Acres: More of the Adventure on the Poseidon, Part 4

Posted August 18th, 2012 by Julie Carriker

Welcome back!

This week’s installment contains the critical moment in this story, the one I’ve felt the urge to correct ever since I saw this movie in early 1973.  If only I had imagined fan-fic!

Anyway, let’s return to the ongoing adventure aboard the capsized Poseidon…

 

On her way back to where she’d left the ingured Liam Acres resting, Julia Finney located the locker containing some flashlights and lanterns.  She took as many as she could carry, and when she got back to the others she saw that Belle Rosen had just been pulled up the staircase.  She set the lights down against the wall of the passageway, and went to Liam.

“How are you, Honey?” she asked, as she knelt beside him.

“I’m all right, Luv.  Did you see Brian?”

“Yes, and he’s with Reverend Scott,” she smiled.  “He says he knows a way up for us.”

“Yes, he and I talked about it.”

She moved to unroll the bandage. “Let me look at your leg.”

He winced as she touched him, but allowed her to do as she wished.

“I don’t think It’s bleeding as much, but I’d like to get something to clean…”

They were interrupted by Nonnie Parry’s screams.  Julia jumped up and ran to the top, (bottom?), of the staircase.  She was horrified to see the corridor below rapidly filling with water.  Nonnie had just been pulled up, and was hysterical, so Julia took her in her arms to comfort her, moving her out of the way.  Mike Rogo tossed the hose down again and his wife, Linda, put it around her waist, then threw one arm around James Martin, and they both scrambled to the top.

Frank Scott and Brian Curry came rushing back as soon as they heard the screams.  “Come on this way!” the minister shouted, as he grabbed a lantern with one hand and motioned them in the direction he’d just come from with the other.   They all fell in behind him, many also retrieving a lantern or flashlight, as Julia and Brian helped Liam to his feet.

Due to the recent panic, and the resulting discussion over how much longer the Poseidon might remain afloat, no one noticed at first that there was a new member in their party.  They formed a semi-circle around Scott when they reached the shaft tunnel.

“Hey, you’re the bartender, aren’t ya?  Where’d you come from?”

“Yes, Mr. Rogo, I’m Brian Curry.  I was in the storage room behind the bar when it happened, and made my way up to this deck using a different staircase.  I was looking for a way up to Broadway when I saw Liam… Mr. Acres, then I went to find Jules, I mean Miss Finney, and Mr. Scott.”

“Oh, so you think this will get us up to Broadway?” the detective asked.

“Yes, Sir, I think so,” Brian answered.

Scott was on his knees, preparing to enter the tunnel, and looked up at the group surrounding him.  “This duct leads to a vertical air shaft…”

Belle Rosen looked dismayed, and interrupted, “Through that little hole…?”

“This little hole, as you call it, is going to get us out of here and up to Broadway.  We’ve climbed four decks, so far.  We have two more to go.  This is the only way…”

As Scott was assuring the heavyset woman that she would crawl right through that ‘little hole,’ Julia looked at Liam with concern.  “Reverend, are you saying that this tunnel ends with a ladder, and we’ll have to crawl through it, then climb up?  I… I don’t know if Liam…”  She looked at him standing beside her.  “Maybe we should just…”

Liam took her hand and turned her to face him.  “I can do this, Luv!  You and Brian will be there to help me.  It will be all right, I’ll manage.”

She smiled slightly.  “I don’t know… maybe we could find another way… and let everyone else go this way…”  She looked around helplessly.

“We’ll all help as much as we can,” Scott said, “but no, it won’t be easy for you, Acres.  I think it’s our best chance, and that you owe it to yourselves to take it, but if you want to try for something else, I can’t stop you.”

“No, Sir, we’ll come with you,” Liam said firmly.

“All right, good!” Scott said, as he turned to crawl into the darkness.  “Rogo?”

“Yeah?” the detective asked.

“You come after me.  I want you to see that everyone gets onto the ladder.”  As Rogo grumbled, yet ducked inside, Scott called behind him, “Curry?”

“Yes, Sir?” Brian answered.

“You come next, so you can show me the way.”

“All right, Sir.”

“Mr. Martin?” Scott finally yelled, his voice echoing slightly.

“Yes, Reverend?” the shy haberdasher asked.

“You bring up the rear, make sure everyone’s accounted for.”

“All right, Reverend.”

Slowly they began to crawl through the hatch.  Linda Rogo was next, making a comment about not wanting to get stuck behind Belle Rosen.  Susan and Robin Shelby followed.  After the kids, the Rosens slowly made it into the duct.

“Nonnie, you’re next,” James said, pushing her forward a little.

“No, with you.  With you,” she gasped, holding his arm tightly.

“Miss Finney, Mr. Acres, would you mind…?”

Before Julia helped Liam to his knees she made sure the bandage was securely tied.  He turned away when his leg made contact with the metal surface, hoping she wouldn’t see the grimace of pain that crossed his face, but she was watching him closely.  She touched his back.  “Are you sure you want to do this, Honey?”

“Yes, Luv, we have to,” he said, through gritted teeth, as he crawled off with Julia close behind.

When they came to the air shaft, they saw Manny Rosen climbing onto a rickety ladder, and Mike Rogo at the entrance to the shaft, waiting to help them.  Liam tried to get Julia to go ahead of him, but she refused.

“No!  I’m going right behind you, so I can help you keep your balance, just like I’ve been doing.”

Rogo helped him swing out onto the ladder, and he smiled gratefully at Julia.  “Thank you, Luv.”

It was very rough going.  Liam had to hop on one foot most of the time, because it hurt so much to put any weight on his injured leg.  He also feared it might give out on him.  Julia was right behind him though, helping hold him to the ladder.

“You’re doing fine, Honey,” she called up to him.  “We’ll be up to Broadway soon…”

Suddenly there was a large explosion, and the ladder they were clinging to seemed to almost be going sideways.  Liam’s foot slipped, and he lost grip with one hand.  He would have fallen into the bubbling water below if Julia hadn’t moved quickly.

“Liam, hang on!  I’m here!”  She climbed up behind him, holding him between the ladder and her body as he scrambled for hand and footholds.

Below them Martin was looking on anxiously, ready to grab for the steward if he should fall, knowing that such action would most likely cause him to fall himself, but fortunately it wasn’t necessary.

The pool below them blew up, covering the five still on the ladder with oily water.

As soon as Liam was a bit more balanced, he began to slowly inch his way up the ladder to the open duct.  He couldn’t maneuver climbing from the ladder into the tunnel by himself, so Julia squeezed past him, and helped pull him to relative safety.  She knew they didn’t have time for more than a quick embrace, but she held him very tightly for a moment.  I almost lost you there… she thought as she nuzzled against his neck.

Below them, Martin was having troubles of his own.  Nonnie, who had been on the edge of hysteria much of the time since the capsize, broke down once again, and was frozen in place.

The young singer had been petrified with fear when the ladder had tilted.  She’d looked down at the churning water below, knowing that if she fell into it she would surely sink like a stone.  I wish Mom and Dad had allowed us near water, so I would know how to at least swim a little… she thought.  She knew though that after losing their oldest son, five-year-old Mark, to drowning in Lake Sammamish, back home in Washington State, Mr. And Mrs. Parry would never take such chances with Teddy and Nonnie.

Teddy! her heart cried out.  You’re really gone!  What will I do without you?  How will I tell Mom and Dad?  She began to sob again, fully feeling her loss of her brother and the danger of her current situation.

Behind and below her, Martin was wondering what to do.  He’d been relieved when Miss Finney had managed to climb up to Mr. Acres and hold him to the ladder.  He’d been even more relieved when the two of them had begun to inch upward again.  He wasn’t very good with heights, so he wasn’t at all comfortable on the long, open ladder.  He knew it was the only way though, and was determined to climb up it to the relative safety of the next deck.  He thought Nonnie would follow once the way was clear, but she didn’t.  He could hear her sobs, and as he climbed up another rung or two behind her, he could feel her trembling.

“Nonnie?” he called softly.

“Y-yes?” she answered in a quivering voice.

“Nonnie, it’s all right. Miss Finney and Mr. Acres made it up the ladder.  They’re safe.  Now it’s your turn.  Can you just reach up one hand…?”

Before the terrified girl could answer or move there was a loud voice from below.  “Hey! What’s goin’ on up there? Whaddya doin’, takin’ a coffee break? Move it!”

Martin looked down for a moment.  “Please, Mr. Rogo!” the usually timid man said sharply, then turned back to the panicked girl, and softened his voice again.  “Nonnie, reach up your hand… come on, you can do it.  Reach for the next rung… that’s it.  Now your other hand… yes.  Now your foot.  Nice and easy, one rung at a time.”  As she moved, he continued, “That’s the toughest one, the first rung.”

James was right behind her encouraging, comforting, praising.  He discovered that the more he concentrated on helping Nonnie, the less he noticed his own fears.  He’d never known this sensation in his solitary life.  He’d never experienced giving this kind of care to someone, of putting her needs before his own.  He had to admit it was a good feeling.  They finally made it to the duct and began crawling toward Broadway.

