Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
 
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The Man of Her Dreams

(A Midlife Fairy Tale)

by Carolyn D. Whiteurst


Once upon a time long, long ago, in a far off land called Aferica lived a beautiful caramel colored maiden, by the name of Deidra.

Deidra was a strong, multitalented and caring woman who worked very hard everyday. She scrubbed the kitchen floor, painted the walls, fixed the leaky sinks and worked on a job from sun up to sun down.

Deidra lived in a cozy little, two-story stone cottage on top of a hill above a big bustling, polluted village, also known as the Chilly City. On a clear day, which was not very often, she could view the nearby town which was located several miles below her modest chalet. If there was a small wind it would often part the magnificent dreadlocks of the two huge weeping willow trees that grew in front of her home. On the very breezy days, she enjoyed looking down on the commoners, as they went about with their mundane lives, darting in and out, always in a hurry and never enjoying the scenery.

Her cottage was very modern and possessed all of the latest gadgets. Her informal abode was encircled by a huge bi-level wooden veranda with clear one-way mirrored windows that encased the front, and the rear deck was enclosed with stained glass floor to ceiling windows that surrounded the back of her home. The setting sun shone through the stained glass bathed Deidra in ethereal light as she curled into her cushioned wicker chaise lounger, with an herbal blend cup of tea.

She relished her location. The only time Deidra ventured into the hectic city was to go to her dreary, low-paying job, where she sat day after day in a 4 x 4 cubicle, typing her life away as she took directions of what seemed like roosters, who all day walked back and forth clucking out orders and asking, "Are you done yet?"

Otherwise, she was quite content. Deidra would often tend to her flower garden and prune her evergreen bushes. She planted a small cabbage garden, just to enjoy watching the rabbits and squirrels that came by daily to take a nibble. Completing the picture, there was a perfect little off-white picket fence bordering her small one-acre patch.

Deidra had two grown offspring, who were fairly self-sufficient. She loved her children dearly, but even more after they established their own residences several miles away. Deidra would often surprise them with small gifts delivered to their homes; you know the kind -- washing machines, refrigerators, bedroom sets, etc. She would send these mostly on special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. In her spare time, Deidra would bake their favorite dishes and tell them to drop by and pick up their baskets full of goodies on their way, of course, to where ever their busy days would take them. Deidra felt this was a small payment in order to keep her sanity and to keep her brood living away from home.

Most weekends the family would stop by and Deidra would bake cookies, cook big pots of stew, barbeque her famous juicy hamburgers on the grill, and her family would enjoy everything way until the wee hours of the morning. Although she was quite happy with this set up, she felt that something was missing from her life.

####

One warm summer evening Deidra decided to take a stroll on the north side of town, shopping for special ingredients for a new recipe she was dying to try. The open market was alive with unusual scents and pungent fragrances. The venders peddled their wares in colorful umbrella carts -- melons, kiwis, rose buds, calla lilies, herbs and spices were abundant. Deidra's delicate nose caught a whiff of frankincense escaping from a shaded screen door which was dwarfed by a huge shingle, bearing the picture of a mysterious looking woman gazing into a brilliant yellow crystal ball. Intrigued, Deidra entered the small shop.

A strong, heavily accented Jamaican voice from the back of the curtain rang out. "Come on in my dear, I'll be wit you shortly."

Startled, Deidra thought, "How the heck did she know I was here? I didn't make a sound when I walked in. Maybe she really is psychic!"

A short, dark-skinned round woman who appeared to be in her late 50's, with her head wrapped in a beautiful turquoise turban, appeared through the curtain and said, "Hello beautiful girl, my name is Chi Chi, and I take it you want your fortune told, eh ... well follow me into my living room. I can read your palm, decipher tea leaves or watch wonders unfold in my crystal ball, which you prefer?"

Deidra said, "Well, the beautiful picture of the crystal ball is what led me in here, so let's try that."

