ENCHANTED, Book 2 – Things We Lost in the Night (2016)

A Memoir of Love and Music in the 60s with Stark Naked and the Car Thieves

Book Cover: ENCHANTED, Book 2 - Things We Lost in the Night (2016)

COMING IN 2016!

In a magical engagement in Hawaii, Larry finds that danger lurks beneath the exotic beauty of the island of Oahu. A near death drowning experience and a dramatic night of love and romance immersed in island magic are burned into memory. He is compelled to confront sex traffickers, and he and his friends learn firsthand of the horrors of the Vietnam War he barely avoided. As the band seeks elusive fame in their recording career, success continues in famous Las Vegas resort hotels, and Larry’s chance at a forever-marriage with his Hawaiian wife blooms with the birth of their young son. With a chance to record the theme of a new major movie, it seems nothing can stop Stark Naked and the Car Thieves’ ascent to the top. But, when disaster strikes, it is sudden and catastrophic. He must try to save his dream marriage, his band — even his life and sanity — before the music ends forever.

Excerpt:

SHE PROBABLY HAS a boyfriend, I thought, working my way through the boisterous soldiers at crowded tables. Maybe she's married! I furtively studied her sitting with a girlfriend at closer range now—attractive wasn't doing her justice. She was a heart-stopping blend of Polynesian and Caucasian beauty. My breath caught. Jesus, God-in-heaven, look at her, there's got to be somebody. She'll probably take one look at me and.... The closer I moved the risk of humiliation rose toward the sky.

I hadn't caught a glimpse of this attractive girl with long, luscious dark hair by accident as I hopped down from the Lemon Tree stage. I'd been looking for her—well, somebody like her, anyway. Someone who'd help me through the jittery withdrawal pangs of ending everything with Marie, my three-year, on-again, off-again, lover and companion before we'd left LA.

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It's idiotic to think the first good-looking girl I notice in here would be the right one, whatever that stupid expression means. I'd decided in California I wasn't going to make the mistakes I'd made with Marie. I just wanted to find one girl who would like being with me as long as we were in Hawaii. Once we finished our engagement, I'd look for someone new at the next one. If I couldn't find the right girl, okay, we'd soon be off to somewhere else anyway. Avoid complications, I'd decided, I wouldn't ever get seriously involved anyway.

The Lemon Tree Lounge, was on the Diamond Head edge of Waikiki, right where Kalakaua Avenue dips to the shoreline, well off the beaten track of Honolulu's main nightlife. The club wasn't fancy but it had an easy island quality, especially when the entire back wall was thrown open to the lanai and warm tropical nights. The majority of our audience so far were U.S. warriors from every branch of service on R&R leave from the conflict in Vietnam. Their thirst for the emotional reminders our music brought them touched us, inspiring us to perform at our best.

Thankfully, the Lemon Tree didn't cater to the military only, though. I hoped to find someone here was local, someone who'd make me feel at home in this incredible wonderland. Hawaii might be a state but it felt like we'd landed in a distant country. I wanted to experience the local island life visitors never got to know–the same way Marie had shown me California when we were fresh from Indiana.

The odds were bad and getting worse. I needed to keep my feet moving, just meet her, get the pain of rejection over with quickly, get her out of my head, and move on. Sometimes I could get emotionally invested in a girl too easily. I hated risking rejection, especially if I was shunned in favor of one of my band-brothers. I'd taken steps to avoid that in a quick huddle with Dave and Mac, begging them for a clear path. Pretty wimpy, I know, but they were our two main lead singers, the girls were always after them. I didn't say anything to our guitar player; Les was super competitive about everything, but he avoided potential clashes by letting girls approach him first; he could afford to with his good looks. Or to Mickey or Leonard, our bass player and drummer; they were both married and they'd never shown interest in the girls who came to see us.

This is all wrong, I worried, as a growing twinge in my stomach urged me not to be passive. I never walk up on a girl without some kind of invitation, even if it's just a smile. Meeting someone is usually more natural, she might know somebody and I get introduced, or maybe a girlfriend was seeing one of the other guys, or occasionally a girl has asked to meet me—whatever, I never just come up cold like this—and then I stopped—standing in front of her, staring. My heart slid into my stomach.

“Hi.” My throat felt parched as the Nevada desert. “Would you guys be okay with me buying you drinks?” I needed one if they didn't.

“If you buyin, I take one Pina Colada.” The smaller girl turned to the one I wanted to meet. “Theresa girl, what kine drink you like?”

Theresa. What an ethereally beautiful name. Okay, wait. Pull back a little. Sure, she looks fantastic, but that's only on the outside. What if she's a mean girl, or brainlessly silly, like lights-on but no-one's-ever-coming-to-the-door.

“I’m just having Seven-up,” she said, her voice low and rich. Her eyes flickered over me for a moment before continuing to surveying the crowd over her shoulder. She didn't sound silly—the jury was still out on mean, though.

I signaled a waitress and added a Coke to the order for me.

“May I sit with you for a moment?” The girls glanced at each other and shrugged.

“You’re with the band?" Theresa asked, I admitted I was. She dismissed me with slight nod and looked away, uninterested. Chastened, I decided when the drinks came, I'd pay, make some lame excuse and slink away.

“I’m Larry," I said, filling the awkward silence with dullness, unable to think of anything better to say.

“I’m Charlene, dis girl, she is Theresa.” Charlene's accented pidgin English reminded me of the Creole I'd heard in Birmingham, Alabama, the first place we'd tried to play as a band three years ago.

Amused, Theresa turned back to gaze openly at me, and I got a clear look at her eyes. God help me. She might really be the one. The mischievous centers of her deep chocolate pupils swallowed the light. Her tanned face glowed, sending shivers tingling down my spine, her facial skin, flawless without makeup, maybe a touch of mascara but maybe not. Her bare golden shoulders and arms, harmonized perfectly with the teal of her short cotton dress, brightened with orchid blossom and bamboo shoot prints. I whispered a silent prayer to any deity listening that she'd change her mind and like me.

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