 

Julia continued to help Liam as they made their way through the tunnel.  “Can someone help us please?” she called out, as they neared the exit.  “Liam needs a hand getting out.”

Linda Rogo was hovering around the duct opening.  “Here, take my hand,” she said.  Concern distorted her doll-like features.  “Is everyone alright?  The explosions… Mike…?”

She pulled Acres to his feet as Julia followed close behind.  The two women held each other’s gaze for a moment, each understanding how the other felt.

“Thank you, Mrs. Rogo,” Julia said.  “I don’t know for sure about your husband, but I think everyone else is fine…  Liam almost fell.”

Linda nodded and bent down to look into the dim passage, straining to see the figure of her husband, but he wasn’t visible.  She could see Nonnie and James inching along though, and prayed Mike was behind them.

Julia turned to Liam as she helped him sit down.  “Let me look at your leg again.  I ought to be able to find the doctor’s office around here, and get some antiseptic and clean dressing,” she said shakily.

She was hoping that if she concentrated on the task of finding medical supplies she would be able to banish the image of Liam, plunging into the churning waters of the shaft, from her mind.  She shuddered slightly, then Liam covered her hand with his.

“It’s all right, Love,” he said softly, patting her hand.

“I know, I…” a sob broke her voice.  “What if I’d gone ahead of you…?  I wouldn’t have been there to…”

He pulled her toward him, caressing her wet and tousled hair, trying to brush it back from her face.  “Hush, Luv!  You were right there.  Nothing happened.”

 

I’ve done what I set out to do, I’ve saved Acres from the fall in the air shaft.  That was my original goal of this story; all the rest came later, based on some of the inspirations I told you about at the beginning.

There’s MUCH MORE adventure in store for our brave band of survivors though, so come back next week.

As I said last week, when I was seventeen I carefully put Roddy McDowall away in the deepest, darkest corner of my heart.  I moved on like he wasn’t a part of my life anymore, although he was still there each and every moment.

Is it any wonder that I so strongly identified with Helen Reddy’s song “Angie Baby,” the story of a girl who has imprisoned a secret lover?  At least Roddy was only metaphorically locked up!

I began keeping a journal that fall, and I continued it for nearly twelve years.  As I began to write about my activities, more interesting activities became a part of my life.  Sometimes it read like fiction, even to me who was living it.

I still preferred the fiction I’d written and imagined though.

After high school I moved into an apartment with a girlfriend and got a crummy, dead-end, fast food job.  I had a short-lived, yet rather wild, period before my roommate met “Mr. Right” and moved to another state.

I still thought of Roddy all the time, but it was the late ‘70s, the era of drugs, disco, and Studio 54, so I figured he was doing similar things, but with a more sophisticated crowd.  I understood by then that he’d probably had MANY experiences that thirteen-year-old girl could have never imagined.  But the eighteen-year-old did!  I had all those years sitting and pining in my bedroom to make up for.

And I did my damnedest!

I tried college for a couple semesters, but didn’t really know what I was doing there.  A boy I’d dated had joined the military, and since I’d become so good at letter-writing during my mid-teen years writing to Roddy, I wrote to this boy when he went away to boot camp and then his first duty station.

I think mostly due to my letters, his loneliness, and his desire to be out of the barracks, he asked me to marry him.

I think mostly due to my not knowing what to do with my life, my loneliness, and my desire to be away from Kansas City, (and my mother), I said yes.

NOT good reasons to marry, any of them!

 

I made my wedding vows to love and cherish this boy with someone else residing in my heart.

Those sweet, innocent feelings I had for Roddy in early 1973 had grown and changed as I’d grown and changed.  They weren’t so innocent anymore.  I packed up all my scrapbooks and stories, as well as the photograph I’d slept with for most of my teenage years, and moved on to my new life.

I spun all new fantasies…

And I was alone, far from home, in an unknown place nearly always, so had TIME to create such phantom daydreams.  Not only did I feel like I’d moved to the Edge of the Earth, and my new husband wasn’t very attentive, but shortly after we were settled into our new home in North Carolina he began seeing another girl.

So I even had the RIGHT to be thinking of, the right to be wanting, someone else.

I was a good wife though, and I don’t think he ever realized he wasn’t the one in my thoughts.  If he’s reading this now though, he knows, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.

He and I have made our peace with our marriage, and we’ve both admitted that it was as much for convenience as anything else.  Perhaps I could’ve been more forthright though.

But I couldn’t have then!

I wouldn’t be able to for many more years.

 

This has been rather gut-wrenching, and I’m not sure I should be so candid, but I have lived for the past eight years on the advice a writing teacher gave me: I must not be afraid to show my soft underbelly.  So soft underbelly is what you’re getting, even if it is somewhat uncomfortable, and even embarrassing, for me.

See you on Saturday!

Acres: More of the Adventure on the Poseidon, Part 3

Posted August 11th, 2012 by Julie Carriker

When we left Julia Finney and Liam Acres, they were still near the ships’s kitchens, as other survivors of the Poseidon’s capsize were climbing up the Christmas tree from the dining room.  The plan was to climb up to the bottom of the ship, since any rescue would have to come from there.  In Athens,  Juliana Acres, was attending a party, still unaware of the peril her brother is facing.  So now, let’s return to that fateful New Year’s Morning…

 

Word of the Poseidon disaster had reached the offices of the Greek Majestic line, and announcements began to go out to the family members of the passengers and crew.  One of those called to this difficult job was Phil Beamer, who worked in the main office.  He knew of the party in Athens that night, and knew there would be family and friends of crewmembers attending.  When he arrived, he asked the hosts, Kirk and Richard, to point out anyone with a relative onboard the Poseidon, and asked those people to follow him into another room.  Many were employees, or former employees, so they followed him with dread.  Jules Acres clasped the hands of friends Veronica Peters and Sean Benz.  Veronica’s older brother Kevin worked with Liam in the dining room, and Sean lived with Brian, the bartender in the Trident.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Beamer started slowly. “I have some distressing news about the Poseidon.  The line doesn’t want you to find out from some nosy reporter, so I’m going to tell you now, straight out.  Something happened to the Poseidon just after midnight, and a Mayday call was sent out.”  There was a murmur around the room, and he put his hands up for silence.  “Now, we don’t know much yet, but the nearest ships, as well as the Greek Coast Guard are headed to the last reported position.”

“Any word on survivors?” a woman Juliana didn’t know asked.

“What do you think happened?” Sean asked.

Phil took a deep breath.  “We don’t have any information on survivors yet, but since the Mayday call did go out, surely the passengers and crew were able to take some action.”  He glanced once more at the piece of paper in his hand, although the terrifying details were burned into his mind.  “At 11:49 there was an undersea earthquake northwest of Crete, we think that might have caused whatever the problem is.  I assure you that we will get to the Poseidon as quickly as possible, and take every action to save all aboard.  We just don’t know much now, but if you will all please leave the address and phone number of where you’re staying, as well as the names of anyone you’re concerned about, we’ll notify you as soon as we have some news.”

That pretty much broke the party up.  Sean, Veronica, and some of the others were going to the line office to wait for word, but Juliana wanted to be alone with her thoughts, so after giving her name and contact information, as well as Liam and Julia’s names, she walked back to the small house.  She forced herself to call her parents and give them the news, before they learned of it from someone else, but she tried to be cheerful, saying that no one really knew what had happened to the Poseidon, and that Liam was probably safe.  Tavish and Maureen took the news in their customary stoic nature—members of the family had been at sea for many years, and accidents were a hazard of the trade.  Juliana promised she would call as soon as she got any new information.

After hanging up the phone she went into the bedroom she’d gotten ready for her brother, smoothed the bedspread, and straightened the pillows.  She went to the window and looked out at the moon shining on the calm sea.  ‘Oh, Liam!   Where are you?  Are you all right?’  She opened the window, so she would be able to hear the telephone ring, then went outside to sit on the sand.

 

Back on the Poseidon, Julia looked down into the dining room again.  No one else was coming up the tree, and she strained to see if there were any crewmembers down there she might convince to come up.  She was looking especially for Kevin, but couldn’t see him.  She remembered that he’d been in the dining room when she last saw him, just after midnight.

She also wondered about Brian, and looked toward the Trident.  She didn’t see him there, but perhaps he had already gotten out through the service door behind the bar.  She thought of all the bottles and glasses in the Trident, and looked again at Liam’s cut leg.

Rev. Scott had asked for more people to come with them, but due to shock or fear, no one else was interested.  Finally he climbed the tree himself, and made one final appeal.

“You couldn’t talk anybody else into comin’, huh?” Mike Rogo asked, but before Scott could respond there was a series of explosions and the ship tilted.

Everyone in the corridor scrambled to hold something.  Liam put an arm around Julia as she braced herself against him, trying to be careful of his leg, while Scott rushed back to the doorway.