What Deidra didn't know was that Chi Chi was around 100 years old and originally from Dominiquita. Chi Chi had been born with what they call a caul over her face and had been practicing hoodoo for an exceptionally long time. Chi Chi's back parlor, which was located down the hall behind a huge black padlocked door, housed an assortment of dolls, amulets, gris-gris, chicken feet and other frightening unmentionables.

Around 20 years earlier, Chi Chi had been banished from Dominiquita for using her gift for evil. Having been rebuffed as his lover, Chi Chi had placed a mischievous hex on the King causing him to jerk uncontrollably. Before his throng of subjects, the King had danced the Hootchie Cootchie with wild abandon during his State of the Kingdom address. Being the only known hoodoo priestess in the Kingdom, Chi Chi had been arrested and exiled. (They would have executed her, but had rightly feared that she would curse them if they tried.). She could only return to her homeland after 100 years of service to the poor and undeserving. She had opted instead to come to Aferica, set up shop, keep a very low profile and make money.

"Okay, sit down right here." said Chi Chi. "Close your eyes, relax, think of nuhting."

Deidra sat there with eyes closed, eager to be told of the wonderful things in her future, including any tall, dark handsome strangers that may be coming her way...

Chi Chi intoned, "I see dat you live alone, and your children are grown. I also see one of your children plans to move back home in just a few days."

Deidra instantly opened her eyes and exclaimed, "No, that can't be possible. I pay good money to keep them away. Which one is it? I bet it's the youngest one, Jr., isn't it. He lives with that little hussy who can't even cook."

"Shhh now...., you are interrupting the flow, dear," Chi Chi complained.

Deidra grimaced, but closed her eyes and her mouth.

In a soft, soothing voice, Chi Chi continued. "I also see that you will live a long life, and wait a minute... I see you soon will have someone come to you. He will be the man of your dreams. I see a very handsome, muscular, tall man, and I also hear some sort of accent. He is reaching out to you as if to shake your hand or something ...wait ... let me see, he's slipping away... That's it, that's what I see."

Deidra quickly opened her eyes, and said "What? Is that it? When is he coming; where will I meet him, tell me more?"

"Sorry my dear, that's what I see for now. Good luck, and that will be fitty dollas."

Deidra felt excited but also bamboozled; $50 was quite a steep price for all of five minutes. However, she paid Chi Chi, soon returned home, all the while on the look-out for any new male prospects and portents of her youngest son visiting permanently.

After Deidra left the shop, Chi Chi instantly scurried to the back room, unlocked the padlocked door, while looking to the left and right and over her shoulder, opened the door and commenced to tossing chicken feet and gris-gris into her cauldron. She had a job to do for her new client, Deidra.

####

Deidra's roommate, Charlemagne, had recently become very needy and wanted to absorb all of Deidra's attention. Charlemagne, a portly black Siamese cat, somewhat of a prima donna, thought she was human, and often expressed her opinions accordingly. Whenever Deidra had male suitors, Charlemagne would come and sit next to them and either purr or hiss. For the latter, she also pooped outside the back door as soon as they left. Deidra used these expressions of Charlemagne's approval or disapproval to evaluate her suitors.

How Charlemagne came to live with Deidra is a long story, too long to recount here. So, suffice it to say, Charlemagne came and Charlemagne stayed. Charlemagne was there through the arduous removal of the Deidra's two young children, and she stayed beyond the various male dinner guests who came, parked their knobby knees under the table and ate, flickered bright then, predictably dimmed.

Her Siamese coloring deepened, the cream of her coat darkening to tan, the brown mask and ears becoming almost black. Her eyes faded from yellow to deep tourmaline green, although at different rates, so they became mismatched over time. She stayed and she grew and grew. Her lithe feline form fattened until she, who for years seldom ventured from beneath various low slung pieces of furniture, emerged one day to claim the best ultra-suede sofa in the house and that was that.

And that was the day Deidra turned 45, looked around and discovered that her tiny, well-kept house was, but for the two of them, empty. Charlemagne turned her different colored eyes upon her with a look that seemed to soak up all of the light from the picture window leaving the room comfortably dim. And there Deidra stood, considering the dark and the two small flames of Charlemagne's eyes.

