My next novel, IN FLIGHT, is about a business executive and family man who attempts to put his life back together after surviving a plane crash but also having suffered a trauma-induced dissociative mental state. It will be published this spring (and I’ll be sure to incessantly remind you).
If you haven’t read the first chapter about Robert yet, click right here.
The story details his marriage and also follows his wife, Sasha, who is trying to support her husband’s recovery while also reviving her acting career. She’s landed a sweet role in a commercial for Levitra and gathers with Robert and their college-age daughter, Erin, to watch its debut on television. Robert is proud of his wife for her success, yet privately thinks “There was something distasteful about his wife acting in a commercial for erectile dysfunction.”
Here’s the brief scene:
Erin had come home to see her father and also so they could watch Sasha’s commercial as a family. Sasha wanted them together, potentially for a celebration, possibly for reassurance in case she was awful. She needed two hands to hold.
Sasha explained how the system worked. The advertiser could buy airtime during a specific programming segment, such as the United States Open Championship, and for a certain day, such as the final round of play, but there was no way of knowing exactly when the commercial would air within that time slot. You had to keep watching—all three hours of programming, or at least until the commercial you were waiting for came on.
They sat close to each other on the couch. The course was beautiful, with its manicured greens, verdant fairways, pristine sand traps, and sparkling streams. The golfers were young, fit, and focused on their game. The announcers spoke in low voices; the crowd cheered without going berserk. Every time the broadcast went to commercial, Sasha leaned forward, and her heart beat a little faster, and then she slowly settled when the tournament came back on without her commercial airing.
They saw Martin Kaymer sink a twenty-foot birdie putt to move atop the leaderboard. The crowd roared.
“These guys have balls of stone,” Robert said.
Spieth teed off on the ninth; McIlroy chipped onto the green on twelve. Time for more commercials. They held a collective breath. No, it was for Audi. Then one for Johnny Walker Black, then Geico, then the network plugging its Tuesday-night lineup, finally back to the tournament.
The announcer got excited when Spieth missed a chance for an eagle and had to settle for a birdie.
“What’s the difference between a birdie and an eagle?” Sasha asked.
“A birdie is one under par for a hole, and an eagle is two under par,” Robert said. He golfed for work when necessary in order to network with an important customer or partner, or when his company sponsored a local charity tournament. He never recorded a stellar round but neither did he embarrass himself on the course, and he’d told Sasha that getting beat in a close game by someone who was important to his company was not a bad business decision.
At the next commercial break, they saw the same Audi ad as before, followed by an IBM spot, and then Sasha appeared on-screen.
“There you are!” Erin said.
She didn’t look horrible. They’d done a great job with her hair, adding volume without the sprayed look. Her lipstick was a perfect shade.
She was holding hands with her partner and strolling on a path alongside the pond in Central Park in New York City, two ducks nearby. The soundtrack was an instrumental version of “Imagination” by the Rolling Stones, one of the world’s all-time great rock bands selling out to the ED market.
Sasha spoke first.
“After twenty years together, we’re still in love,” she says to the camera, then looks adoringly at her partner.
“And intimacy is very important to our relationship,” the man says. He was a middle-aged male model type you’d find on a soap opera or hospital drama. Broad-shouldered, chiseled face, groomed hair with strategic silver along the temples and sideburns.
“When the mood is right, we want to be ready,” Sasha says. We—as if the drug were a substance they both consumed.
Back and forth they banter. Even their reciting of the long list of side effects and precautions sounds like pillow talk. Cut to a city street lined with shops and restaurants. Walking down the sidewalk toward the camera, Sasha casts a sultry glance sideways at her partner, followed by his perfectly timed and admiring smile.
Cut to a residential block with brownstones. Their arms around each other. Shot from the rear, Sasha’s hand tucked in the waistband of his jeans. His hand in her back pocket. She’s got that sway to her hips.
They both glance over their shoulders at the camera, and Sasha’s look nails the message: I want it, and I’m about to get it.
She grabs her partner’s arm and almost pulls him up the stairs. (That’s where she’d stumbled during one of the takes.)
Male model grins, chases after Sasha.
Logo, web address, end. Thirty seconds.
“You were amazing,” Erin said.
The three of them high-fived.
Sasha could breathe again. “I wasn’t so bad, was I?”
“Do you realize that right now millions of men are fantasizing about you?” Robert said.
“Dad, that’s gross,” Erin said.
“That’s how good you were.”
“Thank you, I guess.”
Her phone chimed. It was a text from her agent, congratulating her. He’d been watching too.
“Alan said I hit a hole in one.” No need to ask Robert what that golf term meant. “He said this is a door opener.”