena twirled helplessly before the three way mirror, dressed from head to toe in Dolce Gabbana. Expensive jewelry dangled from her ears and wrists. A pair of high heeled Pradas adorned her feet.

"I don't want a pair of $1,500.00 designer jeans," Rowena protested, wondering what had happened to the torn ones Misery had taken away from her, a dozen dressing rooms ago. She had also taken away the clunky platform boots that spoke of a lifetime of gigs and rock shows, her Led Zeppelin t-shirt from the day she met John Paul Jones himself, and her black wool coat. Retaining only a couple cartons of mementos Rowena and her husband had narrowed their possessions down to those things that were useful and really mattered to them. Musical instruments and studio equipment - the tools of their trade, and enough household and personal items to keep them cozy and comfortable. Happiness to them came from the experiences they shared - not from material items.

As if reading her mind, Misery's spun her around faster. "You've only just begun to live," she cackled, as Rowena was forced to observe her self in the mirror, again and again and again.

Rowena's plea for her to stop, erupted into a yelp of surprise. The pocket of her new jeans was vibrating.

"Aren't you going to answer it?" Misery said in exasperation as she brought her spinning to a halt.

"Hello?" Rowena stuttered into the mouthpiece of the new Apple iPhone that had mysteriously appeared in her pocket.

It was Bank of Perdition calling to inform her that her credit card had exceeded its limit, but that they were raising her credit line to $250,000.00, due to her excellent credit history.

"But I don't want . . ."

The bank had already hung up.

"That's why I bank with them," Misery said, clapping her hands enthusiastically. "Great customer service, and I have a great idea as to how we can finish breaking the new card in too."

"I'm sick of your ideas," Rowena said thickly.

"Let's get you a complete makeover," Misery replied cheerfully.

"I like myself the way I am!"

"I'm sure your husband loves you just the way you are too dear," Misery's voice was condescending, as she pattered her well coiffed hair and reapplied her cherry lipstick. "I saw him checking out those sweet young things dancing in front of the stage when you weren't looking by the way . . ."

"He wouldn't do that!" Rowena fumed. Tim loved her with all of his heart and soul - she was sure of that.

"Don't be so sure . . ." Misery gave her a knowing look. "In any event, I've already scheduled you an appointment for tomorrow with my own cosmetic surgeon. A little lipo here, a little botox there, breast implants of course is all you need to reel him back in . . ."

"Lipo . . . wha? No way!"

"Don't worry," Misery was all business now as she handed Rowena's new Gucci handbag to her and loaded her arms with shopping bags. "We will stop for some new lingerie to tantalize him with, on our way out, and if the clothes don't fit after your surgeries, we can simply buy more."

Rowena's shoulders sagged. It had been the night from hell, as she helplessly followed Misery around the mall without end, the Bank of Perdition credit card, now permanently stuck to her left hand, flashing in response to the ghostly whining of the cash registers as they made her purchases. Horrible, shadowy and faceless figures had been there to assist them along the way, dangling garments, shoes, bags and accessories before them, mixing and matching, cajoling and whispering. Tomorrow was apparently going to be even worse, significantly more expensive and even more painful than the designer pumps that had been forced on Rowena's unwilling feet.

"Let's do something about those nails."

Rowena looked down at the manicure she had given herself before last night's gig. Neatly clipped, short and painted a glossy black, very rock n' roll and appropriate for playing the bass guitar.

Misery flashed a perfectly white smile. A perfectly evil smile, as Rowena was literally sucked into a nearby salon. The shadowy figures went to work and in no time at all her nails were long and blood red, with toes to match. She wiggled her fingers, they felt as awkward and plastic as the Bank of Perdition credit card still stuck to her left hand. The card glowed as the cash register hummed, paying the bill and awarding the ghostly manicurists an exorbitant tip.

"Now for the coup de gras," Misery looked thoughtful. "I must admit, you have absolutely gorgeous hair!"

Rowena shivered as Misery ran her well manicured fingers through her silky black tresses.

"But I think its time for a change!" Misery's nostrils flared slightly, as as the shadows gathered around her as if in agreement.