None of the others could see what was happening in the dining room, but they could hear screams and the sound of rushing water.  Scott was yelling, “Don’t panic!  One at a time!”  Suddenly the screams grew louder and were followed by a large splash.  A few moments later the minister returned, closing the double doors near the entrance to the dining room, muffling the horrifying sounds they were still hearing.  The look on his face said it all, and no one dared to meet his gaze.

“Which way to the kitchens, Acres?” he asked in a strained voice.

“This way, Sir.” Liam answered, starting to move down the corridor.  Julia walked beside him, helping him keep his balance while he tried to keep his weight off his injured leg.  Scott and the others followed.  They walked past a few bodies, including that of Frederic, the pastry chef, but none of them showed signs of life.  Julia tried not to look too closely, fearing who else she might see lying there.  So many friends…

They came to a dead end and saw a red light shining near the floor, and a heavy steel door blocking the way.

“What is that?” Scott asked, looking at Liam.  The two men stepped forward a bit.

“Fire, Sir,” Liam answered, horror masking the pain on his face.

“That’s a special fire door isn’t it?”

“Yes, Sir, it’s a safety door,” the steward replied slowly.

“So any fire on the other side would be out of oxygen?  Would be smothered, right?”

“Well…” Liam answered hesitantly, “that’s the theory, Sir.”

“Let’s test it….”  This led to an argument between the minister and the detective, similar to the one they’d had below, over the Christmas tree, and again this time it ended with Scott convincing him there was no real choice.

As Scott and Rogo moved to open the door, Liam turned back to Julia and the passengers, “Will you move back against the bulkhead, please?  Will you move back?”  He went to where Julia was standing, and put his arm protectively around her.

“I can tell that your leg is hurting a lot,” she whispered, “lean on me for awhile to take as much weight off it as you can.”

He smiled at her and bent his injured leg a little more, taking all his weight off of it.

In a few minutes Scott came back, wet from sweat, and stood in the open doorway.  “Acres, the companionway on the other side of the kitchen, where does it lead to?”

“Down to… up… to Broadway, Sir,” he answered wearily, still leaning against Julia

“What’s Broadway?” Scott asked.

“It’s a service way, Sir.  It runs the full length of the ship,” Julia answered, wanting Liam to conserve his strength as much as possible.

“Does Broadway lead to the engine room?”

“Well, I don’t know much about below decks, Sir, but… there might be access from that area, yes, Sir,” Liam answered, as Julia nodded agreement.

“There is!” young Robin Shelby broke in.

“You again?” Mike Rogo asked.  The detective didn’t want to take the word of a child, but James Martin pointed out that the two crewmembers had also heard that Broadway led to the engine room, even if neither had been there.  Once again, Rogo gave in to the group decision to move on.

Of course, with the dining room now flooded, what real choice did they have?

“All right, let’s go then,” Scott said, as he turned toward the sauna-like room again.  “There are a lot of bodies in here, it isn’t a pretty sight.  Don’t touch anything, it’s hot.”  He looked at Liam, still leaning against Julia.  “Can you make it, Acres?”

“Oh yes, Sir, yes, Sir.  I’m fine, Sir.”  He looked at Julia and smiled.  “I have all the help I need, Sir.”

“Good man!” he said, and nodded to Julia.

The group made it through the kitchen without too much difficulty.  It was almost unbearably hot, the footing was difficult, and yes, there were charred and scalded bodies, but they got through.  As she was helping Liam, Julia glanced around furtively, wanting to see anyone they knew, but also not wanting to see.  She noticed that Liam was doing the same thing when he wasn’t concentrating of keeping his footing.  Manny Rosen had to practically push his wife into the room, due to her fear of fire, and Susan Shelby grabbed the Reverend and cried the first time she saw a body, but they were soon out the fire door on the other side.

Once out of the kitchen, the group went down a short hallway and came to a stairway, upside down, of course.

Scott called from the front of their informal line, “Acres, is this the only way?”

Liam looked up.  “Yes, Sir”

Scott pulled himself up the incline by the railings, turned and looked down to the others.  “We’ll need something to pull you up with,” he said and he began to look around.

Julia looked at Liam with concern, wondering how he would get up to the next level, as Martin opened a case on the wall and pulled out a fire hose.

“Try this, Reverend,” he called, as he tossed it up to Scott.

“You first, Acres, I need you.  Rogo, help him,” Scott called, as Julia helped Liam to the bottom of the staircase and Rogo looped the hose over his head.

“Here, put it around his waist,” the detective said, as he got behind Liam, and supported him, ready to take him up the slope.  Liam reached for the handrails, and did all he could to move himself, which was a struggle.

Julia looked on with concern, and while the three men were still talking about something on the landing above, she grabbed the rails, braced herself, and began to climb.  She didn’t want Liam up there with no one to look after him, and certainly didn’t want him in the middle of some argument between these two men who seemed to be fighting over the leadership of their small group.

“Through those doors, Acres?” Julia heard Scott ask, just as she reached the top.

“Oh no, Sir, that’s the crew’s galley, Sir… It’s… it’s that way, Sir.”  Liam looked at Julia with relief when he saw her.

“Thank you,” he said as she and the minister helped him to his feet.  He was out of breath again from his most recent exertions, and was having even more trouble balancing.

“Reverend?” Julia asked.  “I think we should let Liam rest a bit.  I can show you the way.  I’ve been in this area enough.”  She thought of the crew’s lounge just a short way down the corridor where they should be having their celebration now…

“I can do it, Luv,” Liam protested, but it was obvious that he was about at the end of his strength.  “We need to get out of here while there’s still light… I’m all right.”

“I’m surprised these lights are still working,” Scott replied, just then thinking of it.

“They’re on an emergency circuit, Sir.  On batteries.  They’re supposed to stay operational for three hours,” Liam answered as he was reluctantly led to a place to sit.

“Well they’d better” Scott glanced at the two of them, and the three shared a look of concern.

“Sir, there are emergency lights, flashlights and lanterns, in a locker around here somewhere…” Liam trailed off as he looked around, still trying to orient himself to his new surroundings.

Scott was torn; knowing they had to find some kind of replacement light, but also knowing that they must get up to Broadway as quickly as possible.  “Acres, once some of the others get up here, do you think you can direct them to that locker?”

“Oh, yes, Sir.  Of course, Sir.”

“We’ll be right back then,” the minister said, as he walked off.

Julia clasped Liam’s hand tightly before she followed Scott.  “Thank you for letting him rest, Reverend.  I’m very worried about him,” she said, once they’d moved away, and Liam wouldn’t be able to hear.

“Is the injury serious, Miss Finney?”

“I don’t really know, Sir.  It doesn’t look too deep, but I think he lost a lot of blood right after it happened…”

“He’s very lucky to have you to look after him, Miss Finney.”

“I’m lucky to have him, Sir.  We’ve been friends for a long time, and now…” she didn’t want to go into the details of her personal life with this man, even though he was probably trained in such areas, and besides, they didn’t have time for such things.

They came to where Julia thought the passageway should be, but found a huge pile of debris instead.  “Well…?” Scott asked, looking at her closely.

“There’s no other exit from this section, Sir!”

“There’s gotta be!  Think!”

Just then they heard running feet, and a voice calling, “Jules?  Are you there?”

The pair turned around and a tall thin man, with sandy blond hair, came rushing up.  When Julia saw him, tears sprang to her eyes.  “Brian!  It’s you!  I was so afraid… with all the glass…”  They embraced.

He hugged her tightly.  “I got lucky, I guess.  I wasn’t even in the bar, but the storage area, when it happened.  I did take a look in there though…  I don’t think I would have made it.”  He shuddered slightly, looked at the minister, and held out his hand.  “Hello, Reverend.  I’m Brian Curry, the bartender at the Trident.  I’ve seen you around, but we’ve never officially met.  I just talked to Liam… Acres, and I think I know of a way out of here.”

“Well, Mr. Curry, in that case, I’m VERY happy that you’ve joined us!  Show us.”

Julia looked at Brian carefully.  He didn’t seem very hurt, no worse than the rest of them, and not as badly as Liam.  He had some bruises and scrapes, as they all did, but it could have been so much worse for him.  She thought about Liam, and how he was doing.  She wanted to check his leg before they went on any farther.  “I’m going back to Liam, if that’s all right,” she said.  “I’ll look for the flashlights too, on my way.”

“Good girl, Miss Finney!  Let’s go, Mr. Curry!” Scott said, as the two men headed off.

The two men made their way down the corridor and soon came to a chain link gate locked with a padlock.

“There,” Curry indicated gesturing.  Scott found a piece of pipe to force it open, revealing small hatch behind some grating.  “That’s it, Sir.  Down there,” Brian pointed.  “I think that’s it, Sir…”  Scott used the pipe once more to pry the hatch cover open.  “All right…”

Scott looked into a round vent tunnel.  “This leads to the central shaft?” he asked.

“That’s what I’ve heard, Sir,” Brian answered, leaning over his shoulder, peering into the shadowy tube.