####

With 50 approaching sooner than she would like to admit, Deidra decided that living the single life was getting somewhat monotonous, and, now more often than not, she frequently sought the advice of her now, new close friend and confidant, Chi Chi, the psychic.

"That's it," Deidra said to herself, "watch out, I'm on a mission, a man mission!" Now Deidra would not settle for any of her previous male suitors who were ringing the doorbell every weekend, sniffing around the front and back doors, trying to mark their territory. No Way! Lady Deidra had her sights set on a prince! With four weeks vacation saved up, Deidra put a vacation request in at the "old sweat shop" and sketched out plans to take a trip to Europe within the next few weeks to explore Chi Chi's vision to find the man of her dreams. This was her quest!

####

Each Friday night, Deidra stopped at the local video store to rent a movie. It always helped her to wind down from an exhausting work week. This particular evening, she was settling in for a quiet evening. Charlemagne was cozily stretched out across her lap with their favorite Perry Mason marathon DVD collection, pushed to play, suddenly, there was some sort of noisy commotion at the back door.

Deidra dashed upstairs to retrieve her can of mace and quickly returned only to hear an even louder thump at the back door. She raced back upstairs for extra backup: her loaded revolver; a big, shiny, black .44 magnum (special Clint Eastwood "Do you feel lucky, punk?" edition). This was supposedly a quiet neighborhood, where you could practically sleep with your doors open, but Deidra did not believe in taking chances.

With arms extended, one hand securely clasped on the pistol, the other clutching the can of mace, Deidra stealthy descended the stairs. Any onlooker would have been impressed with her Christie Love / Cleopatra Jones moves.

CRACK! A sudden swing of the patio door revealed Jr. standing there, with a goofy grin on his face and all of his bags, lap top computer, and musical equipment stacked along the side of the house.

"Oh hi, Mommy, did you get my text message? I'm moving back home." Without a pause, Jr. turned around and belted out loudly to all of the guys standing outside, "Okay, everybody, bring that stuff into my old room in here. Mommy, I told everyone that you would order pizza for them if they helped me move! Tanya only gave me one hour to get my stuff and 'get out or get a job', ha, ha. So I didn't have a chance to find a new job. I knew you wouldn't mind." Jr. was moving and talking at the same time, "Okay fellas, this way; watch out for that -- glass ... And by the way, the movers will be here at the end of the week with the rest of my stuff. I couldn't fit everything in the car."

"Mommy" was what Deidra's two sons called her to humble themselves and acknowledge that they have screwed up. Deidra knows that when she is "Mommy", she should watch out. At this point, she should just take out the shovel, because the crap they hand out could get truly deep.

Deidra's son, Jr., was 6' 3", approximately 190 pounds of solid boy. At least 40 pounds of that was his hair, a 70's Sly Stone Afro that sat on both of his shoulders, with a crease down the middle, bouncing with every step. , He was a 20 year old wanna-be rapper -- or as Jr. put it, "an up-and-coming rap solo artist." Jr., who always seemed to enter a room with what seemed like a rhythmic beat surrounding him, looked as if he was here to stay for a long time. BOP, DIDDY BOP, BOP DIDDY BOP!!

BOP, BOP, BOP ... "Mommy, I would have phoned, but my cell phone battery is out of juice. Hey, anyway can you hurry and order that pizza, we WOULD like to get our grub on." BOP, BOP, BOP.

"And Mommy, can you wash some of my clothes, I don't have a thing to wear tonight for my performance." BOOP!

Charlemagne quickly ran and perched outside of the back door, grudgingly meowing at every piece of equipment and furniture that was moved into the house, as if she was counting each piece. Meow...meow... Even though Jr. left the house on good terms with Charlemagne, she still could not stand his music, always played with the volume at maximum. Her ears were just too sensitive.

As Jr. moved the last of his items in, he solemnly leaned down to Deidra and says, "Mommy, I'm sorry that I am intruding, I know you enjoy being here by yourself, where it's nice and quiet. I promise you I will leave as soon as I find a place and I will start looking tomorrow. Please love me anyway, I am trying."

