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The Good Stuff
Short Story
Meeting Julian
by Nicole West 
Length: 1,212 words 

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Meeting Julian

Moving had been harder then I expected.  You quickly forget the sweat, tiny cuts on your hands, broken possessions and heavy grunting from the last time you endured the task.  However my new “across the hall” neighbour, Julian, at least provided entertainment by way of hilariously directing all furniture to the wrong rooms, then directing them back to the right rooms.  Strangely, the men hired to move the furniture did not seem as amused as we were.

Once ensconced inside my new residence, I opened some wine, turned on the radio and gingerly tried to sit on the edge of my new couch, covered in unopened boxes.  As my mind began to create pictures of a finished result within the unit, loud but muffled voices caught my attention.  Vaguely startled, I opened my door to the sounds of a fierce argument across the hall at Julian’s place.

In the next second, Julian’s old-fashioned, wooden door opened to release a red faced, crying woman into the hallway. Stammering something incomprehensible, I tried to shut my door but the woman quickly jammed her red stiletto heel into the opening.

“So, you must be the one!” She glared at me with eyes full of insane anger.

Smiling nervously at her, I replied, “I just moved in today, could you please move your foot?”

The woman turned abruptly and stomped down the hall towards the lift.

Some time later, after much frenzied unpacking to keep my slightly bewildered thoughts busy, there was a knock at my door.  Julian appeared shamefaced and apologetic for my less then enthusiastic welcome to the building.  As this was only my second meeting with him, I assured him I wouldn’t let it affect me so he needn’t worry about it further.  I awaited an explanation for his guest’s behaviour, but none was forth coming.  Julian simply bade me goodnight and closed the door on my bemused expression.

The next day I took my place within an up-and-coming theatre company for a week long trial.  I met many of the back stage crew on my induction, read through lines on the newly built stage with the acting coach, and waited for an hour to greet the company director and lead actors … to no avail.  I was potentially taking the place of an actress who had been dismissed from the company so I hoped its crucial members were not viewing me as a “usurper”.  Feeling slightly affronted, I left and walked back to my new home.

An invitation had been slipped under the door requesting my presence at a dinner party, hosted by Julian.  My spirits rose a little at the thought of company as I hurried around my cramped apartment getting ready.  I was intrigued by my dark haired, ruggedly good-looking neighbour already. Outwardly, he had been open and friendly from the moment he saw me lugging a chair down the hallway, however he seemed to be surrounded in an unidentifiable aura of mystery. 

“Good evening, Jucinta, welcome to my humble abode,” Julian grinned impishly as he ushered me into his unit. 

Breath caught in my throat as my eyes rushed frantically to capture the onslaught of visual images in front of me.  Dark purples, pinks, greens and blues swirled throughout a space void of furniture.  In its place were oversized cushions placed randomly over the floor, huge paintings full of mystical colour covering the walls, and wrought iron holders ablaze with light from the numerous flickering candles.

The three people lazing around on the floor escaped my notice at first; they seemed to blend into their exotic surroundings.  A gorgeous woman, with black, shiny hair, introduced herself as Adele.  Her accent was tinged with French as she presented her friends, Miranda and Leo.  I smiled brightly at the trio to hide my slight discomfit at viewing them all entwined in a tangle of arms and legs on the floor.

Throughout dinner, conversation circled mainly around art, the media, and interesting cultural events in the area.  I was entertained, despite becoming increasingly confused as to the varying relationships between my hosts.  Julian and Adele, sitting close together appeared a stunning couple, however their continual, light-hearted bickering over every topic was more reminiscent of sibling rivalry.  Miranda seemed to exchange seductive glances with Adele, while Leo stroked Miranda’s back and gazed at Julian.

In between the excessive affection with each other, they gave me their undivided attention whenever I spoke about myself.  This was usually only after being prompted to do so.  I was flattered beyond belief to be considered such interesting company by my new acquaintances, yet slightly bewildered as to their all-consuming curiosity.

Breathing in the fresh, autumn air, I strolled to work the next morning feeling like a strange, television drama was being played in my mind.  I envisaged, and just as quickly discarded, different scenarios including the characters from Julian’s apartment last night.  It became very apparent that although I had offered information about myself, they had not, leaving me overly curious and unable to concentrate on the day ahead.

I opened the door to the theatre with my eyes on the ground, unaware of anything but my over-active imagination.  The pain in my head registered first, then the face of a woman with eyes full of insane anger, clutching her nose in agony as blood started to trickle onto her white shirt.  Recognition pierced my brain as those angry, green eyes focused on me.  “It’s you again!”  The woman yelled at me and ran out into the corridor.

Before I could think about the throbbing lump swelling on my forehead, Julian appeared before me.  Now completely flabbergasted, I stared at him open mouthed. 

“Hello, I’m Julian, the company director.  You must be Jucinta?”  Nodding to himself, he directed me towards a chair.  “Perhaps you should sit down.  I’ll get you some ice … and, so you can eventually close your mouth again, I guess I should explain?”

As Leo, Miranda and Adele, the lead actors, joined us, a story of lust and anger was told with such drama and enthusiasm, we all rolled on the floor in fits of uninhibited laughter.  Julian’s exceptional charm, usually saved for Leo alone, had unintentionally worked wonders on the unsuspecting actress, Michelle.  Apparently becoming increasingly violent in her passion for Julian, the company was forced to dismiss the misguided actress for obvious reasons.

I stared around the group, baffled still, teary from so much laughter, head throbbing and stomach aching.

“We really are sorry, Jucinta.  You must think we’re strange, to say the least.  We just couldn’t afford to hire another 'highly strung' actress, to put it nicely, so we decided to check you out first,” Miranda squeezed my hand in apology as she spoke, “It was a stroke of luck to be able to set you up in Julian’s apartment block.  We just couldn’t have imagined you’d run into Michelle at all.  I’m sure she thinks you’re his new lover … we could not convince her, Julian only has eyes for Leo!”

 Miranda, Adele, Leo and Julian were all staring at me.  Seductively, I felt myself drawn into the group like a long lost family member, heading towards an unpredictable future surrounded by deep, mystic colours and indulgent, exciting emotions.

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Reviews (applause received)    Applaud with your positive comments by clicking here

Tania Evans     Australia
"You got me in straight away. Congratulations on a great read."

Monique Bridger     Australia
"I found this short story very entertaining and well written and would be interested in reading more from the author."

Kylie Chappell    Australia
"It was brilliant, I loved the character's, they were so real you could relate a friend you know to them.  Would really like to see more peices from this writer.  Great work.  Thanks.."

Kristy Buckingham    Australia
"Congratulations on a dramatic, colourful and entertaining piece of work. I felt intrigued throughout and very caught- up in your vivid descriptions of the characters and setting. I couldn't wait to get to the end to find out how the pieces of the puzzle would finally fit together."

Sasha    Australia  
"Absolutely compelling reading, grabs you from the beginning and leaves you hanging right till the end....Superb."

Tahra     Australia
"Great! I was intrigued from the start! I could really invision what each character looked like in each moment, loved the choice of wording (very descriptive)! I really liked it~! Would love to read more Nicole!!! "

Michael Hill    Australia  
"intriguing tale"

Madonna    Australia
"What a great story! I was very intrigued and it kept me in suspense until the end.  I would love to read some more work from this fabulous writer!"

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