“Where does the shaft lead?”

“There’s an exit on all decks, just like this one.  It doesn’t look very promising, does it?” the bartender said slowly.

“No it doesn’t,” Scott said, shaking his head.

“But it’s the best shot we’ve got,” Curry added, a little more enthusiastically.

“Yes, Mr. Curry, I think it is,” Scott agreed.

 

This seems like a natural stopping place, here between scenes, so I’ll continue this story next week.  If ANYONE is reading, PLEASE, write something to let me know.  Comment, question, tell me fan fiction is stupid, just LET ME KNOW YOU’RE there! (please)

See you on Wednesday…

Again, Wednesday’s blog is arriving on (just barely) Thursday.  Hopefully, this is NOT a trend!

I’ll continue my journey with Roddy where I left off…

 

The main thing I wrote over those years, from the time I was about thirteen until I was seventeen, were letters: letters to Roddy McDowall.  I wrote often, pouring out my teenaged heart to a man I’d never met.  Sometimes I wrote several times a week.  The letters were pretty innocent, especially by today’s standards, but they were probably also somewhat disturbing to Roddy, or whatever assistant was helping him with his mail during those years.  I never received a response, although I’ve since known many fans that did.  When I learned after Roddy’s death that all his personal papers and correspondence were locked in some archive at Boston University for one hundred years, I imagined that many or mine were in a “crazy file.”  It’s been nearly fourteen years, so there only eighty-six more to wait.

I HAVE written stories about it though, but that wouldn’t happen for MANY years, and I’ll tell about that in its own time.

 

I almost ran away to see Roddy, in the late spring of 1976, just before I turned sixteen.  One of the days when I was home “sick” watching him on Hollywood Squares, the host, Peter Marshall, announced that Roddy would be touring in the play Charley’s Aunt, which would open in Ann Arbor, Michigan soon.  This was before the Internet, so such stalking activities were much more difficult, but I knew the name of the theatre, so somehow I found information on ticket prices, and the even more important bus ticket to get me there.  I’m not sure what I thought would happen, and I know now that many—MOST!—of my fantasies were pretty unrealistic, but I felt somehow that this was meant to be, and it was my chance…

It was a chance I didn’t take though, and now I don’t even know why.  Perhaps I was afraid.  Perhaps I didn’t want to take the risk of seeing that my dreams were only that: the imaginings of a lonely, lovesick girl.

I have regretted this decision pretty much ever since.

Except on those occasions when I’m thankful I still HAVE my untainted-by-harsh-reality fantasy.  It has gotten me through some difficult times, (but more on that next time).

I had similar thoughts the next summer when my family went on a vacation that included New York City.  I didn’t know if Roddy would even BE there, but it was a chance, and I think this time I might have actually taken it, and somehow given my family the slip.  Unfortunately, we got out of the car only ONCE during our day in Manhattan—and that was to board the ferry to tour the Statue of Liberty.  There was no missed opportunity this time, because there was NO opportunity at all!  This was probably a good thing, since although I thought of myself as pretty street-wise and clever, I was still VERY sheltered and naïve.

And for some reason, I never even tried to find Roddy again…

 

I didn’t stop thinking of Roddy though.  He was still a big part of my life even after my best friend had moved on to other, more age-appropriate, interests, and I took my own feelings “underground.”  I played the NORMAL game, partially because my parents were so concerned with my withdrawl from the “real” world, the one that wasn’t AT ALL real to me.   I began going out with groups of schoolmates, and even went on a date with a REAL BOY—although it turned out it be a bit more complicated than that—when I was still sixteen.  When I was seventeen, after the ill-fated New York trip, I dated frequently, had one boyfriend, then another, then some who weren’t even boyfriends, and what we had couldn’t have even been called relationships…

Outwardly, I had moved on, but my heart stayed locked tightly, with Roddy safely inside.  The world didn’t know about my feelings, so the world couldn’t be worried about them or touch them.  The world couldn’t stop me, or force me to give him up, as long as I played my role, as long as I lived the life I was supposed to live.

I would play that role well over the next nearly thirty years…

 

See you again on Saturday, with this week’s installment of “The Words,” yes, AGAIN, about Roddy.

Acres: More of the Adventure on the Poseidon, Part 2

Posted August 5th, 2012 by Julie Carriker

When we left Liam Acres and Julia Finney on the SS Poseidon, it was nearly midnight and everyone aboard the ship was getting ready to celebrate.  In Athens, Liam’s sister, Juliana, was attending a New Year’s Eve party with other employees and friends of the Greek Majestic Line.  All was merriment as those last few moments of 1972 ticked away.

Julia had just left the Trident bar, and was walking toward the linen service area, off the dining room, to join Liam for a private celebration.  Let’s return now to that night…

 

Julia began to walk across the dining room and saw Nonnie, Ted, and the rest of Sunray up on the stage.  An MC was standing nearby, so it must be almost time.

“Good evening, Miss Finney,” the Poseidon’s silver-haired Captain greeted her.  “Have a Happy New Year.”  No matter how busy Captain Harrison was, he always made time for his crew.

“Thank you.  The same to you, Sir, and to you too, Mr. Linarcos.”

The representative from the line smiled warmly at her.  “Thank you, Miss Finney.  Happy New Year to you.”  Although Linarcos did not get along well with some members of the crew, including often the Captain, Julia had liked him from the start, and had spoken with him on several occasions.

“Any news yet, Sir?” she asked, knowing that Mrs. Linarcos was home in Greece awaiting the birth of their first child.

“Nothing yet, Miss Finney, but it should be anytime now,” Linarcos replied, beaming.  He had told his Deborah about this caring young American woman, and hoped that they could meet someday.  Deborah would like her.

As he and the Captain hurried out of the room, she called after Linarcos.  “Please, give your wife my best wishes, Sir,” she said and Linarcos turned to nod his thanks.  She wondered what was sending the two of them to the bridge so close to midnight, but wasn’t concerned.  She assumed it was some kind of mundane ship’s business.

On her way to the linen service area she could see that Liam was fussing over the passengers at his tables.  He really was a mother hen with them!  Of course that’s what made him so popular, he truly cared about people, and made everyone feel special.  She spotted Kevin standing by an adjacent table, doing the same, and grinned.  All the stewards on the Poseidon were good, but Liam and Kevin seemed to give just a little bit more to their passengers.  ‘What a pair those two are!  No wonder the passengers love them so much!’ she thought.

 

She walked into the small storage room between the kitchens and the dining room.  She looked around curiously, seeing that in addition to a bottle of champagne and two glasses, Liam had also stowed two party hats, a small plate of petits fours, and a single red rose.  She smiled.

Liam came rushing in.  “Come on, Luv, let’s stand in the doorway and watch.  It’s almost time,” he said with anticipation, as he took her hand.

They moved over to the service doorway with several other crewmembers, as the MC said, “Ladies and gentlemen!  May I have your attention, please?  It is exactly fifty seconds to midnight!  Will you please stand and fill your glasses?”

As the countdown began, Liam and Julia had their arms around each other’s waists, and counted loudly along with the passengers and crew.  “Five… four… three… two… one—HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

They turned to each other, looked into each other’s eyes, said “I love you,” and threw their arms around each other for a deep, fervent kiss. Their shipmates surrounding them began to cheer and clap, and within a few moments the couple realized that this attention was for them.

They moved apart, a little embarrassed.

“Oh, Jules, Liam, don’t mind us.  We’re just happy for you,” Frederic, a pastry chef, assured them.  “We’re all family, after all.”  The others nodded agreement, causing Julia and Liam to beam appreciatively.

Liam took Julia’s hand again and led her to the more private space he had arranged for them.  As they stepped through the swinging door to the linen storage room he pulled her close again, and they fell against a stack of folded tablecloths, holding and kissing each other passionately.  They could hear the passengers singing “Auld Lang Syne” and celebrating, but they were alone in their own world.

They didn’t even notice the ship’s bells and sirens going off until Frederic fell against the swinging door which suddenly seemed somehow to be above them, and called, “Liam, Jules, we’re rolling!  Brace yourselves!”  Frederic held on as they tumbled together across the small room.  Everything around them was moving and it was difficult to see or comprehend what was going on.  They were wound up in tablecloths and pinned against the far wall when they began to fall head-first toward the ceiling.

“Hold on to me, Julia!” Liam cried out and tried to shield her with his own body.

Luckily, they were in a room filled mostly with tablecloths and napkins, but the shelving units were beginning to come loose from their brackets as well.  As they fell, he somehow got under her, and when Liam hit the ceiling, he felt a sharp pain in his left leg as he crushed the champagne glasses he had gotten for their private toast.  He didn’t even have time to cry out before Julia landed on him, momentarily knocking the wind out of him.