Now, did Deidra's heart just melt with that last loving line ...no!

Deidra, still standing there with the mace in one hand and now uncocked revolver in the other, mumbled to herself, "Chi, Chi, what the hell did you conjure up with that little crystal ball of yours?"

Needless to say, the feng shui of Deidra's home has changed from peaceful serenity to BUMP DIDDY BUMP, BUMP -- BUMP DIDDY BUMP, BUMP.

Deidra said to herself, "Tomorrow, I think I will pay Chi Chi another visit. This time, she will pay me."

####

It was around 1:00 p.m. on a sunny, hazy Saturday afternoon when Deidra decided to take another stroll on the north side, to pick up some fresh vegetables, spices, and some fresh advice from Chi Chi's. She hoped that her future might have a more positive outlook, preferably one with Jr.'s imminent departure.

As she stepped through the door, Chi, Chi called from the back of the parlor, "Ah Deidra, I've been expectin' you. Come to the back quickly, you are late, my dear."

Deidra got an instant chill. "How did she know that I was coming in here today? And how could I possibly be late?" she thought to herself.

"Chi Chi, I--"

"Ah, don't say another word. I don't have to look in the crystal ball for this one. I had a strong feeling you would return this week. I already know why you are here. Your son has come back and has made your home one noisy big gangsta rap party."

Damn, this woman is good, Deidra thought.

"Ah, but don't you worry your sweet little heart. He will return back to the wife by the end of the week. I guarantee it, and just to let you know how sincere I am, I will just set up a tab, for you. Feel free to stop by any time. Now leave, and worry bout nuhting! Just keep your mind on the handsome stranger that should keep you occupied." Chi Chi said, while ushering her to the door.

While returning home, Deidra thought to herself, "Chi Chi is so amazing. How could she have known that Jr. would show up, and it happened so soon? Chi Chi had told me the future, and --. Hey, wait a minute, did she say tab? Oh well, if she was right about Jr., she must be right about the handsome stranger walking into my life." To Deidra this was not only eerie, but also exciting at the same time.

####

The end of the week was fast approaching. Not only was it time for Jr. to move out, but also it was time for Deidra to leave on her trip to Europe. While going through her luggage, making sure it was sturdy enough to make the eight-hour trip, Deidra started becoming hesitant about going to another country alone, and often wondered if her search would be a fruitful one.

At that moment the phone rang, interrupting her thoughts. All week Jr.'s buddies, upon discovering that he was back home, had kept the phone and door bell in constant demand. To Deidra's surprise ... it was Tanya.

Tanya was a pretty, fair skinned, petite young girl, all of 5'2. She had big brown eyes with long eyelashes that most would have to get from a Maybelline bottle. Her hair was a natural cinnamon brown color that hung down to her waist without benefit of a weave. She was also fairly intelligent -- except for when it came to Jr. For some reason she lost all her sense when it came to him.

"Hello, Mother Dee." Tanya chirped.

"God, I hate when she calls me that." Deidra thought to herself. "Hello Tanya, how can I help you, dear?"

"I just thought I would give you a call and see if Jr. has come to his senses yet.

"Well Tanya honey, I'm going to tell you like it is: Jr. is only 20 years old, and you insisted that he marry you and move 40 miles away from me. Don't get me wrong--that was great for me. But, as you know, 20 is the new 10. So you are dealing with a 10 year old boy, who is still playing with his toys, daydreaming, fantasizing about getting rich, and so forth. Jr. has a good heart, but he also is an artist. Artists usually work part time jobs, if they work at all, while trying to follow their dreams. I can only tell you that if you stick with him through this, hopefully by next year or sooner, just maybe, he will come to his senses and who knows, maybe he will make you a rich wife, but in the meantime, kicking him out of the house is not the answer. I suggest you discuss it calmly, without threats of ejection. I have a feeling that he misses you and wants to come back home this weekend. I'm almost sure of it."

Thinking she had this little spat pretty much in the bag, Deidra went in for the closing. "Tanya, I don't know if you knew this, but Jr. has been moping around the house without you. I finally convinced him to go to the show or something, just so he could get out of the house."

