Chrystal Bane-Howard's name fit her well. One of those over-polished, over-made-up types whose stringent diet and fanatical exercise has left her more of a shell than a person, that brittle and carefully constructed exterior about to break at the slightest pressure. Her skin is sagging in places, and the wrinkles won't stop appearing. She's spent thousands of dollars on the very best cosmetics and salon treatments, but can longer hide the fact that she'll be 50 in a few years. Her hair color has no resemblance to anything natural, with its five different foiled tones of golds and blonds. Maybe it's really grey, but she won't allow herself to admit it, getting her touch ups every three weeks. She's 5'5” and 120 pounds, but she'd look much more real with another 10-15 pounds. She's just a stick-figure, with no curves.
All of her life she's tried to please Daddy. Whether it was good grades, or tennis championships, she didn't do any of it for herself, because nothing pleased her more than when Harold Bane would pat her on the head and say, “Now, that's my girl!”
Actually quite smart, she could have had a career in law or climbed the corporate ladder quite successfully. But Banes don't work. They volunteer. And get written about in newspapers with their names in bold print, under pictures that show plastic smiles and black-tie champagne affairs.
Her husband Dan Howard is in a pickle. His boyish good looks are fading, his latest “career” is in a jam, with rumors of shady dealings just outside the law. A large man who used to play football, he still works out hard to maintain the illusion that he could get back on the field if he just wanted to. Ten years younger than Chrystal, he's fast approaching a mid-life crisis, getting sloppy with his mistresses, barely avoiding getting caught, and careless with his gambling. The money which he enjoys spending so freely is actually hers. And though she's always agreed whenever he's asked for a larger allowance, it really grates him that she holds the purse strings. He'd thought that life would be easy. Marry the older woman so flattered by his attention, then live life high on the hog. But Chrystal wasn't as easily pushed around as he'd first thought, and insisted on a pre-nuptial leaving him nothing should they divorce. He'd gone along with it, thinking he'd just sweet talk her out of it in a few years. He had a lot of power over her when it came to the bedroom. She craved his attention, and withholding it for a while usually got him his way. All it took was a couple of weeks of, “I'm so stressed out about __________, I can't sleep with you tonight.” Pretty soon Chrystal would be there with the increase in his allowance, or the money for that new car, and he'd make sure that he immediately thanked her with a marathon of attention. She was very hard to please, but his skills were legendary. He'd leave her exhausted and quivering, and head for the shower, planning his next campaign. Because she wasn't really a challenge. He had her figured out now, and she'd never said no to him. What he really wanted was someone out of his reach, whom he'd have to woo. That always made him feel like the man. Countless meaningless affairs later, even that no longer had its appeal, so he'd set his sights on Chrystal's sister. The added danger, and the complete challenge of seducing a woman who barely tolerates his presence, was looking immensely appealing.
I'm thinking you might be wondering what's up. Who are these people? What's going on? Where are the personal stories, the poetry I usually find here? Well, I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and working on fiction. So I've sketched some characters, and I'd love to have your feedback. Can you see them? Are they believable? Would you want to read about them?