tommy bruschi’s broken heart

23 Jan

Happy New Year to all.
I hope that your 2017 is off to a roaring start.
The following story is one of my favorites.I wrote the first draft longhand on a legal pad in a Montgomery, Alabama motel room over the course of filming Tim Burton’s Big Fish. From the start, I always pictured Ewan McGregor as Tommy Bruschi. I think it would be a clever career move; for both of us.
What do you think?
Enjoy this first installment.



A man can be happy with any woman,
As long as he does not love her.
~ Oscar Wilde

I’ll gladly tell you how I happened into this line of work, if you think you’ve got the time and can spare a cigarette. I’m not permitted to even carry them on duty, let alone smoke. Luckily, Milady is in a mood to shop today and she’ll be awhile longer, much longer then the burn of one of your Marlboros, I’ll wager.

Thank you, and can I trouble you for a light? That’s better, nothing like the taste of fine tobacco.

I don’t mean to be repay your generosity by being persnickety, and I realize that standing on this hot pavement is no ideal of comfort, but please don’t lean on the tommys-carcar. If her highness does happen to come out and sees you doing that, my ass will be in very deep grass. Gracias. Now, for the sound and the fury.

I can see it in your eyes, you look at me and see glitz and glamour and think “Oh, how exciting it all must be.” But my life is probably not so different from yours and not unlike thousands of others, except for a few, very weird, particulars. It all started in the most mundane fashion, that’s for sure.

If you read the Sunday papers, you’ve seen the syndicated musings of that lifestyle guru, Dr. Sonya: Love Your Work ~ Work Your Love. Feeling that I was stuck in a rut, I took her self-help advice to heart and tried to improve my life. Following the Love Doctor’s advice to the letter, I bumbled around in my usual fashion and managed to tear through marriage and divorce in what must be some kind of record time. Even after all that, something happened in the aftermath that made me think Cupid had finally found his mark. I should have known better the second time around; a chance encounter and a few laughs over a couple of drinks is not the basis for a long-term relationship. I can’t plead ignorance, but just like those Gumbys on the weep-and-tell daytime TV talk shows, I’ll chalk it up to feeling ”vulnerable”. Love Your Work ~ Work Your Love. The work part was never a problem for me, but I certainly can’t say the same about love.

On the front end of where I am today, my life was pretty good. I was a top-gun photo journalist, with a go-for-broke attitude that always put me in the middle of the action. Suicides, homicides and tragedies of every stripe, were the spice of my life. Picket lines, protest marches and riots were my bread and butter. I covered them all with fearless aplomb. But after having dodged brickbats and bullets, I sure never expected to get blindsided by amore in the middle of a big, noisy crowd of people. I deserve my own chapter in Kismet For Dummies.

Jill was on the top staff of a nationally-known US Senator who was headed for his party’s nomination, and as it turned out, the White House. I had been assigned to cover the huge campaign kickoff rally on the public square here in the city. Fighting my way through the mob to the foot of the stage for some tight shots of the Nom, is where we met. Actually, I knocked her to the ground, fell on top of her and there we were, two strangers stacked face to face on a city street, surrounded by a forest of legs. Our eyes met, we smiled at each other and time stood still—until I yelped like a scalded puppy when some bonehead stepped on my fingers.

I struggled up with my feet planted astride my new acquaintance, camera bags swinging from each shoulder, a Nikon dangling from my neck. Then I stuck out my hand and pulled her up. As we dusted off, rearranged ourselves amid stammered apologies and introductions, the dart struck home.
“Hold still,” Jill said, reaching toward me, “you’ve got something stuck up there.”
Our eyes locked again and I fell headlong into those baby blues.
She plucked a little piece of schmutz off my head, and then gently smoothed my hair back into place.
While standing there tongue-tied and flustered, Professional Instinct yanked on my sleeve, telling me there could be some significant camera damage from the tumble. One look confirmed my fears.
“Shit. I’ve cracked a lens.”
“Oh no, let me see…” Jill put her hands over mine and tilted the camera, studying it like there could be nothing in the world more interesting to her at that moment. “I’ll get that replaced for you.”
“No way, it’s not your fault.”
“I won’t take ‘no way’ for an answer,” she said, with a playfully-serious, flirty look. She handed me her pen and little spiral notepad. “Write down your name and phone number. So I can get in touch with you.”