 

Everything was quiet for a few moments; in contrast to, and now terrifyingly emphasizing, the huge and horrible noises during the capsize—sounds of metal, glass, and flesh being torn apart, burnt, scalded…

Liam regained his breath and tried to move, but the pain in his leg almost made him pass out.  He lay still for a moment and tried to think.  He could feel a weight on top of him, and thought it must be Julia, but she was not moving or making any sound.  He could feel the blood oozing out of his torn leg.  He had to do something.  He had to see to Julia.  He had to stop the bleeding in his leg before it was too late.

He tried to stay calm, and moved his arm up and above him, feeling for any sort of injury.  He called, “Julia!  Julia?  Can you hear me?  Are you all right?”  He felt her weight shift, which was a relief, although it also sent shockwaves of pain through his leg, and he tried not to cry out.

“Liam?” a groggy-sounding voice asked.  “Liam, where are you?  What’s happened?”

“Julia, I’m here.  Right under you, right under the tablecloths.  It’s all right, I’m here.  Can you move off me, Luv?  I’ve injured my leg.  Be careful though, there’s glass on the floor.”  He felt her move off him, then she began removing the tablecloths covering him.  From the corner of his eye he could see her face in the dim light.  She looked pale, and a cut on her forehead was still bleeding slightly.  Blood had run down her cheek, and he saw a look of fear and concern covering her face as she saw the condition of his leg.

“Oh, Liam!  Hold still!  Let me help you.  Oh, God…”  She tore a tablecloth into uneven strips and before wrapping them around his leg she gently removed several pieces of glass from the gash.

As she coiled the bandage around he winced.  “I guess I’m lucky this was champagne instead of Coca-Cola.  The alcohol is probably good for the wound, although it hurts like hell.”  He looked into her eyes, “Thanks, Luv.  I was worried about the bleeding, but I don’t think it’s really too bad.  What about you?  You’re bleeding as well.  Are you all right?  Are you hurt anywhere else?”

She shook her head a little, partly in an effort to clear it.  “I think I hit part of a shelf, or something.  My head hurts some, but the bleeding seems to have stopped.”  She looked around, and in a puzzled voice asked; “What happened?  Nothing looks right.  Are we on… the ceiling?  Oh my God, we’ve…”

Liam, who was sitting up now, reached for her, and pulled her toward him.  “Yes, Julia, I think we’ve turned over.  I don’t know how or why, but that seems to be the case.”  As she began to tremble, he held her more tightly.  “Don’t be afraid,” he said in a soft, comforting voice.  “I’m here, and I’ll look after you.  We both need to be strong because I’m sure there are others injured more severely.  We need to see to our chums, and then the passengers.  Can you stand up?  I think you’ll have to help me walk, and you may even have to help me stand.”

Julia looked at him, her voice more steady than before.  “Oh Liam, don’t worry about me!  I’ll look after you.”  She crouched, then pulled his arm around her shoulder.  “Here, Honey, can you brace yourself against the wall and stand up with me?”

They struggled to their feet, Liam wincing whenever he put any weight on his leg.  Julia could see the pain on his face even in the dimly lit room.  “Let’s rest a second.  Lean against me on your left side.”

They could hear various sounds coming from the other side of the linen service door, so they knew there were others alive.  As Julia moved to push the swinging door open, she felt resistance, and heard a low moan.  “Oh, God!  Someone’s hurt on the other side.”

She gently pushed the door again and it moved a little.

“Oh, God!  Oh, God!” a frail voice gasped.

Julia froze.  “That’s Frederic!  Liam, sit back down so I can try to help him.”  She eased him back to the floor, and getting on her knees, carefully moved the door just far enough to ease her arm around to the other side.  She felt wet clothing and moved her friend as carefully as she could; inching the door open just enough for her to squeeze through the crack.  “I’ll be right back,” she said, before she crawled through.  “If you need me, just call, I’ll be right on the other side of the door.  I love you.”

Liam watched her go, silently cursing his injury.  He should be the one taking care of her in this catastrophe, not the other way round.  He hated to think of what she had found on the other side of the door.  He thought of trying to follow her, but when he began to kneel, the pain was almost unbearable.  He sat back and waited, listening carefully.

As Julia eased herself through the door she was assaulted by the sensations of the corridor.  Although she and Liam were both injured, the linen service area had been a relatively safe place to go through the capsize.  The corridor leading from the kitchens to the dining room was full of violence and death.  The ceiling-floor was covered with liquid, from the looks of it, a fair amount of it blood, and there were several bodies visible.  She didn’t see any other signs of life nearby, but could hear movement further away, and also below.

Her immediate attention was concentrated on Frederic, and as she looked at him, she was almost sick.  “Oh, Freddie!” was all she could say.  He was lying mostly on his back, his pale face and blue eyes sharply contrasting with the red covering most of the rest of his body.  His right arm was twisted at an odd angle, both legs appeared to be shattered, and there was blood still pulsing from his torn chest.  She didn’t know much about emergency medicine, but it was obvious that there was nothing she could do.  Mercifully, for both of them, Frederic was no longer conscious.  All she could do was close his eyes, rest her hand on his cheek for a moment, and murmur, “I’m so sorry, Freddie,” before she gently moved him away from the door.

She returned to the storage room, shaken, but also determined.  She looked at Liam propped up, and half sitting on a shelf.  “There’s nothing I can do.  He’s broken to pieces.  I did move him away from the door so we can get out.  Of course, it’s awful out there, and I don’t know where we’ll go.  There are maybe others out there we can help.  I… I didn’t even check on anyone else.”

“I think there are people still alive in the dining room also.  Can you hear them?  We need to try to get down to them, if we can,” he said, carefully getting to his feet.  Julia went to him so he could put his arm around her for support, and they gingerly moved through the swinging door and toward the service doorway.

 

The scene that greeted them from the doorway was completely different from the one they had seen standing in that very doorway, half an hour or so before.  Where they had seen tables full of revelers, toasting, kissing, and singing in the New Year, now they saw total devastation.  They looked down on something that didn’t even look like a dining room anymore, but more like a battlefield.  The doorway they were standing in was like a balcony, giving a full view of the carnage.  The frosted-glass light panels threw up an eerie light, and there were even bodies smashed into a couple of them.  They saw many bodies in fact, but also people who appeared unhurt, or mostly.

A group of men standing together holding a tablecloth stretched out like a net caught their attention.  When the looked up, they saw a dark-haired girl clinging to the underside of a table still attached to the ceiling.  A tall man, who had been sitting at the Captain’s table when Julia walked through the dining room earlier, called to the girl from below, saying, “Susan, you can do it.  Jump, we’ll catch you.”  As they watched, the girl, Susan Shelby, summoned up her courage and jumped from her perch, landing in the tablecloth, and was helped to her feet.

Suddenly there were screams and a loud crash as the huge Christmas tree came lose from its mounting, and fell, sending the frightened people below into a fresh panic.

Julia looked at Liam with concern.  “Do you think you can do that, jump like that, with your hurt leg?” she asked, touching his arm.

“What choice do I have?” he answered, trying to smile.  “I will try.”  He raised his voice to be heard over the terrified passengers, and called, “Reverend Scott!”  He waited a moment, and repeated it.

The tall man, Rev. Frank Scott, looked up into the darkness of the new ceiling, trying to make out who was there.  “Who is it?” he asked.

“It’s me, Sir, Acres.  Could you help us down…?  I’ve injured my leg.”

“How many are with you, Acres?”

“Just Miss Finney and I.  The others…” he trailed off, not really knowing what to say, as he looked back into the corridor.

“Hang on, Acres, we’ll be right there.”  As the group started to make its way to the doorway, with the tablecloth/net, James Martin stopped the minister.  Julia and Liam couldn’t hear the conversation, but noticed that many of the passengers looked or pointed toward them.  There also seemed to be some kind of argument between Scott, and a shorter, stocky man, whom Liam finally recognized as Detective Rogo.  They’d had some pleasant conversations about New York City, since Liam had spent a great deal of time there in recent years, and Mr. Rogo and his wife were natives.

Finally Scott called up; “Where does that lead to, the place you’re standing on?”

“To the galley, Sir,” Acres answered.

“Is there a ladder, or something we could use to climb up?”

“No, Sir,” Liam answered in puzzlement.  “This is the linen service area.”

“Tablecloths?” Martin asked.

“Yes, Sir,” Liam answered.

The group below discussed the possibility of tying tablecloths together as a kind of rope, but decided that wouldn’t be strong enough.

“Do they want to come up here?  Why?” Julia whispered.  “Surely, it is safer down…”

“I know why,” Liam answered, stealing a glance at her, while still giving attention to what was going on below.  “They think that the only way we can ever get out is through the bottom of the ship—and I think they’re right.  We need to climb.”

Rev. Scott looked around.  “We need something like… that.  The Christmas tree.”  A group of men went to help move the large fallen tree.  They moved it toward the service doorway, then lifted it up.

“Do you think you could go find some tablecloths to tie the tree down with?” Liam asked Julia, as the tree inched toward them.  “I’ll hold it once they get it up here.”

