Congratulations to the creative writing contest winner, Isabelle Richardson! Isabelle’s short story, Lizard Tracks, may be viewed below.
Thank you to all that participated in the contest by submitting writing or reciting poetry. There we many amazing submissions and we suggest you review them all!
Poetry submissions may be viewed here, or by searching the #TheDoors50 of Instagram.
The short story submissions may be viewed here. There were many submissions – stories will be added throughout next week, so check back often!
By: Isabelle Richardson
Well, just got in about an hour ago. Take a look around, see which way the wind blows. Where the little girls in their Hollywood bungalows? Are you a lucky little lady in the city of light? Or just another lost angel?
Angela walked down Santa Monica Boulevard and drank it all in. The color of the smog mixing with the sunrise, the bustle of the people on the sidewalk, and the faint smell of Chinese food wafted down the street. The wind blew her long, red hair around as she held her turquoise colored duffle bag with her right hand, her guitar on her back, and her brown leather jacket in the other hand. Her boots clicked on the pavement as she strode down the sidewalk. She was looking for Barney’s Beanery, where her friend, Ezra, was waiting for her. They would have breakfast then head over to his place, so she could get ready for the audition. Angela always dreamed of coming to LA. People had always told her to stay away from here. There’s too much traffic, it’s too expensive, the people are always grumpy. She didn’t believe any of them. This was the City of Dreams, she always told herself. And if anyone was going to make it big, it would be her.
“What brings you to LA?” a deep voice asked her.
She stopped and turned around. A skinny man with wavy brown hair and blue-grey eyes stood a few feet behind her with his hands in his pockets. Her stomach dropped. She recognized who it was, but it couldn’t be him. He was dead.
“How do you know I’m not from here?” she asked.
It was the first thing that came to her. He smiled and pointed at her duffle bag. She blushed.
“My train came in about an hour ago,” she confessed.
“Where are you from?” he asked, stepping a bit closer.
“They’ve got some good tacos down there,” he said.
“Yeah, they’re my favorite.”
“So, what brings you here, little girl?”
“I’ve got an audition at the Whiskey,” Angela said, her voice slightly trembling.
“What do you play?” he asked, getting closer and closer to her.
She smiled and pointed at the guitar on her back. He chuckled.
“Of course, you play guitar.”
There was a silence. She wasn’t sure of what else to say. He was barely a few inches away from her.
“It’s kinda cold out here and I know a good taco shop down the street. Wanna have lunch with me? Then I can show you around the city.”
The offer was tempting, almost a dream come true, but she found it difficult to go with
him. There was a darkness about him, one of unfulfilled potential and sadness. Why did he want her? What did he see in her? She had her goal in mind, and she had to focus on that.
“I would love to, but I can’t. I’m meeting a friend for brunch.”
He was taken aback, but not offended. He just gave a small nod.
“Some other time then.” He started to walk away.
“Wait, what’s your name,” she yelled after him.
He didn’t answer her. He just kept striding down the street, with his wavy brown hair bouncing with each step. Angela stared at him in a trance-like stance.
“Hey, hot stuff!”
Angela quickly turned her head to the right and saw a man with a gleaming white smile in a Jeep pointing to her. She sighed and went back to look at the man with wavy brown hair, but he was gone.
Angela arrived at Barney’s a half hour later. She’d only been here once before when she was a teenager on a trip with her family and she recognized the green and white striped awning. Rock and roll royalty had been through those doors. Angela imagined herself as a musician in the 60s, coming in just after a show, sweating and energized from the music. She would walk in with the rest of her bandmates and be shown to their booth in the back, right next to the pool table. They would order drinks and play games until the owners told them to leave. Then she would go back to her place in Laurel Canyon and write songs until the sun came up. Angela shook her head. Daydreams of a silly fangirl, she thought to herself. Shaking herself from her reverie, she pushed through the wooden door. Newspaper clippings were glued all over the ceiling while the red, glass Coors lamps illuminated the tables. She scanned the multicolored booths until she spotted Ezra’s natural platinum blonde hair near the window. Red and gold tinsel lined the windows with green ornaments hanging from them, tingeing his face as it was buried in his phone. She waved her hand in front of his face, and he looked up, annoyed, until he realized who it was and jumped from his seat.