"When he returns, I will tell him to give you a call, or better yet, go back home.

Deidra hung up the phone and danced across the room. Her deed was half done. Now, it was Jr.'s turn.

####

BOP DIDDY BOP, BOP, -- BOP DIDDY BOP. Yes, here came Jr., rumbling up the drive, with music coming out of every window, pipe, door, and vent of his car. He could be heard in this "quiet neighborhood" for several blocks.

Deidra heard the back door slam.

"Hey Mommy, I'm home. What's happening!"

Deidra said casually, "You'll never guess what old friend called you today!"

"Oh yeah, who?" Jr. asked. "Was it Little Willy, Jimmy Juice, Curly Mo, who?"

"It was Tanya," Deidra said snidely. "She called to tell you to come back home."

Jr.'s eyes lit up, "Oh yeah -- but Mommy, I'm having way too much fun. I can come and go when I want, I can have the fellas come to the house, and it's like being free. I don't know if I want to go back, at least not until my concert next week," Jr. said, happily munching on French fries.

"Next week?" Deidra thought.

Hands on hips, Deidra said, "Tanya said if you decide to leave permanently she may as well take the new position at work and move to California! Jr., stop making the girl suffer. She loves you and you love her. Stop being a fool and go get her before someone with a real job finds her and you will be out of luck--you and your friends."

Jr. stopped munching on the fries for a minute. "Well, I don't know." He stared at the ceiling. "Let's see, freedom here, jail time there. Mommy, you weigh out the options."

"No, you weigh the options," Deidra said. "You have this weekend to make up your mind, because, guess what, I don't like the 'fellas' stopping by here either. I'm just letting you get away with it for now. Believe me, it will come to and end by Monday."

"All right, Mommy," Jr. conceded. "I guess I have to grow up just a little bit. I will cancel the movers and get the fellas to come by and help me move back home. Mommy, thanks for letting me stay for the week."

"Sure, honey, you know you're always welcome," Deidra said, thinking about what to pack. "Now call her, call them, and get going!"

Finally, Pip Pip and all that sort of rot!

####

Deidra had been in Ipswich, London, for a while now and her savings had started to wane. With her vacation soon coming to an end and still no luck in the chap department, Deidra decided on one last drink before calling this whole trip a wash. She decided to stop at the local pub just outside of her cottage.

The pub was dark, somewhat comfy with a sparse number of people inside. There she sat at a small table dimly lit by an antique lantern. Quiet conversation and aromatic tobacco smoke filled the air.

While sipping her glass of Chardonnay, Deidra considered her circumstances. Perhaps she had made the wrong decision about coming to Ipswich as the last stop on her tour. She had enjoyed the Eiffel Tower, the Haunted Castles and private tours, but she still had not completed her mission. As she slowly panned the room, gazing at the patrons, her eyes locked with a man seated at the bar.

Suddenly he stood. His eyes never leaving hers, he placed a five pound note on the tray and began to move. He was walking straight to her table!

"Excuse me, My Lady, is this seat taken?" he said with a deep British accent. "Are you waiting for someone?"

Deidre looked up slowly, starting from his Italian snake skinned boots, to his neatly creased blue jeans, continuing up to his broad chest. He wore a white tailored shirt, which had rolled up sleeves exposing his muscular arms. Right there stood a 6 foot "fine" man with mesmerizing dark round eyes, smooth olive skin, ever so slightly trimmed mustache and a deep dimple in his left cheek. He head was clean-shaven and his teeth sparkling white.

As the gentleman caller reached to pull the chair out, he repeated himself, "Excuse me Love, is this seat taken?"

Deidre, half intoxicated at this point, said slowly, "Why no, no it isn't."

"May I join you for a spell?"

Deidre, thought to herself, "A Spell! Chi Chi, my girl, thanks .... There is definitely a spell being cast here tonight, starting with this fine cut of a jib right here in front of me." Aloud, she said, "Sure, why not, have a seat..."

