Tuesday, January 17, 2006

By Popular Demand

A year ago, when I started this blog, my first entry mentioned an idea I'd had for a novel. I began that one and made some good progress, as you might remember. It remains to be finished. Then National Novel Writing Month came along, and I started the book I'd been meaning to write for several years. It's still not finished, either, but it's a lot closer. Some of you have asked for an excerpt, and I've finally worked up my courage to post the first page, in which we meet the main character.

Baltimore Crier

Rrrrrrrinnnng! Rrrrrrrinnnng! The woman on the exercise bike removed one earphone to listen, but made no move to answer the phone. Puffing a wayward ringlet of chestnut hair out of her face, she kept pedaling, her eyes firmly fixed on the middle distance ahead. Despite her unchanged manner, she could feel her heart rate increase much too quickly—too high, too high.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. It’s stupid to feel this terrified of a stupid phone call, she told herself. Biting her lip, she revved up her pedaling speed, adding a little more tension for challenge. And, she chided herself, I make a living with words. I ought to be able to think of at least half a dozen more interesting words for “stupid”…

Rrrrrrrinnnng!

Need to remember to turn on immediate pickup when I’m actually home… she mused. OK, how’s this? “It’s completely asinine to be afraid of a meaningless phone call from an idiot.” More apt, anyway.

Click. “Hello, you’ve reached Thessely and Smedley. We can’t come to the phone right now, so leave a message…” Here it comes.

“Thessely? Are you there?” She stiffened visibly, then pedaled harder. “It’s me, Thessely. You know, your husband.”

Her face purpled and twisted into a snarl. “EX husband, if you don’t mind.” Whir-whir-whirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhirwhir! went the bike as her legs pumped more viciously with each word.

The voice continued plaintively, “Why do you still have my name on your answering machine? Do you want me back?”

“Idiot!” she roared. “Can you clean the wax out of your ears long enough to tell the difference between Smedley and Jerry? Geez, what a wet sack!”

“I don’t know why you won’t take my calls. I can't believe how rude you are!”

“How about ‘cause you’re a psycho stalker who doesn’t know when to SHUT UP.” Whirwhirwhir…

The voice wheedled on. “I just know that you’re only avoiding me because you still care, and you’re just afraid of your feelings…”

Whir-crack-zip-zzzzzz…. “Ouch!” She yelped and jumped off the bike, rubbing her injured calf where the pedal had smacked it. “OK, that was pretty funny there, Jerry,” she groused, half-laughing through the sting of the growing welt. “When I said ‘psycho’ I meant psychotic, not psychiatrist, you know.” She made a face to the world at large. “Jerk. Loser. Wannabe. Cretin.”

Still muttering, she rolled to her feet and headed to the bathroom. The voice droned on, alternately protesting undying love and hurling vicious epithets at the unfortunate sufferer. Bright gold eyes watched the proceedings from under a chair.

“You’re lucky, Smedley," she addressed the chair. "You don’t have to worry about weddings, divorces, emotional troubles, jealousy, or the other ugliness of human relationships.” She winced as she rubbed alcohol on the scrape that adorned her left calf. “With cats, it’s just ‘wham-bam, thank you ma’am’—or whatever.” She fumbled with a sticky bandage, then, feeling much better, she headed for the computer desk. “Some days it would be so nice to be a cat.”

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

I like her already. Thanks for sharing. Can't wait for more.