This story for instance.
Summer rentals are closed, the winds have shifted, and the yearly craze of the Holiday Season is upon us.
Does anyone out there remember the Saturday afternoon movies with the main feature, a dozen cartoons, a travel log, The News of The Day, and for extra added pleasure, a second movie? Mostly they were cowboy movies with the likes of Gene Autry or it might have been a serial?
Yes, the serials where you had to go the next week to find out what happens to the damsel in distress. Does the train run her over or is she saved at the last minute?Will the dastardly villain defeat the hero?
The old cliffhanger, the familiar melodrama … that sense of suspense or what makes the “soaps” so popular.
You really want to know what happens next to our three friends?
Today-Sarah is waiting for Trudy to speak …
The waiter delivered three more martinis.
“Okay, I’ll bite.” I took a sip of my martini. “What is so monumental?”
“Jim’s mother has this thing about closing up the summer house on Fire Island. Has to be the week after Labor Day. What would the neighbors think and wouldn’t it be an eyesore all closed up during season?”
Trudy kept talking. Eileen added exclamations. I zoned out.
The last time we rented a summer house was the summer my ex announced he was leaving me for his latest conquest. And like that damn cat who sat on a hot stove, I had no intention of getting my bottom burned twice.
“I hate summer rentals.” I pushed Eileen’s hand down. “Stop poking me, damn it.”
“It was like what, twenty years ago?”
“This August it will be nineteen years, thank you.”
I looked at Trudy, at her impossible hypnotic blue eyes and her flawless ivory complexion and felt my stomach drop to my feet. “You’re going to tell me you rented a house on Fire Island for the summer.”
“Not a rental and not the whole summer.” She held up her hand. “Just hear me out, Sarah.”
“I hate Fire Island.”
Eileen huffed, “How the hell can you hate an entire island?”
“She doesn’t hate anything. Sarah, just listen for a minute.”
I tried to look away, to keep her from pulling me into her magnetic field. It didn’t work.
She talked faster, “The Weiss’ are traveling the month of August and called Jim to go out on the Friday after Labor Day to winterize the house, since she won’t give the codes and whatnot to the house help and wouldn’t he do this and save them having to go all the way out there when they will be so tired after traveling all month? The problem is Jim will be gone most of that week. So—“
“Oh Sarah you’ll love this.” Eileen did a little jig in her seat.
Trudy ignored Eileen and continued. “So, I called mother Weiss and told her we would winterize the house, but wouldn’t it be dangerous to leave the house empty for the whole month of August? And I volunteered us to stay in the house for the month to protect it.” She handed me my martini. “And you’ll have the whole place to yourself for the week of Labor day to close it up for us.”
“Are you deaf or stupid? Didn’t I just say I hate summer rentals and I hate Fire Island?”
“You don’t mean it and James can’t close up the house.”
I was the psychologist at our district high school and tried to use my job as an excuse. “Are you kidding? I can hear Phil Goldstein now. ‘Sarah you know I need your help.’”
“I don’t get it. What good is being out of the classroom if you can’t take an extra week here and there?”
“Eileen, being out of the classroom means I have more responsibility not less. You two have really thought this out, haven’t you?”
“I’d gladly do it, but I promised Elvin I’d be back Tuesday.” Eileen curled an errant strand of hair behind her ear. “Not to mention he and Geraldine are going to be gone until the middle of that next week and he was already pissed I would be gone for the entire month of August in our busy season.”
“I get it. The deal is that if I close up, we get the place for the entire month? Does your mother-in-law know it will be all of us?”
“No, but they’ll be safely tucked away in a villa somewhere in Italy with his business partner. And what they don’t know.”
I didn’t want to admit that I really loved summer rentals. They had been a yearly tradition with our three families, interrupted twice by Eileen’s two divorces and ended with mine. I also didn’t like to admit that I loved Fire Island. And after all … it had been almost twenty years.
“Okay, okay.” I sat back smiling, the images of long white beaches and longer afternoons basking in the sun dancing in my head, “Phil might go through the roof. But he can’t fire me. Make me miserable for the first month maybe, but then maybe not. I’ll ask Aunt Mabel to invite him for Labor Day Weekend.”
I held up my drink ceremoniously, “I’ll do it.”
“Well, it’s about time.” Eileen raised her glass, “Here’s to our summer vacation.”
Suspense is built into books, movies, and used effectively in daily and weekly television shows. The popular six to eight week mysteries from the BBC are making a run here in the States. Programs where we wait weeks to learn who killed who, what suspects will be wrongly accused, whose life will be ruined, and will the bad guy (or gal) be brought to justice?
It was a popular weekly event on old radio and followed fans into the boob tube, finds them unaware between the covers of many popular suspense mystery books, and is the main stay of the Donald Maass school of mystery writing … to build excitement, heighten or kick up a notch on the old terror meter, and scare the living daylights out of us for pure fun. To end each chapter in suspense …
Not that I want to make you crazy or frightened. In this story I just wanted to make you share the tale of three friends who take a summer rental and find … well what the heck do they find?
The answer to that could take a while. A while to learn what Sarah, Eileen, and Trudy do once they get to Fire Island and will the title of this old story, Jake Darling, ever makes any sense?
Darned if I know. I found this in a dusty old file and took her out for an airing. There’s no telling what might happen once the cold of the day hits my summer rental.
Tell me true …
do you wait patiently from chapter one to the bitter end?
Or are you one of those that skips to the last chapter
because you couldn’t stand to wait?