She quickly fetched an armful of tablecloths and began rolling them and tying them together.  She heard something bump against the edge of the doorway, and looked up to see Liam holding the tip of the Christmas tree.  She handed one end of the tablecloth rope and after he tied it around the tree, and pulled on it to make sure it was secure, she tied the other end around a nearby light fixture not far above the new floor.

“Are you all right there, Acres?” Scott called from below.

“Yes, Sir,” he replied.

They watched from above as Scott bent over a young blond boy, motioning for him to climb the tree.  “He’s just a baby!” Julia exclaimed.  “Why is he coming up first?”

“It’s psychology, Luv,” Liam replied.  ‘If this little boy can come up here with no problems, and not be afraid, the adults won’t think it’s so difficult.  I wonder how many others he’s going to convince to come up here.”

She looked at him thoughtfully.  “I don’t know.  I guess it makes sense to climb higher, since we’re floating upside down, but how many do you think will be able to manage such a climb?”  She touched his arm.  “What about you, Honey?  Can you manage a climb?  I’ll help you all I can, but if you don’t think you can do it, I’ll stay here with you and wait for…”

“I’ll go on as far as I can, Luv,” he said, and turned her face toward his.  “If I can’t go on though, you’ll keep going, do you understand?  I won’t let you sacrifice yourself for me.”

She put her hand on his cheek.  “I’m not going to argue with you about this, but I will not leave you.  We’ll get through this together!”

He pulled her close for a moment, then they heard the rustle of branches, and looked to see a smiling round face below tousled blond hair.  “Hi!” the boy said.  “I’m Robin Shelby.  I hope I’m not bothering you.”

“Of course not, Master Shelby, let me help you,” Liam answered, as he pulled the boy to his feet beside them.

“It’s a cinch!” the boy called down to Scott and the others.  “Come on!”  His sister, Susan, began to climb the tree.

Julia and Liam helped the girl, and then an older couple out of the tree.  A woman who was wearing her husband’s dress shirt with her high heels was next, and then her husband, the man who had been arguing with Scott.

Once this man, Mr. Rogo, got to his feet, he looked at Liam, gasping with exertion.  “Hey, buddy, you rest a while,” he offered.  “I’ll help the rest.”

“Thank you, Mr. Rogo, Sir,” Liam answered gratefully.  “I think I’ll just do that,”  Julia took his arm and led him to sit down.

The older woman looked at him with concern.  “Are you okay, Mr. Acres?  Is there anything we can do for you?

“No thank you Ma’am.  Miss Finney here is helping me.  Is there anything we can do for you?”

“Oh, Miss Finney!” Belle Rosen said, recognition in her eyes.  “I think I’ve seen you when I was at the beauty shop.  Are you all right?”

“Yes, Mrs. Rosen, I’m fine.  I had a bit of a bump on the head, and I’m banged up, but we all are.  Are you sure there’s not something I can do for you?”

“Oh no, dear, I’m just fine.  You tend to Mr. Acres.”

Suddenly Julia heard an exclamation.  “Jules!  Is it you?”  She turned as a blonde girl rushed into her arms and began to sob.

She was stunned at first, but began to comfort her friend.  “Nonnie, Nonnie, what is it?  Are you all right?  What about Ted and the others…?”   As Julia spoke, she realized what the singer’s sobs must mean.  She looked at Liam helplessly and hugged the girl tighter.  “Oh, Nonnie, I’m so sorry!”

Nonnie continued to sob on Julia’s shoulder for a few moments, softly murmuring “Teddy…Teddy…”  James Martin, the passenger Julia had spoken with in the bar just before midnight, hovered nearby.  Nonnie looked up, stood back, and her professional experience took over.  “Jules, do you know Mr. Martin?  James, this is Julia Finney, a friend of mine.

“Yes, we’ve met,” he answered.  “How are you, Miss Finney?”

“I’m fine, Mr. Martin.  Liam’s hurt, but I’m okay.”  Her gaze moved to Liam, sitting next to her, and she put her hand on his shoulder.  “Are you feeling better?  Is the rest helping you?”

He tried to sound reassuring as he answered; “I’m fine, Luv, don’t fret.”

She could see in his eyes though that he was in a great deal of pain.

 

All righty, our adventure is well under way!  What’s in store for our brave survivors as they climb up to the bottom of the ship?  Come back next Saturday to find out!

First, let me apologize for being a bit late with this week’s Wednesday blog.  As I was doing my 750 Words today, I thought, ‘Oh!  It’s blog day, I need to write something.’  Before I could fully process that thought though, another quickly followed: “Oh, NO!!!  That was yesterday!”  So, you’re getting this a day late, (and it IS still Thursday to me, I haven’t been to bed yet), but you are getting the beginning of YET ANOTHER blog series.

Since I’m sharing Roddy fan-fiction, I decided I ought to TRY to explain how and why, (the short-ISH version, at least), Roddy became my Muse in the first place.  So here goes…

 

It started normally enough.  I was a teenage girl, well pre-teenage actually, since I wasn’t yet thirteen.  Anyway, I was going to the drive-in movie with my family, which was an activity we all enjoyed, and we often stretched it beyond the typical, summertime only, attendance.  We were going to see The Poseidon Adventure, I movie I’d heard radio advertizements for every morning, getting ready for school, a movie I thought would be entertaining and exciting.

I wasn’t looking for anything beyond that.

We were all four in the car, since it was still only spring, and we couldn’t sit outside on our lawn chairs.  I had my arms on the back of the front seat, resting my chin on them as I peered around my parents at the screen, carefully following the introductions of these characters who would undergo the coming “adventure.”  A blonde-haired girl was singing the song I’d been hearing on the radio; “There’s got to be a morning after…”  I might have been humming along, or maybe even singing softly, I don’t remember.  The shot shifted to two men in uniforms preparing the ocean liner’s dining room as the band rehearsed, and I heard his soft, musical voice.

“They boarded at Gibralter…”

My full attention was captured.

He had dark hair and eyes.

“They’re on their way to Sicily…”

The character had a Scottish accent, but I didn’t know if he really did.

“A free trip for free music.”

I was a goner!  Yet I had NO idea, and I could have NEVER imagined, the impact this man would have on the rest of my life.

“I rather fancy it,” he concluded, and the scene was over.

I had no idea then Roddy McDowall would become an essential part of who I am, as a person, and as a writer.  I knew that there was “something” though, that somehow this man spoke to a part of me I didn’t even know I had, (I was only twelve, remember?).

I became obsessed.  “WHO, JULIE???” you ask.  “NEVER!!!”

Okay, some of you know me, and have read some of my writing, so you know I have a tendency toward obsessive behavior.

Okay, I’m prone to it.

Anyway, I became obsessed with Roddy.  I’d always watched lots of movies and television, so I knew I’d seen him before, but he didn’t make a profound impression until that night in my dad’s red and black Dodge.  I began scouring the movie and teen magazines for information, ANY information, and before long I knew some of the details about him, his work, his life.  Oh, and I had PICTURES!!!

I, being how I was, (am?), shared this information with anyone who would even half-way listen.  It was “Roddy was born in London,” or “Roddy came to the US when he was a little boy,” (I didn’t stop to think that at the time, that “little boy” had been only slightly younger than I was in early 1973), or “Roddy was in the Lassie movie and My Friend Flicka,” and, OF COURSE!, “Roddy is just SO cute!!!” and on and on and on and…  Well, you get the idea.

I felt like I was discovering someone no one had ever known before, (odd, since Roddy had been making movies for over thirty years already).  Even when I re-watched movies I knew I’d seen several times, they were new experiences for me, now that I was watching for him.

My family thought it was cute, at first, and my best friend even kind of joined in for the Roddy-love.

I’d sometimes written stories, or poetry, over the years, but now much of my writing somehow involved plot lines related to his roles, or even to his life, (but I didn’t get into that much, THEN).  I did create fantasy versions of him and I, but they were gushy teenage-girl innocent, fed by the diet of teen magazines and Top 40 radio.  I began to reside more and more in this fantasy world of my design, and grew more distant to the junior high, suburban Midwestern USA world I lived in.

As I moved on to high school, reality wanted me back, but I was having none of it, and my family didn’t think it was so cure anymore.

About this time I started trying to keep track of any personal appearances Roddy made, like in plays.  I began to formulate a plan to go somewhere to see him…

 

Sadly, I never did that, but that’s a story for another time.  I’ll continue with this, (and it WILL start to affect my writing more, I PROMISE, but I wasn’t writing that much then anyway, and NOTHING good).

See you again on Saturday!