“Oh my god, how are you?”
He gave her a big hug.
“Tired, long train ride,” she replied.
They sat down at the booth.
“Didn’t get much sleep?”
“Well I had that dream again.”
“Which one? The one with the cave in the desert?” he asked. “Not that one, a different one.”
“Oh, then tell me,” Ezra said.
“It’s the same one I’ve been having for weeks. I’m on a train, and I’m the only one aboard. I have no idea how I got there and when I look out the window, it’s pitch black. But then I realize I’m going through a tunnel, but the tunnel goes on for god knows how long. I just sit there, looking out the window at my own reflection. And every time, I know that someone is coming to collect my ticket, but I’m scared of them. Then the door at the end of the car opens, and it’s the conductor but I can’t see his face and he walks towards me, so slowly and I can’t get up to run away. So, I look out the window but
all I can see is my own reflection. And he’s getting closer and closer to me until we clear the tunnel and the light from outside is so bright I have to cover my eyes. Then I feel a cold hand on my shoulder and I wake up.”
“Jesus, that’s frightening. And you’ve been having it for weeks?”
She nodded her head.
“Did you see where you ended up?” Ezra asked, sitting on the edge of his seat.
“No, I never do,” Angela replied solemnly.
Ezra relaxed his shoulders and slumped back in his seat. She picked at her nail.
“What do you think it means?”
“I don’t know. Your attraction to train conductors?”
“Ha, ha,” she replied.
“Either way, I’m sorry you’ve been having this dream,” he said.
“It’s all right,” she said, shrugging her shoulders.
“On the bright side, your audition is at 3 so we have some time to hang out. We should go walk around Venice Beach. There’s a giant mural of-”
“Jim Morrison, I know. On the side of the apartment building.” “You definitely know your shit,” Ezra said smiling.
Angela smiled back. She was glad she had a friend like Ezra to cheer her up once in a while.
“Before we do that, I have to tell you the times, so we get there at 2:30 then…”
She listened as Ezra went over the logistics of their afternoon. What time she was supposed to show up, when they can rehearse, etc. All she could focus on was the back of a man with wavy brown hair who had just walked into the restaurant. Did the mysterious man follow her here? The man turned around, but it was a false alarm.
“Is that Val Kilmer?” Ezra asked. Angela shrugged her shoulders and picked up the menu.
Better luck next time, kid.
Those words rang in Angela’s head as she walked down Hollywood Boulevard, her guitar on her back. She dragged her feet on the ground and held her head down. She didn’t understand what went wrong. All the notes were in tune, the rhythm was on time, and the song sounded great. She failed her mission. She was supposed to come to LA, nail her audition, and her dream would come true. But that didn’t happen. She looked up at the sky, looking for answers.
“You look lonely,” the familiar deep voice told her.
She looked up and saw the stranger she met earlier in front of her. He had on a white flowing shirt and brown leather pants with lizard skin boots.
“I look like a loser. I didn’t pass the audition,” Angela said.
“It’s not the end of the world,” he said in a soothing voice.
“What do you mean?” she said.
“You’ll have other chances. But failure isn’t a bad thing,” Jim said, “It can happen and your dreams still come true.”
“When?” she asked.
“When it’s supposed to. I wandered around Venice Beach for months until I ran into a friend of mine from UCLA, and look how that turned out,” he said, smiling.
“What’s your name?” she finally asked, “I know who you are but, it can’t be.”
“Jim,” he replied.
He held out his hand. She reluctantly took it. He had a gentle touch, but his skin was cold and scaly. She decided in that moment to go with him. What else did she have to lose?
“How about those tacos, Angela?”
He stayed beside her as they walked down Hollywood Boulevard, talking and laughing as the diminishing sunlight brought darkness over the city.