She got ‘in touch’ with me before the day had ended, and we started in full-throttle on a passionate, sometimes-long-distance, sometimes-in-the-same place romance that culminated in our marriage a quick two months later.

Man, I thought I finally had it all, a perfect job and the woman of my dreams.
Just goes to show how wrong a fella can be.


The glow of domestic life illuminated some things Jill and I had both overlooked in the Tunnel of Love. The fashion gremlin—and a few others—came to light after we began sharing toothpaste on a daily basis.

All people unconsciously display their inner personalities throughout each day on this earth with little ticks, quirks and habits that reveal to the rest of the world what that person is really all about. One of Jill’s idiosyncrasies was so mundane that, initially, it passed right by me: she wore pantyhose and high-heels, everyday. And I mean, everyday. I guess that if I ever thought about it at all, I figured it was just part of her job’s unwritten dress code. I certainly had no objections to the way she dressed, she always looked sexy as hell, and besides, clothing did not play an integral part in our courtship. But I realize now, that from day one, when we weren’t romping in our birthday suits, Jill was always in uniform. Jill never stopped working. Jill was on her way up. Truth be told, I’m no slob, but my wardrobe turned out not to be her idea of proper raiments for Prince Charming. Six weeks post-honeymoon, dawn finally broke over my love-clouded, puny little mind as I witnessed Jill perform what I thought was the ultimate sartorial oddity.

I had crawled into bed at 6AM after spending three brutal hours on the smoking scene of a catastrophic five-alarm fire. One of the older buildings downtown burned and collapsed and by the time I got home, I was ready to do the same. But Jill had plans for that morning. And when Jill had plans, they were executed.

Around 9:30AM, she began rousing me with playful-serious reveilles—“Come on sleepyhead” or “Get moving, Buster”–while she flitted in and out of the bedroom. I would rise to semi-consciousness, struggle to fully awaken and then drift off until she called to me again.

I finally managed to open my eyes just as Jill stopped in front of the closet, wearing nothing but a cream-colored bra and matching pantyhose. She reached into the nest of clothes, pulled dry-cleaned Bermuda shorts off a hanger and then slid them on over her nylon-encased legs. Then she donned a silk blouse, tucked it in, zipped up the shorts and stepped into a pair of high heels. It struck me as a totally odd ensemble. She caught my gaze in the mirror and returned my quizzical expression with a stare of exasperated patience, to which I had been subjected more and more of late.

“Get up,” she said, with hands on hips. “We’ll be late for brunch.”
She shut the closet door, headed towards the bathroom and wheeled on me before disappearing into her lair of makeup and hair mousse. “And please wear something nice,” she said, “not a pair of those stupid camera pants with all the pockets. I doubt anyone will die during brunch and need their picture taken.”

Later, with Eggs Benedict and Mimosa’s on the table between us, Jill got down to business.
“Tommy, I’ve got a big surprise,” she said, with a twinkle in her eye. “It’s all set, you can ditch that thankless, dead-end job of yours and come aboard the Senator’s campaign as staff photographer.”
While I sat there with a dumb look on my face, trying to absorb her vision of me in our future, her smile faded. I knew it was the beginning of the end. She knew it, too.

“Well, I didn’t expect cartwheels, but I thought you’d be just a wee bit excited. It’s a very generous offer and I’ve expended a lot of effort and maneuvering to arrange this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you.”
Though I did my best to explain it, Jill couldn’t grasp the difference between a news photographer and a political flack. “You’ll be getting paid to take pictures, Tommy,” she said, “what’s the difference?”

Through the following weeks, her ‘generous offer’ mutated into a thinly-veiled ultimatum, and my mantra of, “Thanks, but, No Thanks”, didn’t sit well with her at all. Things deteriorated pretty quickly.
Jill spent more time on the campaign trail. I spent more time working. We spent less time together.

After a month-long standoff, she packed her bags during what turned out to be our last weekend together, called me a ‘worthless loser’, and slammed the door on her way out. Jill filed for divorce within a week, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’. Two months of courtship, six months of marriage, and it was over.

Well, it was over for Jill.

~ All Rights Reserved ~


One Response to “tommy bruschi’s broken heart”

  1. DV January 24, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

    I just love this story…..I want more….MORE……MORE!

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