Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friday Fiction for July 9, 2010

Friday Fiction is hosted this week by none other than Patty over on her blog, Patterings. Patty started the Friday Fiction weekly event, and handed it over to Karlene when other concerns kept her away from it. We’re glad to have her back with us this week, so make sure you visit her blog and let her know how much we appreciate her.

“Precocious by Consent” has been on a back-burner for around a year now, and I’ve been wanting to get back to it. In that, I read back through what I’ve written so far to get back into the flow of the story, and to get reacquainted with the characters. While Lloyd and Katya are returning characters from the first book, “Precocious by Design,” this mysterious character in Chapter 8 makes his debut appearance in this excerpt. We’ll see more of him as the story progresses. Previous excerpts from this WIP are: Prologue, Chapter 2, Chapter 5, Chapter 7, and Chapter 10.

Precocious by Consent

Chapter 8

Sunday morning

The white utility van stood out among the family vehicles in the nice neighborhood. Parked along the curb in the middle of the block, though, it barely rated notice from the residents going about their business. The magnetic signs on the doors identifying the van with Ameritel Communications insured few would think twice about the presence of an unfamiliar vehicle in the area. The man in the driver’s seat lit up a cigarette and took a deep drag of the smoke.

I should quit, he thought, regarding the slender white roll of paper and tobacco. This is unhealthy and expensive. He chuckled, taking another puff. On the other hand, it’s not like I expect to retire and die of old age anyway. Savoring the smoke before exhaling, he blew a lazy smoke ring out the window. It’d be easier to quit if I didn’t like these American cigarettes so much.

The garage door across the street opened, and an older couple loaded two sets of golf clubs into the trunk of the car before backing out of the driveway onto the street. The man driving looked at him, and he returned a smile and a polite nod. When the garage door had closed, the car headed off down the street.

With another puff of the cigarette, he watched the car recede in the rear view mirror. Would you have waited for the door to close before driving off if I had not been here?

Three houses in front of him, a husky teen-ager pushed a lawnmower through a side gate, and started work on the front lawn. The kid wore headphones, and periodically made rhythmic movements as though dancing to whatever tune played on the device. When I was your age, I danced with a mop at a neighborhood bakery, to music on an old radio much too large to carry around. He smiled at the memory of a simpler time in his life, and wondered if he would have paid any more attention to a strange vehicle in his neighborhood than the dancer paid to him.

The front door on the home across the street and behind him opened, and he watched in his side mirror. Two boys ran for the SUV in the driveway, followed by two adults who easily could have been their parents. He continued to watch as the dark green Toyota pulled out and cruised by him with the boys making faces at each other in the back seat. Comparing the license number to a text on his phone, he blew an exasperated plume of smoke out the window. That was it, but where is she?

The movement of the garage door of the same house drew his eyes back to his mirror. The mid-sized sedan backed out of the garage, and waited in the driveway while the door closed again. After a minute or so, an older woman came out the front door, wearing a nice outfit and carrying what appeared to be a large Bible. A girl followed her out, and the woman pulled the door closed before offering her hand to the child. This could be promising, he thought.

The woman held the car door while the girl settled into the back seat, and then took her place in the front seat. She was just pulling her seatbelt across her chest as the car passed his van, and he did his best to avoid looking like he was watching them.

The girl in the back seat was looking all around, and for just a moment glanced at the van. That was all he needed to see the face, and he stifled the satisfied smile. It is you, Ekaterina. Why are you back here in California, and playing the child again? What are you up to, lapochka?

The car disappeared around the corner, and he crushed out the remainder of the cigarette. He keyed in a series of numbers on his phone, arranging the payment for the information, and shifted in his seat.

A car pulled in behind his van. The police cruiser in his rear-view mirror didn’t have the lights going, but he still placed his hands on the dashboard in plain sight as the officer walked up to the window.

“Good morning, sir,” she said. “One of the residents noticed you’d been sitting here a while. Are you having a problem?”

He gave a good-natured laugh. “It’s their problem I am here for,” he said. “We’ve had a few complaints of a dead zone in this neighborhood, so I’m waiting here while my co-worker checks things on the tower. When I get his call, we’ll know he’s fixed the problem.”

“Any idea how much longer that will be?”

He shrugged. “It depends on how much needs to be done on the tower. I’m hoping we’re done soon; I’d like a cup of coffee and a bathroom.” His cell phone chimed, and he shielded the screen from the sun’s glare to read the text message. Transfer complete, the confirmation message informed him. “That’s it; we should be done here. Do you need anything else, officer? Would you like my supervisor’s name to verify our work order?”

She shook her head. “That won’t be necessary. If you’re done and ready to get out of here, then that should satisfy the residents.”

“Thank you, officer.” The old tricks still worked; be cooperative, but not too cooperative. “If you have any problems with your Ameritel service, don’t hesitate to call us.”

“Thanks,” she said. “I have Pacific Wireless, so I don’t think it would do me much good to call you.”

He gave her a big smile. “If you have problems with your Pacific service, call us; I’m sure we can set you up with a competitive plan and better service, if you’re interested.”

She threw him a dismissive wave. “Have a nice day, sir.”

“You too, officer.” He started the van, and eased away from the curb. Departing the neighborhood for the main street through the suburb, he turned into a doughnut shop and went inside. If by any chance the police officer followed him, she would find him enjoying a cup of coffee after using the bathroom. He would even offer to buy her a doughnut, if she stopped in.

3 comments:

Carole L Robishaw said...

I just all the chapters you've posted, and want more. Soon!

Patty Wysong said...

=] I always enjoy your writing, Hoomi!! I loved how you showed he wasn't American. =] Great job!

Catrina Bradley... said...

Very intriguing!