Acres: More of the Adventure on the Poseidon, Part 1

Posted July 28th, 2012 by Julie Carriker

The next SEVERAL weeks “The Words” will be dedicated to the sharing of my fan-fic opus.  Of course, I’m writing it from MY perspective, based on MY fantasies–I’ve even sort of used MY name!–but there’s a little more to this story than that.  Years ago, (at least eight, possibly a bit more), I sent a video to a friend on a messageboard for the 1972 flim “The Poseido Adventure.”  Many in the group had been writing fan fiction about the film’s characters, so when this friend asked what he could do to repay me, I said, “Write me an Acres story!” (for anyone who DOESN’T know, the steward, Acres, is played by Roddy McDowall, and anyone who doesn’t know about me and Roddy McDowall just HASN’T BEEN PAYING ATTENTION!).  He wrote me a letter from Acres to his younger sister, Jules, then I took that concept and created a full story around it, incorporating the letter, as well as other aspects of the fan-fic output of the TPA Messageboard group.  I’ve shared parts of it with a few people, but it’s been rewritten a few times over the years, and I don’t think anyone’s seen the whole thing, so without further ado…

Acres: Another View of the Poseidon Adventure

Liam Acres had been at sea for over half of his life.  He signed on as a dishwasher on the Queen Mary when he was just sixteen.  His congenial manner, and willingness to learn, enabled him to become a cabin steward after only six months, even thought he was underage.  He remained with the QM for eight years and in 1962 he moved on to the Poseidon.  After ten years with the ship he was now one of the senior dining room stewards.  For five of those years, he had worked closely with Kevin Peters, a Londoner, two years his senior.  Together they catered to every possible mealtime need of their dozen assigned passengers.  In fact, many repeat passengers requested to be seated in their section.

Acres, as his passengers knew him, was happy with his life at sea, and considered his Poseidon crewmates family.  However, this didn’t keep him from maintaining close ties with his biological family.  Raised near Glasgow, Scotland, Liam was the second of Tavish and Maureen Acres’ four children.  Tavish spent his career in the Royal Navy, and eldest son Duncan enlisted at age eighteen, following in his father’s footsteps.  Younger son Ian stayed in Scotland, but moved to Edinburgh, and was a chef at a four-star hotel.  The youngest child was Juliana.  She had spent her whole life trying to keep up with her three older brothers, was a tomboy as a child, and was known to everyone as ‘Jules.’  Jules hadn’t settled on a career yet, but was living in London and working at a trendy dress shop.

Liam and Jules had always been especially close.  Although they were nine years apart, they shared the same birthday, which created a special bond from the beginning.  They also looked a great deal alike, with the same thick brown hair and deep brown eyes.  Whenever possible, they would spent time together.  She had even made several crossings on the Poseidon—once as a stowaway, once as her brother’s paid guest, and the other times working for the line, usually as a stewardess.

The siblings also bonded over being the unconventional members of their family.  Their brothers, Dunc and Ian, had married young and started families, but that lifestyle didn’t appeal to either Liam or Jules.  Liam had been part of the beat, and then later hippie countercultures, (although he adhered to strict British discipline when around passengers), and Jules embraced a similar bohemian philosophy when she moved away from her parents home.  They were both political and social activists, and were part of the same social group, sharing many of the same friends.

Neither had married, although they had each been in long-term relationships, in addition to the occasional flings.  In the fall of 1972 they were both unattached; Liam after the painful breakup of a three-year relationship with Paul, a struggling actor, who lived in New York City. and Jules after six months as part of an experimental group marriage that was part of a small London commune.  They were both looking forward to spending most of January together in sunny Greece.

 

Juliana, ‘Jules,’ Acres arrived in Athens, home of the Greek Majestic Line, just after Christmas, a few days before Liam was due on the Poseidon.  She had arranged the rental of a cozy little house right on the beach.  Everything was ready for her brother’s arrival by New Years Eve when she went to the GML offices to pick up a letter he had sent her from Gibraltar.  She smiled to herself as she walked along the shore, reading her brother’s words to her…

“My Dearest Jules,

“I hope this letter finds you well and prepared for my arrival, (I’m exhausted by this crossing, so I will be of no use for anything other than lying in the sun).  This getaway is such a wonderful idea, and I know we both need this time to clear our heads.

“I haven’t heard anything from Paul, but then I really didn’t expect to.  I have no ill feelings toward him, and hope he will be happy with the choices he has made.  I suppose it is difficult for most people to maintain relationships with almost constant separation.  Of course Ma and Da did okay, didn’t they?

“This has been a terribly hectic crossing!  The sea has been somewhat rough, so many passengers, and even crewmembers, have been seasick.  Also the big New Year’s party has taken a great deal of preparation—everything must be perfect, of course.

“We have a famous author on board this trip, and I managed to get us each an autographed copy of his new book.  I hope you’ll like it.

“I also hear through the grapevine that a band we know is joining us at Gibraltar, and will play for the big bash.  Remember Sunray, with Ted Parry and  his sister Nonnie?  They’re Yanks and we saw them in London last summer and went back to their hotel for that party?  It will be good to see them and I’ll be sure to say hello for you.

“Your ‘Evil Twin’ sends her love!  She has been a great help to me lately, getting over Paul.  I insisted that she come by the house for a few days, and she is looking forward to it.

“I need to dash now, Luv, because it’s time for Kev and me to set up for lunch before we dock at Gibraltar.  I’ll be sure to post this while we’re in port.  Save some champagne and a funny hat for me, so we can have our own celebration.  See you soon!

“Love Always,

Liam”

Jules had to laugh as she read parts of her brother’s letter, especially the bit about her ‘Evil Twin.’  Julia Finney, (also called ‘Jules’ by pretty much everyone except Liam), had been with the Poseidon for almost five years now, and was a close friend of both the Acres siblings.  Julia worked as the masseuse at on the ship.  She was an American from Denver, Colorado, blonde with green eyes, and shared the same 17 September birthday, three years younger than Liam.  Julia hadn’t been able to participate in the birthday blowout this past fall, and Jules hadn’t seen her since summer.  She was especially looking forward to this visit because she knew Julia would know how Liam was really doing.  She had always secretly hoped that a romantic relationship would develop between the Yank and her brother: but nothing had ever materialized.

Once Jules arrived at the rental house she had just enough time to change for a New Years party thrown by some employees of the Greek Majestic Line.

 

Back on the Poseidon, moving across the Mediterranean, Liam was very busy.  After helping set up the grand dining room for the party, he grabbed a quick meal with Julia, and changed into his formal uniform.

Before leaving his cabin, he kissed her lightly.  “I expect to see you in the Trident Bar no later than 11:45,” he reminded her.  “Don’t be late, I’ve spent too many midnights alone.”

She smiled up from the bed, and put her arms around his neck, pulling him close for a longer kiss.  “I’ll be there by 11:30!” she whispered.  “I’ve spent too many midnights alone too, and I don’t want to miss one second of the time we have together.”

As he hurried from the room, she lay back smiling.  This had certainly been an extraordinary crossing!  She had been friends with Liam and his sister for over four years; they had celebrated together, and comforted each other through romantic traumas and disappointments.  She loved them both dearly, but had never expected anything beyond a sibling relationship.  Now that her relationship with Liam had changed, she felt like he might be the love of her life, and she never wanted to let him go.  She couldn’t wait to see Jules’ reaction.

 

By 11:15 Julia was walking down the corridor near her cabin on D deck.  She was dressed in a multi-colored mini dress and go-go boots, and was humming a song she’d heard Sunray rehearsing earlier in the day.  She was looking forward to this special occasion with Liam, and saw the approaching year as a fresh start to their lives.  They had previously spent a couple New Years Eves together, but this one would be different.

As she hurried along she was stopped by Marie, the ship’s hairdresser.

“Oi, Jules!  Where are you off to all done up?”

Julia knew all about shipboard gossip, so she gave Marie a wink.  “Wouldn’t you like to know?” she asked, then added, “Will you be at the party later tonight?’

Marie threw her hands up in exasperation.  “If I can get that horrible Mrs. Gleason’s wig to her!  I’ve had just an awful time with it.  It’s old and half-bald, so getting it to look presentable is a major job!  I’m sick of old, stingy, rich broads like her!”

“Well, I guess you’d better get to it then.  I’ll see you in the Crew Lounge at around one.”  She blew Marie a kiss and went on her way.  She knew all about Mrs. Gleason, so she understood the hairdresser’s frustration.

Once Julia got to the Trident, adjoining the dining room, she took a seat at the end of the bar.  Brian Curry, the bartender, greeted her, “Hi, Jules!  The usual?”

“Sure, Bri, for now,” she smiled.  “How is it going tonight?”

“Pretty well,” Curry sighed.  “One thing for sure, they’re drinking a lot tonight.”  He handed her a vodka collins as he continued to work.  “Right now I’m trying to get everything ready for the big toast.  Micky is still sick, so he didn’t make it in, but your… uh… pal,” he gave her a knowing look, “has been helping me all evening.  He should be back any second to take more bubbly out to the passengers.”  As the bartender continued filling glasses, he smiled warmly at her.  “I just want to say how glad I am for the two of you!  I’ve known Liam for years, and I’ve never seen him as happy as he’s been the last few days.  I knew from the time I met you that you two were meant for each other—you each just had to figure it out.  Don’t let him go, Jules.  He really loves you.”

