Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tuesday Teaser

It's been a productive week for me. Since deciding on a new profession for my MC, I had to scrap close to half the chapters I wrote during NaNo. This week I researched her new line of work, wrote a new outline, and began writing a new chapter.

So far, I think these changes are good for the project.

It's still to early to begin sharing teasers from the WIP, so today I'll offer a snippet from a short story I wrote in 2009, called Stopgap.

Liza pulled the Studebaker up to the gas station's store front. As Van yanked open the passenger door he saw the cashier watching him through the plate glass window. Van managed a smile as he folded into the car; the clerk didn’t smile back.

“I thought I’d drive. Hope you don’t mind.”

Van grunted, his attention on a black SUV at the pumps, where the man who'd smacked his young son in the cashier line stood shouting into his phone. Van’s father used to say, “Get your ass in the car and wait.” Silent or spoken, the threats had been fierce. Eventually, when he was about that kid’s age, the threats had evolved. He’d known, even at that innocent age, that his father liked knocking him around. It got the tension out; made life easier to deal with. If Van’s mother had lived, things would’ve been different. She’d have protected him. Isn’t that what mothers do? Where was that kid’s mom, he wondered. Liza’s voice broke into his thoughts.

“Alright, we made it, babe! We’re home free: me, you, and all that cash!” She slapped a manicured hand on the steering wheel. “Damn, we make a great team!” She glanced over, her smile faltering. “What’s the matter with you?”

“Nothing,” he grumbled as the filling station disappeared from sight in his side view mirror. “How about some music?”

Van turned on the radio. He cranked the large, grooved knob and the red needle moved across the FM dial with jerky motion. Elvis’ voice issued suddenly from the scratchy speakers. Van noticed Liza’s fleeting grimace, but the nostalgic strains lightened his mood. He turned it up.

“Perfect, right?”

Liza lifted the hair back from her temple and hooked it behind an ear. “Yeah. Perfect.”

Two songs later and Van’s smile had returned. The conversation focused on how they’d spend the money. As they began the climb into higher elevations, the Studebaker’s underpowered engine showed signs of complaint.

Liza’s eyes flicked to the rearview mirror. Van checked over his shoulder and scowled as if he got a whiff of a rancid odor. The black SUV came up fast behind them. It swerved across double lines and edged alongside the Studebaker.

The driver’s attention was fixed forward. What an asshole, Van thought with a sneer. As the SUV pushed past them, the small face in the backseat window came into view. For a suspended moment Van stared at the boy whose eyes appeared pleading to Van for liberation. A knot of remorse choked him as the truck shot forward and around a bend.

They heard the screeching brakes and sickening metallic crunch before the Studebaker hauled itself around the curve. Liza clapped a hand over her mouth and gasped as the scene came into view. The SUV lay on its side across the highway, its front end rumpled like sheets of an unkempt bed. Smoke hung in the air and angry splatters of blood wet the road between the vehicle and the dismembered deer whose eyes stared into nothingness. Van had the door open before Liza slowed to a stop. He ran around the top-side of the car.

The driver hung out the front, the jagged windshield embedded in his torso as if the car had tried to bite him in half. Van blinked hard and shouted, “Liza, don’t come over here! It’s bad.” The cell phone lay on the pavement. Snatching it up, he moved around the nose of the SUV, peering through the windshield. Seeing nothing, he clambered up onto the passenger side. The window was cracked so he was careful to place his knees on the door frame as he looked down into the back seat. He spotted the boy, lying in a ball on the window now flat against the road. The doors were locked. Van tapped the glass, and the youngster stirred. Van straightened and located Liza pacing in circles next to the Studebaker.

“Liza, the boy’s alive! I’m calling 911!” He placed the call then jumped down and ran to her.

“An ambulance is on the way,” he said.

“Good. Let’s get out of here.” She moved toward the car.

Van grabbed her elbow. “We can’t leave! That little boy may be hurt. He’s trapped in that car and his dad’s dead.”

Liza glanced at the wreck with tear-filled eyes. “Van, are you crazy? The cops will be here any minute. We have stolen money in our car! We need to get away from here!” Her voice rose an octave with each statement.

Van shook his head. “No. I’m not leaving that kid alone. I won’t do it.” His tone was even, determined.

“Well, I’m not staying!”

Thanks for reading!
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