Scene Excerpt: 75 Miles to Montauk – Friendly’s

On my Pinterest page for the novel, you’ve seen a small, innocent looking picture of a Friendly’s.  This is the beginning of that scene, where it all starts to come together.  This is a first draft.  It will be tightened, less tell etc.  The POV will definitely change to omni.  But for a first draft I’m pleased with it.

***

New York.  He was in New York.  Evan was not happy about this.  Not the destination so much as the entire experience.  He could live here, sure.  But why?  New York?  Rent through the roof, pay rock bottom, competition out the door, for the possible opportunity to tell the same lies.  Damn.

“Stay there, Slinky.  I’ll be back soon dear.”  A woman breezed through the doors, which was noteworthy because Evan took note of her.  Normally he ignored the locals.  This lady couldn’t help but make an impression.   She was tall and curvy, carrying a few extra pounds no one would think to call “fat”.  She had hit that golden age where, by appearance, she could be someone’s mother or grandmother with equal ease.  Her travel stained raincoat seemed way too practical considering her large, colorful earrings (were those parrots?).  Her smile seemed to say “you may not be someone I know, but I like you anyway.”  She settled into a booth then scanned the menu with a sigh.    Having nothing else better to do, Evan settled down to watch her settle as his food arrived.

“Hello menu, what’s good?”  He half wondered if “menu” would respond before he caught himself.  This was good.  His reporter instinct was kicking in – the patented Peter Parker spidey senses tingled.  “No, menu, that’s too fatty.  Thanks anyway.  But no salads either, dear.  Strictly for rabbits.  Come on menu,” she encouraged, “surprise me.”  Without warning she looked at him, eyes sparkling.  “What about it?”  She indicated his plate.  “That looks delicious.”

“Belgian waffle.”

“Caden Parks, nice to meet you.”

He was in New York on gut instinct.  Why not?  Without preamble he gathered his food and slid in across from her.  “What kind of name is Caden?”

If anything, her eyes sparkled just a bit more as she unwrapped her cutlery.  “It means “we really wanted a boy”.  In Welsh.”  She speared a square of his waffle for emphasis.

Evan felt a knot loosening, ever so slightly.  When he smiled tension eased from his face.  When did he acquire a tense face?  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Caden Parks.  Evan Lamarr.”

“You’re not from around here are you?”  It was not a question.

“Boulder, by way of New Orleans.”

“Right.”  Caden waved over the slightly confused waitress who had returned to check on Evan’s now empty table.  “I’ll have one of him.”

The girl offered a startled look before plastering the trademarked “whatever the customer wants” smile firmly in place.  “That’s great, be right up.”  She walked away, scribbling.  Evan could only hope she wrote down “Belgian waffle” and not “bored black guy from Boulder.”  Though that did lead the imagination down some interesting paths.

Caden casually forked another bite from his plate.  Myrna held the opinion that all food was communal, but he’d never met anyone else who was so nonchalant about the idea.  Usually he would have made at least a token protest, but something about Caden disarmed him.  He pushed the plate into the middle of the table and started working from the other side.  “You’re from here?”

“Oh, no dear.  I’m from Stony Brook.”  His puzzled look seemed to amuse her.  “That’s thataway, you see.”  She made a vague but musical gesture to the left.   “I’m on a bit of an adventure.”

He nodded sagely (when did he develop a sage nod?)  “Not all who wander are lost”.

“Precisely!”  She flourished the fork like a small sword.  “Damn the orcs, full speed ahead!”  She suddenly became still, her gaze fixed in the middle distance.  “Though I do wonder about My Precious.”

His grin took on a slightly maniacal edge, rubbing his hands together.  “My… Precious?  Is it.. sweet?  Is it… juicy?”

Caden looked offended.  “You realize Bilbo cheated, don’t  you?  That was no riddle.  “What’s in my pocket?”  Honestly.”

“Sure he did.  “Bilbo cheated” is the second most popular convention T-shirt.”

“What’s the first?”

“Han shot first.”

“Course he did.”

Not even half a waffle, and it was getting hard to remember he and Caden hadn’t walked in together.  As she rooted around the waffle for more strawberries he caught himself about to ask her if she knew how Myrna was doing.  He was almost afraid to – she just might tell him.

Scene Excerpt: 75 Miles to Montauk

Of course they got caught!

***

“They think we’re part of a… a… conspiracy theory!”  For the first time in a very long time, Caden was angry.

“We are part of a conspiracy theory.”  Muffled in his arms, Evan’s voice still carried.

“That’s hardly the point.”

“They don’t really think that.”  For once Julie was calm, reasonable.

“My ears must deceive me.”

“It’s what they want you to hear.”

“What?”

Julie warmed to her topic.  “Conspiracy theory is sort of a code.  They want us to think they’re blowing us off.  They’re just testing us.”

“For what?’  Tristan seemed neither angry nor bitter.  He was just curious.

“To see how serious we are.”  Julie looked around.  “Am I the only person who saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind?”

“No dear,” Caden replied wearily, eyeing the bars.  “You’re just the only one who took it seriously.”

 

Scene Excerpt: 75 Miles to Montauk

I’ll probably tinker with it a bit, but this is the first draft version of the opening scene of my new novel.

++++

Over the years Caden had grown used to her own voice.  Her habit of speaking her thoughts out loud turned a few heads in local stores, but she didn’t notice.  Long ago Caden had given over her idea of friendship to inanimate objects. They seemed to understand when her more mobile friends had all but given up.  Just so long as they didn’t talk back it was all good.

“Come on, keys!  Out we go.  Once more into the breech, eh?”  Keys made a familiar, welcome jingle in return.  They seemed eager for another try.  Map, snug in her back pocket and worn from much use, encouraged her out the door.

Today she decided to take Raincoat with her. It had long ago ceased to be “the raincoat”, its travel stained seams having earned it the right of familiarity long ago. It joined Flashlight in the seat beside her.  Flashlight was a permanent resident in the car, smug in its ever ready state, banishing any hint of shadowed mystery neither of them had a use for.

And, of course, there was Slinky. Her dear companion of many adventures. Slinky had been something of an indulgence after the divorce, her one nod to unexpected, joyous midlife freedom.  A Grand Am, Slinky wasn’t terribly exotic unless you considered her odd orange-red color.  The car wasn’t even new. No matter. Neither was Caden.

Sometimes she wondered why she bothered with the apartment at all. Her boots waited where she had left them, huddled by the door lest she track backwoods mud onto a carpet that reminded Caden too much of her mother.

Scene Excerpt: 75 Miles to Montauk

This quicky written in honor of an idea from Vici Doore.  Thanks Vici!

***

Tristan huddled over the map, his long fingers tracing graceful patterns over the lines.  “I think I see it.” He said at last.  “We went wrong.”

Evan looked over his shoulder, then frowned.  “Don’t.  Just… don’t.”

Tristan frowned.  “Don’t?”

“Don’t say it.”

Tristan continued to puzzle over the map.  “But… look.  We should have taken a left turn at Albuquerque.”

Evan closed his eyes and sighed, obviously counting to ten.  Twice.  “There’s gotta be a beer around here somewhere.”  As he rummaged through the cooler Julie shot Tristan an approving grin.   A little startled, Tristan smiled back, tossing in a shy shrug.  Then he folded the map before carefully returning it to his back pocket.