This is an excerpt from Dave Lundy’s new novel, “Wild Turkeys: Fall Semester” (still in development) — the prequel to the bestselling comedy “Squish the Fish: A Tale of Dating and Debauchery”.
The previous day in Buffalo was just as hot, if not hotter. The sun was beating down on a quaint, bungalow-style home near the corner of Winspear and Main. In the front yard, a large swarm of mosquitos darted about in an amorphous cloud.
Inside the house was Tirza Cohenstein. Tirza went by Tracy so she didn’t sound quite as much like, in her words, “A super-Jew.” Because she didn’t have any classes on Fridays that summer, she had spent the day “smothered in joy” doing what she loved. Again, her words. That morning, she served breakfast at a homeless shelter. That afternoon, she finished knitting a sweater and completed some extra-credit homework for her Investigative Journalism class.
Nicki O’Shea, her roommate, was out for the day, so the place was all hers to enjoy her favorite guilty pleasure — watching romantic comedies. Tracy was sitting on her living room couch with a box of tissues when the final scene in Pretty Woman began. Having watched it nearly a dozen times, she could quote almost every line.
She’d been told she looked like a younger version of Julia Roberts, the female star of the movie. Some, like Magnum, would even argue that Tracy was more attractive. Her chocolate-colored eyes were able to instantly pull a man in and could’ve been Van Morrison’s inspiration for “Brown Eyed Girl” had she been alive when he wrote the song. Even in baggy sweatpants, a t-shirt, and no makeup, she looked stunning. Her appearance was unblemished except for one flaw — one embarrassing flaw that she tried very hard to keep hidden.
Tracy watched intently as Richard Gere’s character stood out of a limousine’s sunroof while he was being driven through a rundown L.A. neighborhood. With Verdi’s La Traviata opera playing loudly for all to hear, Julia Robert’s character went out onto her fire escape and saw him below holding a bouquet of red roses. As he climbed the fire escape ladder up to her top-floor apartment, she couldn’t wait and rushed down. When the love-crazed couple met in the middle, their lips inches apart, Tracy pulled out a few tissues and mouthed along with the dialogue.
Richard Gere asked, “So what happened after he climbed up the tower and rescued her?”
With a half-smile, Julia Roberts answered, “She rescues him right back,” and they embraced in a passionate kiss. The next morning, the headlines read: “Rich Businessman Saves Charming Prostitute.” In other words, just another day in fantasyland.
Tears ran down Tracy’s cheeks. Not feeling the least bit odd about longing to be Vivian, Julia Robert’s character, she would gladly turn a few tricks if it meant her fairytale would come true.
While the closing credits rolled, Tracy wiped her tears. She sat and wished that Chad Stanwick, president of Sigma Alpha Mu and recent ex-boyfriend, would’ve been her Richard Gere, her “knight on a white horse,” and saved her. In a bit of twisted irony, if the rumors were true, Richard Gere and Chad Stanwick had something in common — a fetish that could only be satisfied by prostate-tickling gerbils. She clicked off the television.
Tracy Cohenstein double-checked that Nicki hadn’t snuck in unannounced before she moved into her office and shut the door. When she worked her side gig, she made certain she was alone. Tracy opened the bottom drawer of her desk and took out the package she’d received two days ago. She ripped it open and pulled out a videotape. After reading its title — a dirty play-on-words for what happened to be her all-time favorite romantic comedy — she was intrigued and more than a little bit turned on. She popped it in her VCR, pressed play, and cleared her throat.
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