"Tim likes it long," Rowena gasped, as a sinister set of shears hovered in the air as if to taunt her. "He trims it for me himself because hairdressers always cut too much off!"

"I'll make a deal with you," Misery offered, laying her hand on Rowena's shoulder. "You do the cutting and I will let you choose your new style."

A screen popped up out of nowhere, reflecting images of several well known celebrities sporting the latest closely cropped styles, as well as that famous picture of Britney Spears with a shaved head. Misery giggled.

"Alright," Rowena sniffed, failing to find any humor in it. "I'll take that one there," she agreed pointing to a picture of Meg Ryan with a shaggy bob. It was the longest of the lot.

"You'll have to go blonde and get collagen injections in your lips . . ." Misery warned.

"What have I got to lose?" Rowena's shoulders slumped in defeat. Her lips were naturally full and pretty. Not only was she going to lose her hair, but she was going to go around looking like a duck.

"Farewell Goddess of Frugality!' Misery's voice reached a fever pitch. "Kiss your rock n' roll dreams goodbye!" her evil laugh echoed out into the mall as the shadowy figures whispered amongst themselves and the cash register hummed.

Clumsily gathering up a large clump of hair in her left hand, Rowena took the proffered scissors in her right hand. The credit card flashed, causing her to tremble violently.

"Just do it!" Misery screeched.

"Alright, alright!" Rowena cried. But instead of cutting her hair, she cut the credit card in half with a well aimed snip, watching with satisfaction as it fell harmlessly to the ground.

"You bitch!" Misery cried out with rage as the building began to shake violently, "Do you know what you've done?"

Page IV
Dumpster Diving

It was as if a tornado had hit the mall, as gale force winds rushed through it, breaking store front windows, causing the neon signs to sputter and spark, sucking up everything in its path - merchandise, displays, everything that wasn't tied down along with it. The cash register exploded and burst into flames, as the shadowy figures of the salon personnel who had attended her, were sucked out the door. Rowena jumped out of the way just in time to avoid being stabbed in the back by the hairdressers scissors that followed. With a tug, her red acrylics were literally pulled from her fingers, followed by the insufferable Prada shoes. Grabbing the iPhone from her pocket, Rowena attempted to call 911 only to have the phone fly away too. Failing to find an emergency exit to the salon, she headed out into the mall, ducking just on time to avoid being hit by a flying manikin. She hadn't seen any exit signs all night, but figured there had to be a door in the area of the food court somewhere. Her only choice was to try to go back the way she came, she certainly had no intention of heading the other way.

The wind whipped ferociously around Rowena, tearing her new outfit to shreds, and sending the tattered pieces of overpriced denim and silk down the cavernous corridor of shops to disappear into the dark. Diamond bracelets were jerked from her wrists, Tiffany earrings were torn from her ears. Wondering what had happened to Misery, she turned around to see that she had followed her from the salon, and was attempting to hang on to the multitude of shopping bags, even as her Chanel suit was being ripped from her body. "Help me!" she cried as her false eyelashes flew from her face. Her hair extensions followed, causing her to let go of the shopping bags with a painful shriek. Misery's lacy bra went next, baring her surgically enhanced breasts. Finally, her tiny pink thong flew away in a silken wisp, robbing Misery of her last vestige of dignity.

Rowena thanked the gods of rock n' roll that they hadn't gotten around to buying her any lingerie, in that her own bra and panties - bought on sale, and in Tim's own words, sexy as hell remained intact. But where Rowena had canceled her dubious deal with the devil when she cut up the credit card, leaving her impervious to any day of reckoning, Misery was not quite so fortunate. Everything about Misery had been bought on credit, and she had become as plastic as the cards in her Gucci wallet. Rowena watched in mute horror as with one one last terrified scream emanating from her cherry pink lips, Misery herself was sucked down the cavernous corridor and into oblivion.

The mall had quieted somewhat now, as Rowena made her way back the way they had come, moving as quickly as she could against the steady head wind, dodging the occasional flying object. All of the stores had gone dark and were completely void of any merchandise now, her only source of illumination being numerous small fires that had erupted when the cash registers had exploded. Her lips tight with determination, Rowena ventured through the dark, until she finally reached the food court. Looking around, her heart sank at the lack of any exit signs at all. "Looking for a way out?" a gentle voice spoke from behind her.