"Thank you, Love, my name is Jacques," he said in a low, velvety voice. "I have been admiring you since I came in a while ago. It took a little bit of courage (151 proof) to come over and speak. You looked so deep in thought; I didn't want to disturb you. But I decided to take a chance."

Deidra sat there with a slightly dumb grin, thinking, "First and foremost, I want to thank God, my mother, all of the people who had faith in me -- Oh wait a minute, that's my Emmy speech. He is just what I am looking for."

"Yes, Jacques," Deidra said aloud, "Please, have a seat. I was just sitting here thinking this is my last night in town, and I am celebrating with this last glass of Chardonnay. My flight leaves tomorrow evening and I have had a wonderful time here. Now it's time to go back to Aferica and back to work."

"What do you think about sharing the rest of the evening with me? Is that all right?" Jacques said hopefully.

Deidra whispered, "Yes, I would love to." All the while silently screaming inside.

After Jacques took a seat, he gestured for the waiter to come take his order.

"My good man, we are celebrating tonight because it is a special occasion. The young Lady and I will have your finest bottle of champagne. Is that okay with you Love? I hope I didn't offend you by ordering without asking."

Deidra thought to herself, "Hell, no, take control of anything you want." Then she said,"Uh, no, I don't mind, but what special occasion is it, may I ask?"

When the waiter came back with the bottle of Dom Perignon, Jacques said, "Let's have a toast to the most beautiful woman sitting right here in front of me, who has already captured my mind, my attention, and my soul."

As Deidra sat there trying not to let her mouth drop, she quickly composed herself and said, "Yes." Deidra was thinking, "Yes to tonight, yes to anything his little heart desires." Then she blushed and said, "I mean cheers."

Deidra, now entranced with the atmosphere and wine, said "That was a beautiful toast. Thank you. Since the night is still young, why don't you tell me about yourself, your dreams, your desires, are you married? Stuff like that!"

Jacques, now somewhat formal said, "Well, I am here on business. I hail from Long Island, New York and even though I was raised in England, my adult life was spent in New York. And it just so happens that tonight is my last night here, before I travel back to the States. So I think this night was kismet. You might just turn out to be that special lady I have been looking for, for the last year."

"A little bit about me: First and foremost I am a widower and live alone. My wife had been very ill for a long time. When she passed away, I never thought that I would find someone to fill that hole left in my heart. I have one son who means the world to me. Right now he stays with his grandmother, due to my travels.

"I have been searching for that special someone for quite some time now. I would like to settle down in a committed relationship. I believe in romance, and treating a lady with adoration and respect. I plan on being happy with someone who is made especially for me. I believe that there are still good, honest people that exist in this world. That's why I'm here sitting with you tonight, hoping you're just the one to share my life with. I do believe in true love at first sight and that a special love can survive anything no matter what the world throws at it. I'm looking forward to caring for and faithfully committing myself to a special person that will respond with equal affection and commitment."

Deidra swooned, drinking in every word. Somewhere Etta James was singing "At Last!"

Needless to say, they Lived Happily Ever After.

WAIT A MINUTE!!!

####
*

The next morning, Deidra sat up in her bed and turned over as she heard the alarm. She took one long luxurious stretch and looked directly into the big, dark round eyes of ..... Charlemagne, who sat there staring patiently, waiting to be fed and then chauffeured off to Kitty Spa Palace, with her paws deliberately placed on Deidra's shoulder, "Meow! ... MEOW!"

Deidra eyes slowly panned the room. She saw that her luggage was packed and placed neatly by the bedroom door, with her morning flight leaving in only four short hours. She couldn't believe it was all just a dream.

Dream ... Instantly she thought of what Chi Chi said, "You will meet the man of your dreams." Deidra made a dash for the shower. Would the man of her dreams only be the man in her dreams?

Tally Ho!!

THE END


© 2008 Carolyn D. Whiteurst

Bio: Carolyn D. Whiteurst is a native of Chicago’s southern suburbs. Carolyn is the mother of two children and currently working at a Law Firm in the downtown area.

E-mail: Carolyn D. Whiteurst

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