Dream Junkies By Anne-Marie Yerks
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: August 8th 2016
Buy Link: Amazon
Actresses in a Chicago comedy troupe, Daphne Corbett and Kristin Brewer share a stage as Jean and Jeanette, a pair of dim-witted legal secretaries upstaging the show’s headliners.
When their performance attracts an ambitious entertainment agent from Manhattan, the girls move to New York with hopes of stardom and success. But the search for apartments and showbiz jobs takes them in different directions.
The shared journey leads them to understand that dreams are worth only as much as the struggle to achieve them and that the hardest part to play is yourself.
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The Last Night
The Saturday before she left for New York, Daphne Corbett wrote her ex-boyfriend’s address on a Post-it note and boarded the Pink Line train to West Pilsen. From the CTA station, she walked down 18th Street to find the house where Alec was living with his new band, Saturn Box.
“Hey Miss,” one of the men called, blowing smoke from one side of his mouth, “can I ask you a question?”
Daphne ignored him and held her purse a little closer. This was the kind of neighborhood Alec liked because the big houses could be rented for cheap. Everyone could have a bedroom with plenty of the house left over for practice space and a common living area. Alex wasn’t onto mind the shabby people on the streets or the long trek downtown. He’d told her that he wasn’t home much anyway because his band was taking off.
She referred to the Post-it to locate the side street and turned. The house was halfway down the block, easy to find because of the spray-painted Saturn symbol on the side. Alec’s green Volvo station wagon was parked at the curb, loaded up with speakers and amps. Daphne remembered all the work they’d gone through finding the equipment at consignment shops and thrift stores. They’d had fun doing that.
A girl answered the door, a very thin girl with dishwater blonde hair and pierced eyebrows, wearing a greyish t-shirt. It had to be Lorene, the back-up singer. Alec had mentioned something about her the last time they’d talked.
“Is Alec here?” The girl assessed Daphne’s flowered skirt and white sandals with watery blue eyes.
“I think so.” Lorene stood aside and motioned toward the staircase. In one of the upstairs rooms, Daphne found Alec and his guitar in an upstairs room, stretched out on a ratty orange couch, writing in the composition book spread in his lap. It was the same composition book he’d used for song lyrics ever since she’d met him. His handwriting was so small it would take him a month to fill a page, so small that he probably could use that one notebook the rest of his life. Alec’s soul was in that book, she knew. It was in there even more than in his music.
“What brings you out here?” He sat up to make space on the couch, and she sat down. The curtains hanging in the window behind them were a pair that Daphne had brought when they used to live together in Wicker Park. In those days, they had struggled to survive on their tiny paychecks and a good yard sale find was gold.
She took a breath. “I’m moving to New York. On Monday.” Alec lit a cigarette and took a drag, eyes focused across the room at some equipment arranged in a semi-circle: a sheet music stand, a sax, and a keyboard. He smoothed his bangs. “What for?” Daphne told him about the agent who’d come to the comedy club and the audition for the sitcom. She gave all the details, the things that had happened over the past six months, more than what was necessary because she knew he would listen, that he still cared in a way that other people didn’t.
“So, you think this agent is for real?”
This was what everyone wanted to know. Her mother had asked the same question. Are you sure this is the real thing, Daphne? I mean, it’s a big deal to pack up your whole life and move away . . .
“Pavia is definitely for real.”
“Did you sign a contract?”
“Sort of,” she told him.
“Just for representation. Kristin has a role on the show, but I don’t.
Not yet. I’m going to do some modeling until they call me in.”
“What’s this sitcom called?” Alec took another puff and then crushed the cigarette into the ashtray.
“Streethearts. It’s about Chicago even though it’s filmed in New York. The idea is that the people who work in the little shops on the street get to know each other and fall in love and have affairs and misunderstandings. Typical kind of thing.” She didn’t tell him how much she had wanted to be on the show and how disappointed she was with the second-string position. But he probably knew.
“What about your sculpture? I thought you were going to set up a workshop someday.”
When she first began college, she had pictured herself alone in an art studio, digging her hands in the clay and wood-firing her work in an open field. But even after five years of classes and a senior show, she’d yet to sell a single piece. The fact there were galleries everywhere— even little ones that would take a chance on someone new—was another reason she was going to New York. She couldn’t take all the sculptures with her—there wasn’t enough space—but she had a nice set of slides that her new step-father and her mother had financed as a graduation gift.
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Anne-Marie Yerks is a fiction writer, essayist and journalist from the Metropolitan Detroit area.
Her essays have appeared in the online editions of "Good Housekeeping," "marie claire," "Country Living" and "Redbook." She has work forthcoming in "Modern Memoir" (Fiction Attic Press) and in "Recipes With A Story" (Blue Lobster Books).
Her novel, Dream Junkies, will be published in 2016 by New Rivers Press. Find her on Twitter @amy1620.