Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ok, So It's a Day Late

As promised, the first part of my writing. I may have to rethink this--it wouldn't be fair to me or to you to release half-finished junk (for example, right after the end of this section I've skipped a good deal of what I envision to be internal dialogue because it depends on where I take the novel later). OTOH, it means I could edit the posts as I go along, which might be educational in itself.

All right, here goes.


“So a guy walks into a bar.” I used to laugh at those. Get a man drunk and he’ll do things he wouldn’t soberly consider for love or money. Ever hear the one about Superman luring people off the roof? But sobriety hadn't stopped me from doing unimaginable things. And love had nothing to do with it, worse luck.

So I ignored the joker and ordered my drink. Yeah, I was sober, but I didn’t want to be. And this was the only place in town that served 12% beer, so here I was. The first swallow scorched my throat going down, and I was going for actual flames when a shove from behind turned the rest of the bottle into glass shards and foamy splatter. I turned around to let the shover have a piece of my mind, and perhaps a few hours’ rest. Like a drunkard, remember, I thought, and let my fist come around in a massive, sloppy arc that it never completed.

Yuki stood there, one hand on her hip like the other was meant to be, only it was busy crushing my wrist. “Really, John, I knew you must have deteriorated, but this is pathetic,” she said with a hint of accent. “It makes me wonder if I shouldn’t just break this and leave you to fester.”

I’d prefer if you didn’t—break it, anyway,” I managed with some semblance of politeness. “Be hard to work one-handed.” If she was here, then so was the rest of the gang.

“Relax, John,” she said scornfully, seeing my eyes dart. “They're busy trawling--you know the drill. I wouldn’t need backup anyway, the state you’re in.” I didn’t dispute the point, even if she had mistaken my punch for the real thing. “On the other hand,” she added, “I’m not here to drown myself in alcohol either, like you are. I’ve got better things to do than dwell on the bad old days, and now you do too.”

“Yeah, I have a job.” I freed my wrist. She let me. “I make an honest 9-to-5 living now, and I don't need--"

"Trouble," Yuki interrupted, sneering. "You used to live for trouble, John. You've got the scars to prove it. Are you so scared of acquiring more that you'd hide behind a desk and a mug of beer? Have your fists gone soft? Or is it that you're too good for us, with your steady pay and comfortable lifestyle?" She looked up at me, face hard. "I guess we don't need a man getting fat in the belly and the purse. We'll just be about our merry way, and let you be about your job." She made it seem a dirty word.

I knew she was goading me, but I was never famed for my patience. "Do you want to see if I've gone soft? Take this outside, and we can have ourselves a philosophical discussion." I almost said "put up your fists," but I remembered that it was her feet I'd have to watch.

"It can wait until you've sobered up," she replied. "We're staying at Folger's Inn down Broadside Way. Tomorrow, at noon--if you still have the guts." She strode away. I didn't bother to protest that I'd had less than one drink. Watching her flowing movements, I wasn't sure I could best her, sober or not. One fight, I told myself. I have my pride. But after that, I'm done, no matter what they say or do.


ps. John and Yuki are just names, right now, and subject to change. I can tell you one name that won't come up as Yuki's replacement, as if it matters: Kagemoto Hoshiko. I want to use that name, but not on a character who seems so hard-headed. I might even write something just for that name, because it's so evocative to me. It translates: Star's child, origin of shadows. Sweet.

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