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the twig and berries reveal
cassie and marlo listen in: part 1
by tracey l. kelley (@TraceyLKelley)

“So in the middle of the St. Barth’s airport, with a caged chicken on one side and an old man in a black leather jacket on the other, the young Frenchmen dropped their shorts.”

“There were two of them?” “Yes. They both shucked ‘em off and changed into pants.” “In the middle of an airport. Next to a chicken.” “Well, the chicken was caged, so there wasn’t a threat of, you know, pecking.” “Gives a whole new meaning to the word pec-” “Oh, just stop.”

“Were they attractive?” “That makes a difference? They dropped their pants. While commando. In a public place.” “Oh – the commando part. I guess I didn’t hear that.” “Yes, that was the shock. I’m reading quietly, glance up for a moment, and whammo.” “Yeah, but were they hot?” “Possibly – I think it was about 95 degrees that day. Doesn’t really excuse the action, though.”

“No – were they attractive?” “Ah – that. Yes, I think so. It looked like they had been on the island for a while. Very blond, tan, and buff.” “So, it’s safe to say the flashing from two buff Frenchmen is a little different than a homeless dude on the street.” “While I’m sure there are a few people who enjoy watching, I’m not one of them, so I can’t compare apples to apples.”

“You were shocked?” “Well, of course I was. I mean, you expect certain scenes to play out in particular places. A little exhibition on Hollywood and Vine seems commonplace. But to just flash twig and berries in an airport waiting area....” “So would you do it?” “What – depants in a crowded airport? Uh, no.” “Really?” “Well, first one would have to assume I’m not wearing panties. I’ll let you ride that visual for a moment.”

“Never mind that. Could you do it and not worry about what people think?” “I think I’m past the age of doing something that outrageous.” “Is there a statute of limitations on this sort of thing?” “No, but I think there’s a point in your life when you’re not trying to get that type of attention any longer.” “‘That type’” – you mean shock for the sake of it?” “Exactly.”

“So, what age is the cut-off point?” “When you’re most likely to pull a stunt? I don’t know. Maybe I’ve made too much of it. Maybe the Frenchmen weren’t doing it as some sort of ‘Jackass’ stunt. The line at the bathroom was too long, or the plane was boarding and they had to get a move on.” “Or, they wanted a reaction, like a couple of performance artists. Or attention, like reality show contestants.” “Maybe. Why are you so interested in that aspect of this anyway? Had a few escapades yourself?”

“You want details?” “Are you serious? What have you done?” “I’ve done a few dumb things. And that’s why I think the tan, buff Frenchmen had a little more to their agenda then quickly covering their legs against the cold plane ride.” “So you automatically assume your intent is their intent.” “No, but if you do something like that in public, there’s usually a reason.” “Maybe it was for a bet.”

“Money is one incentive, but that’s not the only reason, now is it?” “No, I think you’re right. Some people do things simply to spark controversy. So what have you done?” “Oh, we’re don’t need to go there right now.” “Tease!” “Yeah, well. So, did people react to the Frenchmen with the same shock and horror as you?” “I wasn’t horrified!” “Yeah you were, you prude.” “You know, I’m not sure too many other people noticed. It happened very fast.” “Except you – you caught the whole thing.” “Lucky me, eh? Well, I didn’t scan the room for reactions. And for a moment, I thought I imagined it.”

“Did the Frenchmen catch you looking?” “Well, see, that’s the strange bit. After he changed, one of the guys sat down, looked right at me, and smiled.” “See? He was purposefully giving you a peep show!” “Maybe he was just friendly.” “Or maybe he thought you needed a story to tell to all your friends. Needed your life jostled a bit.” “Oh, come on.” “Seriously! Maybe that was his intent: to give you a little something to remember.” “Ha! Well, if he wanted to give me something to remember....”

“What about the old guy in the black leather jacket? Did he react at all?” “He had on dark sunglasses, so I really couldn’t tell. But, you know? I think he smirked a little bit.” “And what was his deal? Black leather? In the tropics?” “Oh, that’s a different story entirely.”

The Cassie and Marlo series is a fiction experiment exploring social issues, class issues, and the ridiculous things you can overhear if you're listening at the right time. For more on the project, click here.

This installment is open to workshopping. In the comment box below, please provide some constructive critique as to whether or not the all-dialogue format works for you.


Tracey likes to shake things up and then take the lid off. She also likes to keep the peace, especially in a safe, fuzzy place. Writer, editor, producer, yogini, ('cause yoger or yogor simply doesn't work) by day, rabid WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething! player by night. You can follow her on Twitter: @traceylkelley or @tkyogaforyou

more about tracey l. kelley


portrait of an artist: bret anthony johnston
sharing the contents of his writing toolbox
by tracey l. kelley
topic: writing
published: 1.28.08

operation sunbeam
cassie and marlo listen in
by tracey l. kelley
topic: writing
published: 6.29.09


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