Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More
By Taylor Ashbrook
A woman in her fifties sits alone at a bar. She wears mismatched, unkempt clothes, as though she didn’t pay attention when she put them on a few days ago. She’s tipsy. She laughs randomly, inappropriately, even when she’s crying. She is a cheerful person having the worst day of her life.
(Raising a fresh drink to toast the bartender) Here’s to lucky number three. (Laughs, takes a decent swig, sets the glass down.) I’m a little concerned how quickly I sucked down the first two of these. I don’t usually drink much. Alcoholism runs in my family. Not a good sign that I keep on…sitting here.
(Takes another swig) Nope. Still don’t feel like stopping.
Can’t go home anyway. There’s all this family there, you know? Not that I don’t love each and every one of them. It’s just a little too much. Today. Right now.
(She fades out for a moment, staring at her glass, or maybe herself in the mirror behind the bar. She laughs and takes another sip.)
Sorry. Shame on perky Cheryl, wallowing in the blues… All my thoughts are so loud. Makes my head hurt… Just a really bad day. You know? One of those days when you have to turn on the radio to drown out the noise in your heart. I mean head.
“Imagine” was on the radio when I was driving back from the–You know the song? “Imagine?” I had to pull over. Just sat in my car sobbing. I couldn’t stop thinking about John being dead. I know, it’s been a long time, but still…
So tragic. You know their album, “Double Fantasy”? I mean, one of the greatest albums, right? I even got the 20th anniversary re-release with stripped down versions of the songs along with the originals. Yoko wanted to add value and make the album more contemporary. ‘Course I didn’t discover the re-release until closer to the 30th anniversary… Bought the used CD at a garage sale. Has some great audio of John talking during the recording sessions, too. He was so – (choking back a sob) cool.
I consider John Lennon one of the earliest modern feminists. Yeah, yeah, I know. Their relationship wasn’t perfect. Whose is? He still dominated her in some ways. What was interesting, though, was how willing he was to trust her above all others, even men. Even with money! So unusual in his time. He never acted like he was more important than Yoko, like he had more value, even though the rest of the world thought so.
I was too young to be a Beatles fan when the band was still together. The first time I really understood anything about the Beatles was in high school in the late 70s. Some friends dragged me to see “Beatlemania” on tour. Loved it. The entire show I was shocked – “that’s a Beatles song, too?” I was a fan after that. And John was my favorite.
So I bought the “Double Fantasy” album when it first came out. On vinyl. Before, you know…
My all-time favorite album, not that I could listen to it after… Not for a long time. When I started listening to it again a few years ago, I was surprised how much Yoko’s music influenced female musicians that came later. In 1980, nobody would have guessed that. A lot of people still hated her.
It was so joyful. Before. So sad after. John leads off singing about starting over, and poor Yoko ends it with “Hard Times Are Over.” And, God help us all, “Beautiful Boy.” Brutal. A lullaby that breaks your heart twice, once for the original sweetness and once for the misery after. Also gave us John’s best quote, in my opinion: (softly sings) “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans…” That’s a fucking truth.
I think my favorite song is “Watching the Wheels.” Their love was a political statement. Everything about their relationship was a political statement. You know? A dream of what should be.
I really get it now, how honest…honestly they told the story. Way deeper than I realized back in the old days. I mean, young days. In “Woman,” John apologizes! Openly, for every pain he caused her. And she nails it when she sings about leaving ‘cause “it’s getting phony…”
Yoko must have been so angry when he was killed.
It’s like they were this great, messy example. Together. Shared all that personal shit with the world. Showed us a different kind of respect. A love of equals. I think that’s why John loved Yoko so much. She wouldn’t let him get away with living on the surface. No pretending to be what other people expected. Nothing “perfect.” They nurtured each others flawed, creative, angry, truest selves. And they made it right between them, in spite of all that outside pressure. Fuck other people, right?
I know how special that is. Jack and I have had three decades with each other. Without benefit of a legal contract. We stay together because we want to. Even when we don’t like each other very much we’re still…simpatico. Always on each others side, no matter what. You know? We’re good together… Really good together. Simpatico. He even likes Yoko! …Liked…
Jack died on me. Just this morning. The fucker.
He was sick. Really sick. But I truly believed we could beat it. We could survive anything – that was our mutual mantra, our double fantasy: We can survive anything together! Fucking bullshit.
I’ve been trying to figure out how I can go on. Without Jack. How to do that. Dignified, like Yoko did. But I keep hearing “Double Fantasy” in my head. Sentimental torture.
Everybody dies, you know? It’s the one thing we all have in common. But, here’s the catch: not at the same time.
The real double fantasy is that we deny the fact, the horrible, harsh, terrifying fact, that every love story turns into a tragedy.
(Finishes drink and raises her glass.) Hit me again. I think I’ll keep drinking until I get pissed enough to stop being so fucking pissed off… Not sure that’s possible. Better make this one a double.
Taylor Ashbrook has had many jobs that never really turned into a career, often simultaneously administrating, producing, writing, directing, and/or acting in small theater in Los Angeles – which also never quite turned into a career. These days she’s re-dreaming her future, reminding herself of bucket list items that somehow never made it on the To Do List. Slowly reorganizing, downsizing, and agonizing to change old habits, she’s writing more than ever and excited to spend more time on that path. Maybe she’ll find a writing career! Focused on longer-form storytelling these days, Taylor has one solo, unproduced, full-length play under her belt (written with generous support from Eclectic Voices) which she may turn into a novel, she’s about to launch a blog, and she is experimenting with self-publishing erotica online under the pen name Kayleen Brookhurst. If you’re interested in checking that out (open-minded adults only!), you can visit Kayleen’s website here (a work-in-progress).
Taylor is also working on a new literary novelette and has numerous ideas for other genres she may pursue. Ultimately, the plan is to take this writing thing on the road, living full-time in an RV… Or renting a series of cabins near different national parks… Or moving to an island… Or…??? Mostly she’s just happy to know there are still endless possibilities for exploring the world and her creative impulses! Negotiations are in progress with the love of her life, actor Biff Wiff, and their dogs — currently the two best dogs ever, Snookie and Bopper.
When she thinks about it, Taylor really has a wonderful life.
“Words are sacred. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones, in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.” – Tom Stoppard