The 440 Train

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Published By

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Dedicated to Champ

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I thank you, love you, bless you, and am grateful for:
My Mom and Dad whose support, unconditional love and ancestral talents helped birth this novel.
Dennis, my husband, who has been a beacon of light welcoming and encouraging my creativity for twenty-seven years, and has always loved me just as I am.
Every beautiful woman in my life whose strengths, vulnerabilities, intuitiveness and powerful peaceful hearts inspired me to write a story that dances between fact and fiction. Yes, I’m talking about you!
My fantastic, fun family, both blood and through marriages.
My two handsome brothers whose respect and friendship go far beyond the bloodline. I love you, Bros!
All the men in my life who help balance the male and female energy we share.
The magical world of the ‘Unseen’ for without your guidance I wouldn’t be who I am today.
The Animal Totems who help keep me grounded.
My God Children who entrust me as their spiritual mother. Wisely and humbly teaching me so much.
All my Four-Legged Children, whose physical touch in the “here and now” is rooted and pure.
And for those in Spirit whose illumination soothes me with eternal love.
With gratitude, admiration and humility, I thank:
Barbara Childs and Del Golden who cheered the birth of this book.
Sean McKenna and Mike Austin from X-site Media, whose friendly computer wiz talents permit me to write with ease (and updated software).
Danielle Hoon and Scott Pitters from Pulp Art Surfaces, for your eclectic marketing ideas.
All the people who have proofread versions of this book and honestly gave me their opinions, especially Valerie Riccardi, who continually encouraged me to dig deeper.
Phoebe Sharp, a.k.a ‘Eagle Eyes,’ an avid reader, subtle teacher and family friend for three decades.
Maria Crudele-Vietmeier who answered my prayer with your gift of insight and knowledge, causing a blessed domino effect on the finishing touches. Gracie Bella!
Barbara Schiffman, a skilled editor, gifted writer, and wise soul who edited this novel with a supportive and steadfast pen. As if like a crystal tumbler, she smoothed the rough edges and brought out the shine keeping the integrity of the original piece. Then guided me to Connie. Wow!
Connie Kudura for gently and professionally text/formatting the manuscript into a dazzlingly clean tangible form. And introducing me to Monte.
Monte Farris, whose graphic art expertise and perception highlight the book cover simply yet profoundly.
Kim McElroy for the outstanding book cover you painted. Your magical meditative connection and gifted hand brought ‘Her’ from the Invisible world to the Visible. Stunning!
Coming full circle to my Dad, whose heart-felt sketches complement and hold the energy of each chapter break and poem throughout the book. And Mom who showed me at a very young age that reading a book can open a door to self-discovery.

Mother/Father God. I Love You in all ways, Always.

Mother Earth, you are my Heart.

The Book Club

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It was Wednesday evening. The book club was to start soon. I was expecting eight women for the gathering. I gifted a copy of the book for each gal, placing it into an artsy, recycled gift bag.

In the late morning, several of them had called to say they couldn’t make it. I was a tad disappointed but have learned over the years that “stuff happens.” I believe what is supposed to be will be. Acceptance is one of my great “forty-something-year-old” revelations.
By late afternoon a few more women had phoned to say they couldn’t make it either. The only ones who hadn’t called by then were my newly found friends, Lucinda, Maddie, and Bea. It was a sign: it was to be just the four of us. The fact that they were the only ones coming now confirmed my suspicions about the interesting way we had met and bonded straight away.

After a long meditation I decided I would reveal my intuitive feelings about our unique connection and its association with the book we were about to begin reading. I was prepared for whatever would happen after making that revelation, knowing it would either make or break our novel new friendship. I had a feeling the night would be full of surprises and prove the Universe does indeed work in mysterious ways.
I could barely compose myself as I anticipated revealing my theory to them and seeing their reactions. I slipped into a pair of washed-out jeans and chose a black tee-shirt with “Peace on Earth” woven across the front. I ran my hands through my choppy-cut, medium length, brown hair, then put on a dash of eyeliner and mascara, making my brown eyes pop.
I set out light refreshments: red and white wine, crackers, shaved cheese, fruit, a salad topped off with toasted nuts, and chilled water from a stream near a volcano. The house was warm and inviting. I lit a few candles and chose harp music to play quietly in the background.
When the doorbell rang, my dogs barked frantically and rushed to the door, nearly taking me down in a race to greet the callers.
“Hi, howdy, hello!” sang Lucinda, Maddie and Bea.
“Hi! Welcome to our home, come in!” I replied while calming the dogs.
“Hello, babies,” Maddie said, rubbing each dog’s head. Her smooth, bronze, Filipino skin and cropped jet-black hair highlighted her million-dollar smile. She was petite like me, but looked and moved like a tomboy.
“Did you girls carpool?” I asked.
“We sure did,” Bea said, gently shooing our male dog’s snout from under her skirt which hugged her tiny waist and shapely bottom. Her hair was golden and wavy, her eyes hazel and flirty, and her voice soft-spoken with a Southern twang.
“Wonderful,” I smiled. “I’m glad you’re environmentally conscious and I’m so glad you’re all here.” I scooted the pooches to another room and showed the girls around the house.
“Is anyone else coming?” Lucinda wanted to know.
“Nope. Just us four.”

Some might mistake Lucinda for the infamous “Barbie Doll” tall, slender, make-up perfectly applied, bright big blue eyes, caring smile and tiny tight buttocks. But underneath the pretty package I sensed her authenticity.
Everyone was hungry so we helped ourselves to refreshments, then crossed to the living room. Interestingly, we sat ourselves down in a circle like a beautiful human mandala.
For the first half hour we munched and unwound, getting to know each other a bit more. Sharing casual information about our careers and hobbies, it was as if we’d been friends for years. Just as I did on the day we recently met on the beach in Malibu, I thought; we must have known each other in another lifetime!
“I’d like to make a toast,” Lucinda announced firmly. “To new friends. May we be blessed with good health and prosperity—to four, forty-something women!”
“To four, forty-something women!” we echoed.
As the words left my lips, my soul smiled. Wait till they see the book, I thought.
Maddie looked at the gift bags on the table. “Go ahead, take one. It’s for you,” I urged.
She reached into a bag and pulled out the book. “So this is the book we’re reading?”
Bea took a sip of wine as she reached into her bag. “Thank you,” she puckered, looking over the book. “Hmm, ‘The Four-Forty Train’!”
I was getting excited; soon my theory would be revealed.
“Thanks, this is very generous of you. ‘The Four-Forty Train’.” Lucinda furrowed her brow, also looking at the cover.
“Uh-huh, ‘The Four-Forty Train’,” I said, crossing my legs Indian-style.
“The title sounds familiar.” Bea shook her head. “I know I’ve seen this somewhere.”
“I’m thinking the same thing,” Maddie said, skimming through the pages.
Lucinda splashed more water into her glass. “I feel I have too.”
“Wait! I know! You just toasted us as four, forty-something women!” Maddie noted.
“Oh, my gosh! That’s an unexpected coincidence!” Lucinda nodded, looking at each of us.
My eyes were wide, watching their expressions. Be patient, I silently told myself. After all, the particular set of circumstances that brought each one of us here is a story within itself. We’re four stories that deserve to be told, because it’s all about the journey … isn’t it?

My Past

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One lonely and desperate night, I sat on the side of the tub in the bathroom and prayed for guidance. The pain I endured crept as slowly as a blue heron preying on its next meal. I was done digging. The hole was deep enough. I needed a miracle.
I’m not exactly sure how long I was locked in the room, praying and pleading, when I heard what sounded like God’s voice: “Stand, Marlo. Look into the mirror. Look at yourself.”
I did. I knew what was coming would be scary, but it was my prayer being answered. This had also happened a few earlier times in my life when I felt lost and prayed for help.
The room was dark except for a bluish beam of light shining through the window from the full moon. I looked into the mirror. For several minutes I looked at my face, then past it, deep into my being.
My face darkened. It moved up, down, to the left, and the right. I thought I saw someone else looking back. Blinking, I shook my head and began crying. I wiped the tears, then stared deeper into my eyes. I couldn’t move.
Then my soul spoke to me. It told me to remember who I was and why I was here. It said I had gambled enough with my life. I was laying on the tracks, waiting to be run over. Now was the time to move, while I still could…

Malibu, Ca. – Present Day

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Glancing at my eyes in the visor-mirror, I suddenly shuddered, remembering that day when God told me to look in the mirror. I’m not sure why I had such a strong recall after all these years. Maybe the song playing on the radio triggered the feeling or perhaps it was simply a “thank you” coming from my soul for changing the path I had been traveling on. Whatever it was, I’m glad it passed. In fact, I’m glad it was my past and I’m truly grateful to be right where I am now.
As Thomas and I pulled into the Malibu Beach parking lot, the sun shone brightly on the Pacific Ocean. I rolled down the window. The force from the wind and sound of the waves were invigorating.
“Ummm … smells good.” I took in the lingering scent of salt water and crisp air.
We got out of the car and stood looking at the ocean in appreciation. Behind designer sunglasses, my eyes adjusted to the glittering brightness of the shoreline where millions of tiny sun-beamed crystals danced on the water’s surface.
“Do you see any of your friends?” I asked.
“Nope, not yet. We’re the first ones here, and we will be for awhile,” Thomas said, grinning.

“Why? What do ya mean?” I asked inquisitively.
He kissed me gently, then smiled. “I thought we could enjoy some time alone here.”
“Sounds good to me—I’d actually like to do some more writing for the greeting card line while it’s nice and quiet.”
“See, don’t I always know what my girl needs?”
“Yes you do, Thomas, you’re a true romantic.”
I watched my handsome, rock-n-roll-stylish man as he walked towards the water with the wind sweeping through his long, wavy, brown hair. His fair skin was already turning golden with an early summer tan. He was wearing a skin-tight, blue tee-shirt that defined his chiseled muscles above tattered denim shorts, which enhanced his manly body. After a decade together, we could still turn each other on in a heartbeat and make each other blush.
I stopped admiring the man I love and started to unload the car. He continued to scout a location for our set-up as a few people walking their dogs passed by. Fortunately, the beach wasn’t crowded.
“Let’s go over there, near those big rocks.”
I looked to where he was pointing. “Oh, yeah, I love the rocks.”
“It’s pretty amazing to think they’ve been here for millions of years,” he said.
“It sure is.” My mind drifted to a faraway time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and whales inhabited the land as well as the sea. The squawk of a boisterous seagull snapped me back to the present moment.
“Marlo, please give a hand here!”
“You think we can take all this stuff in one trip?” I wondered.
“Heck yeah, you ate your fruit and grains today, didn’t you?”
“Uh-huh.” I made a muscle with my right arm. He nodded, impressed.
We loaded up and walked along the shoreline. It was a good hike. When we finally reached the rocks, I didn’t waste a moment before dropping the heavy gear.
“I can’t believe we’ve never been to this spot before,” I said.
“It’s a real treasure, isn’t it?” he replied, pleased. I just smiled.
Thomas dug a deep hole in the sand for the umbrella while I spread out a blanket and unfolded a low beach chair. When I finished setting up camp, I stood in silence just watching the waves, feeling their mist, and inhaling the breeze. My breath slowed. I felt calmer, regenerated once again by Nature. It reminded me of my peaceful mountain days in Jersey and the journey that brought me to this day and this place…

My Past

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My name is Marlo. I’m five feet two inches tall on a windy day, but feel much taller. I smile a lot, love dogs and have a heartfelt kinship with all animals. I also have a soft spot for elders and children.
I’m close to my family and honor the bloodline theory. This makes me especially protective of the ones I love if someone crosses them. Our family gatherings are treasured times and our delicious home-cooked Italian meals are five-star with a dash of dirty four letter words.
I’ve always been in tune with the “little voice” inside me and rely on my gut instincts. I consider it a gift I cherish immensely. I’m also mesmerized by rainbows which trigger a “happy dance” in my spirit and my body. Rocks also intrigue me and I believe that their age and particular formations “speak,” giving us important messages about the past, present and future.
I learned these things by aligning with Nature. When I’m calm in her company, words or feelings come into my being along with a sense of understanding and truth for “what is.” Oneness is achieved by connecting to the God-like essence and beauty of all living things, the trees, flowers, grass, you get my drift and appreciating their sweetness.
Whenever I find a bird feather, I feel it’s a blessing from a winged ancestor or friend who’s flying “the good blue road.” And when a group of pigeons or doves fly gracefully in sync, it tells me that Jesus is close, as if he’s orchestrating their flight and saying, “You are never alone, my child.” Why else would they hang around telephone lines? To me, it’s a sign of connection and communication.
I like to inspire people to see the “unseen” world where spirits flicker and their energy touches us on new levels of consciousness. The sadness from the loss of body contact can then be replaced by contentment as we reunite with the spirits of our loved-ones. This ability came to me as a young child, I would see and hear people who had passed away. In junior high I began relaying messages to my friends from their loved ones. Long story short, fearful adult reactions made me curb that gift and tuck it away until later in my life.
Now that gift is sought-after and I’m grateful for the divine guidance that stayed with me throughout my life. I’m also pleased with myself for listening to the signs and deeply grateful to my mom and dad for teaching me about discernment, intuition, the healing affects of journaling, and the peaceful power of expressing my true self. I feel as if I walk around with invisible angel wings tucked neatly in my shirt and am always available to help people who seek a deeper connection with their soul. You might say I plant seeds!
I’m also a strong believer in actions speaking louder than words though a well-written book with good intentions is lovely! Speaking of words, I have a fancy for lexigrams and can spend hours dissecting the secret meaning of a word.
Poetry is another fascination of mine which gave me the ability to ace my senior year English class by writing a book of poems. And last but not least, I stay young at heart by having fun, fun, fun and frequently playing elf-like practical jokes on my friends.
One more final thing—most importantly, I know we are all here for two reasons, to give love and to receive love.
If you thought I was only going to give you the good stuff, on the other side of the coin, I’m blunt to a fault and have a tad of a gutter-mouth (which I hope is balanced out by my sense of humor). I can’t stand cigarette smoke and “evil-eye” anyone who smokes around me.
I can be hard on myself and also boldly competitive with myself. I’m slightly impatient with others and have an extremely low tolerance for negativity, repetitiveness and people who are whiners, self-absorbed or disrespectful of animals and Mother Earth.

By the way, I’m working hard on curbing my prejudices and judgments so I can reach a state of perpetual acceptance. You might say I’m a work in progress, learning to be at peace with things I can’t change and roaring with courage to tackle the things I can.
In 1983, I lived on the top level of an old Victorian mansion in New Jersey that had been subdivided into three apartments. My place was the most unique and romantic, as well as the smallest—but it was ideal for me. The interior of my home was a mixed breed of antiques, Japanese and Native Indian items, family photos, books, hanging plants, and treasures from Nature. There was a vintage claw-legged bathtub and a hidden trap door leading to an attic that housed old furniture, glass bottles, and black-and-white photos of the original homeowners.
I had roommates—my handsome, white-and-orange, Himalayan cat, Patchouli, who was named after my favorite perfume oil, and two, colorful, chatty parakeets whose cage hung from an angled beam in the living room.
The coolest part of the place was a unique circular balcony off the kitchen. It was big enough for two chaise chairs and a large cobalt blue vase that I kept filled with seasonal flowers. A variety of wind chimes hung under the crown molding, serenading me on breezy days and nights. Patchouli loved to lie on the handcrafted railing and snooze in the sun. And I confess I did my share of nude tanning as well. Many nights I also rested there, staring at the constellations and admiring the vast open dark space.
The balcony overlooked the back yard where miles of ivy wrapped along the fences that outlined the property. Trellises, potted plants, and bushes were strategically aligned beside a brick path which led to a sitting area with a bistro table. When the weather was nice, this was where I would write, have tea and ponder.
I was proud of my home and loved having small parties or cooking for my friends. My favorite meal was homemade pizza with sautéed peppers, onions and garlic, accompanied by a crispy salad with my signature dressing; a blend of fresh lemon juice, rice vinegar and expensive, extra virgin olive oil.
I was blessed with many friends, but the only one I considered my best friend is Nina. We are more opposite than alike, from our looks to our personalities, but we’ve been best buds since age five. Nina married my baby brother, making us “half-blooded.” To this day, we share a bond that is unbreakable.
Career-wise, I always wanted to be a singer. I spent years in voice school and felt confident that singing was my niche. But after a funky experience with an agent who told me the only way a woman gets to the top is “by sucking a man’s noodle,” I decided to be my own agent. Ironically enough, it worked. In 1983, my singing career was progressing well and several times a month I ventured into New York to do background singing for original bands.
To pay the bills I worked as a cocktail waitress in a heart-thumping, hip disco. I made excellent tips, liked the nightly cash and enjoyed having my days off so I could venture to the mountains. My need to spend time outdoors with Nature and simply “be” was always in the forefront.
The fresh air and calming colors tamed my shadow-side—you know the side I’m talking about … the one that wants to gossip, flaunt her power and cause some mischief. Communing with Nature also helped keep my spirit peaceful, my body healthy and my emotions balanced. I’m still certain Mother Nature is the grandest healer on earth.
Overall, I was living the American dream, proudly driving around town in my bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Beep, Beep!
One particular day, I took a drive in the mountains to my favorite spot: the Watching Indian Reservation. It was only a half-hour from my apartment yet it felt like another world. First I stopped by a small ranch and fed a bag of carrots to some horses. They graciously nibbled on the treat as I stroked their soft noses and gazed into their soulful eyes.
Energized by their love, I continued on my journey. When I arrived, the reservation was quiet. I parked my Bug, grabbed the blanket I always travel with just in case the urge to picnic arises, and walked to a spot where tall pine trees flooded the area. It was magical.
As I waved the blanket in the air and spread it on the ground, thousands of pine needles scampered about. The sun’s rays beamed through the trees. I felt as if God’s hands were touching me. A telepathic conversation began with the nature elements, making me connected and at-one in the arms of Mother Earth. One of my favorite lexigrams is Earth and Heart.
I thanked God, my Spirit Guides, the Angels and all my loved ones for this life and all the beauty around me. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to fly. Pictures and events raced through my mind. It was unclear if I was in my past, present or future, but it was definitely a moment of peace. My breathing was slow and deep, putting me in a good place to receive information from my Higher Self. Little did I know that these particular thoughts and visions would beckon a series of life-changing events.
When I got home after spending hours in the mountains, I always felt tranquil, but on that particular night I later became restless. Something important seemed to be surfacing. Though I felt strong and happy, there was a quirky, unsettling, feeling in my stomach as well. I felt empty, and the emptiness created sadness.
It was frustrating to be having these feelings at a point in my life when all was going well. I was baffled, what could it possibly be? Was it a delayed “blue syndrome” from my recent break-up with a musician boyfriend after two years of dating?
My mind became my master but I didn’t want to be its servant. It felt like I was mentally playing tennis and my body wasn’t even on the court. After much back and forth contemplation, my gut told me that something I needed was about to enter my life.
I’ve read books about how we can feel restless, bored and agitated when our spirit is not in balance with our human actions. Was I out of balance? Was I working too much? Was I spending too much time alone? Did I need to meet up with Nina or some of the girls from work and do some female bonding?
I concluded that I needed to stop thinking. So I made a cup of herbal tea and cuddled with Patchouli on the bed while a soothing rainstorm pitter-pattered on the roof. I found an old 1947 black-and-white flick on television about an angel, ‘The Bishop’s Wife.’ The warm tea relaxed me. I didn’t want to miss the movie that was just starting, so I put a tape into the VCR and hit “record.” Within minutes, my eyelids drooped and my head nodded.
I must have dozed off because I woke to the sound of an eerie whistle blowing in the distance. A low rumbling followed. At first I thought it was the TV. But after I muted the television, I realized it was a train from the next town over. When it rains the air gets dense, so a train whistle sounds louder and closer then it actually is.
An unsettling feeling came over me, the same queasy sensation I felt earlier. It made me think about the recurring dream I’ve had about a train. In it, I’m rushing down the aisle frantically looking for a certain passenger, but never find him or her. My Mom thinks it means I’m looking for some type of relationship which I unconsciously feel I’m missing. As accurate as this sounds, I haven’t figured out who I’m actually looking for.
I suddenly felt detached and very far away from home. This was not the first time I had this feeling when hearing a train, but the sensation had an extra-eerie vibe this time. I closed my eyes and prayed.
Within moments I was in an altered state, what some people might call an out-of-body experience or astral traveling. For me it was quite normal, like being two places at once. I call it “dimensional drifting”. It’s a sense of connecting to the spirit world while staying rooted and sufficiently aware of my surroundings, like when I’m in the mountains and “drift off” as my body rests on the ground amongst the trees. Time seemed to stop.
When I opened my eyes, Patchouli was still cuddled next to me. Only a minute had passed according to the clock. The television was still muted and the whistle was still blowing.
I continued listening to the train pounding down the tracks, causing my psyche to ache as if it was coming to take me somewhere. Unlike times when I had purchased a train ticket and boarded a train, this felt like the train was boarding me. While my soul yearned to step up the steep metal stairs of a big black steam locomotive, my human self was scared.
The night following my bizarre train experience, I was working at the disco with five other waitresses. It was Saturday, couples night. We knew whoever got the back section with the booths was in trouble because it meant there’d be no good tips tonight.
I looked at the schedule posted in the break-room. Fudge, it was my turn to get lovers lane. The couples would sit, drink, smooch, talk and waste a perfectly good booth as they nursed the same drinks for hours. I used to imagine that under the tables their hands were doing things that should be done in hotel rooms or the backseat of a car—anywhere but my waitress section.
Four hours into the night, something life-changing happened when he walked into the club, time slowed down. The music, the voices, the bodies, they all faded. All except him.
He was beautifully handsome. At first glance, I knew he was there for me. He was meant to be mine; I was destined to be his.
Like a dog in heat, I could have tackled him on the spot. His long, wavy brown hair plus his funky-styled jacket, knee-high furry boots and skin-tight bell bottom jeans all turned me on. My eyes followed his every move. My body was numb yet vibrating.
It wasn’t just his appearance that grabbed my attention, it was the way he walked, confident and proud, head held high. He was a leader, a humble leader, I sensed.
He seemed familiar, as if from a dream or another time when I dimensional-drifted. I continued to watch closely as he walked to the far end of the club. I felt he was my soulmate or rather, my soul remembered him. He was the “other-half” that people talk about, the one who makes you feel at home and safe.
I stood in the dark corner of my waitress station. Get a grip, girl, you’ve seen cute guys before. But as the words rolled off my tongue, I knew in my heart that this feeling was not completely of this world. I snapped out of it when a guy from one of the booths signaled for another round. It was their third and still no tip. I called the order out to the bartender while thinking, get it yourself, you pain in the ass, don’t you know my dream-man just walked in?
I took a time-out from the dreamy bliss and cheerfully delivered the drinks. The disco dude paid with a $50 bill. I counted out his change, making sure to give him several $1 bills. Winking, he tossed two quarters onto my tray. I returned the wink, secretly knowing I’d given him the cheap vodka but charged him for the expensive stuff as I pocketed the difference.
Grinning, I skedaddled to my station feeling victorious. My eyes zeroed back in on the Mystery Man. One of my waitress friends came to my section and told me “the good-looking big tipper” was a Hollywood stuntman.
“A stuntman?” Geez, I had pegged him for a musician.
“What’s the matter, Marlo?”
I lovingly shook her arms: “Hey! Can’t you see I’m drooling over this guy?”
“His name is Thomas.”
“Yeah, he’s in town having fun while the Screen Actors Guild is on strike.”
“Hmm … well, whyever he’s here, I got first dibs.” I thumbed my chest and grinned.
“You’re too late. One of the other waitresses said she was going home with him.”
“Who do you think?” She pointed to the classy-trashy waitress hanging all over Thomas. His grin made it seem as if he was enjoying her attention.
“Just look at her! We’ll see about that. And to think I was going to ask all you girls to go clubbin’ with me one night next week.”
“I still want to go!” She smiled and scooted off to the break-room as I studied the long-haired cutie-pie and his male friends who were sitting at a table by the dance floor.
I sensed Thomas was pretending to be a hotshot. In less than two hours, the stuntman had tipped all the waitresses $100 bills and invited them to his house for an after-hours party. I was the only waitress he hadn’t met.
But I had a plan, so I asked my friend to cover my station. Then I put on some lipstick, fluffed my hair, slid the gum I was chewing to the side of my mouth, and waited for the right moment to make my move. Standing in front of him at last, I realized he was even more handsome and sexy than he’d seemed from across the room. His skin was naturally tan and fresh. His eyes were dark chocolate yet light from loving life. Inside I was screaming “hallelujah” while outside I remained cool as a cucumber. I looked him straight in the eye. He looked straight back at me. There was a connection, but he casually ignored it.
I said in a friendly, yet business-like tone as I shifted my eyes to the rest of the guys, “the club would like to buy you all a round of drinks.”
Thomas laughed. “Look at all the drinks in front of us.”
His friends agreed and also laughed. But I was quick on my toes: “Yeah, I can see you have many drinks. But these are free, on the house.”
His friends laughed louder, almost heckling me. My tongue flicked my gum from its hiding spot and I began chewing as I shot a dirty look at them.
Thomas replied, “Free? Hmm, not many people are giving out free stuff. That’s very kind of you.” I smiled. “We accept,” he said in response.
His friends went silent and raised their brows, riveted on our interaction. Even though I was thinking not-so-nice stuff about his nosey friends, my smile stayed constant.
“Oh, wait a minute!” Thomas exclaimed. “You’re here because you heard about the tip.”
His friends repeated what he said and laughed again.
I was getting pissed. By now my jaw was chomping up and down on the gum. “Yep, I sure heard about the tip.”
In raised octaves, his friends mimicked me. It took all my patience to keep from flipping them in the back of their heads with my angel wings. Thomas just watched me. Lord knows I was not interested in the tip. Well, not very interested, but it would make this a good night after the puny tips I’d gotten so far. You see, I wanted the whole package— Thomas and a tip.
I stood my ground, grabbed a few empty glasses and soiled napkins, then took a step away. “Have a good night, boys!” I chimed, acting as if I didn’t have a care. I turned on my heel to go.
“Wait!” he said. I turned back. He continued: “What’s your name?”
“Marlo,” I tried to sound sexy without acting sexy.
“So, Marlo, do ya have another piece of gum?”
Gum-gum-gum, he wants gum. I always had gum in my purse, which was in my locker. So I replied nonchalantly, “I’ll be right back.”
“Wait! One more thing—if you find a piece of gum, I’ll give ya $100 bucks.”
I laughed. This guy really thought I just wanted the tip. Minutes later I was back at his table with bad news, “Believe it or not, I don’t have a piece of gum.”
His friends cackled. But Thomas just smiled and hopped off his bar stool to stand in front me. His presence forced me to lean back.
“How long have ya been chewing the piece in your mouth?” he wondered.
I answered without thinking, “Just a few minutes.” It had really been a few hours.
“I’ll take it,” he said.
Oh crap, I thought, I already beat the heck out of this piece. But if he wants it…
“Okay.” I reached into my mouth, pulled out the wet sticky gum and handed it to him.
His friends moaned. Thomas stuck it in his mouth, began chewing, and sat back down on his stool. I smiled so widely my cheeks hurt. Grossed out, his friends wiggled on their chairs. Now I was the one laughing as I took a step away.
“Wait! Your tip.” He reached into his pants pocket. “Uh-oh, I ran out of cash.”
I snorted and grinned. He borrowed a $20 from one of the guys and slid it onto my tray. His friend glared at me as I winked and pranced away. I knew this was a good sign.
Back at my station, I bit my lip and shook off the magnetic energy from this encounter which was still jolting my petite body. There was some strong mo-jo brewing.
I took a few deep breaths and remembered the feeling I had the other night about something coming for me. Was it him?
At the end of the night he invited me to his house for the big party. I played it cool and said, “I might stop by.” But inside I was jumping for joy.
Like a Hollywood superstar, he had two stretch limousines waiting in the parking lot. Thomas and the boys got into one as all the waitresses piled into the other. I decided to follow in my own car then I could leave when I wanted.
As I started the engine, I saw something on the windshield. I stepped half-out and reached for it. At first it looked like a bookmark, but I realized it was a train ticket. It read: “The 440 Train—First Class seating to the next chapter of your life.”
What the freak? A train ticket? The Four-Forty Train? It felt like something mystical was happening again. This was too weird, The Limo Driver honked his horn, signaling me to follow. This snapped me back into the present. I tossed the ticket onto the passenger seat and accelerated.

On the drive, all I could think about was Divine Timing and the profound connection I felt with Thomas. Call it fate, destiny, karma, whatever you like but I was living it.
At the party I learned Thomas was also a musician. He had just written and recorded his first song. This made sense since I gravitated towards rockers and his look did not match my vision of a stuntman, which I thought of as a scruffy-looking guy with missing teeth who drank whiskey. I must have watched too many Westerns as a kid.
But this modern day stuntman was lovely, dahling, simply lovely! I was captivated by his gentle power, child-like innocence, strong independence, determination, and financial success. I came to this conclusion by observing his personality, energy and also the location and size of his big beautiful house.
One room was dedicated to his work. It was full of autographed movie scripts and souvenirs from television shows and films. I felt like I was walking through a trophy room in Hollywood. On the walls were photos of Thomas with movie stars, celebrities and women lots of women.
I noticed one photograph in particular, Thomas was wearing a pilot’s uniform. He looked sexy in sunglasses and a captain’s hat, his long dark hair hanging beneath it. His smile hinted that he had just achieved something or was just about to achieve something, maybe with the sexy, tall, black woman in a stewardess uniform standing close to him. His arm was around her shoulder and I couldn’t help noticing how close his hand was to her breast, or was I seeing more than was really there? I felt a twinge of jealousy. I really like this guy!
While we girls were huddling in his living room over drinks, I made it clear to my friends that I felt a connection to Thomas and really wanted to get to know him. In a flash, they all but kicked me out of the way. One waitress had the audacity to offer to share him with me. No thanks, I don’t share my sweets, and I don’t do rub-a-dub-dub three hynees in a tub.
The other guys flirted with the girls but it was obvious that Thomas was the big fish everyone wanted to hook. Oddly enough, all of us girls went home alone that night. It seems he was more hell-bent on entertaining us then getting into our panties. Darn, darn, darn! He was not going to be an easy catch, but I honestly liked the challenge.
I decided to keep the train ticket from my windshield as a memento. I hid it in an old book that had belonged to my Grandmother. I had the feeling one day it would come in handy.
Later, I phoned Nina and told her about the magic man I’d just met. She was used to my gut-intuition stories and, though she teased me a bunch, she had a genuine respect for my opinion.
Over the following weeks my life continued as usual but Thomas stayed in my mind. Coincidence or not, we were constantly running into each other at convenience stores, diners, nightclubs and parties. At a few of the gatherings, we stood in eye-range and checked each other out. But he always had a group of guys and girls with him so it was hard to get too close. When we did look into each other’s eyes, however, there was an intense feeling of recall and kinship that yearned to be explored even though he always got antsy and silly.
I was definitely experiencing something brand new. I wanted to be right about our strong connection and I also wanted to be intimate with him more intensely than any guy before. But something told me to proceed slowly. This knowing guided me to a new understanding. I wasn’t used to surrendering, but a stronger force than me was at work here. So I gave permission to the Universe to steer me in the direction of my highest good. I truly believed that if it was meant to be, it would be.
Then it happened—as quickly as Thomas entered my life, my magical run-ins with him suddenly stopped. I heard through the grapevine that he was traveling back and forth from here to California. Yet he never reached out to me. I yearned to chase him but instead listened to my inner guidance. I was also bothered that my gut instincts were so far off about Thomas. It made me wonder if I was losing my touch as a woman along with my gift of insight.
I was continually playing mental tennis. But after one too many mind-boggling replays, I wrote in my journal to get some healing. Through this process, I literally wrote off our connection and accepted the fact that I was simply mistaken. Some things are just that simple … aren’t they?
I was relieved to learn from one of my waitress friends that Thomas was engaged to a stewardess who was African-American. I would never have guessed he was in a relationship, based on the way he acted with all of us women. Then I remembered the photo in his trophy room. I wondered whether his fiancé was the beautiful black woman. Maybe she wasn’t a stuntwoman after all—and I hadn’t lost my touch…

Malibu – Present Day

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After standing for some time, I sat on the blanket, and watched the seagulls chasing sand crabs. Thomas was still organizing a shaded spot under the umbrella while I was soaking in some rays. Watching what I thought of as “my feathered and crawling friends” reminded me of how my relationship with Thomas began. On some level he was the crab and I was the seagull. Or was he the seagull and I the crab?

My Past

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Two months later, Thomas and I ran into each other at a mutual friend’s party. As much as I had thought I’d written off our connection, I obviously hadn’t. I became anxious, my heart raced, the butterflies in my stomach fluttered. I took a nice deep breath to get centered.
He looked quite healthy and fit with his golden tan, white teeth, shiny long hair, bright sparkling eyes, and a body that exuded strength and agility. I was pleasantly surprised to see him, and his re-action indicated he felt the same about me. We smiled and did that flirty thing again with our eyes. I looked cute that night in a black fedora hat, a sexy low-cut black blouse, a muslin ankle-length skirt and lace-up black boots.
He was with the usual suspects and I was with two waitress-girlfriends. There was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip away. So I ditched my friends to at last confront the man I couldn’t stop thinking or writing about.
“Psst, Thomas,” I gestured. “Come ’ere.”
His entourage watched as he followed me into a bedroom. I quickly shut the door.
“What’s the story with you?” I half-smiled.
“What?” He blushed and walked to one of the windows.
“When you look at me that way.”
“What way!” He turned towards me and did it again.
“That way—you know what way,” I twanged in my street-girl voice as I approached him.
“You’re cute, that’s all.” He looked back out the window.
“Thank you. You’re cute too.” Suddenly, I flashed back to kindergarten, I was five years old and had just kissed a boy for the first time.
He turned to me again. “I like your hat.”
I smiled. “I like your jacket.” I paused. “One of my friends tells me you’re engaged to a California girl.” I paused again.
He didn’t answer and moved towards the door.
“So … are you?” I asked.
“Not technically.”
“Ya know, I really don’t like to gossip,” he said.
“We’re not gossiping, we’re having a conversation.”
“I’ll just say we were close friends for years, but then she wanted to be more.” He reached for the doorknob.
“Wait! So it’s only a rumor? You’re not engaged?” I walked towards him.
“I’d rather not get into this.”
“Okay, okay. Well then, are you available?”
Again, he didn’t answer. I was getting frustrated. “I have another question. I don’t know the prim and proper way to ask this so I’ll just say it—do you prefer black women?”
“Gee, Marlo, you’re sure blunt!”
“What! It’s a legitimate question. I was just wondering if you only like a certain type of woman.” Even I couldn’t believe my line of questioning, but frankly I wanted to know. “Some guys like blondes, some brunettes, others redheads; some like petite gals, some like long legs, a lot like busty women, some prefer cushy booties, you get my drift.” I sighed.
“She’s African-American.”
“Oh, African American, of course. So … do you only like…?”
“I refuse to answer. So I’ll keep you guessing. How’s that?”
“Well … just in case I don’t see you for awhile, and before you go off and get married…” I rushed up to him and stood on my tiptoes. “Here’s a kiss from a Jersey Girl!”
He looked surprised. I gently grabbed his head and leaned in to kiss him. At first he resisted, but he quickly sank into it.
After a few moments, I took a step away and sighed with pleasure. He looked dizzy. Our eyes remained locked.
His lips were the softest I had ever kissed. My body throbbed with excitement. He stood frozen, looking shy. I wanted to throw him onto the bed, but my mission was now complete.
So I straightened my shirt, fluffed my hair and spoke ever so lightly as I quickly left, “Have a fun night. And congratulations if you are engaged…”
My plan to get Thomas to want me more clearly didn’t turn out as I had hoped. My short and sweet tantalizing taste of him was just that—a taste. After that night I didn’t see or hear from him. So I told my waitress friend not mention him anymore. It was better that way.
I was happy being single, fully enjoying coming and going as I pleased and not checking in with anyone. I had great suppers and gatherings with my family and Nina. I spent quality time playing with my young nieces and nephews.
On the music front, several New York studio managers called me regularly to lay down background vocals on albums. I appreciated the gift of music and loved being in the soundproof room singing into the microphone. Hearing my voice on playback was exciting, although that took some time to get used to. But the quest to improve and also accept things in my life remained in the forefront.
Since my income bumped-up immensely from the studio work, I no longer had a need to be a cocktail waitress. It was perfect timing. The stench of cigarette smoke and the drunken butt-holes who grappled me night after night had worn paper-thin. The icing on the cake was the night a jock yanked my strapless uniform down, revealing my bra-covered breasts while I was carrying a tray full of drinks over my head. I quickly pulled up my dress with my left hand and kicked him in the shin with my right foot, instantly breaking the skin and drawing blood.
Minutes later I was summoned to my boss’s office and reprimanded with a warning of termination. I smiled as I responded, “Let’s make it simple! I quit!”
I went back to teaching calisthenics at a local gym. It was a win-win. I had fun and kept in shape while instructing others to do the same and I got paid for it. My favorite exercise was the ‘fire hydrant’ where you kneel on all fours to imitate a dog peeing. After two hundred of those on each side, you’re grateful to stand up again, but your bootie is two inches higher. It doesn’t stay like that for long before going south again, however, so the daily exercise was a bonus for me.
But as the saying goes, “all work and no play make Jane (or Marlo) a dull girl.” I missed my girlfriends, Nina, and the waitresses from the club. So I finally picked up the phone to schedule a girl’s night out. Everyone seemed to have other plans, dates, to be exact, except, for Nina. We agreed to meet at a quaint Italian restaurant where I had worked years ago for a very brief time. It was one of many businesses along Route 22 in New Jersey where I’d worked. My dad always said I worked more jobs in my early years then he worked in his whole life.
I sat at the charming bar, sipping brandy with a soda back, a sophisticated cocktail that needs to be savored slowly and with purpose. I looked at my sterling silver and onyx watch. Nina was late. It was unlike her.