Spinning around she looked into the twinkling eyes of the mall janitor. "My name is Curt," he said, wiping his hand off on a rag, and then shaking her hand. "Rough night?" he inquired mildly. Rowena blushed. In her haste to find a way out, she had completely forgotten that she was in her underwear.

"Don't be embarrassed," he said. "I'm just here to clean things up."

Rowena shuffled awkwardly from foot to foot.

"Walk this way," he said leading her towards a nearby door, with a sign on it that simply said maintenance. Rowena wondered how she had failed to see it before. On the other side of the door was large dumpster. Rowena looked at him curiously, as if to ask what now?"

"Climb in," Curt said, with a smile so encouraging, that Rowena had no qualms about doing just that.

Inside the dumpster, Rowena was happy to find her well worn jeans, platform boots, and coat. Her Led Zeppelin t-shirt was sadly missing, but Curt had thoughtfully replaced it with one that said Nirvana. With a sign of relief, she dressed herself quickly.

"No outfit is complete without the proper accessories," Curt said with a wink, handing her her old purse. Looking inside, Rowena noticed that all of her money and personal possessions had been returned to her.

"You look hot mama," Curt said shyly. "By the way, I like your band too." Rowena's eyes went wide with surprise.

"I was at tonight's show too," he said simply. "Incidentally, don't worry, your husband only had eyes for you."

Rowena flushed with pleasure. "Thanks Curt," was her heartfelt reply.

"I used to be in a rock band," he said, leaning casually against the dumpster . "But I became addicted to drugs, the same way as you used to be addicted to credit cards, I lost my way."  Rowena gave him a sympathetic look.

"Don't feel sorry for me - we had a good run," he said with a happy grin, as he wheeled the dumpster towards the double exit door at the other end of the room. "I'm sober now and perfectly happy being a janitor."

"Then you are truly blessed," Rowena said softly.

"Stay strong, your on the right track" Curt added as he pushed her out the exit door and into the morning mist, "Don't let anything get in the way of pursuing your passions and experiencing life!" Curt gave the dumpster a push.

"I promise!" was Rowena's heartfelt reply, as the dumpster rolled away."Whew!" she cried as it gained speed, seeming to take on a life of its own, racing through the city streets as she held on tightly, relishing the misty morning drizzle on her face. She was happy to be alive, away from the terrible mall, free from debt, pursuing her passions, what an extraordinary night it had been.

"Where did you go?" Tim inquired with a stretch and a yawn, as Rowena stumbled into the motel room.

"I needed some Advil . . . uh . . . down the street to the mini mart . . . you're never going to believe this!" Rowena said throwing her arms around him and covering him with kisses.

"That was quick," he said nuzzling her neck, as they rolled around playfully on the bed.

Rowena's mouth dropped open in surprise. According to the alarm clock on the nightstand she had only been gone for 20 minutes.

"Would you like me to rub your neck?" he offered. "You look kind of pale."

"Sure she said," somewhat distractedly as he helped her to remove her t-shirt.

"Cool! Where did you get this?" he inquired, holding Nirvana shirt up to the light. "Do they sell these at the mini mart too?" he teased, noting that it had been been signed.

"Not exactly," she said, as Tim continued to examine the inscription which read,

Come as You Are . . . Love, Curt Cobain

Love Note from Ro:

This story is dedicated to my daughter Marleigh, an aspiring writer and a constant source of inspiration to me. The character of Misery is loosely based on a character from one of Marleigh's own stories. Thanks for letting me pick your brain honey . . . may all of your beautiful dreams come true!

Love always,


More Notes from Ro:

If you sympathize with the character of Rowena, you just might be a minimalist, and I would like to recommend to you the books listed in the right side bar of this page, under the picture of me sitting at the piano, as well as the following blogs:

Zen Habits by Leo Babauta
Far Beyond the Stars by Everett Bogue
Rowdy Kittens  by Tammy Strobel
Becoming Minimalist by Joshua Becker

If you sympathize with the character of Misery, you probably already know her, and it is my understanding that she is looking for a new BFF ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  

No comments: