Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

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Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby allegrita » Thu Jan 08, 2015 12:39 am

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's note: This story was written for Champagne Challenge #162 and is rated PG-13.

I never thought I'd write a story based on a song, but Beth has taught me to never use the word "never." :snicker: When I read the Challenge prompt, this song popped into my head, but I really didn't know anything about it, or where it came from... so I did a web search. It was written in 1933, and used in a 1934 romantic musical comedy called Moulin Rouge. The version of the song from the movie was not preserved, but I found a wonderful 1933 recording on YouTube, illustrated with paintings by Edward Hopper. (See the link in the first paragraph of the story.) There's a painting at approximately 1:05 in the video, just before the vocals begin... it captured my imagination, and this little story came to life in my head.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

I went to the movies tonight. It was that new musical comedy, Moulin Rouge, with Constance Bennett playing a girl who switched places with her twin sister so she could go back onstage, and her husband fell in love with her, thinking she was somebody else! Of course, everything turned out all right in the end, like it always does in the movies. But anyway, now I’ve got a song from the film running through my head, and it feels like it was written just for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5td5tkSnBA

So here I sit in this diner, stirring a cold cup of coffee and staring past my reflection to the dark street outside—my own personal boulevard of broken dreams. Wondering what they’re doing. Wishing I could be with them again. Maybe not the way it used to be, I understand they only want the very best… but maybe I could work the coat check room, or give the girls their juice and cookies and help drive them home afterwards. Anything to be back in that world. I just feel so… lost. Like the girl I used to be has been bent out of shape till she doesn’t even exist anymore, and the girl I am now doesn’t fit in anywhere.

I thought I could handle it. I really did. And while it was happening, everything was so exciting—so exhilarating—that I never had a moment to think about what might happen when was over. But then the merry-go-round stopped, and they made me get off. Not only that, but they locked me out of the carnival, and made me promise not to ever tell anybody there even was a carnival. Just like that.

It’s not like they left me with nothing. I was very well paid for my… services. And I was smart enough to sock away a tidy nest egg. I could go to school, get some training, maybe. Have a career. Trouble is, nothing seems worth the effort anymore. I mean, just a few days ago I was sipping the finest French champagne, wearing a pretty dress and a fur stole just like Claudette Colbert or somebody, and now—well, it’s hard to go back to being plain old Charlotte, you know? And let me tell you, once one of them has looked at you that way, like you’re the most important thing in the whole world, just before they do that thing where they run their tongue down the inside of your forearm… ooh. I still get chills. All that anticipation. Knowing it’s coming, but never knowing quite when, or how it’ll be done. Hard? Gentle? Sometimes there was this whoosh of sensation running right through me, it nearly made me faint, and I’m not talking about the blood loss. It was better than any feeling I’ve ever had, even… well, you know. I mean, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I’ve done some… things, and nothing even comes close to that rush.

There was this one guy. He was young, and movie-star handsome, but he wasn’t in show biz. He was some kind of big businessman, with a company so huge even the Black Friday crash couldn’t knock it down. He only asked for me once, but I’ll never forget it. It was like, if all those other guys were sparklers? He was the whole fireworks show. He could have any girl he wanted, and I swear he could’ve had ‘em for free, it was that good. He was really generous, though. He’d give the girls expensive gifts, like jewelry and beautiful clothes—and if he took one on as his special girl, you know, just for him? They lived the life of Riley. I never made it that far up the ladder, but I saw them with him. The prettiest girls at the party, always so elegant. None of them ever drank too much or fell in the pool. They knew they were in the catbird seat, and they wanted to stay there as long as they could.

I guess maybe I wasn’t quite as smart as I thought. Yeah, I saved some money for a rainy day. But I wasn’t as careful as I should have been. I was the girl who got sloshed on champagne and ended up in the pool, you know? If one of those guys wanted a little extra kick, and slipped me something, I took it, no questions asked. And if they asked for more than what was on the menu? Well, I didn’t always say no. I thought it was my ticket to the good life, but… well… here I am. Time to face the facts. That girl looking back at me from the window has been around the track a few too many times. No wonder they chucked me out of the club.

Oh, geez, now my mascara’s running. I really messed things up, and there’s no twin sister to help me out of this pickle. My boulevard of broken dreams is right here in LA. Me and the rest of the has-beens and never-weres. What am I gonna do?

Well… I’m not gonna fix anything, sitting here in this booth. I’d better go home and get some sleep. Looks like the night life is over for this former party favor.

But you know? All in all, it was worth it. It sure was a magical couple of years. I’ll always have my memories. And that diamond bracelet.
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby cassysj » Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:51 am

Oh wow, a sadder look at the freshie life in a different time and I'm glad the Josef always seemed to have impeccable taste.
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby librarian_7 » Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:18 am

Nice one, Alle! I do love a good Freshie fic.

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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby allegrita » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:37 am

Thanks Lucky and Carol! I've always thought that it must be a really strange experience, to leave the freshie life... I imagine that it would feel very cold and empty to suddenly be cut off from everyone you used to know, to hang out with... and to feel that you couldn't really go back to the life you'd previously led, because... well, being a freshie would change you pretty drastically. Kind of the essence of "you can't go home again..." :chin:
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby darkstarrising » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:13 pm

Isn't it amazing how the muse gets inspired? A song, a search, a picture, then the story to tie them all together.

Love how you show a cast-off freshie contemplating her future. Few make it in to the club, and fewer yet stay for long periods of time. Mostly, age is the villain, but in this case, the freshie did herself in. The really cool aspect of the story? The same song that inspired you also inspired the freshie's reverie on how her life would never be the same:

But then the merry-go-round stopped, and they made me get off. Not only that, but they locked me out of the carnival, and made me promise not to ever tell anybody there even was a carnival. Just like that.


I wonder what became of her....
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby choccyterri » Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:26 pm

:hug: Oh goodness, babes. This is just so poignant. In the beginning you can hear her sadness, her desperation to just be part of anything again... and when she becomes more contemplative..? Well, I really hope that she did get up from that table and make something of herself. ( And I'm also glad that she's got some lovely memories of a certain businessman.. :brow: It's good to know that Josef's sense of style went way, way back. :heart: )

It's just a lovely scene honey... like others, I've wondered too about the life of a freshie after being a freshie. And against the time frame you set for us it sits just beautifully...thank you for sharing it. :flowers:
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby Luxe de Luxe » Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:12 am

Holy crap that was hard to read, Alle - not because it was poorly written, just the opposite. The story starts out well enough, but soon enough come intimations of a darker ending ahead. The emotions your unnamed ex freshie experiences just seem so honest and true that it evokes in the reader a sinking feeling of lost... hope, vitality... something. This was a tough read and accords well, as you know, with my own birds eye view of what freshiedom would actually be like. Kudos to you.
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby Lilly » Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:02 pm

Alle, I read this last week and instantly loved it. :heart: I had planned to come back for a re-read before commenting, but a funny thing happened before I could find the time. It just STUCK with me. I'd find myself thinking about Charlotte at the oddest times -- her voice was that clear and her story that haunting. :hankie:

She truly is broken. Maybe not irreparably so, but it's going to take some time to put the pieces together, to shape a new life. In the mean time, she's pouring over the pieces, examining each one, trying to figure out if there was anything she could have done to reshape them to forestall the "crash."

The mood here is perfect. I originally envisioned the bar in Hopper's painting "Nighthawks," but then looked at the video and saw the one that inspired you... "Automat" --

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It's so dark outside and she's so alone. You totally captured that in your writing. :notworthy: This is a beautiful and very real piece.
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby MickLifeCrisis » Fri Jan 16, 2015 10:54 pm

I always imagined freshies leaving service with a nice little college fund and starting a new life with financial security. Guess I was only thinking about those at the top of the ladder! What a moving look at the other side of the coin, especially when this one had to leave before her expiration date. I hope she was able to get back up on her own feet again. And she'll always have that diamond bracelet. :laugh:

Great job, Alle! Really liked it!
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Re: Boulevard of Broken Dreams - PG-13 (Challenge #162)

Postby allegrita » Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:02 pm

Thanks so much, darkstarrising, choccyterri, Luxe de Luxe, Lilly, and MickLifeCrisis! :ghug: I really appreciate your thoughtful comments. :hearts: This is a sad little story, and I bet it would have been repeated thousands of times over the centuries. I agree, MLC, about the other side of the coin. Not everybody is in the top tier of pampered favorites. And speaking of that, this is a situation where that vampire "glamor" thing from True Blood would come in really handy... but in the Moonlight world, there's no magical way to say "Forget all this ever happened." And although the vampires might not like to think about it, there are probably a lot of broken people left behind. :Mickangel:

Lilly, thank you so much for posting the picture! :hearts: That is the one that inspired me. I just wanted to give that poor girl a hug! :comfort2:
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