“Hey, Marlo!”
I turned around. “Thomas! Wow, what a surprise to see you. What are you doing here?”
“I’m friends with the owner’s son, Tony.”
“You’re kidding? Me too. You know, I used to work here!”
“Really? Small world.”
“It sure is,” I agreed, taking a sip of the refined mouthwash. I wanted to ask Thomas many questions but I just held the pretty snifter and smiled casually while checking out his duds. Cool-cool-cool. This California cat was nice.
He became antsy. “I … I’m here ‘cause I’m going to invest in a pizza parlor with Tony, here in Jersey.”
“Great! Sounds like fun.” I could hear myself talking on autopilot. But what kept running though my mind was how handsome he was.
“Forget about it!”
Did I miss something? “Okay,” I frowned as I sipped my drink again, wondering if he’d heard my thoughts. Remembering the power of our kiss at the party ignited my urge to kiss him again.
“Forget about it.” Geez! He is a freakin’ mind reader.
I was getting ticked off. “Alrighty, I will.”
Oh my word, this guy definitely has ESP. I was getting a buzz so I put down the drink and grabbed the water.
“Marlo, ‘Forget About It’ is the name of the Pizza Parlor.”
“Oh – fungool! Funny, very funny.” I laughed at myself for misunderstanding.
Then we looked at each other in that ‘I feel like I’ve known you a long time’ way.
He finally said, “I’ve thought about you a lot.”
“Me too you,” I quickly admitted, then glanced away. I wanted to scream so why didn’t you call? but I didn’t.
“You married?” I asked, looking at his left hand.
“Ah, are you here with anyone? I don’t see your groupies tonight.”
“Now you’re being funny. I’m here solo.”
Tony suddenly shouted for Thomas, who excused himself and crossed to the back room.
My head dropped, I couldn’t believe we ran into each other. I was blown away but tried not to over-think this unexpected meeting. Yet I couldn’t help wondering: Was it fate? Did I make the right choice by surrendering to the Universe after all?
An hour later, Nina still hadn’t shown up. I had a hunch she had hooked up with my younger brother. They had just started dating so things were hot and heavy. At this point, it was best for me to go home. When Thomas came back, I didn’t want to be sitting alone, looking deserted. And if he left without saying good-bye again, it would hurt way too much. Maybe, just maybe this time, my departure would make him want me more!
I paid my bar tab, left a fat tip and was just about to walk out the door when I heard my name. Minutes later, I was happily anxious as Thomas followed me back to my place. He drove a spiffy little sports car with a personalized license plate. DOGOOD.
As we climbed the three flights of stairs to my apartment, it was obvious by our body language that we were both a bit nervous.
I opened the door and said, “Make yourself at home. I’ll be right back.” I slipped into the bedroom to change into a tight pair of jeans and a relaxed yet sexy tee-shirt. As I went through all the right motions, it felt as if I was in a romance movie playing both the lead and the audience.
I soon headed to the kitchen, followed by Thomas: “What can I get you to drink?”
“Do you have hot chocolate and whipped cream?”
“As a matter of fact, I do.” I opened the door to the balcony and in blew a cool peaceful breeze along with delicate music from the chimes.
“You look nice,” he said, fumbling with knick-knacks on the table. “You looked nice before too. Why’d you change?”
“Uh, I’m not sure. I guess I’m nervous,” I admitted with a smile as I measured two heaping spoonfuls of chocolate into a mug.
We moved to the living room with our steaming drinks, green tea for me. We chatted small talk about each other’s careers and what we’d been up to. I still wanted to kiss him, but this time I refused to make the first move.
He must have read my mind again. “You know, you drove me crazy that night at the party,” he said. I grinned, pink with satisfaction.
“I’d like to get to know you better,” he added.
“I’d like to get to know you better too,” I said with restraint. Finally, I thought.
“I’m not like most of the guys you’re probably used to.”
“How so?” I wondered. I already knew he was a rare bird.
“I believe that being intimate is a very precious thing, something that should be undertaken slowly and respectfully.”
I didn’t know how to respond. So I just looked at him, jaw hanging open, eyebrows raised.
“Did that make you speechless?”
“N-no, I guess that’s an honorable way to be.” Darn! We weren’t going to have sex!
Since we were talking openly and honestly, now I wanted to ask if he got the same feeling about us knowing each other in another lifetime that I did. But I couldn’t get the words out. I was still playing it safe.