“Who loves who?  Come on, Brian, dish!” Liam teased as he entered, carrying a tray of empty glasses and bottles.  He set the tray down on the bar, stood behind the stool Julia was sitting on, and put his arms around her.

“Just the ship’s juiciest love story in years!” Brian gushed, his eyes sparkling.  “You know, the cute, broken-hearted—GAY—steward and the masseuse?  Can you believe it?” he asked, grinning.  “I think even some of the passengers are talking about it, especially the young, love-struck ladies…  You know THAT fantasy!”

Liam and Julia smiled at each other as one of the passengers entered the bar.  Suddenly the three were all business.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Martin?” Liam asked.  They all recognized James Martin, a shy bachelor from the Midwestern US.

“I hope I’m not interrupting anything,” Martin smiled and replied, “but I was wondering if I could have a bottle of mineral water?”

“No problem at all, Sir,” Brian cheerfully answered.  Reaching under the bar he brought out a small green bottle, and opened it.  “Here you are, Sir, the best mineral water from France.  Would you like me to pour you a glass?  Perhaps a nice lemon or lime wedge?”

“Oh no, that’s not necessary.  I have a glass at my table.  Thank you, Mr. Curry.  Happy New Year Miss Finney, Mr. Acres, Mr. Curry,” he added, before turning to go.

“Happy New Year, Mr. Martin,” the three shipmates answered.

After Martin was gone, Liam turned back to Julia. “You can come over to the linen service area with me now if you want, Luv.  I only have one more tray to take to the dining room for Brian, then I’ll be back at my regular station the rest of the evening.  I’ve even stashed a bottle of champagne for us.”

“I’ll be over in a bit.  I’ve got a few last minute party details to go over with Bri first.  I’ll be there in plenty of time, don’t worry.  We’ve still got about ten minutes.”  She looked around for more passengers, then kissed him on the cheek.  As he left the bar she turned back to Brian.  “So, is the room ready?  I think we’ve got about thirty coming.  The food’s all set, but what about the hooch?”

“Everything’s there, don’t worry,” he grinned.  “Thirty?  I thought we only had twenty-five of us idiots.”

“Well, I ran into Nonnie Parry this afternoon, and Sunray is coming too.  Maybe they’ll even play a little for us.  I haven’t told Liam yet, but I know he’ll be thrilled.”

“Great!  I haven’t gotten to spend any time with them since they boarded.”  There was a twinkle in his eye, as he added; “Maybe I can even corner Teddy…”

“Brian!  What about Sean?” Julia asked.

“We have an… understanding about such things,” he answered, grinning, “besides, a little harmless flirting never hurt anyone.”

“You never give up, do you?” she laughed.

“What can I say, you inspire me, darlin’!  You never gave up,” he answered, giving her a wink.

“It wasn’t like that, and you know it,” Julia exclaimed, with mock anger.

“Yeah, I know,” Curry sighed, “but where there’s life, there’s hope.  Besides, don’t you just adore Teddy’s hair…?  And that beard!”

“You’re too much, Bri!  See you later.”

 

We’ve got almost to midnight, (in the story AND in my real life!), so that’s enough for this week.  Come back next Saturday to read more…

 

I’m back to blogging, and enjoying it… except for one thing, NOBODY’S reading this!

Okay, I’m exaggerating, (as I have a tendency to do).  Deneen, my wonderfully supportive and amazing editor, is reading some of it, and also commenting, and others have been coming to this site—I know, because the counter tells me so—but if they are reading, they aren’t moved enough to comment.  Blogging has almost become like journalling, or 750 Words: writing I do for me.  As much as I like writing just for myself, that’s NOT what I want here!  I want feedback!  I want interaction!  I want CONTACT!

And, yes, I’m being needy again, but I AM needy, and that’s the fact of it!

The big questions are:  1)Why aren’t people responding to this blog? and 2)What can I do to get them to respond?  And if I knew that, I guess I would have nothing to write for this week…

Are my mental wanderings too personal and Julie-specific for anyone else to bother?  Am I THAT self-involved?  What else can I write about besides what I know and what I feel deeply?

Do I simply not know how to draw in an audience?  Or is it that I don’t engage my audience?

Or (GULP!!!), is what I write BORING???  THAT would be a huge blow to me both personally and professionally!

Maybe it’s the fact that I started this blog so many times and then didn’t follow through with it after a couple postings…?

Writing is most often a solitary pursuit—but oh-so-amazing when shared with the right co-writer!  Blogging is supposed to be SOCIAL writing, so there are supposed to be other participants besides the blogger.  Right?

And I have to admit that I’m not a big blog reader and commenter myself, not even with the blogs of my Shared Words colleagues, so I don’t suppose I have any room to complain.

So, readers out there in cyber-space, let me appeal to you once again, PLEASE let me know you’re dropping by!  Feel free to ask questions and to offer comments, critiques, suggestions.  I’m here, and I’m going to keep being here, whether anyone comments or not, but it would certainly be more helpful and satisfying to me if we could get a little conversation going.

Until next time…

A Trio of Poems from 2004: The Summer I Found My Voice

Posted July 21st, 2012 by Julie Carriker

I’ve had some trouble deciding what to share in this week’s sample of “The Words,” but I finally settled on some poetry. It’s from the summer of 2004, when my life was in utter chaos, and I was birthing the “Me” I am now. None of them are titled, because for some reason I wasn’t titling poems then. They are also short, which is somewhat unusual for me.

 

A spark of friendship

Sharing and laughter

Encouragement and trust

Warming, greeting

Bursting into a flame of love

Passion and yearning

Desire and comfort

Burning brightly

Forever

 

Well, I don’t like the line spacing here, and don’t know how to fix it.  To me it makes poetry disjoined having so much space between lines.  I often see poems visually, as on a page or screen, and write them accordingly.  I’d forgotten this blog set-up was that way, so if I can’t control how my words and lines are placed, I’ll probably not post much more poetry.

Here’s another, darker, one, also from that time.

 

Darkness

Sitting in my empty room

Listening to sad songs

Tears running down my face

Missing you

 

And the last of this trilogy.  I really want every other line indented, but can’t get it to happen here.  All a part of my frustrating day…  Maybe I’ll write a poem about THAT!

 

Surrounded by others

yet feeling alone

Searching, but failing

never finding the One

My life was settled

And so had I

I’d never reach the heights

never I’d fly

Finding a friend

showing the real me

Past becomes future

it’s all yet to be

Discovering each other

remembering too

Comfort and passion

familiar, yet new

An amazing journey

taken together

Perfect love and trust

we have forever

 

I was kind of all over the emotional map, but that’s just how I am. I wish there was more of an audience for poetry these days, because I would like to do something with the MANY I’ve written. Maybe I’ll find a way.

Again, I REALLY don’t like the way this is formatted, but don’t know how to do anything about it.  Thanks for reading!

So, I made this deal with myself that I would make two blog posts each week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I made this decision when my life is being thrown into chaos yet again with selling our house, buying a house, the move itself, and of course the ongoing editing, rewriting, and revising of The Door into the Rose Garden.

What was I THINKING???

I need to make such commitments though, because I am VERY skilled at the fine art of procrastination, and of making excuses about why I can’t write.  I even did it a few posts back when I renewed this blog, (yet again!).  I wrote about not being able to do any writing when I was in Kansas City this past spring for the birth of my granddaughter.  WHAT was keeping me from writing then though?  Did I really have any valid excuses?  Do I ever?  Does ANY writer?

I’m leaning toward believing that no, there are NO valid excuses for not writing, at least not for me.  Okay, yeah, sometimes I’m busy, sometimes I’m tired, sometimes I have other commitments that take priority…

But WAIT!!!  How can anything else take priority over the thing that makes me the most ME?  Why is anything else more important than the thing that makes me feel fully ALIVE?  How can I not make time for the thing that NOURISHES my SPIRIT?

Yet, I tumble off the Word Wagon repeatedly, and have to struggle to pull myself back aboard.  WHEN will I learn???

Even when I’m busy, I can take SOME time each day to devote to writing!  I’ve shown that for the last three weeks when I’ve done 750 Words every day—the big test on that will be when we’re in Jacksonville next week.  I’m going to PASS that test though!  Hell, I’m going to get an A!!!

I know from experience that even when I’m tired, writing gives me energy.  I need to do it the MOST when I feel I’m the least able to do it!  Today is one of THOSE days!  We had a handyman here doing repairs on Monday and Tuesday, so we were up earlier than usual, and today, although I slept later, we painted the ceiling of the front porch, (in the heat, and some of the time, in a thunderstorm).  When I realized it was Wednesday, so I needed to write a blog, I groaned and thought, “Oh, no!”  But now, after writing about writing I feel MUCH better, more focused, more HAPPY.

MAYBE I’ll even be able to write a drabble for Shared Words, because I’ve fallen behind!

I will just need to keep remembering WHY I write during the coming months, when I KNOW I will often be busy and tired and have pressing commitments.

I have to WRITE!!!  I will accept NO excuses from myself!!!  And this blog?  It will keep going and going and going…